October 31, 2013
It is not implausible. Not at all. For a man to live many lives in one life. But no matter what man he chooses to be in the multitude of men that all reside in this one individual.
Eventually the chastening passage of time will funnel this man to one realisation. It may creep up on this man unexpectedly like a thief in the night. But stand before him it will – the naked truth.
And when the truth stands before this man who has lived so many life times. He can do nothing but seek some measure of peace with it.
What may release this storm of memories from the distant past could well be a thing. Anything. An object. A faded photograph. Or a moment that recalls him back to the moment of his youth. And when this man slips into this other world. He can do nothing except look on like a dumb man transfixed by this object that stands in marvellous completion before him. At first he tries to summon his intellect to dismiss it. But it will not go away. It gnaws at him, compelling this man to strain hard to remember, but nothing yields.
Gradually that feeling of estrangement swells within him – he can feel it stirrimg in him like a coiled serpent and then it hits him – he realises that he has become a very different man from the innocent boy who once started this great experiment called life….has so many years gone by?….. And this man will begin to wonder to himself where is that boy now, who once saw the world through innocent eyes?
Where is he?
The man peers into the mirror frantically, this time he searches for some lingering residue of the boy, but all he sees is a very hard and implacable man who has no feelings at all glaring back at him……..for a moment he doesn’t quite recognise the man in the mirror. It’s not me, he says to himself. Then he realises that boy is gone forever. Only the man in the mirror remains.
Many people do not understand what was the motivation behind the story of Franz Kafka and the doll. It has been a subject of intense speculation for nearly over a hundred years now.
But I know why the author felt compelled to do what he did that afternoon in the park in Berlin. I know. But I much prefer to keep this to myself….the horror, that is…the horror.
The story goes like this – one afternoon when Kafka was walking in a park in Berlin – he came across a little girl who was crying. She had lost her doll and was desolate.
Kafka offered to help her look for the doll and arranged to meet her the next day at the same spot. Unable to find the doll he composed a letter from the doll and read it to her when they met.
“Please do not mourn me, I have gone on a trip to see the world. I will write you of my adventures.”
This was the beginning of many letters. When he and the little girl met he read her from these carefully composed letters the imagined adventures of the beloved doll. The little girl was comforted.
When the meetings came to an end Kafka presented her with a doll. She obviously looked different from the original doll. An attached letter explained: “my travels have changed me… ”
Many years later, the now grown girl found a letter stuffed into an unnoticed crevice in the cherished replacement doll. In summary it said: “every thing that you love, you will eventually lose, but in the end, love will return in a different form.”
When I first started to turn the wheel of life as a farmer. I was just a simpleton who was happiest minding my own business – planting row after row of palms – one day I saw an immaculately dressed rich landowner in a creme bush jacket standing beside a shiny black Mercedes looking down at me from high above. He was on a hill – I took off my baseball cap and waved at him – he merely looked on impassively. I remembered his features, they were granite hard and he had an aloofness about him that was characteristic of all landowners – as if he was fashioned from stone – that very night, gangsters knocked on my small little hut. I was told, if I wanted to live, I should consider selling my tiny veggie patch to him and return back to Singapore. So I fought them all and eventually his lands became mine.
After that, that motherfucker cobbled together a motley crew of landowners to fight me. And I fought them all tooth and nail. I gave back as good as I sucked it all up.
Eventually all their lands became mine. And another came. I fought them as well. I have been fighting so long that I cannot even remember not fighting.
One day when I was sitting down in kopitiam minding my own business munching on kaya bread and kopi O kauh – a group of businessmen sat down on my table. They poured me tea and called me taipan – that was when I realize there was no one else to fight in this valley.
Recently, I cast my eyes across another valley – as I need more land. That was when I saw him from a promontory – he looked like just a simpleton who was happiest minding his own business – planting row after row of palms in his veggie patch. When he saw me, he took off his baseball cap and smiled innocently. The man had just finished wiring his chicken coop. It was a beautiful smile and if I had to hazard a guess, this must be his first run at a season. They all have that wide eyed look of optimism when they’re new. I remembered muttering to myself – As I looked down from high above. I could tell this man had absolutely no idea that an invader was standing right before him or even the slightest inkling why I had come all the way here.
At that very moment, a storm of memories swept across the desolate plains of my consciousness…and I remembered who I am and whence I came from …that was when I looked down and said to myself, “Yes….I understand now….I understand completely”….the circle is now complete…I have come full circle.
