May 23, 2013
It’s very easy to close the door on the world and retreat into a make belief world. I am reminded as I sit on my rattan chair and watch Debbie, plantation life still offers plenty of oppotunities for that sort of escapism– a planters life is after all not so different from being marooned in another age. An old age where to be slow was just right – it’s an old world that has it’s charms. Not so different from those vignettes of the past, we come across from time to time in sepia prints that hark back to an age when men were very much still men. And women still had the decency to faint or at least pretend too – it’s an excrutiangly slow and relaxed world and that mood of amber moving ever so slowly as it encapsulates everything in it’s wake seems to be working it’s magic on Debbie.
She doesn’t snap as often as she did. She doesn’t even mind waiting for me whenever I return back from the field. She doesnt fidget as much as she did whenever we sit during the evenings when the sun begins it’s currelean swan dive – she just calm. In the moment. Like a lotus floating in a mirror lake….that is really plantation living./span>
City living on the other hand isn’t that kind and gentle to the human condition – as at some point even the best of us will trip and fall on the supersonic treadmill of faster, fastener, fasterest. Could be the idea of omnipresent work. The variety that we mull over even when we are supposed to spend quality time wirh our most precious and loved. The pressure never ever leaves us. Not even on a lazy Sunday afternoon….then there are deadlines, or the rocket science details of tying up a loose end on a deal, too many of us spend too much time running without ever once pressing the pause button – to think, where are we going? What kinda price are we paying for this ‘dolce vita?’ COMING TO THINK OF IT, I DON’T REMEMBER SIGNING UP FOR THIS DEAL!.
Soon this becomes the only way we know how to live – where we even expect life to be stressful, unrewarding and most importantly served up fast – but the net result is hardly a better world – as our expectations for fast, efficient and if possible supersonic is so often the source of the wheel of human misery.
<span style="color:#000000;How right. Speed kills. Most of us don't even read slowly and deeply anymore. We just scan. Speed read. We have to develop those life skills in speedy Gonzalez land. As a result very few of us can still our minds to bear out patiently the beauty of prose – and since we are regularly on a diet of sound and nano bites – most of us don't really have deep understandings of things that really matter in the great adventure called life – we know that Samsung is better than Apple. We even know, we are going to get one. But we don't really know or haven't really asked ourselves whether such gizmos add or subtract from the whole quality of life – most of us will miss out on the nuanced textures of life.
Yesterday when we were both in the city. I saw a boy nod his head at a tree. Debbie thought it was strange – she said, there was something odd about the boy. She was not alone. So were most people who saw this all from the cafe – the boy of the mother and the maid looked embarrassed. The boy has done this before I reckon. Debbie saw me walk up to the mother and after a while, an expression of calm swept over the face of this woman – the mother understood why her son always stops at this very spot and nod his head again and again – he's counting the leaves.
It's a vampire thing. I just know about these things the – I knownthem very well. As I don't see the world like most people. I always see it slightly differently.
Speed means the simple pleasures of daily life, a conversation with a stranger, stilling the mind to notice, the subtle changes in the skyline and how the light plays on the nooks of buildings, the quiet beauty of a weekend morning, the deeply edifying sense of accomplishment that can only come when we dedicate ourselves to a task carefully and slowly…….slow food, the type where you never use a blender. It's all done the slow boat way……so slow that even watching grass grow as Debbie once remarked can be such fun – sitting on a park bench and just watching the birds.
In these last three weeks – I have been subtely trying to share this aspect of life with Debbie – the wisdom of slowing down. My reasons are simple – if we keep disregarding that little voice in our head that is telling us to slow down – we may succumb to the myriad of health conditions that are a result of leading fast, stressful lives. The biological costs of ignoring stress are staggering, manifesting in cardiovascular and other systemic diseases and even, new research shows, in accelerated aging. The psychological costs are equally large with anxiety, depression, eating disorders and other emotional illnesses associated with unmanaged stress.
We need to dedicate ourselves to be mindful of the side effects of leading a life that is too fast. This is the answer. Only then can we develop a wise and sustainable relationship with speed. Mindful living is a way of life that urges people to discover wisdom in the Tao of the snail. The slower the better……
Watching Debbie in these last three weeks as she takes it all in reminds me that I must be more patient with her. I really just have a few concerns – I don’t want complications – and I am always getting myself into all sorts of complications.
Even then I tell myself to take it all calmly and slowly….the slower the better…..there is no rush in the world for her to make up her mind.
“When I was a salary man many moons ago in Singapore. I never worked more than 8 hours a day. Mind you there were many people who put in a 10 and even 12 hour day. But not me. One day my supervisor told me that if I didn’t stay back, then it would affect my promotion. Eventually, I told him that was fine with that idea. Besides I working hard on materializing Plan B – this job was just to get there, it was a means to an end. My real job came after work, where I like to watch the birds and trees with Missy Dotty.
However my boss still very Bo kum buan (not satisfied lah). So one day he sat me down to talk to me about high performance and cultivating a competitive attitude – I am not sure how the conversation took the turn that it took. But eventually we started talking about our families – that was when I told him that if he busted his ass every evening instead of heading home – then it was only a matter of time before his wife will go off with another man. My supervisor was quite flabbergasted by my off the cuff comment – he even when on to impress upon me that both he and his wife had a solid relationship based on mutual trust and respect. He even said that I was talking rot. I didn’t know his wife and I should mind my place – I looked at him impassively.
Two weeks later when he went back home early for reasons known only to himself, he saw me sitting down with his wife in the kitchen enjoying a bowl of Lotus root chicken Pao sum soup (which gentlemen I highly before closed encounters of the dangerous kind)- my supervisor was very surprised and shocked…you could even say it must have been a turning point in his life…it was all written on his face as he looked at his wife and me…again and again….his smoking….going through the possibilities. I lit cigarette… I offered him some soup, his wife insisted that I should finish it. She wasn’t coy about it. Through that desolate wasteland of time where every must have cut like a knife. I looked at this man very deeply and calmly like a very loving father before a sobbing child…I could tell he was not comfortable that I had visited his wife without informing him…but what could I do – what choice did he leave me?
Besides this is really my perculiar way of conveying to him, life is indeed filled with countless vagaries and caprice and the odd barbed repartee – surely this would lead any man in his position to seek a answer to the philosophical question: there has to be much more to life than just work, work and work. I told not in words, but through my obvious intimacy with his wife – work is and will always be simply a means to an end. Nothing more or less. And he should never confuse it as an end. Perhaps it would be a good opportunity to reconsider his unreasnable position of not promoting me simply because of my personal policy not to work beyond the eight hours specified by the terms of employment?
As it turned out – he proved most civilized, accomodating and congenial about the whole business.
After that day, my supervisor never stayed back after 5 any longer – everytime I packed my stuff at half past four to prepare to meet Dotty before the evening closed like a hand over the city – he would beat me to the door….he would always ask in the lift, “where are you off too?” I would always smile cryptically….Yes, that is understandable. How so often live acquires a clearer perspective after we have managed to correctly prioritize what is and is not important in life. I understand – believe me.
Either that or there is a moral to the story somewhere………But one thing is very clear to me. Had I not done what I did – then I firmly believe my supervisor would probably end up poor, lonely, riven with diseases, wifeless and no would ever want to fuck him - or I would probably be bullied to stay back every day till eleven like the rest of those monkeys who are trained to pick coconuts, in which case I would never have ventured into business as I have my nose to grind wheel all the time. A lot of opportunities would have gone poof! I wouldn’t have been able to research for Plan B.
Till today, I have absolutely no doubt that I not only improved his health dramatically, but I may also have saved his marriage and given him a new perspective in getting his priorities in life right….the only reason why I say this is because he promoted me every single year despite not staying back and maxing out on all my medical leave.
I reckon he must have been very thankful….so very thankful indeed for this life lesson that I have shared with him - when I left the company and told him that I wanted to start my own business and seek my fortune abroad – for a moment, he looked like the world’s happiest boss.
It is so nice to have a considerate and understanding boss. I am a firm believer in the idea that it’s incumbent on every employee to bring out the very best out of his boss.
Don’t you think so?”
May 22, 2013
Today I hopped down to the city for spot of business in the Planter’s - Debbie is always excited like school girl, whenever we head to the city. She’s after all a thorough bred Singaporean gal whose happiest strolling in malls – I can tell.
During lunch, I asked whether she had any plans for the future as at the back of my mind - it’s not possible for her to stay with me forever…..she needs to make plans to live her own life. As it turned out, the hint just flew by her. I never tried again.
The problem as I see it. This could well be the biggest hurdle for Debbie. As she has always relied on others to take care of her needs.
I tell myself that I should patient. Meanwhile on a lighter note, the 300 year old planters located right in the heart of the city is going through a renovation, the first in 300 years - I asked the front desk whether they would be installing broadband – the eighty something looked at me quizzically and simply said,
“no broad band Sir, only a string quartet…as usual in the Sweetenham room.”
Welcome to the 21st century a la Planter’s style lah. Nevermind at least the men’s room now comes with space age sensor faucets…maybe like the last one….it too will last 300 odd years.
