12 Books You Need to Read

Summer is coming to a close in the Northern Hemisphere. But as the evenings draw in and temperatures fall, there’s never been a better time to curl up with a book and enter a world not of your own making.

The international literary world has never been as diverse — or downright interesting — as it is today. That’s why we’ve collated for you, dearest OZY reader, some of the best new reads from Argentina to Zimbabwe and many fascinating places in between. Read on because we guarantee you this: There’s no list as interesting as ours.

american reads

‘Transcendent Kingdom,’ by Yaa Gyasi

Ghanaian-American author Yaa Gyasi’s debut 2016 novel Homegoing was a rousing success. Her second, Transcendent Kingdom, is equally soul-shattering and provocative. It follows the life of Stanford University neuroscience researcher Gifty, whose family moved from Ghana to Alabama before she was born. Gifty’s story unfolds as she reckons with that history and each family member’s impact on how she understands and relates to the world around her. One of her most formative experiences is her brother’s death from a heroin overdose. In order to understand him, Gifty conducts addiction research on mice. The novel is a nuanced portrayal of Gifty’s struggle with science, reason and religion. In the end, she is forced to contend with the idea that none of those things on their own is sufficient to explain our world.

‘The Other Black Girl,’ by Zakiya Dalila Harris

When 26-year-old Nella Rogers realizes that another Black woman will be working alongside her at Wagner Books in New York City, she is excited and a little nervous. Finally, she isn’t the only Black girl on her office floor. But soon Nella finds herself sliding into a competition she never sought and uncovers the sinister underbelly of the career she’s fought so hard for. The novel is Zakiya Dalia Harris’ first and is based on her own experiences working at a Manhattan publishing house. The book is a thoughtful examination of the lasting impacts of microaggressions and fleeting commitment to diversity made by corporations in the aftermath of the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020.

‘Cold Wind: A Mystery,’ by Paige Shelton

What is it about mystery narratives set in cold places? Place doubles as a character in Paige Shelton’s second book in the Alaska Wild series. Having survived a slippery slope on Thin Ice, protagonist Beth Rivers has been laying low in Benedict, Alaska. Just as she is adapting to her new home and getting back some of that mystery writer mojo, a mudslide unearths chilling small town secrets. One frozen body, two young girls who do not speak and a world of atmospheric intrigue. Reader, remember to brr . . . eathe.

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out of africa

‘At Night All Blood Is Black,’ by David Diop

There are hundreds of novels that deal with the tragedy and violence of World War I. But At Night All Blood Is Black, by Senegalese-French author David Diop, pulls back the curtain to reveal the forgotten lives of West African soldiers. The novel chronicles the journey of a Senegalese soldier named Alfa Ndiaye into madness while fighting in the trenches for the French. He adopts the ritual of chopping off the hands of enemy soldiers to avenge his friend’s death. It is a mesmerizing ride through the atrocities and lawlessness of war alongside Diop’s protagonist. First published in French in 2018, the English version, translated by Anna Moschovakis, won the 2021 International Booker Prize.

‘The Promise,’ by Damon Galgut

If you’re a fan of South African Nobel laureate J.M. Coetzee and his bleak outlook on life, you’re sure to love Damon Galgut. Though love is perhaps not the right word. The writer doesn’t shy from the uncomfortable, and depicts South Africa’s still searing race relations with sharp and unforgiving clarity. His on-topic latest novel, The Promise, is an unflinching look at the country’s current debate over white-owned land and how to right the wrongs of history. The narrative centers on an estranged white farming family and moves from 1980s apartheid into the current democratic era as the country evolves. You’ll find no spoilers here, but the ending of this highly disturbing novel will probably leave you with more questions than answers. The Promise was longlisted for this year’s Booker Prize.

‘This Mournable Body,’ by Tsitsi Dangarembga

This novel was shortlisted for last year’s Booker and its Zimbabwean feminist author was awarded the prestigious PEN Pinter Prize as “a voice of hope we all need to hear.” Dangarembga rose to fame with her 1988 novel Nervous Conditions, which focused on a young girl and her anorexic cousin in 1960s Rhodesia. Both chafe against the stifling patriarchal society in which they grow up. In This Mournable Body, Dangarembga, who was arrested last year for protesting against the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, revisits her characters in a post-independence Zimbabwe. The PEN committee lauded Dangarembga for her “ability to capture and communicate vital truths even amidst times of upheaval.”

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to england

‘The Wife Upstairs,’ by Rachel Hawkins

There’s a gated community for ultra elites, a young broke girl with a haunted past and a handsome widower who may be battling ghosts of his own. Fans of Jane Eyre — and fence-sitters too — should give this modern, winking ode to the 1847 classic a chance. Sharp, stormy and rife with new-age Gothic romance, The Wife Upstairs is not quite a retelling, though it shows off customary parallels with Charlotte Brontë’s story. Luckily, the plot comes bearing delicious twists and turns that keep you from getting too comfortable. Enter if you fancy the uncanny feeling of losing your way in a maze made to resemble your favorite place. You’ll come away with a quick fix, and maybe even some reimagined power dynamics!

‘Klara and the Sun,’ by Kazuo Ishiguro

This is another on the Booker Prize longlist, but if you’re a fan of Remains of the Day — Ishiguro’s novel set in early 20th-century England focused on the unspoken love between the butler and housekeeper in an English manor — his new book will be quite a departure. The Japanese-born British writer, who received the Nobel Prize for literature in 2017, turns his attention to artificial intelligence in Klara and the Sun. Here, an android narrator, an “Artificial Friend” for a teenager, observes the humans around her. This novel has more in common with clone romance Never Let Me Go, and the Booker judging panel has called it a “genuinely innocent, ego-less perspective on the strange behavior of humans obsessed and wounded by power, status and fear.”

‘Who’s Loving You: Love Stories by Women of Colour’

Edited by British author Sareeta Domingo, this collection of short stories delivers what it promises: the glorious mess of love as experienced by women of color. As with any such collection, there’s a chance that some narratives will stick with you while others slide away, or even sit uneasily. But between a multicultural mix of emerging voices and literary prize-winners, it’s hard not to marvel at the age-old yet radical attempt to make sense of the plurality of love. If you’re wondering, this book is not all strawberries and kisses. There’s grief, identity, family, the strangeness of diasporas and an unflinching vocabulary of desire. In short: a heart so earnest you’ll want to love it just for having written itself out.

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and beyond

‘The Dangers of Smoking in Bed,’ by Mariana Enríquez

Set against the backdrop of contemporary Argentina, Mariana Enríquez’s unsettling anthology of short stories will enthrall and sometimes horrify you. Each story has a compelling undercurrent tied to far-reaching subjects, such as morality or modern-day femininity. In one story, two teenage girls can’t accept the death of their idol and do some wild things to keep his memory alive. In another, a woman becomes sexually obsessed with heartbeats. The Argentinian author is known for her mastery of horror and for bending the rules into a convoluted, hazy moral landscape. Enríquez’s writing will have you questioning the line between the real and imaginary, and rethinking just how precarious it can be.

‘Whereabouts,’ by Jhumpa Lahiri

Is there anything Jhumpa Lahiri can’t do? Not only did the American author of Indian descent win the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, she went to live in Rome to learn Italian for fun and is now writing in that language. Her latest work is the first author-translated book ever published by Knopf, which credits it with signaling “a bold shift of style and sensibility.” Many of Lahiri’s previous novels and short stories focus on the lives of Indians and Indian Americans, but her new novel centers on an unnamed Roman narrator over the period of a year. “Translation, to me, is metamorphosis,” Lahiri says. “It is a kind of radical re-creation of the work.”

‘Where the Wild Ladies Are,’ by Aoko Matsuda and Polly Barton (Translator)

From emotional ghosts to real ones, in literature, the call of the wild is hard to ignore. Especially if it involves a band of feisty women who are both haunted and haunting. Aoko Matsuda delves into Japan’s tradition of supernatural folklore and reinterprets it with feminist candor. The result? A tapestry of interlinked short stories that deal in humor and wistfulness, glass ceilings and body positivity. Few things are spookier than the patriarchy’s need to strip women of their visibility . . . until they speak up — in this case as their own stereotype of vengeful female spirits. Is it fiction? Is it a metaphor? Decide for yourself in gems such as Smartening Up, The Peony Lanterns and Quite a Catch.

12 Books You Need To Read

Summer is coming to a close in the Northern Hemisphere. But as the evenings draw in and temperatures fall, there’s never been a better time to curl up with a book and enter a world not of your own making. The international literary world has never been as diverse — or downright interesting — as it is today. That’s why we’ve collated for you, dearest OZY reader, some of the best new reads from Argentina to Zimbabwe and many fascinating places in between. Read on because we guarantee you this: There’s no list as interesting as ours.

AMERICAN READS

‘Transcendent Kingdom,’ by Yaa Gyasi

Ghanaian-American author Yaa Gyasi’s debut 2016 novel Homegoing was a rousing success. Her second, Transcendent Kingdom, is equally soul-shattering and provocative. It follows the life of Stanford University neuroscience researcher Gifty, whose family moved from Ghana to Alabama before she was born. Gifty’s story unfolds as she reckons with that history and each family member’s impact on how she understands and relates to the world around her. One of her most formative experiences is her brother’s death from a heroin overdose. In order to understand him, Gifty conducts addiction research on mice. The novel is a nuanced portrayal of Gifty’s struggle with science, reason and religion. In the end, she is forced to contend with the idea that none of those things on their own is sufficient to explain our world.

‘The Other Black Girl,’ by Zakiya Dalila Harris

When 26-year-old Nella Rogers realizes that another Black woman will be working alongside her at Wagner Books in New York City, she is excited and a little nervous. Finally, she isn’t the only Black girl on her office floor. But soon Nella finds herself sliding into a competition she never sought and uncovers the sinister underbelly of the career she’s fought so hard for. The novel is Zakiya Dalia Harris’ first and is based on her own experiences working at a Manhattan publishing house. The book is a thoughtful examination of the lasting impacts of microaggressions and fleeting commitment to diversity made by corporations in the aftermath of the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020.

