Tuesday, January 17, 2017
| Nury Vittachi (IANS)
If I were a woman I would draw one eyebrow way higher than the other and spend my whole life looking wildly sceptical about everything.
Wait. That might make me unpopular in the church.
Still, it might be worth it. News stories sent in by readers indicate that destiny has run out of believable plot lines and has fallen back on extreme stereotypes. I can predict the end of every tale readers send me.
Example: After a child-custody deal recently, a little boy was set to be handed from one grandma to another. In most places, that would be straightforward—but this took place in America, in the state of Texas, no less. You can guess what's coming.
Both grandmothers carried loaded weapons as they entered the chosen transfer site, a Walmart parking lot. Both shooting. Police got involved, the area was sealed off, blood was spilt, violent grannies had to be subdued, hundreds of people were inconvenienced and a global nuclear war started. Well, maybe the last thing didn't happen, but everything else did.
"America can no longer be parodied, as it is already a ridiculous version of itself," said Marie Kan, who sent me the link.
True, Marie. The same is true of China. That country's reputation for bureaucratic obtuseness reached a new pinnacle. A reader from that country, in which fingerprints are often used instead of signatures, sent me a tale about a man with no arms who tried to get a bank loan.
You can guess the rest.
"We'll need your fingerprints," said bank officials. "I have no arms," said Wu Jianping, 25, of Henan province. "Refusing to cooperate, huh? The deal's off," said bankers. The same thing happened at every bank he tried.
I wonder what the bankers would say if you put a decapitated corpse in front of them? "So, you refuse to talk, or even stay upright in the seat? The deal's off, Mr Headless Corpse."
Even in placid, drama-free places like Canada, irrationality is the new norm. Officials in Toronto recently decided to discuss the importance of making facilities accessible for wheelchairs—and you guessed it—they chose a venue only reachable by stairs.
Perhaps the saddest recent tale in this regard was that of Shoga Takeda, a Japanese man of 24 who wanted to get his life together. He applied for a job. Halfway through the interview, the boss left the room for a moment, and Shogo stole his wallet. And following the dumb criminal stereotype, he left behind his application form, complete with his name, address and numerous ways to contact him.
My colleague has a theory that Destiny has upped the weirdness quotient of real life so as to combat all that fake news circulating these days. "That couldn't happen in real life," we will say to each other as we scan the clickbait headlines. "It's not weird enough."
Meanwhile, if any female reader will draw one eyebrow higher than the other on her face and kindly report back to me on the general effect, I will be grateful.
But just don't try to get a bank loan in China. "So, you're sceptical about everything, applicant? The deal's off."
Nury Vittachi is an Asia-based frequent traveller.
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