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Salesman wins fame - and unwelcome visit from inspectors (The Funny Side)

India,Features, Fri, 14 Dec 2012 IANS

A streetside fish-seller whose chant made him a YouTube star won a recording contract - and the attention of illegal immigration inspectors in the UK.

Muhammad Shahid Nazir distinguished himself from other East London street salesmen by turning his sales cry into a song: "Come on ladies, come on ladies, have-a have-a look, one pound fish, very, very good." It doesn't look very impressive on the page, but when you hear it sung, well, it's not much better. Nevertheless, a customer filmed the Pakistani man's chant and record executives from Warner Bros signed him up to record a single.

That's where everything went wrong. First, Warner autotuned the vocal so he sounds like a robot, added a dull electronic drumbeat, and then made an embarrassingly naff video of him lipsynching in front of miniskirted models. Second, UK immigration authorities noticed he was a man with a secret: he had come to the country on a student visa but was attending no classes and apparently working illegally.

The tale reminded me of a friend who never allows himself to be photographed. At first we thought he was just modest. But now that everyone has camera-phones, this guy spends his life hiding behind pillars. Clearly he stole a billion dollars or something.

Sometimes I think I ought to turn him in. But then he wouldn't share the money with me. What would you do?


Archaeologists in North Korea this week claimed to have found the home of the unicorn mentioned in one of the country's oldest legends. They identified the unicorn's lair by cunningly noticing that an area near a temple contains a rectangular rock bearing the words "Unicorn's Lair".

If I ever get into North Korea, I'm going to carve the words "Hidden Kingdom of the Tooth Fairy" on a rock and leave it lying around somewhere.


Internet users in China are furious after it was revealed that their government has a Twitter account. Citizens are strictly banned from using the web service, in case they stumble upon highly classified top secrets, such as "living in a free society is not hell on earth".

The revelation in the Yunnan Info Daily didn't surprise me. A friend of mine was sitting in front of a No Smoking sign in a taxi in China when the driver lit up a cigarette. Being a smoker himself, my friend got out a pack of Dunhill. The driver turned his head, removed his cigarette, pointed to the sign and barked: "Hey! NO SMOKING."

Anyway, I logged on to the Chinese government's Twitter feed, but the posts were pitifully dull. My favorite recent China government announcement was one earlier this month responding to shocking rumors saying that a police chief in North East China was a deeply corrupt, money-grubbing conman who was sleeping with twin sisters to whom he had given jobs.

The announcement said that this outrageous, wild allegation was NOT TRUE. The girls were not twins, just sisters.

So that's all right then.


Officials in South Africa want to change the name of Thighs of a Virgin High School, it

was reported this week. The education minister said that several oddly-named schools sound unsuitable in English in this globalized world. Others are Pickpocket Primary School, Drink Primary School and Prison Primary School.

Citizens and staff are outraged, complaining that the changes would "erase Zulu history". They said Thighs of a Virgin High School, north of Durban, was named after a man named Chief Bongizwe Alpheus Nhleko, who was said to have remarkably long, thin, smooth, attractive, girly thighs, "widely admired" around the country. I am not making this up.


A miracle dog in China can do maths. Potato the Dog can add, subtract, multiply and divide, says owner Lu Zesheng of Jiangsu Province. In front of witnesses, Mr Lu asked Potato: "How much is 3.44 plus 3.56?" Potato, aged two, barked seven times. Mr Lu then asked: "What is the number on the side of China's first aircraft carrier?" Potato barked the requisite number of times (16). This indicates that the dog stays awake during patriotic news announcements, which is the biggest miracle of all.


HSBC's US operation turned a blind eye to trillions of dollars of shady transfers by drug cartels, terrorists and corrupt officials, watchdogs said. "Hello, 'Mr Smith', thank you for depositing this bullet-ridden suitcase of blood-stained banknotes. Just wait until I tick this box on this form which says 'nothing suspicious' and we'll count it for you."

But the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank was founded in the late 1800s to store cash made by business people who trafficked drugs from India to China. So nothing's changed.

If you want to open an HSBC account today, you don't HAVE to be a drug lord, but references from Mexican gangsters might help.


A man has launched a brand of shoes for atheists. The words "Darwin Loves" are embossed into the soles. David Bonney, a man from Dublin, told the Irish Times: "Our first idea was to make Christian shoes with water in the soles, so you could walk on water, but it didn't really sit with our own beliefs. So we decided to do something about what we believed in - which was nothing." Do you think someone should tell Mr Bonney that Darwin was not an atheist? The great man vacillated between belief and agnosticism, and on Sunday mornings, when his wife went to church, Darwin went walking in the woods, seeing nature as God's other holy book.


Beer is good for adults and children, a new Japanese study says. It contains a biochemical called humulone, which helps fight the common cold. And you feel the benefit after just 30 large cans, researcher Jun Fuchimoto told the AFP news agency. The research project was paid for by Sapporo, a huge beer company. Not that that's relevant.


A woman seen shoplifting at a WalMart store in Houston was shot to death by a Loss Prevention Officer, CBS reported this week. That's a pretty serious punishment for swiping a WalMart item. What do they do if you fail to return the shopping trolley? Wipe out seven generations of your family?


Wise thought: You grow up aiming to be a good example. And then you get to the point where you think, well, okay, at least I can be horrible warning.

(Nury Vittachi is an Asia-based frequent traveler. Send ideas and comments via www.mrjam.org)

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