Shadow is the odd one out in the litter of six pups. She has neither Spitz or Rotweiller markings unlike the other pups. She is much smaller. Neither is shadow cuddly and cute like the other pups…her head is slightly bent and her backbone seems to suffer from a slight curve. As such the other pups don’t seem to want to include Shadow in their play activities. Shadow is always alone. That is why I have called her shadow – as she is there with the rest of the pups…but never truly there.

Whenever shadow tries to join the other pups. They all growl at her and so she is always alone.

I have seen this before…this is nature’s way to kill off the weak and only keep the strong….but I know how to bring out the best in dogs…one day shadow will be brightest of the pack.

You mark my words….as what I say will come to past.

—————————————————————————

‘I once came across a man who once told me the reason why Politicians need to be paid millions in Singapore is because there is an acute shortage of talent. I went on to ask of this man…how this acute shortage in talent come about? He seemed quite irritated by my line of questioning that for some inexplicable reason he considered impertinent and even rude….only for him to answer back with a raised voice….we all know talent is finite…not everyone has the right stuff…you know what I mean?

I went on ask again. No I don’t have any idea what you mean. May I ask the question again…how did this acute shortage of talent come about in Singapore? Who is responsible for this sad state of affairs? Has this person been jailed for his incompetence and dereliction of duty in failing to do his job properly.

Finally this person got so exasperated he stormed off not before shouting at me.

Till today no one seems to be able to answer my question…I shall write more about this subject when I return back from the field. I need to pay more attention to Shadow. For one I need to teach her how to walk. She is a bit slow when compared to the rest of her siblings….but that is not something that cannot be easily fixed with a bit of patience and coaching…no. It is not a big problem.’

I have till now refrained from commenting about the recent unwise tweaks on limiting the selection of future presidents in Singapore based on race. My reasons for my reservations are very simple – talking about race based politics in a society that is supposed to be multiracial and meritocratic makes as much sense as trying to make progress by going backwards. By narrowing the choices of future presidents for Singapore based on race this will only further heighten the publics consciousness about race instead of adding any meaningful value to help build a multi racial society.

—————————————————————————

‘Is he or she Malay enough to be the next president of Singapore’ is a question that has never ever featured before in any public discussion in Singapore. Please don’t blame me for bringing this subject up! As I am not the one asking this question. I am just a simple autistic farmer who is digging holes in the field. As this is a question that is emerging from the Malays themselves in Singapore concerning the choice of presidential candidates….so if you want to take issue…please take it up with them….I am merely looking at a spade and calling it a spade….as it is very natural for them to ask this question since when something that has the power to divide and highlight differences is promoted. Then it can only play out to its logical end. Because the policy makers have inadvertently opened Pandora’s box – as when one limits the selection to ONLY race as a primary criteria. Then it is only natural for those within that segment of society to ask further about identity, culture, heritage, historicism along with all that they consider important within the ambit of race within and beyond its dictionary meaning….so now the Malay community are asking…how tall is his songkok? Is it three, four or six inches….then there are others who are saying if it goes beyond six then might it not be a Turkish Fez and not a songkok!

But you cannot blame them for quibbling about such these details as I said….when everything turns ONLY on race it usually encapsulates a wider and broader Paradigm of identity…so it is conceivable that some Malays may even ask…does the president ‘baru’ enjoy eating lemang and rendang on Hari Raya? Is the lemang cooked over a pokok getah fire or was it prepared with a modern induction oven…because if it is the latter then matilah he or she cannot possibly be a genuine tulin Malay…..and this will go on to such details as to whether the candidate might wear a sarong and if so how is it knotted….might the ends be pulled twisted then folded inwards or outwards. If it the former then it’s a Kelantanese corruption that goes back to their long history of fratenizing with the Thais…matilah some more…he can’t be 100% malay. If it is the former – is there are orthodox line that runs the length of the sarong that tapers ever so slightly only to converge at the fold around the waist….if not! Matilah three times lucky! He is not Malay enough again….my point is I have witnessed such discussions amongst my own workers whenever we live, work and play together in the field and usually such conversations never bring people together. Instead it becomes the causes of schism and divisions…and usually I just tell them all to shaddup lah!

This I can easily do. As I am seen as a patriarchal figure who is responsible for the well being on my ‘Anak bush’ – those who rely on my benevolence and grace to turn the wheel of life….so it is my duty to maintain the compact between land and man. No one will ever scold me in the Kampung if I tell them to shaddup if I nip in the bud anything that threatens the common good of the community….the problem is the same cannot be said about Singapore…that is a very big problem and there you have it the palm of your hands the seeds of schism where one day if it is not well managed Brother will even turn against Brother….this is not wise.’

China, Singapore & OBOR

July 22, 2017

To me it’s very clear that China means to outflank Singapore….it has become very personal – geopolitically, by deploying a strategy to degrade the US Singapore alliance and geoeconomically by setting into motion a plan to render Singapore irrelevant economically.

It is conceivable that China will also deny Singapore many business opportunities that OBOR is likely to generate.

Therefore it is important for Singapore to position herself to take and not simply accept this situation…..it is after all an economic war.

If Singapore cannot learn to take, take and take!

She is doomed!

—————————————————————————-

‘There are many businessmen who are out to deny me business opportunities. Some times they form cartels to manipulate the prices so that I have to buy higher than them…at other times since there are more of them, they snap up the choicest land and throw me bones…..I can either accept the situation or fight back.

But each decision comes with a hefty price – if I accept the situation. Then things can only get worse. As experience informs me, whenever people feel they have every right to treat me like shit…then they will continue to treat me like shit and in no time my lot will get so small that I can only be overwhelmed by a mountain of shit.

But should I decide not to accept this. Then by default. I have to wage a clandestine war against these forces. War is war! There is no disguising what needs to be done….it is not a handsome thing. Not at all. As frequently one must betray everything including the self to set the conditions to secure a decisive victory.

By choosing option (2) at least there is a possibility of a better tomorrow for those in the homefront and even if things don’t improve. Since you have fashioned yourself as a world’s biggest troublemaker. You will cause so many in the enemy camp to suffer from high blood pressure that they may consider detente, armistice or perhaps even throw you a chicken wing instead of the neck or backside.

This is my experience when one is a small fry sharing the same pond with bigger fishes….it doesn’t pay to be meek. One has to be aggressive….and if possible snakey and manipulative.

As a clandestine war requires stealth, strategy and cunning. Men will have to be sent out to prospect for opportunities along the OBOR route. Most will be able to return home I imagine. But I have no illusions for those who have to be deeply embedded in this clandestine war – it will be a one way ticket for them – the best they can ever hope for is to be reunited with their loved ones in the next life.

It is very sad…but war is like that…sacrifices have to be made.

In war even an economic war – the needs of the many will always outweigh the needs of the few…without this cadre of hardy men to relay back vital and timely intelligence to enable the planners at the home front to craft sound strategies to outflank the Chinese and their allies….Singapore will not be able to win!

