My Sundays have never been complete without flipping through the newspaper for hours. Back in India, a column by Ruskin Bond in the Sunday Times and a cup of hot ginger tea were among the many things I loved about slow Sunday mornings. When I came to the US, I was trying to get myself accustomed to reading newspapers online. It’s not that I didn’t read online in India, it’s just that I always had the option of turning to a physical copy at home and I often did. So, the habit of not minding the absence of a physical copy and making do with a digital one was more difficult to form than I had imagined. I missed the sound of the pages turning and the peculiar smell hidden in them. Desperate to engage my auditory and olfactory senses as I read through the news, one day, I gave up the monumental effort of acclimatization and picked up a crisp copy of The New York Times (NYT) that was sitting happily on the shelf at the supermarket.
I rushed through my chores of the remaining day with lightning speed in the lure of enjoying my evening rendezvous with the NYT. The luxury of leafing through the newspaper on a Sunday morning was something I had probably left behind in India. Anyway, the moment finally arrived and I held the NYT. Never before had any newspaper had this effect on me. It was nothing short of a diva in my hands that evening, leaving me completely awestruck. Peeking through the calm, lucid language of the articles was an electrified busy-ness that, I assume, is typical of this city that never sleeps. What baffled me was that I was no stranger to cities that didn’t sleep and their even-more-awake newspapers; I had read plenty of them, yet this was different. I had to meekly admit that I was intimidated (Do newspapers do that to people? I’m not sure, but it certainly was intimidation that swept through me as I reached a page right in the center). It was as if the NYT was telling me with an expressionless face in a confident, measured tone, “Let’s discuss news, shall we?” and all I could manage was a gulp.
Braving on, I finished reading it (after two days), but still have a buzz in my head (after four days). I have a premonition that it may not be the end of this experience once the buzz dies down because that’s when the thought of the city will take over. God alone knows what that will do to me.