‘Cold Wind: A Mystery,’ by Paige Shelton

What is it about mystery narratives set in cold places? Place doubles as a character in Paige Shelton’s second book in the Alaska Wild series. Having survived a slippery slope on Thin Ice, protagonist Beth Rivers has been laying low in Benedict, Alaska. Just as she is adapting to her new home and getting back some of that mystery writer mojo, a mudslide unearths chilling small town secrets. One frozen body, two young girls who do not speak and a world of atmospheric intrigue. Reader, remember to brr . . . eathe.

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OUT OF AFRICA

‘At Night All Blood Is Black,’ by David Diop

There are hundreds of novels that deal with the tragedy and violence of World War I. But At Night All Blood is Black by Senegalese-French author David Diop, pulls back the curtain to reveal the forgotten lives of West African soldiers. The novel chronicles the journey of a Senegalese soldier named Alfa Ndiaye into madness while fighting in the trenches for the French. He adopts the ritual of chopping off the hands of enemy soldiers to avenge his friend’s death. It is a mesmerizing ride through the atrocities and lawlessness of war alongside Diop’s protagonist. First published in French in 2018, the English version, translated by Anna Moschovakis, won the 2021 International Booker Prize.

‘The Promise,’ by Damon Galgut

If you’re a fan of South African Nobel laureate J.M. Coetzee and his bleak outlook on life, you’re sure to love Damon Galgut. Though love is perhaps not the right word. The writer doesn’t shy from the uncomfortable, and depicts South Africa’s still searing race relations with sharp and unforgiving clarity. His on-topic latest novel, The Promise, is an unflinching look at the country’s current debate over white-owned land and how to right the wrongs of history. The narrative centers on an estranged white farming family and moves from 1980s apartheid into the current democratic era as the country evolves. You’ll find no spoilers here, but the ending of this highly disturbing novel will probably leave you with more questions than answers. The Promise was longlisted for this year’s Booker Prize.

‘This Mournable Body,’ by Tsitsi Dangarembga

This novel was shortlisted for last year’s Booker and its Zimbabwean feminist author was awarded the prestigious PEN Pinter Prize as “a voice of hope we all need to hear.” Dangarembga rose to fame with her 1988 novel Nervous Conditions, which focused on a young girl and her anorexic cousin in 1960s Rhodesia. Both chafe against the stifling patriarchal society in which they grow up. In This Mournable Body, Dangarembga, who was arrested last year for protesting against the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, revisits her characters in a post-independence Zimbabwe. The PEN committee lauded Dangarembga for her “ability to capture and communicate vital truths even amidst times of upheaval.”

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TO ENGLAND

‘The Wife Upstairs,’ by Rachel Hawkins

There’s a gated community for ultra elites, a young broke girl with a haunted past and a handsome widower who may be battling ghosts of his own. Fans of Jane Eyre — and fence-sitters too — should give this modern, winking ode to the 1847 classic a chance. Sharp, stormy and rife with new-age Gothic romance, The Wife Upstairs is not quite a retelling, though it shows off customary parallels with Charlotte Brontë’s story. Luckily, the plot comes bearing delicious twists and turns that keep you from getting too comfortable. Enter if you fancy the uncanny feeling of losing your way in a maze made to resemble your favorite place. You’ll come away with a quick fix, and maybe even some reimagined power dynamics!

‘Klara and the Sun,’ by Kazuo Ishigaru

This is another on the Booker Prize longlist, but if you’re a fan of Remains of the Day — Ishigaru’s novel set in early 20th-century England focused on the unspoken love between the butler and housekeeper in an English manor — his new book will be quite a departure. The Japanese-born British writer, who received the Nobel Prize for literature in 2017, turns his attention to artificial intelligence in Klara and the Sun. Here, an android narrator, an “Artificial Friend” for a teenager, observes the humans around her. This novel has more in common with clone romance Never Let Me Go, and the Booker judging panel has called it a “genuinely innocent, ego-less perspective on the strange behavior of humans obsessed and wounded by power, status and fear.”

‘Who’s Loving You: Love Stories by Women of Colour’

Edited by British author Sareeta Domingo, this collection of short stories delivers what it promises: the glorious mess of love as experienced by women of color. As with any such collection, there’s a chance that some narratives will stick with you while others slide away, or even sit uneasily. But between a multicultural mix of emerging voices and literary prize-winners, it’s hard not to marvel at the age-old yet radical attempt to make sense of the plurality of love. If you’re wondering, this book is not all strawberries and kisses. There’s grief, identity, family, the strangeness of diasporas and an unflinching vocabulary of desire. In short: a heart so earnest, you’ll want to love it just for having written itself out.

AND BEYOND

‘The Dangers of Smoking in Bed,’ by Mariana Enríquez

Set against the backdrop of contemporary Argentina, Mariana Enríquez’s unsettling anthology of short stories will enthrall and sometimes horrify you. Each story has a compelling undercurrent tied to far-reaching subjects, such as morality or modern-day femininity. In one story, two teenage girls can’t accept the death of their idol and do some wild things to keep his memory alive. In another, a woman becomes sexually obsessed with heartbeats. The Argentinian author is known for her mastery of horror and for bending the rules into a convoluted, hazy moral landscape. Enríquez’s writing will have you questioning the line between the real and imaginary, and rethinking just how precarious it can be.

‘Whereabouts,’ by Jhumpa Lahiri

Is there anything Jhumpa Lahiri can’t do? Not only did the American author of Indian descent win the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, she went to live in Rome to learn Italian for fun and is now writing in that language. Her latest work is the first author-translated book ever published by Knopf, which credits it with signaling “a bold shift of style and sensibility.” Many of Lahiri’s previous novels and short stories focus on the lives of Indians and Indian Americans, but her new novel centers on an unnamed Roman narrator over the period of a year. “Translation, to me, is metamorphosis,” Lahiri says. “It is a kind of radical re-creation of the work.”

‘Where the Wild Ladies Are,’ by Aoko Matsuda and Polly Barton (Translator)

From emotional ghosts to real ones, in literature, the call of the wild is hard to ignore. Especially if it involves a band of feisty women who are both haunted and haunting. Aoko Matsuda delves into Japan’s tradition of supernatural folklore and reinterprets it with feminist candor. The result? A tapestry of interlinked short stories that deal in humor and wistfulness, glass ceilings and body positivity. Few things are spookier than the patriarchy’s need to strip women of their visibility . . . until they speak up — in this case as their own stereotype of vengeful female spirits. Is it fiction? Is it a metaphor? Decide for yourself in gems such as Smartening Up, The Peony Lanterns and Quite a Catch.

Sky Fall: Meet the Storm Chasers

Storms are strange things — truly tempestuous in how suddenly they can shift shape and space. Even as we grapple with the aftermath of Hurricane Ida and its devastation, Hurricane Nicholas barreled into Texas this week, flooding the Gulf Coast as it weakened. And then there are the long-term effects: Scientists found that 12 years after Hurricane Katrina devastated Louisiana, 1 in 6 survivors still had symptoms consistent with post-traumatic stress disorder.  

Yet there are those who run toward the storms, pulled by a magnetic force to extreme nature widely documented in journals, documentaries and literary classics. This Sunday, join a band of storm chasers as they go where few do, for art and adrenaline, for science and survival. Hold tight!

Storm Chasing 101

Storm Chasers, Who?

When a storm gathers, typically a tornado or a hurricane, most of us head for cover. But some people head straight into some of nature’s fiercest meteorological events, hoping to observe and record them live. Among them are meteorological experts who pursue storms for scientific research. Getting close, often in a hurricane’s direct path, allows professional storm chasers to document crucial on-field data impossible to obtain from afar. These findings help scientists develop a better understanding of the dynamics of storms, enabling accurate forecasts and earlier evacuation. Others are hobbyist storm chasers, often photographers and artists hoping to capture the beauty and power of these phenomena live.

Birth of a Subculture

Scottish American naturalist John Muir was known to “chase” storms long before it was common to race after often deadly winds. The pioneer climbed up a lanky Douglas spruce in the middle of a windstorm one December day in 1874 to feel what treetops feel. In the 1950s and ’60s, meteorologist Neil Ward and photographers David Hoadley and Roger Jensen emerged as modern American trailblazers of storm chasing. Ward, often dubbed the first scientific storm chaser, intercepted atmospheric vortices and relayed the information via the Oklahoma Highway Patrol’s radio. Hoadley and Jensen were both from North Dakota — the storm-prone state that’s now part of the holy grail of chasers, aka “Tornado Alley.” Hoadley also founded and ran a first-of-its-kind magazine called Storm Track. In the 1990s, internet access and tornado cult classic Twister helped further elevate the profile of storm chasing. 

Science Meets Ethics

Storm chasing isn’t all edge-of-your-seat action, and there’s certainly some method behind the madness. For tornadoes, it involves hours of driving around in specialty vehicles and waiting, steered not by adrenaline but calculated decisions on how to intercept the storm. Chasers then position themselves and their equipment. There are standard safety guidelines — don’t chase alone, for instance, and avoid using cellphones amid lightning. A set of ethics — be courteous to other chasers — is also widely embraced within the community. But flying into the eye of a hurricane, which forms over warm tropical oceans, is different and usually undertaken using specially equipped aircrafts carrying scientists, or by weather squadrons of the U.S. Air Force such as the Hurricane Hunters, who conduct tropical storm reconnaissance.

RSP storm

Meet the Storm Chasers

Rachel Walter

Her Instagram page is a stunning art gallery dedicated to the chaotic beauty of skies and storms. Waves of blue, gray, orange or purple . . . shocked out of symmetry by sudden flashes of white. Walters isn’t a traditional storm chaser, but she does with a paintbrush what researchers do with fancy equipment: capture the essence of these weather phenomena. It started in the summer of 2016, when she was in the midst of a blinding battle with chronic migraines, the 29-year-old tells OZY. “Glaring lightning and pounding rain were visuals I wanted to tie metaphorically to the pain I was faced with,” she recalls. Five years later, she has found steady refuge in the volatile element most run from, often observing and painting live from her Dallas studio.