We will be isolated and marooned and our lot will only get smaller and smaller.

The mathematical calculations are very stark and brutal.

What I say is the unpalatable truth. A truth that no one wants to talk about. But I have absolutely no illusions what it takes to win this type of war!’

Everytime I turn my back…the pups are always up to mischief. They are all at that stage when they are very curious about everything…too curious sometimes…one of them got his head stuck in a funnel.

The planter’s world consist of very old things that seems almost to defy the chastening passage of time….it is as if they yearn to stop time itself by clinging to all from the remnants of a bygone age. Harking back to the romance of flying boats, white linen, fourteen foot ceilings, tea with crumpets at three sharp, waist pocket time pieces, Doris day dresses, fainting smells, mosquito nets, tar soap, ivory key pianos, gin and tonic etc etc…..it is an age that is not without its charm…but it is also an age that is responsible for fossilizing many of the old thinking that is the root cause for holding back the planter.

For the new planter to be reincarnated. The old planter and his ways must be destroyed from within….otherwise the planter himself will disappear completely.

——————————————————————————

‘New ways of doing things will always scare people who have only known one or two ways of always doing what they have always done….it is not the fear of not being able to learn new methods of doing things that usually causes them to feel anxious. Rather deep down it’s their inability to unlearn and forget many of the things that has managed to encrust themselves in their thinking.

When the mind is filled with old thinking…it is like a cup filled to the brim…it can hold no more and less of something new. So this cup first needs to be emptied. In the same way when one aspires to learn something new…it is first important to learn how to unlearn…it is this aspect that is problematic to so many people. As since they draw so much of their identity, character and self esteem from what they have accumulated thru the years. Frequently asking them to throw out the old is as good as demanding them to erase their entire life history along with who they are and what they aspire to be.

To be part of change itself – a man must first purify himself by striving to be prideless and egoless.

This is easy to say, but not so easy to put into practice.’

Going your own way

July 19, 2017

Going your own way will always be very lonely. I do apologise profusely should this revealation about the affairs of life come as a great shock to you – but it is what it is.

Do not try to seek fellowship with others in the hope that they will understand why you have decided to commit yourself to this solitary path. Just draw strength from your conviction that you have good reasons to commit yourself to this path that no one else dares to tread…..above all smile and learn to be comfortable in your own skin while you walk all by yourself.

At the end of the day there is no such thing as kicking the can down the road….you have to take full and complete responsibility for the decisions in life that you once made…..it will always be that way for the frontier man….that you could say is his karma.

—————————————————————————–

‘I have never told anyone this before. There is a very good reason why my climbing boot was stored in a box and put under my bed for twenty five years.

It all transpired many years ago. By all accounts it should have been a routine climb. There were seven of us. We just tranversed the hardest section of the climb at sixteen thousand feet and the summit was just there right before us…it should have been a cinch stroll.

Then it happened. The rope tugged suddenly. It jerked so hard. I had barely time to dig my ice pick into the snow to arrest the fall. We were tethered to one another and eventually we all came to a sudden halt on the edge of a promontory. Two the last climbers were dangling in mid air. One them had a deep gash on his right leg. A part of the bone was sticking out…it was very bad.

Eventually we pulled them up to finally rest at the edge. We had only four hours of daylight left. The winds had began to pick up quite unexpectedly and from the wispy trails at the edge of the cloud formation. I knew right down to the marrow of my bones a hundred hour blizzard was headed straight our way…we had to get down fast. The temperature would drop like a rock. But there wasn’t nearly enough rope to fashion a rig. No way. Besides it was way too steep to lower the man who had broken his leg down. No way. No possible way. We had to get down. We had to do it fast.

They were all looking at me mournfully with imploring…pleading eyes. But I knew what had to be done….if we didn’t shuffle we would all certainly perish. The wind had begun to pick up in earnest. We needed to get down fast before that bitch curled her fingers like talons and start swiping at us. One of the boys screamed out – we can’t just leave him!…the wind tore his words into ribbons like a forlorn rag. Others had begun to fashion a rig of some sort with whatever little rope we had as if by dedicating themselves to some great act of futility they could somehow even out the lousy odds…or maybe they just wanted to do something…anything to stop them from facing the brutal reality of the incomprehensible odds. We were all young and undoubtedly stupid even when we all believed otherwise.then there were others who simply buried their faces into the cold abysss of the rock face and cried like children. While I looked on stoically.

I told the man who broke his leg. We would pluck him out at first light the following day…we no laterns..no tentage…I took off my jacket. While the rest began to dig out a make shift cavern to slip him in to weather out the storm.

Thereafter I rallied the others to make haste to descend in double quick time. When the rest of the boys were busy roping for the descent. I went up to the man and slipped him a razor blade. No words passed between us. He knew. So did I.

The following at first light we barely managed five hundred feet before the weather pushed us right back like a wall of ice. God damn it! I tried to so very hard to break thru. But it was just bloody impossible to even see beyond my hand. It was a full toss blizzard. We regrouped into teams of two and tried thrice to break thru and on every single occasion we were beaten back.

On the third day. The weather cleared somewhat and one of the teams managed to finally break thru with the much needed rescue rope…but it was too late.

No one spoke a word on the way down. No one even so much as looked at another. I knew what they were all thinking….but it was six to one.

No spoke me after that day…I knew what they were all thinking….but it was six to one. I had to make that fateful call….it was six to one.

Fucking six to one! Do all what to die. It was six to one.

Six to one.

Six to one.

Six to one…..I had nothing resembling a choice. I had to make the call.

Six to one.

Six to one.

Six to one….six to one. No rope. One hundred kilo blizzard closing in fast and furious. Six cry babies who can’t even get their minds to wrap around those odds because they can’t bear to call it for what it really was…a hopeless situation.

Who else was there to suck up all the shit and get us all down. No! Fuck you all! I had to make the call. I made with my eyes wide open…it is what it is!

Six to one.

Six to one.

Six to one.

You’re all here because I made that call! You have every right never to talk to me again for the rest of your life. But you don’t have a right to judge me! That you do not have a right to do.

I go thru it in my head every day….maybe for the six millionth time…and it’s always the same brick wall….no rope. No way out.

Six to one.

Six to one.

Six who would live on for only one who we had to leave behind.

I am very very tired….and there is yet so much to do….but I am hopeful we can sew it all up before the arrival of the rainy season.

On the bright side. The weather seems to be regularizing. This should hopefully speed up work.

——————————————————————————-

‘The pressure to perform is bone crushing. I’ve had to improvise endlessly due to the erratic weather. It’s not 100%. Compromises regularly feature. This cannot be done…so that must be done instead so the overall plan and strategy goes thru a series of modifications that takes it all elsewhere from where it’s supposed to go…sometimes to uncharted territory, it seems.