As one of the most valuable lessons that I gathered from watching trees very early on in my life – is how they don’t seem to have any hang up’s about saying NO! I realized very early on in life NO! is a NOT an ordinary word – it is like Ohm or Hellaluya, it is a power word. When the farmer wants a tree to produce, it is not unusual for the tree to go on strike and just stop fruiting and rest. Even today scientist do not know why trees do this and they have tried everything to cajole mother nature and it hasn’t worked. As nature is bigger than man and it has it’s own way of doing things and it cares very little about what man thinks or even wants. This I think is the crux of what I have gathered from watching trees – I think BEFORE it is possible for a man to be able to seek happiness and a rewarding life. He should first feel comfortable with saying NO! NO! to staying back after 5 at work. No! to what you want me to be! No! to what you think of me! A point will come when you are so accustomed with this power word, NO. That you will eventually realize the more you use it, whenever you say NO! You are actually saying YES to what you really want out of life. As all I really wanted to do in my life was to be close to my trees everyday, so to me it is very easy to say NO. I think when you know what you really want in life – then it is very easy to work towards it, day by day, month by month and year by year and this goal with the power of the mind can only materialize into reality. It is really only a matter of time. I wish you all luck in find the line in your great escape.
“To be able to live a rewarding life – we must all be able to believe in the idea: if a man works hard, then he will be able to turn the wheel of life.
These days its hard to believe in that idea any longer – with salaries for the low income stagnating and in certain cases regressing – it is very difficult for many to remain optimistic about the whole idea of aspiring to live a happy life. Coupled to this fact, while the poor are getting poorer, the rich seem to be having a gala time. Everytime, we turn on the TV or just walk around in Singapore, we are bombarded by images of what we have to buy IF we are to live. It is a very cruel and constant reminder like a wind….not any wind. But I wind that blows for days – a wind that when it stands billowing in the distance can still make the face of death.
I saw such a wind once in Africa – a wind that a mad sultan once even marched with a whole army complete with elephants to declare war on such an evil.
It is such a wind I reckon, relentless, getting into every crevice, pore, orifice till it permeates you – that sort of soulful winThe not the fart in the elevator variety – that is why I believe it’s a grand failure of imagination whenever policymakers fail to put themselves into the shoes of the common man from time to time – to see the world from his humble vantage, to experience the texture of daily life as they do – if they did.
Then even politicians will realize without too much difficulty. For many there is a cruel twist to this whole affair of living in Singapore in this age – even natives are finding themselves edged out – edged out from car ownership. Edged out from job opportunities– meanwhile they are able to see what the rich may wear, drive around in and dine on very just like the orphans in Oliver Twist – but since they have no reasonable means to actualize this dream of living a happy life – they feel frustrated and demoralised by the whole idea of globalization, chasing growth, immigrants etc etc etc and eventually life goes down the drain pipe.
This begs the question – what then is the cure? One word. NO! If we cannot or do not see the wisdom of cultivating a level of comfort in the whole idea of how to say NO! Then how is it possible for things to improve in our lives. We must all be able to live our own lives and take control of it in such a way, whereby it is US and not OTHERS, who define what is success, good, right, noble, honorable, patriotic, normal etc etc etc etc – as once others are able to script their version of what those set pieces in life should look like – then if we are not MINDFUL we can all only struggle like a hamster in a wheel chasing someone elses goal all the time.
Though we are putting our shoulders to the wheel and even working so hard that we are panting and sweating. We are really not getting any where closer to our goals of living a happy and rewarding life – as the wheel is fixed and though it continues to turn, we are going absolutely nowhere.
Because let me explain to you why NO! Is not just another bullshit word like calibrate when it should be manage – and if it’s not well calibrated it means mismanaged – that at least is how a farmer calls it.
I reckon NO belongs to a compendium of power words like Ohm, hallelujah, abacadabra or some sonic cum metaphysical super duper cheem awakening of manhood.
As what follows the word NO for every man who uses it seriously thereafter is the road that ONLY he must walk all by himself – the lone inventor who toils in his garage trying to make things work the way he and he alone sees it – the man who writes as if he’s shoveling coal into the furnace though what he may well be doing is just stuffing scribbles into a bottle and casting it out into the infinity of the sea.
I think it is this aspect of the new man who has just said NO to his evil boss, fucked up supervisor, office politics or just plain backstabbing that I had enough of your psychotic nonsense – now I want to start my own business…no thank you. No!
You see that door? I am going to walk right out of it now! Good day Gentlemen.”
Excerpt of conversation captured in Steps of the Grand Magnifique Theatre in Primus Aldentes Prime – during a reception staged by princess Arullia of Asitopian – relayed through deep space channels by the Turbollion class death destroyers KDD Fist of God III – the Brotherhood Press 2013
Self explanatory lah! The word is Krav Maga. To those who know, they will never get slapped. To those who do not know….they will be slapped again and again. Trust me. I know about such things.
May 21, 2013
My gardener is a tribesman – that could be one reason why Vun (that’s his name) doesn’t consider it perculiar to spend his time devises ever more inventive ways to fix me. Usually he tries to surprise me by either impersonating a tree, hiding in the fridge, painting himself the same color as my curtains or burying himself in mud to stage a surprise attack - lately, Vun seems to have given the idea a rest – as the last stunt involved tying himself to a ceiling fan to ambush me – it came crashing down. These days Vun is just happiest to shift my archery target from tree to tree whenever I am asleep – sometimes, it’s at 30 yards. At other times 50 yards and further – after that, Vun crouches in one hidden corner and waits for me to wake up from my target practise.
When I get up. It’s not usually to kick start my body into alertness by shooting a dozen or so arrows – I don’t aim, not consciously at least – it’s hard to describe the whole process, except to describe it as throwing a ball through a hoop, that is at least how it has always seen it.
Archery to me has always been an intensely spiritual and meditative activity that I feel the word, sport doesn’t quite manage to capture – to me, there’s much more to it – it’s not so different from caressing one prayer bead as it slips over to yet another prayer bead that resembled the last in every shape and form and so on and so forth – there is a soothing elegance to the range of movements. An honesty even in the way the muscles stretch out to handle the strain of having to pull a high strung hunting bow - precision even in the way one controls the breathing and cadence to render the movements smooth, natural and still - then the shot – with every shot, my mind begins to turn inwards deeper and deeper cutting through all kinds of frivolous thoughts – be it worry, anger, envy, desire, lust, anger, anxiety, false hope, doubt or fear…..they all melt away like lemon drops…leaving only a pure and unadulterated moment of calmness that I can call my very own – I am ready for the world. So ready!
May 20, 2013
I was supposed to do a review of the Nikon AW100 after 500 days of shooting…only one word to describe it, GREAT! Everything still works fine, after countless drops and having to put up with crushing field conditions…..my last Sony bloggie didn’t even last one month in the field.
Way to go Nikon…..now can I please have a Rolex to review?
May 20, 2013
I am not kidding. I happen to believe Vivian Balakrishnan’s idea of promoting hawkering is perhaps the best idea to ever come out from the PAP. First of all, this has to be remarkable. As the PAP really has as much imagination as a door knob. One reason why I like it is because, it is a very straight forward platform that contains within it plenty of room for improvisation and experimentation.
What many people may not realize, especially young entrepreneurs is entreprenuerialship can never be taught – if you don’t believe me go and ask yourself where Philip Yeo’s guppy and whale pipe dream ended up? One reason why it failed big time – was due partly to the mind boggling complexity of the whole enterprise. This blue print by Vivian doesn’t seem to suffer from those pit falls – the rough outline of the plan is simplicity unto itself – and hopefully this will allow the young to get used to the whole idea of managing themselves and others where they will expose themselves to business.
One of the things that hit me like a brick wall when I first started out in business was how so much of my mind was still stuck in the mud of thinking very much like a salaried man – the result was unnecessary down time, mistakes and what I can only describe as missed opportunities.
Eventually, I was able to make the perceptive shift – but my point was it didn’t come naturally for me and I really had to put in a lot of effort.
One reason why I like this idea is because hankering is really just a stepping stone to bigger things. I have blogged about this in detail and the essay is somewhere in the Brotherhood Press archives (you may want to look it up to get up to speed) – you may for instance start of just trying to whip up the perfect char kuey teow – but given enough time and opportunity – you may also see yourself branching out into designing, building and marketing modular kitchen furniture and fittings for hawkers – or alternatively, you may even decide to take your signature dish to Shanghai, Moscow or Paris and start a franchise there – the only thing that stops you is your imagination.
But to gainfully make full use of this opportunity – one needs to be able to see opportunity for what it is and not confuse it with other stupid considerations like – what if your friends eventually find out that you are turning the wheel of life as a hawker? My take on this is really very matter a fact – so long as your better half supports you, then you can just as well pack the rest up and fuck them all off.
The important thing is to do just do it – and not think too much about it – once you’re in the groove, then the doors will present themselves.
Good luck. Remember, this is opportunity. Even if people look down on you and think that you are a two time loser for wanting to be hawker – it doesn’t alter the fact opportunity is still opportunity.
