November 2, 2014
Slowly all my memories of city living has given way to a sort of surreal dream like quality. It’s as though I am watching a movie from a bygone age. A time that I only know thru history books…..Its as though, I was never ever that man…..who ever lived that life.
I must accept the past has perished…..the idea of home is so very faraway to me….it might as well just be a dream…..this….NOW….. is the only reality there is or will ever be…there is nothing else over there in that other place called home…it’s just an empty room…that leaves only one question.
Who then am I?
‘One day I will go to Germany all by myself and eat pork knuckle and drink beer. I will go only alone…..I don’t want to write down why I need to do this or to even explain to anyone….there are some things in life I will never tell anyone and much prefer to take with me to the other side….this is one of them.’
October 30, 2014
Business to me is war. It is never a play play thing. Rather it will always be a very serious enterprise that will always demand the highest level of personal discipline, cerebral fitness and daring.
If you do not have this discipline – one can never do what I do.
In one chapter of the art of war – the use of spies is vital to secure good intelligence to effectively interdict threats along with setting achievable goals.
Till now I have always been able to keep two or three steps ahead of my enemies despite my pocket battleship size.
As since I have cultivated an extensive network of pineapple eyed spies in the kampung that is comparable to the entire clandestine apparatus of the CIA and Mossad and possibly M15 and M16.
It just means even if my business rivals outnumber me. Or they have the benefit of vast reserves at their disposal.
All these advantages can never be fashioned into a wonder weapon to drive me into bankruptcy.
As since I know well before hand what is going to happen even before it occurs….I am always prepared….there are no surprises….only what needs to be done.
‘Generally, I do not have much respect for people who like to call others mad, weird or crazy. To me, this is just a self incriminating statement and at best a round about way of saying, ‘I don’t have either the intelligence or breath of experience to understand the Tao of this or that person….I am just an ignorant and unimaginative fuck.’
No one is truly ever mad to me….one just needs to still the mind to understand their way. Not even the village dunce is mad to me….not if one takes the trouble to learn how he sees the world along with the peculiar language which he prefers to use to express himself.
They all just need understanding…with this comes respect and true friendship.
The truly mad people in my opinion are those who actually believe they, and only they, see the world clearer than everyone else…..to such a point where they even automatically rubbish all other opinions, considerations or point of views outside their own make belief world of cushy insiderism.
To me such an attitude has to be a sort of madness on the continental scale of Everest or the Great Barrier Reef – as these mad people actually believe they are so clever that they don’t even mind talking loudly before the man who they all consider mad. As since they all think he is an idiot, it is a matter of profound indifference whether he overhears their evils designs…..not realizing they have sabotaged themselves from the word go!
Now if that is not emperical evidence of madness! Then I don’t know what is.
Now I know ruthless professionals will be planing to raid my lands soon. I even know how many lorries…how many lowlives….along with when and how….I even know who sent them.
They are transparent. Thanks to my gentle and kind hearted friends who speak without speaking….no….they are not mad. They are simply wonderful souls who do not want to see me die. That is very sane. How can it be mad?
I must now return to my batman cave and prepare for war on the full moon with mad people.
Another day at work lah!
October 28, 2014
During the afternoon while walking the dog. The girl who wandered my lands the other day appeared before me again asking this time – why are you not afraid to live in that big house on the hill all by yourself? Tell me, don’t you feel lonely and scared? What if something happens? There is no one to even hear you scream? Is it true what the villagers gossip about you – that you cannot grow old and that you can transform yourself into an eagle and a big dog as you are not a man….as you are from that other world. She went on to ask pleadingly – please tell me….I need to know.
Before the girl could blurt out more nonsense. I put my finger to my lips and motioned her to come and sit beside me. I could tell she was not accustomed to remaining still and quiet. As she shifted often and bore the enquiring look of a girl who had so many questions. So I pointed to the sky…the birds were flying high above us. And just when she wanted to say something…I said shsss and this time I pointed to the gentle swaying palms.
After a very long period of remaining still and silent. The girl began to sob and then she turned to me and said,
‘I am so happy you are not alone….the trees and the birds. They are so talkative.’
‘There is a world of difference between loneliness and solitude. Loneliness is a state of anxiety and suffering. While solitude is the art of enjoying what loneliness can offer to nourish the human spirit.
People who fear loneliness are usually very afraid of themselves, of their own reality; their feelings most of all.
They will do anything and everything just to stay connected to stave off that awful feeling of loneliness which they loath. I even once knew a man who bought a robot dog to keep him company as he suffered from a morbid fear of loneliness.
Others prefer take comfort in the crutch belief – the greatest thing in this world is to love and be loved in return – that is well and fine! If only they weren’t screaming so loud, in a round about sort of way – I don’t ever want to be alone in this scary world!
This is natural, this fear of being alone. We’ve all felt it at one time or another.
And this fear is the cause of our misery: as many of us will be prepared to do anything and everything to avoid this self constructed morbid fear of being alone, we socialize endlessly – thru our social networks and email to stay connected to keep loneliness faraway from us. At times even imperiling ourselves by networking with psychopaths and manipulators.
To avoid being alone, some desperate souls are even prepared to pair up with toxic people who can only make them feel like shit and suicidal most of the time.
But if these confused people just stilled their minds for one moment and switched off all their electronic devices and just allowed that scary feeling of loneliness to sink deep into their soul – to sink deeper and deeper, till the emerge out from the other side into light – they will soon realize, loneliness is not a thing to be feared. Rather it is something that one should strive to understand and even harness like the power of the wind or fire.
As it is only thru the thoughtful appreciation of loneliness can a man discover the greatest thing in this world – how to belong to himself and no one else – this is the defining difference between the man of consequence and the hollow man – this is what makes the thinker all powerful and separates him from the empty vessel – only then can one receive and give love perfectly. Only then can one develop wisdom….to see the scary lonely desolate world as a very beautiful place that he will always strive to be in. A rare place….a calm place of deep reflection…..called solitude.’
October 26, 2014
I was asked recently whether I would be free to attend a 50 year do in a nearby plantation.
I asked what for? Tell me please…what is there really to celebrate?
Maybe that was what I meant to ask. Well at least….I sort of asked it somewhere in my head.
In truth when I was asked…..I just smiled sheepishly at the rah rah brigade and told them politely, thanks for inviting me….I will be there. When the time comes….I will probably make some excuse to skip the party.
Sometimes it doesn’t pay to be obnoxious.
‘In general, I think people can get annoying because they are trying really hard to convince you, others and themselves that they are a certain type of person that they simply aren’t.
They just try too darn hard. Try to please their bosses for that promotion…try to upsize their tits to make their boyfriends love them more….try to come across as the guy whose got it all figured out. Life that is. Try even to force everyone to acknowledge the fact that they are that person who they know deep down they’re not – and when one tries that hard, it can only disappoint.
The solution, I reckon is to focus on who you really are and striving to come to terms with the idea – you don’t need to pretend to be the man or woman who isn’t you. You just need to be comfortable with the notion of who you really are – to be so comfortable in your own skin.
That’s when a certain magic happens when everything becomes effortless, labor less and just smooth and easy.
Seems easy enough. But it isn’t. No it isn’t….ants can’t do this. Neither can hamsters either. That’s why they’re always panting…running from one task to another diffusing all their energy recklessly. I reckon some humans can’t do it either….as they haven’t really given the whole idea of life that much reflection. Or even have the wisdom to press the pause button on life to think deeper about what sort of person they want to become or even how one should strive to be that person.
How can they? It’s not as if they are to blame. Not when you consider most of us are already marinating in a kooky world where everyone from politicians, parents, pastors and people who are trying to sell you stuff is busy trying to plant a flag in your brain all the time…24/7 – trying to convince you this or that is what you really need to make life better! To make you more fulfilled. Secure and happy.
Or that you should change to be this or that other person who you don’t even know whether you really want to be…or that you should buy into this and say ‘no’ to that, so that you can gain the respect and approval of people who you hardly know…or ever want to associate with.
We truly live in a crazy world that tries too darn hard to make a man or woman someone he or she isn’t! Isn’t meant to be. That at least is how I see it. The problem with modern life that is.
There was this time when I was just walking aimlessly in Orchard. It was during one of those in between moments – when one just has time to kill. There I was in a sea of humanity and somewhere between two lamppost. I found myself stopping and staring at a poster of a full length ad for men’s underwear. I think it was Calvin Klein. I can’t be sure. It was a long time ago. There I was looking at this image of a semi naked man clad in just briefs….wondering to myself…whether it’s really true….the power of underwear can really transform a man…give him chiseled features…a six pack….great biceps.
That was when it hit me like a ton of bricks. A rare moment of epiphany. As if I had a managed to step right out of the frenetic pace of life. A life where one just goes right on like a zombie Duracell powered bunny. Going to work everyday…buying loads of stuff to be someone else…to be accepted…to belong only to do all over again day after day. Never once questioning that idea.
Yes. The very idea of a man stepping momentarily out of the cacophony of city living, stilling everything around me in the way one presses the pause button. Only it’s the world that stops, while you’re still all there like some curious man whose wandering in a museum all by himself.