This makes me anxious. As I frequently find myself in places that I hardly recognise or want to be in….I struggle to constantly keep a happy line between my fears and the prospects of failure.

Many of the things I am doing have never been done before in the world of farming. They’re experimental and the cutting edge of agronomy. The villagers look at me with a curious mix of interest and trepidation…..as the way of replanting seems to be turned on its head – there are times when I struggle to reconcile myself with what I know and whether I should share….truth is it’s unnatural to keep on farming the same crop time and again on the same plot of land. This corrosive practice is called monoculture. And I know it’s unsustainable….it’s a mathematical connundrum that in my opinion requires many compromises….I have to play hide and seek with nature to win in this game – it’s not just a case of planting row after row of trees. No. To take on nature one has to be crafty….it’s a bit like mountain climbing. One can spend hours. A whole day. Week even studying weather patterns. Then when it’s clear. One rushes up her skirt to summit.

But this undertaking is very different. There is no promise of redemption. Not in the short run at least. I wouldn’t know for sure whether everything I have done would even pay off for the next four years. Agriculture is very slow to reveal her hand. Do it all wrong and it could seem right for years only for it to come back and bite you.

I wear an iron mask every day. Everyone only sees a man of steel. A fearless man who stares out impassively and knowingly at the capriciousness of fate and who is willing to do battle with her….today a man told me…what you ask of me cannot be done! I told him get back into the tractor and if you fail me I swear that you will not find work for two hundred miles radius for as long as you live!

It was done…the discipline must hold…the line must be tight as a drum!…do you think it’s a democracy! It’s a fucking military junta dictatorship idiot! How do you like my freedom to dole out a Kung fu panda flying kick! You want more or that!

In my private moments. I find myself turning to Homer’s Illiad for solace. I read slowly in camp….I have come down with dysentery and limping as an old climbing injury on my left foot is playing up again….I may have to use a walking stick in the field.

I chew usually on small bites of Homer’s classic, The Odyssey – often drawing strength from the characters….the steadfast loyalty of Penelope, who waits faithfully for 20 years for her husband’s return. Duty, Telemachus, who stands by his absent father against the suitors who have invaded their family home. Servanthood, Emacus the lady in waiting to Penelope. Sagacity, Eumaeus, the swineherder who has to bear the cruel barbs of the unruly suitors. Diligence in Philoetius, the cow herder who continues to bring milk despite his master’s absence are all exemplary in their loyalty, service and honor to their master and his possessions.

But the theme that resonates most to me is Odysseus tragic loneliness and how he tries to cope stoically at best he or for that matter any man can as he searches to return home to his loved ones despite his many trials.

Many at the homefront are not aware of my problems…I don’t want to burden them….so I bottle it all up….my deteriorating health…the hellish living conditions in the field…

I read it slowly savoring every sentence all the while wishing I had a neck as long as a giraffe. Yes…the idea of home can be so very compelling to a man who believes he is marrooned…so near, yet so very far that it might even belong to another age…another life – like one of those stars I find myself staring at from time to time…wondering to myself whether perhaps the faint light that streams out is all but a remnant of a star that has long since cooled and died…

I am the man of steel…the great planter who always surefooted.

Nothing in this world can be accomplished without iron discipline….we will win!

“By nights he would lie beside her, of necessity, in the hollow caerns, against his will, by one who was willing, but all the days he would sit upon the rocks, at the seaside, breaking his heart in tears and lamentation and sorrow as weeping tears he looked out over the barren water.”

Shame is a very powerful psychological weapon because shame makes us feel bad about who we really are. When someone or a group of people deploys this psychological crowbar on you….you must first understand how this weapons works BEFORE it is possible to render it harmless and benign.

The way shame works is to get YOU and not someone else to destroy yourself by first creating a conspiracy against yourself….that’s how it works…it has to first recruit you!

YOU are the one who flips this mechanism of self destruction on. Not those who are trying to shame you.

Once you sign into the conspiracy of self. You will begin to doubt the very core of who you are…where you’re heading…and how you are going about it…then it will all begin to unravel slowly…first you will start to question your identity and values. Then you will begin to doubt your very existence and your self-esteem will take a nose dive and soon your emotional well-being will begin to degrade.

It will degrade to such a point of failure where you will even begin to doubt the quality of your decision making and much prefer to sit in the dark and do absolutely nothing….because since you feel shameful….deep down you feel that you have done something terribly wrong and it is only right that you beat yourself up again and again.

———————————————————————–

‘The reason why I know how toxic and destructive shame can be….is simply because I’ve always had to live with it all thru my life. Since I was different from all other boys in the moment of my youth. It was not unusual for adults and teachers to instigate my peers to shame me into conforming. As a boy no one wanted to play with me. So I made friends with animals. I am by nature a gentle soul and since all animals have a keen sense of danger…they can see deep into my soul to know that I mean them no harm and so they take readily to me.

Many people have tried to shame me….they try to shame me into thinking and behaving like them. They try to shame me so that I will always be more subservient to them in order to control me. They even try to shame me when they realise that I am getting up in the world and becoming much more successful than them.

So all thru my life I’ve had to study shame in the way a commando takes apart an anti personnel mine to further understand how this device works. When one is autistic. One has to study the art of war from the inside out. One has no choice. Once one understands how the psychological weapon of shame works….then it’s almost impossible for anyone to shame you…it’s impossible.

Simply because no one on this planet can take away what is in between my head. I am the master of my own inner and outer reality. I can do many great things! That many other ‘normal’ me will simply make one thousand excuses why they are unwilling to even try. Truth is if these people try to even do a fraction of my job for so much as one day…the sheer scale and complexity of the undertaking will be so overwhelming by lunch time they would probably be shitting in their pants from a nervous breakdown! They will literally die standing! Because farming is tough as tungsten nails….I just make it look easy peasy.

So I know myself….and that is the anecdote against the psychology weapon of shame.

Not long ago I came across a village girl wandering my lands. She was crying her eyes out. She is not very pretty and has unusually large feet that the other girls like to make fun of. When I asked what was wrong. The girl told me that she wants to go to city to work, save up money and fly to Korea and get her feet reduced down to right size like all other girls.

I told her in a fatherly tone do not fret. I pointed to my car. Look I told her, my tires are big and knobby….I can go anywhere with those beauties….even if there is no road…with those big tires I will cut a path….it is the same with your feet. I bet you don’t have a problem lugging up a 50 kg bag of fertilizer uphill…see you can’t do that if you have slim and dainty feet that just look good but good for very little else. Besides all those girls with slim feet can’t walk long distances. They can’t shoot without losing their balance as they don’t nearly have the steadiness to keep balanced. They can’t even pull me out if I am neck deep in quicksand. Now what bloody use is that if you can’t even do that!

That was when the girl turned to me and asked, do you really mean that? I said please show me your beautiful feet. The girl began to take off her large shoes at first she curled them up to make them look smaller.