“Business is a black art. No one is my family is a businessman. So I really had to learn it all from scratch. But the biggest thing I had to learn was not anything new. Rather I had to LEARN how to unlearn so many things that has through the years managed to encrust themselves in my thinking, behavior and responses- this I believe was one of the hardest things for me to do. But if you go into business and even if you are doing nothing except planting row after row of palm oil – then a some point, you will begin to stick out your head and wonder to yourself, where the hell are all these palm oil bunches going too? Who is buying them? What are they doing with it?
You see this is what I did. I began to look beyond my field. These days I spend most of my time thinking about evil ways how to intimidate and blackmail the oil mills – from time to time, when I don’t get a good price for my palm oil bunches, I would jump up and down and threaten to build another oil mill next door to the only oil mill in my area - that strategy for the time being seems to work pretty well. But let us face it. Eventually, I will probably have to stretch myself and go towards that general direction.
That is the funny thing about business – if you look at a thing. Anything long enough. At some point you will begin to see BEYOND it. At some point possibilities will begin to present themselves – that is why when you decide to make hawkering a career, it is very important to keep asking yourself – where do I go after I have created the perfect char kuey teow. Don’t see it as an end. Rather it simply a spring board that holds out the promise of possibilities to go elsewhere.
Listen to me. You don’t have much time. I see dark clouds over the horizon. Can I share something with you? Can I really? You see I believe that one day, it will be impossible for the middle class in Singapore to turn the wheel of life anymore – as it is, they are already squeezed. That means most of us will have to go out of Singapore to turn the wheel of life. There are dark clouds coming our way my friend. Most people are still in a dream. They think it can never get worse and only get better. But look at the world economy it is well and truly fucked beyond all recognition. China is slowing down. Meanwhile the price of oil keeps going up. Salaries go down. Firms downscale. You get retrenched. You fall back on your payments. Next thing you know, you will be pitching camp somewhere in Changi Village. By that time your wife has probably left you.
I want to know – is this how you want to end up? You see I do not believe in this age and time, it is possible to turn the wheel as a salaried man in Singapore anymore. I believe the only reliable way to turn the wheel of liwit without grief these days is for a man to run his own business. This will be the only way in the future for the middle class to have liberty in Singapore.
But how does a man get over this mental block? How do you jump start a whole nation to want to be someone like Li Kha Sin or the next Robert Kwouk? Instead of settling for stupid things like a scholarship and whatever comes there after – how do you wean a nation from the idea that the only way to seek a better life is to work for someone?
I think it needs to be taken slowly, eating an elephant – it needs to be reduced into bite sizes. In this respect, I see hawkering providing a very stable learning platform – your real estate is small. What you offer is very specialized, the risk are small and manageable – its an excellent way to learn bother what other people say and think about it – just fuck them all off – that incidentally is the first thing you need to really feel comfortable about: telling other people to go fuck off! You see there is no other way. Because now you are no longer the name and face of a corporation. You are your own man – so your life for yourself. If you do not know how to say fuck off – you will always live your life for other people and never yourself.”
If you happen to be young and standing before the cross roads of life and reading this. Then I believe very strongly – it pays to interrogate further why so many ministers lately have been trying to sell the idea that a degree is suddenly unnecessary – do you just take and run with what they say?
Well if you want to do that – then do what you like. Only I feel the need to warn you all – if you do that and one day, you end up bald, poor, no one wants to fuck you and the only thing you can attract are flies and debt collectors, then you really have no one to blame but yourself – as you NEVER bothered to do any further research on why there is suddenly a policy swing or for that peer into the darkened interiors of this crucial decision nexus that came before you. You just believed someone who you saw on TV, took the course of least mental resistance and acted on it like a monkey trained to pick coconuts.
The way I see it – the acid test of how sustainable this proposition is - can best be explained in the following prosaic terms: do you see any of the children of these multi millionaire ministers joining the circus to improve their hand and eye coordination to stand a better chance at pursuing a course on how to operate a crane?
That’s it – no, you don’t need ten bullet points to kill demolish an argument…you just need one good and convincing point.
If it was me – I’ll go a degree any day. Finish off the last leg in a university in either the US or EU. May even decide to stay a couple of years for work experience abroad. While I am at it, may even learn a few lines to whisper sweet nothings to French girls. Better still if you can work and study at the same time. As that will certainly allow you buy a second hand sporters (cars are dead pan cheap there), drive it real fast around windy continental roads as if petrol is free, lie down on the grass in summer with a buxom Italian girl and watch puffy clouds go by as you plan your next move.
The world is after all your oyster…..why settle for less….why confine yourself to a small pond…do you see those FT professionals doing that when they decide to vote with their slippers to come over to Singapore….so why are you selling yourself short?
And that my friend is the truth and nothing but the truth. Besides you were not put on this planet just to solve their short term unemployment problems or to make them look good for their end of the year performance appraisal. Neither are you here to take part in some great experiment in life like some monkey that is going to be blasted into space -as, I am convinced, you are here for greater things.
Just do it and in five years times drop me a line and tell you how you’re getting on…I can almost guarantee you that if you set your eyes on working, living and playing outside Singapore….you will never regret it.
This is the same advice that I will give my own children – I sumpah – by position is crystal clear: if Singapore cannot accomodate your dreams, then find another country that can! Never settle for less! It doesn’t matter what it is – could well be the right to own a car at a reasonable price or even taking a position on just paying a reasonable price and nothing else for a home. This is not subversive, not at all, as it’s exactly what many of these minister’s hope for their own children.
Life after all cannot be so simple where you just follow like a bloody idiot as a whole lot of people jump onto a bandwagon without working through your options…you have got be to fucking kidding me…right?
“Gentlemen, What really maketh a man? If you ask me, then I will say, he is really just the sum of all his trials and tribulations. Intelligence, pedigree, lineage and the rest you can more or less throw right out of the window – it wouldn’t make the slightest difference.
That’s why I strongly believe there are really only two categories of men in business – the first acquired their wealth and influence through inheritance, patronage or through a system of annoiting – they are not really so different from the remnants of old money and you can see it in the savoir faire manner in the way they are callous and indifferent in the way they usually dispense advice. To these people your long term well being is never as important as whether they can use you as raw material to fashion a solution to solve their problems – I will speak frankly gentlemen, as it is not often that we can all be together in one room. To me these are inconsequentials who have never known what it means to stand outside and look in a people feasting their hearts out while they get by with crumbs – either that or they have just forgotten their roots – what else gentlemen can account for their condescending tone where they always believe they know what’s best for you and me or that you should just be content with whatever crumbs they throw out.
Then there is that other category of planter that we sometimes come across in the Planter’s Club – it is easy to recognize this man, there is hardness about him like seasoned leather that makes him stand apart from the savoir faire tea party crowd – it could be the way he wears his bush jacket with the last button undone – as he was accustomed to fighting and carrying a revolver.
This man will never fit in with the elite savoir faire crowd. He is Desolation beyond the dictionary meaning like a faraway shark infested island that – it is not unusual to find him standing alone from the loquacious crowd in his awkward bush jacket as he looks on at the world with a lingering sadness – he is quite the mystery man, an unknown quantity – he has almost a Great Gatsby air about him. He there, but elsewhere at the same time if you know what i mean – and you know, unlike the pretensious arty farty crowd. He doesn’t think much about them.
He is a mystery, no one is really quite sure where his money came from. There are of course rumors – but no one really knows for certain. A planters life is after all a money’s game. This man probably started turning the wheel of life with a tube of Mentos in his pocket and a few dollars – though he may roll into the drive way in a big car; he may even sport a very expensive watch and to all intents and purposes he may even come across as a very well educated, impeccably well mannered and polished man – but I say look again. Observe this man very carefully. As when you still your mind and look at a thing long enough – then you will begin to see things about this man that previously escaped you. You will notice that this man will have plenty of battle scars – he will look at you like a hunter. From time to time, you will see his eyes cloud over in the way a falcon rolls it’s eyes just before it’s piercing talons sink into the flesh of the preyed – this man cannot help it.
These are the signs that you must look out for – as these gentlemen are the rugged individualist who we would do well to ally ourselves with.
When you sit down with this man. You will feel his eyes burning holes in your brains – and this is only to be expected as when you peruse the history of this man. You will probably find that he probably cut his teeth in the field and since field life is quite a macho affair where the likes of Yawning bread et al will not even last a single day – that spirit of oneness with the land has really permeated the marrow of his bones. And when begin to sit down with this man over a whisky – you will find something that is very unusual about him that seems almost to set him apart from the old money, parvenu or hanger on crowd – this man loves the land passionately –to him the land and community is always referred to in the feminine and never the masculine – it is always “she” – “her” – “my love” etc and whenever things don’t go well, as after all plantation life is filled to the brim with vagaries – this man is will never curse the land unlike the old money parvenu crowd. To this people if not enough money retrench lah – to him, the mother, lover and woman that is the land and community can do no wrong to deserve such treatment. I know it is a very agricultural way to see the world.
He always make excuses for her capricious nature in the way sailors will always look sympathetically on the sea even when she kicks up a fuss – as they will say, she can’t help herself, the moon affects her.
And here you have the key to understanding the nature of the true being of the self made planter – as the difference between this planter and the old money or corporate agriculturist who is holed up in his office in some skyscraper is simply this.
