One archetype that hits me very forcefully, as it does many people, is that when I’m wandering around the Himalayas, for example, most of the people that I see are Westerners from Germany, California, or the Netherlands, who are wearing sandals, Indian smocks, and are in search of enlightenment, antiquity, peace, and all the things they can’t get in the west. Most of the people they meet are Nepali villagers in Lee jeans, Reeboks, and Madonna T-shirts who are looking for the paradise that they associate with Los Angeles — a paradise of material prosperity and abundance.
Los Angeles famously in its school district now teaches 82 different languages. It is the second biggest Thai, Salvadoran, and Korean city in the world. I was just spending a lot of time in Los Angeles Airport and there you really see the future landing with a bump all around us and not really knowing what to make of it.
What is also interesting about Los Angeles is that more and more of the world is made up of these generic cities. So it’s not just the global village, but it’s also a global metropolis. When you fly to Toronto to London to Singapore to Sydney to Los Angeles, say, you really feel as if you are just going along five different suburbs of the same city because they all have the same constituency. When you are flying from here to Toronto, most of the people on the plane will be Chinese and most of the people that are waiting to greet you at Toronto airport are Indian. The same pattern is repeated in London and Hong Kong and whatever. So more and more cities are just becoming part of a global culture.
Postmodern Tourism: An Interview with Pico Iyer