Then after looking at them I expressed…one day you will find a man. A real man, not a bullshit man. A man who knows the true value of things and he will look at your feet as an object of great and rare beauty and all those people who are trying to shame you will be so jealous because such a man. A man who can see real value and beauty when all others can only see ugliness is usually a prudent investor who is very rich…and when that time comes all those stupid people who are trying to shame you will be so jealous they will hold hands and jump into the river….that day will certainly come.

From that day onwards the girl with the biggest feet in the village walked proudly out into the world never ever knowing shame.’

One year back ago. A jealous man started spreading fake news around the Kampung that I am a grand practitioner of black magic. He would often be heard whispering to the villagers in hushed tones…he can speak to animals. They do his bidding like slaves…..only the devil can do that. He can even control the weather…do you notice it has been bone dry for the last two years….only the devil can do that as well. He can even transform himself into a big black dog and at times an eagle….and we all know only the devil has that sort of power….he is the devil!

One day I grew sick and tired of this man and his poison so I decided to give him back a thousand fold of his own medicine. When I appeared on his lands one afternoon – he demanded to know what my business was. I pointed to a durian tree nearby and quipped….I hear this is your favourite tree in this Orchard.

Thereafter I turned to the tree pointed at it said something to the effect of yabadabado and turned to leave. That was when the man asked in a raised tone…what did you just do?

I told him. You will find out this time next year and drove right off.

Thereafter this man started to water this tree every single day without fail. Ten times a day…so others said. Even during the rainy season he would hose it down as if trying to transform the poor tree into a fish….he also began to nourish it with the most expensive and rarest of fertilisers such as imported volcanic rock from Indonesia. And he would often be seen spraying the leaves of the tree with pesticide to ward of marauding insects so many times that even the nation of bees gave his orchard a miss …..soon the tree was so overwhelmed by all the unnecessary attention like a man being forced to eat ten million meals a day – it simply decided it had enough of this torture and proceeded to self destruct only to shrivel up and die within a month.

After that the worlds greatest village gossiper would often be heard recounting to anyone who cared to listen in the village…the man who lives on top of the hill cursed my tree and it died within that year it’self….only the devil can do that.

The irony was I did absolutely nothing and he did everything to bring it all to a very sad end…for his favorite durian tree that is.

—————————————————————————–

‘Whenever I am asked by others how should one go about managing oneself and others effectively. I always tell them if you have nothing good to say. Hold your tongue. Better still excuse yourself politely pick up a spade and hit the field.

When they ask me why. I always share with them my observations concerning life and it goes something like….you don’t have to be a witch or warlock to weave an evil spell that can inflict pain or disable others. All you really have to do is to put them down all the time whenever you see them.

That is why if anyone tries to put you down. Just walk away. Better still run. And should you see them again. Do the same again. Never stay. It’s like radiation exposure…less is better.

You might not have the power to stop people from casting evil spells on you all the time in the office or even at home. But you certainly have the power say to yourself and them – I am not going to be part of this destructive agreement. Because once you allow even so much as a very small part of your mind to buy into that negative agreement then it can only take over the rest of the mind like an evil weed and soon you will believe in it…it is like poison…a little goes a very long way….you will even live that self destructive narrative and even fulfill that phrophecy of self destruction…..it will certainly destroy you!’

Dogs are not so different from people….often they need to be coached to discover their strengths. Most dogs for instance are afraid of water. But one of the puppies in the litter of six seems to like swimming so much he can’t get enough of it. He shall be called froggy. As he swims like a frog. When froggy grows up I will train him to catch fish in the river that runs thru the lower sections of my land….when foggy transitions from milk to solids. I will feed him the head of fish that will be his reward.

Another puppy seems to like climbing trees. He’s always climbing like a squirrel. I will call him Tenzing after the great Nepali Sherpa who climbed Everest. I will train Tenzing to hunt squirrels when he grows up.

Only three of the puppies in the litter of six have rotweiller markings – they will be trained as hunter dogs….the rest need more time to discover their calling.

—————————————————————————

‘I think when you’re young and perhaps even if you’re not so young it’s absolutely necessary to try your hand on as many things as you possibly can. Especially the one’s that at first you may not want to try or do. Don’t let anyone put the idea in your head this or that you should not try. There can never be enough of experiences. Because out of everything that you once put your hand on….one of them is surely going to be the skeleton key that unlocks the door to who you were really meant to be.

If you don’t try. You will never discover your niche in life.

Sadly most people never ever find their niche in life. All they seem to do is follow everyone else…that also means they will likely end up living the life of everyone else. I am not saying that is bad. Hey! If it works for you. Go for it! For some people I guess it works well enough to produce the quantity and quality of happiness that gives meaning to their lives.

But for some other people that will never do…or maybe I should say….never enough – so for these category of men…they have no choice but to try and experience as much of life as there is out there to find themselves….if you understand this…you will understand. If not there is no point in trying to explain it…it’s a vampire thing.

But once you decide to press the go button. Often they have to risk everything and just take a leap of faith.

When I was a young man. One of my relatives gave me a tool bag and suggested to my Mother I work as a typewriter Mechanic like him in what he described as a prestigious establishment that was as timeless and enduring as the Bank of England. This fool went on to add….everyone will always need a typewriter. The name of the firm was Silver Reed. I still remember. On my first day at work I overheard the supervisor saying to a colleague…the boy is a dimwit…he will never make the grade. That night I rode around in my bicycle and saw a knot of boys hunched over a stationary shop. In the shop window was the first computer laid eyes on…it was a Apple home computer…It emitted an eiree greenish glow that played out geometric shapes that mesmerised me to go almost every night for a whole month. One such night, it all clicked in my head and I knew there and then my future was a dead end. Because I was looking bang straight at the future. That same night I threw my tool bag into the river. Thereafter I wolfed down a char kueh toew, Mee goreng, twelve sticks of chicken satay and two ice Kacangs.

From that day onwards I worked three jobs and saved up enough money to buy an air ticket to London despite being called an ingrate by everyone. Even my parents refused to speak to me….but I didn’t care. When someone asked me what will you do for tuition fee when I got to London….I told them sardonically. I will figure it out when I get there.

Eventually I managed to buy a third class seat on board an Aeroflot flight. When I got to London I slept under bridges for a whole month. Till I found a job in a leather tannery. I was a strong lad….I was not afraid of work.

Eventually I upgraded myself into an abandoned building. I worked on the building on my free days repairing the roof with whatever I could scavenge from work sites. When the owner of the house who was a rich Pakistani merchant who owned a chain of corner candy shops in Brixton found out I was squatting in his premises. He sent gangsters to evict me. But when they tried to rough me up my Alsatian put one of them for a six month stay in intensive care. After I told the owner…don’t be rash…use your mentality…. a house with no one living in it will soon turn into a wreck…is that what you want. So I suggested that he give me a grace period of about a year to repair the house and I would rent out all the rooms and give him the proceeds on a monthly basis on condition that I be allowed to stay there for free. As since it was in a crime infested area he would never be able to rent it out. He reluctantly agreed and I kept my end of the bargain and slowly my life got better.