One ilk of man made a commitment once upon a time in his life, probably many years ago to stand and fight for his one and only love – the land. That is to say this man put all his chips on one number and he said to himself, for better or for worse – I will see this business to the very end even if they pour petrol all over me and….I am so so sorry gentlemen….No. I don’t imagine anyone of you knows how it feels to be that man whose kicked about as he has to watch them burn his dogs….Let us not go there my brothers…let us not wander too far from the well trodden road lest we find ourselves in oil darkness.
While the other has absolutely no idea of what I am even talking about – as they never had to fight for what they owned. They never made a commitment to pay that price.
And the lesson here is simply this, what you not prepared to defend with your life – you never once owned. And why is this so important gentlemen in this day and age – as we do not live in an age of information democracy.
All around us people from marketeers, politicians and new born evangelist are try to sell us all the prescriptive cure to our averagely miserable existence we call life – and from time to time some of these elites are going to believe, they can even tell you what should make you go whoopee! To how you should lead your life etc etc.
Now if you just follow this people like bla bla sheep without even bothering to work it out in your own mind. Then you will NEVER learn to be your own man. You will be other people’s version of how they always planned for you to turn out. Now if you’re happy with that railroaded existence, then it’s OK! The problem is not everyone is necessarily happy with that narrative. Now you understand the mood of this lone planter – you even understand why he can do very little except radiate a keen sense of apartness. As this man did not want others to tell him what he should or should not be satisfied with. He stood his ground. But before that he had already made a commitment in his mind to see the matter through. All or nothing. Sudden death. The one who chickens out first loses all his feathers….
That’s why to many people when they go through many of the videos I upload in Youtube. They often wonder what is this fellow trying to convey – that I think is not a pertinent question. As it is not the case of what one is trying to convey – as it remains what was once deeply experienced deep in the marrow of a man’s bones when he was a nobody struggling against extraordinary odds. It could well be what you see uploaded today transpired many years ago – in another age – in another life time – so what this man is really trying to do is capture an experience in the way one might take a photograph or develop a semaphore to articulate that stream of consciouness – it is really his alone and no else’s, as that’s his way of reminding himself of whence he came from – his roots – his beliefs – I have made a covenant to love you with all my heart and I am prepared to fight to the very end no matter what the price. And I will never break my word. That if you must all know is why the age of old money, patronage, paper anoiting, croynism and nepotism is numbered. As none of those hollow men have ever had to ever put everything on the line. Never.
Not even once. As it all came as fait accompli to them, like the infallibility sun the rising sun. One day Gentlemen, we will win! As only we will stand tall before the empire of their bones – as they never ever crossed that defining line in the head while we and Guilds have gone beyond that line. They have no idea what it even means to love something beyond the self – love it seems is so very important in business.
Who would have ever imagined love to be so important. Jugular even. In this whole idea of business. And no, it should never be confused for a character flaw, weakness or human frailty, if I so choose to see it in those terms gentlemen. NEVER Gentlemen – as let me share with all of you what the serious men have always known all along and hidden from the hollow men of this world – only the strong can love perfectly, never the weak – how can they? As they are not prepared to pay the ultimate price.”
Excerpt of a conversation captured somewhere in the hall of mirrors in the Temple of Reason in Primus Aldentes Prime – relayed by the deep space digital jammer Oberion class starcruiser KDD Majestic and KDD Odessa II – brought to you proudly by the Interspacing Mercantile Guild of the Confederation of Underground Gamers Internationale – The Brotherhood Press 2013
May 18, 2013
As you can see, I am making a real effort to slow down. Today my gardener set up my camp bed beside my rattan chair.
My guard dogs never ever relax when I am asleep. Never. They’re always on combat mode. No one trained them. They just came that way….how strange….how odd.
May 17, 2013
(To increase the font size, hold down the Ctrl key and keep pressing +)
It goes without saying, politics is all about power. Try as we may, we can neither negotiate or run away from this harsh reality. But how this power is defined, what philosophy guides its usage is the crux of the matter in this sharing. And when we speak about power in the context of Singapore, one word dominates the field of possibilities squeezing out all others –
PRAGMATISM! And this brings into sharp focus the question: are we too pragmatic?
The cult of pragmatism hardly requires any elaboration in Singapore. You could even say pragmatism in all it endless shapes and forms (some even reduce us all into lesser mortals) permeates every aspect of life in Singapore. And as a metaphor, ideology and philosophy, pragmatism has become one of the same reality as the PAP – ironically, the quintessential guiding force that explains pragmatism is best summed up not in a Singapore idiom, but one that is Deng Xio Peng onced used,
“Black cat, white cat – what does it matter? Providing it catches mice.”
Implicit within the idea of pragmatism is the feudal concept of power. This is because when a word is taken out of its dictionary meaning and elevated to the upper reaches of a political science, it’s not so different from trying to sail around the world in a bath tub or using a washing machine to mix concrete – for that nutty idea to work (notice even the communist have relegated Deng’s idiom into the dustbin of history), it is first necessary to marginalize principles in the name of solving problems. Consequently the idea of pragmatism requires the destruction of principles, ideology and any higher philosophy – as to promote expediency efficiently, it is first necessary to do any away with principles.
Now you understand why soundbite culture has managed to root itself so successfully into the social political culture of Singapore; instead of whole narratives which are supposed to provide an exhaustive account of why this or that policy is required; politicians are not only able to hide under the cloak of pragmatism whenever they are lazy to flesh out the rationale of policies - and since pragmatism doesn’t have any ideology to speak of, the political class is able to get away with mere vignettes, nanobites and sometimes even animal grunts.
To reframe the question therefore whenever we consider whether pragmatism should be dispensed? We are ineffect asking whether it makes more sense to premise Singapore on principles or is it better to base the decision making process on what is expedient using the trade off analysis and the cost & benefit calculus?
This question acquires a renewed edge especially when one considers how pragmatism when it is elevated to a political and social science in Singapore seems to be creating more problems than it solves in the face of globalization – this is at least how I see it. I could however be wrong of course, then again, I could be right.
Consider for example the GINI coefficient which is an index that measures the divide between the have’s and have not’s; and consider how policy makers continue to eschew at every turn and opportunity the negative side effects of income inequality as a “necessary cost” of globalization – one may even take issue with how pragmatism has mesmerized so many policy makers to pursue the idea of putting the population on round after round of steroids without due consideration to the broader social and cultural cost – there are of course many other instances that you can probably recount yourself. Too many – and this begs the question. Have we taken the idea of pragmatism too far? Or worse still has the pragmatic approach morphed into just another one of many ways to justify and legitimize the turning of profit even if it produces grief? Is it time for us to consider buying into a governing ideology, philosophy or a set of principles to temper the steam roller approach of pragmatism that only focussed on efficiency and effectiveness and discounts all else?
Lately, I have noticed the tenor of the custodians in power seems to be changing – just yesterday mini Lee spoke about the need to develop a core of native bankers. Then there was this tweaking of the COE to favor the small man who just needs a set of wheels to turn the wheel of life effectively – these are all moves in the right direction. Maybe there is already a shift. Yes…I want so much to believe in this idea. Of a shift away from pragmatism…..”
“My young apprentice…Our German friends have come up with a new toy, it is the latest in digital immersion technology – the idea is to put one into the folds of history. It is still in the prototype stage…but let us switch it on.”
“It is the signing of the Bill of Rights….but it is so real master”
“So it is apprentice. Have you asked yourself why the founding fathers went through the fuss of codifying certain rights? Bear in mind these were not a bunch of people who were just growing cotton and fermenting moonshine in their backyard. These were intelligent folk, they were well read and men of the letters, who knew only too well the moment, they put on paper certain rights…then those rights would be considered elemental…that means neither the executive, legislature or even the judiciary can negotiate them. There is nothing pragmatic here, as it is akin the tying one hand behind the backs of government…..yet they did it nonetheless – so you have to ask why apprentice? Maybe they knew only too well the limits of the human condition; they especially knew how crafty the political mind can be. Because given half a chance, there will never be a shortage of reasons and justifications not keep to principles; there will never be a shortage of people who will say, we need to suspend this or that right for the greater good and glory, that’s the poltical mind. That at least is what I saw with my own eyes and heard with my own ears during the 13th Malaysian General elections. I saw the sum of all their fears – I think above all else the founding fathers knew that certain rights will always be timeless and universal, it matters little whether you live in the age of candle or the incandescent light bulb; but freedom denied in any age is freedom denied, a way of life wiped out by the callous and chastening passage of change is emancipation denied in any age is emancipation denied. So on and so forth – these were very impratical men. Do you notice these that guy sitting there, he’s a planter – he owns a cotton farm in Alabama.
