February 21, 2014
Most of us don’t really consciously audit our thoughts and discard the old and useless in the way we regularly delete the many messages and e-mails that pile up in our laptop or phones. That is quite normal, I guess. As most of us do not see ourselves as either office equipment or mobile devices.
But if one considers that even these devices need to be regularly updated with apps to keep them relevant and that bandwidth is always finite – then surely even we humans will have absolutely no problem in understanding the need to update, upgrade and most importantly throw out that which have become useless in our life.
When we see change for the better as just function of throwing out old and bad habits and buying into a better way to live, play and work, then it is easy to understand why it pays dividends every day to find quiet time and audit our thoughts to enable us to lead happier lives and get on the path to leading a purpose driven life.
‘Everyday I make it a point to set aside some quiet time to think about whether what I did, said or thought the day before is the person I want to become. I find that when I do just that, I am more mindful of my actions along with understanding my strengths and weaknesses. I happen to believe this daily habit has been very good for me. As at times, I do say, do and think of thoughts which I believe could be considerably improved on – thoughts, actions and deeds which i say to myself, ‘maybe that is not the best way to put my point across.’ and its not unusual for me to right that wrong the following day.’
This is necessary for me, if I don’t want to end up doing something I will regret later. For example there is this businessman who stays quiet close to me. He once poisoned all my trees over a disagreement. Whenever I see this man, he talks to me as if nothing has happened…as if he’s done nothing…and it’s really just another day in paradise – I find this form of humoring especially offensive and there have been many times when I have had to just walk away. As if I don’t, I know myself very well – I am likely to do something that I will end up regretting for the rest of my life. My point is not everything can be forgiven. Not for me. So this is one way to make peace and move on as best as one can.
As for that man, I still dream of hacking him to pieces with my parang from time to time. I can see it in my minds eye, he’s in some seafood restaraunt. When I walk him, his friends run away. He raises his hands to avoid the blows. I cut off his fingers and hands. Then I drive it deep into his stomach and push it right up to the hilt….. what scares me most about this dream is when I wake up. I feel very rested and satisfied. There is a slight lag when I wake up and I actually believe, I am going to the electric chair for what I just did….but like I said, I just feel incredible satisfied and even happy. So when I talk about improving myself, I realize, I still have a very long way to go. I reckon these are things you don’t normally read in self improvement books….but that is just the way it is with me. I am not where near a guru, but I like to believe I work hard to make myself a better person every day.’
February 21, 2014
Security is very important to me. As I work in a very dangerous environment. That I imagine might not come across as so – as when many of you click and watch the many YouTube videos I have uploaded, it comes across as probably one of those idyllic scenes in little house on the Prairie. But I assure you all nothing can be further from the truth.
I am one of those people who believe, if harm is going to come, it’s probably going to appear from the blindside where you least expect it – when your guard is down and usually when you’re most relaxed, that’s why I train, train, train, train and train as realistically as I can – as often as possible.
The goal is to develop the muscle memory to interdict threats. This way when a threat appears, the response is automatic. Thinking is no good. As thru experience, I believe there is usually no time to think! And because you have gone thru the scenario in endless variations thousands of times, trained, trained, trained and know where your weak points are there is no cause to panic. You can trust yourself 100% to perform under conditions of stress, even if you are outnumbered and outgun and do it effectively and efficiently to get the job done.
Nothing can be accomplished without iron discipline…absolutely nothing. People who do not know this will always just have a lot of expensive equipment and wonder why they cannot even do one tenth of the things other people can – the answer lies in only word: attitude.
‘Through the years I have built up an incredible repository of knowledge on how to survive in the hostile environment of an oil palm plantation. Most people are only aware of two weather conditions in the tropics, dry and wet.
But if you spend as much time as I do in a plantation, you would realize that even in the dry season, there are at least seven variations, when the topology, roads, foliage with take on very distinctive forms which can be rightly considered a season in it’s own right – for example, in rubber estates, wintering will occur only in January thru to February. There is another dry spell which usually comes at May and last roughly three months, but during this period foliage in rubber estates is thick and fauna is dramatically different from the month of January. Why is this important? Well it’s probably not to you, but to me, it can be the difference between being able to survive and dying…so as you can see, I take this whole idea of being able to thrive in hostile environments very very seriously. I can even tell you there are at least seventeen ways to open burn when the Northwesterly winds blow and another twenty two when the winds blow the East in May – again why is this important? Well not to you mabye, but to me that could be the difference between making money or being a charitable organization….as I said, things are not as simple as they appear to be.
I can even move very heavy loads thru plantation roads without leaving a trace or for that matter the slightest signature of having been there. I am an expert. You can give me a map with elevation and some spectral imagining and I can tell you…go here…do it like so….be careful of this and that. There is no one in this planet who is as dedicated as I am to perfecting my craft or for that matter feels even the need to document all these details, file them and even update these sort of information regularly – again why is this important? Well probably not to you – but to me, this is everything and much more because I know one day such information will be jugular.
Knowledge is power….if you have it, you can go very far and your plans will pass from theory to reality without having to incur high blood pressure….if not, your chances of success stands at nil and you will always be scratching your head. It doesn’t even matter how fit or good your equipment is, you will die. Life is cruel.’
February 20, 2014
I have always been punctual all my life. I don’t mean just on time, but military punctual, right down to the millisecond – that’s always been part of my nature ever since I could remember. That I reckon could well be the reason why waiting for people has always been something very stressful, where I tighten up and get anxious about when they’re going to show up or fulfill their end of the work task – that along with wondering why these people are so inconsiderate by not even respecting my time.
It’s frustrating and can make me you or me angry. Especially, if like me, you’re anal about keeping time.
But today, I took a different approach. I loosened up, and while waiting for someone, I told myself, it was not as if I needed to rush anywhere today or that I have any back to back meetings. So I just sat down and took in the marvellous view of the mountains early in the morning when a slight mist still blanketed the plantation – I just flowed with the moment as if I wasn’t beholden to the clock and when the person eventually show up. I realised, I was much nicer person…..
I like to believe from this example many of us can often be our own creators of heaven or hell to either make our days miserable or happy – its really all in your hands….the power not to sweat it, that is.
When we are anxious, it’s only because what we plan and what happens don’t gel together – we may want to be somewhere at a certain time or want something to pan out the way we see it in the grand design of our mind’s eye. But this expectation…. this goal….this need … it’s entirely self created.
We create a picture in our head….a need…a story…and when it doesn’t turn out the way, we visualise it, we feel frustrated and angry. That’s it. No Da Vinci code there.
Hence we create our own anxiety. And WHY is knowing this is so important – as if we genuinely want to fill our days with more happiness and less grief – then we better learn how to let go…..either that or we just get used to going thru life huffing and puffing like an angry bird….to simply let go of want…expectation…and even need and to just allow ourselves to loosen up.
When we see the world with this attitude, we are indeed bullet proof to stress and many of the seven habits of highly ineffective people and circumstances which used to frustrate and make us angry…the inconsiderate driver who cuts into your path….waiting for someone who doesn’t respect your time…dealing with difficult people….or getting a handle on our emotions when things just don’t go our way.
No! I don’t for one moment believe adopting this attitude necessary means you’re selling out on your values, beliefs and principles. It just means you value your peace of mind above all else and you don’t mind letting the small stuff that can ruin your day just slide – so to me its a great trade off. As when you choose to keep your mind still like a lotus on a calm mirror lake… it just means you are very serious about living right, instead of just existing while other people press your hot buttons no end.
Breathe it’s another beautiful day…..
February 19, 2014
All of us have experienced it before. We may not even be consciously aware of it, but trust me. We have. The art of making it up as we go along, that is…to begin, with just a rough outline of how a business plan, holiday, party or even a simple conversation will unfurl and to just let it take us wherever it decides to go…while we sit back and enjoy that long and amazing ride that took all kinds of unexpected twist and turns….I reckon life can much more interesting and fulfilling, if we just learn to let go of many our fears, anxieties and concerns and sit right back and enjoy the journey.
