Perhaps it is true that at base we readers are dissatisfied people, yearning to be elsewhere, to live vicariously through words in a way we cannot live directly through life. Perhaps we are the world’s great nomads, if only in our minds. […] This is what I like about traveling: the time on airplanes spent reading, solitary, happy. It turns out that when my younger self thought of taking wing, she wanted only to let her spirit soar. Books are the plane, the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.
Aside: A couple of years ago, I decided that whenever I undertook a plane journey that is more than 3 hours long, I would take a book with me, preferrably one of the Classics which I have wanted to read but have not had the time. Over the last few plane trips, I have read some fine books in airplanes – among them The Good Earth, Animal Farm, and To Kill a Mockingbird. But, reading in a plane isn’t half as much fun as reading in a train. For one thing, there is more leg-room and you may even have a sleeping berth at times. Besides, many more stories are unfolding outside the window and they seem to change the story in the book, or at least they change the way in which I perceive it. I have loved trains since as far back as I can remember. Probably, this has something to do with my uncle carrying me along to watch trains when I was less than two years old. Train journeys are rare in the US, but in India they are quite frequent and extremely enjoyable. I like the experience of reading as the train speeds along, oscillating a little bit from side to side, making rythmic sounds as the rails change beneath the wheels and loud groans as the carriage passes over a bridge. Some of my earliest travel memories are of scurrying after my father to buy a comic from a bookseller’s hand-drawn cart, before the train roared into the station and it was time to board.