Pavithra S. Mohan

Journalist. Dancer. Foodie. Busybody.

I'm a newly-minted journalist who's partial to the written word and hopes to bring life to untold narratives. 

Breeding Ground for Bibliophiles

When I first moved to New York in March, I was flummoxed by one thing: there was no Internet on the subway. In retrospect, it was a fairly stupid observation, but I had lived in Chicago for five years, where I usually took the bus or trains that ran above ground. This left me at the mercy of my own directional sense which, thank god, isn’t too shabby, and I soon found a subway app that I could use offline. I still couldn’t contact anyone, but I learned to warn the needier people in my life when I was going under in the throes of a text flurry.

At first, I thought it was plain unsafe to not have Internet access underground. What if I got impaled by the fingerboard of a guitar-toting, penny-slinging subway singer, or passed out from the stench of a wayward turd? What then? I eventually realized that expecting Internet access on moving underground trains was, perhaps, asking for too much. Blame my Gen Y DNA.

But something else caught my attention within a few weeks: those people who I assumed were furiously swiping through Candy Crush Saga Level 32,985 during my daily subway rides were, in fact, turning the pages on their reading app of choice. Better yet, many people were toting about real, bookmarked, dog-eared paper tomes.

This shouldn’t have been a revelatory moment. But I stumbled my way to New York from a college campus where reading was largely reserved for coursework. My fellow students and I pored over textbooks much of the time, and if we read novels, it was often for a journalism or literature class. I was a huge reader growing up, my nose permanently affixed to the pages of a book; I was that weird girl with glasses who was led to believe that bringing books to family parties was socially acceptable. But then came SATs, AP classes and college apps; social obligations, weekend plans and, well, friends (I was a late bloomer); Facebook, Gchat and the scintillating landscape of the Interwebs. And then came college, where I read constantly—but usually for an exam, and rarely for pleasure. 

Somehow, my daily train rides have reinvigorated my love of reading. You could argue that reading on the subway beats staring blankly into space, and perhaps that’s true for those of us who can’t be lulled to sleep by an express train. But it’s nice to know that sometimes, we can cut through all the noise—all the clickbait, all the social media spam, all the streaming media—and just pick up a book.

I suppose I might be adding to the noise, so to speak, with this blog. Here’s hoping that won’t be the case—and that maybe, just maybe, I’ll snag one reader other than my mother.