“every thing that you love, you will eventually lose, but in the end, love will return in a different form.”
I finally understand…I understand completely..the horror…the horror.
October 31, 2013
As a general rule I try not to step in whenever I see two factions in blogoland slugging it out – I much prefer if they sort out their problems by themselves without involving others.
As when too many people are involved in a melee – then experience informs me it runs the risk of snowballing into a sort of factional cum partisanship rumble that usually comes encrusted with so many personal and positional issues which may have absolutely nothing to do with the crux that sparked off the storm in the teacup in the first place – result: instead of both sides learning how to resolve conflict independently, maturely and intelligently, what we end up instead is a ‘call the policeman’ or ‘outsource it to a lawyer’ attitude along with embroiling themselves in pie in the sky haggling concerning fuzzy concepts such as “online civility” “bloggers ethics” “code of condutct,” along with conceptual black holes such as “cyber bulling.” – and that as we all know only too well is the preferred method of internet confict resolution that is favoured by the PAP which is no bloody good at all lah!
The reason why I much prefer to adopt this bochap attitude can very easily be mistaken for the idea that it has something to do with promoting free speech.
But assure you all, nothing can be further from the truth.
In truth, there is a much more practical and useful reason why I believe very strongly everyone who steps into blogoland should try to wean themselves away from the cry baby attitude of yelling for help whenever they find themselves embroiled in online controversy – which incidentally seems to be an affliction that is particularly common amongst the ranks of those bubble wrapped PAP politicians – who keep on insisting the Internet is a feral place populated by pot noodle gobbling zombies who harbour some malevolent agenda to tear society asunder, (that to me is really just code for: I don’t have either the imagination or intelligence to manage conflict lah in the Internet. I also dunno how to thrive, prosper and get buy in, in an environment of complexity and diversity. In other words, I am a dinosaur lah)
Instead I believe, the onus is on every blogger to learn the art of how to stand on his or her two feet independently, if possible without help and to manage conflict intelligently, confidently and most importantly in his or her own way.
That to me is the only reliable way to blog grief free. There is no other sustainable way.
“This hardly requires any elaboration. In life it will always be a very foolish proposition to try to control what others may think and even say about you.
If you are silly enough to buy into that idea, then I can almost guarantee you that you will lead a very unfulfilled and unproductive life. Worst part is no one will one to fuck you. As you will be so stressed up all the time. You will probably look and behave like either an angry bird or a Ninja turtle.
Besides that is not how intelligent folk go about leading a purpose driven life – what they do is discard the minimum pay out route and just go straight for the most gainfully efficient way to get ahead in life.
That simply means instead of investing in the idea of trying to control what X, Y or Z segment of society thinks or regularly say about you – it makes far more sense to just control what’s happening between your ears – as when you think long and hard about it – that is within your control – and this you can do by remaining calm and composed when all others want to do is to push your hot buttons to make you jump up all the time.
When you have developed the skills sets to control your responses to what others may think and even say about you to a point where they can never ruffle your feathers – then you would have begun the process of learning how to be comfortable in your own skin and that is just another way of saying, you are now someone who is able to manage others and most importantly yourself in a very effective way.
That if you must know is the first strategic precondition of learning how to manage conflict intelligently. You must first control what is happening in your own brain. Do just that and I can almost guarantee you…99% of your internet woes will melt away like lemon drops.
Disregard this advise and you will just be like a spinning top diffusing all your energy to the wind…full of sound and fury…signifying absolutely nothing….”
“Be thoughtful and considerate towards the young, especially girls. They are very fragile like flowers.
And it’s perfectly normal for them at that young and impressionable age to write, say and do things that is bound to raise eyebrows – this is the nature of young girls.
They cannot help themselves. They will always be impulsive and capricious and that is just a polite way of saying – they will experiment with all sorts of things, including states of mind along with different schools of thought.
As since they have not fully awakened into the full breadth of womanhood yet, it is quite normal for them to even behave in this petulant and childish manner.
But always bear in mind they are just growing up and the process for lack of a better word is simply part and parcel of the human condition.
So if you have nothing positive to say to them. It best not to say anything negative either.
Let it be, after all if you see a flower growing on the sidewalk – do you go out and stomp on it? Let the chastening passage of time shape them.
