In the first sentence of her book,The lonely city, British writer Olivia Laing (2016, p 3) asks the reader to imagine him- or herself standing at the window at night, when dark and illuminated windows compose the urban landscape. ‘Inside’, she writes, ‘strangers swim to and fro, attending to the business of their private hours. You can see them, but you can’t reach them, and so this commonplace urban phenomenon, available in any city of the world on any night, conveys to even the most social a tremor of loneliness, its uneasy combination of separation and exposure