These weren’t a bunch of cheap carpetbaggers. These people just fought a war against the British – these men knew that the only safeguard against abuse was by putting principles FIRST before what is expedient, convenient or produces the best payout under a given set of conditions. These were no nonsense men that’s why when the Germans came out with the first immersion redention. I felt that they dressed the planters all wrong. So I made some changes – but, I digress, in Singapore, we find this inconceivable as we are constantly told change is a fact of life – but I don’t see it that way. And I don’t believe many of the planters in the age of quils, wigs, stockings and ivory dentures saw it that way either. Change may well be unavoidable. But suffering should always be optional. That is to say, change needs to FIRST respect the rights of people – their right to keep their way of life, their right for the forces of change to be respectful and always gentle in small increments rather than giving everyone high blood pressure – what these men were trying to say apprentice is – not all progress is necessarily progress. Not if it has to come at the cost of destroying everything that is worth keeping. Think about it – I can’t be that long. You have no idea apprentice how many times I have been to this room and simply sat on one corner to watch these men – do you see the difference between the town folk and the planters. There is a metaphysical dimension here, a Faustian irony even. I am so sorry to have rambled on like an old man apprentice.”
“Yes, I see your point master, one where they recognize that to live a purpose driven life, men will always need to put principles before what is expedient…..tell me why do you allow our German friends to spend so much money making over the top holograms.”
“Yes, you are right, it is not very pragmatic. But its fun…it seems…”
May 16, 2013
Modern life does not encourage a calm state of mind. If you ask most people about their POV about cultivating daily calmness – they will probably say this is something, they would probably do during their retirement. This always seems odd to me, as they really need calmness NOW and not later on in life.
When daily calmness is practiced, it permeates the groundwater of our character and shows through our acts, deeds and thoughts to eventually become a way of life. As we nourish this idea of calmness daily – we will see the world much clearer and can respond much more effectively to the many challenges that come our way.
“Beware! Remain calm and alert! As there are so many people out there in the world and even the Internet who will always try to rob you of the most precious gift in your life – calmness.
They will sensationalize this or that story and if you are not mindful. Wax lyrical the mundane. Soon you will be swept away like a leaf during a monsoon storm. When this happens again and again.
At some point, even the best of us will lose the ability to remain calm. When there is no calmness in our daily life – then there can only be anxiety and turmoil – this creates perfect conditions for others to invade our minds without our knowledge.
That is why in Kendo and in business, the most deadly exponent is never the one who is the strongest or fastest or even the smartest.
He is usually just the calmest.
And because he can do this ONE thing CONSISTENTLY like a metronome day in and day out – it is very difficult for others to secure a decisive victory over him. Deception will never work with this man – he will see through even the most crafty design like glass.
He is the ultimate warrior – as even before you make a move, he has already read you to a tee – without surprise how is it possible to win?
You cannot win! What makes all this possible is a calm mind that is like a very still waters in a calm lake reflecting the world as it is without the slightest aberration – the perfect state of balance between rest and alertness.
Gentlemen, we have all come across such a fellow before in the Kendo halls. Yes, we all seem to know without too much difficulty – it is best not to make eye contact and quietly do your thing in one corner. Either that or you run the risk of ending up in a plaster cast.
I reckon the business world is not so different from our odd world of 4.45 am kendo training – it is best not lock to horns with such a character in business. I have found them to be most troublesome – even if you have reserves and he doesn’t – do not advance – it may be a bloody trap.
Instead resort to diplomacy and strive for mutual co-existence. If that is not within your grasp, then resort to politics to secure detente. Or some form of armistice. But do not posture and never fight. If you r stupid enough to do that, then you will find yourself putting all your chips on one opportunity – it will be all our nothing – sudden death – if it goes well. Fine. But if you read it wrong (and in all probability you will read it wrong. As whatever you know abt him or have heard abt him was probably planted by him!) – I told you all, he’s a sticky fellow. Then you will end up fighting a costly war of attrition.
This is why, when ppl say, keep your friends close and your enemies closer – this does not mean you are gyming, golfing and karaokeing with him. That is not the variety of “CLOSER” these ancient strategist are referring too. It is the “closeness” where you use your inner calm to see through and beyond your enemy, as a friend. It is only when you can make this perceptive shift and regard your enemy as a kindred spirit that you can be truly closest to him. When you see your worthy adversary in this calming light. You will begin to ask, “why are you fighting him? Perhaps you and this fellow should try to find common ground and collaborate together? The ancients always say, the highest acme of war is to defeat your enemy without using one molecule of hardness – they don’t tell you how this is accomplished. As that knowledge is a top secret. But I can share this with you, what makes this possible is the skeleton key called daily calmness – this underscores the importance of cultivating daily calmness.
“Gentlemen, at the heart of the issue in the AIM episode is NOT whether the government of the day has the INTENTION to fix the opposition. That is not the point. The crux of the matter (as most thinking folk see it) is simply this – how constitutionally CORRECT is it for the government of the day to be vested with the power to fix an incumbent government?
Whether that power was used is immaterial – the fact that such powers do exist and can be unilaterally execised by the government of the day without any checks and balances to the executive, legislative and judiciary, must be by every definition a very disturbing idea to those who value the idea of freedom, good governance and the rule of law.
Now in my book, if there are ANY conditions WHATSOEVER that even makes it possible for ANY government of the day to fix ANY opposition – then I say, you don’t have a gold standard of governance. You can sue even the Aga Khan, but you still don’t have anything nearly that qualifies as a good governance. Not by any recognizable intellectual benchmark at least. You may have a kampung hero, banana republic and pariah dog standard of how to run a country - but we can all agree without too much difficulty that there is certainly plenty of room for improvement.
As what most people discount about the AIM’s episode is how it also manages to encompass in very elegant terms a whole range of other issues that relates to the legal discipline of constitutional law - i.e power and politics, delineation of roles, separation of powers, delineation of powers and how those powers is exercised, right down to how is and not allowed to benefit from that use of power. So to me this AIM’s episode is really much more than just a simple case of whether it is possible to just drop by Funan mall or Cash Converter to buy an off the shelf solution to run town council accounts – that to me has to be a distraction.
Because the main beef in the AIM’s episode relates to a wider discussion of politics and power in the context of constitutional rights – it is really quite a huge geography as it relates to power and how that power should be delienated and under what circumstances it can be used by who and under what circumstances?
To me this entire AIM debacle is just a remnant of how Singapore used to be governed. Had the PM from day one just said, “OK, I think this is an oversight that we need to modernize to further improve the system.” Then this great diffusion of energy would not be needed at all – but instead he went in with gun blazings gung ho style to defend the integrity and the manner in which PAP conducted it’s business.
I can understand this attitude - as historically Singapore has always been governed by ONLY the PAP. So it is perfectly understandable if these people treat the whole idea of separation of powers as an abstraction rather than something that one would consider best practices. But my feel is times are changing fast and it’s best that the PAP just come to terms with this reality that they can never take it for granted that they will always be power.
And if that is the case, then it’s best if they just regard themselves of custodians of power instead of behaving like people who are so thin skinned that they cannot even be questioned about how they regularly use power – to me, this is a very old and archaic strategy to manage the modern electorate. And it will fail admirably.
Gentlemen, while we are in this subject. let me just share with you all gentlemen why I feel it may have been the mother of all mistakes for the ruling party to have invested so much in defending the idea that there is nothing wrong with the AIM’s set up. As they have really dug their heels in so deep that they may have even not have planned for a strategic retreat.
I asked myself time and again. How could they have scaled the threat so wrong – how is it possible for a government to dig a big hole and jump into it.
The answer came to me when I watched a YouTube flick of Slyvia facing off with $8 Shorty. Shorty had no idea what he was getting himself into when he lamented something to the effect – “making a mountain out of molehill.
I realized at that very moment this man does not understand what he is getting himself into – as he had just walked right into a bear trap.”
Excerpt of a conversation captured in the temple of logic, relayed by the electronic digital jammer Tiberion class deep space cruiser KDD Eng Neo and her sister ship KDD Joo Chiat The Great.
“Gentlemen where are we now since mini lee decided to sue a blogger? No closer to the truth it seems. In fact this merry go round has done very little to clear the air and has generated more heat than light to beacon out the murk - as they seem to be reinforcing failure.
At the heart of the issue is the question of how power can and should be used in the context of statecraft. How it should that power be delineated along the lines of the executive, legislative and judiciary to give verb to the idea of separation of powers. Fortunately, this is a well trodden road – luminaries like Dicey and Montesquie have already laid a very solid foundation to supply an answer as to what is and is not good governance.
I think it’s fair to say their views are significantly more influential or persuasive to what shorty Kwan has to say about his ramshackle political bullocart called the PAP! Beisdes what idiot really cares whether they intend to fix the opposition or not – the very fact that such destructive powers were even vested with the government of the day without any adequate checks and balances by default means that they are wrong even if they argue that they did nothing wrong and everything is above board!”
When I used to be a salary man back in the good olde days in Singapore. Actually it wasn’t that long ago. I had a fetish for really expensive food – the problem was since I was saving up to buy land. There was no way in which I could just blow SGD$1,000 on a gourmet dinner. So what I did was develop a brotherhood of cooks – the goal was to go where no taste dares to go. Throw in a bit of mumbo jumbo secret rituals involving pots and pans – and just sit back and watch it grow.
Since I was the leader. I could just stroll into the back of any posh restaraunt and cook whatever I wanted, for my guest and everyone in the kitchen.
