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.
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“Hello?” she said on the phone.
I whipped my head around to look at the transgressor. The Amtrak quiet car had suddenly become not so quiet. How annoying, I thought, fighting the urge to shush the person. Instead, I vented on Twitter, as one does.
It dawned on me that I was becoming … that person—the enforcer of rules. That’s ironic, because when I first came to America, I didn’t know a lot of these rules. I’ve demonstrated bad escalator etiquette; I’ve texted in the movie theater. I know, I know—but it’s all true, I’m afraid.
The rules regulating one space often differ from those regulating another. That’s obvious, but easy to forget the longer you stay in a place. We all code-switch between contexts, but it may not always be a smooth transition. And even in the same space, the code—whatever it is—can sometimes be enforced differently for different people. (Just ask the two black guys at the Rittenhouse Square Starbucks in Philadelphia, who were arrested just minutes after they sat down.)
So tell me about how you’ve code-switched between different spaces. Did you have trouble transitioning? Did you commit any faux-pas? Drop me a line at email@example.com.
This week on CityLab: If you think Dutch cities are all about that weed, you’re so wrong. ¤ In L.A.? Grab dinner with a stranger and talk about race. ¤ Why does the online presence of local newspapers suck so damn much? ¤ The demise of “dese, dem, dose,” and other Midwestern linguistic quirks. ¤ Brutalism, interrupted. ¤ An art exhibition bringing America’s eviction crisis to life. ¤ Brazil’s favelas are sprouting community gardens. ¤ “By the time urban renewal arrived in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, Memphis Lee’s diner was already done for.” ¤ Need Avocados, Kombucha, and Cheap Houses? Come live in the ‘burbs of Chicago! ¤
Here's what else we're reading, watching, and listening to:
Attack of the tumbleweeds! (New York Post) ¤ Artists and photographers are obsessed with Mumbai’s iconic black and yellow taxis. (Scroll.in) ¤ Why have restaurants become so unbearably loud?! (Vox) ¤ “The size and landscape of those salt gardens is just overwhelming.” (Atlas Obscura) ¤ Queer love and Christianity collide in Mizoram, India. (The Caravan) ¤ The robots are coming…to assemble your IKEA furniture. (New Yorker) ¤ Portraits from lower Alabama. (The Bitter Southerner) ¤
This weekend, also check out CityLab fellow Sarah Holder’s recommendation:
In New York in the ‘80s, "People lived louder and larger than they had just years before,” writes Frank Bruni. MTV launches. Hip Hop transforms the city. Madonna and Rupaul debut. Reagan takes office. Immigrant and avant-garde artists rise. AIDS runs rampant, and goes unaddressed. This month's issue of NYT Style Magazine pays tribute to a decade that molded the city in ways that resonate today. What’s that word for feeling nostalgic for a time you didn’t even experience? Felt that.
OK, we have one more: Design/architecture nerd Mark Byrnes wants to shout out this photographer who has been documenting construction projects around the world that were aborted due to the financial crisis.
View from the ground:
@keithimus shot converging corners in Manhattan, @dariiuuu photographed the golden hour in Seville, @m_bracher shot the colorful homes of Nuremberg, and @enkrall captured the gritty architecture of Santo Domingo.
Tag us on Instagram with the hashtag #citylabontheground.
Over and out,