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Jim Tang

In April 2014, Jim Tang rented a car and headed to eastern Oklahoma with no mobile data and plenty of rookie luck to “find a storm, witness hail fog and watch a spectacular lightning display,” he tells OZY. He knew he was hooked for life. A software coder by day, the 30-year-old storm-chasing photographer (@thewxmann) uses his skills both to capture gorgeous images of weather phenomena and to explain their curious quirks to fellow enthusiasts. He splits his time between San Francisco and Denver, depending on the storm season, traveling with his trusty Honda CRV, a phone and a camera. He’s watched a barrel-shaped supercell and seen lightning strike a power pole next to him. As he says, “Storm chasing is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’ll get.”

Swift Action

It’s what anyone in the path of a storm would hope for — a timely heads-up that can save their life. African SWIFT, a collaborative project between some of the continent’s leading meteorologists and researchers at the University of Leeds in the U.K., makes accurate, super-short-range hourly forecasts while a storm is approaching, using a satellite-aided technique called “nowcasting.” The meteorological agencies of Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal are among the project’s partners. Nowcasting has helped in the successful evacuation of communities impacted by flooding and mudslides in Kenya and could save the lives of thousands of people who die every year in storms on Lake Victoria.

Feathered Storm Chasers?

Even without a forecast system, birds have their own means of surviving storms. Songbirds like cardinals and buntings secure spots in dense foliage, while woodpeckers hang on to the downwind side of tree trunks or take cover inside cavities. But some migratory birds actually piggyback on headwinds to launch their big journey. Other seabirds aim for the calmer eye of the storm so as not to get ravaged by its spiral, effectively “eye-riding,” much like their hurricane-hunting human counterparts. In 2011, satellite transmitters caught a tagged whimbrel flying directly into Hurricane Irene, a neat but taxing survival tactic later noticed in other members of the species. 

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When the Table Turns: Storm-Chased People

Annual Asian Evacuation

But it’s not always wise to try to befriend the storm or outrun it. In South and Southeast Asia, millions of people are accustomed to regular evacuations. “Super-typhoons” and cyclones batter Southeast Asia annually, with over 100,000 people evacuated last April as typhoon Surigae swept past the Philippines. In South Asia, Bangladesh and India are subject to particularly brutal lashings. Both countries were faced with the double whammy of COVID-19 and the violent cyclone Amphan last year. In May 2021, Cyclone Yaas swamped villages on both sides of the border.

Caribbean Crisis

Extreme weather, typically in the form of all-decimating hurricanes, is familiar to this part of the world. Just last month Haiti wrestled with two destructive elements when rescue efforts in the aftermath of a 7.2 magnitude earthquake were hampered by tropical cyclone Grace. As densely packed places, often with inadequate infrastructure, the nations in this belt often take the hardest hit of hurricanes that also strike the U.S. That vulnerability is compounded by socioeconomic factors and because of rampant deforestation — and consequently, mudslides — on many islands. Climate change will only make things worse for the Caribbean and Latin America, warned the World Meteorological Organization in August. 

Tornado Central

North of the Caribbean, the U.S. averages over 1,150 tornadoes each year — more than Europe, Australia and Canada put together. Tornado Alley, a part of the Great Plains in the central part of the country, is so named because it sees the most tornadoes. Texas, Florida, Kansas, Oklahoma and Nebraska are the states most vulnerable to the annual onslaught. Alabama sees the highest annual average of tornado-related fatalities, while other Southern states such as Tennessee, Kentucky and Arkansas also suffer. And then there are the hurricanes that make their way up from the Caribbean. Hurricane Ida, which has claimed at least 82 lives in the U.S., chose a poignant day to make landfall in Louisiana: Aug. 29, the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

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Life, Loss and Art

Remembering Tim Samaras

The legendary storm chaser’s many contributions to tornado science shine brighter than the tragedy of his death in the 2013 El Reno twister in Oklahoma. His famously cautious pursuit of storms was aimed at helping scientists understand how shifts in pressure, air temperature, humidity and winds collude to create a phenomenon so powerful and unpredictable. Known to those outside the meteorological world for his time on the Discovery Channel show Storm Chasers, the 55-year-old Samaras first earned the public’s recognition in 2003 after a probe he deployed in Manchester, South Dakota, survived and recorded findings from a high-intensity tornado. The tragic fate he met 10 years later, when he perished along with his co-chasing son, Paul, and his colleague Carl Young, served to reinforce the truth Samaras lived by: There are things we don’t know yet about the sky.

Unforgettable Storms in Literature

From the haunting mystique of “thunder and lightning” arriving in the opening scene of Shakespeare’s Macbeth to Hurricane Ophelia being the force that pulls New Yorkers together in Danielle Steel’s novel Rushing Waters, storms figure prominently in the literary sky — as decorative backdrops, metaphors for human emotions or narrative devices. Violent weather is described with poetic abandon in Louis MacNeice’s “June Thunder.” And in Emily Brontë’s novel Wuthering Heights, frequent moorland storms reflect the intense love between protagonists Heathcliff and Cathy, as well as the forces of fate that human passion cannot defy. Mellow or sweeping, sinister or sweet, literary storms add punch to the plotline.

Storm Documentaries

Alongside the wealth of stormy reads, there are plenty of movies and documentaries on the topic too. For a highly condensed visual history of North American storm chasing, check out the 2016 YouTube documentary The Storm Chasing Anthology. Or consider Oklahoma: Tornado Target, a decidedly unnerving 42-minute film that captures a reality for the residents of that state — both a chronicle of the challenges and resilience of Oklahomans and a cautionary tale about storm chasing. The award-winning Trouble the Water and the Spike Lee-directed When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts are accounts of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina. Difficult to watch — harder to look away.

The Curious Warmth of Grandma’s Kitchen

Soon after I turned 8, I stopped eating fish. In our Bengali household — we are a famously fish-eating lot — it was quite the scandal. Sighs were sighed and investigations were launched as my parents tried to figure out what could have gone wrong. Then, at the pinnacle of my fish resistance, my grandmother cooked doi maach: tender pieces of freshwater fish, soused in a yogurt-based gravy of robust east Indian spices. I polished off every last bit. 

If anyone could achieve the dubious union of fish, curd and an unlikely surprise ingredient I’m not at liberty to disclose right away, it had to be my thammi (Bengali for grandma). I suspect this quality extends to grandmothers everywhere: Bustling Italian nonnas or plate-piling Somali bibis, they possess the superpower of turning humble ingredients into morsels most magical. 

Join us today for classic food stories from kitchens made redolent by grandmothers, from America to Japan with delicious pit stops in between. Psst: We even managed to source some pantry tricks from grandmas of our own OZY team!

Ask the American Nana

Pralines From Biloxi

Back in the 1920s, when OZY Deputy Editor Tracy Moran’s grandma Nettie was a kid, the family parked itself in the beaches-and-casinos city of Biloxi, on the Gulf of Mexico. There, surrounded by fresh sea air, they befriended local candy store owner Ira DeKnight. Having helped them settle into their new home, DeKnight grew close enough to move in with the family in his final years. That’s when he shared his recipes for divinity fudge and pralines with Nettie, who carried the secret to these sticky sweet nuggets — a mix of pecans, brown sugar, cream and butter — with her when she later relocated to Michigan. Colder, whiter winters in the Midwest brought the novelty of ice-skating, but the cherished recipes added some Southern flair to new holiday traditions.

Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli From Argentina

Growing up in Argentina, OZY Senior Writer Josefina Salomon recalls crawling out of bed on Sunday mornings to sit at the end of a long table with her cousins, bleary-eyed but happy to sacrifice sleep for Coca’s homemade pasta. “Coca” was the family matriarch, the grandma who made spinach and ricotta ravioli like no other. Her secret? A filling of raw spinach, the best ricotta cheese she could get her hands on, double garlic and double cheese and, sometimes, an extra egg. The pasta always tasted more intense than what could be purchased in the shops, recalls Salomon. “I have tried replicating it many times, but it never comes out the same,” she sighs. Add Coca’s in-house tweaks to this recipe, and you might just nail it before Salomon does!

You Go, Alaska Granny!

During the lockdown months when everything moved slowly, I chanced upon a YouTube channel run by AlaskaGranny who, in her sweetest granny-ish voice, explains how to stockpile food and prepare food on the grill, in a crockpot and with a smoker at an off-grid cabin. Oh, there’s also simple sewing ideas, reviews on guns and hunting tips. All grandmas are badass, but as an endurance-hardened Alaskan, maybe she enjoys a natural edge? Whether it is a no-nonsense crockpot caribou or backstrap mountain meat cooked with “salt and pepper only” so the meat can “do the talking,” food for this granny is about survival and sustenance.

German American Recipe for Survival

Isabelle Lee’s grandmother Margrit Keyes was still a child when her family fled Gdansk, Poland, for Bonn, Germany, at the end of World War II. There, Keyes’ mother begged for food from local farmers and mixed ground eggshells into her children’s food for added calcium. When Keyes moved to Chicago in 1958, she discovered the love of her life — Lee’s grandfather — and a zest for good food. One of her signature dishes was Rotkohl, or German red cabbage cooked with applesauce, red wine vinegar and thick-cut bacon, which she carried across countries almost like memorabilia. “Whenever she makes the dish, she leaves a huge container in the fridge, since Rotkohl leftovers just get tastier with time,” says the OZY reporter. The family recipe, not unlike this one, is flavored with just a hint of brown sugar, and memories of a spirited survival.

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Spice It Up in Africa

Hot Pasta From Somali Bibis

At 35, Hawa Hassan is already a tour de force when it comes to Somali food in America. In Bibi’s Kitchen, her anthology of recipes from East African matriarchs, is what turned my attention to the bibis, or grandmas, of the world. Born in Mogadishu, Somalia, during the country’s civil war, Hassan lived in a refugee camp before moving to Seattle, where she runs Basbaas Somali Foods, a hot-on-the-block hot sauce business. She also bagged her own show on the Food Network and taught the world how to cook suugo suqaar, or spicy Somali pasta with beef. The cinnamon-cumin-coriander-kissed aromatic affair is distinctly Somali for its use of xawaash spice mix. And with a history rooted in colonialism, it’s also uniquely resilient — just like grandmas.

