The Super Singaporean

February 7, 2016

Crimped by the anemic ringgit and the dramatic plunge in crude oil prices. Many local businesses are bracing for a tough year ahead….the mood is jittery, pensive and full of anxiety in the business community.

Agriculture and livestock will be badly affected by El Niño. The after effects will likely linger on beyond 2017. It’s a goner year lah. Commodity prices are likely to stay low due to China slowing down. The specter of another recession hangs like a dead bird over the horizon.

Prices are going up and up…..profits are dwindling…to make matters worse liquor these days is so expensive, it’s impossible for one to even seek solace in the bottle.

Welcome to the psycho monkey year.

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‘I am just saying in the year of the psycho monkey…there is no possible way to remain sane if you happen to be a businessman.

No way!

Everything is on it’s head. It’s topsy turvy. Governments have to struggle to keep their public services humming and purring. To do this, they have to tax everything from diapers to light bulbs..the weather is not cooperating….oil is at a all time historical low….businesses are all holding on by their fingernails.

It’s going to be a hard as Tungsten nails year. To win in this psycho monkey year…it’s is conceivable one also has to think and act like a psychotic monkey.

The field of possibilities must open beyond the known…familiar and usual. What is required is a radical transformation in thinking beyond the norm.

To accomplish this feat, one has to prospect for business in the most fucked up regions in this world, where no one dares to go…where there is no such thing as civilization as we know it…no law and order, just the law of the jungle… or for that matter guarantee that one may live to see the morning.

There is no choice….stay in one place…and you are as good as a sitting duck. Be a moving target and the chances are about 50/50 you can make it to the other side with your body parts whole.

In the psycho monkey year there are no rules….if there is one enduring truism…it is this…it’s everyman for himself!

However, there is a sliver of redemption in all this…who dares will win!

This I must believe….as even when the ship is sinking, one must put one’s best foot forward….as the show must go on!

Let the games begin….happy hunting!….and see you all in the place where angels fear to thread!

Small boy asked me today…can I please borrow your dog? I asked why? Small boy replied, if I have to go to the police station for whatever reason….I will feel much safer if your dog is beside me.

I told the small boy, there is nothing to fear…the police should be your best friends.

Small boy did not seem to believe me.

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Woof woof...by the way do I look stressed out?

Woof woof…by the way do I look stressed out?

‘If people keep committing suicide after getting interviewed by the police…and this keeps happening all the time. Especially to kids…then a day will certainly come when even sane and reasonable people will label the police force as the pariah police!

This is regrettable, but I want to emphasize…it is what, it is…that is to say…..it is reality!

And when that sad day comes, then even perfectly sane and leveled headed people will no longer believe the police are supposed to serve and protect – they will develop an automatic fear response whenever they come across the police.

This is only natural! After all they are dealing with pariah police wot! You can’t blame them!

So when the pariah police shouts out, stop! Most sane and reasonable people will run. Even if they have no pants…they will run first. Even if they have not committed a crime…they will run as well. Even if the police stopped them just to tell them….their tires are short of air…they rather run!

That’s how life is with the pariah police!

In many countries where the citizens regularly call their police force the pariah police – whenever they see the police coming to their house, they will automatically reach for their sawn off shot guns, machetes, helmets, bullet proof vest….why? Because they know instinctively and from bitter experience a rumble is coming their way…the pariah police after all has a long documented history of bullying and killing innocent people!

The most regrettable aspect of this is, even if a policeman has the best intention to serve and protect, but since most people consider his outfit to be a smelly pariah dog organization – he is not able to carry out his duties with pride, dignity and respect…it’s impossible…..as since no one believes he is actually there to protect and serve…..they all want nothing to do with him!

In those countries where the citizens refer to their men in blue as the pariah police – mothers and fathers rarely encourage their children to aspire to be policemen….they consider it a lowly and dishonorable profession and will often ask of their children – why do you want to be a gangster in a uniform?

That is why the police force of every country should always strive their very best to build trust, respect and friendship with it’s citizens.

They should always aim for the diamond standard to be like the friendly brotherhood figure who every child greets with a smile…..because the child knows deep down in his heart, his brother will never hurt him….he is always only there to serve and protect.

100% pure brotherhood!

This needs to be said, because there are too many polite people in Singapore who care very little about children….and they care even less about where their police force seems to be going as well.’

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The panel threw me questions fast and furious….like a machine gun spitting out hot lead. But I was cool as a cucumber. Took it all in my stride….made them all look stupid even.

I literally hypnotized everyone in that room like Adolf Hitler! By the time I had finished even the skeptics looked at me like some great prophetic deliverer! There were even people in wheel chairs standing up and cheering for me….even made the likes of Kong Hee look like a cheap tissue peddler in Bedok Bus interchange….I spoke about destiny…a better tomorrow…the promise of a new hope! It all flowed out sweet and clear lah like iced pandan flavor Bandung on a hot day lah!

Finally it’s in the bag. All I need now is to assemble an ‘A’ team….it’s a definitely go!

The financing was the hardest part..phew! And I for one am glad it’s over.

The rest is the mechanics.

When a fish is not a fish

February 2, 2016

When a man in the kampung ask of another in a solemn and grave tone before noon, ‘I wish to present you with a fish…..but I do not know whether you are in a position to accept my offer.’ It does not mean, this person wants to invite you for dinner…..it means something entirely different.

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‘The fish symbolizes abundance in standard Chinese mythology. No Da Vinci code there. No mystery even….it’s cut and dried over that side of the world.

However in the ritualized black mass of the triad under world….where the triangular seal represents the supernatural trilogy of heaven, earth and man…..mind, body and spirit….the continuum of before, during and after….a fish can symbolizes so many and many schools of thoughts along with states of mind.

One must thread very carefully in the underworld – as things are seldom what they appear to be.’

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Who is the man….really?

