Three stories from around our oddball planet, where things are rarely what they seem:
Where else to start fittingly on the subject of the weird and wonderful but the US of A. Reports have surfaced that no longer is the humble pack of smokes the unofficial currency in America’s not-to-be-trifled-with prisons. The new gold standard in barter and exchange is none other than the unofficial dish of Japan: Ramen noodles. After more than a century of trading cigarettes for favours, prisoners have now promoted the humble bowl of ramen – beloved of America’a WW2 foe, Japan – to the rank of preferred currency.
In India, where sleeping on a bed of nails has always outdone the memory foam matress for comfort, a man checks in to a hospital complaining of stomach cramps only to have 40 – not 38 or 26 – folding knives surgically removed from his stomach. When asked, ‘why on Earth?’, he answers that he felt like it. A psychopathological disorder known as pica, his taste in metallic edges brings new meaning to the term peckish.
And finally, in the Gulf, the influential Indian press bemoan the abject performance and lean medal haul of athletes from the populous sub-continent with the headline, 2 winners, 1.48 billion whiners.
Sums up the mood of this strange world indeed.
Not even the great Tolstoy, tsar of the yarn, could have made these stories up. Truth is stranger than fiction.