Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Train Spotting | Introducing a new series

There are times when I find myself in sticky situations on the train to Churchgate. You know that awkward moment when you try to lean into your neighbour’s space, straining to catch a glance at their book? It gets worse when the compartment is completely empty and you can’t blame the “ladies pushing me here-there” for thrusting against a fellow commuter. That is why, I much prefer when my fellow Mumbai Localites sit right opposite me, with their books in clear view.

I staunchly believe that any author who can find their way into a Mumbai Localite’s hands has arrived on the popularity scale. Insert a moment of silence here and listen for the likes of Stephanie Myer, Dan Brown, Chetan Bhagat and Robin Sharma counting their galleons before the train pulls up at Lower Parel.

But often, I’m also confronted with titles that surprise me. I distinctly remember a girl reading The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens and thinking, “Whoa… like whoa… where did I put my copy of Mr Bumble… sorry, Oliver Twist… food, glorious food… food glorious fooooo-hood… I love that Ice-Age 2 song… why does this book make me think of Ice-Age 2?” I also saw a girl today reading a rather thick, and I mean Porky Pig sized book, which turned out to be The Girl Who Played With Fire by Steig Larsson (Note to self: must add series to bookshelf).

I’m particularly in awe of ladies draped in elegant cotton saris reading blue-backed, dusty volumes of what looked like an omnibus of literary criticism through the ages. I always assume they’re literature professors from St Xaviers if they alight at Marine Lines or Jai Hind if they get off at Churchgate.

So what I’m trying to say is that I love to see people around me reading so much. It’s a refreshing change from those who spend what seems like ions pinging friends on their phone and fidgeting with their iPod shuffles. Watching people read a variety of titles – classic, contemporary, popular and long-forgotten -- is inspiring.

I credit the local train for turning me into such a voracious reader because there’s little else to do during the three-and-a-half-hours I spend in transit. For this series, I’m going to start looking for inspiration for future reads, thought-provoking discussions or plain disparaging rants. So please wish me luck on my mission to document some of the coolest, craziest and most sublime titles and authors I come across on the slow train home.

P.S. to self: Must watch Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh again. Getting around to NOT reading the Scottish accented book seems like a disability I must accept.

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