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Changing Reading Habits in Kashmir

A place where the love for reading was woven into the fabric of daily life
01:00 AM Jan 04, 2024 IST | KHURSHEED DAR
changing reading habits in kashmir

There are moments in life that stand out. Such a moment unfolded before me, a simple yet inspiring sight that carried me back to a bygone era—a time when individuals immersed themselves in the world of books.


As I boarded the bus, my eyes chanced upon an elderly man, his face weathered by the passage of time, yet his eyes sparkled with the timeless glow of intellectual curiosity. He sat there, amidst the transient chaos of the bus, quietly absorbed in the pages of a book.


The scene was reminiscent of a Kashmir I once knew, a place where the love for reading was woven into the fabric of daily life.
However, as the wheels of time rolled on, a subtle shift occurred. The winds of change swept through the valley, ushering in a new generation with evolving tastes and preferences. It is no secret that the digital age has brought forth a myriad of distractions, competing for attention in the form of smartphones, social media, and instant gratification.

The allure of the written word on paper seems to be waning in the face of screens and scrolling.
The old man on the bus, engrossed in his book, became a poignant reminder of a fading tradition.


He represented a generation that found solace, knowledge, and joy in the tactile experience of flipping through pages. His act of reading was not merely a leisurely pursuit; it was a connection to a cultural heritage of Kashmir that is slipping away, page by page.


I couldn't help but reflect on my own fondness for books. There was a time when my backpack was incomplete without the weight of a book resting against my spine. Be it a novel, a collection of poetry, or a non-fiction exploration, I felt a sense of security in having a literary companion by my side.


My love affair with books transcended the confines of my home or a cozy corner in a café. Wherever my feet took me, a book was sure to follow. It was a constant in the ebb and flow of life, offering a refuge from the cacophony of the world. Whether waiting for a bus, sipping tea in a quaint bookstore, or finding a quiet spot in a park, a book was my steadfast companion.


The act of reading, for me, was not just about consuming words on a page. It was a journey—a journey into different worlds, perspectives, and realms of imagination. Books were portals that transported me to places I had never been, introduced me to characters who became friends, and illuminated the recesses of my mind with the brilliance of human thought.

As I observed the old man immersed in his book on the bus, I couldn't help but wonder about the reasons behind the shifting tides of reading habits in Kashmir. Was it the allure of the digital realm, the fast-paced nature of modern life, or a fundamental change in how we perceive and prioritize information? Whatever the cause, it was evident that a cultural metamorphosis was taking place.

In an era dominated by instant gratification and quick information bites, the patient act of reading appears to be losing its appeal, especially among the younger generation. The pleasure derived from flipping through physical pages, inhaling the scent of ink and paper, seemed to be replaced by the cold glow of screens and the swipe of fingers.

It's not that the current generation lacks the capacity for intellectual engagement or the thirst for knowledge. The shift in reading habits is perhaps a reflection of changing lifestyles and the evolving mediums through which information is disseminated. In a world where information is condensed into bite-sized formats, the immersive experience of delving into a book is becoming a rare commodity.

Yet, amidst this shift, there exists a sense of nostalgia—a longing for the days when books were revered, and reading was not just an activity but a way of life. The challenge now is to bridge the gap between generations, to convey the richness and depth that books bring to our lives. It is a challenge that involves rekindling the flame of curiosity, fostering an appreciation for the written word, and encouraging a return to the pleasures of reading in its traditional form.

As I disembarked from the bus, leaving the old man with his book behind, I carried with me a renewed sense of purpose. Perhaps it is time to be ambassadors of the written word, to share the joy of reading with others, and to celebrate the profound impact that books can have on shaping minds and hearts.

So, let us be the torchbearers of literature, carrying the flame of knowledge through the corridors of change. Let us pass on the torch to the younger generation, not as an obligation but as an invitation—a call to explore the realms of imagination, to discover the power of words, and to embrace the timeless enchantment of a good book.

The author is a regular contributor