“Life can be beautiful, if only we are prepared to let go of the things that hold us back. Its really as simple as that. I don’t really see the point of sweating stuff that I have no capacity to exert control over – for example, its dry now, where I am and everything is shriveling up real fast and furious…that’s bad for agriculture, mucho bad. But I am not too concerned, as my life style is the very definition of simplicity unto itself, and if I have to do with less….I will just do with less…but it could have been very complicated I reckon, if for example, I have a lifestyle like a furnace where I regularly need to shovel loads of money just to keep the fire going, then I guess it would probably be a very big problem to let go..but like I said, I live a simple life. So letting go is not a problem, I will just enjoy the dry season for as long as it last….as when the wet season comes, I am sure it too will bring it’s own blessings and curses just like the wet season…that’s the way it is.
I think its the same with people, some people just bring out the worse in me, and as I get older, I am just not interested to get into a debate who is right or wrong any longer. I used to be passionate about getting my point across, but these days I just feel that sort of attitude may well be counter productive, if not self defeating – so if these people feel, they are right, justified and closer to the truth, then so be it…alright…go lead your life…bye bye. My point is I no longer want to sweat that sort of nonsensical stuff any longer – I don’t want to live my life wondering any longer why people are cruel, why do they always want to sabotage me…why are they so bochap…why can’t they love and support me…why do they abandon me …why do this and that why, why, why, why etc etc…
I dowan, dowan, dowan…dowan to wonder any more like an engine running and going no where – those things no longer have a hold on me, as I have made a decision to let go…so they fall right out of my hand and I just walk right thru that door.
Because I realize one truism…ONLY you can make yourself happy, fulfilled and commit yourself to lead a purpose driven life. ONLY you! Not someone who once walked on water, that fellow can only leave you 10% poorer every month…Or some stupid con man who you saw on TV who asked you to be a crane operator, all he cares about is his bottom line so that he looks good at the end of the year to his boss. So if you’re a robot and take a run with what he told you, don’t be surprised, if you end up poor, fat and no one wants to fuck you. My point is, if you have to depend on others to make you happy all the time by setting the things that are wrong in your life, right…then it also means they can make you sad as well…as what you really done by delegating your happiness and well being to others is to give them so much power over your life that you may even have to put your hand up just for urination breaks one day – so it’s best in life to just let go of those things that you can never control in the first place and just focus on controlling what you can 100% – what’s happening in between your ears…take care of ONLY that…do it well…so well that you can trust it 100% to make the best life decisions and I am very sure everything else in your life that’s not going right will fall into place quite nicely.
But before you can do that….you have to let go…and just go with the flow.’
February 18, 2014
I ventured into business at a late age — before that I had toiled through various jobs for years and even experienced a long spell of unemployment. So when I began my business, I had reservations. As when I looked around, I was always surrounded by much younger men who always seem to know more than me. There were many moments of self doubt, when I found myself wondering whether this was even a worthwhile move or perhaps it was just one of those things that I would come to regret starting, as I might not be able to see it thru to the very end…happily…successfully…and above all without regrets.
In my first year, I didn’t really know what I was doing (and probably still don’t). I tried everything to turn in a good harvest – to even remake myself as someone who I wasn’t – to come across as more congenial and easy going to others, in the hope of putting them at ease…to be accepted…less threatening…in the fervent hope that, they would like me…and even welcome me with open arms. Some of it worked, but most backfired – for example, I am by nature trusting of people and this meant many people saw me as easy meat. I was also the sort who much preferred to walk away from trouble and many perceived this as a sign of weakness.
But through trial and error and most importantly leveraging on my previous work experience and allowing time to slowly carve me to the person who I was meant to be – I was able to discover the right formula to succeed. I realised with the passing of every harvest (which got better with time) nothing is ever wasted in life – as though I had ventured into a line of business that had nothing whatsoever to do with what I used to do before – something I learnt, came across or just did in the past can always be brought to bear to improve my yield as a farmer…. to add value to my enterprise. When I began to grow more comfortable with the idea that I could do this and still manage to get good results which often made me a subject matter expert in my own right. I realised many of my initial fears in not being able to compete with younger farmers who had considerably more farming experience than me began to diminish – truth be known, there were many things, they didn’t know which only I knew. As since their experience is limited to only farming and the constrains of a kampung – mine on the other hand was considerably more varied and richer than theirs and that by itself provide much more raw material for improvisation. – above all I no longer saw the idea of being NEW to commercial farming as a handicap. Rather it gave me a competitive advantage. As since my experience was not exclusively confined to only the traditional industry of farming – I did not come with any preconceived assumptions of what can and will work – and that simply meant can, I had absolutely no hesitation in changing many of the practices which I can only describe as parochial, insular and backward on how things have always been done since time immemorial – I was not afraid to kick down the door of convention many a time and to even throw out time honoured practices which I considered restrictive and backward and to even experiment with new methods of improving yield.
I am not here to show that I’m superior to anyone, but to share an example of what might actually work for you should you decide to embark on a career change, especially if you happen to be someone of my vintage. To show that nothing is ever wasted and that it can even be reused again to serve you so very well in whatever enterprise you want to pursue.
Knowing this is very important as it will give you the much needed sense of confidence to succeed in doing the things you never thought possible and to do it so well, that only you and you alone could have done it – if only you can find the courage to believe…..nothing is ever wasted…it can all be useful again.
‘I once had a fren in Singapore who was a high class call girl. (for some inexplicable reason, I always make friends like this) She was very nice to me and would often allow me to drive her Masserati and even buy me expensive meals in places that I could never afford to dine in, but nonetheless much preferred over economy meehon…. I was unemployed at the time.
Most of the time, she just followed me around (as she worked flexi-hours) and she would talk and I for my part would listen. She found it comforting to talk to me and she could literally go on and on for hours without the need for any prompting…a very unusual skill.
One day she told me, she was sick and tired of her life….she wanted a career change. I asked her what was she good at. She said, not very much…though she graduated with a double first in media studies, but since she hasn’t worked a single day in the industry, as the pay was crummy, her experience stood at zero.
This prompted me to asked her again…what r u good at..this time I said…think….she thought long and hard this time and then she mentioned she was really good at one thing…I asked what…she said supplying a perfect illusion of love and that usually her fantasies were so seamless and believable that she never ever had any problems getting rich old men to keep her living the life of the rich and famous. I asked what else was she good at…. she said, not very much again, as she had the bad habit of making promises that she often realised she could never deliver on and whenever she was asked why she had made those promises, she would just switch off her mobile phone and go to Australia for an extended holiday only to return and insist she had no possible recollection of ever making those promises and much preferred everyone to move on from just nitpicking on her imaginary faults…she went on to tell me, to the very best of her knowledge and those who knew her intimately, she was just…totally useless..with zero marketable skills and her only aspiration in life…if it ever qualified as one was to get the most out of the system without doing a single day’s honest work.
Thereafter she turned to me and looked at me with her large liquid expressive eyes and asked me for my honest assessment. I sighed and told her that she was really too hard on her self. As based on what she had shared with me, she was in my considered opinion imminently qualified to go places…as she certainly has loads of ministerial potential….she smiled and told me, I was a very nice man. That is very true….as to the best of my knowledge, I have always been very forthright and true to her.’
February 17, 2014
Certain stories have in them the power to leave you more then when you first stumbled on them…oh yes, they do..the parable of the stone cutter is one of those stories. It is so seemingly simple, yet very powerful. And it is a story that I often find myself reflecting on…. over and over again at various stages of my life.
Each time as I recount the story so very slowly and assemble the image of the stone cutter in my mind’s eye, it never fails to reveal yet another hidden chapter of wisdom.
I imagine this could be the reason why I keep returning to this parable time and again – or perhaps I am just enchanted by the poetry of stones…I have always like their dignified silence…texture…their seeming permanence, timelessness and quiet beauty, it is not unusual for me to look at a rock face for hours and to just marvel at how the light at various times of the day transforms and paints them.
Above all, the stone cutter parable is one of those stories where there is so much room for interpretation, each of us can really take whatever life lessons we want out of it and even choose to call it our own…very few stories, I am often reminded are that considerate. For me, it is story that has so many hidden chapters, if only we bothered to peer into it’s many darkened interiors – at one level of understanding, it demonstrates how the idea of power will always be relative.
