It used to be a standing joke during my school days, this riddle that went: Why is so and so grander than even one who owns a Mercedes? Because he owns a 36-door limousine.
I haven't heard anything about this "limousine" for the longest time till I was queuing for my drink at Alexandra Village food centre recently.
The lady owner of the drink stall had a visitor, another woman who was boasting that she could drive any vehicle, from motorcycles to lorries. With a flourish of her hands, she was describing how she always drove a lorry during Chinese New Year, ferrying her relatives and friends around.
"All but one kind of car I haven't driven," she said, raising a finger and pausing for effect.
I was all ears, keen to know the answer. But another old man joined the conversation and chipped in:"Hahaha, was it the 36-door car?"
I eventually got my Coke, and I didn't catch the woman's reply. Maybe it was really the 36-door car which was for collecting night soil in the good old days when some areas still did not have flush toilets. These "limousines" had 36 compartments each, for storing night soil buckets. Each compartment had a small door.
But why 36, I wonder.