But if you single out young girls with a premeditated design to make their life miserable in the name of free speech and that other internet credo, ‘if you can’t stand the heat then get out of the kitchen’ – then I think you are no different from many of those thin skinned politicians who like to deploy fear to get your way.
And if you do this in a mob – thinking that you can hide behind the strength of numbers. I would seriously advice you to think again.
As under the very same guise of justification that you invoke to write whatever you write in the greater glory of free speech. Someone out there in the infinity of blogoland can also choose to make your life miserable as well for the same reason. Be mindful, free speech is like a double edged sword….it can cut both ways.
Oh I am so sorry….do you mean to say, no one has shared this chapter of the facts of life with you? Do you mean to say, you didn’t realise, there is always a possibility, it can all come around?
Perhaps I should elaborate in greater detail how this might come about.
Let us see. Where shall we begin. Oh yes! Someone could for example circulate your name in the many gaming forums that number in the thousands and label you as a character who needs to be instructed in the error of his ways. Trust me, it’s perfectly legal. You can’t stop me for calling you a fucked up person who likes to bully young girls who can barely protect themselves. Remember I have my freedom of speech wat!
You on your part may think this is a big joke. But one day when you graduate from university and turn your attention to the serious business of gainfully turning the great wheel of life – you may suddenly find many doors are closed to you. Worst of all, you may not know why or even who is behind it or for that matter how could this be pulled off – it will just be a niggling thought that someone in the shadows is hunting you, but you are never quite sure – as there is only a whiff, a lingering suggestion…..
Of course lah the person interviewing you will not tell you exactly why you didn’t land that job. Why should he? After all whether he chooses to volunteer information to you or not is really a matter of his personal prerogative. Remember freedom of speech? Remember what I said to you that it can all come back like a boomerang.
Coming to think of it, neither is that person who just road blocked your career obligated to share with you that he is a closet gamer who likes to command a space station in his spare time like how so many men like to still play with train sets – after all, he’s not committing any crime not even when he makes it difficult for you to land a job – remember he like you has the elemental right to free speech – neither does he need to even share with you a third stage guild navigator may have once mentioned to him in passing “teach this person the error of his ways.”
Coming to think of it, since we all have our freedom of speech top hats on – and we are all wearing our color coordinated, ‘if you can’t stand the heat in the kitchen’ mittens – I am not even obligated to tell whether this may or may not happen to you. Or for that matter whether it is even possible.
That is why I think when you are young, you should try to sow seeds of good will wherever you go. Above all don’t take the attitude that what you do today will never come back and haunt you latter on in life.
Because if you happen to be the sort who is foolish enough to believe that you are bullet proof or some sort of pocket tai kor who can just deal out unmitigated grief to young girls without the slightest care in the world and hide behind the veil of freedom of speech.
Then you may just incur the wrath of the serious men of this world. Who incidentally just happen to have the same freedom of speech as you. Who may all even subscribe to the ancient code that the young, stupid and old must always be protected.
Yes, I understand. It is not as simple as it once appeared now…life that is…who would have ever thought ordinary living…the variety that doesn’t even involve jumping out of airplanes or operating heavy machinery should suddenly be like walking on a razor’s edge where danger seems to lurk even in the most benign of places.
Yes, I understand. I understand completely…..
Only trust me….these men will square the accounts….I hope you can find some way to forgive me for my candour – as I mean well. After all, you hardly blame me for thinking and saying the things I do – I am after all just exercising my elemental right to free of speech…by the way….how does my freedom of speech Kung Fu kick feel against your ribs now?
Just remember there is plenty more where that came from.”
As you live more of life. At some point, you will start to realise whether you succeed or fail will not hinge on whether you have successfully managed to upload the seven habits of highly effective people. Rather the key determinant will always remain your ability to manage the seven habits of highly ineffective people intelligently.
(HOW TO NEUTRALIZE A WOMAN WHO BELIEVES EVERY MAN WANTS TO FUCK HER LIKE A MOSSAD SECRET AGENT – Soon to be incorporated in the second edition of my e-bestseller)
“Please understand I mean well. I’ll appreciated it, if you can hold on to that idea throughout this conversation – I mean well and if possible please don’t forget that.
The reason why I feel this is so vital even before we begin this conversation is so that you do not misunderstand me.
As by nature farmers are very direct people. And the last thing I want to do is cause offense. Are you ready? May I begin now?
I have absolutely no intentions to fuck you.