February 1, 2016

The man tore through the windy roads in the leafy suburbs of Kenny Hills – it was very hard to tell who exactly the man behind the wheel was. He looked different from the farmer – there was even an air of mischief about him that stirred something deep within her – she liked this man much better than that awkward farmer – she liked the sure footed way in which he negotiated the tight bends without hardly a flicker of fear – confidence that could only come from having done it so many times that one more time hardly mattered at all.

She slumped back into the seat like a cat and in a while her thoughts turned to wondering whether perhaps the rumors were true after all….the man seated beside her once had a European wife. A German. a fallen nun. They lived in South America where he farmed sugarcane and raced cars. Till the war came…

Is he that man – the woman in red looked at him again, this time carefully as if she was composing an image of someone she wanted to pin down to their essence – but as she looked on a swell of smoldering terror mixed with childish delight began to fill her suddenly – it started with the man lowering the windows and lighting a cigarette and turning his gaze towards her, it was the way he looked at her. As if he had been suddenly transported to another realm and some how taken her along for a ride – another life belonging to yet another man – the woman in red knew these dark men – she knew them well enough from the many scars on her wrist – that was why she had resigned herself to marry the grand old man – and now her tormentor was before her, toying with her fear and fascination, her desire for such a man and yet at the same time the trepidation of knowing that it can all only end in tears amd shattered dreams – these thoughts flashed through the woman in red as she watched each street lamp metamorphosing the farmer to this other man – this man who she had brought out..will out from the very crèche of her yearning.

And as the new reborn man and the woman who was now not so sure that she was still the hunteress – both sat quietly in the purring Jaguar waiting for the lights to turn green. A moment of epiphany suddenly dawned on the woman in red when their hands came together. There was no need to rush….no need whatsoever…they had after all, all the time in the world – with these thoughts, she resigned herself to be a flotsam – to go wherever this man pleased – she would not spoil his rhythm – she would just follow him obediently…like a dancer giving in to the slightest cue. He had even begun to play Como Fue and for the briefest of moments when only the haunting pathos of the music filled the cabin as both the new man and the woman in red sat like two passing ships in the inky dark ocean lost in their own thoughts.

The woman in red realized then for the first time that evening…the night was still young.

Less jobs in the future?

January 31, 2016

Touch and go El Niño 2016

January 30, 2016

Overall, despite the hotter than drier climatic conditions – I’ve been hardly affected by the devastating effects of El Niño.

Unlike most other areas we have not experienced a delay in the seasonal rains. This of course may all change in a drop of a hat, but as it is – everything seems to be relatively normal.

The hotter weather and lower precipitation has certainly impacted the kampung (village) economy. The prawn and cockles business has all been devastated.

There is a 50/50 chance the seasonal rains will suddenly stop. If this happens it would drastically affect cash crops. That still remains to be seen.

Things appear normal….but something tells me…this might just be the lull before the perfect storm.

The birds are very restless. So are the dogs….perhaps, they sense something evil coming this way.

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‘If you ask me why did I decide to be a farmer. It’s probably has a lot to do with my discomfort concerning the the word ‘work.’ Human beings I notice are the only animals in this planet who NEED to work – and I happen to think that is the most ridiculous thing in the world!

I say it’s ridiculous because ALL animals seem to make their living by just living, but humans only seem to work like crazy, thinking that they have to in order to get by in this world.

The really funny thing about humans is we even take exceptional pride in boasting about our work! It’s as if work is much more than just work, it’s become an outer personification of who we are and what we stand for.

As a consequence we invest so much of ourselves in the idea of work that eventually we just lose sight of the bigger picture in life.

I am not saying for one moment, farming is easy. Not at all. But comparatively, it’s a much more simpler way to get by in this world. For example, I don’t need to deal with the corrosive aspects of power and politics. I don’t even need to dress well, I could for example just wear khaki all year round and if things get to nutty – I always have to option to say, ‘this conversation is over…please get off my land!’

The really great thing about farming is it’s a very organic way to make a living – man isn’t supposed to be put into an air conditioned chicken coup for eight straight hours in a day – he is supposed to move around, sweat and feel the honesty of his muscles as he dedicates himself to the whole idea of work – so to me, farming is a remarkably stress free way to live.

For example, I happen to have more time than the average cookie cutter – it’s definitely a much more relaxed way to live. If I want fresh meat – I just hunt. I don’t have to do stupid things like stand in line in NTUC just to buy scraps. If I want to work…I work. If it’s too hot or it rains…I take a nap. I go with the flow. My point is the pace and cadence of farming is much closer to the way animals get by.

In such a life, work is not work as most people generally think of it, but simply doing what needs to be done. That’s why I’ve always believed farming is a superior way of life – it certainly provides me with an opportunity to live my life under my own terms. I wouldn’t want to live any other way.’

The illusionist

January 28, 2016

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Most people my generation grew up listening to Madonna, Kylie Minogue, U2, Bon Jovi, Guns & Roses, Michael Jackson….I listened to Korla Pandit.

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‘Mr Korla Pandit had a big influence on my life…I especially liked his music.’

Once upon a time, there was a greedy farmer in nearby village who believed it was a jolly good idea to bring in workers from a faraway land to earn more money – the greedy farmer had many reasons to bring in foreigners – firstly, they were all younger and fitter than those in his own village, hence they could work faster and longer and even offer better, betterer and betterest results for much less.

When villagers asked him pleadingly – why don’t you give us a chance to earn a living? The greedy farmer would often be heard recounting in the kopitiam, ‘I get a bigger bang for my buck by hiring these foreigners stupid! Besides you should not have such an entitlement mentality! Didn’t you know…no one owes you a living! Hahahahahahahaha!’

As these foreign workers swarmed the village, many of the villagers found themselves slowly displaced and marginalized.

Since many of the villagers could no longer find jobs, their skills slowly frittered away. And since without a job it was virtually impossible to pass on skills under a master and apprenticeship arrangement to the youths.

