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New York's subway portal, India's transgender mayor, and why you should leave your baby outside

Our weekly round-up of city stories we enjoyed elsewhere. 

  • The Guardian ran an interview this week with Madhu, the transgender mayor of Raigarh, India.  Madhu worked in the city was a street dancer and singer in the east Indian city when she began to realise how badly the city needed sanitation reform. From the piece:

“There were no proper sidewalks,” she recalls . “The alleys were dirty and piled high with garbage. Poor people, abandoned in their old age, slept in the streets with nothing to keep them warm. We decided to do something – by running for this election.”

Madhu ran as an independent candidate with sanitation as her main agenda and was elected as mayor in January. In the process, she’s won celebrity-like status: as the piece notes, “like Madonna, [she] goes by one name”.


 

  • Back in 2009, a German computer science professor built himself a house where everything from music to heating was connected to the internet and could be controlled remotely.

But two years ago, the central control hub stopped working, and he couldn’t do anything – not even turn on the lights – until he figured out the source of the problem. You can read the rest of Fusion’s story, which could become ever more commonplace as smart technology takes off, here

  • If you’ve ever been to Reykjavik, you may have encountered the strange sight of baby buggies left outside shops and restaurants, even in the snow. Apparently, this isn’t just a matter of convenience. From the piece:

If they’re not on the street, they’re on balconies or in the backyard, while their parents huddle over hot tea indoors.

The custom of wheeling your baby outside to sleep is such a big deal in Iceland that Icelanders who live in big apartment buildings sometimes keep a special carriage on the balcony – for napping only.

This sounds a bit like the Spartans leaving babies on top of mountaintops to test their mettle. But the average life expectancy in Iceland is ten years higher than the global average, so who are we to judge? 

  • And finally, reports of a mysterious portal between stops on the New York subway have turned out to be, well, true. Gothamist investigated after several passengers tweeted about their G train stopping between stations while the conductor unlocks a door in the tunnel, and two women step into it. Read the explanation here and here

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