ASIANS ATE OUR CAKE! That was the complaint from the Danish People's Party, an anti-immigrant group.
It said the Koge Hospital's maternity ward used to give out free cake in the waiting room, but with so many foreigners with huge families grabbing at it, the handout was canceled.
(Ilustration shows typical huge Asian family walking in the park)
A spate of shock stories like that led to tough anti-foreigner laws being introduced in Denmark, where residents are legally required to eat two kilos of pastries a day.
I heard about this from reader Kim Parfitt, who's sad about her country's hostility to people from overseas. "I lost my ability to smile," she wrote. "My husband told me to write to you in the hopes that you could make me laugh."
I'd love to, Kim, but unfortunately, I just got back to my desk after spending the morning stealing cakes from hospitals with my 19 family members.
That's a joke. Believe me, no one would want to steal any food from a hospital in Asia. Hospitals are the leading cause of death. Suicides in this region don't jump off buildings. They eat three-course meals at the local infirmary for instant results.
By coincidence, I got a message about being nice to foreigners from reader Linda Rose in Sri Lanka:
"Your car is German. Your vodka is Russian. Your pizza is Italian. Your kebab is Turkish. Your democracy is Greek. Your coffee is Brazilian. Your movies are American. Your tea is Sri Lankan. Your shirt is Indian. Your oil is Saudi Arabian. Your electronics are Chinese, your numbers Arabic, and your letters Latin. So if your neighbor is an immigrant, why complain?"
That’s neat, thanks, Linda.
Talking of cultural friendship, I'll never forget the day friends at Metro News, a Hong Kong radio station, asked listeners to write in so they could see how far the signal went.
Staff got a long, handwritten letter from a listener in Azerbaijan.
A Metro staff member read it out. It started as a deeply touching piece of fan mail, asking for souvenirs and photos of the presenters.
But on page two was a second request:
"My OTHER favorite hobby is collecting photos of nude Asian girls. Unfortunately, my collection is poor. My dream is to receive regularly such materials from Hong Kong. Could you help?"
The letter's cuteness-factor diminished dramatically.
At the time, Metro spokesman Bob Palitz told me: "We decided we could not really help him with this. We are a radio station, after all. Perhaps we'll send him some recorded audio of nude women."
Anyway, the story about the missing cake in Denmark ended happily. Instead of getting angry, someone with a Muslim name sent a free cake to the office of the political party.
Others copied the idea, and at last count, 500 cakes had been sent.
The politicians offered to forward them to the hospital in question, but they couldn't.
It turned out the story was untrue. Koge Hospital doesn't have a maternity ward.
ON UNRELATED MATTERS….
Thanks for the comments about Scotsmen etc yesterday – very sharp and amusing! I am writing this in a Scottish restaurant (McDonald’s) since I am giving a talk at a school on a distant island this morning, and decided to get there early and have a breakfast (less stressful that way).
But the sad letter from Kim which inspired the above post made me feel super-grateful to have this wonderful community where people of various colors, sexes, beliefs all congregate and share a laugh.