Seeing things as they are

December 31, 2014

City folk don’t ever see the world like farmers. I guess there’s something profoundly climatic about making a living from the tilling the land that instills a perculiar discipline on one to see the world differently from all other men.

To farm well, one has to develop the habit of looking closely at things. I am not just referring to superficial differences and nuances. But really small and mundane details that most people never ever notice like the patina of moss on a stone or a gravel path. The way the clouds fold over each other like cauliflower along with a thousand other details.

When one learns to see the world in this manner. Then suddenly everything is rendered cut glass clear. Until then, one is simply a man who sees the world in broad strokes and bold splashes of generalization.

Thereafter everything acquires a precision. A uncanny clarity…..where it could be said, nothing is ever what it seems.


‘Today a young village girl who has a penchant for wandering my lands and singing chinese folk songs – who incidentally my doberman guard dogs are very fond of. As she feeds them char siew pau, asked me what is the furtherest point that separates two people in this whole universe. The girl asked….is it – the distance that’s separated by the two furtherest stars is the whole universe?

I searched my heart long and hard concerning this question. Then I told this girl….no, it is when I stand before the person I love most and that person doesn’t even see me….that I believe is the furtherest distance that separates two people.

I felt very sad after that. So very sad.’

Never sell yourself cheap!

December 30, 2014

I am a pretty competent planter. Probably one of the best there is when it comes to maximizing palm oil yield on hilly land. Most planters prefer the easy street of flat land. Hence like fair weather sailors. They don’t nearly have what it takes to plant commercially on hilly land. So it’s not uncommon for them to engage me as a consultant.

I never lower my fee not even when the pressure to do so might mean that I don’t get the contract. The reason is simple.

Lowering the price = selling yourself cheap.

Besides once you go down that road, it’s virtually impossible to raise your fee again in the future. If you need to charge a lower price to be more competitive, it is much wiser to keep your original fee and come up with reasons to give discounts, discounts that you convey clearly in a serious tone to your clients this price is a special one-time concession on your part to demonstrate your good will and confidence in your ability to deliver on what you have promised.

Never ever sell yourself cheap!


‘Let me share with only you something very private. Something that I have never told a soul before.

No one has ever told me that I have done a good job.

Look here! Even if they did, I don’t believe all the adoration, respect and adulation in the whole wide world would really amount to much. Not if I believe deep down I am full of shit.

That’s why I’ve cultivated the good habit of being kind and thoughtful to myself by regularly patting myself on the back from time to time. Much prefer that than to look to others for validation and affirmation.

Looking to others for self worth will always be the surest way of cheapening oneself. Doesn’t matter whether it’s someone who is supposed to care and love you or a figure of authority like your boss, pastor, politician or any other figure who claims a higher authority over you. If you buy into that cancer of the soul thoughtware. Then your sense of self worth will always depend on how they either mark you up or down.

And if they don’t choose to praise you….because that is how it is some people are just maladjusted, conceited, overtly righteous or just plain evil – you will be miserable and end up depressed. That’s how it is when you put something really valuable into the hands of people who you hardly know and don’t bother to snatch that thing back and growl ‘this belongs to me! It’s mine! Go and get your own!’ – you just gave them, the permission to press all the buttons to make you happy. Sad. Depressed. Bi polar. Suicidal or want to sleep forever because being awake is simply too painful etc etc.

When we crave for others to tell us we are amazing, worthy and exceptional, in order to feel good about ourselves, we are no different from a cheap drug addict searching for a fix to get high. It may feel like we are reaching out for love and it’s even humanly intuitively, but in actuality, we are just seeking external meaningless soundbites to help drown out our own negative voices we regular hear in the night.

Truth be known. Everlasting self worth can only come from deep inside us. God will always be optional. Trust me lah….you are good to go without Mr 10% scrounging off you.

That is why it is so important to FIRST cultivate the good habit of being kind, thoughtful and considerate to yourself.

There was one time when I was walking around my plantation thinking to myself how little I had achieved in my life. I was going thru a very bad patch where the weather and at least ten other things were conspiring against me. It was coming at me from all directions that I just felt overwhelmed, tired and perpetually frustrated at my inability to break out.

