Tagged Music

How to Pretend You’re in Tunis Tonight

Panorama La Medina, a rooftop cafe in Tunis, offers some of the best views of the old city.
Panorama La Medina, a rooftop cafe in Tunis, offers some of the best views of the old city.Credit…Sebastian Modak/The New York Times

How to Pretend You’re in Tunis Tonight

The Tunisian capital beckons with white-sand beaches, the medina, cafe districts and Roman ruins that speak to its place in history. Luckily, there are ways to capture its spirit at home.

Panorama La Medina, a rooftop cafe in Tunis, offers some of the best views of the old city.Credit…Sebastian Modak/The New York Times

Sebastian Modak

  • Jan. 12, 2021, 5:00 a.m. ET

While your travel plans may be on hold, you can pretend you’re somewhere new for the night. Around the World at Home invites you to channel the spirit of a new place each week with recommendations on how to explore the culture, all from the comfort of your home.

There are worse places to be lost than the old medina of Tunis, a dizzying labyrinth of ancient alleyways. As I discovered on my visit to the Tunisian capital, there is so much to look at: the vendors doling out spices, the cats watching the afternoon pass from sun-soaked stoops, the groups of friends sitting around crowded tables and sipping mint tea. You might pass the open window of a traditional music school and hear snippets of a haunting song hundreds of years old or, out of another storefront, the thump of techno music accompanying an experimental art exhibition.

From left: Shopping in the old medina of Tunis, swimming at a Carthage beach, and the ruins of ancient Carthage.
From left: Shopping in the old medina of Tunis, swimming at a Carthage beach, and the ruins of ancient Carthage.Credit… Andy Haslam for The New York Times (left and far right); Mohamed Messara/EPA, via Shutterstock (center)

It is hard to believe that all of this exists in just one corner of a sprawling, cosmopolitan and complex city on the tip of North Africa. Elsewhere, there are nightclubs that spill out onto white-sand beaches, cafe districts that wouldn’t be out of place in southern Europe, and Roman ruins that speak to its place in history as a gateway to Africa and a center of Mediterranean commerce. It is a lot to take in over a single visit, and I am looking forward to my next one. In the meantime, I will be following these tips to make it feel as if I am back in Tunis, even if just for a night.

Cook with harissa

Tunisian cuisine is sometimes hearty, other times delicate. It can be spicy, but is not afraid of a little sweetness. It is also brimming with history. Arabs, Romans, Sicilians, Byzantines, Berbers and more have all, at one point or another, called this land on the Mediterranean home, and that is all on display come mealtime. Rafram Chaddad, an artist and food researcher, spends much of his time tracing that history, with a special interest in the food culture of Tunisian Jews like his own family. He consulted multiple old recipes to come up with this one, for a pan-fried sea bass with dried rose petals and harissa, a ubiquitous hot chile paste. Featured in Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s “Jerusalem,” a collection of recipes from around the world that converge in that city, Mr. Chaddad’s recipe highlights the importance of seafood to Tunis’s food scene.

A Tunisian woman preparing harissa.Credit…Mohamed Messara/EPA, via Shutterstock

“Fish in the Tunisian sea are special,” said Mr. Chaddad, who grew up in Jerusalem and recently returned to Tunis, pointing out that the hot temperatures and shallow depths make for a special flavor. “The seafood here is kissed by the sun.” While you might not be able to get your hands on bona fide Tunisian sea bass, the flavors — the way the spiciness of the harissa plays with the perfumes of the rose petals — are evocative enough of the city’s cuisine.

Make sure the egg is runny

For a snack, Mr. Chaddad recommends brik a l’oeuf, a deep-fried cousin to the dumpling, filled with some combination of tuna, potatoes, onions, capers, harissa (because of course), and, the star, a runny egg yolk that will drip all over your plate at the very first bite. His recipe, also included in “Jerusalem,” was featured in a write-up from the travel website Roads and Kingdoms, alongside an iteration from a Tunisian grandmother. Sarah Souli, a journalist whose associations with Tunisia’s capital are closely linked to visits with her grandmother, told me that she wouldn’t dare try it on her own, even if she encourages others who want a taste of Tunis to do so.

“I don’t cook brik at home because I think longing is an important part of loving,” Ms. Souli said. “I’ll wait till I can go back to Tunis and Memeti, my grandmother, makes me one.”

From left: Tastes of Tunis, including a traditionally prepared couscous dish, fish at a market and sweets.Credit…Photographs by Fethi Belaid/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Or put in an order

If the thought of cooking up your own Tunisian pastries is too daunting and you happen to be in the United States, you can order a box of them. Layla’s Delicacies, based in New Jersey, ships boxes of pastries across the country to Tunisians who miss the taste of home.

“Traditionally made by hand at home, Tunisian pastries are made with the noblest ingredients, and take an incredible amount of time and attention to detail,” said Rim Ben Amara, the company’s founder.

While the pastries are most common at gatherings, there’s no shame in digging into a box on your own. For something that you would come across in Tunis, try kaak warka, a doughnut-shaped treat filled with almond paste and rose water, or samsa, a triangle-shaped sweet pastry encrusted with pistachios and filled with almonds and hazelnuts.

The Bardo Museum, a converted mansion, houses one of the largest collections of Roman murals in the world.Credit…Sebastian Modak/The New York Times

Take a museum tour

Tunis is brimming with history: the mausoleums of the medina that have remained unchanged for centuries; the Roman ruins at the original site of Carthage, in the city’s northeastern suburbs; and the Bardo Museum, a sprawling 19th-century palace that is home to one of the largest collections of Roman mosaics in the world. While there is nothing like seeing them in person, you can get a sense of the scale and craftsmanship of the ancient artwork through a virtual tour that allows you to roam the palace’s halls at your own pace.

But don’t forget the contemporary art scene

You also should get a sense of the contemporary art scene, which can be found in art galleries and pop-up events across the city. Dora Dalila Cheffi, a Finnish-Tunisian artist, paints brightly-colored tableaus, often inspired by the city she now calls home. Some of her work can be viewed online. Scenes from across the city are interspersed with more esoteric interpretations of Tunisian life.

“The slow pace of life, light and general atmosphere are great for the type of work I do,” she said, describing how her work has evolved over time. “There is less scenery now, but that doesn’t mean that the work doesn’t talk about life in Tunisia. If anything, it does so even more.”

