Want to get ahead? Just back up. The ancient Chinese tradition of
walking backwards for health is spreading like wildfire around the
world. More than 20 countries have set up "retro-stepping"
organisations, including India, Malaysia, Argentina, France, The
I heard this from a reader who went to a walking backwards event
in South Africa and had a brilliant time except for when he fell
over a small Mexican and broke his skull. "A bit of brain fell
out, but not much," he told me. "I still have plenty."
I walk backwards myself from time to time, and it DOES make your
muscles feel pleasantly loose and flexible. Here are the questions
we backward walkers are always asked.
Q: When you walk backwards, how do you see where you are going?
A: You don't! That's the fun part.
Q: Don't you crash into stuff like lampposts?
A: No, because you choose a path clear of those things. But you
frequently hit phone-starers.
Q: Don't they see you coming?
A: No. Phone-starers are primitive small-brained beasts who
meander through urban areas, their gaze locked on to the phones
Q: Does it hurt when you crash into them?
A: No. The back parts of your body and your head are tough, while
the front parts of the body and the head are very tender. Hee hee
Q: Do you apologize to people you bump into?
A: Yes, but I don't mean it. Sometimes, I even manage not to laugh
as I pick them up.
Q: Do you ever get hurt yourself?
A: Sure! From time to time we backward-walkers stroll off cliffs
and die. This can really spoil your day. A guy walking backwards
in mainland China fell into a lake and drowned. He gave up the
sport entirely after that.
Q: Isn't walking backwards really slow?
A: No. A guy called Garret Doherty in the UK ran a mile backwards
in less than seven minutes last month. Most people couldn't run a
mile forwards in seven minutes, or in the case of my completely
spherical former boss, seven years.
Q: Is there anything bad about walking backwards?
A: Three things. First, you look silly. Second, observers always
make the same joke, shouting: "You're going the wrong way." And
third, if you see an incredibly cute person of the opposite sex,
it's REALLY hard to stalk them.
Q: Do you miss stalking people?
A: yeah, but a guy's gotta make some sacrifices to keep in shape.
Q: What advice would you give to a beginner who has never done it
A: Avoid piers, cliff edges, ships, hospital surgical theatres,
chainsaw factories and bungee jump decks. Most importantly, watch
out for small Mexicans.
In other news, a member of the paparazzi last week claimed to have
been beaten up by JUSTIN BIEBER! Yeah, right, and then Hello Kitty
kicked him in the face and took his wallet.
A young lady named Justine Elizabeth wrote on Facebook: "Illiturate
people are really making me mad." You go, girl. Smack them
illiturates without mersi. New generation writers often present us
with puzzles. A girl called Lexa told internet readers about a
visit she had just had from a young man. "All I can smell is his
colon," she lamented. I really REALLY hope this was a misprint for
Talking of spelling, US presidential candidate Mitt Romney was
mocked last week when his staff accidentally spelled America as
Amercia. That's nothing compared to probably the all time greatest
political spelling mistake. In 2010, a candidate for governor had
his name misspelled on voting machines in black neighbourhoods in
Chicago. Richard Whitney was accidentally spelled "Rich Whitey".
Yeah, he probably lost a few votes.
A judge heard a dispute between TWO GODS in India last week. I'd
like to see a Western judge do that. Shringa Rishi and Balu Nag
had been arguing since 1971 about their positions in a
centuries-old procession of 200-plus deities, I read in an
Indo-Asian News Service report, forwarded by a reader. But the
judge at the Himachal Pradesh High Court sorted it out, giving
Shringa Rishi the number two spot and Balu Nag "the role of the
younger brother" in third place.
Cool that a judge can solve supernatural disputes. I wonder if he
could be persuaded to deal with others? There's a ghost named
Okiku at Himeji Castle in Japan, who rises from a well at night,
counts to nine, and then shrieks. It's kind of a naff sort of
haunting unless you know the full story. Okiku was a maid executed
for breaking a plate. Solution: Judge could decree that nine-piece
place settings are officially superior to 10-piece settings on
earth and in the afterlife.
But the judge would have to work hard to avoid dealing with people
who just THINK they're superhuman. Yes, I'm talking about you,
The number of fat women in Japan is declining steeply, from 26
percent in 1995 to 22 percent in 2010, according to data revealed
last week, forwarded by a reader named Shoichi. At this rate,
there will be no fat women by 2030 and no women at all by 2048.
This will be a shame, as Japanese men look terrible in sailor suit
Is it because of the Japanese diet? No. Japanese MEN are becoming
fatter at the same speed as urban residents over the rest of the
planet. It's not the food, but "the Japanese female mindset".
Reading his email reminded me of the time I spent two days on tour
with a Japanese author. I never saw her eat anything, nor take a
toilet break. On my return, I read an interview with a woman who
married into the Japanese emperor's family. She said the ladies of
the royal court put her on a training course to teach her to
arrest her bodily functions for a full day, so she would not have
to interrupt her semi-divine duties with cries of: "Whoa, I need a
MAJOR dump." I expect they upped it to a week, and then a month,
and eventually got her to a state where she has no bodily
functions at all.
And you know how Japanese toilets have lots of buttons? Well, on
my most recent visit to Tokyo, I noticed the latest toilets have a
button "For women only." I did not press it, in case it triggered
some sort of mechanical action which either removed my genitalia,
or (more likely) my ENTIRE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM.
A reader sent in a Zen thought for the day: "If you aim to fail
and succeed, what have you done? Failed or succeeded?" Hurts my
brain to think about it. Instead, I'm going to go and do some
other high-minded journalistic activity, like getting beaten up by
those two mega-thugs, Justin Bieber and Hello Kitty.
(Nury Vittachi is a columnist who travels around Asia. Send ideas
and comments via www.mrjam.org)