In that one moment, I knew exactly how I wanted to live the remainder of my life. I did not know it just like a fuzzy abstraction. It was so very clear to me. The notion that I had to reclaim the ‘I’ somewhere from the vast hinterland of ‘we’ and ‘them.’ To live my life according to my own terms and not by the lofty standards of some funny man that I saw on TV. Not even by the measures of those who I craved love, approval and a sense of belonging.
I know it sounds a bit selfish. The idea of a man living for no one else except himself. To be beholden to no one….to be moored to nothing….to be shackled down to no known concept.
But that was really how I saw it then when I stood there that evening.
A solitary man transfixed by this ad that was trying to sell men’s briefs. Wondering….how utterly impossibly ridiculous life had become.
After that day I never looked back. And I am glad today I made that decision then and there to be the man I was always meant to be – a farmer.
Life will always be a funny thing, I reckon. You don’t need to cut all the cool moves or make the right decisions all the time for things to fall into their rightful place.
That’s not true..not at all. You just need to get the basics right…the fundamentals by working real hard to keep all of yourself intact in a world that keeps wanting to take a precious slice of you all the time. That’s really the beginning and the end. That at least is how I have always seen it.’
October 23, 2014
Today a group of village elders visited me. They asked me whether I would like to donate a table for the coming school dinner. This is a very important calendar event in the village.
This was when I directed their attention to a palm tree which does not seem to bear any fruits. I told them all, this palm receives the same care and nourishment like all my trees…..but it does not seem to reciprocate my best efforts.
I then turned to one of the elders and asked him, ‘what would you do if you were me?’
The old man shifted uneasily and finally said, ‘I would cut it down.’
When I heard this. I smiled. Bid them all a very good morning and walked away without answering their question.
‘If you plant love, you will reap affection.
If you plant honesty, you will reap trust.
If you plant goodness, you will reap goodwill.
If you plant humility, you will reap influence.
If you plant perseverance, you will reap contentment.
If you plant variety, you will reap perspective.
If you plant hard work, you will reap success.
If you plant forgiveness, you will reap reconciliation.
So, be careful what you plant….
If you plant schism, you will reap discord.
If you plant dishonesty, you will reap mistrust.
If you plant hate, you will reap revenge.
If you plant selfishness, you will reap loneliness.
If you plant nothing, you will go hungry.
So, be careful what you plant……’
October 22, 2014
Yesterday a young girl from the village wandered into my lands. When I appeared suddenly before her. She looked slightly embarrassed and flushed. I asked her in the authoritative tone of a landowner why she had come all the way here….all by herself….did she not know how dangerous it is?
The girl told me, she had overheard some of the villagers talking in the kopitiam about, how the man who lives on the hill has recently turned his back on the world and has become a hermit.
Since she has never seen a hermit before. She was curious. Then the girl asked me – is it true that hermits don’t like people. I told her, that is not true at all. As when you live all by yourself in the middle of nowhere, there’s only one person to deal with all day, so you have no choice but to like yourself.
The young girl laughed, gave me a char siew pau and cycled off.
October 22, 2014
How prophetic is Ho Kwon Ping? 15 or 25 years from now means 2030 / 2040. That’s an awfully long time stay in power, if you ask me…..not that I believe it’s a pertinent question.
Besides its a question that can never produce a universal answer that satisfies all quarters. Not when it’s projected across an ocean of time to some distant futurescape.
For those who vehemently regard the PAP as closer to perdition than salvation. They will of course forward the bleak theoretical construct…the end is near and if you care to peruse thru the many anti-PAP flavored blogs, there is certainly no shortage of compelling reasons why these adherents believe, it’s the curtain call for the PAP.
Then there are those who may have once considered the PAP the next best thing since sliced bread. But thru the years. Like lovers who have lost that certain je ne ce qua. They have grown sanguine about all that is the PAP.
It’s hard for this segment to talk enthusiastically about the PAP with the same passion they used too and all they yearn for is change.
Finally you have those die hard supporters of the PAP who can always be counted to laugh off any suggestion that doom and gloom would befall the party. To them it’s a party that can go right on forever.
But whatever the beliefs…..the pertinent question can never be wether the PAP can continue to hold on to power as it remains the simple case of whether they can even reliably be expected to relinquish the reins of power to another political outfit should they be voted out….after all they’ve been in power for so long that it’s hard to imagine them being out of power – and that prolonged period of being in power is bound to push them to the zone of discomfort that may even anathema.
For me. I don’t believe for one moment the ballot box is the final arbiter, nor is it just a simple matter of the will of the electorate. That’s theory….but experience informs me reality is all together another creature entirely.
As it will always be very difficult, if not impossible for people who believe they have so much to offer to just bow out gracefully….just because the majority of people want them to do so.
That to me is just naive like Mr Ho is….maybe he thinks power and politics is like the hospitality business where all guest can be counted to always check out at two in the afternoon.
‘When love dies. It is very easy for one to succumb to hate and anger. That is why whenever couples who used to love each other so passionately fall out of love.
Usually there is so much bile and acrimony. It’s as if they want to destroy the other.
When you look at them…one wonders where did all the love these two people once shared for each other go? How did two people who used to be so close to each other reach this point when they have absolutely nothing in common?
Where did all the love disappear too?
My point is not everyone has the wisdom to come to terms with the end or demise of a thing.
Nor can they be trusted to do the right thing by bowing out gracefully and elegantly.
That to me will always be an exception rather than the rule. History is redolent with countless examples of people who simply cannot come to terms with the simple idea….it’s the end and they should just move right on.
That attitude to me is the default position. It is an attitude that I can well understand. That’s why when you tell me, people will just pack up, hand over the reins of power willingly and wish the other guy that comes in, ‘good luck’ just because the majority of people don’t want them around – it will always be somewhat surreal to me!
Because if you tell me one day the person who I love and cherish most does not love me any longer.
I will probably not be able to come to terms with that idea….I would probably fight that idea so hard and be so confused that I would ask, why? How can this be so?
And this state of denial will probably go on long enough where if I don’t get any answers to many of my questions – I would probably feel so cheated, betrayed and angry that I may even succumb to the idea of hate and revenge.
That is why I believe when one is in love. One should always set aside some quiet time and reflect deeply on what it really means to love and be loved in return. Because if we can just do this one thing – then we can always be counted to do what is right, good and honorable.
As love means you put the other person interest before your own – it’s a form of hara kiri. A selfless commitment to another. Ants cannot do this. Only man can. That is why love is valuable.
Because we will always remember the moments we once shared together along with how close we were. And even should that moment come to past. We would never succumb to hatred and anger. As since we know what love really is and not what others say it is. We can always be counted to do what is right, good and honorable.
As no matter who wronged who….who betrayed who….who cheated on who…who deserved what….who was justified….who was right or wrong.
Certain things will never change. It is what it is. Nothing can change what once transpired between two people. We still shared the most significant moments in of our life together. We could have shared it with others. But since we consciously made the decision to share it with that one person only – so in a sense, that person became our entire world. He or she was all that you ever wanted in life.
And even if the love you once shared for this person should eventually change or die.
You can never erase the moments you both shared together. You cannot deny that you were so close to this person who you once loved that you were both one of the same person.
Providing you keep this memory of what you once shared with this person and value it with all your heart – it’s almost impossible to succumb to hate or anger.
When one cultivates this attitude towards the things and people who once came into our life and left – it’s almost impossible for us to wish them bad tidings. This is a very Chinese way of seeing the world in philosophical terms. As we Chinese know the word sacrifice better than all other races on this planet.
Our hearts will always be soft and we will always want them to be happy even if it means we will never be part of their lives again with the hope we will met in our next life again.
Above all knowing this teaches us the wisdom of how to bow out gracefully.’
October 19, 2014
October 18, 2014
Early this morning. I chanced on a group of Christian ladies, the village Bo Lang Ai’s – the equivalent of Sumiko Tan’s sisters of perpetual hesitation troupe (SPH).
They were all standing on the side of the road beside a van with a flat. Presumably waiting for a miracle. They didn’t have to wait long. I stopped and volunteered to change their tire.
One of them exclaimed, praise The Lord…a Good Samaritan. The others chorused likewise. While changing the flat (none of them helped me some more). They all took turns to ask me whether I am a believer.
I straightened my bush jacket, stood up as erect as I could and replied in a voice as a clear as a church bell, ladies, I most certainly am and again they all broke out in a chorus of Halleluyah.
After finishing. One of them asked me whether I would like to join them for Sunday service. I said another day perhaps. As I was walking to my car. Another injected from afar and was most insistent. Again I politely declined. Then sensing my reticence one of them asked me in a confrontational tone, ‘what kind of believer are you?’
I replied the type who doesn’t believe in having anything to do with people who belong to your faith. That was when some of them started fainting, whipping out their tiger balm from the handbag, grabbing their stainless steel oversize crucifixes to point at me and breaking it out in tongues.
I bid those bats good day and stepped on the gas……..another day in paradise lah.