I worked so many many jobs as a student. I lost count. No one wanted to sit next to me in lectures as I was always dirty and smelly…but that didn’t bother me and soon I even gathered enough on the side to buy myself an old BMW motorbike that I restored to running condition. I went all over Europe with this bike. Often sleeping rough under bridges and in graveyards.

One summer’s day after finally getting my degree. I decided to give myself a treat and toured the whole of Europe. I’ve always wanted to see Russia and I remembered standing astride on my bike and before me was a section of the Berlin Wall that had just been torn down the night before by a mob. The Soviet Union was in the final days of its death throes. There were no border guards around and everyone was drunk like a kite including the soldiers….I had a full tank of gas…like I said I wanted to see Russia….so I just rode right thru that hole like the rabbit in Alice in wonderland. I rode thru the infinity of the Russian steppes till my bike fell apart stuffed the tires full of straw, but they still came apart…sewed it with leather as I was good with pelts, but it still fell apart and finally I traded what was left of it for a donkey. I bought a WW2 rifle, axe that I carried around in my waistband, sextant and compass for the price of a pair of jeans and hunted and survived on the dirt road on wild rabbits and stag mainly…..by the time I made it out of the Ukraine I was so marinated in the wild that I must have looked so odd in my furs and strange hat that I fashioned from a moose that whenever I encountered hardened brigands and professional criminals on the road often they ran away in sheer terror leaving all their valuables…..and all I ever wanted of them was to know where is this god forsaken place, what date, month and year was it….and might they be kind enough to spare me half a cigarette. By the time I stood before the paraffin blue of the Volga I could speak fluent Russian. It took me one year and two months and 3 days to transverse the entire length and breadth of a decaying Soviet Union….I felt like a tissue paper soiled with shit being taken by a river of sewerage into the sea….till this day I don’t remember very much except maybe the relentless litany of putting one foot in front of another….the bitter cold….the siren whine of the wind that can drive a man…any man stark raving mad.

But there was one happy scene that stood out from all the sharp edges of my journey – I was lying on top of a haystack chewing stray, it was the height of summer, the sunflowers were in full bloom and the sky was so blue that it seemed almost inky black whitening the clouds even more so like bleach…I had the farmer’s daughter in my arms. She was a strange girl. She went on and on about wanting to know more about coconuts and what it really tasted like as it’s a mysterious and exotic fruit to most Russians…I told her I will show her mine, if she did me the courtesy of doing the same…she was happiest to say yes…thereafter that I drank hooch and smoked a cigarette….and I can still remember that day even today…I wished this day could last forever.’

During a meeting with the surveyors early this morning. I was asked a question that had absolutely nothing to do with what I or they were there for. The question was asked rather innocently by a young lady who I had the impression was thinking aloud and who was not even supposed to speak during the meeting.

I could sense the question piqued the interest of her bosses and those around the table as an air of expectancy hung over the meeting room….that prompted me to proceed to the white board where I proceeded to explained why I believe the textbook method of replanting contained such serious flaws that required me to craft my own methodology.

I explained methodically and slowly elaborating various aspects of my own home spun mathematical formulas in such a manner where they all eventually understood.

At the end of it the girl expressed…how very interesting I never thought it could have been done that way before till today…shortly thereafter her bosses looked at each other and said, I think we can both learn a lot from each other….. for your case we will undertake to complete the project at cost price.

I looked a bit embarrassed….as if I had gone somewhere else. I am sure it would cost so much that it would simply be way out of my limited budget….I need this last piece of data that requires specialised instruments that needs to be flown in….it is the missing jig saw in my replanting project….without it there is no possible way for me to truly know whether I was right to have done so many of the things I did since starting this project.

I am very very grateful.

I don’t know precisely why they volunteered to do what they did…..I can only speculate no end, but for the life of me I really don’t have a clue.

Today I brusquely rebuffed an attempt by a mediator sent by a rival landowner to start peace talks. The way I see it. If we make peace. Then I would probably be forced to comprise – where in the long term the pay outs would be dramatically less than if I continue to run with the wolves.

With the current cold war between us – I have every justification to move beyond my current confines and to even encroach into his territory.

He has read the terrain very well. I will give him that much. As he needs peace more than me. As peace between us would allow him to delineate what is his and mine and to even draw a broadline to create such a thing as a boundary….this would effectively seal my fate and box me in for good.

I have to find a way to set aside the peace talks indefinitely. Or at least delay them so that I can make my next move.

Perhaps I should take out my hanky and pretend to cry again while wailing for all to see that all I really desire is peace while I secretly prepare for war. Then again that capper is unlikely to work since I have done it so many times.

Maybe I should take my shoe and bang it on the table and shout out loud for all to hear that I have been discriminated or I have not been treated fairly….but again…I have also done that so many times. And it too is unlikely to go down well.

No! A better way would be to engineer yet another incident where I can only be seen as responding reasonably to a threat to give me the necessary excuse I need to allow me to expand beyond my current boundary into his.

The problem is he seems to know this only too well….and he’s not giving me anything resembling an excuse and even less of a justification to make that sort of move.

To me….at least. This means Singapore is going to stay the course when it comes to the art of realpolitik. It also means our foreign policy is unlikely to go thru any changes and this would probably mean, we are likely to get another round of bashing from China again.

I do apologise for my pessimistic assessment….It seems I am an incorrigible sufferer of not being able to call a spade anything except a spade. I could well have been an incomplete education that contribute to my lack of vocabulary.

You know…it all well and fine to try again if you fail….by all means. You should give it another go.

But at some point of reckoning….one would do well to ask – might this all be reinforcing failure instead of a smart way to gainfully make progress?

——————————————————————————

‘Recently Kishore Mahbubani wrote a thought provoking article where he advocated a more studied and cautious approach towards Singapore’s foreign policy. He went on to underscore how Qatar’s troubles showed that small states should always behave like small states and be wary of getting entangled in affairs beyond their borders. To me this was an enlightened piece unlike his other sharings that I much prefer to describe in polite terms as going down as well as expired dated cod liver oil.

But hardly before Mahbubani’s thesis had an opportunity to been given the benefit of a fair hearing…..perculiar people who I’ve never heard of before started to shout him down. These erudite lot started to wax lyrical about Singapore’s glorious past, punching above one’s weight category along with extolling how Singapore did not get to where it is today by playing second fiddle or being a lap dog to anyone blah blah blah blah….it was full of bluster signifying very little except maybe how to use so many words to say very little.

