Before Bob went to China for the first time, his wife, who is American but can read Japanese, translated (roughly) Daisaku Ikeda's book, China's Human Revolution, which Mr. Ikeda wrote in 1974, following his own first trip to the People's Republic of China.
Bob and his wife decided to adopt the same feeling of friendship towards the Chinese people that Mr. Ikeda displayed during his own initial visit.
Many people opposed Mr. Ikeda's trip and he took a beating in the press, but he was not swayed.
The Chinese officials threw a dinner party for Mr. Ikeda and his wife and they let the Ikedas invite whomever they wanted to the party.
The Chinese officials expected the Ikedas to invite VIPs. But Mr. Ikeda and his wife invited the doorman, and some of the hotel servants as their honored guests.
The Ikedas traveled to a kindergarten. A young schoolgirl there presented them with flowers and asked: "Why did you come to China?"
Mr. Ikeda reached out, shook her hand, and said: "To meet you."
So while Bob was in China he took a train ride. It was Spring Festival, a time when tens of millions of Chinese visit their hometowns and villages and others make their way to the cities in search of work. The train was so crowded Bob couldn't move from his seat for the entire nine and a half hour journey. The station authorities locked the train doors so no one else could enter the train. But when the train stopped at a station people on the platform threw their friends and relatives into the train through the train windows — onto the tables in the train car! People would land in Bob's lap after they were struck by the vending carts making their way through the packed aisles. At one point, five different people held lit cigarettes over five different parts of Bob's anatomy.
But, remembering the book his wife had translated, Bob was undaunted. He made friends with those around him, interviewing 40 people about their lives and hopes. He and his new friends sang songs for each other and Bob tried to join in on the few words of the Chinese songs he'd been able to learn.
At some point, he noticed a Chinese man in rough clothes at the far end of the car. The man stared at Bob from that distance and pushed his way, one step at a time through the crowd, obviously headed towards Bob, the only non-Chinese in the train car.
The man never took his eyes off Bob as he closed the distance. Bob wondered, "What could this man be thinking?" Finally, the stranger stood over him and asked, "Why are you on this train? You could be on a plane. You could take a bus or a car. Why are you on this train with us?
and smiled. Then he answered, "So I could meet you."