Would you let an airline play matchmaker for you? (The Funny Side)
Ever sat next to a really annoying person on a long-haul flight? (If the supersized whiskey-drinker who sat next to me on a recent Singapore-Hong Kong flight is reading this, no need to respond.) An airline is about to launch a seat-buddy system to make sure everyone sits next to their ideal companion, I heard from Christian Fardel, a reader who works in the aviation industry.
How do they work out who you'd like to sit next to? When you buy your ticket, you tell Air Baltic your preferred general 'mood' of travel ('I like to network', 'I prefer silence', 'I fondle strangers' etc.) and your work and interests ('I am a Malaysian-Latvian contract-killer who collects Hello Kitty figurines.').
The airline reckons that even people who normally prefer grim silence may open up if someone on board has the exact same interests. 'I love Hello Kitty too!'
Other frequent travellers I discussed this with were intrigued. Reader Chris Huber said he'd ask the airline for a middle seat between two top models. Sandeep Singh said: 'I'm going to put down 'gynecology' as my hobby.' I pointed out that he had no medical qualifications. 'I could say 'AMATEUR gynecologist',' he said.
The US national spelling contest last week was won by a girl with Asian roots, Snigdha Nandipati. What did she correctly spell? Her name?
Playboy Boss Hugh Hefner, 86, is having a stormy relationship with his fiance, a 22-year-old model. The argument? One says: 'You're just after my money' while the other says: 'You're just after my body.' The report I was forwarded didn't say which was which. Hmm, we'll just have to try to work it out for ourselves.
After pleading for 24 years, a woman last week persuaded officials that she was alive. Arshafi Devi had been wrongly declared dead in 1988, the Indo-Asian News Service reported. These days, being able to walk and talk is not considered evidence of being alive. Look at Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, who clearly died years ago, but still tours.
My wife and her girlfriends had to buy LOADS of new clothes during a holiday jaunt in Yunnan, China, last month because (she explained): 'We checked weather details on Google and the information was all wrong.' I found this explanation utterly unbelievable, or if my wife is reading this, utterly believable.
Whatever. Anyway, I thought no more about it until last week, when the media revealed that Yunnan has been named the capital of Asia's 'bulk purchase' spouse industry. Apparently had my wife and her girlfriends turned down the wrong alley they could have been sold as a job lot.
Enterprising individuals in Yunnan have set up a spouse import-export industry, the Global Times reported last week. Adopting the Groupon concept, they find people life partners for as little as $5,000 a person, offering bargain rates depending on how many spouses are required 'in a single order'.
The service has been popular with Yunnan peasant farmers, who have trouble finding wives, largely because they are Yunnan peasant farmers. (Worldwide, relatively few women finish the 'My Dream Man Is A....' sentence on dating application forms with the words 'Yunnan peasant farmer'. Yeah, curious, that.)
The farmers band together to apply so they get a 'bulk wife discount' (not to be confused with a 'bulky wife discount' which is an entirely different matter). After inspections and selections, the importers bring in a fresh shipment of Vietnamese rural women, for whom a Yunnan peasant farmer actually IS 'a dream catch'. I make NO COMMENT on their standards, except to say that everything is relative.
Last week, I spent 10 minutes reading 'How to Never Be Found', the website written by psycho cannibal killer Luka Magnotta. Never be found? Police found him in four days. I want 10 minutes of my life back.
The people of Shingo, in Japan's Aomori Prefecture, claim Jesus moved from Israel to their neighbourhood 2,000 years ago, married a local girl, took Japanese citizenship and started a family. At Shingo's annual festival last week, 500 tourists watched as locals danced and chanted the word 'Nanyadoyara', which has been handed down for generations, although nobody knows what it means. I strongly suspect it's ancient Hebrew for 'Yeah, we're totally off our rockers.'
Put on my sunglasses and went outside to stare at the sun the other day. Couldn't see the transit of Venus. In fact, after five seconds, I couldn't see anything at all. One reader emailed me to say: 'This morning I saw the greatest celestial phenomenon this century, or there may have been a speck of dirt on my lens. How does one tell?' Some people have no imagination.
How would you feel if someone deposited a vast amount of yellow slimy stuff in your office? You'd rejoice if you were a tax collector in parts of Tibet, where tax bills are paid in yak butter. I wish this was allowed in other places. We'd queue up to fling our annual payments to the tax collector: 'Catch this, sucker.'
Oh no. THE Phantom housecleaner has been caught. A person has been breaking into homes in the US, washing the dishes, taking out the trash, and vacuuming the carpets. Not a joke. By the quality of the work ('not terrible') victims could tell that the housebreaker was female. When I first read about her, I wished she'd break into my office, preferably making regular twice-weekly visits.
But the mystery cleaner's career is over. Police recently caught Sue Warren of Cleveland, Ohio, after she cheekily left one victim an invoice for $75 bearing her name and address.
This news was sent to me by an unmarried male reader, who said: 'Please publicize this story to inspire 'copycat' housebreakers to do the same thing in Asia.' He particularly wanted someone to break in and deal with his former flatmate's fridge, which had 'not been opened for 13 months' and was making strange noises 'as if a slime monster had evolved inside'.
Later it occurred to me that there ARE equivalents to the Phantom housecleaner in Asia. Several times I have stopped at traffic lights in India or China or Indonesia and a young man has washed my windscreen unasked. These guys ask for a few coins, which I give them, partly to reward their enterprise, but mostly because they give me this mad glare which tells me they would insert their sponge-on-a-stick thing deep into one of my orifices if I didn't.
A US court fined an Asian doctor $3 million last week for 'failing' to warn his patient that being in a bisexual orgy could be fatal. Can someone please warn the US judicial system's credibility that decisions such as these could be fatal? It may be too late.
The DEAD BODY of a guy called Vicente Benito was found in his home in the village of Canizal (total population: 520) in Spain last week, the media reported. Doctors reckon he had been dead for 20 years. I guess this is what is meant by the 'slow pace of village life'. Typical conversation in Canizal must go like this: 'Have you seen Vicente recently?' 'Yes, I popped in to his place three or four decades ago, he's fine.'
A RECENT survey said that marijuana smokers get into fewer car crashes than alcohol drinkers. Not surprised. It's hard to get into a traffic accident when you can't find your car.
(Nury Vittachi is a columnist who travels around Asia. Send ideas and comments via www.mrjam.org)
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