Being able to just walk into a commercial kitchen and cook whatever you like is also a great opportunity as a man to practice the lost art of manliness – the only reason why I felt the need to incorporate the word ‘lost’ is because these days its virtually impossible for a man to bond with his fellow man – fortunately the commercial kitchen is still very much a man’s world – so there is no need to filter the way one comes across to another for political correctness etch. A great opportunity for any man to assert his alpha maleness and fellowship with his tribe.
Through the years I’ve found this to be an impossibly hard habit to break. The idea of just ordering food from a menu and waiting for it, is a very alien concept to me. It’s a vampire thing – once you have black there is no coming back….it’s impossible. I realize this is a rather odd way to eat out….but I’ve never in my entire life forked out money just to eat good food. I reckon through the years, I must have saved thousands on fine food and wine.
Just a tip if you want to beat the rising cost of living. May not necessarily be cooking – for some of my friends who have developed their own network of brotherhood, be it a weekend warrior cycle club or even a private reading club – some of them have even managed to use it as a spring board to start their own business.
My point is go out there and marinade yourself with people who share the same passion as you – could well be anything from blogging to how to knit better sweaters. The important thing is to put yourself in a real community like a seed planted into fertile ground.
And the rest will take care of itself. That is at least how I see it.
SUPER DUPER COOLING WINTERMELON SOUP
The hot weather seems to making Debbie very irritable – today, I made her this soup in my friends Cantonese restaraunt.
Traditional Chinese Name: winter melon soup
I consider this a must drink for ALL ladies especially during the dry season. As not only does it help keep the head cool by stablizing their temperament – but it also relieves them of melancholy, hot flushes and spontaneous combustion – when women are heath, they are very angry for no reason.
This soup is also mucho nutritious – as its chockful of goodies that can be easily absorbed by the body. While mildly sweet and light to taste, this is very popular soup in the Cantonese soup repertoire during the hot season. There are a variety of ways to make this soup – in this case, I have added cucumber – as it can remove toxins from the body and render the hair, nails and skin radiant.
1 pound of fresh pork shank
1 large slice of wintermelon
1 large cucumber cut into big medallions.
5-6 honey dates 白扁豆 (bái bian dòu)
2 tablespoons of hyacinth beans 蜜棗 (mì zǎo)
5 g of dried lily bulb (or 5-6 pieces)百合 (Bai He)
20 g of fu ling 茯苓 (fuling)
10-12 lotus seeds 蓮子(lián zi)
2-3 L of water
Note: Please don’t get intimidated or discouraged by all these exotic Chinese honey dates and hyacinth beans - just take this recipe to a Chinese herbalist. He will know what to do. Tell him that you are making winter melon soup.
Try to find a cantonese herbalist in Tanjong Pagar or China town, often they specialize in soup, so they can advice you and even offer suggestions.
Blanch fresh pork shank in a pot of boiling water
Boil your soup water
Wash and cut wintermelon into cubes (separate skin from meat) – skin is still added to soup
Rinse all other ingredients in warm water
Once soup water boils, add all the ingredients together
Boil on high for 30 minutes, reduce to a simmer for another 1.5 hours
Serve and enjoy!
Helps reduce heatiness in the body
Eliminates excess heat and helps cool the body
Women in their first trimester of pregnancy should avoid this soup, as it is an extremely cooling and may cause contractions. Melon soups has to be consumed within same day as keeping melon soups overnight or over an extended period will cause the melon the go sour and impart a bitter taste to the soup.
Cucumber in this case was deliberately added – Cucumber is cooling; diuretic; counteracts toxins and lifts depression; cleanses the blood; influences the heart, spleen-pancreas, stomach, and large intestine; quenches thirst, moistens the lungs, purifies the skin.
Helpful during the hot or dry times of the year – treats the effects of summer heat….Consuming whole cucumber or its juice cools most other inflammatory or heat conditions, including stomach inflammation, conjunctivitis, sore throat, acne, inflamed skin diseases and discharges. Its cooling property is active even when cooked.”
This isn’t a recommendation to eat any more or any less of the vegetable, moderation is key. It may or may not benefit depending on personal imbalances.
May 14, 2013
I have never been a big fan of CBF (“cheaper, better, faster”) or for that matter faster, fasterer and fasterest – to me, that’s just a great way to die standing at work.
This acroynm that depicts the glorious life of the hamster running full speed on a tredmill was first coined three years and a bit ago by no horse Zorro Swee Say to put the spurs into the backsides of Singapore workers need to adapt to changing world economic processes.
Many insist to this day, the concept of CBF is still misinterpreted:
As they claim most people who only hear the acronym don’t actually know the philosophy behind it - and they think it means the government wants employees to be cheaper, faster, and better, i.e. cutting our pay and making us work longer hours to churn out even more work.
What these PAP zombies claim is this actually means businesses (and not workers) need to make their products and services CBF.
Basically, the way I see it – this is all hair splitting - as the idea of the firm and employees are inextricably one of the same reality - so if these CBF adherents claim that it is possible to put pressure on firms and NOT the employees to work like battery chickens – then I say, they’re lying to themselves and fooling everyone else at best. At worst, they have absolutely no idea how organize themselves for greater efficiency gains.
No, I much prefer to work slowly and under my own terms. That’s one reason why I went into business.
The slower the better, I reckon. That should be the goal of every self respecting man: to aspire to work under his own terms - at a pace where work truly becomes a joyful, meaningful and contemplative thing – it is only when a man finds his own rhythm can his work be transformed into an edifying thing that will always nourish him mentally, physically and spiritually.
That at least is the way I see the idea of work from my rattan chair. Tomorrow, I am going to ask my gardener to set out a camp bed alongside my rattan chair. It will be an improvement to have a two hour and a bit afternoon nap after a heavy field lunch.
Yes, the mood is just right now, I reckon. Even the dogs seem to be enjoying it, the calmness that is. And another thing, don’t let anyone pull the wool over your eyes that life should be any other way – as when you are calm and comfortable – you can do anything….nothing is impossible.
It all starts and ends with commiting yourself to slowness.
“As a rule of thumb. I don’t care very much for kun cheong people – it’s not unusual for me to sit on a rock and just watch by while everyone jumps enthusitically on the bandwagon - there was this time when I worked in Cocoa factory in Singapore. They gave me the worst team. It was the leper colony, as everyone who was in this team was a reject from the rest of other high flying teams.
In less than a year, the team who were known as the living dead became the most productive team in the factory.
You want to know what was the secret for this transformational change – very simple, in the beginning of the shift, I would gather all my men in the changing room for a cigarette break and speak to them very calmly like a father – I was very honest with them. I told them, I want to sleep. I don’t want to be disturbed. And since I trusted all of them, I knew that they would be able to handle any crisis that came their way. After that, I went up to the open air flat top of the factory and found a crisp cardboard and slept. And this is the solemn truth!
One day the factory manager told me that he was extremely satisfied with my performance – he was a very kun cheong fellow – he went on to tell me that I should train the rest to be as efficient and productive as my team. I told him, it would be my pleasure. And again I did the same thing again - and again productivity improved.
I think the moral of the story is leadership is not always about being full frontal, gung ho and hands on – infact, its the direct opposite, where the leader just needs to make sure his men are calm and comfortable. As it is only when your men are calm and comfortable can they perform – and since they know that the leader is someone who is always calm. He sees the world in crystal clear terms. Let me share with you one of the keys of life. Most men, if they are reasonable, don’t have baggage and well adjusted will naturally trust such a father figure. Even if there is a fire in the factory. As cocoa is highly flammable, these people used to fall over themselves, with this man, no man will be seen running around like headless chickens. They will don their breathing apparatus slowly and carefully and they will follow this man into thick smoke like obedient children – this is the psychology of a tribe. The mentality of all hunting men. As they all seem take comfort in this one idea that is as old as the hills – they know that if change is going to come, then it will always come at a controlled pace where their lives will NEVER be turned upside down – it will always be at speed that will always respect their way of life and most importantly, no one will be left behind. When I say no one will be left behind.
It’s really as simple as that. No bullet points. No systems. No thought ware. Purify yourself! Just good old fashion calmness. The type that is so well honed that if a bomb goes off inna crowded train. You will know exactly what to do to save lives – oryour the throughput goes down in your factory because marketyell tells you, Americans don’t have that much disposal income this year – and your finance guy tells you to retrench. You sack him and find another way to get by and yet protect your tribe.
This is something they will never ever teach you in Harvard School. You know why? Because no one has ever sat down and thought it through. The idea that to change the world for the better – it must first begin deep down inside you.
Calmness gentlemen should not be confused for sloth, indolence and a life of dissipation – on the contrary, it’s deadly and highly efficient in terms of getting a good return on your energy – it’s a strategic precondition to personal and organizational success.”
I reckon the big wigs in the PAP must be pulling their hair out. Either that or they’re jumping up and down like yo-yo’s - as the AIM’s dead rat doesn’t seem to decompose very well - this despite their best efforts at damage control.
IMHO, Slyvia Lim asked a host of perfectly legitimate and intelligent question that has far reaching implications (this I don’t feel the layman really understands completely the wider rammifications) on the whole relationship between state and citizenry, power and politics and constitutional law and how it might and should apply in Singapore - now, if like me, you’re the slow type – don’t worry – as at the heart of the AIM saga, it really boils down to one issue.