Eventually even the young started to leave the village for the cities. And since all the foreigners much preferred to repatriate 80 cents out of every dollar they earned back home rather than spend it in the village. Soon the local economy began to shrivel up as the shops closed down one by one. Eventually even the merchants packed up and moved along like a traveling circus. One by one the villagers began to leave for the city till eventually the village began to resemble a ghost town.

One day when the economy of the country collapsed due to the mismanagement by crooked politicians who claim to have received anonymous donations which are not actually donations….but I rather not write about it. As I don’t ever want to end in up in block 7 of IMH…..Dowan lah!

The currency of the country began to collapse in earnest. Soon the foreign workers began to demand higher wages from the greedy farmer. They would often be heard complaining, ‘now that your money is so small, it’s not worth it for us to work here any longer. As every time we send money back our wife’s and relatives complain no end that it is so little – so eventually even they decided to pack up and leave for greener pastures. And since there were no locals in the nearby village which had long since turned into a ghost town…no one could be found to work in the estate of the greedy farmer. As time went by the jungle overran the estate and it was no more….only to disappear like a piece of shit on a hot scorching day.

On the other side of the valley was another farming hamlet – there lived a wise farmer. This farmer did something very different when he brought in new migrants from other parts – for one he made sure every villager was first employed, unlike the greedy farmer who was only driven by the profit motive of always chasing the biggest bang for the buck.

The wise farmer valued relationships, so it was not unusual for him to even give out work to the locals even though he knew they were in some cases slower and more expensive when compared to foreign labor.

He would often be heard saying, ‘We are investing in the future…so we cannot measure progress in just monetary terms – after all if skills are not passed down from father to son, if they are not retained and sharpened in our community, then how will we harvest fruit in the future? How will we perpetuate our way of life? Besides we are a family, we must all take care of the old, young and the stupid. We cannot just leave them to fend for themselves – even animals don’t that.’

In this way, he was able to maintain the peace and harmony in his village and everyone, including the new migrants were happiest with the farmer – as even they despite their strange foreign ways were most welcomed by the villagers as since everyone was gainfully employed, the foreigners never once posed a threat to either the villagers way of life or their livelihoods.

One day when the economy turned to mud and all the foreigners left for greener pastures. The farmer gathered the whole village in the Padang. He told them all the brutal facts of life, we face very difficult times ahead….who will stand and fight with me?

The whole village told the farmer, ‘how can we not stand by you and fight… Where else do you expect us all to go? This is after all our home! If we don’t fight for home…..then what are we supposed to fight for!’

As for the foolish farmer he was last seen drinking himself blind while singing, show me the way to go home, like a broken violin…some say he was transformed into a frightened dog thereafter…if anyone knows or who has seen this dog…I mean person please drop me a line.

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‘Its hard to argue against the logic of ‘meritocracy’ without coming across as a parochial, insular and backward Dodo bird. As since meritocracy is premised on the idea of putting the most qualified, best into the positions of responsibility etc etc it has to be a very compelling logic….so I want to be crystal clear from the word ‘go!’ I am all for meritocracy! I am not against it.

However, where all discussions concerning meritocracy in my humble opinion take a very wrong turn is when the word is used out of context to somehow denote an end by itself.

Rather than meritocracy being simply a means to an end – and this brings me to my central contention, that is when we speak about meritocracy – one has to also ask: is it a reliable purveyor of the good life for natives? Does it nourish the idea of common wealth? Or does it produce inequalities that marginalize the natives?

The problem with the near-religious meritocracy cult is while they wax lyrical 24/7 about the fabled meritocratic magic carpet that will deliver us all to the land of milk and honey. The paradox is they don’t seem to nearly show the same enthusiasm when it comes to having a meaningful dialogue about the inequalities ‘meritocracy’ so often produces in Singapore – and it is this lag between theory and reality that causes so many natives to feel anxious and threatened and suspicious only to eventually lose faith in the idea of meritocracy.

Because if the custodians of power wash their hands clean and leave it all to the free market to define and interpret and determine the ambit of WHAT is meritocracy – then it’s as good as giving the keys to the National blood bank to Count Dracula. You know why he’s called the count right? He’s got a loopy accounting method lah! And that’s what will happen as well, when firms are given a carte Blanche to do whatever they want under the banner of meritocracy – they like the greedy farmer and Dracula will always plumb for the maximum bang for the buck! Along with discounting the long term and investing in the future.

That’s to say if there are two equal candidates for a prospective position and one of them is prepared to settle for a lower pay – then it will most likely go that person. That’s fine, if you tell me the guy who pitched higher was unrealistic. Or not as capable.

But if he’s a native who has to live and support a family and his aged parents in the world’s most expensive country – then that by itself is a constraint that needs to be adequately reflected into the whole calculus of selection if we are all wearing out meritocracy top hats!

How much latitude does this native have to compete with Rajiv on an equal basis when it comes to salary scale, whose family is still back in one sing dollar buys ten chapati’s and a chilled Mango lassi in Mumbai and who is just renting a room in Sengkang?

Let’s be realistic!

Where may I respectfully ask is the whole idea of the level playing field here?

Where does meritocracy even feature?

Pray tell if you have the balls to do so..because it’s conceivable I am stupid and may be sun stroked as I spend so much time these days in the field….rather the way I see it, in this illustration – you have cost leadership hiding under the skirt of meritocracy – I have just given ONLY one stark example of how meritocracy as a school of thought fails to pass sensibly from the land of theory to reality….there many many more examples of inequalities should one decide to peer deeper – as you can see, this word can very easily be used and abused by vested interest to sanitize all sorts of conditions that only produces inequalities for natives if we don’t think hard enough about it.

This it seems is the central problem in Singapore – namely, the imbalance between the theory and realisation of meritocracy.

And my suggested solution for correcting the excesses of our extreme version of meritocracy is quite simple: make it truly meritocratic!

Fashion it as a no nonsense means to create a real level playing field for all! Because as it is, it’s a pariah dog meritocracy that embodies the form without the content and this can only continue to produce more inequalities for natives…wonder no more why so many people these days don’t believe in meritocracy as the purveyor of la Dolce Vita.

