The Irish have friends in unlikely places.
Dressed in green clothing and sporting shamrocks painted on their faces, thousands of Tokyoites took to the streets on Sunday to watch what may be the world's most unlikely St. Patrick's Day parade, Reuters reported.
"Irish people are friendly," Masahito Aitsuki, a 45-year-old man who was wearing a green blazer and emerald-colored shoes, told Reuters.
After visiting Ireland on a business trip, Aitsuki said he was charmed by the country and its people.
"They have something spiritual about them, which is kind of like the Japanese spirit," he said.
Now in its 16th year, the event drew a crowd of around 40,000 onlookers, organizer Masayuki Kishi said.
"This year was great," said Kimie Nagahama, an Irish dancing teacher who participated in the parade with several of her students.
Some Japanese got interested in Ireland through its music or sports.
"I like Irish artists such as the Pogues," Tsuyoshi Amagasa, a 29-year-old clad in a green T-shirt, told Reuters.
While the parade may not have been on St. Patrick's Day — organizers said they wanted to stick with tradition and hold it on a Sunday — the massive Tokyo Tower was lit up in green on Saturday night to celebrate the 50 years of diplomatic ties between the two countries.
Man 'Back' From the Dead
A Kuala Lumpur man mistakenly certified as dead following a horrific motorcycle accident two years ago was reunited with his family last week after a social worker helped to identify him through thumbprints, Reuters reported.
S. Samy Pillai, 50, was believed to have been killed in a hit-and-run accident in June 2005, after his wrecked motorcycle was found along the same stretch of road as a body mangled beyond recognition, the Star newspaper said.
But he was found to be alive, although speechless and partly paralyzed by the accident, after a social worker encountered him hobbling around on crutches about 186 miles from his home and took him to authorities, who identified him from his thumbprints.
Last Tuesday, Pillai's wife, K. Letchumy, 42, confirmed the man is her husband, but how he spent his years away from home is a mystery. The couple have nine children, the paper said.
Classy Until the End
LONDON (AP) — A first-class passenger on a flight from Delhi to London awoke to find the corpse of a woman who had died in the economy cabin being placed in a seat next to him, British Airways said Monday.
The economy section of the flight was full, and the cabin crew needed to move the woman and her grieving family out of that compartment to give them some privacy, the airline said.
The first-class passenger, Paul Trinder, told the Sunday Times newspaper that he was sleeping during a February flight from India and woke up when the crew placed the dead woman in an empty seat near him.
"I didn't have a clue what was going on. The stewards just plonked the body down without saying a thing. I remember looking at this frail, sparrow-like woman and thinking she was very ill," the newspaper quoted Trinder as saying. "When I asked what was going on, I was shocked to hear she was dead."
British Airways said in a statement that about 10 passengers die each year in flight and that while each situation is dealt with on an individual basis, safety is paramount.
"The deceased must not be placed in the galley or blocking aisles or exits, and there should be clear space around the deceased," the statement said. "The wishes of family or friends traveling with the deceased will always be considered and account taken of the reactions of other passengers."
Because there was space in the first-class cabin, that "allowed the family members traveling with the deceased some level of privacy in their grief," the airline said.
"We apologize to passengers in the first cabin who were distressed by the situation — our cabin crew were working in difficult circumstances and chose the option that they believed would cause the least disruption," the statement said.
David Learmount, a former pilot and cabin crew member who now writes about the aviation industry for Flight International magazine, said that each airline has to deal with the relatively rare situation on an individual basis. He said that diverting the flight would be an unusual move and that the captain would be consulted before the crew acted.
"Personally, I think they did the thing that was the best thing to do," he said. "Really, you want as much as possible to isolate the person.
"It's an isolated incident. It's not as if it happens every day, but you do have to take in people's sensibilities when it does happen."
A Meal Fit for a ... Pharaoh
BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) — From the creators of the $25,000 dinner, there's another pricey gourmet feast on the horizon.
Wealthy foodies can mark their calendars for Dec. 12, 2008, when top chefs from around the world will be flown to Egypt to cook a dinner in front of the ancient Pyramids of Giza, organizer Deepak Ohri said Monday.
This dinner will be a bargain, at least compared to the one in Bangkok last month that was billed as the meal of a lifetime and cooked by six 3-star Michelin chefs for $25,000 a head. High-rolling food lovers flew in from the United States, Europe, the Middle East and across Asia for the 40-seat dinner.
The price for dining beside the pyramids has not yet been set, but it will cost less than $10,000 per person, said Ohri, the managing director of Bangkok's luxury Lebua hotel, the event planner behind the dinners that are boldly titled "Epicurean Masters of the World."
Though cheaper, the upcoming feast is intended to be even grander than its predecessor.
"It will still be for millionaires, but this dinner will be for a lot of millionaires," Ohri told The Associated Press.
Some 500 tickets will be sold for the dinner to be cooked by 30 3-star Michelin chefs.
About a third of the chefs already have confirmed their attendance; each chef will prepare a meal for roughly 17 diners.
A kitchen half a mile long will be set up against the backdrop of the pyramids with equipment and the best ingredients jetted in from around the world.
Unlike the $25,000 dinner, which featured rare French wines and mostly French food, the next meal will be culturally diverse and paired with fine wines from around the world, Ohri said.
Just how close diners will be to the pyramids depends on the Egyptian government and the U.N.'s cultural body UNESCO, since the pyramids are a World Heritage site.
Talks are under way with authorities, Ohri said, noting that organizers are "considering" giving profits from the dinner to an organization or charity that deals with conserving the Seven Wonders of the World. The pyramids are the only surviving structure from the traditional list of architectural marvels.
All profits from the $25,000 dinner are going to two charities — Medecins Sans Frontieres, which will be sent a check for $15,000, and the Chaipattana Foundation, a rural development program set up by the king of Thailand, which will receive $46,000, Ohri said.
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