‘These are things SOME Christians SHOULD think deeply and profoundly about….not all. Because most Christians seem to have the right balance as to how the whole idea of faith should fit into work, life and play. Only those obnoxious few – who push their faith so vigorously they’re even downright rude, intrusive and disrespectful of others.
If heaven is going to be a place filled with such people who are so preachy and righteous – where, these erudite lot actually believe, only they and they alone see the world clearer than anyone else and if there might exist differences these are merely minor details in the greater glory of their divine schema.
If it’s going to be such a parochial, insular and provincial place where people regularly give you sidelong glances, cluck their tongue with an air of superiority and don’t even see the wisdom of asking why you see the world differently from them….and cannot even respect the idea, those differences hardly matter as what’s more important is that we continue to work on those things that unite, rather than divide us.
If heaven is going to be such place where a man or woman can just abrogate all responsibility for wrong doing by just taking cold comfort in the idea like popping Panadol, he forgives me….I put it all in his hands. And everything that goes wrong from global warming to not being able to shit in the morning has something sinister to do with the devil…..
If heaven is going to be such a bleak place………then why would any intelligent and reasonable man want to go to heaven?
I Dowan lah….Dowan….Dowan!
I much prefer to go to hell lah! I chop the hottest place some more lah!
For one I am guaranteed far more interesting conversations with folk over there. Conversations where at the end of it….I may even see the world slightly differently from the way, I have always seen it.
I reckon heaven has to be overrated lah.’
October 17, 2014
Sometime back ago a group of hunters armed with shot guns chased a herd of wild boar into my land. They began shooting and creating a racket and this scared many of my pets….Boonyi, the giant eagle….Toby, the tank hog….Sammy, the Boa constrictor…and Willy, the giant monitor lizard.
When I told the leader politely, firearms and hunting is strictly forbidden on my land….and I would appreciate it, if they left immediately. He looked at me defiantly and said – there are eight of us and only one of you…when you want to hunt on my land you are most welcome to do so. I would never stop you….so why do you stop me from hunting on your land now. You should learn to share good things…then people will not say bad things behind your back…as you are a nice guy.’
I told the leader. Since I do not have a habit of hunting on other people’s land. I told him once again to stop immediately and leave. He ignored me and they proceeded to hunt again. I allowed the matter slide only because at times it is wise to choose the time and place to fight, like he said, it was after all eight against one.
A few days following that incident. I gathered thru the village grapevine and the kampung NSA pineapple eyed intelligence services of the village barber – this fellow stays in a nearby cowboy town.
He has just married a young mail order Vietnamese bride.
So one day I decided to pay his pretty imported wife a visit to show her some local delights like monsters lap cheong when he was still at work.
When this fellow came back, he was so shocked to see me sitting with his wife on the swing playing doctor and nurse.
He stormed up to me and told me, ‘how dare you?’
My face hardened and that was when I told him,
‘If you want to hunt on my land. I would never stop you….so why do you stop me from hunting on your land now. You should learn to share good things…then people will not say bad things behind your back….as you are a nice guy.
I looked at his Vietnamese wife who smiled at me. Then I told the beet root faced man….after all there is only one of you and two of us.
Two weeks later when the same group of hunters were seen again around my district chasing a herd of wild board that slipped into my lands again. It is said, they gave chase, but for some strange inexplicable reason. They all stopped short of trespassing the western stream into my lands and turned back instead.
‘Hey don’t get me wrong. Who doesn’t like Mr nice guy. He’s after all, the world’s most agreeable chap. Someone who never rubs you the wrong way. The sort of fellow who can always be counted to say and behave in a politically and socially correct way. Hardly the sort of chap like me who can get into your bad books. So what’s there not to like about him?
That if you didn’t know is the problem with Mr Nice Guy. He’s so nice, sensitive and considerate to everyone…..except to the person who matters most…..himself lah!
Do you really want to know why – I never want to be a nice guy? Please tell me, you all don’t want to hear what I have to say. Please…because after hearing it. It will change your views about nice guys.
You see there is a part of me that still yearns for you all to see the world thru the eyes of innocence…to even take cold comfort in the ideal of goodness.
Still here? Ok….ok.
The problem as I see it with Mr Nice Guy is, he’s so invested trying to earn the respect and affection of everybody. He doesn’t even respect himself enough to understand he first needs to love himself first. Think about it – if you have nothing, then how can you give out something as valuable as love? This is the source why Mr Nice Guy always ends up at the back of the queue. He has inverted the whole logic of how to live a purpose drive life that makes it impossible to exercise any control over his destiny.
This he has done by default by relegating himself to the useless philosophy of being nice for the sake of being nice.
That explains why Mr Nice Guy is paying all the time. He doesn’t mind getting cancer of the wallet! He doesn’t even mind, if you make him wait two hours because you are so disorganize that you simply can’t be bothered to be punctual. Or getting humored all the time that you can even make and break your word to him like you change your panties! He’s a pushover….not like evil me.
And since he’s such an agreeable person. You can even treat him like shit knowing that he will always come right back for more. He delights in self flagellation…he’s a masochist.
Above all! Do you really want to know why Mr Nice guy much prefers to be Mr Nice guy than someone like me…Adolf Hitler, Idi Amin, Don Corleane cum Stalin etc etc etc.
You think I don’t know what you people have been whispering behind my back in Bunkerword 2! I know….I know all the webmasters in the virtual….I even know the names of their wife’s and kids.
But I digress…coming back to Mr Nice Guy. Do you know why he’s such a nice guy? Because deep down in the psyche of Mr Nice Guy. He fears making a commitment to himself! That’s to say he has not had a conversation with himself to reach an understanding that he will put himself first and foremost…then others will follow thereafter.
The very idea of being his own man scares the living day lights out of Mr Nice Guy. You know why, because your opinion of him is more important than what he thinks or believes about himself!
Commitment gentlemen…..can anyone here tell what discipline does the meaning of that word beyond the dictionary meaning impose on the thinking faculties of a man of letters?
It requires him to take a firm position….irrespective of whether people like him or not. He’s not out to win a popularity contest or boost his stat counter by saying things that you want to hear!
That’s why Mr Nice guy much prefers to have no opinion that he can call his own – his, is the Tao of the Lalang – the man who much prefers to tow the line…go with the flow…not rock the boat.
So Mr Nice Guy can never be a position to put his beliefs and principles on the line. Simply because he doesn’t have any of these things! It’s not a matter of choice as it remains a issue of acute lack.
In the way, a whole man puts all his chips on a number and lets the roulette wheel rip – and takes his chance to win, draw or lose.
Do you know why I feel insulted! Do you all have any reason why I decided to drop into this forum?
Understand this! Say what you like of me. That I am crude. I lack refinement despite receiving a sterling education as a gentlemen in Harrow. That I am an effrontery to the aristocracy of the land owning class…as my lifestyle is closer to that of a peasant who has to contend with never been able to get the dirt out beneath his nails.
Say even of me, if you will…..that my methods are not sound that I am a fallen angel like Colonel Walter Kurtz who deserves nothing except derision and contempt. That may methods border on the primitive and feral as they lack the ambrosia of finesse and elegance that befits my station. All these things I can accept under the general heading of ‘things I should work on to improve.’
But don’t ever say of me that I am not a nice guy….because that is never someone who I aspire to be.’
October 16, 2014
This morning during a water break in the field. A big shiny car drove by and an elegant lady lowered her window and asked, ‘where is the landowner who own these lands?’
One of my farmhands pointed to me. But since I was covered from head to toe in dirt and taken off my shirt.
This lady went on to say, ‘I have no time for jokes!’
And that was when we all laughed.
‘The biggest disappointments in our lives usually arise from imposing expectations on how others should treat and regard us. This is especially true when it comes to relationships. Doesn’t matter whether it is personal or in the public sphere. Once we set expectations on how others should treat and regard us….if they fall short of our standards. We are bound to be disappointed.
However if we temper our expectations of how others would treat and regard us. Then this will greatly reduce unnecessary frustration and suffering, in both our life and theirs, and most importantly help us to keep the goal clear on the things that truly matter.
That is the goal to focus on what truly matters and to disregard the many nonsensical distractions that may either cause us to lose focus or eat up our precious time.
To accomplish this. I don’t usually expect others these days to agree with me. Not all the time at least or to eve. see my point of view all the time. Granted. I used too.
But don’t now. Neither do I argue my case as forcefully as I used too. As I have come to the realization some people will always see things their own way for their own set of reasons. If you’re going to invest in the mind’s of others. You would probably have to learn ESP, take a course on how to think like Nostradamus….in short your brain will explode lah!
So Dowan lah!
Neither do I expect others to treat me with the same level of respect that they expect me to treat them.
Again granted. I used to expect a certain level of respect from others and if I don’t get it, it’s not unusual for me to even demand it or create the conditions where it will come to me.
My point is these days. I am simply bovine about this whole matter. As I figured out. I am just feeding my ego. And since the ego is like a fat man who can eat 20 roti prata and still be hungry. He is impossible to satisfy. Best be mellow about it. Otherwise if you decide to be slave to your ego. You will find yourself doing all sort of really stupid things and mixing around with plastic people who have plastic goals who all aspire to live plastic lives.