There I was standing on the hill looking out at the emerald horizon of palms and wondering to myself – ‘is this all there is to my life?’ That was when I was struck by a rare moment of epiphany and slowly it dawned on me just then. I had come so far like the mythical traveller and built something out of nothing with so very little with my bare hands and the sweat of my brow that it’s doubtful if you put a lesser man in my place, he wouldn’t even be able to thrive as well as I did in this unforgiving place. He would probably curl up and die after a week. Or throw in the towel and run back with his tail between his legs to Singapore. After that I felt a healing wave washing over me…..I didn’t know it then, but that was the first of many pats I’ve given myself on the back since then…..In that new found stream of consciousness. I had made a conscious decision to be kind to myself….cutting myself some slack…consoling myself with the happy prospects things will get better next year….that I will be wiser…and I will win!

Everyone should learn to give themselves a pat on the back from time to time. This is one of the things I’ve gathered in my most profound moments of solitude in the field. You don’t need to do it when you’ve done a good job either. As sometimes even the simple mundane act of waking up and facing the world every morning requires extraordinary courage and faith. To believe that if you put your shoulder to wheel and dedicate yourself to hard and honest work – then it will all work out and everything will fall into its rightful place.

It’s good and necessary for the well being of the soul.’

It’s perfectly natural for all of us to nurse a dreamy picture in our heads BEFORE we commit ourselves to a life changing event. Doesn’t matter what it is – a career change, home renovation, moving to a new country, starting a new job, getting hitched with that special person, starting an enterprise, raising kids or just baking a cake.

But let’s face it….it never ever turns out 100%. Most of the time it’s 70%. Or maybe 50%……and at times it can even be less than 50%. But that doesn’t mean that it’s all bad. It just means that perfect picture of how things are going to turn out in our head wasn’t a very realistic expectation….that all it means.

Some people just can’t come to terms with that idea of not being able to score a perfect 10. They see anything less as a sure sign of failure. As a consequence they fall into the gyre of beating themselves up with endless regrets of I should have done this or that till they finally end up exhausted only to throw in the towel.

But life is never like that I reckon. Never.

There is nothing wrong with getting it right 50%….it’s not a big deal….it’s not a problem. That just how things really are. The problem as I see it – is not that there are problems. The problem is thinking that when one encounters problems it’s a problem.


‘2014 has been an especially hard year for me. It’s one of those years where it’s not unusual for me to suddenly stop everything that I am doing in the field only to ask, ‘why did I even get into farming in the first place?’ It’s tough when all that mother nature seems to do is to throw out curve balls all the time. So many twist and turns and endless intrigues that it’s almost impossible to call the right shots.

In the beginning of the year I was convinced the specter of a prolonged drought was in the cards. After all when super conservative weather boffins start using terms like ‘monster’ El Niño – what am I supposed to think. So I spent a lot of time, resources and money preparing for the worse. As it turned out nothing happened!

All in all, I made 7 right calls out of 10 I reckon for 2014 – 70%. But it’s all relative. In 2013, I called a perfect 10 out of 10. Nonetheless 70% is not a bad innings. Not at all. I can live with that.

As for all the hard work that went into preparing for the epic no show El Niño. I wouldn’t say it was all completely wasted. Granted. It may all look like a great disquisition on nothingness. But when one dedicates time and effort to understand a thing from the inside out – it’s never wasted. At least the effort endures. I can for example tell you things about this weather phenomenon that you probably know so little about – could probably even give a stand up lecture in some tin pot school of meteorology on the subject without coming across as an idiot – can probably even walk around any plantation and tell the landowner this or that needs to be done here and there if they want to get to the other side safely.

My point is that’s really how life is – it never turns out 100% like the movies. It’s either 60% or 70%. Your nose is either too lumpy, stubby or just plain flat….your eyes slitty or shifty….our bodies either too short, fat or just pear shaped. But either way, we make the best out of what we have. We all dedicate ourselves to be the very best that we can.

As for that no show El Niño – well one day she will curl her hands like a cat and come my way like a siaow charbor. If it’s not this year….it may well be the next. But one thing is for sure, when that day comes I will be 100% ready.

Nothing is ever wasted in the land of never been able to get that perfect 10!’

The wisdom of the rain

December 29, 2014

If you are caught unprepared by a sudden rainstorm, you should not be unnecessarily distressed and run down the road like a cat nor hide under the eves of houses. Look here! You are going to get soaked either way. You might as well come to terms with that idea of being wet from the very beginning – it’s really a matter of whether you get soaked right down to the bone or just wet…..but either way. You are in for a dunk. So just walk like you would normally walk and go about your business in the way you normally would. This is acceptance of things that we as humans can never hope to change.