Is the government of the day running town councils in accordance with constitutional best practices?
That’s all there is to it! There is nothing more to it.
Slyvia Lim framed the case very nicely when she asked $8 Short cake Khaw a pointed question:
“Is this what this whole AIM episode is about – ensuring that the passengers in the Cessnas have bumpy rides or even crash land? Does the government even care about the passengers in the Cessnas, or are they simply collateral damage in a bigger political game?”
Short cake Khaw sensing that he was now intellectually checkmated responded by an off the tangent remark,
“Ms Sylvia Lim said that the PAP is not concerned about the passengers sitting in the Cessna getting hurt should it crash land. This is self-righteous, and – pardon me for saying so – arrogant. Many of us in this House have been serving Singaporeans for decades, long before she entered this House. Please, don’t behave as if you are the only patriot in this House.”
The question is why can’t Short cake Khaw just answer the bloody question without coming across as a petulant spoilt brat who has to resort to nasty and personal jibes?
This should lead the perceptive reader to ask, who do you think is the self righteous and arrogant son of the gun here?
Aha…..the falcon has heard the falconer….
“There are a few no-no’s that every gentlemen should NEVER commit in the public sphere – the first is to publicly give a woman a dressing down – as even if you win all the battles. You will end up losing the war – as it’s unbecoming for a gentlemen to behave in such a matter.
You are certain to lose in virtually every single case no matter how right you are – as your methods will always be considered primitive, crude and unbecoming as a gentlemen.
When the serious men of this world watch all this – they will say to themselves, if you cannot even keep your cool and manage a storm in a teacup with a woman – then how can you do big things?
If it was me, I would probably be very patient and just explain everything to her like baby, that’s really my nature and my way of managing conflict with women – I would even acknowledge that the motivation for her questions are perfectly legitimate and justified. I may even go on to point out in the language of the diplomat – to acknowledge there is certainly room for improvement and that we can all learn from this incident to further improve the system. The only reason why I would feel the need to take this position is because I really cannot see how I can win decisively here. As to be perfectly frank, there are really so many anomalies in which all this was done.
To put it plainly, there is no raw material to fashion a decisive victory – none whatsoever. So I would never reinforce failure or for that matter try to come up smelling like roses.
But in this case since shorty feels he can cut the cake and eat it at the same time. Good luck to him lah! All I can say is this man does not know how to scale, evaluate and manage conflict! This I believe is the nub of the issue – as we are really dealing with a party political outfit who still believes that just because they say they are above board, everyone should just take their word for it! To me that is a very obsolete way of managing the modern electorate who will always clamor for best practices, transparency and accountability.
At the end of it all, I think it’s reasonable to state as a matter of fact, no one pays a minister millions for him to get down right personal and behave in an unprofessional matter just because he can’t keep his cool when the spotlight is turned on him.”
May 13, 2013
Most men get restless when they find themselves having to wait. But waiting doesn’t bother me at all. Not at all. I reckon, I am the sort who can wait forever. I even believe, I might be fortunate enough to be born with the waiting gene.
Debbie asked me last night whether I would be going to the city for business – I asked her why? She told me, she wanted to do up her hair – this morning, we both hitched a ride on a helicopter to the city – I told Debbie she was lucky as I had urgent business in Kuala Lumpur.
In truth, I am here just because she wants to do up her hair.
I know this sounds frivolous….but she’s now happiest….I am glad, I made the right decision…as something deep down tells me hair may well be very important to the well being of a woman….I reckon Debbie may even be the sort of woman who might explode into a thousand pieces like a hand grenade, if she doesn’t sort out her hair. I reckon this may well something that I may even need to set everything else aside and just dedicate myself too…..wait….that is….wait.
SUPER DUPER HAIR NOURISHING CUCUMBER AND WATERCRESS SOUP
If you’re a woman with dull hair or a man who suffers from sparse hair – and you want to look like one of my shiny doberman show dogs. Check out this chilled veggie hair tonic soup - watercress has a naturally peppery flavor and when combined with cucumber in a yogurt based soup it’s both a scrumptious dish that is guaranteed to do wonders to improve your hair and apetite during hot spells.
As not only is it chock-full of vitamin C and beta-carotene, both of which have significant antioxidant activity. But it also removes toxins from your body – cucumber is a natural cleansing agent. Also the yoghurt in this soup is great for the skin as it delivers plenty of zinc, phosphorous and trace mineral that plays an important role in the production of new cells (including hair cells) and the maintenance of the oil-secreting glands of the scalp that keep hair radiant.
This soup should never be served at night – as it’s super cooling and can cause diarhore. In hot afternoons, it’s the perfect accompaniment to a light meal – dress it up with a few prawns and avacodoes if you like. I also like to crush a few almonds followed by scraps of truffles.
I never just walk into a restaraunt order food and just eat like other people. Never! I never do that. I like to walk into a commercial kitchen and talk to the chefs and cook my food the way I like it – and share it with the chef and the kitchen staff.
|4 large cucumbers, peeled and diced
1 cup watercress sprigs, plus some for garnish
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup fresh mint leaves
2 tbsp fresh oregano leaves
3 tbsp fresh chives, chopped
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
|Working in batches, purée cucumbers in a blender. Add watercress, vinegar, olive oil, mint, oregano, and chives, and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.|
|Pour soup into a bowl and stir in yogurt. Refrigerate until cold, about 2 hours. Garnish with fresh watercress sprigs.|
For many of us who turn the wheel of life away from home – while our wives and children remain back at the home front in Singapore. It’s very difficult to begin summing up the whole idea of motherhood and what it means to all of us – as no matter how you splice it, it’s never easy for a man whenever he is separated from his family.
With all of its peaks and valleys, its depths of sorrow and joy, it seems the mother figure will always to be like the sun and moon – always there through good and bad times. That is how I see it.
Whether you have a single sentence, poem or enough words to fill a book, something will always get left out. So I wouldn’t even try to do the impossible….as this is really something that is so deep, profound and meaningful that it’s best to just leave it there….I will however say this, none of us would be able to do the things we do without the love, dedication and support of our other better halves.
There is not a day that goes by when I do not think about my wife and kids back home in Singapore – every morning, I place my two hands on the ground and pray to the trees and birds to keep them safe, happy and healthy. Every morning. I do this without fail. That is my way to pay homage to womanhood and motherhood.
Today I had to leave Debbie in the plantation house for a few hours as I had to open a new Indian temple and discuss some pressing issues with the elders of the Indian community.
The weather is starting to get hot and it’s best that Debbie stays indoors. As she is still quite weak.
This evening, if she feels better. I will take her to a do that my small Singaporean community is arranging to celebrate mothers day. I am the leader of this group. Not alot of people just about 800 or so sex deprived men.
- 1 tub of natural yogurt (the big one)
- bunch of mint leaves (minus the stalk)
-1 teaspoon sea salt
-2 tablespoon of natural honey or gula melaka
-half a teaspoon of cumin seeds.
-a pitcher of water
- Add all this into a blender. Pulse. Refrigerate. Serve chill. Good to go for a hot day.
May 11, 2013
Frankly, I happen to believe this is a distinct possibility. As whenever Mini Lee opens his mouth. Everyone either seems to laugh him off or brush what he has to say aside – to put it another way, no one seems to take what he has to say seriously.
Recently Mini Lee in typical fashion threw out another intellectual hand grenade from his ivory tower – when he mentioned, for incomes to rise, the economy must grow, Mini Lee in his May day speech reiterated the centrality of his economic growth theorem which has been disputed by some who are worried about foreign workers and inequality. This is really a rehash of what he mentioned in April, “Everyone would like their lives to become better and one important way of doing that is to make sure your pay goes up, especially with low-income workers. And for the pay to go up, the economy has to grow,”
The main problem with Mini Lee is what he has to say about the valence between economic growth and wages doesn’t seem to gel very well – as anecdotal evidence seems to suggest from 2000 to 2011, the real growth in the median wage excluding employer’s CPF contribution was only 0.4%per annum. This despite stellar annual growth of over 5% from 2000 to 2011. So I really have absolutely no idea which segment of the workforce Mini lee is referring too when he claims that wages have gone up correspondingly with economic growth.I
It certainly can’t be the vast majority of natives. As their lot has hasn’t really improved at all judging from how the propagandist press is now trying to sell us all the idea that cars are now optional. Or that Singapore is still very much paradise on earth.
But I am reminded no matter how good the hype and spin – it’s virtually impossible to run away from the brass tacks of reality.
In reality PAP’s happy-go-lucky economic policies in the last ten years to grow the economy by surreptitiously ramping up the population to boost growth has created a tsunami of problems for the natives – in some cases these problems have even leached into the very work culture where natives themselves are increasingly discriminated in their own country – in other cases native PMET’s are finding themselves holding the short end of the stick as they watch by helplessly as their lot get smaller and smaller with every passing day. While the apparatus of mass assimilation with the help of Singaporedaily (Singapore premier Potemkin site with the collaboration of Bertha Henson continues to churn out all is well in paradise homily sugary soundbites)- in other cases, salaries especially at the lower rung have not only remained stagnant, but have also regressed, while the cost of living has skyrocket making Singapore the sixth most expensive city in the world to live in.
