Vijay Phanshikar :
Books often line the walls in offices of big people, adding an aura of their own to the place small or big. There is every reason for the visitor to believe that the person who occupies the chamber reads those books. Yet, in many, many places, the impression soon evaporates once conversation stretches itself beyond a few minutes. However, when the loose-footer walked into the office of an industry captain with nationwide business interests, he sensed the difference in no time.
Yes, books did line the walls in the modest office, neatly arranged on shelves, neatly indexed -- with no single book haphazardly pulled out and stuffed back into the gap carelessly ...! Every book looked having been handled many a time, book-marks peeping out from the top of many on the shelves. A few books were on a tall stand that the industry captain appeared to use to read books standing near the shelves. A few more books were also on the main table that the occupant of the chamber used for himself. Within minutes of conversation came the evidence of the vast reading of the big boss as references flowed effortlessly, complete with occasional rising from the chair, picking up a book, opening a precise page and reading from it to make the point.
The loose-footer has been himself surrounded by books, and absorbs even the unspoken culture of books in no time. In that office of the industry captain, the atmosphere was pregnant with books and the subjects that the titles indicated. The discussion was very meaningful, but sans any showmanship or extravagant demonstration of the interest in books. There was an easy simpleness to the conversation as discourse bloomed into an enjoyable intellectual comradeship. Of course, such experiences often emerge from loose-footing around town, but not with such vividness in the offices where commerce is the prime and principal activity. Books often creep into conversation, but do not travel much.
In this particular place, however, books were the issue and the issues therein were the motivation to keep the connect flowing. The industry captain was well versed with digital technology, too, but was very beautifully ensconced in the book-lined office sensing the warmth paper-pages naturally emit. When a book stepped into talk, the industry captain’s voice grew softer and his eyes shone with mirth. It was difficult to pry oneself out of the place at a reasonable moment in time so as to leave the man of business to his business and get out to doing one’s own business.
Such encounters, of course, are rare, especially in business offices! Why?! -- they are rare even in offices of professors and directors in educational institutions, which the loose-footer frequents quite often as part of his work! In homes, too, books are often relegated to some quaint corner of the house while that plasma-filled screen of the technology monster gives you a raucous laughter from his perch on the wall. In this place also, a TV set stared at you from the wall, but made no noise and did not disturb the intellectually feverish environs of the room. ‘There must be more books elsewhere’, the loose-footer mused. As if he sensed that silent observation, the industry captain just smiled, nodded, and picked up the broken thread of talk over coffee he himself made.