Ms. Cheffi also recommends transporting yourself to the city through the work of a street art duo, ST4 the project. Their work can be seen not only in Tunis but also in other cities around the world, as they weave homegrown influences into their work to create connections across borders. “They use Arabic lettering and, as the work evolves, the letters transform more and more into an abstract and universal language,” Ms. Cheffi said.

Sidi Bou Said, a scenic town on the outskirts of Tunis, is popular with tourists for its white and blue buildings and views of the Mediterranean. Credit…Andy Haslam for The New York Times

Get cozy

While the fouta, a handwoven towel, has its roots in the hammam, or public bathhouses, and are commonplace today along Tunisia’s beaches, they’re just as useful as a cozy throw at home. Fouta Harissa works with artisans who spend hours spinning the cotton towels on looms that have been passed down through generations.

“I always pack a few when I travel — to give as gifts (along with a jar of harissa), and also as my one-and-done accessory,” said Fouta Harissa’s co-founder, Lamia Hatira. “It’s a wrap, a sarong, a beach towel or a blanket depending on my destination.” It’s a versatile accessory — even when that destination is your living room couch.

From left: The old British Embassy in Tunis, which has been converted into a hotel, the Royal Victoria; the rapper 4lLFA performing in Gammarth, a suburb; and the Tunis medina.Credit…Andy Haslam for The New York Times (left); Sebastian Modak/The New York Times (center and far right)

Wind down with some music

Finally, it is time to unplug with the sounds of Tunis. For an introduction to Tunisian music, check out this radio broadcast, featuring a wide survey of traditional genres and an interview with a Tunisian percussionist. If it is current sounds you are after, Emily Sarsam, a cultural programmer in Tunis and one of the hosts of the aforementioned radio show, recommends “Lila Fi Tounes” by Deena Abdelwahed, an experimental and electronic rendition of the jazz standard “A Night in Tunisia.”

Ms. Sarsam, along with Ms. Cheffi, also recommends the work of Souhayl Guesmi, a composer who releases music under the name Ratchopper. A frequent collaborator with some of Tunisia’s biggest rappers, his solo albums are ethereal and full of barely contained energy — much like the city of Tunis itself.

How are you going to channel the spirit of Tunis in your home? Share your ideas in the comments.

To keep up with upcoming articles in this series, sign up for our At Home newsletter or follow New York Times Travel on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. See more Around the World at Home guides here.

How to Pretend You’re in Cartagena Today

Restaurants around San Diego Plaza in Cartagena. At left is the School of Fine Arts of Cartagena, once a church and a monastery built in 1608.
Restaurants around San Diego Plaza in Cartagena. At left is the School of Fine Arts of Cartagena, once a church and a monastery built in 1608.Credit…Juan Arredondo for The New York Times

How to Pretend You’re in Cartagena Today

The Colombian port city, home to the trademark sounds and dances of the region, is so full of magic that it has inspired entire books by Gabriel García Márquez.

Restaurants around San Diego Plaza in Cartagena. At left is the School of Fine Arts of Cartagena, once a church and a monastery built in 1608.Credit…Juan Arredondo for The New York Times

Sebastian Modak

  • Jan. 5, 2021, 5:00 a.m. ET

While your travel plans may be on hold, you can pretend you’re somewhere new for the night. Around the World at Home invites you to channel the spirit of a new place each week with recommendations on how to explore the culture, all from the comfort of your home.

On a clear day, from the 17th-century La Popa Convent on the crest of a 500-foot hill, the view of Cartagena can trigger mild vertigo. Slowly, using the skyline as your guidepost to the Colombian port city, you can begin to get your bearings. That improbable cluster of skyscrapers is Bocagrande, a neighborhood where beach resorts share space with gleaming office towers. Next in the panorama is the walled old city, where narrow alleyways connect colonial-era churches with brightly colored shops and restaurants. In between the two neighborhoods is another: Getsemani, unremarkable from afar but, on closer inspection, a veritable street art gallery exploding with creative energy.

Scenes from Cartagena, from left: the defensive walls surrounding the historic center; the lively restaurant scene in San Diego Plaza; and a tranquil sea view.
Scenes from Cartagena, from left: the defensive walls surrounding the historic center; the lively restaurant scene in San Diego Plaza; and a tranquil sea view.Credit…Juan Arredondo for The New York Times (left and center); David Freid for The New York Times

From high up, it can be hard to tell, but this is a city so full of magic that it inspired entire books by the Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel García Márquez; even after he settled in Mexico City, he continued to keep a house here. Maybe that’s because Cartagena’s magic leaves an indelible mark in your memory, even as it fuels your imagination. I still remember my first visit, over 20 years ago, as part of a bigger trip to my mother’s home country. In my mind’s eye, the blue of that sea under the bright Caribbean sun is bluer than anything I’ve seen since.

Cartagena has long been a top stop for international visitors to Colombia. The city managed to escape the worst of the country’s drug-related violence, though it continues to struggle with issues of police brutality and racial inequities.

People come to the city for glimpses of its history; it was once one of Spain’s most lucrative (and extractive) global outposts. But they end up falling in love with much more: the nightclubs that buzz until the early hours of the morning with musicians from across the region; the seafood and fried treats; and the less tangible ways it unlocks creativity. There will come a time when we can experience the city on the ground again, but in the meantime there are a few approaches to channeling the city’s magic from the comfort of home.

Driving by the fortress walls of Cartagena’s old city.Credit…Joaquin Sarmiento/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Get a taste of magical realism

According to the Cartagenera novelist Margarita García Robayo, it is impossible not to draw connections between her hometown and the books of Gabriel Gárcia Márquez, who died in 2014. “If you have read García Márquez, there is no way you can go to Cartagena and not hear all the alarm bells of recognition,” said Ms. García Robayo, whose collection “Fish Soup” includes explorations of life on Colombia’s Caribbean coast.

Many people don’t realize how influential the city of Cartagena, where Mr. Gárcia Márquez worked for a time as a journalist, was to his writing. Some of his most imaginative scenes — men with giant wings, blood that can move up staircases, ghosts more prone to conversing than haunting — seem less far-fetched when you have spent a day lost in the city’s sun-dappled, cobblestone streets. And reading his books will bring you right into those streets, magic and all. It is why the author said he was more concerned with truth than fantasy. “The problem is that Caribbean reality resembles the wildest imagination,” Mr. García Márquez told The Paris Review in 1981. For something directly related to the city, start with one of the author’s most celebrated novels, “Love in the Time of Cholera.” Despite the fact that the city in the book is never named, you will find whispers of Cartagena throughout.