My is point is many of these problems natives face are serious and in many cases intractable. As these problems have been neglected for so long that it’s doubtful that there even any hope of resolution.
So in my view, if Mini Lee and his motley crew keep on broadcasting diatribe that no one can possibly relate, understand or even understand as the disconnect is so great – then it is likely that he will end up like poor Najib.
As for Najib, I think he’s got a very big headache now. But what do you really expect from a man who simply didn’t have the wisdom to read the writing on the wall all along…maybe it was written in an alphabet that he couldn’t read…..maybe, it was simply not very important to him…..
“What is politics? If you ask me, it’s just a way of selling what you stand for. But before you can sell anyone anything, you FIRST NEED TO SELL YOURSELF – if for example, you want to use gang rape metaphors to get your point across – then you must also accept the possibility that many women will get offended – is that logical? Probably not. But that doesn’t discount the fact that women will always be emotional creatures – hence they are likely to react strongly whenever the word rape is used irrespective of context – as it rubs them all the wrong way at so many levels. This is something that I understand completely and absolutely about women. So my advise is stick to politically correct metaphors and analogies.
I think the ability to make deep connections these days is vital, if one wants to be an effective leader – some time back ago before the National Conversation was kicked off. Mini Lee invited a group of bloggers for tea in the Istana – it was supposed to be a Mao and Nixon sort of moment between officialdom and the online community.
During this tea session Mini Lee spoke to Andrew Loh (Mr Partisanship is passé lah) and he brought up the subject of regulating the internet. Andrew Loh being the blur sotong that he is, actually sat down and had a conversation with Mini Lee about regulating the internet.
Now the question is how appropriate, correct or for that matter savvy is it to raise such a divisive subject during a get to know you all tea session – if it was me and Mini Lee asked me that question, I would have asked him – can I please fuck your ass?
He would of course be shocked! And it’s perfectly understandable. As that is really a very inappropriate way to speak to a head of state. Nonetheless, I would have still asked him that question – as I want to impress upon him how his approach is all wrong as it lacks sensitivity and demonstrates a general lack of understanding of the internet.
That is why if you look very carefully at the relationship between officialdom and the online community – it’s really quite a abyss. All I really see is two strangers looking at each other from distant mountain peaks separated by impassable valleys. These two people have nothing in common, so how can they work towards a common goal together.
I think if I was the PM (which can be quite a frightening thought) I would never have brought up the subject of regulating the internet – I would probably focus on what we have in common, instead of dwelling on our differences – to many people this may just be a great diffusion of energy amounting to very little – as they will probably say what did you accomplish for all your troubles.
But I am convinced this is the right approach to take – as it is only when we focus on our similarities rather than differences can we actually create this place called common ground. And with common ground – anything is possible.”
Procuppine Xi yang cai soup (Water crest)
1 Bunch of Xi yang cai
300 grammes porcupine meat – shank to make soup (leave the rest for main dish) – meat should be cut into cubes.
1 small bowl of chicken liver
1 large onion
2 table spoon of soya sauce
1 table spoon sesame oil
2 pack of XO brandy
Add a bowl of water
- Clean See Yang Chye thoroughly and soak the night before in 3 liters of water with some lime juice. Drain lime juice and squeeze out water. Set aside. Arrange porcupine meat at the base of crock pot with large onion and garlic.Pour water and arrange See Yang Chye on top. Cook low heat for 4 to 5 hours.
This soup is mucho delicious with porcupine meat. I am not kidding! This morning before dawn I went out hunting with a few tribesmen and my puppy, count Dracula. Unfortunately, we were able to get only a small porcupine. The big one was simply way too far away for a clean and responsible kill. One of the braves leveled a poison dart – I stopped him. I want this to be pure. Only pure and unadulterated food can nourish her – so I took the shot with an antiseptic arrow to find the heart. But I missed.
Nonetheless the small porcupine has tender flesh and thought it is good for only one serving – I will just have to try better tomorrow. But it will just have to do – I can see that Debbie is getting better now.
During our morning walks. There are moments when she just stops. It’s as if a hand has reached out from her past – she looks at me – I am calm and then she returns again. She needs to rest I reckon – the Singaporean gal is all whacked up. She needs to eat nourishing food – the type of food that will preserve one’s youth.
Food that only I can cook.
Porcupine meat is generally well known to have legendary healing properties – it can relieve depression, insomnia and hallucinations by calming and settling the nerves of the central nervous system. If you cannot find porcupine meat in Singapore substitute for pork ribs or chicken meat. Even if you can find it, please note it is extremely expensive – $150 per kg. Red dates 红枣 (4~5 pieces) can also be used. Red dates are said to have medical benefits such as protecting your liver and strengthening spleen. In this case, I have not used it as it’s too heaty and have instead used garlic and brandy to stimulate appetite.
This dish goes extremely well with chilled white Extremadura – this is my first time making this dish. I stole the recipe from a famous restaraunt when I was in KL the last time. One day I will write a cook book on how to eat like a mossad secret agent.
May 10, 2013
When you look at anything long enough, then at some point you will begin to understand it for what it is and not what others claim it to be. It doesn’t even matter what it is, could be semi precious stones, birds, stamps, people or even how the country is run.
Look at it for long enough and soon a shape will emerge somewhere in this mass of information – look at it longer and a pattern will begin to play out.
You can do this anywhere – in a cafe, in a cave or even with Debbie – when she sits quietly with me and we watch the birds fly in as darkness creeps silently by so very slowly. There are no thoughts about tomorrow. Only the moment.
It may seem flippant to you – this whole idea that bird watching can somehow even be the prescriptive cure of for our age. I wish, I could share this deep belief with you. But I can’t – that’s because you’ve never really looked at birds before? So that’s a bit like trying to learn how to swim from a book. To you birds are just small and large dots that dart across the skies – that’s perfectly understandable birds are there, but not really there, if you know what i mean – they exist only in the pheriphery of our consciousness and most of the time, they’re like elevator music ire, fire hydrants, ashtrays, drinks coasters ….till you take a closer look at them and then you start to notice that no two birds fly the same – there’s always enough to tell them apart.
Now look carefully how that swift curls in always from the South – watch it as it banks and yaws making tight circles around the top of the building calling out krak, krak, krak, krak – a whole entire other world opens up. A very calm world where all the worries of the day just melts away like lemon drops.
A different world. So different from the world of hustle and bustle.
To see and understand all this – you first need to still the mind, be comfortable in your own skin and not be bother too much about how you look to others. You need to go into that private space in your head. A safe place where you know that nothing can touch you here – that sort of deep spiritual calmness.
Debbie needs calmness most in her life of turmoil, not the plastic Banyan tree variety – she needs a prescription of planter’s life – as it is only when the roots are strong that the leaves can be lush and the fruits heavy – once she is calmer, she will have a much more positive outlook to life. She will have regained her womanhood again as she’s able to make it through the whole day, week, month and year without having to pop those mind numbing zombie pills.
I don’t see anything wrong with Debbie. Her husband is wrong, she is not crazy – she’s just needs to drink two large bottles of water a day, brisk morning walks before dawn followed by a spartan field breakfast. Read a book. Drink super duper nourishing my brand bird nest soup at three. Take a long nap in the afternoon. Afternoon walks with the farmer as he returns back from the fields. Listen to the BBC world service – drink nourishing soup and eat food that tunes up her chi and balance her Ying and Yang like the way I give my tractor a quick turn of the wrench to set her right. A couple of hands of gin rummy after dinner. Some classical music. A warm glass of milk.
In no time she will be up and running again. Then we must talk about her future. As she cannot stay here forever – her presence here has already stirred up much gossip with the villagers. I also do not want to mislead people – that’s the constant problem with me, I tend to mislead a lot of people only to end up all getting tied up in knots myself.
I need to be clear about this. I need to have the goal in mind all the time. I need to be calm like an archer.
“I feel like an old man. I do wonder to myself sometimes whether perhaps this disguise that I wear – swept back hair, sunglasses, bush jacket and laced polished shoes has somehow managed to permeate the marrow of my bones to somehow transform me – could it be the spirit of uncle hood has suddenly jumped into my soul like one of those restless spirits who from time to time jump into people and turn their lives upside down – I don’t know.
Maybe I’ve always been like this. Maybe I was meant to reach here after all- this point in time – it was really just a matter of time before I got here. Surely, you’re not stupid enough to believe that you could be jumping out of planes and barreling at full speed all the time in your mountain bike.
Maybe this is just another level of life. A level that I need to go through very thoughtfully, if I am to get myself to the other side without having to spend money on expensive law suits and armored plated cars.
I need to think carefully about this place called uncle land – I like the cars that come with this level. They’ll seem to all cruise along like ocean liners – I even like the executive men’s room in the planters at this level, as it’s just nice and makes shitting a real experience (as its quite difficult to balance my feet on those narrow lipped Italian shit pots).
Yes, I like this level. I like it very much.”