You can’t blame them, not when the politicians these days are so criminally lazy, they don’t even seem to feel the urgency to ask further or bother with a report card – whether meritocracy produces more pluses or minuses for Singaporeans!’

The mother has died and the pup is orphaned. She stands her ground like her mother used too at the West gate some five kilometers away from my lands. Here her mother’s scent still lingers….that must be why this pup continues to guard this gate that hardly anyone uses any more.

These aren’t domesticated dogs – they’re truly wild. That is why I am slightly surprised she’s all alone by herself. Usually wild dogs roam in tightly knit packs during this time of the year – maybe she couldn’t keep up with them? Could that be the reason why they left her behind? Perhaps she got lost?…it’s very hard to say. From what I am able to make out, her left hind leg is all busted up.

I am very careful not to touch her. If I do – should the pack return…..one of them may pick up my human scent and cast her out – that is the politics of the pack….humans and wild dogs aren’t supposed to ever mix…it’s taboo….Then again should I decide to do nothing – her hind leg may get infected and she would most certainly die.

If I decide to touch her…I would need to commit myself to domesticating her and taking her back home to call my own….. I’ll have to decide what to do tomorrow.

Meanwhile I have decided to give her a name…it shall be ‘Gatey’ – as she’s the puppy whose always standing at the gate.

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‘Dogs I reckon can teach us how to be better human beings – and I don’t mean that facetiously. They really can teach us how to love unconditionally. How to set aside grudges. How to live in the moment. To conduct oneself always with the highest integrity. To remain steadfast and loyal. To be courageous and to always smile even when things don’t always go well.

If we attributed some of those qualities to a person we would have absolutely no problem agreeing – we are indeed blessed to be in the company of someone extraordinarily thoughtful and well balanced.

However if a person had ALL of these doggy qualities, we would all probably write books, make films, recite poetry and build monuments to honor such people.

Yet no one ever bothers to seek out all these in dogs. They rather learn about these qualities vicariously by either reading a book or watching a movie…..that is the strange thing about man. When the truth is staring him in the face, he doesn’t even see it and instead decides to search for it in places that can only take him further from the truth…but I know dogs better than anyone in this world…that is why I have always considered them my most revered teachers.’

Sympathy is very often confused with compassion. Truth is sympathy can have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with compassion – just as oil and water can never combine to be one of the same reality.

Sympathy is just an elaborate way to nourish one’s ego….it’s a prostitute!

As when one sympathizes FOR another…(Notice: I have used the prefix ‘FOR’ instead of ‘WITH.’) As the latter is commonly misused – as in the act of sympathy all that one is really doing is putting the self high on a pedestal, where one looks down with a detached state of mind on the person who one is sympathizing FOR….so as you can see – you can certainly sympathize FOR, but never WITH…….that’s an oxymoronic construction of words!

As sympathy is just a polite form of degradation, appropriation and disrespect – as those who delight in sympathizing never really give as much as take….even when they appear to be giving or givers…sympathizers are actually voracious takers who can ONLY take, take and take…as since their ego is like an ever hungry furnace no matter how much they take, they can never be full…there is no limit! Hence sympathizers are no better than vampires feasting on the life force of others as they derive so much pleasure and nourishment that comes from feeding their ego.

True compassion on the other hand can only come from a complete absence of expectation of nothingness…it is for lack of a better word, the clearest manifestation of pure nothingness – an egoless state of mind when one is prepared to give the time and attention to put oneself in the shoes of the sufferer……to be at one with every dimension of the sufferers pain.

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‘People can often be very condescending without them realizing it! They can. That is to say instead of being thoughtful and holding out relief, often all they do, despite their best intentions is to heighten anxiety and sharpen the pain of others.

This is what happens when man is not diligent in his study of details and takes words so lightly that he doesn’t even see the wisdom of reflecting deeply on their meaning….and regrettably most people if you observe do not!

If they give, they want everyone to know, they give! If they do something good. They expect everyone to call them a good man….so to me it’s really a transactional affair…a quid pro quo arrangement…something just to nourish their grotesquely obese ego…and if you pander to these people…you are no better than a prostitute!

I don’t want to have anything to do with that stupid dynamic of the world – that is why despite so many people offering me this and that…on virtually every single occasion, my response has remained stoically the same. I will ask of these people who want to ‘give’ me things and confer favors upon me…..

Why are you trying to insult me? What have I done to deserve this?

At first they will be bewildered and puzzled by my response…that is when I will usually ask of them.

Tell me please – do you see anything in my blog that suggest that I even want anything at all? Look carefully around this blog. Please. I implore you! Look!

Am I peddling T-shirts, books or any trinkets? Am I even endorsing any products at all? Do you see pop up sponsors and ads for ointments that you can apply on your cock so that it can grow two inches longer! Am I advertising a wonder bra that can transform your airport chest to a full bodied buxom D cup mega top?

Is there even a paypal account where you can make an anonymous donation? Coming to think of it – do you by any chance see anything at all that suggest I am seeking anything from you!

99.9% of the time, if they happen to be women. They will exclaim in a trembling tone, ‘how dare you!’ Promptly thereafter they will give me two tight slaps or throw water on my face or both and storm right out. I am so accustomed to this response these days. I even regularly use nano technology in my hair cream to waterproof my head! If it’s a man, a fist fight is just about 50/50….but it always ends the same…in a few days, when they calm down and reflect on what I have shared with them and eventually come around full circle…they will all (without a single exception) share with in a grave tone…how they finally see it so clearly now.

It is regrettable that this seems to be the only reliable for me to provoke others to think more deeply about the meaning of sympathy and compassion along with the whole idea of giving.

Truth is, even if I am dying of thirst in the scorching desert…I don’t even expect any of my readers to bring the cup to my parched lips.

I do not expect anything whatsoever!