But there is one glaring flaw in their argument – they don’t seem to understand that jingoism and runaway train nationalism has nothing whatsoever to do the art of realpolitik. Neither do they seem to appreciate the magnitude of Singapore’s recent failure to deftly navigate the complexity of China’s rising geoeconomic and sphere of influence when it comes to impasses like the SCS.

That is why I don’t take what these perculiar folk have to say seriously…after all how seriously can you take people who still seem to talk big after getting their teeth kicked in by the Chinaman…that I shall leave to you, the perceptive reader to conclude.

This should prompt us to ask – can small countries thrive despite their inherent constraints and having to accommodate the interest of bigger states? Certainly is the answer. Prussia did so despite being landlocked under Federick. So did pint sized Austria under Metternich.

But my point is they didn’t do it alone. Neither were those improbable feats pulled off with just jingoism and promoting feel good dogma and lexicons either…if anything it involved diabolically intelligent moves that by all accounts required the highest quality of cerebral fitness. Federick for instance would not have been able to effect his strategic break out into Lower Saxony and stopped the trade blockade of Prussia had he not been able to persuade the British to bankroll his strategy and provide vital naval and logistical support to the combined armies of Hanover and the contingents of Hessen-Kassel, Brunswick and Prussia. Metternich would have been lapsed into the history books as an obscure diplomat of just another small poor excuse of a sovereign state had he not skillfully leveraged on the combined forces of larger states such as Saxony, Britain and for a time even France itself to allow Austria to insert itself as a ballast to skillfully balance the many competing interest of larger nations in Napoleonic Europe.

All this should prompt the perceptive reader to ask – who is Singapore’s allies? Are they all alligned to Singapore’s regional agenda. The obvious answer is the US, Japan, India and to a very limited extent Australia. The problem as I see it is the leader of the pack. The US under the Trump administration doesn’t seem very interested in Asia.

I may be wrong in my assessment. But from what little I have been able to beacon out from the Trump administration so far – US policy in the Pacific can at best be described as dangerously distracted by the North Korean crisis and dyslexic to everything else to the point of rendering it a liability to Singapore’s foreign policy. And that is not just any problem…it’s a very big problem.

Against this uncertain backdrop, its best to sit it out while the elephants fight…..there is no shame in coming to terms with one’s smallness and even less shame in keeping silent and if possible playing dead even. But there is great shame in not knowing the difference between whether it is worthwhile trying again if one fails and reinforcing failure.

Eye big big (Ebby)

July 10, 2017

She is the first to open her eyes in the litter of six pups. I’ve been taking care of them since their mummy abandoned them. When this one first laid eyes on me…she must have got a shock of her life and started to move her hands around frantically…maybe she’s not a dog…she might well be a baby ninja turtle after all. Her eyes were opened big big….her name shall be Ebby.

Welcome into the world Ebby.

On the work front. The weather has not be cooperating at all. It is the 10th July. The weather is usually scorching hot and bone dry this time of year. So hot that one can even poach an egg on the bonnet of the car during midday. But it is raining cats and dogs instead a cold weather front from the east seems to be closing in fast….it will certainly bring more rain. Wheeled heavy machinery cannot operate well when the soil is slushy….I will need to bring in chain tracked heavy machinery to speed up the earthworks.

Next week another excavator and two bulldozers and half track truck will feature at the work site. The unexpected rains has forced me to radically alter my replanting strategy. All my plans are out of the window and I’ve had to improvise. I will need to dig deep trenches and push all the debris into them along with spirit level the ground to prepare replanting the new seedlings….the cost is going to go up.

But it is still within budget.

I have a feeling the monsoon will break earlier than usual this year…I need to complete all earth works and surveying by the end of this month. Usually replanting takes about three months….but I have to try to wrap it all up by the end of this month.

We will work at night as well….I will camp out field. The pups will keep me company.

——————————————————————————

‘To remain gainfully human is not something that can be casually retained in the wild. Don’t be stupid – surely you have seen roots wedge concrete apart like egg shells….there is nothing more powerful than nature…it’s always reaching out….always searching…always encroaching….it’s relentless. Turn your back and she…nature has moved a whole inch….she’s always growing.

It takes considerable effort and will power to resist this relentless force. As the wild has an insidious way of whirling it’s way into a man’s heart and soul like a tendril only to wrap around his soul like a plant to eventually suffocate it.

To remain human has to be an act of daily resistance….I make a daily effort to remain human…I wake up iron my field wear….shave….pomade my hair…read a passage of poetry…play the violin…to remind myself I am human.

I am human….I am human….I am human. I even resist the temptation of eating my meals with my hands. The urge comes to me some times. But it’s not something that I do just to fit in. Or for that matter gain the approval of people who I hardly care about. Rather to me it has to resembles a militant refusal to allow the wild to ever get a foot hold on my soul….I have to really make an effort to be human.

Left to it own….a man…any man will be overwhelmed by the wild. In the depths of the jungle…he will begin to study shadows against the wall…laugh out loud at imaginary fathoms and soon he will put on war paint and go out stark naked under the wan of the moonlight to commune with wild. Soon he will transformed into a vampire.

There was such a creature in these parts many years ago. Some say the creature must be a tortured soul. He would go out into darkness and hunt and in the morning the terror of his handiwork would be revealed for all to see….ripped wild boar with their entrails splayed out…and their heads smashed with a rock.

There were even reports that such a creature could only have been a sort of werewolf…but no one could ever be sure. As all attempts to hunt the beast down ended only in deepening the mystery.

Many said it was an educated man who had made an unholy pack with the devil himself. Others insisted he might have even belonged to the aristocracy of the landowning gentry.

But all agreed such a malevolent creature must have been devoid of all humanity and civilisations to have done the things he did in the veil on darkness.

One day this creature disappeared completely….but I know who he is….I know.’

Trusting Nature

July 9, 2017

In the beginning nature comes across as not a very pretty girl. She is slightly on the chubby side with very few endearing qualities it seems. I will describe her as strikingly beautiful or even remotely approaching attractive. As in the beginning her nature can never be fathomed and it is not unusual for the man to ask of her from time to time….why are you so like that all the time? Why can’t you be like all other girls who makes it easy for a man to fall in love? Why do you always have to be so difficult?

But the strangest thing is when one spends more time with nature….very slowly her beauty will emerge….it is a very slow process that I don’t believe can be rushed. It is difficult to say whether she grows on one or maybe one simply goes thru changes in the way steel gathers rust…..very hard to say.

But at some point in the relationship every man who spends so much of his time in the haunting embrace of nature will ultimately grow to love, respect and honor her.

There are really so many men in a man….so many.

——————————————————————————

How to break in boots

July 8, 2017

Q: Why is it important to learn the right way to break in a boot?

A: All high quality boots without a single exception require breaking in periods. There is no way to construct a serious boot without having to go thru the pain. While pain or shall I say discomfort will be experienced to a higher or lesser degree. With the correct technique of breaking in boot suffering is optional.