From left: a dancer in Plaza de Bolivar; the nightclub Cafe Havana that often features live salsa music; and drummers in the nearby town of San Basilio de Palenque.Credit…From left, Robert Caplin for The New York Times; David Freid for The New York Times; Kike Calvo/Associated Press

Get an education in champeta

“Cartagena is a city full of sound,” Ms. Gárcia Robayo told me. “The people speak in shouts, music blares at deafening volumes and always, always there is laughter in the background.” That’s a lot to recreate in your living room, but here’s where to start: champeta, the Afro-Colombian dance music that blares from picós, or brightly colored sound systems set up on street corners across the city. The lyrics are sung in Spanish and Palenquero, a Spanish-based Creole spoken in the nearby town of San Basilio de Palenque, the first free African settlement in the Americas. Melodies were originally derived from the dance music of South Africa, Congo and Ghana, which showed up on the docks of Cartagena and Barranquilla in the hands of West African sailors in the 1970s and ’80s. Once stigmatized and associated with delinquency — an outlook born from centuries of colonialism, racism and inequality — in recent years, champeta has begun to take its rightful place as the trademark sound of the Colombian Caribbean.

To feel like you are having a night out in Cartagena, put on the kind of songs you would hear at nightclubs like Bazurto Social Club or at pop-up picós away from the tourists, outside the walled city. Start with this tailor-made playlist, featuring some big names in champeta and related genres. If you are feeling particularly ambitious, try your hand at the accompanying champeta dance moves.

Take a virtual music tour

Of course, champeta isn’t the only style of music you will hear in Cartagena, so to get a fuller immersion into the sounds of Colombia that converge in the city’s streets sign up for a virtual tour. Impulse Travel, a Colombian tour agency that works with community organizations, is offering a virtual version of its “Sounds of Colombia” tour, condensing the 8-day trip into an hourlong virtual experience, which they are offering on-demand.

“We were lucky to have captured a lot of footage and high-quality audio recordings from the trips we had made in the past,” Rodrigo Atuesta, Impulse Travel’s chief executive told me. “So we put together a virtual experience to make people travel through the soundscape of this unique trip.” You might not be dancing at sunset to the sound of an accordion or watching craftspeople carve traditional flutes, but squint (and sip enough Dictador Rum as an accompaniment) and you might think you are.

Recipes from New York Times Cooking, from left: Colombian beef and potato empanadas, Colombian-style chicken, short rib; and potato stew and Colombian corn and cheese arepas.Credit…Johnny Miller for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Rebecca Jurkevic (left and far right); Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times (center)

Dance while you cook

Cartagena is among the best places in the country to try Colombian cuisine, a hearty and delicious fusion of African, Indigenous and Spanish culinary traditions. While there are a number of dishes over at New York Times Cooking to try, why not get cooking with the help of a local, to really feel like you are there? And, because we are talking about Cartagena here, this cooking class comes with music.

Foodies, a Colombian food tour company, is offering an online “Arepas and Dancing” experience, where guests will learn how to make arepas, a pancake-like delight made from corn, accompanied by a killer soundtrack. You will try your hand at arepa de huevo, a yellow arepa stuffed with egg and ground beef, and a white arepa with anise. In Cartagena, arepas de huevo (or empanadas de huevo, as they are sometimes confusingly called) are found everywhere across the city, including at the picós. So, to make you feel like you really are taking a break from the champeta blaring out of sound systems, Foodies has a playlist to accompany the whole process.

Palenqueras, Afro-Caribbean women from nearby San Basilio de Palenque, the first free African settlement in the Americas, sell fruit common to the region.Credit…David Freid for The New York Times

Finish off with something sweet

You have navigated the twists of Cartagena through the written word, danced to the stomach-churning bass of champeta music, and tried your hand at a local specialty. Now it is time to wind down with some dessert. Cocadas are little coconut-based treats found throughout Latin America. But for some of the best, you have to go to Cartagena and seek out the palenqueras, the Afro-Caribbean women from San Basilio de Palenque who have the confections down to an art.

AfroLatinx Travel, a tour company that focuses on Latin America’s African heritage, is offering an online cocada-making presentation with María Miranda, a Cartagena-based cocada master. Along with an introduction to a rich culinary heritage, Ms. Miranda’s class offers a reminder of our responsibilities as tourists, virtual or otherwise, the need for respect as visitors and the underlying trauma that permeates Cartagena’s history.

“In Cartagena, we often see these women in their brightly colored dresses and their products for sale,” the experience’s description reads. “However, do we see them beyond their colonial style dress and products for sale? These are real women. These Black women have fought to remain in spaces that have despised their presence. These women are not tourist attractions.”

A pedestrian walks along a street in the old walled city of Cartagena. In the background is the iconic Metropolitan Cathedral Basilica of Saint Catherine of Alexandria. Credit…Juan Arredondo for The New York Times

How are you going to channel the spirit of Cartagena in your home? Share your ideas in the comments.

To keep up with upcoming articles in this series, sign up for our At Home newsletter or follow New York Times Travel on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. See more Around the World at Home guides here.

New Year's Eve Playlist From Around the World

A Global New Year’s Playlist for Your Party of One

This year finally coming to an end is reason enough to celebrate a bit. Even if you had to stay home, your music can travel the world.

Aya Nakamura performing in 2019.
Aya Nakamura performing in 2019.Credit…Helene Pambrun/Paris Match, via Getty Images
Sebastian Modak

  • Dec. 26, 2020, 11:18 p.m. ET

Around the world, New Year’s Eve is going to look very different this year, but the applause and cheers at midnight might have a level of catharsis not seen for awhile. People will certainly be celebrating 2020’s passing.

And these celebrations, whether with a small group of friends, household members only or solo, need a soundtrack.

Even with so much put on hold, musicians still managed to put out music this year. This playlist draws from releases all over the world, demonstrating how a guitar-rock band from Mali, a dream-pop singer from South Korea, a reggae legend from Jamaica and more all managed to express little moments of joy in a universally difficult time. You will find beats to dance to, new genres to fall in love with and, hopefully, connections with different cultures that will make you feel a little closer to the rest of the world — even if you pop the cork of a champagne bottle and toast yourself.