Because the very moment one ‘expects’ – the magic spell is broken. As that is the cue for the ego to suddenly prick up his ears. Rear it’s ugly head in expectation and this hungry monster looks greedily around only to exclaims, ‘hello, hello what do we have here!’

The very moment when we speak about wants and desires in whatever shape or form, even if it may be couched in that most benign of words, ‘expectation’ – that is when the ego has already hijacked the narrative.

And I have seen this time and again, how when money comes into anything that is noble and pure. Then it can only lead to the sewerage treatment plant of politics and since politics comes encrusted with power, everything can only be corrupted!

So I want nothing to do of that world. I may not be able to control the whole world. But here in this blog, I have always believed I can at least control the four corners of my little digital island. Besides I’ve been there. Done that. Even have the T Shirt and key chain to prove it. So Dowan lah! (Don’t want).

And this only lefts one question. What then do I want? What accounts for the things I do? That is my business which I consider private and out of bounds.

Do you see how it’s so impossible to give me anything at all – to put it another way, I will never allow you to turn me into a prostitute just to slake your ego!’

What mankind does not have the breadth of experience or depth of wisdom to understand….he will automatically give it the label of ‘crazy’ or ‘mad.’

This is man’s first priori response whenever he comes face to face with an unknown quantity.

The reason why man is always inclined to take such a strong position is because he suffers from a very big hang up concerning ‘not knowing.’ To Mr Know it all – not knowing will always be too uncomfortable to bear….for one his crumbly ego can never bear such a heavy burden. As he would have to come to terms with the awful reality….it’s conceivable, he may not be as knowledgeable, well read or worst still…he might simply be ignorant and stupid.

So it’s hardly a matter of choice for this man. He really has no options but to seek refuge in the temple of magic words, by labeling the unknown quantity ‘mad’ or ‘crazy’….by doing so , man is able to conveniently absolve himself from all responsibility to learn and understand further about that incomprehensible thing or person that crinkles his world…suddenly, he is able to keep his crumbly world intact again…it’s no longer shaking. Suddenly that which once vexed him no end, no longer bothers him any longer….finally he is safe!

As by invoking the magic incantation…..mad and crazy..it confers upon this man – the unmitigated license to disparage, disrespect, undermine and render that which he is incapable of understanding so inconsequential…it doesn’t even deserve the slightest modicum of his respect or care.

To paraphrase, that which confounds man can only fill his heart with anxiety and this can only lead to fear – fear opens the door to irrational anger.

Hence that which is an effrontery to his limited intelligence must always be destroyed in the name of preserving the vanity of this man who can ever never hope to understand a person or thing for what it really is and not what others say it is…..never.

That is the tragedy of the human condition.

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‘Not very long ago in Singapore there was a group of men who got together and started dressing up in three piece suits, sporting pipes etc etc. If memory serves. These group of dapper fashionistas referred to themselves the Gentleman’s pride.

Do google it up and feel free to correct me if I happen to be wrong.

It’s not exactly clear what motivated these men to come together…but that’s hardly the point.

What I want to underscore is – how much anger this group of men provoked in the online community – many people took to their digital parchments to split hairs on what is the definition of a gentleman, to even writing whole disquisitions on the subject of does clothes maketh a man? Others even theorized these people were out to propagate some elitist sub culture in our midst.

Watching all this from the sidelines. I couldn’t but help feel – many of these critics who were only too quick to read beyond the motives of this group – to even suggest they were guilty of propagating a class or cultural war were just giving their insecurities free rein.

The irony is in fervent attempts to undermine the Gentlemen’s pride, they were actually demonstrating the nakedness of their ignorance, fear and complete lack of imagination which they accused this group of harboring – after all, if a group of men choose to dress up to nines and ten’s on a Sunday and strut around, take photos and post it in Instagram….what’s the harm….where is the wrong? Where is the suggestion of class war?

Truth is dressing up like a dandy has nothing whatsoever to do with class divide anymore than living in a cave necessarily makes one a geologist.

Besides its not as if these men are making bombs in their kitchen…there is nothing malevolent or insidious about it. Not to me…at least.

So why not let them be? Or even if you don’t seem to be able to understand their philosophy – why not give the matter time to mature and suspend disbelief for the time being instead of shooting it down on the first opportunity…and that is basically a summary of why society is the way it is – if it’s parochial, insular and inward looking…it’s precisely because people don’t give anything a chance. They kill it even before it has an opportunity to take root and become something significant….that’s why everything is same!

Will dressing up in Austin Reed’s or strutting around in a pair of Weston’s on a weekend be able to make the world a better place? Is there a guiding philosophy to these people coming together? I really don’t know – but I will say this, it definitely a welcome change to the same shit, different day run of the mill that we get from the Singapore blogoland – besides those guys really put in a serious effort to look like a million dollars and I for one hope they will not be daunted and continue to do what they do…because that is how it really is in life….sometimes when a group of men decide to dress up and get together…that’s really all it is…no Da Vinci code there…no grand design for world domination either….sometimes it’s really just what it is….and very little else…..a group of men deciding to dress up and get together! That is.

The world will always try it’s darnest to plant a flag on top of your head! That’s the dao (way) of the world! It’s always telling you how you should live your life….what you must strive to own to gain prestige and respectability and happiness. Along with how best you should manage yourself and others.

That’s fine. The problem comes in when we realize too often the world sets impossible standards that only sets us up for the proverbial fall…..that is why so many people feel short changed by the game of life…they always feel as if they’re holding the short end of the stick. But that’s the con job of the way of the world – first it beats you up by screaming in your face….you don’t cut the grade…..then it sells you the solution to what appears to be your lack!

Most people aren’t conscious of this…so they end up falling into this mind trap.

Doesn’t matter what that lack may be. Doesn’t even matter whether it’s real or imagine either – could be that dream job or bottle of eu de cologne…men briefs that magically blesses you with a six pack….that car, girl, condo, country club membership etc etc… it’s the same old trite one and two and you are always down for the count con job.