‘There used to be a time not so very long ago, when I would expect others to honor their words. Play fair and square. Be on the level. Considerate. etc etc. But nowadays I no longer hold out that lofty expectation of others any longer.

Whenever a politician speaks these days. It’s not unusual for me to ask myself, ‘what does he really want this time?….more money?’ The same goes for people who I work with. I never expect them to go beyond the buck! As for those who should care and love me. I don’t expect them to care or love me any longer.

Recently I came down with dengue fever. I didn’t want to bother anyone. So I just switch off the phone. Left a lot of food for the dogs and slept in. There I was lying in bed and a glass of water was just a few inches away. I looked at it so many times wantingly….yearning to slake my thirst, but I was too weak to even reach out to bring it to my mouth. So I just made do with being terribly thirsty. I was not sad. Or unhappy. I merely accepted it.

That I reckon is a summary of life. When a man learns the wisdom to accept many of the things that he can never hope to change in his life and strives to live in peace with those things. Then those things that used to make him angry, resentful and bitter will no longer have the power to torment him. Many men do not know this. That’s why they regularly get worked up over little things and jump up and down. Some are even more childish calling up their lawyers to sue this or that person. All for what? Simply because they are ignorant of this wisdom of the rain. They can’t bear the idea of getting even a bit wet. So they go round and round chasing their own tail like one of those crazy cats you see from time to time….diffusing all their energy on trivial pursuits. Till they become so consumed by their own self importance that they implode from within. That’s how a man makes a complete fool of himself.

But when a man cultivates acceptance. He can suddenly do many things. For one this man is comfortable with the rain. I know this may not be a big deal to you, but that’s only because to you probably believe life is all about waiting for storms to pass right by….not me….to me life will always be how well one can dance in the rain.

This is the road to inner peace and contentment.’

Merry Christmas 2014

December 28, 2014

Many of us will not be able to return home again for Christmas. Especially those who run mining and plantation enterprises in Africa and the South American front.

Darkness 2014


‘I think we all have to be truly simple men at heart. That is why we share a common ethos and a certain way of seeing the world. We go out to the world with so very little except for tiny morsels of our daring and a tube of Mentos in our pocket……but then again we are not feeble or fearful. As our hopes and aspirations for a better tomorrow is larger than a mountain. For a certain category of men that is all they need to go right on day after day without ever grumbling. That I reckon is why we will win!

As men like us who have only known hard work, untold hardships and so many disappointments do all this only for one goal – to lay the road for others who will come after us. There will be many. There is so much to do. So little time. As for the politicians and their policies…they are all irrelevant and utterly useless to us. We don’t even talk about them these days.

This role of laying a solid foundation for more to follow in our footsteps is one that we have dedicated our lives too. It is a road with little solace, comfort, recognition or even the promise of a happy ending….but all these trials will make the end of the journey sweeter. This I tell you. This you must all believe. As at the very end when you all old and shriveled, the young will sing songs about you and no man who ever stayed back can ever claim to lead your life. He can never!’

Road building in a plantation

December 21, 2014

Road works in a plantation has not changed for over 2,000 years. It’s a process that cannot be rushed. Usually it begins just around the end of the rainy season when the ground is still moist and sticky. This is the best time as the earth is still malleable. Rocks of varying shapes and sizes are put into a guny sack and arranged in a loose lattice. When it rains. Soil flows in between the sacks and this binds the lattice like a mosaic and creates a solid foundation. This is the way country roads are built thru out Africa…..only I know how to do so. No one else around these parts know of this technology.

I will write later on how I do it…I need to shower, cook and eat now.

Back to a noisy house again

December 20, 2014

Rita is a natural when it comes to barking. She barks all the time. Some dogs are just born that way….they’re just noisy. Before Rita disappeared. There were times when I was irritated by her constant barking. But when she went missing for three long weeks the house was so erieely quiet without her that I even found myself missing the noise.

Now that Rita is back. Everything is exactly the way it was.

I couldn’t be happier.