The themes of “powerful” and “weak” repeat themselves in this parable like a mantra. The story begins with the stonecutter feeling “weak” compared to the “powerful” rich man – when he sees how the crowd fetes the “powerful” high official, he is once again dissatisfied with his “weak” state – and this interplay between ‘powerful’ and ‘weak’ and satisfaction or the lack of it, goes on and on…the cloud becomes more “powerful” in relation to the mighty sun, but soon becomes “weak” in relation to the wind and so on and so forth…till at the end the stonecutter ends up where he started from.
What does it all mean?
This suggests that nothing is really set in stone – notions of what is “powerful” and “weak”, are at best relative – a man of modest income might call himself “weak” because he scripted to measure what is “powerful” primarily in terms of his nett worth. Another man with the same income might call himself “powerful” as he measures his life’s worth based on how many times he can make his child laugh and feels rich that he can bring so much joy and happiness to those around him.
Do you begin how the idea of power is seldom as robust as we believe it to be, rather it is a very crumbly idea that is predicated on what we wish to prioritise as important in life.
The lesson here is what is “powerful” is at best an illusion because it is based entirely on the arbitrary terms of a comparison. When scrutinized closely, the word collapses ontu itself. As what is powerful to one is weakness to another, and vice versa.
Hence true contentment can really only come from accepting what we already are and probably have and not to even take for granted many of our blessings that we usually don’t appreciate…that we are in good health…have parents…or even that we can just all turn the wheel of life.
The conclusion to the story (to me) suggests that if each of us just press the pause button somewhere in our heads. Instead of running mindlessly to the next best smartphone, mall, boyfren, magazine, bottle of moisturizing cream, car, condo…..still our minds long enough to perceive ourselves correctly…. we would all suddenly cease to indulge in petty comparisons and be grateful for what we already have.
“The man who thinks deeply about life is a very powerful man. He has to be powerful as if you have the privilege of spending one year with this man, you will experience what it means to live one life time. But the man who just follows what everyone is doing and goes thru life like a robot, is weak even if he is materially well off – as to this weak man, everyday is just a repetition of yesterday, the only thing that marks the chastening passage of time for this man is the diminishing size of his toothpaste or that he notices it is time to visit his barber again….to me that has to be a form of death. The Africans, specifically the Ma’ia have seven gradations of death, this I imagine would have to be very close to what they call Kaifu’l- in Hollywood it is known as zombie. But I just prefer to call it what I believe it is, existence….not so different from how a turnip or cucumber would exist.
So if you happen to come across people who don’t seem to be very interested to chase the same things you do and they even prefer to go the other way, do that other thing – do not be so quick to call them weird, strange or mad. As it is conceivable when they see how you lead your life – they may even say to themselves, ‘what a bloody waste of a good life…can someone please shoot me and put me out of my misery.’ instead be open minded and just go with the flow and if possible try to suspend all judgement till you make it to the other side….you see, if you just have the patience to bear out that trip. You never know, you might just walk away from the whole experience seeing the world slightly differently from the way you have always seen it…and that is really another way of saying a door which you once did not realize existed has opened somewhere in your mind…and I don’t think that’s such a bad thing, it just means you’re well and truly on the road to living instead of just existing…this is something I don’t think you parents or for that matter the Harvard Business School will ever tell you…how to live that is. Anyone who doesn’t know this, just hasn’t lived before.’
February 17, 2014
This morning as I prepared for another long day in the field. Kee Kee stood on the window sill and looked out at his brothers and sisters – they were outside playing and for a moment, it looked at if Kee Kee did not understand why they did not want to play with him.
I could sense his confusion. I am the only one I imagine in the whole wide world who can do this – as this is the way when a man knows dogs beyond the meaning of just a word – as Kee Kee looked on…he seemed almost to ask me pleadingly, ‘Papa why am I so different from my brothers and sisters? I hate my golden brown pelt and want nothing more than to be black like them. Can you please make me like them?
I hate my pink nose and much prefer to have a shiny black one like their. Can you please change it? And I hate my grey eyes which is so different from their brown large expressive eyes. Can you also change that please? Perhaps if I was born like them Papa, my mother would love me and not have tried to kill me instead….Papa I am envious of my brothers and sisters….I feel very sad Papa that I am so different….Can you please change me?’
I told Kee Kee that the first lesson of life is that one must learn to be comfortable in one’s own skin – and this simply means, one must strive to be at peace with one’s nature and not to be too bothered about what others think.
I went on to tell Kee Kee, a wise man only strives to control his own thoughts and never those of others…that is a very foolish enterprise…I laughed and even told Kee Kee, even with Papa, there are many people who believe he is strange man and could even be slightly off centre upstairs – but that does not mean they are right. Not at all. It is merely their opinion. In truth, these people who like to pass judgement are really not so different from the proverbial frog in the well – an unimaginative creature who can only believe the world is a big bluish and white circle and no more…..there can be nothing beyond this interpretation of the world. As in the known world of the frog in the well. This is life!
I turned to Kee Kee and asked him, does a wise man bother himself with the rumminations of a frog in a well?
Of course not, as he knows only too well, it is difficult and perhaps even impossible to convince those who believe the world can only take one form that there might exist other shapes that are different to theirs – I went on to tell the young apprentice a very simple, yet powerful story to illustrate – how sometimes what we desire most in life can really only amount to illusions that may lead us astray – as in truth, life extremely democratic and what we already have in the palm of our hands is really all the raw material we need to fashion the path to a purpose driven life.
Papa believes you are perfect Kee Kee….
Kee Kee allow time to carve you and shape your nature….
February 16, 2014
There are many anime and manga that can rightly be considered classics for one reason or another. Of these, only very few can surpass this status and rise up from the endless sea of the run of the mill to be considered masterpieces in their own right.
Standing supreme amongst the Samurai genre is a tale that is considered the single most influential piece of literature out from Japan during the 20th Century.
It is the story of Lone Wolf and Cub.
The story tells of a brooding Samurai warrior, who roams the countryside with his baby and together they battle the evil assasins of the Shogun – it is set during the cowboy town era of the togukawa shogunate…
Thus begins the legend of Lone Wolf and Cub.
To say that the story is breathtaking is like calling McRitchie reservoir in Bukit Timah a puddle. There are very few words that can truly convey the depth of the nuanced emotions as one experiences the trials and tribulations of the Samurai everyone calls Lone wolf and his baby, the cub on the road to the long and windy road if meifumado (the buddhist hell).
This is a work that will evoke almost every emotion you’d care to name, from righteous fury to heartwrenching sorrow, from earnest hope to blind hatred along with the many set lietmotiffs of Samurai genre. The complexity and detail of the plot pushes the envelop of the Samurai genre to it’s outer limits and though many have tried to copy the textural complexity of Lone Wolf and cub since Its release in the 70′s, none have managed to better it….it stands tragically alone as the classic that it is…
Lone wolf and cub.
“This morning I went to the Bak Kut Teh shop in my kampung for breakfast. Hardly had I taken my usual seat against the wall – I noticed my enemies at a far table making fun of the cub that was peeking out from my pocket…one of them said, ‘look, he does not have a wife…so he has to sleep with a dog to keep him warm.’ The others laughed I glared at them narrowing my eyes and flaring my nostrils…it was then that Kee Kee, the cub who lived in my breast pocket began to growl for the very first time in his life…grrrrrrrrrh…I realised his eyes had opened. At that moment I felt a mix of joy and sadness flitting across me…and as long as that sliver of time lasted….I was happy that Kee Kee had passed a milestone in his difficult life…but the joy did not last. As it was overwhelmed by a stronger feeling of emptiness that suddenly overshadowed that brief moment of joy. Till I found myself searching for answers on an altar of the Goddess of Mercy Kuan Yi that stood in the middle of the shop…I asked her…why is life so cruel and it was then Kee Kee growled again. Suddenly I was awoken from my trance as I found myself turning to the growling cub in my pocket and thinking to myself, ‘Papa is so very happy your eyes are finally open Kee Kee. Papa is also so very sad…as he would first like to ask your forgiveness…as you are born into such trouble times…all that Papa can promise you Kee Kee, is endless blood, sweat and tears.’ With these words I turned to the altar of the kopitiam again…..this time, I could not make out the serene features of the Goddess of mercy…instead the crimson faced God of war Kwang Kong stared back.’