I know you think that that you’re hot and you probably managed to convince one side of brain that every man wants to dive into your panties.
But please believe me, I do not want to fuck you.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I hope you will make the effort to take this feed back constructively. As I am not trying to be rude or offensive, I just feel that if we are going to have a meaningful conversation online then you simply have to know from the very beginning, you are not my type and there is no possible way that I will ever want to fuck you even if you happen to be the last woman on this planet. This is a physical impossibility as sex is something that requires copious quantities of motivation and I really do not see the basis in you for my blood vessels to expand to create the right bodily opportunities where things can even solidify and go towards that general direction – not ever, doesn’t even matter if you happen to be decked out in Victoria Secrets either.
You are just not my type. So please drop the “everyman wants to fuck me here” attitude as all you’re doing is embarrassing yourself in front of thousands of forummers. Now I realize this is something that you don’t normally come across. But to be perfectly frank with you what I have just shared with you is in the mind of every man here – I am neutral. As I understand. However, they are all really quite sick and tired of your attitude and the only reason why they aren’t telling you this full frontal is because they are polite enough to spare you any embarassement.
But I do not have any hang up’s about clearing the air. I hope we are now perfectly clear.
I hope we can now have an intelligent conversation without further distractions. I am really so happy we now understand each other perfectly. Now where was I before you interupted all of us with your frivolous comments? Oh yes, like I said, we need to establish a way whereby we are able to make sense of this OWC business. The way I see it is like this…….”
(Please note: it is often necessary for a leader to set things right. Even if the task is unpleasant. Trust me, there will always be one lah – be it in school, business or in a social setting. And these women in my view can often cause a lot of misunderstanding along with destroy reputations of men who may not be able to sense their siaowness.
My experience informs me, it doesn’t pay to be coy about sex. Not at all. You will get a far better return on your energy – if you just approach the problem head on and go bang, bang and bang! (not the horizontal variety, but the type that you use to solve real threats lah).
The best part is the other side will come to see the error of their psychotic ways and hopefully stop her nonsense and just play ball.
As if this sort of problem is not nipped early in the bud with a wise hand, then it is likely to continue to be a source of irritation, distraction and danger to many in your study, business or social circle.
As a loose canon who is so obsessed with sex is bound to make everyone so uncomfortable, nervous and cagey that no one can let their hair down, relax and be comfortable in their own skin. That’s no bloody good at all.
I will incorporate this in a chapter in my second edition of the e-bestseller, “How to succeed in business like a Mossad secret agent.”
October 29, 2013
Last time, I checked, they all said it was that guy who walked on water….you mean its not him!
Then, I have absolutely no idea.
I was with my dog the whole day teaching his how to fetch.
Now the cyber team has a bone – do us proud.
“Please just remember not to blame external factors OK. Keep it internal like how you suppress your fart and you will be fine.”
(On the Northern Andulliasian Plains of the Planet D’ni the Arullian Galaxy 700 million parsecs from the Crustacean Asteroid Belt @ 973800 Primus Time – deep space transmission Intercepted by the Mineral Guilds Heavy lift Deep space cruiser KDD Nomura Maru 3)
“Please inform the Brotherhood that I Prof Chandran, the nemesis of Duckness seeks his company for dinner this evening…hahahahahahahahahahahaha.”
October 28, 2013
One should always exercise considerable care and attention on choosing a prospective life partner.
If you choose a foolish and reckless person to share the great journey of life with – then he or she is likely to mess up your life and those who you care and love you – and you will have to spend many painful years picking up the broken pieces.
Even then, it’s unlikely when you superglue it all back together – it will be as good as what it used to be.
“The most important decision that you will ever make in your life boils down to this one question: who will share the journey of life with you?
You see if you pick the wrong person then you’ll just buy into a whole barrel of grief. You only have one life, so it has to be the decision of all decisions. That’s really just another way of saying, you have to seek a balance between the heart and mind, love and the practical necessity of living.
Let me put it this way, if you pick a loser like me; then grief will be the color of your days. As men like me are exciting, but they are not reliable…not by half. If they make it – they can’t even tell you why! You know why don’t you? Because it was just probably pot luck or that they just wandered to a place called X marks the spot – dug a hole and hit pay dirt.
My point is I don’t even know whether I will be around in ten or fifteen years. Or whether I can still do what I do. For all you know – someone could pump me full of lead or I will end up a drunk and a bankrupt in somewhere down the long road of life.