‘For me the big things that occur in my life are never physical or material. Usually it’s just a perceptive shift….a new way of seeing things — that to me has always been a bit strange. Think about it….absolutely nothing changes….everything is the way it has always been…except now, you see things differently – from another perspective….or with a new insight that allows you to compare and contrast and you’re less troubled, anxious and wiser as a result: that to me has to be one of those ‘wow’ moments that completely takes me away. Just look at it again. Nothing has really changed. Everything is the way it has always been. But because you have experienced a rare moment of epiphany…..your mind is able to render that mundane, uninteresting and even forgettable thing into something so significant and memorable. You have managed to transform that thing or experience with the power of your mind. You see things more clearly. You understand and most importantly you know that this insightful will make your a wiser and better person. Then suddenly it hits you out from the blue….that this is what it means when people speak as they do about something they are passionately in love about. Moments like this….when nothing changes, yet everything is never what it used to be any longer….suddenly you’re over the otherside watching it all. The road that you have travelled….that’s life.’

I have found Rita

December 18, 2014

Today I was reunited with Rita. A three year old bitch that bolted and disappeared into the jungle. That was three weeks ago. Since then I have searched high and low for her. Tribesmen high from the mountains have been called to track her down. But since it is the rainy season their best efforts proved in vain.

Today the farmer who brought Rita back told me in a quivering voice that when he saw such a beautiful dog, he had decided to keep her for himself. But when he had heard the devil’s dog was missing. His wife convinced him to return back the pet….or misfortune will certainly befall the farmers clan.

Two days from now. The council of the village elders will convene beneath the shade of a tree to dish out punishment to this farmer and his family. If the villagers all considered me a mere mortal….it would have ended there and then. But to steal from the devil is a capital crime in the kampung.

I do not want to be a hard man. On one hand the man was certainly technically a theif….but then again when he came to his senses, he did return my property.

I realize from this one event….no one loves and respect me. They all just fear me….they fear the man who lives all by himself on the hill.

I do not know what to do. I so want to see the good side of this farmer….I want it so badly. But I fear, if I am soft, it would be seen by all as a sign of weakness.

Why can’t life be simple for the landowner?


There once lived a man who only eats chicken rice in particular shop in Singapore.

This man eats chicken rice everyday. He’s been eating there ever since he could remember….. for the last fifty years. He even continues to eat there when the portions got smaller and smaller thru the years and most of the streetwise patrons had moved on to smarter value meals.

In the past, the man could at least be sure chicken breast cutlets would come his way. A whole leg if he was luckier. That was a very long time ago….he would often be heard lamenting.

These days, he considers himself lucky if he even manages to get a chicken neck portion or the fleshy part of the chicken backside. Most of the time, he makes do with scraps along with bits of the eyes, lips and feet thrown in. He believes it to be chicken…or at least he thinks it is…’s very hard to say….as it’s been such a long time since the man has been served a chicken cutlet that he can recognize as a wing, thigh or breast. To add to the man’s confusion and uncertain. There is widely circulate rumor in the internet, the chicken rice proprietor substitutes run down cats that he picks up from the ECP which he regularly passes on as chicken meat.

The man reckons these rumors can’t be true. After all……it’s the internet.

From time to time, the man would complain about the lousy portions….non existent customer service…..exorbitant price and tasteless cardboard flavor chicken.

This despite the chicken rice proprietors unabashed boast, his shop serves the best chicken rice in the whole of Singapore and possibly the whole wide world.

One day when the man was complaining as usual to a passerby about his favorite topic. This time something about the owner using a chicken to wipe his ass. As he ran our of toilet paper that caused a bout of food poisoning in AMK.

Someone suggested, why don’t you try eating in the new chicken rice shop down the road.

The man suddenly got very agitated and angry and said – are you suggesting that I should stop eating in the chicken rice shop of nearly fifty years???? Do you all have any idea what will happen if all the patrons go to that other new chicken rice shop down the street? There will be riots in Singapore! The stock market will collapse! The price of your home will drop faster than a free falling stone!

The center will give out! All meaning in life will go poof! What a preposterous idea! The man went on say to curious onlookers, ‘I will have you all know….the issue is not change for the sake of change; the issue is will my portions get bigger and juicier with the alternative. He went on to mention forcefully in an imperial tone, the new chicken rice shop did not even have so much as a track record to speak of….since it is new! Unlike his regular chicken rice shop that has nearly fifty years of culinary experience serving chicken.

A wise man who overheard the conversation mentioned,

‘If you don’t even bother to try… least once….how will you ever know which chicken rice shop is better. Besides if you don’t find it to your liking. You can always go right back to your regular chicken rice shop.’

Not long after that…..the man who was particularly fond of chicken rice choked to death one fine day while eating in the only chicken rice shop he had ever known all his life.

