Some years ago, I travelled from Paris to Rennes on a train. I was overcome with the tedium of having spent several idle hours at the Gare Montparnasse station, waiting for the train to arrive. The journey from New Delhi to Paris had made me weary. Later, as the train raced past the French countryside, I looked outside to kill time. Out of sheer anxiety, I started toying with my cigarette pack and yearned for the nourishment of cigarette smoke. To kill boredom, I took out a document I had prepared for my business meetings and tried to leaf through it. Its prosaicness made me sleepy. Mundane thoughts crisscrossed my mind.
Not knowing what to do, I gazed at the ceiling for some time and then surveyed the coach. Sitting close by was an obese man, barely comfortable in his seat. On his tray table lay a dozen books. The titles caught my interest and I looked wistfully at a book the man held in his hands. Among others, I spotted an Umberto Eco and a Jean-Paul Sartre. One book was on cinema and one on theology. Read more