I’m safeguarding my home by making it invisible
[dropcap]A[/dropcap]ngry farmers trying to stop elephants eating their crops found the answer literally under their noses: their vindaloo lunches. They got the idea of planting rows of super-spicy chili pepper plants between farmland and jungle in Karnataka.
Elephants are like pre-1980s British people: they are deeply affronted if their food tastes of anything. Tuskers are likely to chew their way to the farm borders and then stop to comment: “The food’s a touch too piquant on this side, chaps. Let’s go the other way.” Off they’ll stomp, muttering about “foreign muck”.
I shared this news from the Indian Express with a Malaysian reader who said residents of the Klang Valley in her country safeguarded their borders using geese with goslings. Like humans, geese that have recently become parents become snappy and irritable, presumably because of lack of sleep and the continuous need for midnight feedings, poop-cleaning and singing of the Barney songs.
It strikes me that another big advantage of using guard geese is that you avoid the embarrassment of having your guard dog stolen, which is what happened to a household in the Philippines earlier this year, according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Professional thieves sold the goods stolen from a house in Quezon City but decided to keep the dog that they renamed Lucky. But recently, several months after the robbery, suspicious cops took the victims into the presence of Lucky the dog – and the mutt leapt up, overjoyed to see them. Lucky is now a key item of evidence against the thieves. I strongly suspect the villains no longer think of the dog as Lucky but use a variety of other words to express their feelings about it.
One house in India protected its boundaries with more than chili plants, geese or dogs. A reader sent me a photo of a sign on a gate saying: “Beware of Ferocious Dogs and Ghosts.” Good to keep the riffraff out, but what if a famous super-skeptic like Richard Dawkins strolled by? He could just waltz in and take your stuff.
If you really want to protect your property, do what architects are planning to do in South Korea: they are making their building invisible. Not a joke. The Infinity Tower is a skyscraper with sky-high video glass walls. The plan is to broadcast a live, moving image of the sky and clouds directly behind the building on each wall: hey presto, the skyscraper will vanish into the background.
I love this idea, and wonder if instead of limiting it to buildings, we can do it to all large, ugly eyesores, including modern art installations, statues, politicians and pretty much any really annoying thing or person. Richard Dawkins would be my choice. But of course the real joy of Infinity Tower, which is right next door to Incheon Airport, is the fun and games it will provide for air traffic controllers. You could make the skyscraper invisible until the pilot has set his course for the runway, and then suddenly turn it fully visible, with a flashing neon light saying “Surprise, Surprise”. I’m sure the pilots, as they take evasive action, will totally see the funny side.
(Nury Vittachi is an Asia-based frequent traveler. Send ideas and comments via www.mrjam.org)