‘Doudou,’ by Aya Nakamura

The flashing lights, the thumping bass, the crush of dancing crowds … For most of us, nightclubs are such distant memories, they have retreated into the realm of make-believe. This track, from the French-Malian singer Aya Nakamura’s latest album, brings it all flooding back. The mid-tempo, rolling beat and glittering synth hook are full of barely contained energy and possibilities, much like the beginning of a night out.

‘Champetizate,’ by Kevin Florez, The Busy Twist and Caien Madoka

What do you get when you combine a globe-trotting producer from Britain, the looping melodies of a Congolese soukous guitarist and a Colombian champeta star who is known for taking an Afro-Colombian dance genre and catapulting it into the 21st century? An absolute rager of a song, this is a four-minute approximation of what it would sound like if the whole world were partying at once.

‘Waydelel,’ by Bab L’Bluz

Anchored by the guembri, a three-stringed bass lute that is traditionally used by the Gnawa people of North Africa, this transcontinental quartet creates rollicking, headbanging music. Somewhere in the mix, you will find the hypnotic loops of Gnawa religious music, poetry from the Sahara and the reckless abandon of fuzz rock and blues. And every listen reveals a little more.

‘Yenimno’ by Onipa

Highlife — an energetic genre of music propelled by guitars and horns — originated in Ghana in the early 20th century. This song, from the Britain-based Afrofuturist band Onipa, shows what happens when those musical ideas spread through time and space, evolving as they go. It takes exactly 16 seconds for the foot-stomping beat to lock in, and it doesn’t relent until the final roll of drums, almost five minutes later.

‘Fey Fey’ by Songhoy Blues

Songhoy Blues, a rock band from northern Mali, knows a thing or two about overcoming adversity. The band formed in Bamako, Mali’s capital, in 2012, after fleeing their home region in the midst of a fundamentalist Islamist insurgency. Their music, characterized by squealing electric guitars over looping polyrhythms, evokes resilience and determination — two qualities we will be leaning on in 2021.

‘Black Catbird’ by The Garifuna Collective

A cut from a compilation of music inspired by birdsong might seem like a strange addition to a playlist for a party, but a few seconds into this groove, it makes more sense. As you bob your head to the rich melodies from this collective of Garifuna musicians of Belize, you can feel extra good that any proceeds from your purchase of the record is going toward protecting endangered birds.

‘Never (Lagos Never Gonna Be the Same)’ by Tony Allen and Hugh Masekela

This is what happens when two legends, the South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela and the Nigerian drumming virtuoso Tony Allen, end up in the same room. The majority of the album was recorded in 2010 in London, but the finished product was only released this year. This song, a tribute to Allen’s erstwhile bandmate Fela Kuti, shows both musicians in perfect lock step; Mr. Masekela’s trumpet melodies and vocal lines flowing in between the cracks of Mr. Allen’s loping rhythms. The song seems particularly poignant now, as Masekela died in 2018 and Allen died this year.

‘Three Little Birds’ by Toots & the Maytals, feat. Ziggy Marley

Toots Hibbert, considered one of the forefathers of reggae music, was another of the many musical pioneers we lost this year. “Got to Be Tough,” his band’s final album, was released less than two weeks before Hibbert’s death and serves as testament to his legacy, both in terms of music and activism. There are slow-burning reggae jams, calls to celebrate, social rallying cries and then this, a ska-inflected cover of the Bob Marley classic that turns the roots reggae song into something eminently danceable.

‘Volantia’ by Sexores

Sexores, an Ecuadorean duo based in Mexico City, doesn’t exactly specialize in party music. But occasionally, in between the dark undercurrents of shoegaze, synth-pop and psychedelia, they hit upon something that feels jubilant. Propulsive and shimmeringly beautiful, “Volantia” is a song for shaking off the cobwebs of 2020.

‘Bye Bye Summer’ by Aseul

Every party must come to an end, even this one. This dreamy, washed-out track from the South Korean producer and singer Aseul is the sound of last call at a bar. It drips with nostalgia, and the high-pitched whines of synthesizers cut through the mix like the first light of a new year after a long night. It invites you to take a breath and be hopeful for what is next.

How to Pretend You’re in Quebec City Tonight

A toboggan slide runs along the promenade known as Dufferin Terrace toward the castlelike Fairmont le Château Frontenac in Québec City.
A toboggan slide runs along the promenade known as Dufferin Terrace toward the castlelike Fairmont le Château Frontenac in Québec City.Credit…Renaud Philippe for The New York Times

How to Pretend You’re in Quebec City Tonight

As the song goes, there’s no place like home for the holidays. Wherever you are, you can embrace the coziness of the season like Québécois do.

A toboggan slide runs along the promenade known as Dufferin Terrace toward the castlelike Fairmont le Château Frontenac in Québec City.Credit…Renaud Philippe for The New York Times

  • Dec. 22, 2020, 5:00 a.m. ET

While your travel plans may be on hold, you can pretend you’re somewhere new for the night. Around the World at Home invites you to channel the spirit of a new place each week with recommendations on how to explore the culture, all from the comfort of your home.

When the snow falls and the wind howls, the people of Quebec City don’t hibernate. Rather, they bundle up and celebrate with one of the most picturesque winter carnivals in the world. Overlooking the St. Lawrence River, with cobblestone streets and quaint stone houses, Old Quebec looks like an enchanted snow globe village — especially at Christmastime. In fact, the historic district of this former French colony is a UNESCO World Heritage site, thanks in part to it being the only city in North America to have preserved its ramparts.

From left; In Quebec City, winter pleasures include strolling the 400-year-old city's streets, views of the St.-Jean-Baptiste area and snow bathers with Bonhomme. the official representative of the Quebec Winter Carnival, earlier this year.
From left; In Quebec City, winter pleasures include strolling the 400-year-old city’s streets, views of the St.-Jean-Baptiste area and snow bathers with Bonhomme. the official representative of the Quebec Winter Carnival, earlier this year.Credit…From left, Christinne Muschi for The New York Times; Renaud Philippe for The New York Times; Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press, via Associated Press

If I were there I’d be taking in sweeping river views from the promenade known as Dufferin Terrace and the Fairmont le Château Frontenac, the castlelike hotel where Alfred Hitchcock filmed scenes for “I Confess.” In the evening, I’d stroll amid evergreens and twinkling string lights on the Rue Petit-Champlain and stop into Notre-Dame-des-Victoires, one of the oldest stone churches in North America. Hours would be spent ice skating, warming up at an outdoor fire pit and refueling with hearty fare like poutine and tourtière (meat pie) from beloved restaurants.

