Playtimes April 2014 - page 116

lying into Kuala Lumpur, I sat next to a smug-
looking Western tourist who had donned baggy
trousers and a cone-shaped straw hat so he could,
er, “blend in with the locals”. I gently broke the
news to him that everyone in KL wears Prada except for
street-sleepers, who wear Gucci.
“Oh,” he said, his crest falling. He then asked about
what people wore in Delhi, his following destination. I
told him: “In India, men wear a special Indian line called
Lungi by Marc Jacobs, set off by Ermenegildo Zegna
It’s easy to torment Western tourists, since they usually
know nothing about Asia.
A reader from Indonesia said that she told her UK-
based Facebook friend that she lived in a high-rise block
in a housing estate. The British girl assumed this meant
she was poor. “Then she visited me and was amazed that
in Asia, high-rise apartments on housing estates have
fountains and guards and are where rich people live,” she
Talking of East-West differences, in the US, political
correctness is taken so seriously that it is now
males to greet female colleagues. Men have to drop to their
knees and shuffle along with their eyes averted, like people
visiting the King of Thailand. But in India, bosses still say
things like: “Good morning, Ms Rao, you are looking very
sexy in your tight blouse today.” I do it myself, or, if my wife
is reading this, I never do it myself.
A short while back, I received an email from reader
Matt Cooper, a British guy living in Hong Kong. His
children had to bring a cake to school, so he headed for the
kitchen to make one. The next day, his scrumptious home-
made masterpiece languished neglected on the table at
school while people wolfed down the mass-produced cakes
local parents had brought. “Eww,” parents whispered to
one another. “That poor man can’t afford to buy one!”
On another occasion, Matt went to a party dominated by
Westerners. They had eagerly eaten all the homemade cakes
but totally ignored the one shop-bought cake. “Eww,” parents
whispered. “One poor parent is too lazy to make one!”
East-West differences have been resolved at
last, as father-of-three
Nury Vittachi
learns the
amazing truth about the evolution of trousers.
Where do these East-West differences come from?
This column will solve this age-old mystery by the classic
journalistic method of calling “experts” and hoping they
may actually know something.
A university contact in Hong Kong said it might be
something to do with trousers. Historically, Western men
have worn trousers and Asian men haven’t. “Western
males’ overheated genitalia might make a difference,” she
I wasn’t sure about that. Overheated male genitalia
are responsible for a lot of bad stuff, but are probably not
directly related to whether we choose to bake cakes.
Most Westerners evolved
in places with long winters,
while most Asians evolved
in places with no winters.
A researcher in Thailand said there were deep-rooted
differences. Consider a typical Western proverb, such as
this one from Germany: “He who likes cherries soon learns
to climb.” But a typical Asian proverb was this one from
Thailand: “One day, the orange will fall.”
I thought he was about to explain that it was all down
to fruit choices, but no. “Most Westerners evolved in places
with long winters, while most Asians evolved in places with
no winters,” he said. Over tens of thousands of years, this
became ingrained in our ways of thinking. So Westerners
have a seize-the-day attitude while Asians have a softly-
softly wait-and-see approach.
Brilliant. So there we have it, a huge ancient mystery
solved. And this may also explain the evolution of trousers.
Gentlemen, we have to keep those genitalia warm.
Nury welcomes your feedback via
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