The trick is to go against the natural cross fold of the newspaper and fold it vertically in the middle. Run your thumbs pressed together along the vertical fold and make a knife-edge crease. Read the front page one half at a time. Now, fold the right half of the front-page backwards so that the left side of Page 2 and the right side of Page 3 are exposed. Read them. Now fold the entire paper inside out, so that...
I know I am losing you, but you get the drift. When you consider that you have to undertake these dextrous moves making sure you don’t elbow the guy on your right in the ribs and at the same time stay balanced so that you don’t sway into the guy on your left, you will have a general idea about the complexity involved.
Doing the crossword doubles the complexity because you have a new factor here which is the pen. Your left hand is holding onto the overhead strap and your right hand is holding both the newspaper and the pen and to fill in 8 Across or 17 Down you have to momentarily let go of the overhead strap and this is a moment fraught with more tension than the climax of a Hitchcock movie.
Once you have mastered the broadsheet and the crossword, reading the tabloid on the return journey home, is far less complex. Same way, once the tabloid has been conquered, reading a magazine or a paperback in such crowded spaces becomes a piece of cake. I remember reading the four books that constitute the famed Alexandria Quartet of Lawrence Durrell, in conditions of aforementioned intimacy.
These days I have far more time than I ever had had in Bombay and I hardly read anything.