But as the song goes, there’s no place like home for the holidays. Wherever you happen to be, you can embrace the coziness of the season like Québécois do — with maple syrup-inspired recipes, craft beer, outdoor pursuits and good cheer — even if a single snowflake never falls.

Le Projet Spécialité Microbrasseries, a bar in Quebec City, is known for its craft ciders and beers.Credit…Renaud Philippe for The New York Times

Cook up comfort with meat and maple syrup

“Blast some cheesy Celine Dion song on your iPhone at earsplitting decibels, find a good recipe for poutine — that trouser-busting dish of French fries, Cheddar cheese curds and gravy — and, if you are in chillier climes, go outside and build a snowman,” advises Dan Bilefsky, the Canada correspondent for The Times. Born in Quebec, Mr. Bilefsky has written about the “cultural skirmish over who deserves credit” for poutine: Québécois — or the rest of Canada. Happily, all you have to decide is which poutine recipe to make. Try one from Saveur, CBC/Radio-Canada, or Chuck Hughes, the co-owner and executive chef of Montreal’s Garde Manger and Le Bremner.

From left, a classic poutine, tartine au sucre and tourtière.Credit…From left, Alexi Hobbs for The New York Times; Craig Lee for The New York Times; Gentl and Hyers for The New York Times. Food stylist: Maggie Ruggiero. Prop stylist: Jerrie-Joy.

“Québécois culture is defined by a certain cowboy excess when it comes to food,” as Mr. Bilefsky put it in an email. Cook up comfort with a New York Times Cooking recipe for a savory tourtière, or one for maple-roasted rack of venison from the celebrated Canadian chef Martin Picard of Au Pied de Cochon (often credited with reimagining poutine with foie gras). Be inspired by First Nations cuisine with chef Martin Gagné’s venison carpaccio with cedar jelly and sea buckthorn jam. And turn to chefs David McMillan and Frédéric Morin, owners of the acclaimed Joe Beef in Montreal, for more recipes in “The Art of Living According to Joe Beef” cookbook.

For dessert, fill your kitchen with the scent of maple syrup pie. Though why stop there? Bake maple syrup-soaked doughnut holes or maple tarte tartin with sweet recipes from Mr. Picard, who also created Au Pied de Cochon Sugar Shack where the essential ingredient is — what else?— maple syrup.

Host your own winter carnival

Take part in some typical Quebec Winter Carnival activities from your hometown (though perhaps skip the local tradition of ax-throwing). Make snow sculptures and go sledding or snowshoeing. Not living in a winter wonderland? You can string up white fairy lights, sing “Au Royaume du Bonhomme Hiver” with Renée Martel (to the tune of “Winter Wonderland”), and savor the Carnival grog, a hot, usually alcoholic drink. A recipe to make some at home with maple syrup, cranberry juice, cinnamon, cloves and sweet grass is on the Quebec Winter Carnival website.

A view of the Château Frontenac.Credit…Alice Chiche/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Parlez français

On days it’s too cold to linger outdoors, learn or brush up on your French, the official language of government in Quebec (and a delicate subject in a majority French-speaking province surrounded by English speakers). Stick to your budget with “Want to Learn French? Italian? Russian? There’s No Time Like the Present” for language tools that are free or won’t break the bank.

Get cozy with a stack of detective novels

What better way to spend long winter nights than with intrigue and mystery set in a small Quebec hamlet? Light a fire, real or virtual, crack open one of Louise Penny’s best-selling detective novels and spend the evening with Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec police force. In the most recent book, “All the Devils Are Here,” published this fall, the inspector heads to Paris. But the 15 books in the Gamache series that precede it are steeped in the culture and cuisine of Quebec (with the occasional murder), beginning with “Still Life.”

From left, still images from the films “Matthias and Maxime,” “And the Birds Rained Down” and “Antigone.”Credit…From left, Mubi; Films Outsiders; ACPAV

Spend movie night with directors from Quebec

Keep au courant with Canada’s Top Ten, the Toronto International Film Festival’s annual list of the country’s best films (10 features and 10 shorts). The 2019 selections include several from Quebec directors such as Louise Archambault, whose “And the Birds Rained Down” (“Il Pleuvait des Oiseaux”) is about older hermits living in the wild and a love that blossoms there; and Sophie Deraspe’s “Antigone,” a riff on Sophocles’ tragedy centered on an immigrant family in Montreal (it won best Canadian feature at the Toronto International Film Festival). Also on the list is “Matthias and Maxime” from the writer and director Xavier Dolan, the Cannes Film Festival regular who shared the Jury Prize in 2014 for his film “Mommy” with the French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard. (The 2020 list was recently posted online.)

Sing along with Celine Dion

For a road trip across Quebec in 2018, Mr. Bilefsky, the Times correspondent, made a playlist of songs that he felt embodied Québécois identity and would also provide an atmospheric soundtrack to the province’s landscapes. There was music from Samian, an Indigenous rapper who sings in French and Algonquin; Leonard Cohen; Éric Lapointe; Les Cowboys Fringants; the Dead Obies; and Arcade Fire. Obviously, Celine Dion, born in Charlemagne, Quebec, was on the list with “Destin.” After all, you haven’t really sung Celine until you’ve done so in French.

Notre-Dame-des-Victoires, center, and Fresque des Québécois, right.Credit…Catherine Côté for The New York Times

Wander galleries from your living room

Step inside Quebec City’s art galleries like Galerie Perreault, where you can browse works by contemporary artists as well as Canadian masters. Or take a virtual tour of the gallery. Discover Canadian Inuit sculptures through the Galerie Art Inuit Brousseau’s Instagram account. And stroll around town with photos of public artworks from Quebec City Tourism. You won’t even need to pull on your snow boots.

How are you going to channel the spirit of Quebec City in your home? Share your ideas in the comments.

To keep up with upcoming articles in this series, sign up for our At Home newsletter or follow New York Times Travel on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. See more Around the World at Home guides here.