That is a Jalan mati lah! A dead end. Dowan lah!
Besides worshipping myself doesn’t seem to be as important as it used to be any longer.
Since I have reached the realization – just as I am under no obligation to live up to the expectation of others. I too cannot impose the same from others. Besides, what they may think about me is at best a matter of profound indifference when compared to what I think about myself and my capabilities.
One of the most notable changes in my expectation of others these days….is I no longer feel the need to seek their approval. Or even feel the pressure to conform to what they believe to be right….normal….or even acceptable.
Granted! I used too. As I genuinely want others to like me and I feel the need to belong to a community.
But these days that need has diminished greatly. It’s not due to resignation or bochapness. It’s just that I have had a lot of time to think over it and Ome day when I was sitting underneath a durian tree. A spicky durian the size of a bowling ball fell down and missed my head by two millimeters…and in that one moment of epiphany I came to see the truth…..
LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO LIVE FOR OTHERS….if you do that one day you are just going to end up old wondering to yourself where did all of your life go too?
Recently a village elder asked me whether he should include my name in a list of donors for the coming school dinner. As every year I make it a point to give money to the school. This year I told him….let other people give lah….if I keep giving…people will think I am hao lian (a show off).
This elder was quite taken aback and even told me. Many in the village would construe my decision not to donate this year as a sort of boycott….as I left. I told him, let them think what they want to think lah…it is after all their brain. Surely you don’t expect me to control their brain?
Perhaps what I have finally reconciled myself with is the notion. Just because others don’t consider me worthy or deserving of their grace doesn’t mean that I am not precious or even priceless. Definitely more than buy one get the other free lah.
After that day whenever people diss me off. I always remind myself: never forget what you are worth or believe that you have nothing worthwhile to offer those who choose to value me.
After all, I have seen and done many things in my life that other men twice my age can only dream of doing.
Besides one should always be reminded. No matter how good, benevolent and giving you are to people, there will always be others who will hold a grudge against you out of jealously or simply because they are just very negative people who need to find fault with others. It’s best to just smile at them like when one hears children saying silly things and just carry right on.
After all in this crazy world where everyone seems to be trying to change you to be exact facsimiles like them and should you decide to go the other way. They will always label you as antisocial because you are different. But that’s OK I reckon. I used to get pretty hung up about it. But these days, it’s OK!
As the things that all add up to make you different…your life experience…the books and people that you once share your mind with…these are the things that have shaped YOU, and you just need to have faith – the right people will love, honor and respect you for it.’
October 16, 2014
Trust is so very important. Trust is the one thing that makes all the difference in the world.
With trust everything is possible. Without it. You’re like a ship on land. It’s no good!
If I had to transverse the Sahara with a crew and I could only take one thing with me – it wouldn’t even be water or a compass. It would just be trust.
YOU TRUST ME. I TRUST YOU!
Because if I had just that to work on…I am good to go! I can find water in the desert and we will make it safely to the other side.
But without trust. Nothing is possible.
As nothing good has or will ever come out from lack of trust. All it does is create perfect conditions for suspicion to fester. Suspicion leads to irrational fears. Fear can only open the door to anxiety, confusion leading ultimately to violence. And violence opens Pandora’s box to a state of suffering.
If a person cannot trust someone…. a system…..or even a hegemony.
Then it’s only natural….If somewhere in this suspicious man’s head – a huge bureaucracy comprising of the likes of the NSA, CIA, Mossad, M15, license to kill 007 James Bond, Sherlock Holmes, Agent Mulder and Scully from X files and Ninja turtle and friends will be scurrying endlessly looking for faults!
In another part of this suspicious man’s head – a huge radar will begin scanning the horizon for threats and beneath it a field of surface to air missile batteries will begin to rotate like spinning tops – all it takes is a mere hint….a suggestion….of a whiff of a threat. In some cases it need not even be real. Imagination alone is enough and that’s enough to set the giant war machine into combat mode….fire away!
All hell will be unleashed.
This is what happens when there is no basis for trust.
From this point onwards. It’s fair to say things will escalate – the violence will intensify and a sort of Richardson classical arms race will ensue, where both sides will begin to investing in their skill of arms to destroy the other.
This is what happens when sheep are tasked to do the job of foxes. Not only do they fuck it up royally. But instead of problem getting smaller. They have to now contend with a huge mushroom cloud.
The best way to restore public trust in the Hong Kong police force is to give back the service revolvers of these policemen with a single bullet in the chamber with the parting words in Cantonese….’we will met in happier times.’
‘I once raised a Doberman guard dog from a puppy that was so small he could fit into the palm of hands. His name was Patra. This dog was so close to me, we were inseparable. This is how it is in the frontier. Man and dog can bond in the true spirit of brotherhood.
I groomed Patra as a close protection dog. He is even allowed to roam unleash near me whenever I sleep.
One day when I was feeding Patra. He became very excitable and growled at me. Till today I don’t know what it was…it may have been the unusually hot spell…might even have been a strange scent he had picked up….I gave Patra, the command to stand down twice. But he continued assuming combat mode growling at me.
Eventually when Patra calmed down and came to his senses. As I stroked him when the afternoon light gave in to the encroaching night. I felt a deep profound sadness as I knew what I had to do the following day. I wanted to make excuses….but I knew I had to be steadfast….to keep religiously to the discipline of frontier living.
What I had to do – was not some fuzzy abstraction. Rather I knew it in clear cut crystal and unambiguous terms as part and parcel of the things that needed doing in the context of the ‘practical necessities’ of life. With these thoughts flitting across my mind when I was stroking Patra, it filled me with an indescribable sadness.
I don’t think I ever want to try to explain the depths of my sadness – as certain things can never be fully described unless one has the benefit of hindsight. So I will not even try.
The following day I drove Patra to another plantation and gave him away to another landowner who I knew to be an avid animal lover.
As I was leaving. Patra looked confused. He had a pleading look. A questioning expression like, ‘master why?’
I did not look back so much as once. I got into my car and drove off. I did not hesitate. I was like a machine…cold…ruthless….metallic. When I returned back to my plantation. I packed up Patra’s toys into a box. A rubber ball and a stick. These things brought back fond memories of happier times when he was a puppy. The following day I threw them away.
After that day I never spoke about Patra again. As time went by, it was as if he didn’t exist at all. I had wiped him out from my mind as surely as how one presses the Ctrl, alt and Delete buttons to eradicate a thing forever.
It happened only once….just that one time when he growled at me…after that I could never trust Patra again.
You see there was always a shadow of doubt after that incident. And it consumed my trust for Patra like some corrosive solvent that slowly eats away at a steel bridge till one day it just comes crashing down….it’s irreversible…..incurable…..final.
In that one moment that lasted one blink of the eye. All my hopes and aspirations that I shared with Patra was obliterated. Thereafter Patra slowly became absolutely nothing to me….till he became just another dog….a stranger that I could never hope to trust…let alone rely on….or put my life on the line for.
That’s how it is to live life in the frontier. It’s brutal! That’s the discipline one needs to cultivate. If you can never trust a person or a thing 100% – it’s best to just do without them or regard them under the heading of optional…anything less than the gold standard of 100% is simply no good!
The same quality control goes for watches….knifes….torches….tires….cars……boots….shoelaces….and even animals and people.
You need to be able to trust them 100%. They need to be able to trust you 100%…..then you become an effective couple…that’s when 1+1=10. Anything less is just pure rubbish…not worth depending on….if you put 100% of trust in these things and people who do not met the strict criteria of quality control…..they will always let you down when you need them most.
And sometimes when you’re down. That’s where you stay. That’s where it all comes to an end. Like I said, life in the frontier will always be cruel.
I’ve never ever loved a dog as intensely as I did after Patra. It’s just too painful.’
October 14, 2014
This is a very interesting idea – only because in these last few years, the whole notion of waging war has gone thru a historical redefinition that has very little to do with war making as we have always understood it in the classical sense.
Often technology is cited as the game changer. Granted! It has certainly changed the entire way war is waged. With these trends in play, it’s certainly even true warfare is undergoing a momentous shift that may well parallel what once transpired when gun powder abruptly made it’s debut in the age of the crossbow.
Today. Sci fi wonder weapons from nifty goggles that can even render camouflage obsolete to drones that can be controlled thousands of miles away via satellite has certainly changed the face of the battlefield irrevocably.
But let us not get too carried away by the marvels of tech warfare. As despite their sheen and promise to confer a competitive advantage to its possessor. Technology alone has has done so very little to solve the perennial problems associated with waging war. You could even say certain timeless set pieces such as how to beacon out the fog of war….how to allay fears, anxieties and put an end to sectarian friction that usually follows in the wake of a military campaign….how to win the battle of the hearts and minds….and above all how to leave the place that was once conquered better and hopeful still confounds even the best strategist. We are still none the wiser despite all the toys at our disposal…..as I suspect something’s concerning will never change.
