Shihab Sarkar |
Dec. 04, 2021, 10:25 p.m.
With the exception of air or river trips of 6 to 8 hours or more, few book lovers feel as though they are absorbed in books. However, there are many compulsive readers. When traveling, they don’t want to waste even a little time without pounds. Many call them bibliophiles. The huge and varied world does not interest them. Even when traveling by plane, many objects appear. You can pass the time just by looking at them. It is during air travel that window passengers can observe surprisingly different types of cloud formations. Additionally, if the flight crosses a time zone, a traveler may spot abrupt sunrises or sunsets. Compulsive bibliophiles don’t bother to look at them. Maybe no one has ever told them about the shows they miss on their travels.
But in today’s long-haul flights, when air travelers are pampered by all kinds of imaginable entertainment, reading has lost its former status. Few of them open a paper book or its electronic versions while traveling. The reason is that it has become easier to watch a movie broadcast on a mini TV screen attached to the back of the seat just in the front. There are few passengers who would gladly lose this movie-filled hobby. But there you go, there are still dozens of bibliophiles even in the age of ubiquitous audiovisual hobbies.
They are willing to give up this virtual entertainment to stay glued to the books. Unlike trains, buses or boats, it is easier to focus on reading while in flight. This is because there are no annoying bumps when traveling with these modes of travel. However, tram or metro passengers glued to newspapers or books is a common sight in many Western cities.
It is almost out of compulsion that many readers turn to their half-read books, even on difficult journeys. The alternative to reading while traveling by plane, train, or car on inter-state or inter-district buses (in Bangladesh) is to sleep while traveling. Spending the entire trip dozing or staying sound asleep is another scenario. Many people have seen little of this lovely world while fully awake. This also applies to those who are engrossed in non-stop reading. These people belong to a different class.
For many readers, the availability of the right books is proving to be a problem. On the flights of almost all airlines today, various types of light periodicals and journals serve the readers. Some airlines also publish daily newspapers from certain cities from which their planes depart. In the absence of books, many passengers leaf through them. Serious readers crave authentic books. In this situation, the airlines are powerless, and so are the readers. The truth is, most airline authorities are unable to meet the intellectual demands of readers. It is absurd to expect airline authorities to provide books on passenger demand. As in posh restaurants in Dhaka and Calcutta, the airways cannot deliver serious novels or the latest publications of a Nobel Prize-winning economist, or a Pulitzer-winning collection of poetry.
If a book-loving airplane or train traveler wants to spend his or her time reading throughout a trip, he or she had better bring the books with him or her. After all, reading tastes vary. You might want to re-read an Ian Fleming from the 1970s or an Agatha Christie thriller on the trip; while another had long dreamed of finishing a Marquez novel on the nonstop Singapore-New York flight. It becomes a daunting task when the setting happens to be a passenger plane.
Many people, who are frequent river travelers, care little about books; but they are passionate readers. Why do they avoid books when traveling? Their response is clear and direct. They want to have the sensual experiences of life.