Stephanie Rosenbloom, the author of “Alone Time: Four Seasons, Four Cities, and the Pleasures of Solitude” (Viking), has been writing travel, business and styles features for The Times for nearly two decades. Twitter: @Stephronyt. Instagram: @StephanieRosenbloom

Music During Surgery May Aid Recovery

The Healing Power of Music

Patients undergoing surgery who listen to soothing talk and music while under anesthesia may wake up feeling less pain.

Nicholas Bakalar

  • Dec. 15, 2020, 5:00 a.m. ET

Patients undergoing surgery who listen to soothing talk and music while under anesthesia may wake up feeling less pain and require less pain medicine.

German researchers randomly assigned 385 surgery patients to one of two groups. The first wore earphones during their operations, listening to an audiotape that played soothing background music along with positive suggestions about the safety and success of the procedure. The second group wore earphones that played a blank tape. The anesthetist put the earphones on the patients after they were asleep and removed them before they awoke. Neither the patients nor surgeons knew who got the blank tapes. The study is in BMJ.

Of those who listened to the music and talk, 70 used no opiates at all, compared with 39 in the control group. Fifty patients in the audible tape group used non-opioid pain relievers compared with 75 of the controls. And average pain scores two hours after the operation were 25 percent lower in those who heard soothing words and music compared with those who did not.

The lead author, Dr. Ernil Hansen, a professor of anesthesiology at the University of Regensburg, calculated that for every six patients using the earphones, one would need no opiates at all after an operation.

“It’s not only the drugs and the surgery,” he said. “We’re talking about the valuable part that the patient takes in his own healing.”

How to Pretend You’re in Tokyo

While your travel plans may be on hold, you can pretend you’re somewhere new for the night. Around the World at Home invites you to channel the spirit of a new place each week with recommendations on how to explore the culture, all from the comfort of your home.

A few years ago, I walked through Tokyo’s neon-lit streets for the first time, wide-eyed and jet-lagged. It only took three days to learn some of the city’s secrets. If you can’t find the perfect noodle shop for lunch, for example, look up and you will see another dozen options, filling the upper floors of what you thought were office buildings. Or that famous places — like Shibuya Crossing, the intersection you’ve seen in 100 timelapses — are famous for a reason, but there’s so much more to learn by picking a metro stop at random and going for a long walk.

This was supposed to be a big year for tourism for the city — already one of the world’s most visited — as it was set to host the now postponed Olympics and Paralympic Games. That, of course, did not happen.

With most of the world still confined to their homes, that Tokyo trip will have to wait for the millions of people who canceled flights and hotel bookings. In the meantime, there are ways to capture the spirit of a sometimes impenetrable, always fascinating, city. Perhaps, just for a night, these recommendations might even make you feel like you are there.

From left, the Asakusa Hoppy Street, commuters on the morning train, and a view of Tokyo from the Skytree.
From left, the Asakusa Hoppy Street, commuters on the morning train, and a view of Tokyo from the Skytree.Credit…Noriko Hayashi for The New York Times (left and center); Andrew Faulk for The New York Times

Hear the city

I first met Kazuto Okawa, who performs under the name LLLL, outside a convenience store in the quirky neighborhood of Koenji on my first night in Tokyo. He was sitting on a curb in a circle of friends, his face obscured by long, disheveled hair. Over the years since that first encounter, his music — a blend of sugary pop hooks and space-age soundscapes — has become synonymous with the city for me. If those conflicting feelings of disorientation and joy that hit every visitor to Tokyo could be translated to sound, this would be it.

When I asked Mr. Okawa what music best captures his home city, he directed me to the classics. The musician Keigo Oyamada, better known as Cornelius, is sometimes reductively called the “Japanese Beck” for the way he swoops between genres with ease. Every album is a journey, but for the most evocative of the city, Mr. Okawa suggests his 1995 album “69/96.” “It’s forever futuristic,” he said. “A perfect match to Tokyo.”

If Cornelius is too out there for you, Mr. Okawa recommends “Kazemachi Roman” by Tokyo folk rock pioneers Happy End: you may recognize a song from the soundtrack to that great tribute to Tokyo, “Lost in Translation.”

To begin understanding the phenomenon that is Tokyo’s J-pop scene, Mr. Okawa says to start with Sheena Ringo’s “Kabukicho no joou.” “It captures the dark side of the city,” he said. “And it happens to be one of the most popular J-pop songs of all time.” For the flip side of the same pop coin — perhaps it’s a more lively summer night you are trying to recreate — he recommends Taeko Ohnuki’s aptly titled “Sunshower.”

The lunch crowd at a Tokyo restaurant. Credit…Noriko Hayashi for The New York Times
From left, crisp nori chips with toasted sesame oil, spring chicken miso soup, and yakitori chicken with ginger, garlic and soy sauce.Credit…From left, Evan Sung for The New York Times; Romulo Yanes for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Vivian Lui; Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

Cook at the dinner table

No trip to Tokyo is complete without a whole lot of eating. While it may be hard to accurately recreate a bona fide Tokyo bowl of ramen or plate of sushi, there is plenty that you can do from home.

Head to New York Times Cooking for a selection of quick and easy dishes, from yakitori (yes, you really can make it at home) to nori chips (perfect with a cold Japanese lager).

For something more involved, and seasonally appropriate, follow the lead of Motoko Rich, The Times’ Tokyo bureau chief. “With the weather getting cooler, it’s time to break out the butane burner for shabu shabu, a classic Japanese dinner that you can make and eat right at the table,” she said.

First, make a kombu dashi, a broth flavored with dried kelp, then take beef, tofu, vegetables and mushrooms and dip them into the bubbling liquid, making sure to swirl in the ingredients long enough that they cook through. “Although we can cook shabu shabu at home, it also reminds me of fancier mid-20th century-era restaurants in Tokyo, where the servers wear kimonos and carry regal platters to the tables.” Ms. Rich recommends this recipe from Just One Cookbook.

Nakano backstreets near Nakano Beer Kobo.Credit…Andrew Faulk for The New York Times

Expand your literary horizons

If you want to lose yourself in Tokyo by curling up with a good book, we have plenty of recommendations, whether it is a long work of fiction you are after or more snackable short stories. There is more — a lot more — than Haruki Murakami. Ms. Rich recommends “Breasts and Eggs” by Mieko Kawakami. “I love the way Kawakami references real and recognizable, but not exoticized, Tokyo locations,” she said. “You feel in the know, reading it, rather than as if you are being introduced to a precious Other World. It is Tokyo as it is lived in, not a film set.”