Rather in the age of technoccentric war. Militaries have been hypnotized and mesmerized into a false sense of confidence – creating a sort of complacency where instead of investing and upgrading the most important link in the war machine…the human being and his thoughtware. So much blind faith continues to be placed on technological prowess alone. Result: over reliance and misplaced faith in technology continues to generate more harbingers than military strategist can ever hatch solutions….the real solution can only come from new people who bring with them new attitudes to fight in new sort of battlefield.
‘To me any idea that can minimize the body count of the NS man should this poor bugger have to go to war is a five chili good idea. War can be bleak. Bleaker still for those who expect their maids to shoulder their backpacks. Show me where to sign on the dotted line lah!
Which part of this do you all not understand. After all I spoke in simple and uncluttered English. It is very simple….nothing complicated about it….unfortunately, the same cannot be said about waging war in this century. It’s has become a very complicated business with infinite twist and turns and much more….and that is always problematic.
In fact these days I am not so sure it’s only about waging war that really matters. As that part seems to read more like a prologue when compared to what happens after the war. I reckon the second part requires much more skill and mental fire power as it has more to do with managing oneself and others effectively to win!
What I mean by this is when we look at warfare in the twenty first century context, it really goes beyond the application of hardware to interdict a clear and present threat.
Sure you can take out a group of ‘insurgents’ who are busy making IED’s in their mama’s kitchen with surgical precision with a Predator drone at 50,000 feet. May even be able to do that with a warhead that can glide into the chimney…stop at mid-air…..make a right angle turn and take out them all out in without shattering the family heirloom pots and pans even.
But what is the nett result? What have you really accomplished? I am not asking you whether you met your mission objectives! That is not the question! I am asking you a very fundamental question that goes into the crux of war making and interdicting and mitigating threats efficiently and effectively.
And that if you didn’t know has been what the Americans and their proxies have been doing thru their clandestine services since the 1980’s under Reagan.
They funded and trained the Mujahiddeens and that sowed the seeds of radicalism and discontentment that led to many of the problems the world faces today. Same goes for the Isil. It’s a creature created by the very same people who now find themselves having to wage a protracted, expensive and debilitating war against them….all because they have a very poor grasp of what they’re getting themselves into. It’s like a kid playing with a boomerang! That’s the American mindset for you lah!
Is it true that all Iraqis love freedom and democracy like what Bush once proclaimed on TV. Yes, but it is in the nuanced understanding of the word ‘freedom,’ that suggest their variant of democracy is closer to a self styled Iranian theoracy than the Western conception that makes all the difference.
Do you see how the devil resides in the details.
My point is these divides cannot be bridged by robots, gizmos or bullets that can make right angle turns in mid air – these are perennial problems associated with the human condition that must first be thoroughly understood from the inside out. Worst of all these are considerations that field commanders these days pay scant regard too. Because they much prefer to be gung-ho – to take that hill….light up that machine gun post etc etc like John Wayne. They think war is like a movie.
But to me that is not a very intelligent nor efficient way to wage war these days. Especially when the enemy is amorphous.
All they’re doing with their gizmos is sowing the seeds of enmity and hatred that will fuel the second coming. If the pathos of the intifada teaches the modern warrior anything at all, it is simply this – the challenge in this age is to be able to get people who understand things for what they are and to empower them to get the job done professionally.
What does it matter if they are foreigners. Black cat or white, who the bloody hell care providing it can catch mice! If your logic holds true that foreigners cannot be entrusted, then the French Foreign legion would just be a name of rock band that tours the world. Truth is values like people can migrate. Beliefs can shift and allegiances can tack. It happens more often than you think!
What I do know is this much. It’s a travesty of reason to send a red neck from Nebraska who thinks the Quran is a name of a hip brand of shirts to do a man’s job in Iraq – get a sheep to do a foxes job and nine out of ten….people will die! And they died and they’re still dying today. Those are the realities when you scale it all wrong and dabble with things that you don’t understand – war is cruel!
So coming back to the case study of those goons who are making bombs in the kitchen. In my view it makes far more sense to send someone who knows their history, culture and motivations intimately to go and ask of them over a cup of tea and biscuits.
‘What the fuck are you people doing making bombs man? Where is this all going to end up man?’ How are you people going to get your own place instead of staying with your parents if you spend your time like this! Hey have you people thought about coming to work for me?’
To get into their minds. To see things the world thru their eyes and to even understand why they think and do the things they do – after all is it so complicated. If 13 year old Abdul once saw his father being gunned down in a checkpoint by evil GI’s just because he didn’t stop because he couldn’t understand the traffic signs or the brake pads were just worn….and Abdul decides he wants to grow up to avenge his father’s murder. Would you or I not consider the same…so which part of this do you not seem to understand?
My point is all this shouldn’t happen in the first place and if it does, it shouldn’t occur at the rate and frequency that we have come to expect and even regard as normal.
If the Americans and their western allies did just that….if they had even had the foresight to spent one millionth of a one percentile on what they usually budget for weapons development and procurement on getting the right people and empowering them to do the job. All the problems we see today will just disappear like lemon drops….when one sees it in this scale and perspective, then it becomes very clear why war making should be left to only professionals.
Remember this! Never get a sheep to do a foxes job. Never!’
I can fully understand why at times, it may be necessary to use unconventional means to nip a problem at its bud.
Believe me I can. I am probably the only person in blogoland who can well appreciate ‘the practical necessities’ of a course of action even if it is morally reprehensible and incongruent with the whole idea of what it means to be ‘good.’
I can even understand why under certain untenable conditions such as a ‘clear and present’ threat – it may even be necessary for the state, hegemony or an individual to resort to threats, intimidation and psychological warfare to keep the peace and harmony.
Believe me I can understand.
But I also know these methods are intrinsically wrong is so many ways…they are wrong at so many levels of understanding.
As they bring out the very worse in mankind and can only lead us astray from the right path.
‘People who talk often about rights, fairness and equality always seem slightly odd and peculiar to me. Granted! These people may come across as perfectly normal to you. But my point is they can never be ‘normal’ to me.
That doesn’t mean from time to time I don’t secretly wish – I could sit down and bear out with the all the power of my patience and sagacity to hear them out. Curiously, I do.
As there is still a part of me that yearns to believe in the idea – humans are intrinsically good and they can always be counted to do the right thing. To help old ladies cross the street….to stop and fix someone else’s flat tire….to return a lost wallet without any expectation of reward. That sort of thing.
There are times when I want to believe in this idea so much that I even loath the very idea of looking at myself in the mirror. That is to say when I stand before this image of a man who resembles me – I am never quite convinced, he is a actually me or that I am him.
There is always a imperceptible lag like how the voice over on a film just doesn’t quite synch very well….or when the train next to you begins to move and for a moment – you’re not quite sure whether you’re moving or still…it doesn’t last very long…this bitter sweet sensation of doubt….but usually it is enough to remind me that something is terribly amiss.
Yes….believe me I do so want to believe in the idea of human goodness.
But to me…the idea of human goodness…has always been a distant light. I am not willing to elaborate in detail why this should be so – let us just say my success came at a terrible cost of the damnation of my soul. Sure I could probably justify it by crafting clever reasons to convince you and possibly myself – why it could only have been this way and no other way. Could even intersperse the argument with words like ‘naive’ ‘presumptuous’ ‘petulant.’ But I am not going to do that.
There was one time when I was called to the death bed of one my business rivals. He is an old man. When he whispered in my ears. Forgive me…let me take this grudge that you hold in your heart to the otherside. I told this man that I had forgiven.
But as soon he looked in my eyes. He began to weep uncontrollably. Then it occurred to me – the colossal significance of that light had now vanished forever….The man did not believe me.
But I meant what I said. I meant it with all my heart.
And when one becomes a man like me. It’s almost impossible to see the world in the way one saw it – with that sort of childlike innocence where the colors would always be so bold as to pop out! To look upon the affairs of the world without the charioscuro of intrigues – to just see things as they were meant to be…without the shadow of doubt that a serpent lurks somewhere in paradise.
Because when cyncism, apathy and what I can only describe as a general distrust takes hold of one – it’s almost impossible to see or talk about things with the same level of enthusiasm and heart that makes dreams possible.
That’s why I glad. Glad that my kind will be the last…like the last Mohicans. I am so very glad. As I never ever want my children to see the world thru my jaded eyes. I want them to always believe in the idea of goodness…I even want them to believe in that great lie: if they work hard then everything will just work out fine….I want to believe….I so want to believe.’
October 12, 2014
Some time back ago when I was fellowshipping with a group of youths. They asked me what I considered to be the most important KPI to measure the wealth and health of a nation.
Quite predictability even before I could sit down. Someone from the crowd shouted out GDP!
I was asked for my response and I told them I am not totally convinced it can be GDP. As since that meaningless metric only measures a very myopic band of growth and elides everything else. It’s not so different from gauging the métier of a farmer based on yield only. Focusing on a narrow performance indicator doesn’t even tell you stuff like whether that farmer is yielding crops in a sustainable way or cannibalising the well being of his land holdings to deliver that sort of stellar results.
