By Craig Hawes, alpha magazine www.gulfnews.com
I returned to my native UK recently to attend the opening ceremony of the Olympics. Seeing the world enthralled by our pyrotechnics, dancing nurses and, er, Mr Bean playing Vangelis’s Chariots of Fire on a synthesiser aroused in me a latent patriotic zeal.
But what made me even prouder was the afternoon I got on a tube train in London and realised, to my delight, that at least half the people sitting in the packed carriage were reading books.
Not tabloid newspapers, Tweets on their iPhones or tawdry celebrity magazines, but books of every persuasion. And as the train rattled and screeched its way through subterranean London, passengers were each engrossed in their stories, oblivious to the hustle and bustle around them.
As was I, because I too had a book. And for once, I could read it on public transport without feeling like I had sprouted two heads, which, to my dismay, is exactly what happens when I read on the Metro in Dubai. Sometimes I think I’d receive less baffled looks if I removed my clothes and juggled frozen chickens while chanting Buddhist incantations.
Most of Dubai’s Metro commuters seem reluctant to take advantage of the many minutes spent between stations by getting stuck into a story. I look at my fellow passengers staring into space, or scrolling zombie-like through Facebook and I think: what a waste of a great opportunity to learn something, be entertained, enter the mind of another – like all good books let us do. More info