Fron left, scenes from “Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories,” “Shoplifters,” and “Tokyo Drifter.”Credit…From left, Netflix; Magnolia Pictures; Nikkatsu

See the city on the screen

If an evening of TV and subtitles is what you are after, start with the binge-worthyMidnight Diner: Tokyo Stories” on Netflix. The show is about the customers who pass through a tiny counter-service restaurant that is only open from midnight to 6. At turns heartwarming, hilarious and melancholic, it is a moving portrait of Tokyo after dark. If the opening title sequence doesn’t make you feel good, check your pulse: it is ASMR for the soul.

When it comes to movies, as Mike Hale, a Times’ television critic, said, “Tokyo is simultaneously the most cosmopolitan and the most intensely local city you can imagine, and that’s a perfect combination for storytelling, as directors from Kurosawa to Kiarostami to Sofia Coppola have shown.”

Where to start then? You can’t skip Akira Kurosawa, the influential filmmaker whose career spanned almost six decades. Mr. Hale recommends “Stray Dog” (1949), shot in Tokyo in the aftermath of World War II. He describes it as “a walking tour of the city in sheer survival mode.” Next, try “Tokyo Drifter” (1966) by Seijun Suzuki. “Suzuki’s stylized yakuza story sets traditional themes of honor and corruption against a jazzy, jagged, surrealist distillation of the rapidly changing city,” he said. Finally, for something more contemporary, watch the Cannes Palm d’Or-winning “Shoplifters” (2018) by Hirokazu Kore-eda. In Mr. Hale’s view, the film, about a family of grifters, “shows both the glittering modern metropolis and the shadow world just beyond the neon.”

Morning commuters in Shibuya Crossing.Credit…Noriko Hayashi for The New York Times

Get lost in the virtual world

While Japan’s most internationally famous video gaming figure may be an Italian plumber with a taste for mushrooms, there are also plenty of games more grounded in real-life Tokyo than Super Mario Bros. Brian Ashcraft, an Osaka-based senior writer at the gaming website Kotaku, recommends the expansive “Yakuza” series, which follows Kazuma Kiryu as he makes his name in the underworld. The Yakuza games are action-packed, but with dance battles, karaoke sessions and laugh-out-loud dialogue, they are also unabashedly silly. “This year has resulted in all events and trips to Tokyo being canned,” Mr. Ashcraft said. “The Yakuza games do a fantastic job of bringing parts of the city to life. These obsessive, digital recreations mimic the idea of Tokyo. For me, that’s good enough.”

How are you going to channel the spirit of Tokyo in your home? Share your ideas in the comments.

To keep up with upcoming stories in this series, sign up for our At Home newsletter or follow New York Times Travel on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. See more Around the World at Home guides here.

Things To Do At Home

Here is a sampling of the week’s events and how to tune in (all times are Eastern). Note that events are subject to change after publication.


On the eve of World AIDS Day, join a free virtual screening of the short-film series “Transmissions,” followed by a panel discussion with the artists, produced by the nonprofit Visual AIDS and co-hosted by the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Studio Museum in Harlem and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. The six films in the program, which will be available on the Visual AIDS site beginning Tuesday, examine the impact of the epidemic outside the United States, in countries including India and Uganda.

When 6 p.m.

Where visualaids.org/transmissions


Help the young aspiring spies in your family crack secret codes and encode their own secret messages using eight different formulas for invisible ink thanks to the free activities provided by the Spy Museum in Washington. Just be prepared: Top-secret missives may start appearing throughout your home.

When Anytime

Where spymuseum.org


Pop in for the 31st installment of “Sonic Gatherings,” a weekly performance of new and improvised material from the dancer Brandon Collwes and the composer John King, as well as a rotating cast of collaborators. The pair, both previously affiliated with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, were inspired in part by Mr. Cunningham’s site-specific “Events” — only this time, the “site” is Zoom; dancers frequently broadcast live from their homes. As a result, you’ll feel like you’re in on a joyous and intimate secret gathering.

When 6 p.m.

Where tiny.cc/SonicGathering

Join the comedian Wyatt Cenac for a lively evening of short readings that celebrate New York City: “Selected Shorts: New York Stories With Wyatt Cenac,” hosted by Symphony Space. Actors such as Matthew Broderick and Karen Pittman will read a selection of short stories, essays and poems by writers including Victor LaValle, Vinson Cunningham and Colum McCann. Tickets cost $15.

When 7:30 p.m.

Where symphonyspace.org/events


Listen to Paul Giamatti read Herman Melville’s “Bartleby, the Scrivener,” which Mr. Giamatti recorded while sheltering in place over the summer. Then tune in to a live conversation between Mr. Giamatti and the Melville biographer Andrew Delbanco, hosted by 92Y. Tickets cost $15.

When 7 p.m.

Where 92y.org/event/bartleby-the-scrivener


Take in a free streamed performance of Georges Bizet’s “Carmen by the Metropolitan Opera. Elina Garanca leads the cast as Carmen in this recording of a 2010 performance, alongside Roberto Alagna as Don José and Teddy Tahu Rhodes as Escamillo. This performance of the classic opera, choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon and conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, is available to stream for free until 6:30 p.m. on Saturday.

When 7:30 p.m.

Where metopera.org


Let your middle-schoolers embrace their inner Christian Dior or Rei Kawakubo through a virtual fashion workshop, “Fashion of the Future,” hosted by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. During the three-hour course, which ties into the Costume Institute’s new exhibit, “About Time: Fashion and Duration,” kids will learn to design garments for paper dolls through collage and drawing. A separate workshop for high schoolers begins at 2 p.m.

When 10 a.m.

Where metmuseum.org/events/whats-on

Credit…Luci Gutiérrez

Spread some joy this year with The New York Times Cookie Swap. Melissa Clark, a Times Food columnist, will demonstrate one of her delicious cookie recipes, as well as teach viewers the best way to pack cookies to ship out to friends and family. Ms. Clark, along with the cooking experts Dorie Greenspan, Sohla El-Waylly and Samantha Seneviratne, will answer baking questions submitted by viewers. R.S.V.P. to receive a link for the event.

When 11 a.m.

