Is my sitting tenant a ghost?

haunted house

A REALLY TROUBLESOME prisoner refused to leave prison even after he died: his ghost stayed in place to annoy the warden, guards and jailbirds. (And I thought my kids were stubborn.)

The furious warden had to pay a sorcerer to chase the spirit away from the jailhouse.

A reporter showed me the above Hindustan Times story, which came to light last week in Patna, East India, during a rather uncomfortable discussion on invisible “sitting tenants” (ie, ghosts) in Asia.


You see, this columnist recently moved into a new apartment that was surprisingly cheap.

And before you complain, I KNOW it’s highly irresponsible (and possibly illegal) to use the word “cheap” in connection with property in Hong Kong these days.


But my informant believed I had rented a haunted apartment. And when I mentioned that one wall had been painted pink, he was sure of it. “Feng shui masters paint walls red or pink to repel the spirit of death,” he said. “Your home is probably the site of a mass murder.”

pink wa;;

Even though I don’t believe in mythical creatures such as ghosts, zombies, the Easter Bunny or corruption-free Presidents of the Philippines, I was dismayed.

Finding corpses under the beds or rivers of blood flowing down the corridors would be such a downer, totally reminding me of high school.


So I called an old contact in the property business.

After looking at my address and rental bill, he said: “No murder here. Murder sites get you a much bigger discount. Would you like one?”

He told me that there were people who made fortunes from haunted homes in high-priced cities such as Hong Kong, Mumbai and Tokyo. They simply book the apartments at a huge discount, and then sublet them to overseas bankers at market rates.

“Don’t the ghosts scare the investment bankers to death?” I asked.

“I hope so,” he replied. “Improves my margins.”




THE BOSS of IKEA, the furniture store where everything is self-assembled from flat-packed pieces, announced that he will retire next year after 34 years with the company. I suppose this means they’ll dismantle him and store the bits in a box for opening on Judgment Day.



MARKETING PROFESSOR Aradhna Krishna (above) recently did an experiment in which she gave people large cookies and measured how much they ate.

Then she gave them the same cookies labeled “MEDIUM”.

They ate much more. That proves it! Reading is bad for you.


worst passport photo ever

TRAVEL TRADE people tell me many nations are copying the rules of the British passport service, which says that no smiling is allowed in official photographs. In the UK, photographers don’t say, “Smile, say cheese,” they say: “Look at the weather.”


THE LATEST election poll says “58 percent of Americans believe Barack Obama would beat Mitt Romney in hand-to-hand combat”.

Is this how they do elections in the US now? If so, can we copy this for Asia?

Imagine a world where Rajnikanth would be leader of India and the President of China would be Jackie Chan.



WISDOM FROM reader Karuna Menon: “A truly happy person is one who, when forced to take a detour, enjoys the scenery.”



TONY GILES posted a cartoon heavily critical of Muslims on Facebook, so this columnist edited it a bit and reposted it (both cartoons below).


A slew of comments followed (80 so far), many of them attacking Muslims, or religious people in general.

It’s curious how few people got the point, which was that we have a choice of making a blanket condemnation of a large group of people, or making an effort to understand what they are concerned about. The second is harder, but more rewarding.

The challenge: how to promote peace and love without sounding like a hippie.


Joke from Isman, a Muslim reader: “Muslims are useful to have around, since we point to Mecca five times a day—you can use us as compasses!”

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