THERE WAS SOMETHING suspicious about the subway train station entrance that had appeared on a street near my house. Our village was not on any railway line.
“Maybe it leads to a loooooong underground tunnel where you walk to a station,” my neighbor said, as we spotted it on the bus home from work. A quick calculation revealed that the tunnel would have had to be five kilometers long. Our place was well away from town.
Another bus passenger, an engineer, said the subway train entrance was a fake one set up to entice people to buy the over-priced apartments next to it.
“Isn’t that immoral?” I asked.
Ha ha ha ha ha!
The other people on the bus were right to laugh at me. In the mysterious tongue known as Propertyspeak, there’s no word for “morality”.
A FEW DAYS later, a real estate saleswoman told me that the replica train entrance was there to let potential buyers know that the village was “likely” to have its own railway station “soon”.
People bought the homes. The fake subway entrance vanished. The local authorities confirmed that there were no plans to construct a station at that street anytime between now and the end of the universe in AD 25,361.
That was ten years ago when I lived in Pok Fu Lam, Hong Kong, a somewhat green, villagey township on the southwest side of Hong Kong Island.
The anniversary of that non-existent station coincides with a 60 Minutes special that appeared on TV recently which featured Zhengzhau, a ghost city in southern China. The place has a huge shopping mall with shop fronts for famous brand goods, such as KFC, Pizza Hut, Starbucks, Lancombe, Nike and Adidas.
But there’s nothing behind any of the frontages, which merely indicate how it was “likely” to look “soon”.
Reporters who travel in China soon find out there are loads of these.
I read in a science mag this week that the “rarest element in the universe” is an isotope called Tantulum 180. What about the consciences of property salesmen?
IN OTHER NEWS…
NEWLY MARRIED reader Anita Grewal offered this bit of wisdom for female readers: “Men only have two emotions, hungry and horny. If his hands aren’t straying near you, make him a sandwich.”
A TOURIST couple went into a Bali temple, had a swim in the holy water, and then made love in the Hindu sanctuary. When locals complained, Urmas and Katrin Silman of Estonia said they “didn’t know” they were not allowed to have sex in the temple, the Jakarta Globe reported.
I think the pair should be locked in a room with gamelan musicians for a year. “We didn’t know locking you in a room with gamelan musicians for a year would drive you insane.”
I WAS DEEPLY moved by a video on the Liveleak website last week. Footage from a train platform security camera shows a train arriving and a man stepping out in Taipei, Taiwan. The crowd then surges into the train—taking the poor man right back into the carriage he had just left. The doors close and the train leaves the station. Imagine the guy’s conversation later. “How was your Taipei stopover?” “Okay, although I was only there for two point nine seconds.”
THOUGHT FOR the day. People don’t act stupid. They actually are stupid.
(Picture credits: ghost city: emergingmarkets.com; silmans: Bali Post; China mall: EPA; train passenger: Liveleak)