The internet lasts forever, the internet never forgets. And yet it is also a place in which I feel confronted with an almost unbearable volume of daily reminders of its decay: broken links, abandoned blogs, apps gone by, deleted tweets (miss you always, ah-well-nevertheless!), too-cutesy 404 messages, vanished Vines, videos whose copyright holders have requested removal, lost material that the Wayback Machine never crawled, things I know I’ve read somewhere and want to quote in my work but just can’t seem to resurface the same way I used to be able to.
When you’re an immigrant coming from another country where you may be middle class or upper-middle class and privileged in many ways, you lose that status when you move to the US. All of that social capital that you and your family may have accumulated over the years, and that opened doors for you in your home country, that was your safety net — that no longer exists. No one in your new country knows what your background is. The new culture doesn’t know what to make of you. Back in India, my family was by no means wealthy, but we had a high social status because of education, because my parents had been to some of India’s top schools and colleges. That carried with it a real weight but was not acknowledged or known in the US.
n the long run, sports media organizations might not have a choice but to move in this general direction. The implicit bargain among sports media, athletes, and teams used to be that the subjects would provide access, and in exchange the journalists would give the games publicity. That deal has lasted a long time, but today’s best athletes and biggest teams no longer need most of us in the media to get the word out. They can sell their broadcast rights to a media partner with or without press conferences. And Naomi Osaka, after all, didn’t need a team of reporters to get the word out about her views on press conferences. She just had to post them on Twitter and Instagram.
They also missed their humming rituals. As the meetings moved online, two-thirds of the respondents said they wanted to explore new ways to create rough consensus. “We need to figure out how to ‘hum’ online,” said one member. So the IETF organisers experimented with holding online polls. But members complained that virtual polls were too crude and one-dimensional; they crave a more nuanced, three-dimensional way to judge the mood of their tribe. “The most important thing to me about a hum is some idea of how many people present hummed at all, or how loudly. Exact numbers don’t matter, proportionality does,” said one.
We are all guilty of this. Powerful forces are at work.
As Bittman notes, the calories have to go somewhere, and—thanks in no small part to the advertising industry, which attached itself to the food industry like a remora to a shark—they went inside us; we look the way we do because of the need for the Krafts and Heinzes of the world to keep their profit margins growing by finding new ways to get us to consume their limited line of basic commodities. “Global sugar consumption has nearly tripled in the past half-century,” he writes, and so has obesity; the number of people worldwide living with diabetes has quadrupled since 1980. “Two thirds of the world’s population,” Bittman tells us, “lives in countries where more people die from diseases linked to being overweight than ones linked to being underweight.”
Despite how colloquial the term burnout has become, the concept originated in a strictly clinical setting. Coined in the 1970s by American psychologist Herbert Freudenberger, it referred to the consequences of severe stress and “high ideals” within the “helping professions” like medicine and social work. Among the medical community, however, burnout never quite became a serious issue, perhaps because there was no consensus as to how it should be measured, much less diagnosed. The Maslach Burnout Inventory, developed in 1981, was the most commonly used scale, but even then, it became the subject of considerable infighting among academics. In 2003, the researchers Philip Liu and David Van Liew complained that “the term burnout is used so frequently that it has lost much of its original meaning [and] now seems to have become an alternative word for depression but with a less serious significance.”
Technology has allowed us to become easily accessible. The problem is, more often than not, people feel entitled to our time and expect an immediate response. The key thing to remember is to maintain boundaries around your time. Just because you are accessible does not make you available. Don’t feel rushed to reply to the email or text, even if you have the read receipt option on. Minimize stress and anxiety by practicing mindfulness and enjoy whatever you were doing before that call, text, or email came through; especially if it is after work hours and the weekend. Do this often enough and others will learn to adjust accordingly.
India is going through hell. Feels like some God has snapped his fingers and people are dying like flies. There is too much shock to even react.
This one was predicted, although its virulence has taken even scientists and virologists by surprise. So where is the Covid-specific infrastructure and the “people’s movement” against the virus that Modi boasted about in his speech? Hospital beds are unavailable. Doctors and medical staff are at breaking point. Friends call with stories about wards with no staff and more dead patients than live ones. People are dying in hospital corridors, on roads and in their homes. Crematoriums in Delhi have run out of firewood. The forest department has had to give special permission for the felling of city trees. Desperate people are using whatever kindling they can find. Parks and car parks are being turned into cremation grounds. It’s as if there’s an invisible UFO parked in our skies, sucking the air out of our lungs. An air raid of a kind we’ve never known.
I spent just 4 days in office in last 12 months before the lock-down again kicked in India. I miss the casual conversations.
And it’s not just work small talk that we’re missing out on. Chatting with strangers out in public can also prove valuable—though it’s now increasingly rare. Gillian Sandstrom, a psychologist at the University of Essex, conducted one study that found that, when people engaged more with a barista—smiling, making eye contact, conversing—they felt a greater sense of community belonging. In another, her data showed that, the more people mingled with acquaintances or strangers in a day, the better their mood and sense of connection. Sandstrom observed that, in a normal prepandemic day, people interacted with an average of eleven acquaintances; university students interacted with sixteen. But, now, talking with more than two or three people a day seems inconceivable.
Chinese cuisine served in India is markedly different from that in China. I have witnessed how the dishes are evolving on the streets of small towns in India.
The evolution of Chinese food in India was accelerated by several such innovations, among them the invention of chicken manchurian. A man named Nelson Wang, the son of Chinese immigrants in Kolkata, is most often credited with its creation. The story goes that Wang ended up in Bombay in the 1970s, working as an assistant cook at another Taj restaurant, Frederick’s. One day, he happened to experiment with mixing garlic, ginger, and green chillies—quintessentially Indian ingredients—with soy sauce and cornstarch to thicken the gravy. The result was the now ubiquitous chicken manchurian.