His last words before he departed the world was….we shouldn’t be so fearful of change….I should have tried eating there once.

The chicken rice proprietor could not be contacted to elaborate further on the mysterious cause of death….it was business as usual.

Darkness 2014

When a lie is repeated time and again….at some point it will be transformed into the truth.

One cannot fight against this idea of how perceptions can change consciously. It’s impossible. As since the process of change operates at the insidious level of the sub conscious….most of the time, many of us are not even consciously aware of this perceptive shift.

However being acutely mindful of the process of transitioning…from lie to truth….myth to fact…..conjecture to belief… really the skeleton key to open the door to wisdom and being able to see the world as it is and not what others say it is.


‘If we buy into the corrosive culture of labeling people as ‘troublemakers’, ‘stupid’, ‘snakey’, or for that matter ‘trustworthy’,’competent’ or ‘incorruptible’ – and if that label is stamped hard enough with constant repetition, then that image will stick in our heads without even us been conscious of this.

And when this label is imprinted somewhere in the substrate of our subconscious like a faint watermark. We can literally bend any future observations of the behaviour that person to fit that label.

I have learned this through first hand experience. Someone tells me this or that person is like so and so…..while interacting with that labelled person or perusing thru his material. I look out for square holes to fit my square pegs. Guess what? Usually it’s a snug fit…..but when I am consciously aware of how this tendency to label people and situations funnels my thinking towards prejudice and fault finding. Then I can compensate for this biasness by keeping an open mind and giving this labelled person the benefit of the doubt.

Usually when I do this….8 out of 10 times. I find myself feeling rather silly and embarrassed. As the labelled person is never what others say he is. Life is simply too short to listen to others without bothering to check up on the facts ourselves.’

If I had to stick my neck out…’s hard….if not impossible to say. The reason? The very means to gauge public sentiment has been broken….the internet.

Nowadays all you really have is Potemkin village sites such as the Singaporedaily, five stars and the moon et al shouting their lungs out in blogosphere……I wonder what they’re all trying to prove.

As for the what the future holds for singapore and Singaporeans…’s really anyone’s guess.


‘As a rule of thumb. I never like to shut people out or stop them from voicing their opinions openly. I don’t ever see it like some insecure leaders who perceive this sort of behavior as deviant….a solvent to our morals….or even anything resembling anything near a threat.

To me when people believe they have an elemental right to speak out openly on any subject without fear or favor….then that by itself had to be a form of catharsis…a release….a necessary purging of the emotions or relieving of pent up frustrations. That’s really like a constipated man experiencing one of those epic mother of all shits.

Thereafter, that man is bound to feel a profound sense of liberty. He may not be able to alter his conditions. Or even make things better. But one of the miracles of being able to talk openly and freely is it’s good for the soul. To me that’s a good thing. It’s a canary in the coal mine.

An asset where I can always use it to gauge the prevailing sentiment so that I can plan for the next move without having to deal with harbingers and the possibility of being blindsided……but what happens when that canary dies?

That’s really the situation we are in right now. It’s an artificially created situation that we are in right now. A construct of reality that has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with reality.

And that is what happens when fear rules….then all you will get is loads of folks murmuring and whispering in darkness. You may not hear them bitch…..but that doesn’t mean the narrative isn’t been eagerly spun fast and furious. It just means when you put your ears to the ground……you hear absolutely nothing…..not a whimper….nothing….not even so much as a church mouse decibel.

And that by itself has to be very disturbing to those who know the art of war.

Because that is not normal in the human condition. That is to say that is not something that is natural or for that matter ordinary under every possible definition of the word…normal.

Do you see my point.

It’s fair to say whatever the outcome…..a joker is definitely in the pack of cards….of that I am very sure… very sure that I can even put my last buck on that number.

Stupid people will always do and think stupid things….that is their dao.’

The worlds dumbest gangster

December 11, 2014

This evening fifteen men appeared before my gate. When I asked them the nature of their business. A menacing man with short hair stepped out from the group and told me that he was here to offer to protection.

I told this man politely, though I was very thankful for his gracious offer…..but I need no protection from anyone….as I am very accustomed to living deep in the middle of nowhere.

The man laughed out loud and so did all his no neck companions. So I suggested a leisurely stroll around the plantation, while he explained to me the finer details of his protection agreement….so that I could perhaps consider.