I really don’t know. And that is the solemn truth – as men like me will always take incredible risk. If lady luck holds out, then we live to fight another day. If not, that’s it.
The type of man who you should ideally choose is the sort who is content to stay in one place. As they turn the wheel of life day in and day out; these may not be very exciting, interesting or even that good looking guys, but they’re also the type who would probably not cause you to lose sleep along with with getting high blood pressure – as since they can always be counted on, they will always be there for you Dotty and that’s what really matters in the journey of life.
Someone whose just there….someone who you can’t always count on….someone who you know will always come right through for you….no matter what the odds….and that’s what people who turn the wheel of life – day in and day out – do extremely well.
They’re always there. You never need to ever worry about him just taking off one day like a bird. Or that he’s planning to go somewhere to dig for gold in a place that you have not even heard about. Men who are accustomed to just staying in one place and turning the wheel of life, day in and day out, never feel the tug to suddenly take off – you don’t even need to wonder to yourself when he looks at a flock of birds heading south in the early morn, whether he’s wishing, he could just sprout a pair of wings and join them.
You don’t have to even deal with their mood swings and melancholy that comes from their inability to fit in – men who stay in one place and turn the wheel of life daily without uncomplaining. Don’t even see the point of running with the wolves. They just don’t – the worse you have to contend with is the idea that he’s secretly surfing porn from time to time or putting down an odd bet during the world cup season.
But the man who can hear the call of wild – should you be foolish to put all your chips with him – I have no doubt, they may stay for while (that’s because they all don’t know how strong that pull is) and I don’t doubt you may even find a sliver of happiness; but a day will come Dotty, when that man who you love with all your heart, will just stare out of the window and look enviously at those those birds that make a neat line to fly off in the September morn – like salmon struggling against the current to return to that place called home; whales beaching for no apparent reason or the capricious sea giving with one hand and taking with another – these things embody the spirit of the wanderer – you cannot rely on them for the long haul; as they will always do things that even they themselves don’t know why they do them.
If you invest in a wanderer – a day will come when they will just pick up and go; they don’t need any rhyme or reason; just as the sea can never help herself whenever she throws a tantrum from time to time; the moon affects her – so it’s the same with wanderers – they are the capricious type and you will always be at the mercy of their vagaries.
Wanderers are only good for the short haul; they make airports, bus terminals and places where sail boats berth interesting – they’re good for a cup of coffee; they’re even good when you stand beside them and watch the sun rise; but come a time; they will pick up and go.
But the guy who stays in one place and turns the wheel of life day in and day out; he is the one that any sensible woman should choose as a life partner; for one he doesn’t feel that pull or call of the wild; to him life is just an endless repetition; where everyday unfolds precisely as the last, the only thing that changes is the mundane stuff, like toothpaste thinning out or its time to get a haircut– it’s in the endless litany of repeating where you will always find the stayer to better investment than the wanderer in the long run; as where the former may seem to embody courage, excitement and everything that is worth living for – as he climbs mountains, rides his bike down a cliff and stares defiantly at the on coming storm in his tiny sail boat– let me tell you a secret; that’s not where real courage is to be found; as those antics (no matter how heart stopping they may all appear to be) all have a cut off point,
They all lack the horror of the litany of repetition – you can’t climb beyond the summit; ride further when the road runs out; that’s because wanderer can never bear out the long haul – that’s why the stayer will always be a better bet; he is a courageous man; who will see you through the long haul ; that’s why if you have to choose between a wanderer and the stayer, it’s a no brainer, go for the stayer; it’s a one second decision – as somewhere in the endless journey of life; filled with the litany of repeating where there is no prospect of even a place where it can all end the way you envision; you can always depend on the stayer to turn off the lights -you can grow old with such a man.
As for the wanderer; he’s just like one of those NTUC plastic bags that the wind catches and twirls as the thermals whips it high up – as it dances, pirrouttes and curls ever so charmingly; for a while, it’s poetry in motion as you stare out tranfixed from your office window – but never ever forget, it’s just garbage.”
October 27, 2013
Last year I ventured into bird nest harvesting in a big way. I built the largest bird house in the district, surpassing even my competitors.
Retrospectively, it was a very big risk that could have very well bankrupted me. As only two out of ten bird houses make it.