February 16, 2014
Farming is very 直率, straight forward, clear cut and blunt. There is really no room for bullshitting and clever talk. If you really want to know whether a farmer is a master of his craft or just talking thru his straw hat – all that needs to be done is to pay a visit to his land and see for yourself whether his trees are producing heavy and sweet fruit.
As there is no such thing as accidental heavy and sweet fruit – It’s really like talking about snakes in Norway…the bloody thing doesn’t exist! Being in a position to produce heavy and sweet fruit is really just a function of doing the right things consistently with the right degree of commitment, care and love. That’s it! The end.
Some things in life will always been very simple and true…all the time.
“Even amongst your circle of friends and colleagues it is not too difficult to make out two categories of people.
The first are always blaming others for their unhappy circumstances. You will find they will blame everyone and everything under the sun… their husbands, their bosses, their colleagues, their neighbours, their pet gold fish, global warming, melting ice caps etc etc and if they have nothing to put the blame on will…they will just manufacture their unabridged version of the truth…but observe very carefully.
You will notice one thing that is a truism with this erudite lot. They will ALL WITHOUT A SINGLE EXCEPTION never feel the need to look inwards and ask of themselves the most pertinent question: ‘why is it that I only seem to eat bitter fruit all the time?’ – these people are very sad. I call them vampires, as I have observed usually they have a very nervous disposition about them….they are never calm and composed so they will always bring out the worst in people. As since their minds are always all over the place like a tornado and in a perpetual state of turmoil….they are always distracted, unfocussed and diffusing their energy needlessly..often they will run here and there, do this and that, try this and that to search for the missing parts of their lives to make themselves whole and complete – one week, they may feel happiness is to be in a bottle of moisturising cream where the only active ingredient is water…next week they may run around like a spinning top to the next flavour of the month – on other days they may believe happiness is to be found by dedicating themselves to their new found hobbies, so they will buy this, do that like one of those characters who can never remain still in those silent comedy movies…but observe…. these people despite dedicating themselves to their many pursuits in their quest for happiness never ever seem to get closer to sweet and heavy fruit….as I said earlier, they are not so different from vampires. Did you know, Dracula can turn into a bat. And if you have ever been unfortunate enough to watch bats fly, they are indeed very nervous animals. My advise is if this is new to you, you best pop two Panadols before you go bat watching…they fly here and there and everywhere very erratically like some nervous creature…with their pants on fire dissipating their energy needlessly….is it a wonder they are always hungry. To me bats are the Proton saga of the skies…they are very painful to watch. As they always give me a headache.
As for the wise farmer. He is like the calm and stately eagle – the S class Mercedes of the skies, graceful in purpose and intent. Resting when he should be resting and searching purposely only when the right moment presents itself – optimal use of resources and opportunity. You will never find him jumping up and down behaving like one of those agitated and nervous creature.
As before one can even set about the business of producing heavy and sweet fruits, one must first be a very calm, focused and serious sort of man who knows what needs to be done on his land.
Neither does such a man allow his friends or other worldly distractions to interfere with his mission in life either. Never. If his friends fritter their lives away on idle chatter about football, TOTO, drinking and womanising, this man will never ever join them. Never. As he is first and foremost his own man….not a team player who craves the approval of others or a honorary member of the rah rah ‘you jump, I jump’ brigade…but someone who may not even have any hesitation in going the other way….doing that other thing….walking his own path….the approval of others is optional….not an ordinary farmer…but what did you really expect….did you really believe heavy and sweet fruits just comes about thru cheap talk!
So if others decide to diffuse their energy, time and money on mumbo jumbo by listening to charlatans – this man will rarely have time for such knaves and fools who can only distract him from his mission in life – and should they be foolish enough to come near him, they will know his wrath. Above all the farmer who is able to produce heavy and sweet fruit does not run around here and there diffusing his time and energy recklessly. He knows there are only X hours in a day, Y opportunities and Z threats, so he is always mindful of how and with who he spends his time. Above all the wise farmer knows how to love a thing well and to bring out it’s very best and this he does with a calm and happy heart….and since his trees are always nourished by his love, is it such a wonder such a man will always be able to enjoy heavy and sweet fruit.
When one sees relationships in the way a farmer dedicates himself to his land to produce heavy and sweet fruits – then it is very easy to understand why some people will always reap a bitter harvest with weak and broken relationships will they fly around like agitated bats searching….and searching and always never find peace, happiness and sweet repose.
While others who know how to bring out the best in themselves and those around them by just dedicating themselves to what is important and needs doing day by day, will always have very little problems with others loving, respecting and cherishing them.
Life is so democratic. What you put into a relationship is exactly what you will get back in return. No more or less. It doesn’t matter how high, low, intelligent, stupid, rich or poor you are….it doesn’t matter whether you’re a hawker who is trying to garner a cachet of loyal diners, a politician whose striving to be trusted by your constituency, an ISD officer who is out to save people and planet, nurse who aspires to be like Florence Nightingale or just a cookie cutter who hopes one day the world will be kind and open doors for you instead of slam it in your face….you will only get back what you are prepared to put into a relationship…nothing more or less…this is the golden rule of farming that every farmer knows by heart.’
February 15, 2014
There are times when we all encounter crippling set backs which at that point in time we can only believe, we will never be able to recover from. But even as bad as those things may appear then and there, they can really be just a few miles in the marathon of the great journey called the sum of your life. Look! It is bad. But they really only add up to a few pages in a very thick book….that’s all there is to it….and when you see your life in those terms. You have to know life is far from over as there so many other blank pages that awaits the telling of your great story…and that is how I see a setback….pain is unavoidable, but with wisdom, suffering will always be optional….always.
‘Beware of the man who suffers set backs. Do not think just because you cut off a man’s leg or declare him a bankrupt or drag his name thru mud, that’s the end of the story. Trust me, life is not so simple. If you are wise, then you would realise it’s just the beginning of a new chapter for this man of constant sorrow. Because if this poor sod makes it to the other side, the chances are he would have gathered something so valuable about life from that terrible experience that he’s probably a man that you would have to be awfully silly to just brush off as inconsequential – and let me share with you why – because this man who once went through a river of shit knows something that you can only imagine or you just watched in the movie or read thru books – you don’t really know this dark and hopeless place that this man once had to crawl out from. You can certainly imagine it, but even then that’s at best an approximation and at worse an abtraction – my point is because you know nothing of that experience, it’s something that will always be new to you…something that will always have the capacity take you out like a full metal jacket on the blindside…when you least expect it….Bang! You’re down for the count! One….two….three….four….five….six. Do you understand? He will always be stronger than you! You may not want to admit it, but that’s because your pride and ego is in the way…only understand this in clear terms! To this man who once had to climb out from a shit hole…all these things which are still unexplored mysteries to you are known to only him. And because of that, he will always be a force to be reckoned with. Remember this always…otherwise you will lose a lot of opportunities in life…you will take on battles and it will be like Stalingrad and bleed you dry…the sort where you grow thinner day by day, till poof…you just disappear. Always beware of the man who is accustomed to suffering set backs.’
February 15, 2014
Recently someone asked me this question. I have had a lot of time to consider this question deeply and I have come to the irrevocable conclusion. I cannot find myself agreeing with the rationale for the recent curbs on free speech in the Internet. I consider these actions to be so fundamentally flawed at so many levels, that I cannot even possibly see myself sitting with anyone from the PAP to work towards a better Singapore. As this one issue will overshadow all other considerations and possibly divert my commitment as a team player.
I have every reason to believe many of my regular readers may have noted this shift recently.
As these days, I much prefer to write and think about my many other objects of interest… As for the PAP, I simply cannot understand them any longer. I am by nature a very simple man who can only see the world in very clear cut agricultural terms. So when I don’t understand a thing after considerable effort (which isn’t surprising at all, as it’s conceivable, I may even be slow about such matters) – be it, a business proposal, how a particular heavy machinery might work or in this case how censoring the Internet can bring about a better society – then it can only hurt my brain and as such I much prefer to set the matter to one side and not probe, interrogate or even think about it further. I am not malicious, I don’t have any ill will – I just cannot understand how censoring the internet can possibly make Singapore a better place…above all I don’t want my brain to hurt any longer…that’s it, it’s really that simple.
