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.
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Hannah Seo — The Walrus
New travelers are visiting all places of the world. What does it say about the future of travel?
Of course, fragile sites are growing dangerously congested now that there are nearly twenty international travellers for every one that existed when I was a kid; Kyoto currently sees 55 million domestic and foreign tourists crowd into the city every year—and the numbers are rising rapidly. But I’m never upset that travel is growing democratic; when I began commuting regularly as a boy, between my fifteenth-century boarding school in England and my parents’ home in hippie California, air travel felt like the province of a privileged few. Nowadays, the people on those same flights are likely to come from Bangkok or Busan or São Paulo. A once rather colonial enterprise has been turned on its head, and 2050 may well bring ever more comfortable travellers from Kigali and La Paz to Amsterdam and Paris.
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Pico Iyer — The Walrus
This needull tells the inspiring story of Roy Ratnavel, who fled the Sri Lankan civil war, started in the mail room and is now fairly successful senior employee at CI Financial.
Roy was living with four roommates in a cheap apartment in the Toronto suburb of Scarborough. “They got one newspaper, the Toronto Sun—just for the Sunshine Girl—we never read it,” he tells me. “But that night, I flipped through the job listings, and there was one that said ‘Office Help Needed. $14K.’ I applied—even though I didn’t even know what ‘K’ meant.” His offer letter, dated February 16, 1989—twenty-seven years ago—now sits in a frame above his desk. Reports of discrimination against hard-done-by immigrants make headlines, and rightly so. But it is also important to celebrate the millions of newcomers who are living the Canadian dream.
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Jonathan Kay — The Walrus