Tanvi Misra is a staff writer for CityLab covering immigrant communities, housing, economic inequality, and culture. She also authors Navigator, a weekly newsletter for urban explorers (subscribe here). Her work also appears in The Atlantic, NPR, and BBC.
My hometown and I have a complicated relationship.
New Delhi is well known (and well roasted) for its culture of materialism and machismo: The Louis Vuitton bags (specifically, the ones that look like Louis Vuitton bags), the rich young dudes with BMWs who speed with impunity, the loud bursts of “Do you even know who my dad is?” before bros start brawling.
Still, I hold a quiet nostalgia for my version of the city. This Delhi includes Daitchi, the Chinese restaurant my parents have been loyal to since medical school, when they paid 7 Rupees (10 cents) for a plate of chow mein; that one famous place in Old Delhi with the creamiest shots of adrak chai; the momos smeared with garlicky-orange spicy sauce, sold outside the office where I got my first journalism job; the book store near my house, whose owner always informs my dad when the new Harlan Coben novel comes out; and the paan wallahs where my friends and I would buy loosie cigarettes and puff away, holding the stubs away from us so our parents wouldn’t smell the smoke on our clothes later.
This year, I’m going back home for the holidays. I will probably find that Delhi has changed again, and my position as an insider has become a bit more precarious.
I’d love to know about your hometown. How has it changed since you’ve been away? Have there been any drastic shifts in mood this year, in particular? What does it feel like to go back during the holidays? Has living elsewhere changed your relationship to the city you grew up in? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure to include whether you'd be open to us talking to you or featuring your comments in forthcoming stories.
This week on CityLab: Frank Lloyd Wright in Harlem. A beloved, anti-urban children’s story. Inside the boxes that bring Christmas to the Philippines. Five Great Lakes, in eight great maps. How place defines us. Taking out a second mortgage to buy bitcoin? Bad idea.
That’s my pal Kriston Capps in Dubrovnik, Croatia, a few weeks back, nerding out on some “Game of Thrones” stuff. While there, he reported on how the fortress town, which was featured in GoT and Star Wars: The Last Jedi, has been swarmed by tourists. Here’s Kriston with some trivia:
There are at least two Iron Thrones in Dubrovnik. One is on the island of Lokrum, in the basement of a former monastery, where it may have simply been left after filming. The island has a history worthy of “Game of Thrones”: Richard the Lionheart was shipwrecked there in the 12th century after the Crusades. There is a stone pool called Šarlotin Zdenac (“Charlotte’s Well”), named after Archduchess Charlotte of Austria, a Belgian princess who became the Empress of Mexico after she married Emperor Maximilian but was driven mad by his execution. The second Iron Throne is the one I visited in this rando gift shop.
Here's what else we're reading, watching, and listening to:
This guy made people on the internet think his shed was a top-rated restaurant on TripAdvisor. (Vice) ¤ “My children are obsessed with watching amateur documentary footage of New York subway trains arriving at and leaving various stations.” (Slate) ¤ Revisiting Canada’s first indigenous-owned railway. (The Walrus) ¤ The tragic story about Port-Au-Prince’s “burial road.” (The New York Times) ¤ P.F. Chang wants to introduce its version of Chinese food to ... China. (Business Insider) ¤ A question for white gentrifiers: Why don’t you use curtains or blinds? (VerySmartBrothas) ¤ A sexy cow logo (yes, you read that right) has this New Jersey town all riled up. (New York) ¤ Attorney General Jeff Sessions says immigrants stole working class jobs in Alabama’s poultry-processing towns. Did they? (This American Life) ¤ How French colonial categories crept into architecture. (e-flux) ¤ An act of “guerrilla public service” on a Los Angeles freeway. (99 Percent Invisible) ¤
And here’s a recommendation from CityLab contributor Mimi Kirk:
The AP just published an amazing article about an Iraqi who chronicled ISIS rule in Mosul, blogged about it, and has now gone public with his identity—he's now a scholar in Europe. The reason he took such risks has a lot to do with Mosul as a city: "The city deserves to have something written to defend the city and tell the truth, because they say that when the war begins, the first victim is the truth.”
View from the ground:
@joshnh4h snapped the sun setting on NYC’s skyline, @mallory_wanders captured colorful buildings in the Atlanta snow, @jacob.wsb took note of a snow-lined street in South Bend, Indiana, and @misterkchung photographed fog rolling in on the Emerald City.
Take a picture of something in your city that wasn’t there before. Tag us on Instagram with the hashtag #citylabontheground.
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