“I think farming as a profession by it’s very essential nature imposes upon one a very clear and simple way of seeing the world. Either that or it’s just one of those professions like cleaning toilets that accords very well with men of limited intelligence such as myself.
That I imagine may also supply an explanation why whenever I am confronted with hubris or an unknown quantity which I don’t understand, despite trying my level best to do so – it’s not unusual for my brain to hurt and I will feel the need to see a doctor. I realize city folk rarely feel the need to see the doctor for such ailments, but in the kampung it’s quite common – for example, if I am not mindful and I am not clear on provisioning instructions for how work is to be done in the plantation, it is not unusual for my farm hands to put their hand on their head as if something hard has just landed on their skulls – this is very common in the kampung, where it is not unusual for one farmer to say to another…I don’t understand…this is hurting my brain.
I realized it was not appropriate to verbalize my confusion in this manner when I worked, lived and played in Singapore. As I once saw a very kind physician, who bought me lunch and told me there was nothing wrong with my brain. I insisted it hurts every time I read the newspapers in Singapore. This lady told me there was no such malady, she even took out a book and read it to me, to prove it is not possible for one to suffer the sort of pain I regularly said I experienced when I was confused and she went on to caution me that if I persisted asking for medical leave because I insisted otherwise. She would have to refer me to the IMH. She was very nice to me and she went on to tell me, if I went around telling people my brain hurts just because I read something in the newspaper that confused me, people will think I am slow and they would lose confidence in me. So this lady actually made me promise to keep this all to myself. She didn’t want to see my life cut short in Singapore. I didn’t even tell my wife. But the pain did not go away….it only got better when I decided to treat newspapers in Singapore like deadly plutonium and to regard politicians as comedians that should never be taken too seriously.
But let me just explain for providence sake (since we are on this subject) what this kampung parlance really means…my brain hurts…and what might it entail. For example, when I come across ideas, things or people who I cannot understand. It’s not unusual for me to just press a big red emergency button somewhere in my head. You know, it’s like one of those oversized buttons you usually see in heavy machinery that says, STOP.
When I press this button…everything just comes to a stop. I don’t even think…everything just powers down and I don’t go any further beyond that point…and that’s when the pain in my head just stops and I feel much better.
I can remember very clearly on one occasion many years ago when I was in Moss Burger and an investment consultant was trying to sell me a plan. It was during the height of the dot.com boom when it was not unusual for online firms to command such a helium high premium that many of them were sold way above their book or shall I say real value. As this person was explaining to me why I should plonk my money into this scheme. I had great difficulties trying to wrap my head around the basic idea that a dot.com firm selling dog food online could have a book value that even exceeded a firm that manufactures tractors. I went through the math, it made sense. All the dots connected. But since I couldn’t figure out that part, my head just hurt like hell. I told this person that I don’t think it would be wise for me to go into something that I don’t fully understand as I don’t want my head to explode like a hand grenade. That chap called me a weirdo. A couple of years later the dot.com bubble exploded and most of my friends who once made fun of me for not jumping on the bandwagon lost all their savings.
My ability to feel pain I reckoned…the sort that most people are oblivious too saved me.
I can go on and on recounting other such stories. There was this time when I wandered into a church and when everyone was speaking in tongues – I tried very hard to join in, as when I looked around, I was the odd one out and who likes to stand out like a sore thumb….but since I didn’t feel anything except maybe my stomach growling (as my metabolic rate is unusually high and I am hungry all the time), I just felt very out of place and soon my brain began to hurt again. I did try to join in and I did so by muttering yabadabado or something to that effect, but really there was nothing and when this man in a Korean haircut put his hand on my head and asked me to repent. Again I was confused why everyone was falling down like bowling pins while all I could do was feel my head throb with pain. They told me my faith was weak, but in truth my brain hurt too much…and I remembered thinking to myself, why would God want to hurt my brain?
I like things to remain understandable and simple. If they are too complicated or come with one of those confusing made in China instruction manuals or appear so incredulous that I cannot even make out head from tail and see how that idea can possibly continue to work sustainabily, then usually I much prefer not to go near it.
I prefer to dabble in things I can understand completely rather than partially. I once bought a second hand pump for a song – the previous owner didn’t want it, as he said, it was too old, heavy and finicky, so I bought it and took it apart like a watch and put it all back again. I am very happy with this pump as I’ve managed to understand it from the inside out. I realise many people don’t care for this pump, as in their eyes it’s an old fashioned ugly soviet era pump and they much prefer the sexier computer controlled Japanese models, but my point is, I will always love and only use this pump….as it is considerate enough not to cause me pain – and that is really how I have always defined my relationship with people, animals and objects.
So to me when I people say they love and care for me and they don’t even seem to care enough to take my phone calls or to ask me from time to time ‘are you still alive?’ And I really only hear from them when they are shouting at me for money….my brain hurts….and I don’t want to even see them. It’s the same whenever I hear politicians say one thing, yet they do another as if they think I am someone who regularly suffers from short term memory loss and believe they can get away on the cheap as to be quite honest most people are quite bovine about accountability, but for me since my brain hurts so much….I just been to ask them more questions as that is my only way to seek relief from pain – I don’t think it is possible for me to respect, love or even work with people who are so inconsiderate all the time that they seem to do very little except hurt my brain. And my nature is such when I don’t respect someone, it’s almost impossible to find common ground and work towards a common goal. So I much rather be alone and do my own thing in my little corner of the world. I am not disturbing anyone…I am not fashioning bombs in my basement….I am not trying to finance the Illuminati or the Freemasons to control the world economy…I just want to live my life in a way that doesn’t cause be to suffer pain regularly…and I really don’t believe it’s too much to ask, to be left alone.”
February 14, 2014
Today it rained after what seems to be an impossibly long and dry spell. It wasn’t a big rain. Not at all. And though, it lasted for only fifteen minutes – I like to believe that’s really all it takes to lift the curse….I am happy and I want to do very little except hold on to this idea…things will get better from now onwards.
But as soon as i do this. I am aware that it may be a false dawn and I find myself wondering why…I guess it might have something to do with just living in this age – it’s all too easy these days to be cynical about life – to be so jaded about life that we can no longer bask in the small things that come or go our way…small things that should rightly fill us with joy, hope and make us feel good about being alive. Perhaps, the human condition modern living has imposed upon us has overwhelmed us to such an extent that it has even conditioned (without us realising it) us to only feel a sense of edification, achievement and satisfaction over the big things, while the precious little gems of life that are all around us are treated like grist to the mill.
In our quest to experience the more seductive and exciting “highs,” we may have lost sight of the fact that most of life, indeed 99.9% of it is made up of small things…small gestures…small moments…small acts of kindness. All of these small things add up to make up the grand mosaic of the very big thing called life.
“People who can appreciate the small joys of life will always be highly blessed and favored. I am not taking about the Kong Hee blessed and favor where you will always end up 10% poorer every month – but the real McCoy of what it means to feel hthese and intensely edified. As when we think about life it is made up of so many small things that all add up to creatr this thing called memories – and for me whenever I am sad or when I don’t understand why so many people want to see me either dead or bankrupted – all I have to do is replay these happy little memories in my head like some projector and there I am watching and reliving the moments all over again – some people say that’s living in the past, but I don’t see it that way at all. And if one day we can met and have an opportunity to spend one day together and I can explain all this to you – you probably wouldn’t think that way either. Because so much of who I am isn’t based so much on the big things. Rather its an accumulation of the very small and even mundane things that once came my way and managed to encrust themselves in this greater construct called character. So acknowledging how the small and forgettable things once played a very big role in creating the person I am today is my very private way of finding the God in the small…and just being thankful that those things came my way.
I think when we take the trouble to remember the small things that others have done for us. We are less likely to be rude or cruel to them – that I can imagine is probably the reason why so many people continue to try to trip me up, isolate me and put me in one corner…they have all forgotten the small things.”