Jedda’s Best Balah el Sham

Balah el Sham is often dubbed the Middle Eastern churro, but frankly the analogy is lacking. Imagine a choux pastry with glossy good looks and the perfect crunch on the outside, its taste and texture intensified tenfold against fountains of squishy, syrup-soaked warmth as you take a bite. Churro? Doughnut? Or a deluxe imposter determined to take on both? Often whipped up for iftar — the feast that breaks the daily fast during Ramadan — these fluted fritters were once jedda’s (grandmother in Arabic) sole dominion. With time, they were replicated in pastry shops, often with additional fillings. But leave it to the Egyptian grandma and they’ll come out simple — and simply scrumptious. However, a hint of rosewater in the syrup or a sprinkle of pistachios for garnish is certainly gran-approved.

South African Chakalaka Sauce

One of my favorite childhood memories is of my grandmother sitting on the terrace, sorting summer mangoes for pickles and chutneys. Halfway between a condiment and an elaborate salad, chakalaka is a spicy relish that changes character from one grandmother’s kitchen to another — much like Indian chutney or Mexican salsa. Most recipes start off with tomato, onion, garlic, carrots, chile pepper and occasionally baked beans. Curry powder adds to the Asian groove. Said to have originated in the mining townships around Johannesburg, the Portuguese-influenced dish plays cheerleader to simple stews and grilled meat or fish. Or, like Hawa Hassan, you can heap it onto a sizzling grilled cheese sandwich!

Pecan,Pralines,Are,A,Popular,Sweet,Treat,In,New,Orleans,

Eating Through Europe

Nonna’s Spaghetti and Meatballs

Nothing beats the comfort of classic Italian spaghetti and meatballs, a grandmother’s dish if there ever was one. Nonnas, many generations of them, have made the recipe so foolproof that your inner hipster wouldn’t dare tinker with it. There are some basic rules of thumb to save you from misfiring. The meatballs — preferably made from a 50/50 ratio of ground beef and ground pork — must not be over-seasoned, and they better be juicy-tender, a quality that comes from adding egg to the mix. Make your own breadcrumbs, don’t skimp on the Parmesan and consider including beef broth for extra richness. Now all you need is a bold Chianti to round out the feast.

Poland’s Festive Salad Crunch

With all that red meat talk, it’s time to make room for healthy greens. For Zuzia Whelan and her 80-year-old grandmother, this salad is as important as any dish of repute. The OZY copyeditor and reporter points out that sałatka jarzynowa, as it’s called in Polish, is a slow romance of seasonal flavors. Carrots, parsnips, celeriac, waxy potatoes, apples and sour pickles (not dill) are boiled and allowed to cool. Next, peas and delicately diced hard-boiled eggs are added to the mix. “The dressing is sour cream, mayonnaise, mustard, a little paprika and salt, and takes about 10 goes to get it perfect,” explains the Warsaw native, who enjoys the “meditative” process of chopping, even when her work is being “closely monitored” — Grandma Irna doesn’t quite trust her eager elf.

Bebia’s Georgian Dumplings

Right before the pandemic upended, among other things, a plan to visit the Caucasian reaches of Georgia, my would-have-been guide and now-friend Zviad Bechvaia told me about khinkalis. “Juicy, meaty soup dumplings, you’ll eat them everywhere,” he’d messaged me, a promise that came back to haunt me as I tried to make amends with Tibetan momos back at home. Khinkalis are thick-skinned, fist-size parcels of wheat stuffed with seasoned filling, usually beef and pork. Caraway, coriander seeds, chili and fresh cilantro are common ingredients, but grandmothers — called bebias in Georgia — boast different regional versions, some plumped with lamb and others fresh greens. Tip: Try slurping out the rich soup before sinking your teeth into the khinkali. I should know: I spent a whole summer sighing over cooking videos of Georgian grandmas, you see. 

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Middle East, Asia and an Indian Secret

Lebanese Grans Never Back Down

My colleague Josefina Salomon, culinary student of the aforementioned Argentine grandmother, clearly spent charmed childhood years raiding international pantries. But while she was polishing off empanadas and palmeritas, her father’s Syrian Lebanese mother had no intention of bowing down to the abuela, so she rustled up plates of “spectacular warak enab, kibbe and mombar sausages.” I Google warak enab, essentially grape leaves jammed with rice, meat and veggies, and realize how similar it is to one of my grandmother’s festive dishes, potoler dolma — the local evolution of dolma — a stuffed dish with roots in the Middle East!

California Loves Its Japanese Eggplant

When Hiroko Kawasaki’s granddaughter married Sean Culligan, a Bay Area resident, the Japanese matriarch’s recipe for nasu nibitashi, or braised eggplant, traveled a long way from Machida, Tokyo. Culligan, OZY visuals editor, has come to vouch for its value on the dinner table as a light side dish, sometimes with his favorite gyozas. Its beauty lies in its simplicity: All you need is smaller-size eggplants, some dashi (Japanese soup stock), mirin, soy sauce and ginger. The senior Kawasaki’s version uses sake. “I love summer evenings after the end of a hot humid day. The nasu’s gentle texture and flavor give me a very warm and peaceful feeling,” says Kawasaki’s daughter — and Culligan’s mother-in-law — Ema, who now keeps the tradition alive during sultry California summers.

Back to Thammi’s Kitchen in India

Did you really think I’d leave you without a recipe for the doi maach that changed my relationship with fish meals and Sundays? At 93, Purabi Dasgupta hasn’t entered the kitchen in a few years. But as I rattle off the ingredients of this internet-scavenged recipe that seems similar to her own, she’s sparing in her approval. “They’ve not used mustard oil?” Thammi frowns, before voicing reservations about the garnish of fried onions. Instead she advises: “Add some surprise raisins to the gravy. Not a lot, just enough for sudden sweet kicks to cut through the tang. It’s what makes it so . . .” “Delicious,” I finish her thought.

She Chases Storms … With a Paintbrush

  • Rachel Walter is part of a rare breed of artists who capture storms — big and small — live.
  • The 29-year-old took to painting storms almost as a form of therapy. Today she’s a storm chaser — from her studio.

There was a storm raging inside her head — one she knew well. But amid a
“blinding battle with chronic migraines” in the summer of 2016, Rachel Walter found unlikely solace in the raw power of real-world storms. Glaring lightning and pounding rain were visuals that Walter wanted to “tie metaphorically to the pain” she was facing. So she picked up her paintbrush. 

Five years and one pandemic later, Walter still battles recurrent headaches, but what started out as therapy and evolved into a hobby has now become a small, social media-propelled business. 

People gravitate to storms.

Rachel Walter

All over the world, there are artists who paint their interpretations of weather phenomena. But Walter is rare: The 29-year-old paints storms live, from the vantage point of her studio in Dallas, a city that’s no stranger to atmospheric theatrics. She may not hop into a minivan like traditional storm chasers when the sky frowns and grumbles, but very often, she will gather her own equipment — stretched canvas, oil paint, palette and brushes — to observe and document them on paper in real time. Storm lovers across America turn to her paintings to add depth and drama to their walls.

Which means there are others who share her obsession, right? “People gravitate to storms — their power, their beauty and their ability to create and destroy,” she says. “People want to feel the danger. I think that’s why they chase them and perhaps it’s also why people want to see them represented in artwork and bring that same sense of awe into their homes.” 

To be sure, that danger is deadly real. Hurricane Ida, which barreled into Louisiana’s coast late last month — on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation — has killed at least 82 people. Through her art, Walter — who describes herself on social media as “a Realist painter inspired by the intersection of physical science, philosophy, and the skies” — gives enthusiasts a chance to experience the thrill of storms without exposing themselves to danger. 

Glancing through her work on Instagram or her website, it’s impossible to miss her intimacy with storms. Dandelion whites, dazzling blues, and then, sudden as a storm, slabs of violet sliced in uneven fragments by a thunderbolt. Sometimes, stormier frames show a more menacing gray. The more you look, the more real they become. Almost as real as masterful photographs of nature when it decides to unleash violence.

Denver-based Jim Tang, who chases storms to photograph them, reckons that the urge to capture nature in flux is largely the same for both an artist and a photographer. “The only difference is that I’m constrained by what exists in front of me, whereas the painter would be unlimited in their creation,” he remarks, perhaps referring to the poetic license that exists when you’re transferring an unfolding scene onto paper, filtered through the prisms of vision and imagination — that darned old chasm between life and art, between art and science

Indian visual artist Dhara Mehrotra, no stranger to seeking inspiration from elements of nature herself, feels that the chasm can be bridged. Her art, chasing the transcendence of weeds, pollen or dragonflies, focuses on doing just that. As does Walter’s.

Why paint the sky that can be photographed, perhaps much more “accurately”? “Art and science are two means to the same end … the pursuit of truth,” Mehrotra says. “Illustrating atmospheric phenomena artistically makes a larger-than-life view of the knowledge, the perspective and ways of knowing the phenomena, bringing it closer for the viewer.” The aesthetics of the art — the dandelion whites, dazzling blues and sliced-up violets I wouldn’t have noticed in the real sky until Walter painstakingly painted them — appeal to a large viewership by “minimizing the seeming distance between art and science.”  

What can’t be minimized are the very real risks to life and property that storms pose. Walter knows this all too well. In 2017, she undertook a three-hour solo hike in the Icelandic highlands in the middle of winter. “About halfway up the mountain, a hunter informed me about a coming storm, but given the language barrier, I didn’t fully grasp the severity of his warning,” she recalls.  

As she reached the summit, thick white clouds began dumping snow. She was unable to see her own hand. “I sledded on my backside, slipping and tripping blindly down the rocky cliff face, all the while praying I could avoid succumbing to injury or hypothermia,” she says.

The prayers worked. As Walter has since shown, there are many ways to chase storms. The canvas can capture them just as well as the camera can. 

The Colonial Past of the King of Mangoes

It was 1937 and the British monarchy was gripped by a crisis. King Edward VIII had abdicated the throne to marry the twice-divorced American socialite Wallis Simpson, and his brother George VI was to be crowned king. But the British Indian government decided it had a gift that could sweeten the occasion. 

