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Fake! Faked! Fakers!    

By Ken Silver About Asia
3492 Views | 0 Comments | 2/27/2011 7:28:10 PM
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I have possibly the finest collection of worthless imitations in the world. No Metropolitan Museum of Modern Fakes can equal it. Fake silver, fake gold, fake jewelry, fake jade. No, I’m not even counting faked orgasms, faked “me love you long time” speeches, or anything else organic.

I’m only talking about the inanimate here… faked crocodile skin wallets, faked sting ray purses. Apparently, God reached production perfection with the stingray, which ceaselessly comes off His assembly lines in the millions without the slightest imperfection or variation, ever, to its astonishingly plastic looking skin.

I’m only talking about things, not people. False monks, false Buddhists… false women… don’t even go there!

Necessity is indeed the mother of invention. So is the profit motive, or, more charitably, a hungry family to feed.

Sometimes I think all of Asia - the spectacular Himalayas, the crystal clear oceans, the moon touching ancient temple spires - are nothing but a store window display for the most ingenious rip offs known to man. (Excepting the Global Financial Crisis, of course! That was the Wild Wall Street West!)
And, you don’t ever see the rip off coming. You are tired, or too enthusiastic, or drunk, or too motivated by greed for a bargain. (Note to self -What gets you, you never see it coming.)

It would take a Sherlock Holmes to deduce the lead core in the center of that charming Laotian silver pendant. Of which you bought a dozen to resell at home. Dr Watson though, could probably figure out that emerald the size of a chicken egg isn’t real. Even dim witted Inspector Lestrade would be suspicious of a vendor selling elaborate gold jewelry for less than the market price of gold.

Why weren’t you?

After a while I got to recognize the dull sheen of silver paint passing for .925 silver. I’ve come to tell myself that a real blue sapphire makes weird, scattered patterns out of light passing through, while false stones - blue colored glass - leaves light looking like it passed through an ordinary window. But don’t bet your money on that! Technology has advanced so much in the science of fraud that even experts are left uncertain.

If everything else fails, vendors will do a last second substitution of an almost identical fake product for the real article you have been bargaining over for a half hour. Their hands go under the counter to get a bag and the switch is done. Always keep possession of the real article and let them hand you the bag.
I’ve been called clinically paranoid for believing in the last second switch, but it does occur. Its in the moment of shopping triumph that you are most vulnerable.

Fixing your laptop? Take it to “Mr. Sincere Buddha Computer Repairs”. Mr. Sincere Buddha himself will personally strip your machine of all its brand name working parts; replacing them with goldfish which will die on you one day after the 30 day warranty. He will fix the initial problem, though.

That’s the way it is on a continent where swindles and fraud are an acceptable part of commerce. You, they will swindle blind, and laugh about it. If the swindled parties are Big Boys, a bit of human sacrifice will be demanded as an apology. The designated scapegoat on the Swindlers Team gets whacked, as they say in Brooklyn. Then after a apologetic, respectful pause, business resumes.

So, don’t be signing up to be a Good Will Ambassador for Swindles, Inc.

In Asia, it is relationships that matter more than most external events. This is hard to understand for Westerners, who have been raised to believe that only the facts count. But think about it. Two strong people or groups - two strong tigers - they will find a way through the natural excesses and affronts and provocations and swindles and murders. A way to keep their jungle relatively calm.

The headline of the day comes and goes; in Asia it is the basic understanding that must be kept on course. More natural, really.

Yeah, but… you’ve been swindled?

How bad?

Someday we will tell you what you can and cannot do about it! If it builds a better working relationship between us, that is.

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