February 14, 2014
Carl Jung was very fond of recounting the story of the mythical rain maker, whenever he came across people who seemed to him to be struggling awfully hard just to get through life.
In this story a village has been drought stricken for many years. The people have tried everything, brought in many experts but the drought remains. Finally they call upon a renowned Rainmaker from afar. The Rainmaker arrives, pitches his tent and disappears inside it for four days. On the fifth day the rain begins to fall. When the villagers ask him how he’d achieved such a miracle – he answers that he didn’t do anything. When he arrived he noticed that the village was not in harmony with heaven. He spent four days inside his tent putting himself in harmony with the Divine. Then the rain came.
When I first came across this story many years ago. I remembered saying to myself, this has to be one of those ganja laced new age shit, that comes with a lot of sounds and feels good useless advise – but the funny thing about this story about the rain maker is – I always seem to go back to it. I don’t really know whether it may have something to do will the recent dry spell we have been experiencing. Or perhaps since I spend so much time outdoors and the weather plays such an important role in my success (or failure as the weather seems to be conspiring against me) – it’s only natural for me to mull over the deeper message of this story.
Through the years, I have managed to distill Jung’s cryptic message in three main parts.
(1) Strive to put your mind at ease so that you are able to scale the problem before you accurately.
(2) Try to settle your thoughts concerning your problems on a comfortable resting point respond – rather than react.
(3) Providing (1) and (2) is done, everything should fall into place quite nicely.
That at least is my interpretation of Carl’s Jung story. And through the years it has really gone thru many changes – partly because the story of the rainmaker can be read from so many angles and the message it holds out can apply in so many ways…and that’s only to be expected…as Jung was a very profound thinker. He wasn’t a charlatan like so many of the new age guru’s we see and bent pastors who go around cashing in on the message they feel the world needs to hear. Rather he was an intense deep man, who had a very deep understanding of how man’s well being was so tied to his environment and how for these two disparate notions to co-exist in harmony, they had to be tuned, very much in the way, one balances a tire to get a smooth and safe ride.
Through the years I have found the story of the rain maker very instructive and directional in my life – as things don’t always go my way and there are moments when I feel so beaten up and defeated that it just eats me up from within. But when I calm myself down and try my best to see the problem before me with a mind that is as rested as a lotus on a mirror lake…and I just do that and nothing else….the problem just seems to sort itself out.
This may not be a page turner, but my feel is, if one can take and run with this idea, it could very well be a life changer.
February 13, 2014
I have given this matter considerable thought – as it is a question that is frequently asked of me.
And in the process of trying to find answer to this vexing question – it occurred to me one day, that human beings don’t stick to a pattern of behavior without good reason. Hence when we ask ourselves – why do people commit themselves to another?- what we are essentially questioning is the FORM along with the FUNCTION of that form along with perhaps discussing the pros and cons of abiding to that FORM. So in essence the question is not so different from an examination of other FORMS such as why do cars have four and not five or ten wheels? Why do candlesticks come in pairs? And why do hunting knives all have serrated edges?
My point is FORM follows FUNCTION. And that is really the only reason why that FORM can continue to perpetuate itself through time. I mean, if automobiles have four wheels, it is simply because that configuration produces the optimum rolling resistance to move a object safely under a given set of conditions. To put it in lay terms, it’s the most reliable, efficient and effective way for humans to move dynamically – by the same token, when we ask ourselves why men and women have always committed themselves to each other since the beginning of time – then the correct answer has to be, this is the most efficient, reliable and probably the ONLY way for any human being to get the most out of living.
I need to emphasize this is an original hypotheses that came right out from my mind one day – you will never find the answer anywhere else but here even should you decide to google it – as I wanted to know why is it men and women have traditionally paired up?
I think when a man or woman tries to grow spiritually, mentally and intellectually outside a relationship. His or her growth will never be as efficient or for that matter even reliable. It is not so different from putting a pine tree into a very small flower pot. Since the roots will be corseted – how can the plant ever grow to it’s full natural potential? It cannot.
When a person is stunted spiritually, mentally and intellectually – it is not so different from a tree with very few leafs. They will always struggle to get sufficient sunlight and it no so different from being born with a very small mouth so they will derive only a fraction of what life has to offer – and since it is inefficient, they will have to put in a lot of energy just to get a return. Like how some animals have to eat 8 hours just to keep their body weight.
For this people who try to live life by themselves outside a relationship. life can never be a fulfilling experience. I do not doubt, they may try very much like a cripple to make up for their deficit with a prosthetic by focussing on their career or earning more money, but in my opinion, since these people are fundamentally incomplete and the opposite of whole. They will always come up short. Or worse still find themselves having to put in a lot just to get a meagre return – so the answer as to why people commit themselves to another is simply this: they all hope to get more out of life by being in, rather than out of a relationship.
That is really how I see it.
“When one person touches the life of another, it is a very powerful thing. I do not believe, people really understand how powerful it can be – when a person steps into the life of another. As when we ask ourselves what is the raw material that makes up character and even what we may decide to hold in our heads during the course of a day – it really just boils down to shared experiences and very little else.
That is why when you mix around with people who just talk about mobile phones, football, 4D and all they seem to do all day is to dream about keeping a mistress in Bataam. Then the chances are, eventually you too will come to see the world in such vapid and base terms.
The same holds true for women who mix only with divorcees – in their world, all men are evil and so they can only breed hatred, resentment and bad thoughts. Eventually even if a well adjusted woman spends enough time with these women, she can only take on to their ways and as time goes by, she will only see the world through their crooked eyes.
The same applies for proud and arrogant men who think they are very clever and everyone else is stupid – these men will always live life holding very little respect for the views of others, when they mix together as they do, they may even fashion castles in the sky and come to believe in their own myths – only they have the skill and right to outwit or cheat another man.
But what is the lesson here? It is simply this. All these people are really just getting very little out of life. You could even say, since these people are getting only a fraction out of the whole experience of life, they are really not living as much as just existing, no so different from a cactus on a window sill or a man who is sitting in the dark and twiddling his fingers.
Perhaps the situation can at best be summed in the following terms….I guess, if I had more time, I could reduce the relationship into mathematical terms….but what is important here for the purposes of illustrating a point is that it is a pointless life, that is to say, if it were a mathematic expression, after 3 or 4 sheets of calculations the sum of all our rumminations will probably amount to nought. But let share with all of you the pithy summary or shall I say pathos….
Yesterday a very elderly businessman paid me a visit. He asked me – is there no way for us to make peace and go back to the way before this all started….I told this man, if I said that were possible….would you believe me? He shook his head in sadness and reply, ‘No, it could be a strategy to lull us into a false sense of security. Even should you decide not to move against us today, next month or even ten years from now…but what about our children in twenty or thirty years time….no….we must move against you first….we need to neutralize the threat.’ I looked up at the birds and said to this man, ‘I understand….I will be ready.’ Then this man turned to me and asked me, what then is there after this? What is there to be gained from all this?
I moved very close to this old man on the bench and I shared with him a very bleak picture in my mind’s eye of what the future would be like from now onwards – I told him, imagine two men who do not trust each other facing off. They both have a loaded revolver pointed at the other. Both have no intentions of using it, but since the prospects of it being used remains a possibility…no matter how improbable…both will have very little choice but to interpret the situation as a clear and present threat.
They have been at it since six in the morning and it is now well past midnight…they are both very tired and sleepy…but since neither one trust the other – both try their best to stay awake and no is prepared to let their guard down and go to sleep.
When the old man heard this. He buried his face into his shivering hanwit and muttered to himself, ‘we are in hell.’ He sobbed like a baby….while I sat quietly beside him as the evening creep in.. only the sound of the ticking clock resonated in the large house on the top of the hill punctuated from time to time by the sobs of a very sad man and the distant rent of a barking dog…nothing else existed.”
February 12, 2014
Today a fish wife asked me, why I did not give her any money when her husband died. I told her, because in my opinion, she is the world’s most useless wife. As even when her husband passed on, she did not conduct herself honorably as a wife and continued to speak bad about him. She told me her husband used to hit her. I told her, it is fortunate she was married to him. As if it was me….I will have no problem throwing her off the balcony. Infact, I told her, I will gladly give her a punch in the face on the behalf of her dearly unfortunate husband. She told me she would call the police. I told her not before I give you a black eye.