Fortunately my bird house is filling up quite nicely and this opens up a new set of problems for me. As I don’t intend to sell my bird nest to the local syndicate. The price they give me is too low and I feel the terms are can be improved.
This has forced me to explore the possibility of developing my own trade route to China. To accomplish this. I’ve had to touch base with many of my old friends who I once studied in University.
This is the politics of doing business in China – it is all about relationships. Recently when I met up with a very dear friend, we talked and talked and talked through the night.
The Brandy was excellent, the night breeze cool to the skin….somewhere in the conversation, my friend’s tone turned serious and he shared with me the following,
“You are like a forgotten mandarin from the furthest edge of the empire. You have come to the forbidden city to petition the emperor, but you need to piss….as it has been a very long wait…and you don’t even know where the lavatory is.”
I think my friend has summed it up very beautifully…the sentiment that is.
“Gentlemen. Knowledge is of course important. But there is one thing that stands higher than even knowledge and that is understanding.
Allow me to speak freely. Never before in the history of Singapore has so many natives lost faith in the PAP. The situation on the ground is so bad that whenever Mini Lee says something, no one even believes him any longer.
What accounts for this prevailing mood of mistrust, askance and lack of faith in the custodians of power?
If I had to point to only one reason – it has to be because they have failed to manage change in a competent manner by balancing economic growth with the aspirations and hopes of many natives.
As a result it’s a right mess today – that’s why the spin doctors have to burn the midnight oil and come up with ever more inventive ways to engineer consent. That is why these days, the Strait Times has been reduced to a pity summary of our times.
If we go deeper into the causal factors and ask ourselves whether this lamentable situation could have been averted?
Then I think perhaps Mini Lee and his motley crew could have taken a leaf from the leadership of the CCP. After all if you talk about scale nothing can possibly compare with what China has managed to successfully pull off in the last three decades – moving from a command economy to a free market and to have pulled it off given it’s size, diversity and complexities must surely have required copious amounts of brain power.
That is why whenever I frequently hear or read what LKY has to say about China once learning from Singapore. I always feel that sentence is incomplete. As if he is wise, he would have gone on to mention that both he and he his son could have learnt much more from China.
What do I mean by this? Not too long ago General Yeo mentioned, Beijing is studying our political system, the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) and how it is responding to the general election in May last year. But let’s not get high yet. Read further what General Yeo had to say – he said, there is also scope for the PAP to look to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for lessons, such as how the latter prepares promising leaders to take on more responsibilities. When the reporter asked him why Singapore, a young nation of just over five million, is of interest to China, an ancient civilisation with 1.3 billion people, General Yeo replied: “For China, Singapore is sometimes seen as a bonsai, but one with genetic similarities.”
Now there is a treasure trove of wisdom to be mined in this one compact retort, more than all the alphabets put together in what Michael Spence has to say – a bonsai is a small potted plant. Size is scale and that simply means, you need to put it all in scale – that simply means, for every lamp post we put up in Singapore, there are probably 100,000 lamppost that needs to be erected in China. For every geo-political situational threat that we have, there are probably 10,000 such threats that Chinese leaders have to regularly parlay with. So how can it be an apple to apple comparison? If anything it is like a ciku and durian comparative. How does one even reach a consensus on the assumptions – so as all of you can very well see for yourself, there is no basis to even begin a comparative study. Let alone propose that a country like China NEEDS to learn from Singapore. I bet if you speak to all the flies on the walls in Beijing, they are probably laughing their wings off – they r probably saying to themselves, another derellict academic looking for someone to pen the foreword to his new book about Asia. And this is how I see it, as if you reduce everything right down to only measuring personal and organization to GDP terms, then Michael Spence is 100% right – but we all know only too well how blindly chasing the rainbow of GDP has been the source of so much misery for so many Singaporeans – so this whole idea of comparing Singapore with China is really quite ludicrous – as when you compare and contrast the sheer difference in the scale, diversity and emerging challenges between China and Singapore – I think what General Yeo had to say was very directional and instructive as to me he is trying to remind us of the facts of keeping it all in the right perspective, whenever we come across flattering comments, even if they happen to be of the Nobel pedigree, “don’t be so ya-ya papaya lah! If people look at you and take the trouble to zoom into your good points – it doesn’t mean they are out to emulate you 100%. It just means, they are very considerate and polite people who prefer not to mention the undesirable aspects of how you run your house. So don’t be an bloody fool and try to get political mileage out of it. Be humble lah!” This makes perfect sense to me.