In April that year, The Times of India, the country’s oldest English-language newspaper still in circulation, reported that the government was set to ship mangoes to London for the coronation of King George VI. And not just any variety, but rising star Alphonso, now globally celebrated as the king of mangoes. “Elaborate arrangements have been made at Crawford Market to make the shipments successful,” a report in the newspaper read. And so sailed one king to meet another who was soon to be anointed, on a ship called the SS Ranchi, all the way from the booming port city of Bombay (now Mumbai) to London.  

P. & O. S.S. Ranchi

The S.S. Ranchi India Mail and Passenger Service, 1934.

Source Getty

More than eight decades later, the redolent recall of the Alphonso remains unmatched, as does the broader frenzy of mango season every year in India. “Summer isn’t over till you can no longer find a single juicy mango in the market!” remarked my grandmother recently, celebrating a hard-won battle against COVID-19 with the last of this year’s loot. At 93, she doesn’t account for the fact that today, imported imposters of the Alphonso trickle in from the Southern Hemisphere even during the Indian winter! This, not counting the chemically enhanced phonies engineered to outlive the seasonal cut-off of monsoon. Still, fruit sellers would vouch for a ritualistic summer-end scramble, where bag-swinging uncles and aunties jostle to scoop up the final evidence of a bountiful season. 

It is creamy and aromatic — a small piece of luxury you can probably afford no matter who you are.

Vivek Menezes, writer and mangophile

There’s no arguing with facts: No matter what your age or era, mangoes, especially Indian ones, can stir up a great passion in people. We are talking lush, gold juice bombs, tongue-curling wild green ones and blushing pink stunners, sweet as nectar. There are over 1,000 varieties to pick from, made decadent by, but not limited to, the Alphonso. Such is their seduction that poets, designers, and ad gurus hankering for inspiration have turned to the fruit since olden times. Indo-Persian poet Amir Khusrau crowned mangoes “naghaza tarin mewa Hindustan” “the fairest fruit of Hindustan,” as far back as the 14th century. Mirza Ghalib, the ultimate authority on Urdu poetry, was also an authority on mangoes, weaving entire ditties around their decadence. Nobel prize-winning Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore’s preoccupation with the fruit started with “aamer manjari”tiny mango blossoms with the power to perfume a lover’s garden. 

Jumping from couplets to capitalism, Alphonso, or at least its concentrated pulp, has starred for a decade alongside the waiting, pining, aching Bollywood beauty, Katrina Kaif, in a series of TV commercials for a popular mango drink made by Pepsi. Some chapters of the expressly sultry campaign were even called aamasutra, a nod to the Indian coital canon Kama Sutra. In fashion, the mango inspired the instantly recognizable paisley pattern, a teardrop-shaped icon that gained couture approval in Europe during the British rule of India.   

For Alphonso, the colonial connection goes further back.

Nicknamed Hapus in India, the internationally coveted variety is believed to have emerged after the arrival of the Portuguese in India in the 15th century. Writer and mangophile Vivek Menezes reckons that the mango was developed in the western state of Goa, where Jesuit priests used existing mango trees to introduce the technique of grafting, already popular in Europe. Their labor bore fruits, more refined than ever. Peshwas and Mughal kings “were addicted” to these Goan mangoes and probably “imported enough grafts of the new varieties” for there to be versions of the Alphonso in other parts of the country. Jump ahead several centuries to the British Raj, and the exploding appeal of the Alphonso is far more traceable. 

Not long after the Alphonso traveled for King George VI’s crowning, it was shipped to London for the Queen’s coronation in 1953, according to The Guardian. Eventually a time-tested backdrop for international handshakes, it was called upon to sweeten diplomatic relations when Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Indian premier, visited American President John F. Kennedy in 1961. Whether or not there is merit to the genius of gifting good-looking tropical fruits as a token of political goodwill, it has been attempted often enough to give us the phrase “mango diplomacy.”

More recently, Victoria & Abdul star Ali Fazal sent hand-picked samples of the Alphonso to Judi Dench, who plays Queen Victoria. In the film, the actors appear in a scene where Ali’s character inspects a gift of mangoes that has arrived from India, only to find the fruit rotten.

INDIA-EU-HEALTH-TRADE-FOOD-DRINK-MANGO

Indian laborers sort mangoes at the Gaddiannaram Fruit Market.

Source NOAH SEELAM/AFP via Getty

Dig a little and there seems to be something serendipitous about the Alphonso’s solo stardom. Indian food writer Vikram Doctor argues that its stardom comes from its superior shelf life, for being a “hardy traveler with thick skin,” unlike some equally fine Indian varieties. It also possibly benefited from being in the right place at the right time. “Remember that it was growing around Bombay, a premier city of South Asia with thriving trade relations,” Menezes adds, making a case for its special treatment in the same breath. “It is creamy and aromatic — a small piece of luxury you can probably afford no matter who you are, or where you’re located in the country.” Doctor’s heart, however, is reserved for the lemony, sweet Imam Pasand mango, grown in the state of Andhra Pradesh with little fanfare.  

That the more perishable regional varieties cannot travel too far works just fine for people like my grandmother. For it is not the last Alphonso, but the last Himsagar mango that she seeks in end-of-summer markets, a musky-sweet east Indian variety responsible for her toothless fangirling. As far as she is concerned, the world can keep its Alphonso. After all, everyone deserves some face time with the king.

The Jobs Animals Do

How many times have you spotted a cat sashaying down the street, the epitome of runway elegance, and caught yourself cheering: “Work it, girl!” No? Just me? Fine, but there really are animals that “work it.” You’ve probably heard of therapy and emotional support animals that provide physical assistance and emotional comfort to humans in need — a role aced by golden-hearted doggos and a plethora of other animals.

Then there are the craftier gigs reserved for spy birds on top-secret missions and heroic rodents that have been trained to sniff out dangerous explosives. In today’s Sunday Magazine, we take you into the weird, wonderful and sometimes controversial world of animals that work. At a time when four-legged social media stars are on the rise, “working like a dog” may not mean what you think at all.

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WORKING ODD JOBS

Rats Sniffing for Safety

If you must rat something out, let it be the location of land mines. That’s exactly what some XL-sized African giant pouched rats do for a living. We are indebted to a group of Gambian rodents, trained by nonprofit APOPO to detect land mines and unexploded ordnance in Cambodia. With over 5 million land mines planted there between 1975 and 1998, the country relies on these near-blind rats with a keen sense of smell. Why? Because they are too light to set off the mines and move faster than people. An area that would take a human with a metal detector three to four days to cover can be swept by these 2-foot critters in less than half an hour.

Dolphins With Military Precision

Dolphins and sailors share a long, inspiring history. Today, a select group of dolphins has become the sea equivalent of bomb-sniffing service dogs. The U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program uses the sophisticated sonar of bottlenose dolphins to locate undersea mines, especially in murky waters or congested harbors. The program also uses California sea lions. Unlike their human colleagues, these animals with superior underwater directional hearing and low-light vision can dive to great depths. Reports that dolphins may have been trained for offensive operations have been rebutted since the declassification of the program in the 1990s. Check out this happy guy squealing with delight over treats earned after a successful mine mission.

No Monkey Business

Service monkeys know better than to monkey around at work. And their job is a heartwarming one. Raised and trained by Boston-based nonprofit Helping Hands, the intelligent and dexterous capuchin monkeys have assisted people with spinal cord injuries and other mobility impairments since 1979. Although the training program closed in 2021, the organization continues to provide support for the monkeys and their human partners. Graduates of what was dubbed “The Monkey College” continue to help people with quadriplegia perform tasks like opening bottles, retrieving objects, turning pages, scratching itches and adjusting limbs in a wheelchair. A good cause, but at what cost? Debates have raged over the ethical implications of removing primates from their families and natural environment.

I Spy a Pigeon in the Sky

It’s a bird . . . it’s a spy . . . it’s paranoia! Let’s backtrack. As an Indian kid, I grew up listening to the whiney hit “Kabootar Ja Ja” (kabootar = pigeon in Hindi) and, later, the more hummable “Masakali” (another word for pigeon). In both music videos, fluttering white pigeons signal fresh romance. But over the years, some governments have come to associate pigeons with a more nefarious activity: espionage. Since 2015, India has detained pigeons suspected of being “sky spies” dispatched by Pakistan. In 2008, Iran “arrested” pigeons for spying on a nuclear facility. One feathered felon was caught ferrying ketamine-like drugs in 2017 by Kuwaiti officials.

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Abstract closeup

COVID-Sniffing Dogs?

Cut to the present. As the coronavirus continues to mutate, mankind’s hopes for faster, cheaper detection may lie with none other than man’s best friend. As part of an ongoing screening trial, sniffer dogs in England were trained to recognize a scent produced by infected patients that is not detectable by the human nose. While the dogs correctly flagged 88% of coronavirus cases, experts insist this method is intended to complement rather than replace lab testing. Should the trial be broadly implemented, the dogs could help speed up screening at airports and other public spaces.

Free. And Industrious

“Liberated forever, domesticated never!” Such was the rallying cry of Snowball the rabbit in the 2016 movie The Secret Life of Pets. In the real world, wild animals are extra industrious — and not because of human prodding. It is, in fact, a quality that’s essential to surviving in the great outdoors. Think of the phrases “busy bee” or “busy as a beaver.” Bees are known to live a regimented life, their social roles clearly defined according to the hierarchical order of worker, drone and queen. An individual bee foraging for nectar might work 10 hours a day to get the job done. Beavers are considered nature’s engineers, a dam-building, furrier version of your workaholic cousin who shows up to family gatherings clutching a MacBook.

SM1 background dog

HALL OF FAME

Tika the Fashion Iggy

Unless you’ve been living under a gigantic digital rock, you know who @tikatheiggy is. If you don’t, “Iggy” is an affectionate slang term for Italian greyhounds, and the Montreal-based Tika is their well-heeled messiah. With 1.1 million followers on Instagram, the “fashion model” and “gay icon” rose to viral fame during the pandemic with the relatable “love it, couldn’t wear it” TikTok video capturing our collective frustration over canceled going-out plans for months on end. Silver-furred, shiny-eyed and svelte as they come, Tika boasts a jaw-dropping wardrobe of rainbow-streaked fleece, baggy sweatshirts, rose tulle ballerina dresses and more! No wonder she made it into Vogue and that singer-songwriter @lizzobeeating called her “an actual bad bitch.”