I don’t mind going to jail for some of my beliefs, really I don’t. Not at all…..Some people just deserve to be treated like shit!
February 12, 2014
When one thinks deeply about life, there is no right or wrong. No such thing as even a good or bad person. Only correct and wrong actions and deeds.
All this happened to me last month….
In the pasar (wet market) I met a fish wife who asked me for pek kim (token for the dead) whose husband had recently passed away. I asked her why is it, she not wearing black as a sign of mourning. She boasted to me, he was such a good for nothing husband, both she and her brother had kicked him out of the house and none of her children had even bothered to return home to pay respects in his funeral. I told her, she should not insult me by asking me for money then as I considered her the world’s most useless wife!
During a field inspection I asked a harvester whether this was the shoddy way his father and forefathers before him cut fruit from the palm – he told me, the crescent blade couldn’t reach the height – I told him listen to my question very carefully and I repeated it again – he told me this time, he felt it was not necessary to cut the fronts as he would do it in the next cutting. On the third occasion, I summoned the mandur and this time I asked him the question again and this time, he told me, he would do it latter. At the end of the day, this worker was summoned to the house on the hill given his wages owed and told that his services were no longer required.
One evening when I was dinning alone as usual. A group of schoolteachers descended on my table and joined me. Mid way thru, one of them turned to me and asked me a playful tone whether I was really married, as no one had ever seen my imaginary wife before. I lifted a chicken backside with my chopsticks put it in her bowl and told her politely, this is the best part as it is like your mouth…the rest laughed and after that no one brought up the subject of my absent wife again….the rest of the meal proceeded in a most civilised way.
During a harvest. A proprietor of a mill came to my land and told me that he had to raise the price of his transportation charges. He told me his operating cost had been upset by the rising cost of fuel and he wanted to convey this to me man to man – I told him that I was more than happy to pay the extra charges.
A gangster head came to my table during breakfast in the kopitiam. He told me he had been requested by certain quarters in the village to broker a peace. As he had heard, a group of local businessman had recently tried to cheat me and since their plans have been exposed – they are now fearful of revenge. He went on to ask me whether I could give him face by allaying their fears. I told him, this might be possible if he could find me durian to consecrate the peace ritual. He thought for a while, then like a light bulb sparking suddenly to life, he blurted out….but it is impossible it seems…the durian season has passed. That was when I looked at him hard and long and uttered the words…it is impossible…the season has passed. After that we resumed eating quietly. Neither he or I said a word. We both knew what had to come thereafter and we both understood why it could only be this way and no other way…at the end of the meal. We were joined by his wife and seven year old boy. I put the child on my lap. I told this boy….one day you will grow up to be a respectable man in the community like your father…and when his wife asked. How can you be so certain farmer…I turned to the gangster head and said, ‘because this boy has a father who knows the wisdom of not taking on the impossible….so he will use the arrows destiny and fate has bestowed upon him wisely….he will not squander his opportunities in life…they will all find their mark. Somewhere in all this mirth, the child kicked the teapot, it broke….and I turned to the downcast gangster and whispered to him, ‘remember only a fool will take on the impossible by trying to fix it back.’ The child laughed.
A church elder asked me whether I would be interested in buying a pump he owns. I said yes and we proceeded together to his house where I made him an offer. He told me, he would need to use the pump for a month, but he would sell it to me at the agreed price. I subsequently found out from others, this same man had put up an advertisement to sell the same pump on the church bulletin board. At the end of the month, the church elder said to me, you see I have kept my word to you…the pump is not ready for your taking. I told this man, I could only offer him half of what we agreed upon. He looked surprised and said, I thought you were a gentlemen…a man of your word. I looked him straight in the eye and I told him…I am that sir, but it is regrettable that you are not.
While running some errands in town. I came across a naive girl from my village who was drinking with two men who I recognised to be bad hats who specialise in date raping girls. I went to the table and told these two men, I would consider it a personal favour if they could take her back before nine tonight as she needs to help her mother sell veggies in the pasar very early the next day. One of them asked me why should they do that? I told him because I would consider it a personal favour and if he didn’t I know exactly where his mother and sista works and I might consider inviting them for a candlelight dinner and he can watch what I will do to them after. Both of them suggested in which case, it was best if I took her back myself. When the drunk girl refused to get into my car and threatened to make a scene. I gave her a good kick in the ass. When I took her back home, the girl complained to her parents that I had kicked her. Her father asked me whether I like to slap his daughter for her insolence, thereafter they both thanked me profusely.
February 12, 2014
I do not care whether a person is moral or immoral. I care even less about whether they have a good or bad heart. I do however bother constantly about the question: do they know how to conduct themselves in a correct way with me.
As to bring out the very best in me, one should always strive to be correct.
‘Not very long ago a neighbouring plantation owner asked me whether I could do him the kind favour of training his Alsatian. I asked him what had happened. He told me, his wife’s Alsatian had bitten her recently and he was very concerned. As he could not understand how this could have happened since to the best of his knowledge his wife had always treated this Alsatian as part of the family. This man went to tell me his dog was such a close member of the family, he even has a seat on the dinner table and sleeps in an air conditioned room.
I turned to him frowned and after a considerable pause asked him again whether he was serious about seeking my advice. He said yes – I told them in a grave tone, they had been incorrect in their handling of this animal. The wife injected, his name is Chi Chi please don’t refer to him as an animal….. I stressed the word animal again, this time by raising my voice and pronouncing it in slow and rounded terms and went on to tell this confused couple a fatal flaw in their attitude was precisely the root cause for this problem….they had committed a grevious error that is most common to lay pet owners – to treat their dog as part of the family. I went to tell this man, if it were a toy poodle, this could be probably managed. But since it was a 60 kg fully matured Alsatian. I could really do nothing by way of personal intervention and my recommendation therefore is for him to put a bullet into the dog’s head when it’s eating.
Upon hearing this. His wife began to reach for her crucifix necklace and promptly fainted (fainting spells for some reason seem to be common in plantation society). The man upon seeing this proceeded to berate me. He went on to call me all sorts of things – I am a monster….an immoral man….a psychopath etc etc etc. He even went so far as to say, he would tell others of my lack in my character and I would find many doors closed. I reminded him – it was he who asked for my advice and though my recommendation may indeed come across as inhumane. I assured him, this was the best possible advice he could get from someone who knows about dogs.
That was three months ago. Just the other day, this same man came up to me and apologised in hushed tones. He told me his wife had been bitten by their Alsatian again. This time very seriously and his only wish now was that he had taken my advice earlier.
I consoled him and asked him to convey my best wishes of speedy recovery to his dearly unfortunate – I went on to tell this man – when dealing with dangerous things, it is best for one to be always correct.’
February 12, 2014
I went to Kedah today…it was late…I wanted to negotiate for better terms for my fertiliser purchase….then she glided in…in her Rolls Royce…she took a seat…lit a cigarette and told them…give him what, he wants…I looked down…what else could I do.
It’s as if she’s in some museum. Not any museum. But one that has managed to successfully summarized the sum of all my life works along with so many failures and she just looks on. Late this evening I drove down to Kedah to negotiate a fertiliser deal – it was getting nowhere. The negotiation that is. They just refused to budge….then she glided in…in her Rolls Royce…she sat…lit a cigarette and told them…give him what he wants….I looked down….I’ve never felt so small before in my whole entire life. ———————————————————— I guess it must have showed in my face as she placed her hand on mind reassuringly and smiled affectionately.
It’s as if she’s in some museum. Not any museum. But one that has managed to successfully summarized the sum of all my life works along with so many failures and she just looks on.
Late this evening I drove down to Kedah to negotiate a fertiliser deal – it was getting nowhere. The negotiation that is. They just refused to budge….then she glided in…in her Rolls Royce…she sat…lit a cigarette and told them…give him what he wants….I looked down….I’ve never felt so small before in my whole entire life.
I guess it must have showed in my face as she placed her hand on mind reassuringly and smiled affectionately.
February 11, 2014
When farmers look pleadingly skywards at steely skies and wonder to themselves when the life giving rains will come. They must never look down….even should their rice stalks wilt and bow…they must never look down.