I went on to share with these youths. How one decides to measure the wealth and health of a nation isn’t just an issue that relates to methodology. But frequently it even has the effect of shaping how policy makers will craft solutions along with moderating how government and quasi government agencies would set about goal setting.
The paradox can at best be illustrated when a glass factory in Kiev circa 1960’s in the now mothballed Soviet Union decided to measure productivity based on square footage of glass processed. This incentivized many glass factories to produce thin walled glasses that were so fragile most broke during shipping and handling which bumped up the cost. Since they needed to be handled like eggs and required specialized handling and additional packing cost.
To resolve this problem. The soviet central economic planning unit changed the metric from square footage of glass processed to tonnage instead. And when that became the new KPI. Glass factories thru out the Soviet Union started producing glass goblets which were so bulky and heavy, they were actually used as paperweights rather than vessels to hold drinking liquid which led to massive shortages of drinking glasses.
The lesson to be gleaned from all this is the same as using GDP to measure the wealth and health of a nation. Absent markets/prices, the value/usefulness of a product to the user is not the primary concern, and outputs of production plans, even if significant in terms of volume, usually translates into Byzantine waste, lost opportunity and worst of all it fuels the illusion progress has been made. Wonder no more why sovietization decided to pack up one day like a traveling circus and disappeared from the annals of human history!
Mindlessly pursuing GPD is why the World Bank can celebrate moving people from subsistence farming communities in which they have no need for money, to urban slums, in which they struggle to survive on minuscule incomes of a dollar a day as progress even though it means people are giving up lives of marginal sufficiency for lives of desperation and violence.
At the crux of the philosophical question is whether growth (the corrosive culture of chasing GDP growth at every turn and opportunity can continue indefinitely) – that idea I suspect would only really be possible – if we can be assure mankind can continue to live in environment of abundant global resources.
In reality, mankind has already depleted most of the earths available resources that once made the idea of perpetual growth possible.
It’s conceivable we may have already reached the peak….peak for oil, peak for environmental resources and perhaps even peak growth.
Beyond the tipping point of peak consumption. To continuing winning. It’s no longer the simple art of beating the curve by mindlessly chasing GDP.
As it is the very practical idea of living the best we can with the many constrains brought forth by resource scarcity.
‘I am not a futurist. I am a farmer. But if I had to put money on a guess concerning the not too distant future – I would probably plumb in 10 or possibly as early as 5 years from writing this.
The traditional and classical metrics in which the wealth of a nation is determined will gradually shift from the monetary to something intrinsically more basic – such as the ability for humankind to perpetuate its species i.e total fertility rate.
Politicians by nature don’t like to talk about TRF. The like even less the idea of tackling this problem head on. But if you think real hard about – if people don’t opt to have kids, what they’re saying in the clearest possible is, ‘Hey, I don’t have any faith in the future!’ To paraphrase, I don’t believe in the idea things will get better….I actually see it getting worse. That’s why politicians much prefer to fix their eye on GDP. As not only does chasing that idea appear much more serious, but since it’s an econometric, they even come across as cool.
That to me is the real difference between a statesman and a politician. The later just goes for the sensational, the one that delivers the maximum bang, but will always be short. While the former fixes his eyes on the mundane, but cogent and even jugular!
The reason why I remain convinced by this reality is because there is such a strong correlation between economic growth and reduced TFR to even suggest the whole idea of pursuing growth may not be sustainable.
Sure….policy makers may decide to shortcut this argument by suggesting that the problem can be mitigated by transmigration. But they’re only too willing to remain silent or worse still gloss over the undesirable effects of this patch.
Neither is it constructive in my opinion to take cold comfort in the idea – this is a trend that is happening worldwide….so it should be treated as the ‘new normal.’ I mean that’s a lazy man’s method of arguing a case. As it assumes the problem of low TFR cannot be reversed!
But in reality the main reason why mankind has found itself imprisoned by this conundrum is simply because of the method we have chosen to measure personal and organizational growth I.e thru only monetary metrics. My point is HOW, a nation selects to measure success plays a preponderant role in shaping policies, schools of thoughts and even supplies the very raw material to make possible the whole idea of a self fulfilling prophecy.
Neither does it help when politicians keep kicking the can down the road by holding steadfast to the idea – the low TFR has something to do with young people and their supposedly self-centred values. It is often argued rather lucidly that in developed societies, we now live in a “post-materialist age”, where individuals do not have to be so concerned about basic material conditions to survive. Thus people, especially the young, have become more focussed on the values of self-realisation and the satisfaction of personal preferences, at the expense of traditional values like raising a family.
A stronger version of this view is even put forward by Japanese sociologist, who refer to grown children in their 20s and 30s who have left school and are employed, but remain unmarried and continue live at home with their parents. These young people are often described as ‘parasites’ ‘spoilt’, and interested only in their own pleasure.
But all these accounts in my opinion has to mislead no matter how cleverly scripted they appear.
As when we consider the length and breadth of our long human history. This phenomenon where our species has consciously decided to terminate its capacity to perpetuate itself has really only manifested in this timeline and no other.
This suggest there has to be another reason accounting for the low TFR.
In a society where there are no real unions to uphold the rights of the tradesman.
In a society where the lawyers and doctors feel they have a right to command a salary beyond the point of what is reasonable for services rendered that makes a mockery of the idea of dignity of labor.
You have to be a bloody fool to put your trust and faith in the idea….hard work will pay off.
Go and get a degree! Then you can overcharge for all it’s worth. Everyone is doing it….politicians….lawyers…even doctors….everyone!
‘Farmers know what it means to work hard. You don’t need to educate a farmer on what it means to put in eight hours of hard work. Should you be stupid enough to do so – they will tell you the facts of life.
I guess what they’re saying is – you’re not man enough to do what I do! That’s the atmosphere you will invariably get whenever you speak to a farmer about work – that’s to say, you can even feel him looking down on you like a vermin – as he knows only too well…the notion of value – and he wouldn’t mind telling you – you’re overrated and getting paid extra for whatever you have to offer – that’s why when politicians wax lyrical about serving the nation. Farmers can only laugh at them. As they all know….it’s never like what it’s so often portrayed in TV, the ST or Potemkin sites like five stars and the moon and the Singaporedaily.
These people are just trying to mythologize stuff like how some people in the internet claim something can come out of nothing! They’re just selling bottled Himalayan air!
That’s why when I talk to politicians….lawyers….doctors. I don’t ever mind telling them what they’re worth. That’s to say when I am not happy with the bill or I feel the value is short or the quality sucks…..I don’t ever mind kicking up a storm. At times I even say to them….you’re lazy…or I am not going to pay for that…as I believe it’s only worth this much! To me, there’s nothing wrong with insisting on quality, especially when it’s served up under the appellation of the best – I mean if you walk into a restaurant and order roasted duck and what’s served up comes closer to something like cardboard rubber duck – don’t you have the right to ask: hey wtf man!
Think about it!
If more people did just that…instead of putting up with crappy and half past six service that is so often passed off as world class material….I reckon the people who deserve the right salary will be paid the right salary and everything will fall into place quite nicely. As for those parasites, they will be shamed to give more back to society.
The problem with singapore is we don’t nearly have that sort of culture of appreciating the real worth of labor or the contribution of a man’s effort and swear to society.
Wonder no more why plumbers and pipe fitters aren’t nearly accorded the respect, dignity and their dues like they do in countries such as Sweden and Germany.
It all boils down to a lack of enthusiasm to understand the value of things for what they’re really worth intrinsically. All we have is a whole lot of hot air, spin and hype.
That’s why it’s just really dumb to try to wing it in singapore without a degree….if let’s say, you’re going dedicate yourself as a pipe fitter or plumber in Munich or Geneva…..I will probably say go ahead. Go break a leg! But to the same in Singapore is just plain dumb….suicidal….infanticide.
As let me tell you what the government really means – when they say, you should just start work and forego a degree.
It’s simply this…..foreign companies are only willing to pay a low salary for labor these days to maximize on profit. So inorder to continue to attract investors to base their operations in Singapore – we need to make sure there are always enough dummies to buy into the idea, they can actually go the whole 100 yards without a degree!
But how can any reasonable person even consider that proposition seriously when the set pieces which may make that idea possible isn’t even place. We don’t even have real unions with teeth or for that matter a work culture that even venerates the idea of dignity of labor.
My feel is get that part sorted out FIRST! Otherwise it’s just a form of moot masturbation…..no reasonable man is going to take you seriously.
If that is the case….then my feel is they should just be man enough to call a spade a spade. And if they don’t even have the balls to do that….then that just says volumes about what they stand for along with the quality of their judgement and how they regularly scale their target audience.
Better still get a minister to refute me. I will call him a man with balls of steel. Only understand this! I am a man who knows what’s hard work and what it means to earn your keep in this world. I’ve never taken anything for free before! Never sucked on the teat of tax payers. Never don’t anything like that before. As I’ve always considered it morally wrong…..beneath me even. What I earn…..I do so with the sweat of my brow…in the way a farmer turns the wheel of life.
