The rarity that is reading: Reading on the metro

Reading is a habit that forms easily with commuters of public transport systems in developed cities across the world. Why then is Dubai so different?

Travelling across cities like France and England, a train full of people engrossed in their choice of literature is a common sight. But for some reason commuters in Dubai would rather bury their noses in their smart phones, whiling away their time on Facebook or with some nonsensical game or the other. At most, you’ll find a couple of people with tabloid newspapers or some tawdry celebrity magazine.

What’s worse is if you do happen to spot a person reading a book, they are greeted by the most baffled expressions from people around. It’s a really odd feeling having people peer over your shoulder and struggle to make sense of what you’re doing. Sometimes I think of looking over and explaining “This is a book! I am reading a book.” But if I were to do so I don’t think I wouldn’t be able to endure the conversation that would follow.

I wonder why we face this reverse phenomenon in one of the most metropolitan and cultural cities in the world. Perhaps it’s the rat-race that consumes us all; the race to save time, to make money, to keep moving, to keep planning. Even so, everyone should be able to compose their thoughts and escape into a different place and time, even if it were for a short 10 minutes of uninterrupted reading.

The crux of the matter remains that the precious minutes we get through the day can be better utilized to exercise our brain cells and stretch out our imaginative capacities; and instead of complaining about the lack of hours we have to sit and read leisurely at home, we can make use of this time spent every day doing nothing in particular.

Sadly, this city that hosts a major annual literary festival has a largely literature-averse population. One possible obstacle is definitely the lack of equipped and accessible book stores around the city. Magrudy’s has abandoned Bur Juman Centre, Festival City and City Centre leaving these malls short of resources or with none at all. The second hand shops are always a good place to pick up cheap paperbacks although these remain a haven only to those who set out to seek them out.

But for the avid reader a mini fantasy land is now available to you in the form of Kinokuniya which is located at a deserted lane somewhere in The Dubai Mall. It provides the single most wonderful experience any book shop can offer you.

So if you care at all for the continuity of the articulate world and believe, even remotely, in the magic of the written word then go out and pick up a book today and read it a little every day. 5 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes in the metro or 15 minutes before bed, it really doesn’t matter. In the end you’re making the most of precious time, resources and mental space.