As when the spectre of famine hovers menacing like a hungry wolf across the kampung – the keeper of the wheel of life is magically transformed into the much loved Bollywood actor MGR – the women folk in the estates whisper with the helm of their sari’s covering their faces…look the farmer even sports a thin moustache like the famed actor – while the men watch on wide eyed, mesmerized as the man speaks of a bountiful harvest. The man points to a row of hedges in the far distance…he tells them all, raise up your heads… do you see the monkeys have come down from the mountains…they all follow his gaze and just before someone murmurs….we see nothing – the man laughs heartily, hahahahahahahahahahahaha they all can’t help but laugh with him……though they much prefer to wail wondering to themselves when the life giving rains will come – somewhere in this sliver of time, the sound of laughter manages to do the impossible and pierces the descending curtain of doom and gloom…just enough to fill their tired hearts that there is still the hope of a bountiful harvest.
The man speaks to them in their native tongue Tamil – he is still laughing like MGR. He recounts to them, the story of Arjuna and how when the flag of Hanuman, the monkey God was unfurled evil was defeated…the serpents head was crushed….some beats the drum…for a while, the crowd is mesmerized…the veil of sorrows have been lifted by the hope…..and as the man speaks of how when evil snatched the beautiful princess Pravanti to the fortress island of Lanka…and suddenly the man points to an eagle….the crowd let’s out a gasp as they look on wide eyed….at the man who tells them a story as old as the hills….he recounted how when it seemed as if evil would win….Garuda, the giant mythical bird, the jumbo jet of Indian mythology has suddenly appeared and whisked Hanuman to the fortress island and swooped down and snatched the beautiful princess from the jaws of death….the drums beat on this time….the crowd cheers…the men begin to laugh….they must all prepare for a bountiful harvest.
Hahahahahahahahahahahaha….MGR laughs…but somewhere deep in this man….he knows this is not to be….it will be a very dry spell….very dry indeed and that all that stands against the impending doom and gloom is hope….hope….hahahahahahaha.
February 9, 2014
I don’t think it will rain in February.
Ten years ago somewhere in Jerusalaem, Israel.
Kamel Bin Hussein the 57 year old Tunisian oud trader had always prided himself with the uncanny ability to read people like the many scraggy lines that crisscrossed his palm. But that morning as he sat facing the oriental in a cafe in the Arab quarter of Jerusalem – he had come face to face with an unknown quantity for the very first time in his life.
This much Kamel was sure of – the man wasn’t your run of the mill faith tourist. That was just a cover. Sure, he could have very easily be taken for one of those who loved Jesus – like one those sappy folk who usually made the obligatory pilgrimage to the Holy land to take in the technicolor sights and sounds…but this one was very different. Kamel was certain, the man before him had no qualms about cutting him up from neck to belly in the name of whatever, especially if he was double crossed. He was purposeful, it showed in his square jaw line and the way he carried himself. Or maybe it was the deliberate manner the man held the slim glass of mint tea with only his thumb and little finger with the rest sticking out – his uncle had once told him, this was the way Sudanese rifle horsemen drank their pipping hot tea on the saddle, with the three fingers holding the stirrups and only the thumb and the little finger balancing the glass.
The oriental spoke an uncommon sort of Arabic – and old vernacular, one where he stretched his vowels, placed his verbs in the beginning of each sentence. Exaggerated his ‘neh’ and ‘ack’ and was silent on the abbreviated ‘meh’ ’yin’ and ‘Kah.’ It reminded Kamel of the strange way his grandfather spoke only to his granny…when they were alone – she was a camel trader’s daughter from Khartoum. As Kamel looked at the man wondering whether he should scam him. He wondered to himself…was he there…..maybe he was a mercenary…..a wanted man on the run…Somewhere between these smouldering thoughts, Kamel must have realised the man wasn’t worth the risk of scamming…besides he had crisp one hundred dollar American bills and somewhere between his second hot tea, he decided to put in a honest days wage. “OK, but it will cost you.” The stranger did not bargain and began counting off the notes with a rasping sound. “Why do you want to go there? There is nothing there except miles and miles of pipelines.” The stranger smiled.
Three hours later they were standing on a rock promontory in Isawiyah, North East of Jerusalem overlooking the no man’s in Mount Scopus. The man traced the faint water pipes that crisscrossed the desert. He took pictures with a Nikon – he was good with the camera…too good.. thought Kamel….maybe he used to work as a spy for the French in Africa….or maybe he killed them for money…it’s hard to tell with this one.
“We need to get closer.” The man boomed startling Kamel out from his reverie like a flock of pigeons exploding “No. Any closer and they will start shooting. This is a restricted area. We shouldn’t even be here.” The stranger smiled and drew on his cigarette as he begun to cut the wire fence with Leatherman pliers. The Arab had a feeling this was no ordinary tourist.
The following day, the watchman of the Hebrew University opened the front doors of the Department of Agriculture as he did everyday for the last twenty years – there was nothing unusual that day except coming across a tourist who had lost his way and wandered into the grounds asking for directions back to the Hyatt – it happened…not very often…but it happens. A hidden gap in the row of hedges just off the Commonwealth Cemetary was a short cut used by many who knew the University grounds wells – from time to time, someone would accidentally be funnelled in…not very often…but it happens…nothing unusual at all….what was very odd however was the peculiar way the key turned on the barrel lock of the door that led to the faculty that day. It felt loose. But since it lasted only a split second, the curator thought it might have something to do with the frosty weather – it was after all winter in Jerusalem.
Sometime around mid-day, a high security Chubb filling cabinet housing experimental vane pump designs for jet fighter aircrafts in an annex opposite the Department of Agricultural studies was found unlocked. Since nothing had been removed and all the blue prints were still in their slotted security coded trays in chronological order – the head of department simply closed the filling cabinet and locked it again.
It had happened before. Nothing unusual…. Researchers were after all a careless and forgetful lot. They have no sense of security. Nothing to worry about. Everything seems to be the way it always has been and will probably be….nothing unusual at all.
One year after Israel, in Geneva on a moonless night…
The 88 year old Swiss machinist. meister craftsman as he liked to be called. Had a habit of visiting his dearly departed wife every alternate Sunday in La Coulouvreniere. Parked along a street parallel to the cemetery a dark BMW motorcycle pulled up along Rue de stand. The man was in leathers. He was always in leathers thought the Swiss machinist. “Is it ready?” The stranger asked while removing his riding gloves. “Yes.”
“Good, I will get my bankers to transfer the money as soon as I test it out myself.”
The Swiss machinist ran a free lance machine shop at the edge of the kidney shaped lake in Bois de la Batie. He had moved into this high tech experimental hub that was recently set up by the Swiss ministry of trade and Industry – that evening, the oriental began to assemble the prototype vane pumps on the shop bench. The Swiss machinist sat across the granite precision table – he liked to watch the oriental at work. There was a precision to this man that he recognised and even admired secretly – his single mindedness. His attention to detail. The studied manner in which he placed all his tools in single file on the table in sequence before starting work. The way he mulled over the blueprints which were scrawled in Hebrew and ticked off each component after it had been assembled. Attention to detail was a trait that the Swiss machinist often found lacking these days in youths. And for the whole entire hour as he watched the man assemble the prototype vane pump he seemed to take comfort in the idea, there was still men such as the oriental who truly appreciate the quality and commitment of his work. When the last piece clicked into place, the meister gasped…ah…and even offered the oriental a glass of home made Chartreuse. Something that he had never done before. That evening after the Oriental had started the pumps and put them through their paces and downed the aniseed liquor in a single gulp. The machinist knew his client was satisfied. Before the oriental sped off on his motorcycle. He handed him a brown envelop with the words, “make sure nothing exist. I was not here. This conversation never took place.” The Swiss machinist nodded his silent approval. He was after all accustomed to such clandestine arrangements. That evening after closing his shop the machinist walked back towards his two room apartment along Ave de Sainte Clotilde. As he crossed the stone bridge. He looked out at the black mysterious waters of Rhone – and slipped a folder with a paper weight into the ebony dark moonless waters – it swirled momentarily and slipped into the oblivion of darkness.