As we walked the man began to tell me in a condescending tone that if I did not agree to pay him a monthly sum…then there would certainly be cause for regret – in his words….all sort of misfortunes will befall me. I explained to him at great lengths this is something that I will have to do everything in my power to avoid.

By this time, we had walked all the way to the edge of the river on my lands….the lowest section surrounded by high mounts – where a man can scream and it is virtually impossible for anyone to hear him.

That was when the gangster realized all his companions had mysteriously disappeared leaving only him and I.

I turned to him then and there. At the very moment of his horrifying realization. I could see fear scissoring thru his feeble heart as his composure began to melt before me. Then in a hard and implacable tone…..I told this two cent gangster….perhaps it is I who should offer him protection.

He agreed…of course.

Yesterday a disheveled and distraught rubber tapper appeared before all in the kampung warung (village malay eatery) covered in blood and shouted at the top of his voice, ‘harimau….harimau….harimau!’

Everyone immediately reached for their sickles, parangs and blunderbust. Some asked the breathless man ‘where.’ Most rushed towards the general direction the man pointed too…somewhere towards the general direction of the mountain. Or maybe it was at the foot of the limestone hills just where the river splits….it is hard to say.

Somewhere in the commotion. Only a lone planter remained in the warung eating calmly. He summoned the breathless man towards his table with a crook of the finger, offered him a seat and order a tall cool drink. When the man tried to speak. The planter simply raised his hand and mentioned, ‘ there is no need to rush….catch your breathe first.’ Eventually after the rubber tapper had regained his composure the planter asked, ‘how did you come to be covered head to toe with blood?’

Then it finally came out….the rubber tapper had spotted a dead tiger at the foot of the limestone ravine on his way to work. It must have slipped and fell during the moonless night. Since the meat was still fresh. He thought of selling the prized tiger meat to the highest bidder and had carried it on his back…the fresh blood of the tiger must have stained his clothes.

The wise man bought the tiger meat.

The way of the farmer

December 10, 2014

Farming is hard. But it is incredibly satisfying and rewarding to the soul…it is.

I am spent….I need to shower…eat…and sleep.

Tomorrow beckons….a new dawn…a new day…the great hope.

Well, the short answer is, you will never really know for sure – till you pop your head over the fence and take a look…..only my gut feel informs me – I should at least warn you that even if the grass isn’t really greener. You may very well end up not wanting to look back any longer…to even bother with the whole idea of returning home.

You have made a decision to sink roots in this strange place….faraway. As for home it’s where your feet takes you.


‘For me it’s always intensely edifying to see others turning full circle…when everything just comes together wonderfully. As stepping out from a comfort bubble is never a easy thing to do. One needs to be courageous, hopeful and work at it….day in and day out…to believe and work towards a better tomorrow.

A few days ago. I came across one of Winking doll entries,

‘Yes, I’m pregnant, less than 1 year into our marriage. We heard at a recent gathering of (ex-)Singapore folks here that another Singapore-Canadian couple here is also expecting, less than 1 year into their marriage too. Perhaps the problem with fertility in Singapore is not with the Singaporeans, but other “environmental” (e.g. social) issues? E.g. Working too many hours to have time/energy leftover for baby-making? Worrying about how one’s child/children will cope in a highly competitive social/educational environment with narrow definitions of success and the trend of unforgiving attitudes towards social “failures”?
4 years versus 40 years. How did my host country “win my heart” in 4 years and my birth country lose my “love” over 40 years? It boggles the mind. Something for those residing in Singapore to think about, since Singapore has “welcome” a significant proportion (about 40%) of foreign-born onto its soil — What policies exist and/or are-needed for the foreign-born to feel accepted as part-of-Singapore? [Click here, here and here for related articles.]

That more or less says it all for me.

This morning on the way to a plantation on the west coast. My friend lamented that his ipad couldn’t get a decent connection to google map. Neither was the GPS any help either as since the program doesn’t cover serpentine laterite roads within an estate, it proved as useful as a dashboard mascot.

Fortunately, there was an old school map and compass in the glove compartment.

It’s hardly ideal. It’s even arguable it’s not supposed to be and that’s why it remains a charming way to get from point A to B. As we took a few wrong turns and had to double back warding time. On one of our epic u turns, we stopped at a plantation to ask for directions. The landowner suggested we stay for lunch. During the meal, I found out that he has precisely the thing I was looking for and he was even willing to sell it at a reasonable price. Eventually we reached the plantation for an appointment with an hour to spare.