Q: Do old leather boots require breaking in?

A: Yes. Leather is basically like skin. So when a boot is stored away for a long period such as the one shown in the above picture for twenty or so years. It will tend to fossilize and become hard and unwieldy.

Q: It has been said the best way to break in a boot is to nourish the leather with a step by step treatment before wearing. How true is that?

A: I think many of the commercial methods tend to be too convoluted. I suspect that may have something to do with the marketing manifesto to sell the unassuming boot user more bottles of expensive gunk.

The best way is first clean the whole shoe with soap, water and with a stiff brush. Get down to the nooks and crannies with an old tooth brush, especially the welts. The goal is to get rid of the lacquer that is usually applied by the boot manufacturer as this layer will stop all your moisturising products from permeating deep into the leather. Be gentle and take your time. And don’t over do it.

Let it dry with the assistance of a fan. Stuff old newspaper to further draw out the moisture. Usually it takes a week.

You will find when the boot is dry, it will be stiff like a plank. Apply mink oil in circular motions. Again don’t over do it. As you don’t want to get cancer of the wallet.

Wear the boot.

Q: How should the boot be worn?

A: Never overdo it. The rule of thumb is if it hurts. Take it off and wear the ones that you much prefer to walk around with without killing your feet. Forcing your boot to break in is stupid. As it will destroy both your boot and feet. Be very patient.

The general rule of thumb is as follows – the higher the quality of leather. The longer it takes to break in.

Limmer & Sons construct excellent work and hiking boots. It’s a three year waiting list. Their boots take an extraordinary long time to break in. What is important is to know which specific part of the boot to nourish to accelerate the break in period. One good rule is to moisturise the crunch area of the boot. These are sections on the boot that usually have to flex, bend and regularly give way to make walking possible. They can be identified by looking at where the wrinkles and creases form on a boot. Usually what I do is ONLY nourish those areas with mink oil before and after wearing the boot.

Q: What other tips to relieve discomfort during the break in period?

A: Learning to tie off your boot is an invaluable skill to speed up the process of breaking in. As it can significantly eliminate discomfort and foot injury. Unfortunately with the advent of modern boots that seem comfortable the moment one walks out from the shop – this art has become very much a lost skill – in the photo you will see that I have crossed the laces twice around my ankles. The first is lower the other is angled. This is to prevent my heel from slipping. It also prevents my toes from crunching the toe box whenever I have to walk downhill and relieves pressure from the tendons on the top arch of the foot. It’s a mountaineering lacing technique.

Try to experiment with different lacing techniques whenever you experience discomfort while breaking in your boots. Never just buy into the stupid maxim – no pain, no gain. If it hurts. Take the boot off. Lace it differently to take off the pressure from that sore point so that you can keep at it.

Once the boot is broken in. It will be the most comfortable pair of boots that you will ever want to wear.

Q: What advise do you have for people who wear boots?

A: A good boot is always going to be expensive proposition no matter how you decide to cut it. That is the way I have always seen it. So learn to take care of your investment. If you can do just that. There is no reason why it should not last a lifetime. Get away from the people and planet destroying habit of buying a new pair of boots every year! There is no excuse for that sort of wasteful lifestyle. With the knowledge in the art of manliness to care for your boot. I see absolutely no reason why it should not be able to last you a lifetime.

Only losers have to live with the buy and throw philosophy. Real men always care for the things that serve them well. It’s an attitude that is jugular if you want to aspire to be a frontier man.

Q: Can a boot be fashionable?

A: I think a man’s wardrobe has to be both functional and socially correct. For me first and foremost form has to follow function – I spend a lot of time in the field. But I also need to engage a wider audience in the form of formal meetings in a corporate setting. So I need to pay respect to people and instutions. Foot wear is an issue with me. As one doesn’t want to change in and out of shoes all the time just for the sake of social etiquette.

Black boots I think may not go so well with a tie or even a bush jacket in a formal setting. As they don’t hide mud very well. But brown boots. Even the variety sporting D rings can add rather than subtract from the image. It’s aggressive yet cultured in a gruff wabi sabi sort of way that can often impart a certain hardness and truthfulness that complements a man.

Usually I cut the hardness of the field wear by just wearing a silk cravat.

One shouldn’t be afraid to experiment in the name of practical living.

The last tree

July 7, 2017

In the background is the last tree in the plot of 22 acres of land. I started this project on the 15th of last month. There is still a lot of work to do…roads…drains…culverts etc etc. But I will celebrate this important milestone by going to town this evening…I don’t usually go out after sun down…but I will make an exception this time. I will go to McDonald’s. Yes…that will be nice…to just sit down in an air con place. That will make me happy. I have a bottle of vintage wine that I have been saving for such a moment. It will go down well with my Big Mac and chips…..I just wished I had my lovely cow to share this milestone moment with me.

Tomorrow we will begin constructing the drainage…there is so much work to do.

On top of all this I have to take care of six puppies that I have to take with me wherever I go.

I wore my old climbing boots for the first time today in the field – it was good….very good.

—————————————————————————–

This is my schematic plan to replant the new land. Everything is going to schedule.

On the downside. Mabel has decided she no longer wants to play mummy and has left her pups to die. I now have to carry these pups in my car wherever I go and feed them with baby milk every two hours. I even have to break off important meetings just to feed these pups…fucking Chee Bai zero maternal instinct bitch! I knew she would double cross me. I have been carrying these pups in a bag the whole day!

I am already autistic. Now everyone thinks I am Super weird…..when was the last time you saw a man mixing baby milk powder and feeding 6 puppies in public like Charlie Chaplin one after another…..but what choice do I have.

Please hurry up and grow up lah!

Every year without fail, usually just before the onset of the dry season. There will be sightings of the dreaded man eating tiger. Whenever this menace makes it’s appearance. The entire village is paralyzed by fear. Since fainting is still very fashionable with the kampung ladies, it’s not uncommon for two metric tons internal beauties to suddenly crash like timber without warning whenever the subject of the man eating tiger is mentioned.

Every year without fail. During this period of strife, I suffer from chronic backache as I often have to catch falling timber. Either that or I have to be mindful to remain nimble so as not to be flattened like roti prata.

Every year without fail. The Tamil rubber tapers will be so anxious and fearful nothing ever gets done in the estate. The chickens will stop laying eggs and the cows will refuse to come out from their pens to graze. Even the womenfolk will shut the shutters and all the kids will be kept indoors.

Every year without fail. Life in the kampung is turned upside down. Work comes to a complete halt and all the villagers are popping Panadol like candy.

Every year without fail. The villagers will make the long journey to seek out the great hunter. Thereafter, the hunter will go through a long ritual that makes the Ramayana look like a Sesame Street – usually the whole pretense takes about a whole week to be played out. It begains with getting all the villagers to sit quietly beneath the shade of tree – while they recount their respective encounters with the dreaded beast….every year the tiger seems to get bigger…last year it was the size of a horse. This year it is closer to a bufollo. Then there will be some who will insist, the man eating tiger is tracking then. Then there will always be some who will insist there is more than one man eating tiger. And there is always one…always who will insist that it’s out to settle old score. The accounts vary every year, but on every single occasion everyone is vehement they have seen the man eating tiger.

