AN Australian friend of ours from Magazine Gap Road bought a complicated unit from Japanese department store Daimaru which works as a dehumidifier and heater. At home, she discovered that the instructions inside were in Japanese and Chinese only. She phoned Daimaru, who said this was the responsibility of the Japanese manufacturer, Sharp. She phoned Sharp, who said this was the responsibility of Daimaru. She now has to find a translator or operate the thing by guesswork. We just hope Daimaru and Sharp never start exporting nuclear plants. On similar lines, a reader sent us a packet containing a type of power cell. On one side were the words, in English: ''CAUTION: Do not use without reading the warnings on the reverse''. On the back there was nothing but Japanese characters. Oh well, foreigners are only gaijin after all. Dropping a few is no bad thing. Fare enough OUR colleague Fiona MacMahon leapt into a taxi in Ice House Street on Thursday and sped towards this newspaper's offices in Quarry Bay (reporters are always in a hurry). The fare was $34.20 and she handed him a $50 note. He gave her $30 change. ''It's my charity day,'' he said, insisting that she take the money. This generous diksi-sigei was driving customers around and foregoing fees on that particular day. What did he do at lunchtime? Nip into a cafe and hand pizzas to the staff? Heart pang HOW does one spot the ghoulish brokers who gleefully tried to profit from Chris Patten's heart disorder? ''Look out for the ones who invite Mr Patten for lots of high cholesterol lunches,'' suggested Paul Rivers of Pam and Frank Industrial. Writer George Adams was playing around with his Scrabble set when he found that Christopher Patten was an anagram of ''PRC sent heart op hit''. ''It seems to be a message,'' said George. Meanwhile, over in the UK just now, economists are on a witch-hunt to find someone to blame for the high unemployment. George notes that an anagram of Nigel Lawson is ''We all sign on''. Ritz cracker RITZ of London general manager Radha Arora, now visiting Hongkong, is obviously a moral man. He told us yesterday he once found a card in a London phone booth saying: ''For glamour and glitz, opposite the Ritz, call this number, transvestites welcome.'' Horrified that his hotel's name was being dropped in this way, he dialed the number. He told the boy/girl/inbetweenie who answered that he/she/it was a bitch, and then he sent the police around. When guests bring ''ladies of the night'' (his words) to the Ritz, he takes the men aside and gives them a friendly paternal talking-to. But we would not want you to think Mr Arora is a puritan. He spent the flight to Hongkong watching Basic Instinct - a sex-and-violence epic - eight times in a row. Air waves ETHICAL dilemmas continue to mount. Stockbroker and Legco loudmouth Chim Pui-chung invited 30-odd Legco reporters to dinner earlier this week. Each was plied with shark's fin soup and received a lai see packet containing $100. Then he organised a lucky draw. Each of the four winners received a pair of return air tickets. They will be heading out to the west coast of the United States, Japan, Taiwan and Thailand. He's never offered us any air tickets, after all we've written about him - but if he did, we feel sure they would be one-way. Urban life URBAN Lehner, editor of the Asian Wall Street Journal, is used to people like us making fun of his name. ''My high school Latin teacher, Sister Peter Verona, referred to me constantly as Urbibus - the ablative plural of my name's Latin root, if I recall correctly,'' he said. But nothing prepared him for what he found when he was assigned to Japan, where ''Urban'' refers to a lifestyle craze. He found that the train he was on from Nagoya was the ''Urban Liner''. He mused on a possible headline: ''Urban Lehner Rides Urban Liner''. His contacts were wearing pseudo-Italian fashion called ''D'Urban'', working in the ''Urban Elegance'' building, and driving Mazda cars called ''Urban Break''. They read Urb magazine while munching food from the Hitachi ''Urban Wide 400'' fridge. He was pleased to see a real estate complex described as ''Nice Urban''. ''Finally, a country where people really understand the importance of being Urban,'' said Urban. Cold comfort HELEN Baily of Allied Pickfords showed us this enticing ad for Color Me Beautiful, a beauty consultancy operation. ''Isn't it the wrong time of year to be avoiding clothing?'' she asked. Pearl's gem THE TVB news on Thursday evening carried a report on the speech by L. Gordon Crovitz which we mentioned yesterday. Only they described him as editor of the Far WESTERN Economic Review. Surprised viewer Chris Slaughter of Caine Road said: ''TVB must have been infiltrated by a secret Philip Bowring sympathiser.'' Mr Crovitz said: ''That was on TVB Oyster, was it?'' Block head HELEN Lucas of Ching Wah Street, North Point, notes that dynamic Hongkong law firm Deacons now has an ''Intellectual Property Department''. She assumes this must be something to do with the proliferation of so-called ''intelligent buildings''. ''Could it be these buildings are so smart they are now seeking their own legal representation?'' she asked.