In Asia, life is like a movie
By Nury Vittachi
I like this idea. It would certainly help another friend of mine, whose life is a string of disasters and seems to make decisions based on the principle: “What Would Homer Simpson Do?”
In comparison, I would say that my second friend’s life has more drama, but is likely to be considerably shorter than my first friend’s.
The other day an American interviewer asked me why l lived in Asia. His sole source of information about Asia was Fox Network News, so he thinks of it as a place of endless natural disasters governed by atrocious leaders. This is actually rather accurate.
But I like to live here, anyway. I tried to explain Asia’s magic to him: “In mature western societies, life tends to be predictable and safe, so you have to go to movies if you want to experience life with its full intensity, drama and unpredictability. But in Asia, normal life is like that: life is like the movies.”
Clearly intrigued, he asked me for examples.
So I told him about a case I once reported on in Japan. Motorist Masafumi Sato, aged 20, saw an attractive young woman and fell instantly, madly, deeply in love. So he chased her, driving his car up a 20-metre-long flight of stairs, through a railway station, down a flight of stairs, and then demolished a load of railings. Saito was charged with “willful destruction of property”. The correct charge, of course, should have been “willfully behaving as if life is a chick-flick”.
Sometimes, life in Asia is a comedy. I once wrote about a 25-year-old motorist in New Zealand who was charged with driving while disqualified. He decided, unwisely, to get to the district court by driving himself there. On the way, he crashed into another car—and the other driver turned out to be the judge assigned to hear his case. How many times have you seen that plot in movies?
Or consider Ranvir Singh of Uttar Pradesh, India, who tried to kill a mouse by various means, including setting fire to its tail. In the end, his attempts to destroy the rodent caused the destruction of his entire house. This is the exact plot of the 1997 Hollywood movie Mouse Hunt.
Also from India came the story of a Ghaziabad scientist who experimented with an untested serum and turned himself into a giant, super-strong ape-man. Yes: it’s the plot of the Hollywood movie Altered States. Or hang on: am I thinking of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s life story?
“Gosh,” said my American interviewer. “Life in Asia really is like the movies.”
“It is,” I agreed. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to ring off because it’s time to go to work.”
I told him that I commuted by leaping from rooftop to rooftop before jumping into a passing truck carrying mattresses, and then commandeering a sports car which I would drive through a market place, knocking over a fruit stall, before crashing through a restaurant window, interrupting a wedding.
I decided that that sounded more exciting then telling him that most Asians go to work on public buses. Even though our buses are a WAY more dangerous way to travel.