And this especially true of the China leadership and probably a feature that is so well embedded in the Communist psyche.
You know when I was studying my master’s degree in Derby there was this time – I worked in Rolls Royce turbines – and there was a big Chinese contigent in my class, as it was a very quantitative discipline and so many of them excelled in this field – we got along really well. As they were all farming stock. So we had alot in common and spoke regularly about tractors, pumps, irrigation, life stock and pickling etc. I have always had a fetish for farming. Now during that period, China was really just beginning to transition – so many of these PRC students still had remnants of what I can only describe as socialist underpinings and thinking. And one aspect of this way of seeing the world means that they realize only too well, that they are using a decrepit ideology to transition into a free market economy – if you speak to Chinese bureaucrats at a senior level, they are always very mindful of this fact. They know that there are real limits to using communism as a reliable means of creating the good life for their citizens – they know this so well that you could even say they suffer from an acute inferiority complex whenever they speak to anyone who comes from a free economy. As the whole idea of communism and the free market are diametric opposites that can never be reconciled – it’s a fundamentally unnatural union. So when one suffers from that sort of mindset – one is constantly on the look out to shore up the system – my friend, who later on rose to a very high position in the Chinese Railway once described this very beautifully as a condition, “where it is like a man living in a very old Hu Tong and trying to install modern plumbing.” The metaphor is very powerful and although I am translating it into English, I think so much is lost – as when he said this in Putong Hwa, what he really meant to say was, Communism is really a way of life in China and it’s not really a changeable thing, not in our life time at least, so they are constantly searching to find ever more inventive ways to do the best they can with out upsetting the things that they have to live with – that same evening after our life changing conversation. I played a recital of butterfly lovers – and since the maestro was a man who didn’t really appreciate the sonic arrangement of the score and considered it, “structurally unsound.” I was slotted last after a very long intermission. Just as well, as I happen to have carrot fingers – most of the crowd had begun to leave when I began the solo concerto – but my Chinese friend and the rest of Chinese students stayed on – when I had finally finished, they were the only ones there as rest of the crowd had moved on – and I remembered turning to him after and saying to him rather dejectedly, “I feel like a man who has to live in a very old Hu Tong and trying to install modern plumbing.” That is to say, at that time, it was really quite impossible for the Western music toffeenose crowd to understand the musicality of this piece – as they don’t know the plot of the story between 梁山伯 and 祝英台. They don’t even know what is a erhu – so they cannot understand why anyone would play a violin with slids to an unusual instrumentation: 2-2-2-2 – 4-2-3-0 – timp, 3 perc. Or even why the score needs to run twenty pages and is divided into three sections – or why the composer felt the need to incorporate higher notes to conjure up images of misty mountains, waterfalls in a peaceful serene morning when the lovers first met and the low notes represent the valleys, then the next few bars where the flautist plays a trill, it represents butterflys flitting and bird singing. And since its an adaptation of folkmusic, there is also the part when the baddie turns up when the shrill appears followed by the brass. Neither do they realize when the tuba appears in the second section it represent the torment of the lovers and girl’s family rejection of the relationship. To me there is so much more musicality expression here than even Stravinsky and Debussy put together – all this is lost when there is no understanding of the plot. Or even any attempt to understand the subtlety of the nuances – that is really my point, knowledge without understanding is truly worthless. As here you have a bunch of accomplished musicians who don’t suffer from my affliction of carrot fingers and they cannot even use their prodigious wealth of knowledge to understand a thing for what it is – and this to me is really a metaphor of how superficially the West regularly sees China.
Only I know it to be very different that is all. But I digress gentlemen.
Many years later when we sat on the new Maglev train in Shanghai bulleting towards the city center – I asked my friend again whether things had changed in his old Hu Tong – it had become a sort of private joke between us and he looked around at the spanking new Alstom train from Germany and said, “No brother, it is still a very old Hu Tong, only the world seems to be going faster around us.” And I knew exactly what my old friend meant. I understood completely. I think you really have to be Chinese to understand the deeper meaning of this conversation Gentlemen.”
Excerpt of a conversation captured in the Sardonyx trenches along the 159th Parallel with the officers corps of the Sardokhan – relayed by the Magneto class scientific deep space cruiser – KDD Rumoro 3 – brought to you by the Interspacing Mercantile Guild.