Where nytimes.com/interactive/2020/admin/live-events.html


Find some clarity (and hilarity) with improvised tarot readings hosted by the Tiny Cupboard performance venue and led by the comedian Brittany Brave. A panel of comedians and the psychic and astrologer Clarisse Monahan will read viewers’ tarot cards, to varying degrees of seriousness. Tickets are pay-what-you-can, with a minimum of $1; ticket-holders can pre-submit questions for a tarot reading by emailing improvisedtarot@gmail.com.

When 8 p.m.

Where eventbrite.com

Celebrate the genius of Billie Holiday with a tribute concert hosted by 92Y, featuring Veronica Swift, the Emmet Cohen Trio and the Grammy Award winners Catherine Russel and Tivon Pennicott. Tickets cost $15, and buyers will receive a link to a prerecorded performance at 3 p.m., which will be available to view until Dec. 9.

When 3 p.m.

Where 92y.org/event/billie-holiday-concert-celebration

Using the Arts to Promote Healthy Aging


Credit Paul Rogers

Throughout the country, the arts are pumping new life into the bodies and minds of the elderly.

Two summers ago, a remarkable documentary called “Alive Inside” showed how much music can do for the most vulnerable older Americans, especially those whose memories and personalities are dimmed by dementia.

The film opens with a 90-year-old African-American woman living in a nursing home being asked about her life growing up in the South. All she could say in response to specific questions was, “I’m sorry, I don’t remember.”

But once she was fitted with an iPod that played the music she had enjoyed in her youth, her smile grew wide and her eyes sparkled as vivid memories flooded her consciousness. She was now able to describe in detail the music and dances she had relished with her young friends.

At another nursing home, a man named George with advanced dementia refused to speak or even raise his head when asked his name. He too was outfitted with an iPod, and suddenly George came back to life, talking freely, wiggling to the music in his wheelchair and singing along with the songs he once loved.

The Music and Memory project that provided the iPods was the inspiration of a volunteer music lover named Dan Cohen, and has since spread to many nursing homes and facilities for the aged around the country. Alas, not nearly enough of them. Medicaid, which fully covers the cost of potent drugs that can turn old people into virtual zombies, has no policy that would pay for far less expensive music players. So the vast majority of nursing home residents who might benefit are deprived of this joyous experience.

Nonetheless, across the country, the arts in their myriad forms are enhancing the lives and health of older people — and not just those with dementia— helping to keep many men and women out of nursing homes and living independently. With grants from organizations like the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Institute on Aging, incredibly dedicated individuals with backgrounds in the arts have established programs that utilize activities as diverse as music, dance, painting, quilting, singing, poetry writing and storytelling to add meaning, joy and a vibrant sense of well-being to the lives of older people.


Walter Hurlburt, 90, decorates rooms at the Burbank Senior Artists Colony, a retirement facility where he lives.

Walter Hurlburt, 90, decorates rooms at the Burbank Senior Artists Colony, a retirement facility where he lives.Credit

Through a program called EngAGE in Southern California, 90-year-old Walter Hurlburt, who once made a living as a sign painter, now decorates rooms at the Burbank Senior Artists Colony, a retirement facility where he lives, with lovely oil paintings he creates from pictures he finds in magazines and books. Mr. Hurlburt regularly attends classes on various art forms at the residence where, he told me, “I’m always learning something new.”

His buddy at the residence, Sally Connors, an 82-year-old former schoolteacher, surprised herself by writing and directing a screenplay that was performed by fellow residents. Then, with Dolly Brittan, 79, a former early childhood educator, they both surprised themselves by writing their life stories in rap and performing their rap memoirs on a stage for at-risk teenagers they were mentoring.

Both she and Ms. Connors said their newfound involvement with the arts has made them feel decades younger.

Tim Carpenter, the executive director of EngAGE, is now working to expand this approach to senior living in other cities, including Minneapolis, Portland, Ore., and Raleigh, N.C. His goal is to create a nationwide network of programs for seniors that keep them healthy, happy and active through lifelong learning in every conceivable art form, enabling them to live independently as long as possible.

As in Burbank, Mr. Carpenter is promoting the development of arts colonies in senior residences where residents can study and create art in all its forms and where they can see their artistic creations come to life on a stage.

Dr. Gene D. Cohen, a gerontologist at George Washington University who died in 2009, was a staunch advocate for the mental and physical benefits of creativity for the elderly. He directed the Creativity and Aging Study, a controlled study sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts at three sites, including Elders Share the Arts in Brooklyn, N.Y., that showed after only a year that the health of elders in the cultural groups stabilized or improved in contrast to a decline among those in the control groups.

In a film called “Do Not Go Gently,” Dr. Cohen, who founded the Creativity Discovery Corps, featured an architect who, at age 96, submitted a plan for redeveloping the World Trade Center site. Dr. Cohen pointed out that creativity challenges the mind and results in the formation of new dendrites, the brain’s communication channels.

At 26 different facilities in the Washington, D.C., area, 15 teaching artists work with seniors in centers where they live or visit regularly. Janine Tursini, director of Arts for the Aging in Rockville, Md., seeks to “get at what best jazzes up older adults.” Groups of about 20 older adults get involved in what she calls “art making” — music, dance, painting or storytelling.

Ms. Tursini said the N.E.A.-sponsored study showed that when older people become involved in culturally enriching programs, they experience a decline in depression, are less likely to fall and pay fewer visits to the doctor. In another study among people with Alzheimer’s disease, a sculpting program improved the participants’ mood and decreased their agitation even after the program ended.

“The arts open people up, giving them new vehicles for self-expression, a chance to tell their stories,” Ms. Tursini said. “The programs capitalize on assets that remain, not on what’s been lost.”

Naomi Goldberg Haas created the Dances for a Variable Population program to get older adults dancing. People who haven’t moved in years, even those who can no longer stand, can participate. Young professionals and older dancers go to various sites — libraries, churches, senior centers — where elders gather and encourage them to “move more.”

“Movement enriches the quality of their lives,” Ms. Haas said. “It’s absolutely healing. Balance, mobility, strength — everything improves.”

Social engagement, which nearly all these programs provide, has been repeatedly found in major population studies to prolong life and enhance healthy aging. Clinically, the programs have been linked to lowered blood pressure, reduced levels of stress hormones, and increased levels of the “happiness hormones” that are responsible for a runner’s high.

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