Yesterday, while on a walk, the whimsical notion popped into my head to search for grammatically correct but bizarre, phrases on Google: phrases that in theory might be used but in reality aren't, so no results would be found. The first one that popped into my head, for whatever reason, was "the Florence of Asia." Surely there's no real-world referent to such an appellation, I thought.
It turns out that there isn't much of one, but there's more to it than that.
Google brings five results for "the Florence of Asia," with five different cities being so called. Clearly, it's not widely used, but someone thought of it.
Huh. Bemused, I queried "the Rome of Asia." This returned 1,200 results, and apparently that nickname is reserved for Lhasa, Tibet. I did not know that!
Now I was becoming curious. Why was I not informed of these Asian counterparts to various cities? What is "the Paris of Asia"? Shanghai, Google informs me, with 2,410 results. Now I feel ignorant.
Surely there is no city called "the Milan of Asia"? There doesn't seem to be, but around 234 pages tell me that the Philippines has this name, for its fashion and furniture design industries.
Okay, try "the London of Asia." Singapore or Hong Kong, 1,820 results.
Is there a "New York of Asia"? Hong Kong for sure this time, with 2,300 pages affirming.
Trying to get esoteric, but still reasonable, I typed in "the Berlin of Asia." Only four results: Hong Kong, or war-torn Korea or war-torn Vietnam. Getting closer!
Similarly, "the Los Angeles of Asia" gives only four results, none of which agree with the other. I was surprised on this one, thinking it would be Bombay, for the Bollywood film industry.
Time to steer away from useful cities with a history. But still, "the Dallas of Asia" gives three results (Beijing or Singapore).
"The Mexico of Asia"? Lots of results: 275 or so, with no general consensus.
Okay, time to break out the oxymorons and get genuinely unrealistic. I typed "the Toronto of Asia" and got one result: Busan, Korea.
I finally found success with "the Ottawa of Asia." Zero results!
I managed to craft a reasonable search with no results. In this utterly useless contest, however, there are no winners. Only losers. Me and Ottawa.