Now go get a degree!’
October 8, 2014
Dowan lah! If you dunno what to do with your retirement. That is your bloody business….retire at 40! Do what you like after that lah! Work for fun!
October 4, 2014
This morning a group of harvesters came to see me and asked whether I could help them by giving them work.
One of them lamented, it was increasingly difficult to make ends met as the freakish weather had resulted in less fruit this season. Since harvesters are paid by tonnage. When there is less fruit. They have to contend with taking home less.
I told these harvesters when fruit was plentiful. Some of you staged a Pearl Harbor strike demanding higher pay. Some of you even boasted to me then. There is so much fruit all over the place…why should we harvest your fruit when others are willing to pay us more.
Now that there is no fruit around except for the trees on my lands – you all come to me….
Get off my land!
‘Most people are by nature short term and transactional. They never seem to be able to see the bigger scheme of things. Neither do they have the capacity to imagine the wider ramifications of their acts and omissions.
I find these people quite perplexing as they seem to behave as if there is only today and the whole idea of tomorrow doesn’t even exist at all – but I reckon, if these people can only reflect deeply about the whole idea of tomorrow and how their acts and omissions are not so different from throwing a pebble in to pond that ripples out. Then maybe they will be less short term and transactional.
As what goes around….most certainly comes around.
Should one decide to stop and simply sit along the five foot way somewhere along the old British road that runs the length of Beruas to Taiping in the district of Matang and larut in Malaysia. It’s not unusual to see Tamil boys touching the earth and bringing their hands to their lips as they turn the corner that opens up to a hill. Neither is it strange to see Malay rubber tappers muttering protection verses as they emerge from the thicket near the hill. Even less unusual is to hear mothers or wife’s berating their wayward children and husbands with the peculiar stricture that is unique to the region and exist no where else along the length of breadth of the Malaysian peninsula – ‘if you don’t finish your homework….or stop spending all your money on gambling and drink…he will come for you.’
During the ghost month, it’s not unusual at all for farmers to toss sweets or light a joss stick at the foot of the hill where he’s said to live…..The Devil that is. Yes, in Kampung it is a ridiculous notion to suggest the Devil wears Prada. As everyone here knows only too well, he drives a Toyota land cruiser.
Since simple kampung folk believe he brings them both the twin heads of benevolence and malevolence – social protocol dictates the Devil should never be reminded he his a malevolent creature from that other world. Instead everyone is content to pretend he is just like one of them…..another farmer like all other farmers.
In the full moon, menstruating virgins are forewarned never to take the short cut that cuts thru the Western reaches of the Devils land. And should they be callous enough to do so – they should always draw blood by bitting their lips, if they don’t want him to appear in their dreams.
Kampung legend has it. The devil was once a simple farmer who came to these parts to turn the wheel of life from a city far down south. The wawa boy as he was known to all. Wore a baseball cap, carried a hello kitty backpack and lived in a little hut on the hill. For most of the time, he kept mostly to himself. And on those rare occasions when he did come down to the village to stock up on sundries. The children would gather around him as he distributed reed flutes he had fashioned from his own hand that mimicked the call of wild birds. He loved the birds and trees. Village girls would steal looks at the boy. As he had a boyish charm. For most the days, he could be seen planting row after row of palms in his small veggie patch.
One day a greedy landowner approached the boy to buy his lands. The boy declined and this enraged the landowner. On one moonless night gangsters were sent to frighten the boy. Some said, they went too far. Others would insist since they were all drunk. The boy was accidentally killed. Rumor has it, his body was quartered and thrown into the marsh lands.
But since the boy so loved the trees and birds with all his heart and soul. The earth spirit mourned a river. When the bus from that other world came to collect the boys spirit to take him to the other side. It couldn’t get up the hill….as it was inundated by rivers of tears that made it too slippery to ascend. Eventually the bus driver from that other unmentionable world felt so exasperated he decided to cross the boys name out from the passenger list and even told the trees and birds who so loved him.
‘Alamak! All your crying has made it impossible for my bus to get up this hill. Do as you wish with the boy lah…..I surrender! Give up! Only don’t tell the gate keeper of the otherworld that I have not tried my best or been diligent about my work in the world of the living….I will come for him another day.’
That night when the frustrated bus driver from the other world had said these words and promptly driven off in his jalopy – the devil was hiding behind a palm on the hill and had overheard him. He knew then the trees and birds had conspired to cheat the great book keeper of heaven and earth and that very same night he claimed the dead boy as his worldly form.
It is not implausible for simple folk to believe this fairy tale account of how the boy had died only to be reborn as the Devil. As since superstition, mythology and folklore plays a preponderant role in shaping everyday beliefs and even reality in the kampung – what else could supply a believable explanation of what would come to past.
On the tenth day following the death of the boy when the ‘Lam Hong’ was expected to blow westwards, it blew from the opposite direction. A bad omen. That was the fateful day. The day the evil wind blew from that other direction….from that other world….when another man who all the villagers had seen, yet never ever seen before appeared suddenly in their midst.
Though the man’s features resembled in some faint manner the countenance of the boy, gone were his boyish innocent smile. This other man was older, perhaps fifteen…twenty or more years….it’s hard to say with the devil, as since time has no dominion over him it is always very hard to tell….his features were stern, hard and implacable like granite. He wore a bush jacket like the great landowners of lore who the elders of the village remembered as the man in their youth who once fought the communist during the heady plantation wars in Malaya. This other man had neither the boy’s clumsy mannerism nor his prediliction to smile readily. This other man’s demeanor suggested in every sense, he was not a man to be trifled with or taken lightly. When his resolve was tested one night by a band of reckless brigands, their lorries were found mysteriously burnt to a charred cinder with a sign, ‘this is what happens to thieves!’ A few days after that incident. The leader of the gang who had once murdered the boy was found dead with his head ripped from his body in a nearby estate. The death was so grisly, the coroner classified it as ‘unnatural death’ and concluded he must have been attacked by a very large unknown wild animal.
In the following months a series of strange misfortunes befell the village. The greedy landowner one and only love – his pride and joy. The apple of his eye. His only daughter had eloped with Devil. Some said he had looked deeply into her eyes one evening in the way only the Devil can and in that one moment time had stood so very still and when he had said to her ‘come!’ She followed obediently like a string puppet turning her back on her family. For months the Devil taunted the greedy landowner, till he was reduced to a nervous wreck. In the ensuing months, the health of the greedy owner deteriorated till eventually he was taken to the other side by the bus from that unmentionable other world. And his lands passed on to his daughter who eventually ceded it to the Devil.
Other landowners and businessmen allied with the greedy landowner all came to a similar ignominious end. For years the Devil’s reign of terror pervaded the valley. Till one day he became the largest landowner in the district. Even today when the moon is full. The sound of a bus struggling in vain to climb the hill along with the flowery abuse of an exasperated driver can be heard filtering down to the nearby village from time to time.
As for the boy he was never seen again. Only the stern man who wears the bush jacket and smokes the briar pipe who all fear and revere now lives in a large mansion on the hill.’
October 3, 2014
This morning. During breakfast while dinning with the village elders. A few of them turned to me and pointed to the direction of a new Singaporean couple who has just settled in my kampung.
They all shook their heads and exclaimed with an air of resignation as they looked at this couple,
‘Those people who are so different from us….if only they try harder to be like all of us….I am sure all their problems will melt away like lemon drops.’
From what little I have gathered in the village grapevine – the man used to be manager in some IT department in a multinational. He was retrenched as his firm had outsourced his department to an Indian firm. And after a hiatus of mopping around in Singapore selling insurance unsuccessfully. This man sold everything he has and returned back to Malaysia to try his luck at prawn farming.
Not too long ago I heard from my kampung clandestine services. The equivalent of the the NSA and the CIA. The village barber who excels in his clandestine craft like the many eyes of a pineapple.
A pocket battleship gangster had recently visited this couple and threatened to poison their prawns if they didn’t agree to pay the village ‘any muih’ protection money. The man fearing complications had agreed to pay a hefty monthly sum to keep the peace.
The village barber clucked his tongue when he recounted this story, muttering to either me or himself,
‘Those people who are so different from us….if only they try harder to be like all of us….I am sure all their problems will melt away like lemon drops.’
One day I decided to pay a visit to my friends duck factory wearing my secret weapon tightest G2000 trousers. Since I had already been supplied with field intelligence from the village barber. I proceeded with the confidence of a Mossad secret agent.
It didn’t take me long to pick put the twenty three year wife of this gangster from the faceless lines of workers. She is quite a looker in a crude sort of way that appeals to village men, a thinner version of Ris Low – I went over to talk to her. After a while, she became quite chatty and when the siren sounded.
I suggested giving her a lift home in my car instead of taking the bus. She agreed. On the drive back. I told her I was very hungry and asked her whether she would like to join me for dinner. We went to the 1,001 delights seafood pleasure paradise. It’s one of those Chinaman cowboy town joints that blares out canto pop at full blast. While drunk lorry drivers take their turn at the karaoke stage to see who can best shatter car windows – there’s even an artificial lake that patrons can pay a fee to fish and should they manage to pull in the biggest catch of the month – the prize is Honda cub motorcycle. Not that anyone other than the owners son wins it every month. That sort of place lah.