Decorated Detector, Magawa

Remember those badass, mine-sniffing African rats? Well, Magawa is the baddest of them all. As APOPO’s most decorated employee, he cleared nearly 2.5 million square feet of land (the equivalent of 357 soccer fields) in his gilded five-year career, detecting 71 land mines and 38 pieces of unexploded ordnance along the way. The Tanzania-born star became the first-ever rat to be awarded the PDSA Gold Medal for life-saving work — the George Cross of the animal world — before retiring in a blaze of glory in June 2021. Impressed? Some of Magawa’s still-active colleagues might be up for adoption.

Kabosu, Master of Memes

Back in 2010, when memes were not yet a go-to mode for digital communication, a quizzical-looking Shiba Inu dog emerged from nowhere to be the next big thing . . . sorry, meme. Popularized in the decade since through a series of Doge (slang for dog) memes, Kabosu, the pooch in question, is an eyebrow-cocking web sensation. With the recent popularity of dogecoin, Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s “favorite cryptocurrency,” Kabosu is once again back in the limelight. The 15-year-old cutie, along with her feline siblings, has attracted hundreds of thousands of followers on her mama’s Instagram.

Larry the Chief Mouser

If you think this one is make-believe, think again. Some titles are cooler than others, and none beats the one carried by the resident feline at 10 Downing Street in London. Larry the cat is entrusted with finding and killing rodents in Britain’s best-known address. Although it’s been an informal tradition for hundreds of years, the title “chief mouser to the Cabinet Office” was made official 10 years ago. He must be pretty good at his job, for as of 2021, Larry has been in the employ of three prime ministers, David Cameron, Theresa May and Boris Johnson, and continues to claw onto his position. Aside from catching vermin, Larry is excellent at greeting houseguests and choosing strategic napping spots atop antique furniture.

The Internet Loves Mishka

Another internet darling dog? Mishka the Siberian husky. It all started back in 2008 when a video of the New Jersey-based pup repeating “I wuv woo” (that’s husky for “I love you”) surfaced on YouTube. Celebrity soon followed, with Mishka starring in hundreds of videos on her owner Matt Gardea’s YouTube page, appearing in commercials and even on the Fox News Morning Show. When she passed away in 2017 after a brief battle with cancer, the 14-year-old was mourned by strangers near and far who loved her right back.

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ETHICAL DILEMMA

Selfish Tiger Selfies

Moral quandaries abound when it comes to putting animals to work as Joe Exotic did, but few are as shady as the wretched business of tiger selfies. You see them as social media brag posts or on the Tinder accounts of dude-bros you swipe left on faster than they can say #wanderlust. Separated at birth from their mothers, trained to exhaustion, chained, drugged and declawed, tigers are held in captivity in private homes and pseudo-sanctuaries in Asia, the U.S. and other parts of the world — all so that paying visitors can take a “cool” selfie. Five years after the very public crackdown on Thailand’s infamous Tiger Temple, tiger tourism continues to cripple the lives of thousands of big cats.

A Prayer for Elephants

Leisurely jungle rides or shared baths with elephants have long been marketed as coveted tropical attractions in Sri Lanka and parts of South India. The animals are also hired by temple administrators to lend majesty to religious festivities. Very often, the experience of getting up-close-and-personal with the gentle giants comes at a cruel price. One such story involved Tikiri, a 70-year-old female whose emaciated body sparked international outrage when a photo surfaced on the internet in 2019. But not all elephants are fated to lead lives of restraints — some bona fide conservation camps and rehabilitation centers around the world try to ensure that the majestic beings live a free but protected life, without toiling their years away.

Meet the Working Animals

How many times have you spotted a cat sashaying down the street, the epitome of runway elegance, and caught yourself cheering: “Work it, girl!” No? Just me? Fine, but there really are animals that “work it.” You’ve probably heard of therapy and emotional support animals that provide physical assistance and emotional comfort to humans in need — a role aced by golden-hearted doggos and a plethora of other animals.

Then there are the craftier gigs reserved for spy birds on top-secret missions and heroic rodents that have been trained to sniff out dangerous explosives. In today’s Sunday Magazine, we take you into the weird, wonderful and sometimes controversial world of animals that work. At a time when four-legged social media stars are on the rise, “working like a dog” may not mean what you think at all.

Working Odd Jobs

Water ripple wave patterns with reflections

Rats Sniffing for Safety

If you must rat something out, let it be the location of land mines. That’s exactly what some XL-sized African giant pouched rats do for a living. We are indebted to a group of Gambian rodents, trained by nonprofit APOPO to detect land mines and unexploded ordnance in Cambodia. With over 5 million land mines planted there between 1975 and 1998, the country relies on these near-blind rats with a keen sense of smell. Why? Because they are too light to set off the mines and move faster than people. An area that would take a human with a metal detector three to four days to cover can be swept by these 2-foot critters in less than half an hour.

Dolphins With Military Precision

Dolphins and sailors share a long, inspiring history. Today, a select group of dolphins has become the sea equivalent of bomb-sniffing service dogs. The U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program uses the sophisticated sonar of bottlenose dolphins to locate undersea mines, especially in murky waters or congested harbors. The program also uses California sea lions. Unlike their human colleagues, these animals with superior underwater directional hearing and low-light vision can dive to great depths. Reports that dolphins may have been trained for offensive operations have been rebutted since the declassification of the program in the 1990s. Check out this happy guy squealing with delight over treats earned after a successful mine mission.

No Monkey Business

Service monkeys know better than to monkey around at work. And their job is a heartwarming one. Raised and trained by Boston-based nonprofit Helping Hands, the intelligent and dexterous capuchin monkeys have assisted people with spinal cord injuries and other mobility impairments since 1979. Although the training program closed in 2021, the organization continues to provide support for the monkeys and their human partners. Graduates of what was dubbed “The Monkey College” continue to help people with quadriplegia perform tasks like opening bottles, retrieving objects, turning pages, scratching itches and adjusting limbs in a wheelchair. A good cause, but at what cost? Debates have raged over the ethical implications of removing primates from their families and natural environment.

I Spy a Pigeon in the Sky

It’s a bird . . . it’s a spy . . . it’s paranoia! Let’s backtrack. As an Indian kid, I grew up listening to the whiney hit “Kabootar Ja Ja” (kabootar = pigeon in Hindi) and, later, the more hummable “Masakali” (another word for pigeon). In both music videos, fluttering white pigeons signal fresh romance. But over the years, some governments have come to associate pigeons with a more nefarious activity: espionage. Since 2015, India has detained pigeons suspected of being “sky spies” dispatched by Pakistan. In 2008, Iran “arrested” pigeons for spying on a nuclear facility. One feathered felon was caught ferrying ketamine-like drugs in 2017 by Kuwaiti officials.

Water ripple wave patterns with reflections

COVID-Sniffing Dogs?

Cut to the present. As the coronavirus continues to mutate, mankind’s hopes for faster, cheaper detection may lie with none other than man’s best friend. As part of an ongoing screening trial, sniffer dogs in England were trained to recognize a scent produced by infected patients that is not detectable by the human nose. While the dogs correctly flagged 88% of coronavirus cases, experts insist this method is intended to complement rather than replace lab testing. Should the trial be broadly implemented, the dogs could help speed up screening at airports and other public spaces.

Free. And Industrious

“Liberated forever, domesticated never!” Such was the rallying cry of Snowball the rabbit in the 2016 movie The Secret Life of Pets. In the real world, wild animals are extra industrious — and not because of human prodding. It is, in fact, a quality that’s essential to surviving in the great outdoors. Think of the phrases “busy bee” or “busy as a beaver.” Bees are known to live a regimented life, their social roles clearly defined according to the hierarchical order of worker, drone and queen. An individual bee foraging for nectar might work 10 hours a day to get the job done. Beavers are considered nature’s engineers, a dam-building, furrier version of your workaholic cousin who shows up to family gatherings clutching a MacBook.

SM1 background dog

Hall of Fame

Tika the Fashion Iggy

Unless you’ve been living under a gigantic digital rock, you know who @tikatheiggy is. If you don’t, “Iggy” is an affectionate slang term for Italian greyhounds, and the Montreal-based Tika is their well-heeled messiah. With 1.1 million followers on Instagram, the “fashion model” and “gay icon” rose to viral fame during the pandemic with the relatable “love it, couldn’t wear it” TikTok video capturing our collective frustration over canceled going-out plans for months on end. Silver-furred, shiny-eyed and svelte as they come, Tika boasts a jaw-dropping wardrobe of rainbow-streaked fleece, baggy sweatshirts, rose tulle ballerina dresses and more! No wonder she made it into Vogue and that singer-songwriter @lizzobeeating called her “an actual bad bitch.”

Decorated Detector, Magawa

Remember those badass, mine-sniffing African rats? Well, Magawa is the baddest of them all. As APOPO’s most decorated employee, he cleared nearly 2.5 million square feet of land (the equivalent of 357 soccer fields) in his gilded five-year career, detecting 71 land mines and 38 pieces of unexploded ordnance along the way. The Tanzania-born star became the first-ever rat to be awarded the PDSA Gold Medal for life-saving work — the George Cross of the animal world — before retiring in a blaze of glory in June 2021. Impressed? Some of Magawa’s still-active colleagues might be up for adoption.

Kabosu, Master of Memes

Back in 2010, when memes were not yet a go-to mode for digital communication, a quizzical-looking Shiba Inu dog emerged from nowhere to be the next big thing . . . sorry, meme. Popularized in the decade since through a series of Doge (slang for dog) memes, Kabosu, the pooch in question, is an eyebrow-cocking web sensation. With the recent popularity of dogecoin, Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s “favorite cryptocurrency,” Kabosu is once again back in the limelight. The 15-year-old cutie, along with her feline siblings, has attracted hundreds of thousands of followers on her mama’s Instagram.