That’s the reason why the wise will always advise you to FIRST strive to be comfortable in your own skin – I guess what they are trying to say in a round about way is learn to listen to your being…..don’t be too bothered about what others say and think about you…..don’t invest yourself too much in other people….just invest in yourself first and everything else will take care of itself!

When you turn inwards…something magical happens….it starts with just a faint voice.

You will begin to hear this inner prompting of HOW to be the person who you were always meant to be and not someone else the world wants you to be – this is the first sign of a mature mind…..it always goes inwards to search for the truth!

The mature mind never ever tries to be someone else. As the cornerstone of maturity first demands the responsibility of accepting oneself…the good, bad and ugly….that’s what maturity is all about. It’s not about how many years you have lived on this planet. Neither is it about status, prestige or your nett worth….it’s really only about divesting all the nonsense the world has imposed upon you all these years along with other such nonsense like what it considers as the definition of organizational and personal success.

Once you learn to tune out from the cacophony of the world and cultivate the art of listening to your inner voice – only then can you find your own line….own style…own branding and be the man who you were always meant to be.

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‘If you observe carefully the world always wants you to be self conscious – it’s always prompting you to look and compare your lot with the person next to you. It’s always only doing just that!

That’s the dao of the world – it’s always trying to sell you something that you don’t need! Think about it! If the world didn’t engineer a deficit somewhere in your life…how can it possibly sell you anything at all?

That is the brutal economics of the demand and supply of wants and desires.

So the world is by default always conspiring against you…..it’s always trying to get your attention…drawing you out….distracting you from the important to cast your eyes on the fools gold!

‘Look at how that guy has got it all together!…..look at how short changed you are in the game of life…..look he’s more handsome and successful than you….look he drives a bigger and spankier car than you!…did you see that, he’s got a platinum American Express card….he’s got a hot girl fren…he’s got a bigger dick than you! etc etc.

And should you be foolish to buy into that package – then you will always end up beating yourself up into a pulp…it’s really an emotional and spiritual war of attrition that you cannot emerge as a winner….either way it’s lose lose. It’s like the classical case of the insatiable yearning of the stonecutter to better his lot. But why does he indulge in this great diffusion of energy only to end up where he once started from?

Why?

The short answer is because the stonecutter never once saw the wisdom in striving to be comfortable in his own skin – instead of turning inwards for self affirmation, assurance and edification.

The stonecutter was seduced by the dazzle of the world along with faceless opinions of others – to put it another way, he is always trying to be someone else…..always running from the essence of his being…and that in a nutshell is what invariably happens when a man or woman buys into the ideal of the world.

He or she can only fall from grace and feel so beaten up that it will lead to suffering…..if you care to observe all around you….so many people are ensnared in this mind trap!

They needless seek out all the conditions that makes suffering possible….you could just be having a conversation with a girl. Suddenly another girl strolls up. Observe! See how the girl you were talking too tenses up. Observe! How she’s looking at this other girl who has just come along….maybe she’s already feeling shaky. As her handbag is not as snazzy….perhaps she’s self conscious of her appearance…maybe it’s the colorful photos of a recent holiday that this other girl is showing off in her smart phone that makes this girl you were talking too…feel as if she’s missing out in life.Observe! Soon this girl will begin to lose her center and in a while, poof! Her self confidence goes right down to zero! She’s a wreck!

That is what invariably happens when you cast your eye on the world instead of inwards……

It is the same bullshit Chinese opera with men as well…observe…they’re constantly comparing and contrasting….constantly scaling and sizing up each other…constantly searching out for the many contradictions in life…observe!

My point is all these are signs of an immature and petty mind – the mature mind NEVER compares….as the first discipline of the mature mind is always to go inwards and never to cast his eyes onwards on the illusions of this world. Above all the mature mind is very comfortable in his own skin…very comfortable and when one is comfortable, the mind is still and calm like a mirrored lake…it is unshakeable!’

What we do…

January 21, 2016

Often we are shaped by what we decide to do or not do. Who we will ultimately become is really only a function of our cumulative experience that stems directly from all our acts and omissions.

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‘The problem with sadness, anger, hopelessness, anxiety, anguish, misery and all other ‘undesirable’ states of existence is we automatically equate them with suffering….without FIRST bothering to understand them better.

It’s as if we have marked a carton box ‘SUFFERING’ and placed all these emotions into it without even bothering to reflect deeply on their nuanced nature, only to banish them from sight and mind.*

But these emotional states have nothing whatsoever to do with suffering in the true sense.

The only reason why we consider for example sadness or hopelessness or any other ‘negative’ state of mind undesirable is because we are always trying to run away from them all the time!

They are really strangers to us.

So as time goes by sadness or any other ‘negative’ feelings can only acquire a disproportionate agency of power over our lives. If for instance feelings of loneliness, anxiety or desperation threatens to overwhelm and destroy us…that is the clearest demonstration we know very little about these feelings beyond the belief, they cause suffering……….but once we call out these demons and even go thru the bother of getting to know each of them intimately like good friends.

Suddenly that which was once mysterious and scary loses it’s power to disturb completely and absolutely. Suddenly we find it much easier to come to terms with WHY, these ‘negative’ feelings will always follow us thru out life and even come to accept them. In certain cases, we may even consider them blessings. Suddenly we don’t see them as the proverbial bogeyman any longer as we have come to terms with the reality….while pain may be inevitable….suffering is always optional.’

* Never repress your ‘negative’ feelings. If you do that, they will just hide in your mind like rats and secretly conspire against you….call them out!

Cry if you need too, punch your pillow if you need too, shout at the top of your voice if you need too – there is no shame…this is not a contest of who is more macho….call them out!

And when you do this – you will NEVER be sucked into the whirlpool of self pity and destruction – as since you have befriended that which could have once destroyed you.

You have disarmed your nemesis and rendered him harmless and benign.