The deal didn’t go through….only because my gut feel tells me the offer of the landowner we lunched with seems to be a sweeter deal…..not a bad innings when one considers how wrong things can work out so darn right.

The moral of the story – sometimes….not every time I admit….but sometimes, for one to find a really good thing….it definitely pays to wander away from the beaten path and get lost.


‘I happen to be a very big fan of accidental encounters – that’s to say I much prefer not to know what lies behind that knoll, corner or end of the road.

Don’t get me wrong. Technology is definitely a nifty thing at one level of intelligence – as it allows one to do things efficiently, like ferret out that five chili char kuey teow shop in an unfamiliar stretch of street – even makes possible the whole idea of getting the best deal by shopping online. It could probably even do other things – like tell you where your other half is in the city so that you can ambush her for coffee etc etc etc.

But like I said, I much prefer not to know what’s around the corner at times. As for me not knowing and allowing things to just fall into place remains one of the greatest joys of living. I once came across a mint condition of a first edition Dorian Gray while wandering aimlessly with that familiar air of non committal in a second hand book shop. The first page was signed off affectionately, ‘with all my heart to James….my one and only love.’ (The awful irony – the bugger flogged it off to a used book shop for a tuppence). Those sort of chance encounters never fails to bring a smile to me.

What I am trying to say perhaps in a round about sort of way is when technology becomes intrusive, pervasive and omnipresent to such a point where you don’t even have the option to switch it off, then it’s doubtful whether it that idea can reliably add rather than subtract from the whole idea of a purpose driven life.

As foreknowledge by it’s very nature demystifies…it renders ‘clear’ by gutting out the whole idea of serendipity, epiphany along with that quintessential chance encounter – the special moments when you turn that corner and go wow! And just stand there in awe of that thing.

For example I don’t need to ever know the facebook profile of this or that person. Not so sure that sort of information adds any value to a relationship except imprinting an image on my mind during the encounter. Much rather just find out thru an old fashion conversation over coffee and a couple of scones. Don’t even need a patronizing computer generated matron to tell me when I am driving, she’s recalculating. Rather rely on a map and a compass, as it compels me to look out for landmarks…..mountains, rivers and valleys when I am driving, that sort of experience leaves a very vivid spatial understanding where I am in relation to space that one can never hope to ever get from just the two dimensions of Google map. That’s the same reason why whenever I trek in a jungle or sail. I still use an old fashion sextant to get a fix on my position instead of relying on a meaningless string of numbers to tell me where I am. Neither do I care very much for the idea of automatic payment either – that’s usually seldom ever discussed whenever the whole idea of institutional digitalization is mooted. The art of being able to lift money from your wallet without you ever having an option to say, ‘Er excuse me…but what was this for?’ Much prefer to gripe over a paper bill over the counter and pay grudgingly while making teeth sucking sounds with old fashion cash. That way! At least, I can actually feel the pain when I am splurging out or going overboard.

I guess if we are really talking about the whole idea of crafting a smart nation – then my needs are much more basic. So base that I am not even so sure technology has even anything to do with it.

The simple idea that I don’t have to worry too much about making ends met in the world’s expensive city. The simple idea that I can believe in the idea if I work hard and dedicate myself to improving myself – things will work out for me. And that I don’t have to worry too much about the future. The simple idea that I can continue to live my life under my own terms without ever having to worry whether I would still have enough to see me thru my old age with dignity. That sort of thing.

The simple things that makes life worthwhile. The simple things that may sound stupid to you….but will always be smart to me.’

People who suckle on the teat of government should be grateful and serve out the term of their bond honorably. People who once did so but decided to jump ship and were named and shamed and paid back with interest their bond are free to do as they like. But even they should be grateful.

Those who could only have made it with their parents financial support should be eternally grateful ONLY to their parents and no one else.

Only those who made it with their own sweat of their brow and strength of sinews…..owe nothing whatsoever to anyone. As for gratitude that will always be optional.

Life is very simple. Rather it should be. Could be…..keep it simple.


‘Gratitude is the most virtuous human characteristic. It is a highest form of humility. Ants cannot be grateful. Humans can.

As a grateful state of mind is the very opposite of arrogance, pride and selfishness.

Some things in this world is cut and dried. When one man gives and another receives…then a good thing has been born into this cruel and heartless world.