Larry the Chief Mouser

If you think this one is make-believe, think again. Some titles are cooler than others, and none beats the one carried by the resident feline at 10 Downing Street in London. Larry the cat is entrusted with finding and killing rodents in Britain’s best-known address. Although it’s been an informal tradition for hundreds of years, the title “chief mouser to the Cabinet Office” was made official 10 years ago. He must be pretty good at his job, for as of 2021, Larry has been in the employ of three prime ministers, David Cameron, Theresa May and Boris Johnson, and continues to claw onto his position. Aside from catching vermin, Larry is excellent at greeting houseguests and choosing strategic napping spots atop antique furniture.

The Internet Loves Mishka

Another internet darling dog? Mishka the Siberian husky. It all started back in 2008 when a video of the New Jersey-based pup repeating “I wuv woo” (that’s husky for “I love you”) surfaced on YouTube. Celebrity soon followed, with Mishka starring in hundreds of videos on her owner Matt Gardea’s YouTube page, appearing in commercials and even on the Fox News Morning Show. When she passed away in 2017 after a brief battle with cancer, the 14-year-old was mourned by strangers near and far who loved her right back.

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Ethical Dilemma

Selfish Tiger Selfies

Moral quandaries abound when it comes to putting animals to work as Joe Exotic did, but few are as shady as the wretched business of tiger selfies. You see them as social media brag posts or on the Tinder accounts of dude-bros you swipe left on faster than they can say #wanderlust. Separated at birth from their mothers, trained to exhaustion, chained, drugged and declawed, tigers are held in captivity in private homes and pseudo-sanctuaries in Asia, the U.S. and other parts of the world — all so that paying visitors can take a “cool” selfie. Five years after the very public crackdown on Thailand’s infamous Tiger Temple, tiger tourism continues to cripple the lives of thousands of big cats.

A Prayer for Elephants

Leisurely jungle rides or shared baths with elephants have long been marketed as coveted tropical attractions in Sri Lanka and parts of South India. The animals are also hired by temple administrators to lend majesty to religious festivities. Very often, the experience of getting up-close-and-personal with the gentle giants comes at a cruel price. One such story involved Tikiri, a 70-year-old female whose emaciated body sparked international outrage when a photo surfaced on the internet in 2019. But not all elephants are fated to lead lives of restraints — some bona fide conservation camps and rehabilitation centers around the world try to ensure that the majestic beings live a free but protected life, without toiling their years away.

The Joy Of Idle Living

“To do nothing doesn’t have to mean nothing! It can mean doing things that you love, and savoring it,” quips my Italian colleague, Valerio. Ambushed by my quest to understand the art of idling, the San Francisco resident remembers vacations spent at his grandparents’ house in beautiful Abruzzo, where time seemed to expand. “In America, time is much more compressed,” OZY’s creative director observes.

It’s not just America. Many countries around the world function on workweeks in excess of 40 hours, and a significant percentage of employees clock in 50 hours or more. Karoshi, Japanese for “death from overwork,” has crept into the world’s lexicon despite the country’s own attempts to recalibrate. How did we get here? What can we do? Today, we ask you to stop and smell the rosé. And if that doesn’t work — just drink it.

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Society & Idling

Advocates for Idling

Ages before you could, 19th-century author Charles Lamb expressed his indignation at having to laboriously justify one’s existence in his poem Work: “Who first invented work, and bound the free . . . ?” he asked, plaintively. Years later, Karel Čapek was contemplating the purpose of stillness — “to be like a stone, but without weight” — while Bertrand Russell in 1935 predicted the looming dangers of workaholism, a term coined 36 years later. Both lobbied for leisure in separate essays with identical titles: In Praise of Idleness. Fast-forward to today and with our cities more crowded and noisy than ever before, medical experts are encouraging us to get away from it all and indulge in shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing. But can you afford to? One might argue that the ability to shut off or slow down suffers from a socioeconomic gap, a sentiment reflected in labeling “the idle rich.”

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No Idling? No Wellness

If you doubt the poets, here’s some cold, hard data. According to a Work Happiness Index poll conducted by Indeed, Japanese workers, with their no-room-to-idle worldview, have fared as the unhappiest among developed nations. Closely linked to this is the concerning phenomenon of inemuri, workers sleeping at their desks out of exhaustion. Their productivity too has ranked low among G-7 nations, something the country is trying to change with its proposal of a four-day workweek. Meanwhile, countries like Finland and Denmark boast shorter workweeks than America. The greater work-life balance is considered one of the factors behind the five Nordic nations being some of the happiest in recent years. In Sweden, six-hour workdays have boosted productivity and energy. The lesson: With fewer work hours comes more time to pursue sweet nothings. A time that if spent wisely (read: idly) might just hand you the key to happiness.

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Idling Across Cultures

Dolce far Niente

No matter how you feel about Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert’s 2006 book, introduced “dolce far niente” to the world. The mellifluous Italian phrase became a pop-culture signal for an entire generation of human hamsters, whose biggest act of rebellion was to try and embrace “the sweetness of doing nothing.” But in her memoir, Gilbert doesn’t do nothing. A closer look at our existential, idling heroine reveals a woman who has learned to relish her carbs and consonants without shame, to make friends with strangers and eventually with herself. Which brings us back to my colleague’s claim: Doing nothing is really just doing a few things well. What Valerio does well when he’s back home are lengthy breakfasts with friends, lingering over glasses of Amaro del Capo. “But we don’t drink to get trashed. We take time to taste the wine,” he says.

Niksen, Hygge and Lagom

It’s not just the Italians who are masters of embracing leisure time. Niksen, a Dutch import, literally means to “do nothing” and is about embracing the moment. It’s a philosophy that encourages you to just stare at nature, laze around or listen to music . . . you’re fine as long as you’re not looking for any purpose. And if you look farther to the north, there’s the Danish concept of living, hygge, that’s become a wellness fad of its own. That’s unless you’re Swedish and embrace lagom, roughly translates to “finding joy in moderation.” In fact, such is the traditional rivalry between the neighboring Danes and the Swedes that hygge and lagom have become stereotypes of the two cultures, Tobias Toll, a Swedish physicist at the Indian Institute of Technology, tells OZY. “Lagom is the soul of the Swede that originates from ‘rule of the law.’ Hygge, on the other hand, epitomizes the Danes’ love for coziness and comfort.”

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Lyadh

To be clear, lyadh is not a wellness concept. But for many Bengalis, especially those living in the Indian city of Kolkata, a frequent serving of lyadh — ideally over the weekend — is essential to living well. Think of it as lush lazies that come unannounced to hypnotize you, mind and body, into a state of inactive indulgence. Don’t resist, for surrender can be sweet. I have felt it many times: On a Sunday after a particularly spectacular lunch of fish curry and rice, or on mornings when I’m supposed to wake up and head out, but the quilt clings to my drowsy soul. If you’re unlucky, this rogue feeling might even visit on work afternoons, when napping is not an option. The trick, if you ask me, is to embrace it so it can pass. And hey, if the Italians and Dutch are right, it would only add to your spiritual wealth.

Wu Wei

Type A personalities, this one will be hard for you. Yet tightly wound control freaks might be the ones who end up benefiting the most from the Taoist philosophy of wu wei. Roughly translated from the Chinese, it upholds an alchemic paradox of nature: “actionless action” or “doing without doing.” What that means in layman’s terms is to respond to situations organically, without exerting additional force, a mindful version of “go with the flow.” To cultivate wu wei, which for most can take years, you have to lean into a moment the way a tree bends with the wind. Or how a twig moves with the current of the river, never against it. The idea of (apparently) not being in control is scary for most, but once achieved, it establishes a relaxed state of awareness — putting you in perfect alignment with life.

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Slow-Living Hot Spots You Didn’t Know

China

Life in China over the past three decades has been defined by rapid urbanization, soaring dreams and the constant search for wealth. Now a new generation is tired of that approach, especially after a pandemic that has exposed consumerism’s pitfalls amid an economic slowdown. Instead, more than 100 cities and counties are now embracing “slow living,” setting development limits, throttling down traffic and restricting fast food.

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Brazil

The Cerrado savanna is one of Brazil’s most ecologically diverse regions. But in recent years, it has lost half of its native vegetation to giant agribusinesses that produce everything from beef and palm oil to corn and cotton. To counter this, Indigenous communities, conservationists and even celebrity chefs are banding together to form a slow food movement focusing on traditional and local food to promote the region’s native agri-products, such as the guava-like gabiroba, the baru nut and the macaúba coconut. Their goal? To get Brazil and the world excited about native Cerrado food and protect this wilderness at the same time.

Japan

Yes, Japan, the country where long working hours and little sleep have traditionally been viewed as a virtue, is changing. Amid alarming numbers of people dying at their desks, Japan’s government has in recent years been pressuring companies to cut their employees some slack. But the biggest evidence of the shifting mindset lies in the response to another federal initiative that preceded COVID-19. Since 2009, Japan’s government has paid the country’s youth to relocate from cities to the countryside to revive dying villages. Coupled with improved internet connectivity in recent years and the hunger to get away from stressful city life, the initiative has proven successful, helping once-dying villages double their number of residents.

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Haiti

In the 1990s, the U.S. flooded the Caribbean country with low-quality food products after pressuring Haiti to lower tariffs — which then-President Bill Clinton eventually apologized for in 2010. Now, despite recent upheavals of the political and natural kind, Haitians are rebuilding their agriculture industry by adopting the slow food movement that focuses on reviving dying food cultures. From traditional artisanal rum to the country’s first fair trade cocoa business, Haiti is building a new farm future rooted in its own traditions.

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Are You Zen? Quirky Ways to Idle

Cow Cuddling

Well, goat yoga had to move over at some point to make room for something bigger . . . and more content: cows. Cow cuddling, a Netherlands staple that has emerged as a wellness trend in the U.S. in the last two years, is self-explanatory in terms of what you’re expected to do. Go on a relevant farm tour, find a cow that will have you and cuddle it. Koe knuffelen, literally “cow hugging” in Dutch, has all the logical benefits of a healthy human-animal snuggle. Recline against your genteel friend as unobtrusively you can. Its big, comforting body, warmer temperature, slower heartbeat and, should luck favor, a few validating licks should work together to relax you. Unless the price of this unusual therapy is what gets your goat; in Arizona and New York, bovine love goes for $75 an hour.