Before we went for dinner. I stopped at a boutique and bought her a tight dress. The sort with a high slit and corseted skin tight top that just manages to flop out 70% of her fun bags. Even dropped by the hairdressers to do up her hair. In just the way I like it.
Thru out dinner I plied her with Barons extra strong beer as we discussed the merits of whether Pokemon held more mystery and intrigue than perhaps angry birds. Then when she started to get tipsy and slop around. I drove her back to her anxious husband.
When I turned into the gate. It was already well past midnight. I needn’t have to wake up the gangster. Judging from the number of cigarette butts at his feet. He had been chain smoking by the gate waiting anxiously for his wife’s return.
I could see his momentary confusion. He didn’t know whether to get angry or to thank me. Could even sense his desperation. As he saw the state of his wife and the way she was putting her arms around me and rambling some rubbish about promising to take her to the bright lights of the city….for a good time.
Before the man could speak. I told him to take his wife into the house first. As since I am here on official business. He could do us both a favor by preparing some tea. As I wanted to speak to him about the money that he had extorted from this new couple.
When the man returned he told me sheepishly a great mistake had been made. The people he extorted the money from were confused with other people who might have been them. But after due consideration. He had reached the conclusion it couldn’t possibly have been them. That was when he handed me the money.
Before I left the gangster asked me. Whether I could be counted to do the right thing. I said of course providing he could give me his personal guarantee these people who he had once mistakenly extorted money from are successful in their enterprise. He stammered, ‘but how can I guarantee that? ‘ I replied, then how do you expect me to do the right thing? I went to add sardonically, ‘after all your wife has needs…and to be quite frank to you so do I. I poured some tea into a cup and poured it another cup – it was the language of the old country.
‘One cup cleans the other.’ He understood.
Then putting my hand around the whimpering mass of what was still left of a man as he had begun to weep quite openly kampung style and would have certainly started wailing like a wounded bear waking up all the neighbors and creating a scene had I not comforted him. I even tried to pick up his fledging spirits. By jesting that it was time for him to consider starting a family….I asked him whether he would like me to render my expertise in that area…I assured him that I could be most effective….most productive….most enthusiastic.
Then his water broke and he said, he will give me his word of honor that they will pull thru the season – as we walked together under the wan of the pale moonlight, I told this man time and again, he could always rely on me to do the honorable thing. After all it’s not as if I am like
‘Those people who are so different from us….’ Not at all. And if that were truly so….surely even he must have faith that all our problems will simply melt away like lemon drops.
Life is cruel!
‘We all want to fit in. Man is after all a social animal. We all like to be well received…liked….taken into the fold into the bosom of the inner circle…to bask in sweet repose under the warmth of brotherhood. But if the cost of fitting in means that I have to cannibalize who I am just to be accepted….just to belong…..
Or somehow need to transform myself into some else other than who I really am or want to be. Then it’s not worth it to try to fit in or to even strive to belong too.
I much rather stand alone all by myself and be who I am and strive to be the person who I was always meant to be.
It’s not a militant refusal to get along. It’s just my right to live my life the way I want to live it.
It’s not as if I am disturbing people or that I am causing others high blood pressure. I just prefer to be left alone to do my own thing without hurting or disturbing people.
After all. It’s not as if I can change my entire life history of the circumstances that shaped me to be the person that I am. I can’t for example elide my experiences or deny the historicism of having lived X number of year under Y given conditions to produce the various attributes that all add up to my character.
I am not even asking for people to accept me for who I am. If you don’t agree with me or find me to be someone whose not your cuppa – then move on to the next excellent person. There is plenty of room for improvisation….even more for compromise and if that all fails we can always agree to disagree.
That I feel is what’s really missing from social life these days. Not the idea of diversity or cosmopolitanism or tolerance. As those terms have been bandied around at every turn and opportunity to serve so many specious ends from selling deodorant to pushing lousy policies. They have simply been evacuated of all intrinsic meaning. They’ve become cliches. They no longer possess the full breadth of emotional meaning they once had. Now there are all just adjectives that politicians and leaders like to put at the end of a speech or at the beginning of the sentence like a ribbon to show how ecletic they can be. How politically attuned they are to the ground swell.
To me, it’s just the idea that I will never be the same as you or even come to see the world like you do. It’s not possible. As since I am not you and you are not me. The best we can hope for is to settle for some understanding of common ground.
The alternative to this is a binary dystopian world where all of life eventually becomes binary. Where you are either switched on or off, anointed scholar or ITE cookie cutter, with or against us, mainstream or lunatic fringe, right or just plain silly wrong, normal or abnormal, functional or dysfunctional, constructive or destructive, adding or substrating value…etc etc.
But I don’t think that can be right – what after all is the point of herding the vast majority of humans in life to see the world the same way. Or to somehow engineer them all to aspire towards the same goals. Or to even brainwash them to believe in the same thing. I don’t doubt for one moment that may make the life of policy makers easier or that it may even somehow add a few forgettable pluses to the wealth of a nation…..but what does it do for the individual? What exactly? Nothing very much I reckon.
That’s why I much prefer to live my life the way I want, not like someone else, because if don’t grab hold of that opportunity selfishly to live for myself. To ask myself constantly, what’s in it for me – is it even worth it – then the chances are some funny man – I came across in TV is probably going to live in for me.
And if you look at some people these days that’s how they live – as alternate ‘me’s.’ People who are just jacked into to some machine called ‘how to live well’ that’s just filling up the bandwidth meter in their brains. So they say they’re proud to do so and since they don’t celebrate individualism as much as regard it as a character flaw that’s dangerous to the whole idea of the common good. They take comfort from notion, they’re somehow sacrificial….noble….and even able to see the world clearer than anybody else….but what they’re really doing is living someone else’s life beside the life which they were meant to live.
I know it’s messy….but go with it….read it a few times if you have too….and don’t be surprised one day when you’re just walking and minding your sweet business hearing this or that – it will all just come together marvelously.’
October 2, 2014
Dogs are really not so different from people. When they’re scared. They run….and run and run. They don’t care where they go. They just run as fast as their legs can take them. Faraway. Especially when they’ve been hurt. When I came back to the house in the evening. There was traces of blood at the gate. Kee Kee, my troubled one year old tanned Doberman was missing. He must have been mauled by Richie, the leader of the pack. That’s how it is. That’s how politics is conducted in the dog world – everything is settled by brawn and teeth. Kee Kee is no match for Richie. He’s just a puppy. A kid. While Richie is very much a professional soldier who can snap even a grown man’s neck with one forceful bite.
From the looks of it Kee Kee is bleeding bad. I can tell from his tracks. He’s dragging in his left hind leg.
When puppies are scared and hurting. They just run and run and run….Kee Kee is too inexperienced to sniff his way back. He’s probably somewhere now….lost…confused…hungry….and sad. All alone in a strange place. He’s just a kid. What can he possibly know about the big bad world. Soon it will get dark and the jungle will come alive. With a bleeding wound, it’s like a big neon sign that says to all the hungry predators out there…eat me!
I need to get dressed in my jungle gear now and go track him down. He wouldn’t last the night. I’ve got to find him before they get him….got too.
Life is cruel!
‘As a rule of thumb. I don’t like to label….pigeon hole….type cast people. Don’t like it when others do the same to me either. To me that’s at best a lazy attitude of trying to understand people. That I absolutely abhor. It’s for people who just want to make life easier and even lazier because they don’t nearly have the breadth of experience, knowledge and imagination to understand a thing for what it is or what it can really offer. Usually these erudite lot are too proud to admit they don’t have the brain power to look beyond the field of possibilities.
Any fool can pay a premium or buy high I reckon. But it takes a special kind of eye to go in low. And that’s really where you get the highest returns on your time, energy and reap the maximum pay outs.
Life is never that simple. Never. It’s just simple for stupid and lazy people. They take a look at a thing or person and they conclude….he or she is like that….can only go so far…..worth investing this or that much and no more etc etc. But at best, it’s an approximation that has nothing to do with how things usually pan out.
It’s like a litter of puppies. Or a brand new dozen of arrows. Some may show more promise than others. They stand out. Look good. While others look like duds that you rather give away or better still wished others could take them off your hands.
But the strangest thing is when you take the time to get to know each one individually….I don’t mean just know in the way you look fleetingly at a thing or peruse thru an article by just speed reading. But really know in the way you can only know, if you invested the time, care and attention and above all the dedication to tease out every nuanced detail right down to infinitesimal…then suddenly it all hits you! Things that you never once saw begin to surface along with that special quality…you know…. X marks the spot….then those pups which once looked like winners may not actually look so good after all….and those pups which you thoughts were losers seem to be better bets.
Life is a bit like archery….no two arrow ever fly the same….they’re all unique….each has something to offer that is special, even the bengkok (bent) ones.
It’s really up to archer to bring the best out of each one of them.’