That good thing may be a sweet lasting memory, an act of personal sacrifice or even a kind favor….but nonetheless it is a good thing and the only reason why good things should always be valued is because the world is by nature a very heartless and selfish place. Where it could be said, most people will much prefer to take, take and take from you.

Some bent people even take by proclaiming your success is due to the benevolence of God and that you should give back! See how these merchants of lies enforce the idea of gratitude upon the ignorant and unassuming….see how deviously their designs to take, take and take. Others take by selling you the paper mâché narrative without them, you will still be wallowing in a cesspit of shit. See again, how they enforce the notion of gratitude upon you….see how deviously they take, take and take this time by attempting to guilt trip you.

So when a man does another a good deed it has to be a very rare and good thing….as since it is born from the goodness of the heart – that thing is the very opposite of take, take and take. It is something that is very unusual and even unnatural in this cruel world these days, that is why one should always be grateful to those who once came into their lives to make it sweeter and better.’

I need more land! It’s hardly a matter of choice. I don’t nearly have such a thing as, the luxury of staying the same size. Not if I want to get to the other side in one unbroken piece.

That’s how it really is in business….frequently it’s not a matter of choice.

As since my business rivals have formed a cartel. They have access to a much broader network and can very easily combine their holdings to mobilize resources to buy more land.

They mean to surround me this time….it’s a iron curtain…designed to drive me out… cut off all my supply lines and leave me marooned like a mad man on a shark infested island.

I suddenly feel the walls closing in. I am outnumbered. Out gunned. It’s only a matter of time before they will gain the upper hand. I need more land!

But all that stands before me is a wall that runs so high and mighty that I can’t even make out the parapets and cupolas. A wall that runs either side from east to west forever and ever. At it’s foot like a scurying ant….there I am.

I need more land!


‘I don’t know who was the idiot who came out with the idea of life is supposed to be fair.

Truth is there is no such thing as an idealized fifty-fifty in any relationship – doesn’t matter whether it’s a business or personal relationship. Matters even less whether it’s a marriage or just the congenial mood of commonality that holds two people together as friends, lovers or associates.

It’s never equal…never fair….either fifty five – forty five, seventy – thirty or even ninety – ten.

Someone always has to give up more of himself or herself to make it all come around – be it the commodity of love, the precondition of I love you more or the whole idea that supports the notion of balance of power in a relationship. Someone in a relationship always puts someone’s else up on a pedestal. Someone is always listening, working hard to keep the level of enthusiasm while the other person just manages to get by with the bare minimum while enjoying the free ride.

That’s the way I have always seen the politics of relationship. Truth is. Life is never fair. It’s only supposed to be fair. To paraphrase it’s just one of those things we are supposed to believe in without ever questioning….like spending a lot of $ on anti aging cream where the only active ingredient happens to be water……better still, if we just take it on faith like religion. Just like that other nonsense – if you work hard, then good things will come to you. Or there’s opportunity all over the place providing a man dedicates himself unfailingly to the constancy of his craft….then the world will beat a path to his shed.

That’s all bullshit! Truth is a man can work like a mule lugging rocks each the size of bowling ball up a mountain day in and out, seven days a week and he may very well end up with nought.

It’s funny how the vast majority of human beings everywhere, believe many things that are obviously baseless. The most destructive mythology I reckon has to be – if you fail, you have no one to blame but yourself….along with no one owes you a living or if other people can ace it, so can you!

In truth, money will always be darn hard to come by, hence, those who have little or no money are convinced to blame themselves…..and never their circumstances or take comfort in the idea – the world is bent….it’s never a level playing field….there is a magnet underneath the roulette wheel of life.

Guess what? The world is bent….there is no such thing as a level playing field…and there is actually a magnet secreted in the roulette wheel of life!

Knowing just this is the first step to financial liberty. THE WORLD IS NEVER FAIR!

This corrosive culture of self inflicted blame has been the wonder weapon by which the rich and powerful, use not only to control the mentality of those who are poor, but to even script the very justifications for doing little or nothing to improve the lot of their lot.

It’s startling how clear it is when one sees it for what it really is – as an unequal relationship….as not a very handsome or endearing thing that one can snuggle up too.

Many years ago a landowner once said to me, ‘I don’t like the way you look.’ I asked him why not. And he told me my eyes were too hungry…too yearning…too wanting, that he could tell that I was a trouble maker who could do with a few good hard knocks to put me in place. He tried.

A few years later. All his lands became all mine.’