Ebru Painting

Here’s something you don’t need to pay for: frittering away hours watching ebru art. This stunning technique of painting on water using special pigments that dissolve into dyes is popular in Turkey and Central Asia. It requires a water-based solution, some uncommon tools including an awl and serious hand control. Ebru typically involves plenty of swirls and streaks, which gives it its visual richness as well as its nickname: paper marbling. Check out Van Gogh’s Starry Night — on water!

Stone Skipping

If you grew up in the countryside, especially around water, this chilled-out pastime will be second nature. You’ll need to plant yourself near a calm lake and far from distractions. Look out for boats, swimmers or waterfowl, and once their absence is confirmed, find a medium-sized stone, ideally flat with rounded edges. Aim and release from your hand the way you might backhand a frisbee, but put some spin on it with your forefinger and watch your stone skippity-skip, once, twice or thrice across the water! Whether you’re a pro or practicing to better your technique, stone skipping embodies the gloriousness of doing things that thankfully add up to nothing.

Sound Bathing

Before you accuse me of pulling a Gwyneth Paltrow, sound bathing is nothing but allowing certain pleasant sound vibrations to wash over you. Think of it as a meditative experience similar to chanting “Om” or bee-breathing. In short, it’s about listening to sounds with a notable resonance that ground and center you. At first glance, it might sound like a New Age concept, but those who have been privy to the sound of bells in Hindu temples or gongs in Buddhist monasteries will know it’s rooted in ancient practices. Crystal singing bowls, chimes and didgeridoos may not be things you have lying around at home, but there’s always the internet. If the for-free sessions leave you craving for more, you can book a virtual concert for your soul. Alternatively, visit a sound bathing studio near you.

Not your jam? Watch a miniature Zen garden come to life, play dead with the yogic corpse pose or let dolphins sing you to sleep. Luckily for you, there’s no wrong way to idle.

Shall We, 5G? The High-Speed Network Changing Your World

With the delta variant of COVID-19 spreading wildly across the U.S. and large parts of the world, one thing is clear: Our pre-pandemic life of full-on physical interactions isn’t returning anytime soon. The good news? The juice of technology — specifically 5G telecommunications — could elevate the otherwise soul-draining experience of constantly staring at our screens.

You can feel the “touch” of your long-distance lover, download movies faster than ever and travel in driverless vehicles with previously unimaginable reaction time. But 5G will also change our lives in other, more impactful ways: facilitating breakthroughs in fields of science, health, the future of work and just about anything else you can think of. Today’s Daily Dose delves into the world of tomorrow’s mobile communication.

WHERE DO WE STAND?

Health Care Hope

How many times during the past 18 months have you mourned the lack of ready access to medical assistance for ailments other than COVID-19? The pandemic has accelerated the shift toward virtual medicine, which is expected to represent a $3.8 billion market by 2024. Now throw 5G into the mix. With the help of improved augmented reality (AR) glasses, first responders could connect emergency patients to experts many miles away. Crucially, specialists can respond in real time because of the low latency of 5G. This could prove lifesaving, especially in large parts of the developing world where doctors aren’t easily available outside big cities. Meanwhile, a Norwegian medtech company is developing remote, real-time heart monitoring with wearable ECG devices.

Transportation Trick

At just over 200 milliseconds, human reaction to speed isn’t always adequate when you need to pump the car brakes. Cut to 5G’s five-millisecond response, and your chances of avoiding a road crash improve dramatically if you’re in an autonomous vehicle (AV). What’s more, you also have real-time information on speeding vehicles next to you or upcoming roadblocks. Sure, over 40% of American drivers are currently afraid to ride in a self-driving vehicle. And indeed, self-driving cars have been involved in deadly crashes. But with 5G’s low latency, expect some of that resistance to dissipate in the years ahead. By 2040, as many as 33 million AVs are predicted to hit the road. Terrestrial networks aside, 5G satellites can ensure that an AV driving in remote or rural locations does not suffer slow internet.

Creative Kick

Imagine this: You’re at the Hollywood premiere of a Star Wars movie. With cutting-edge 5G-enabled technology, you interact with the Sith troopers in real time. This isn’t some futuristic drivel but the real experience of some lucky guests who, at the premiere after-party of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019), geeked out, 5G-style. The actors playing the troopers were operating from a remote location 15 miles away. Be it immersive movies, theater, gaming, music, mobile journalism or holographic advertisement, 5G will transform how we develop, consume and even perceive creative content.

ALL WORK AND SOME PLAY

Remote Working

“Are you there? Can you hear me?”; “I can’t see you!” There’s a good chance that these urgent appeals have been a mainstay in your work Zoom calls for the past 18 months. But if part- or full-time remote working is the future, we need something better. Enter 5G — the end of awkward work calls. It will also allow users to transfer data quickly via emails or cloud systems. With stable connectivity and remote access, you can ditch your local café and its overpriced coffee and instead work from just about anywhere. And with 5G satellites coming into play in the years ahead, a road trip through Nebraska or a romp in Utah does not have to come at the cost of your precious annual leave. You can work, play and travel all at the same time.

Upskilling

Imagine trying to fix a piece of machinery that you’ve never seen before. Seems impossible, right? But by strapping on an AR headset, you can carry out instructions from an expert anywhere on the planet. Across industries, 5G is expected to take over rote work, allowing employees to commit their time to creative tasks like analysis and strategic thinking. An Ericsson factory in Lewisville, Texas, has already reported successful use of AR in assisting on-site workers with remote personnel who operate drones around the facility. Those with “cognitive-physical skills” — boasting virtues of both blue and white-collar jobs — for new-age tasks assisted by automated systems will be in demand. Experts believe that 5G will most positively impact industries like telecommunications, health care, manufacturing, retail, transportation and agriculture.

Sporting Success

The world of professional sports is blink-and-miss. With 5G-savvy sensor and camera-based systems, it is set to play out even faster — but with transformative experiences. “A savvy league like the NBA is already experimenting with in-stadium experiences,” Jon Metzler, a lecturer at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley and an expert on 5G, tells OZY. With advanced AR headsets and screens operating in a “connected” stadium, users could view stats and data overlaid on the field of play in real time. What’s more, AR and virtual reality (VR) will allow sports fans to share their experiences in real time with friends in another city or country, who can join your celebrations (Cue: Olay Olay Olay) via 360-degree video!

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DIGITAL LOVE

Distant Touch

When the Eagles crooned “Love Will Keep Us Alive” in the early ’90s, flip phones were only just coming on the scene. In the era of 5G, speedy internet might be what keeps love alive. Speaking as one-half of a couple separated by the pandemic, technology is a loyal third wheel. I idolize the profundity of Keatsian love letters, but on most days, affection is best communicated over a video call, watching my partner roll his eyes at my suggestion of the next trash TV we should watch. Only sometimes, our screen freezes, the call drops and what would have been goofy banter loses its moment. Glitch-free 5G would solve that problem. Plus, through cutting-edge haptic technology, cross-country hugs and kisses that mimic the sensation of touch could become a reality. Touch bracelets, hug shirts and saucier remote intimacy devices too would get a face-lift.

Afar But Together

There’s quite a bit you can already do together as a remote couple. Netflix Party, a rage among friends during the lockdown, only needs a Google Chrome extension, some popcorn . . . and trusty internet. A friend took his date to a virtual Travis Scott concert via the in-game entertainment system in video game Fortnite. You can opt to idle as virtual avatars in the meadows of Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons, or if the mood strikes, throw a seaside wedding. With 5G-enabled VR helmets and suits, the lines between same-city relationships and long-distance ones will continue to blur. For now though, one rogue router can upend your date night plans.

Mingling Singles

Virtual dating games, already popular, are online landscapes where one can simulate romance with 3D avatars or tailor-made characters. With AR, the experience is going to be more immersive. And 5G will likely leave its imprint on more traditional dating apps like Bumble and Tinder as well — perhaps in the form of flirty filters on in-app video calls or through 3D avatars that let you express your personality more effectively than a bio can. AR can even be used to scan the physical realms you frequent — bars, bookstores, gyms and parks — to find fellow app users who share your interests.

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ENTER, FUTURE

Highway to Heaven

Your driverless car is racing along European highways guided by 5G as you laze in the back seat. Then, as you cross a border, the network provider changes and your signal drops. Your dream vacation turns into a nightmare. This is the scenario that companies and governments are now working to avoid. Mobile device manufacturer Nokia has already tested a 5G-enabled road between its head office in the Finnish district of Kera and a train station less than a mile away. Meanwhile, the European Union is working on creating a seamless cross-border 5G network that will ensure that signals don’t drop when you cross from France into Italy. It’s forking out 47 million euros to set up 5G corridors along the borders between Italy and Austria, Spain and Portugal, Greece and Turkey and in Luxembourg. Read more on OZY.

City of the Future

Yinchuan in northern China is the test lab for a nationwide expansion of 5G-enabled governance. Imagine paying for your bus ticket by having a camera scan your face. With 6,400 5G base stations around the city, Yinchuan is perfectly set up with sensors and CCTV cameras to constantly monitor and feed information to the city’s municipal, law enforcement, traffic control and other departments. Smart street lighting, electric vehicle charging stations and smooth trash collection are just some of the ways our lives will change when the rest of the world adopts this approach. But be warned: Cities like Yinchuan are also ideal for governments that want to monitor your every step. Like most tech, 5G can cut both ways.

Next Up, 6G

Have you fancied dabbling in 3D floating images, the way Tony Stark manipulates the holographic blueprint of his Iron Man suit? 6G — yes, that which comes after 5G — could make those sci-fi dreams come true by the start of the next decade. What 5G does for individual driverless cars, 6G could do for an entire city, effectively connecting millions of vehicles to make sure they each can travel on the fastest and safest route possible. And oh, you could download 300 movies per second. In June, the U.S. and U.K. made the joint development of 6G technology a part of their updated Atlantic Charter. But remember, there’s an entire generation to bridge first. “What network operators predict today might be thematically right, but how services unfold in reality is a different question,” says UC Berkeley’s Jon Metzler.