One way to live a simpler and slower pace of life

January 20, 2014

After a break in the weekend. I’ve decided to hit the field in earnest again. The weather recently has been very erratic and unpredictable requiring me to spend much time in the field to make critical decisions that will have far reaching impact on my business for this year.

During my field trip. I had to touch base with Dr Pang. He is a Singaporean who runs a medium sized plantation in Malaysia. When I met him, he was flanked by three young men – one of them is his son who has just completed his studies in America. The other two I was not so sure.

During breakfast in the field. One of the young men turned to me and asked me whether it would be a good idea to return home to Singapore and find a job. I only expressed, “it depends on what you really want out of life…” Another exclaimed, a life where I have enough time to pursue my interest….I don’t want to spend all my life working….I just wish for a simple and quiet life.

Whereupon, I lowered my cutlery, turned to this youth and told him in a very serious no-nonsense tone – that I do not believe he knows what he’s saying. As a simple and quiet life is a very privileged way of life that only the wealthy can afford in Singapore. They were all very surprised by this statement and I went on to elaborate – if they wanted such a life, they should seriously consider venturing to the uncharted regions of Africa to seek their fortune.

One of them asked, ‘why can’t I do what you did.’ I told him in my time it is still possible for a man to venture into plantations in Malaysia as land was cheap and plentiful. But these days, the aperture of opportunity has diminished to virtually zero. I also went on to stress to these youths – in my time, the planters life was akin to venturing into the wild wild west with a six shooter and there was a lot of room for improvisation – but these days even sort of life is coming to an end and it’s doubtful any of them could replicate my career path without incurring huge debts…again I told them all, they should seriously consider seeking their fortune in Africa.

This time another exclaimed, it is a dangerous continent with no rule of law. I retorted, it is dangerous everywhere…one could just as well die in Little India on a bad hair or end up like Anna Karenina in the MRT on a busy day….danger I went on to stress was largely imaginary. Besides I went on to reassure them the firearms laws were so lax in some banana republics in Africa, one could just as well make up the law as one went along without too much difficulty – to which one of them replied, is that your idea of a simple and quiet life?

To which I replied, no Africa will not be a simple and quiet life, but when you all find your fortune there….then the simple and quiet life will follow. I went on to tell him – you need to pay the price!

Through it all – I noticed from the corner of my eye Dr Pang was smiling – yes, if I had to hazard a guess, he probably shares many of my beliefs that the young these days could do with a spot of dangerous living…..


“The paradox of modern life is simply this, if you desire a simple and quiet life. Then the last thing you should ever do is try to find it in a seemingly simple and quiet place like Singapore.

Because if you try to do this, you will just work, work and work to pay off your super expensive hamster hole in the sky and your Korean car that probably cost ten times what it took to build in the first place – to put it another way, all you are doing is enriching the coffers of the exchequer and that to me is a very complicated way to live la – where at a relative young age one is laden with huge debts that take a life time of grind just to pay off – I went to tell them, If anyone tries to sell them the idea that’s La Dolce Vita, there just plain lying through their teeth!

I don’t want to mince my words. So I wish to be clear, concise and precise – It is not possible to live a simple and quiet life in Singapore without being financially well off.

However if the goal is still to live a quiet and simple life, then one should seek out the MEANS TO DO SO and not merely consider this an end by itself.

One very reliable means of accomplishing this, is by seriously consider going to the worlds most complicated and noisy place…the more complicated and the noisier it is the better….better still if there is even a travel advisory that says you should never go there if you want to live up to 30 or that there is war, strife and no rule of law even to speak of – as in those basket case countries where no one wants to go too, there are no expatriates and their shop till you drop addicted wife’s, no multinationals, no policeman, nothing…all there really is, is the lone man who wears mirror polished jackboots, flared riding breaches, an open neck khaki shirt sporting a shouldered holstered revolver……so there is tremendous scope for improvisation – with that sort of freedom and unprecendetned margin for error – I reckon one can very easily find the MEANS and opportunity to work towards the simple and quiet life without too much difficulty in the darkest depths of Africa….after all, who is going to stop this man or for that matter care, if he decides to barter a lorry of ivory tusk for blood diamonds….declare a make shift plank bridge somewhere along the Ganbezi as a sovereign state and charge users toll for it….Pray tell…who even cares?

And there you have it…in the palm of your hands….the very raw material to fashion the quiet and simple life….I went on to tell these youths Africa will not be the land of opportunity for a very long…time was not on their side…as even as we speak, Domino pizza already has a trial and readability branch in Kampala, DHL even boast of parcel services to the inner reaches of the Congo, John Deere T shirts have been seen worn by the Matabili’s who roam the Serengenti and even in Mogadishu there is a seven eleven outlet….things are changing rapidly in the dark continent…and the entire region is fast modernizing. But if they just go there and seek out opportunities NOW! I am very sure they would still be able to seek their fortune and hopefully live the quiet and simple life one day. Besides if it doesn’t work out – they are young enough to return back and try to eel out a nine to five existence in Singapore…only don’t expect to live a simple and quiet life… that will only be a forlorn dream without money.”

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