And in return for all your trouble – do not be surprise if these friends bless you with insight and wisdom….and this can only make you a better person as since you know for example sadness or misery or lost so well – you will have an uncanny ability to seek it out in others and even commune with their pain and empathize with them to lead them out of darkness into the light.

The question to me in this age has never been – who are ‘we.’We are really only in a position to ask that sort of question – if it’s possible to control all the drivers that will continue to subtlety shape our thinking along with where we are headed….these days in the age of the borderless world, it’s no longer possible to do either.

So to me it has to be a rare form of madness to assume these days, it’s possible to answer that question….who are ‘we.’

Because that question: who are ‘we’ cannot possibly exist at all in a borderless world where everyone aspires towards the same thinking and things – that is a veritable oxymoron.

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image

‘I happen to be the last of the ‘cross-over’ generation. I am not referring to the China wine variety of crossover. Rather it’s a sobriquet term of endearment that I coined to describe that time line marking the transitionary period from analog era to the digital age.

The cassette to me will always be a metaphor of the analog age…for one it was excruciating slow. For instance, if you wanted to listen to the last track. You would have to press a physical button to activate a motor that spools the magnetic tape all the way to near the end. Meanwhile you could busy yourself with flipping a few pan cakes or doing the laundry. Then after an eternity – only then can you play the desired track….life was very slow back then like most things.

Today in the digital age. Everything is quicksilver fast and furious – press and viola it’s there before you. Don’t like what you see…change it with an app. You get it in an instant. But the one compelling differentiator between the analog and digital age isn’t speed as much as endless variety and choice…that to me is the essence of the digital age.

You’re able to customize everything from your entertainment to whatever else piques your interest with remarkable ease.

You’re even able to do this no matter how incredulous you come across…because your audience is global and not local.

You can set up a Facebook account in five minutes and find like minded people without too much difficulty, who may even share your objects of interest – like we’re not about a coherent set of ideals or values, we are not about being serious about anything…we’re really just about giving ourselves a YOLO (you only live once) feel good high every five minutes for the next two hours…now you can actually do all that in the digital medium. And not only do you have the tool kit to create your own virtual community, but that also allows to fashion your own reality as well.

What I’ve just described is an allegory or microcosm of what’s happening to everything in this world – everything ranging from businesses to how best to tie your shoelaces.

Everything!

Virtually everything is sucked into this giant digital blender and rehashed into something very different from what it used to be – so when we speak about identity in the context of nationhood, it’s neither reasonable nor realistic to assume it can somehow remain a stand alone untouched by the metallic hand of the digital age…it cannot….simply because in this age where everyone and everything is marinating in this lime green swirl of circuitry.

Nothing can ever be truly esoteric…abstruse or recherché any longer.

It cannot, as the world is very slowly liquifying into one homogenous glacier of consciousness, where everyone will basically chase the same dreams and aspirations irrespective of their locale.

I don’t doubt, there might still be nooks and crannies in this world where people may still hold on to some values they all consider timeless and universal….but these are rare exceptions, like firms that still produce stuff with star spangled labels which say, ‘proudly made in America.’

In the final analysis it’s a war of attrition between man’s stream of consciousness and the dexterity of the machine to whirl further into every aspect of his life. And I have absolutely no doubt humans will at some point be anesthetized by the whole process of digitalization.

It’s already happening now. Droves of people are walking around with wires stuck to their ears as if they are all suffering from mass hearing impairment. As they trudge along in their hermetically sealed bubble world glued to their smart phones.

We don’t perceive it as curious or odd only because it’s an acquired taste that naturalized into a lifestyle….that is precisely my point…it hard if not impossible to know for certain where it all begins or ends.

Having said that. A few things are very certain, with each successive exponential leap in processing power, the less we can hold on to the idea of individuality…that’s the ultimate paradox of the digital age. On one hand, it holds out the promise of infinite diversity and endless variety that appears to buttress the whole idea of individuality, yet substantively everything about the individual is frittering away into whirlpool of vapidness and sameness where increasingly catchy soundbites are taking over whole discourses.

In an age where it’s increasingly impossible to still the mind and bear out patiently the beauty of words slowly and carefully ….it’s very hard to make out a better world…that at least is how I, the analog man sees it all in this digital age.’

Who are we……really?

January 20, 2016

Last week a good friend asked me to give some worldly advice (presumably so that they don’t end up like me) to both his sons who had just graduated and who are planning to join the work force in Singapore.

Both of these boys were complaining about how difficult it is to find jobs these days. Despite graduating from reasonably OK local tertiary institutions….During the conversation the older asked me what I thought about the job prospects in Singapore.

I asked him and his brother in a grave tone, are you both genuine about wanting to serve your country? They exchanged looks then turned to me with that all too familiar, ‘of course lah’ look and blurted out together, ‘most definitely Sir!’

That was when I advised them both to go to Russia and get some international experience….one of them turned to me and asked, ‘but isn’t Russia a dangerous country?’ I quipped, ‘Is Singapore really so bubble wrapped safe meh?

Tell me, if both of you have end up as glorified Uber drivers and sit eight hours straight in a steel cage and learn to piss into a plastic bottle in between shifts isn’t that hazardous to your health? The younger exclaimed, ‘I guess you have a point!’

I went on to share with these two young men – the whole idea of serving their country was closer to a lofty sentiment than what could reasonably be expected to be pan out….as since both of them had never lived or worked in any country except Singapore…they were both really no better than two little frogs stuck in a well. Besides their thumb drives were empty…so how can they even talk about servanthood without sounding terribly ridiculous.

I went on to share with those two boys…if Russia scares the shit out of you…then plumb for either the EU or US.

But whatever you do….try your best to get out of the comfort zone of familiarity, insularity and the frog in the well cult….as when one has to work and play in the discomfort zone that is when one develops super powers….there is no other way.

Anyone who tells you different has probably never taken the idea of serving his country seriously before.

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‘Asking the question – ‘who we are?’ These days. Is not so different from asking – how do I get my horse drawn wagon to hit the 60 mph mark?

