The Navigator newsletter lands in your inbox every other Saturday. Sign up here!

Hello,

This week’s musings come from my colleague Linda Poon:

Anthony Bourdain would have turned 62 this week. This was a man who had inspired a whole generation of hungry travelers; wherever he went, he had a way with locals. Growing up, my brothers and I regarded him as the worldly, badass uncle we wished we had had.

I got the notification telling me about his death just as my plane touched ground in San Francisco. I had been in Seoul for two weeks. It was a trip of firsts: first overseas assignment; first time being in a place where I didn’t speak the language. Unconsciously, perhaps, I followed Bourdain’s lead in Korea—eating with locals to understand the nuances of that rich culture. Along with the sizzling strips of mackerel and colorful bowls of bibimbap, I took in the social dynamics that played out around the table: The hospitality, as one friend laid out the utensils for the rest of the table; the show of respect, as the youngest person poured drinks for everyone else; the cultural pride, as my new friends taught me how to properly wrap pork belly inside a piece of fresh lettuce.

Looking back, I realized how much I'd learned from Bourdain just by watching him. To experience a new place as a traveler, and not merely a tourist, is about more than consuming. It’s about listening and learning.

Has a meal (or a series of meals) changed your relationship with a place? If so, tell me about it at tmisra@theatlantic.com.

(Nina Zalesak/CityLab)

What we’ve been writing:

If you’re looking to flee the dumpster fire that is this earth, here’s your chance! CityLab’s Sarah Holder has got the deets on Asgardia, the first ever space-based nation.

“Any resident of Earth can become a citizen of Asgardia, as long as he assents in the Declaration, and abides by the Constitution and the legislation of Asgardia,” reads Asgardia’s Declaration of Unity. The free, independent nation is meant to offer “equal access to space for all people regardless of the country of origin, nationality, location, age, gender, sex, race, etc.”

Other stories from us: Who counts? A beautifully illustrated history of the U.S. Census. ¤ “The defining characteristic of the straw is the emptiness inside it. This is the stuff of tragedy, and America.” ¤ What was life like in the 1960s in Averagetown, USA? ¤ D.C.’s new memorial honoring Native-American veterans is “unlike anything else that’s currently on the National Mall.”¤ The gay pride parade, coming to a small town near you. ¤ Searching for community in Songdo, South Korea. ¤ The biggest thrill of America’s boutique fitness craze is “the feeling that you’re in control of that journey of transformation—and by extension, maybe your life! Maybe even the world!” ¤ Say hello to the snake catchers of Madurai. ¤

(Ariel Aberg-Riger)

What we’ve been taking in:

Long after the accepted date of extinction, Tasmanians kept reporting that they’d seen the animal.” (New Yorker) ¤ A woman from Saudi Arabia raps in celebration of being able to drive. (Indy)  ¤ “I was among the crowd when the “God of Football” (as most Indian papers piously anointed Messi) came to earth in Kolkata.” (Roads & Kingdoms) ¤ The super-selective cuisine of the world’s most remote food destination. (New Yorker)  ¤ “The smell though, was sweet and pleasant, a blend of chewing gum and new clothes. ‘That was the smell of America and I liked it.’”(Narratively) ¤ A motorcycle journey to four Syrian borders. (Granta) ¤

View from the ground:

@lamf_k captured the curves of South Korea’s Tri-Bowl, @homageproject shot street art in George Town, Malaysia, @_bithia explored D.C.’s Chinatown, and @starry_vere photographed a storybook corner of Dean Village in Edinburgh.

Tag us on Instagram with the hashtag #citylabontheground.

Over and out,

Tanvi

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Design

    The Sensory City Philosopher

    Architect, engineer, and inventor Carlo Ratti envisions a future for urban design that's interactive.

  2. A neon sign spells out "66" on historic Route 66.
    Life

    Get Your Kicks Biking Route 66

    Cyclists are now rolling on U.S. Bike Route 66 in Missouri and Kansas, the first stretch of a route planned for the whole length of the historic 2,400-mile highway.

  3. A man bikes down a busy London street with a food-delivery box on the back of his bike.
    Equity

    The Rise of ‘Urban Tech’

    From food-delivery startups to mapping and co-living companies, technology focused on urban systems is drawing billions of dollars in venture capital.

  4. Equity

    What Cities Do Right to Integrate Immigrants, in 4 Charts

    A sociologist interviewed hundreds of immigrants in New York, Barcelona, and Paris. Here's what he says those cities get right—and do wrong—when integrating foreign-born residents.

  5. An illustration shows two alleys in Detroit.
    Design

    Finding the Untapped Potential of Alleys

    “We’re starting to realize they’re just as powerful as a park or plaza.”