Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Why not to mix reading and walking

I am a huge fan of public transport, and not just for the ease of commute. Till the blue lines and green lines or whatever-the-colour line buses in Delhi began bursting at their seams, I was a regular on them, preferring to sit by the window seat for various pertinent reasons. One of them was the need to experience the sights and sounds of Delhi. Yes believe it or not, Delhi makes for an interesting place to observe - as the bus takes you on bumpy roads through busy lanes, green avenues, collapsing flyovers, historic relics, kitchy shops under the surreal red hues blue/grey skies, while random voices talk in the background about an impending meeting or the dreaded exam or the love tangle, peppered by the bus conductor and driver's colourful exchange over ticket collection…. Sigh.... but as usual I digress.

When not indulging in sight-seeing, I caught up with my reading. However, the best place to diminish the reading backlog, I discovered, was the Delhi Metro, to which I made a move when I changed jobs and the work place existed in the back of beyond. The prolonged use of the blessed Metro rail, made the transition to the London Tube quite easy [and also the fact that when I first got on board the underground train, the announcer (on the Piccadilly line) sounded just like Neeti Ravindran. Don't laugh; when you first move away from all things familiar, these small instances help tide over the homesickness]. In fact, I found it was a better place to catch up on reading for there is no idle chatter to distract you and everyone is busy ignoring everyone else; quite unlike Delhi where most men are busy trying to find ways to familiarize themselves with your anatomy.

I have finished whole novels, while travelling; not in one go of course, no line is long enough. Husband's often commented on how I make for poor company when on the move, so now we travel separately. He thinks this obsession with reading is ridiculous but has to admit I am not as bad as some others who haunt the underground - the true “avid” reader. These souls are ones who are so enchanted by the book they are reading that they read even as they walk.

My first run in with one of them, literally, was on platform 3 at Angel station. With my ears plugged with music, I was on my merry way out when I collided headlong into one of these "avid" readers I mentioned. Not an encounter that left tweeties circling around my noggin, but one that was inconvenient enough. To be fair, the perpetrator was suitably apologetic; not enough to have been cured of her bad habit. For the moment we parted ways, she was back with her nose buried into the book. I shook my head and walked away, recognising a goner when I see one.

At the time I thought it was a one-off chance meeting with the species; I was wrong. I began spying these people every here and there. Noses buried deep into their tomes, they walk mindless of the world around them. Fond of reading, I tried to admire their dedication and came up with a naught. Well, not really; I actually felt quite irritated, and curious.

What exactly was it that they were perusing, also how did they ever mange not to find their way on to the tracks, given the concentration they were devoting to the written word. Or may be not all are lucky. I wonder how many of those “customer under the train” announcements signaled the martyrdom of some champion of reading.

I have read many an interesting book but none ever which would want me to risk life and limb for it or turn myself into a public nuisance. Honestly how much fun can it be reading as you walk, bumping into people every two seconds or being crushed under the wheels of a locomotive. How about you concentrate on getting on that train, read it as you travel or if you want, wait till you get home, get comfortable and then read... it works, I promise. I have tried it many times and I guarantee it'd be worth the wait (not of course if it is on Vampire love stories, they suck wherever they are read). If you think (as I do at times) that u can't wait till you get home, read as you travel, or first park yourself somewhere.

Or if you are merely doing it to ignore human existence while in crowded places, try plugging you ears with music or white noise, whatever you like, instead; works better. At least you would know where you are walking and may even live to read another day.


Latin Sardar said...
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March Hare said...

you will have to direct that question to V, u see!
So nw basically we will have uncouth buggers telling women to get off the "general" compartment to go to the reserved ones cos by default the rest of the coaches is their territory. Bloody brilliant. Do u think Sreedharan would threaten to resign over that?

Anonymous said...

Lol!! Freaks you have there! The only time I have done something similar is is when I was studying for college exams - you know, read as you walk to the hall. Even then your advice would have worked better!
On the Delhi Metro's new policy on separate coaches - They don't stop women from entering on 'men's' coaches, but men are strictly barred from entering th ladies, which is not the best idea since a lot of the time, women have space enough to do the dandia and men are standing one atop the other.
Gr8 post!!

George said...

Walk and talk sirjee! :P

Sengemo said...

I don't have a death wish, so I read ONLY in the Metro. But I am curious too :)
And latin sardar ji, it is great to be able to travel in BOTH the coaches which I do everyday! Didn't know that you could 'pay' and travel i the women's coach. Haven't come across that.
And coffee beans, I LOVE DANDIA!! he he he

Latin Sardar said...
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March Hare said...

I see u guys are sorted, of sorts!

Latin Sardar said...
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