Every year without fail. After the lengthy interrogation of the villagers comes to a close. The great hunter will venture into the jungle with a couple of stout men with handle bar mustaches armed with shot guns and tracker dogs.

Every year without fail just before night closes in. Two shots will rent out in the hour of hesitation. The period when the cows return to their pens and the first tongue of light in the village temple is lighted to signify good triumphing over the forces of darkness.

Every year without fail. After all the villagers are convinced the man eating tiger has been slained by the great hunter. The village Brahmin will ring the temple village bells, offer alms to the deities, bless a sacrificial goat and very relieved villagers will whip up a hot curry dish with lashing of imaginary tiger meat and kampung moonshine called ‘tuak’ to celebrate thru the night.

Every year without fail. Though no one has ever seen the carcass of the dead tiger – it’s not unusual to come across kids holding up a piece of curry meat and asking the hunter who looks very much beloved Tamil actor MGR with his hairline moustache….Look I am eating the tiger’s heart. Or maybe it’s his liver and so on and so forth.

Every year without fail kampung tradition demands that I go thru this convoluted ritual and every single year without fail it begins and ends exactly like the last year. And finally every year without fail, despite all the claims of man eating tigers prowling around restlessly – there is never any sign of such a mythical beast…every year.

——————————————————————————————

‘When I first watched Ang Lee’s movie – the life of Pi. I never had any reason to doubt the Indian boy spent 227 days marooned at sea with a tiger called Richard Parker. That’s really how it is when a story is narrated in the medium of film. It’s linear. So there is no reason to question beyond what’s actually represented.

It was only in the last segment of the movie when the two Japanese insurers who interviewed Pi expressed disbelief that there was actually a tiger onboard – that was when It occurred to me. Coupled to the fact, there were after all no witnesses beside Pi who could collaborate his version of what transpired…that was when it occurred to me, maybe I was watching a depiction of what was played out in Pi’s mind during his 227 days ordeal….could it be the tiger was actually a figment of the boy’s imagination.

There was no Richard Parker on board was there?

In truth it’s impossible to answer definitively whether Pi actually spent 227 days with a tiger. The real question is – which story do you prefer? Interpretation is subjective but the question is intended to serve as a moment of reflection on what we consider real or make belief. Are you a person that prefers to believe in things that you can only touch and feel? Or are you a person who prefers to believe in the unbelievable.

There are no right or wrong answers – just an opportunity to find out more about yourself. The key word here is ‘yourself’ as in this very special narrative, you the spectator have the prerogative to wordsmith the narrative….that to me is one of the most interesting dimension of this movie.

But I digress. Do allow me to continue. The mystery of the man eating tiger in Pi account is further heightened when the main protagonist openly admits, he much prefers the story with the tiger, and when one juxtaposes this flippant statement with the Japanese investigators, who in their closing report remarked on the feat of “surviving 227 days at sea……especially with a tiger,” with a obvious tone of sarcasm – then what happens is suddenly, we the audience are compelled to choose which version of the story, we prefer to believe in. If we sit on the fence. Then, we would have to settle for a Bo Kum Buan open ended conclusion. Here once again not are we recruited into the narrative as the final scriptwriter as I mentioned earlier. But there is an additional gloss that suggest, we may even have the creative license to see the man eating tiger as an indelible aspect of who we are.

It’s a perceptive leap of faith. A long shot you might even say. I don’t think it’s that curious a matter for the perceptive reader of this entry to consider the philosophical question: do we all have the ability to summon a primal force within us? Are we really civilized when pushed to one corner where our mortality is imperiled?

To be quite honest. I don’t believe most viewers or readers ever experienced such depths of cognitive dissonance while watching this movie. To some extent this attitude stems from our prejudice that the movie context can at best only supply a very kitsch version of spirituality when compared to the sobriety of books. Besides the perceptive shift was executed in such a subtle manner that there were virtually no cues to prompt us to question whether the man eating really existed at all.

And that I suspect may well be the reason that accounts for the persistence of the metaphor of the invisible man eating tiger along with how it is able to root itself so strongly into the folds of human psyche.

As when we reflect on the many challenges in our own lives – some of them have the malevolent power to maul and in certain cases even chew us up like man eating tigers……hence thru our many layered unexplained fears, trepidation and anxieties concerning our jobs, health, ability to craft a better tomorrow for ourselves or even whether it would all end happily….with the sheer power of fear, we conjure…the terror of the man eating tiger.

In the final scene when Pi reaches the shore of safety after his 227 days of ordeal. There is the intense speculation – why did the tiger no look back at Pi before it disappeared into the jungle?

For me, the not-looking-back scene confirms Richard Parker did not exist at all. It made me think of how to thrive and survive at times. We all subconsciously summon the primal instinct of the cool indifference of the man eating tiger. As this is a form of super power that allows us to do the things we need to do when we are usually pushed against a corner. So when the tiger walked into the jungle without ever once looking back, it simply a metaphor for moving on for Pi himself.

Perhaps one day, when and if we ever have the opportunity to me face to face…..you will tell me the story of your own invisible man eating tiger.

You really must! I insist. After all, I am the great hunter who regularly shoots invisible man eating tigers.’

Ok now that we all know the house at Oxley road is just a house like any other house in Singapore. And it’s not some super duper power house like Excalibur, the Jedi arcanum, alien stargate, or even where X marks the spot in so far as it’s the location where Yamashita’s golden Buddha is buried…..can we please just demolish it please.

After all if the cost of preserving the house demands such an exorbitantly high price as to even threaten to tear Singapore apart into ten million pieces….then surely it can’t be worth it.

——————————————————————————

‘Everyone in Parliament should not talk so much. Instead the speaker of the house should put on an apron and learn to operate a popcorn machine and transform Parliament into a cinema for one day and the whip should be activated to force every parliamentarian to watch the latest Mummy movie starring Tom Cruise.

The story goes like this, the ancient Egyptians were suddenly confronted by a malevolent force that they could neither understand or resolve. Any way to cut a long story short everyone was either dying off like flies or they were so scared that all of Egypt came to stand still. So one day a group of laterally thinking priest decided to tar pau (pack up) this evil force and they all carted it one thousand miles by camel power to this other place, built an underground cavern and submerged this thing into a pool of mercury to keep it benign and harmless from mankind….after that the Nile flowed happily again for a few centuries and everyone was very happy.

Maybe the same thing should be done to LKYs house in Oxley road…maybe every timber and brick and tile should be striped and put into a big box airdropped to somewhere like King Kong island marked with a label…open at your own risk!’