That has to be the world’s most stupidiest question especially when we are already marinating earnestly in a world of electric cars and magnetically levitated trains that can exceed 200 or so no sweat miles….Besides if modernity doesn’t render that sort of philosophical feel good question obsolete.

I have no doubt, the hard facts of life of Globalization as a theory will have no problem whatsoever shredding that sort of question to pieces – after all, if we don’t have any hang up’s about firms these days being headquartered in Singapore with just a make do skeleton staff and having the meat of their operations in either the EU or US or China or all three continents to leverage on competitive advantage – then how much sense does it make these days in the age of globalization to frame a question where the individual is tied down to the finality of home in a physical sense?

I am not for one moment discarding the value of community. Or it’s effects on identity in a personal and organization scale….only, my point is the question cannot possibly deny the context to the extent that it obliterates the countervailing forces of globalization completely.

Don’t you think that’s stupid…especially when politicians and corporate leaders harp constantly about how the forces of globalization and intercontinental connectivity has managed to render non existent the idea of borders and barriers…along with compressing the world into one homogenous blob of people who roughly share the same goals and aspirations.

I am not saying I agree completely with these people who keep on insisting time and again we already live in a borderless world. Only I can’t deny these adherents of a new global order do certainly have a compelling argument that makes it quite impossible to ask the philosophical question – who are we? Without at least taking stock of the globalization and how it will continue to shape identity along with group dynamics.

To me, it’s bloody irrelevant who we are! Do you really imagine people who regularly make hard nosed business decisions these days even care about questions like this?

Truth is in the age of cut throat globalization – they don’t nearly have the luxury to posit ‘what if’ scenarios based on that sort of old fashioned corseted context!

Besides why promote parochialism and celebrate insularity in an age where everything is going in the diametrically opposite direction and tearing down old set pieces so fast that whatever answers that may be produced by asking that sort of question will at best add up to a museum set piece!

Do you really imagine….Sandeep from Mumbai who may well prefer his roti prata with only dall and not ikan bilis Sambal bothers with such questions when he chows down his breakfast in Bedok interchange before hopping on a train to start work as a code writer in an IT firm somewhere in Shenton way?

What do you think about the CEO who decides to shut down his manufacturing operation in Detroit and transplant it bolt for bolt and nut for nut to some green field in China or Russia – do you imagine such lofty and sugary questions are in his mind when he signs on a dotted line to axe X or Y workers?

Who we are? To put it simply: the man or woman YOU will ultimately become is essentially a function of your accumulated experiential knowledge and how much or little you decide to limit or stretch the field of possibilities in a globalized age – if all you are prepared to do is revel in your greatest and infallibility in your self imposed cloistered isolation, as did the Easter Islanders in the past…then even should you be able to answer that question – who are we? It wouldn’t really add up to very much.

As any society or for matter individual in a globalized age would do well to cast their eyes wide and far…beyond the horizon of the notion of physical home, no matter how remote, strange or distant….as that remains the only way for one to gainfully migrate from the comfort to the zone of discomfort….only then can we enjoy the all the opportunities and benefits of of allowing the forces of globalization to shape us….into…who we ‘are.’ As for the rest, it’s just feel good masturbation.

2016 has to be….the year of the one thousand angry men…it has to be.

That’s to say nothing is going to pan out like it did last year or for that matter every year that came and said bye bye, since you were born into this planet….2016 is different from all years!

Other years might perhaps have been only the fifty or at most two hundred angry men years….but nothing…absolutely nothing will ever come close to this year….2016…as this is the year when there are three perfect zeroes!

This is the year when nothing is going down the way it’s supposed too – at the top of the angry men list, must be the oil and gas folk.

I bet they are all so fucking angry hot steam is shooting right out from their ass, ears and nostrils – they are so angry, they’re just one angry puff of steam – they’re all angry as hell as they all know only too well – the golden age of oil rules the day is now a goner; if they seem quiet, it’s only because they can’t find the words to describe their anger.

The second angriest men on the list have to be the bankers, traders or anyone who works with moving zero’s on an excel spreadsheet – these people have to be so super duper angry as well, they all look like a hand grenade just two seconds after the pin has been pulled – just imagine how’s it like for them….to go to work every single day and to be told time and again…this is the year when it will all go down the chute…this is the year when the big one will flatten everything in sight till you can even see the slight curvature of the earth at the outer edge of your periphery vision….so they all have to be shit angry….as many would have to get used to life as a uber driver.

Then the third angriest men definitely have to be farmers. Because this is the year Mother Nature turns everything upside down and shakes it all up….everything is just so wrong with this year from the word go! – so farmers can only flail, get thrown here and there, but knowing at heart these are all driven by something far larger than them..it’s so big that nothing can be done about it…all one can really do is sit by the side lines like one of those old ball players that no one ever calls to step up to the plate…this man is just there at every game….but it always begins and ends exactly like the last one.

He never gets called…

Then of course there is a whole lot of other angry men as well…..too many to mention…I reckon.

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The Ukraine

January 18, 2016

The future is in the Ukraine!

We have to run!…..again. I am so sorry for the inconvenience…fill up the forms…We all met there….I am thinking of happier times…that is my hope!

This place is done for!

Ukraine

January 17, 2016

‘The discovery of petroleum and the ease in which it can be utilized to manufacture endless products to power national, regional and global economies was the biggest mistake of mankind.

As since mankind is by nature a very unimaginative and stupid creature who always only prefers to take the path of least intellectual resistance – so once he discovers how easy is it to drill a hole and tap a commodity that comes right out of the ground magically to commoditize and power his economic aspiration – naturally, he wants to live only this easy street way and no other ways……that’s OK, if the price of oil continues to hold it’s value.

But once oil loses it’s value and becomes a bane instead of boon…once it is transformed into a liability instead of a blessing…then this foolish creature called man can only flounder and run like a headless chicken here and everywhere asking – what else can I find to make do….that’s when all hell breaks lose!

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