February 28, 2015
Since my epic migration from cityscape Singapore to the kampung five years ago. I’ve been shifting gears, adjusting and trying my best to find that mythical happy line. It has not been an easy adjustment physically nor mentally. I’ve had to throw out many aspects which used to define me as an individual, along with taking on to new ways to adapt to the prolonged isolation, lack of support and sheer distance of being away from home.
It’s been uphill for me only because I happen to love immensely what city living has to offer. May seem strange for many of you to know that I actually find wandering around an air conditioned mall like a eighteen century flanuer quite liberating. That along with other city inspired rituals that I happen to miss terribly such as how long can I stare at a girl in a short skirt in the trains without coming across as a crazed stalker. To signing off as either Mahatma Gandhi or George Washington IC No 01234567 whenever I buy semi illegal chewing gum from the pharmacist. Yes…the idea of being able to reduce oneself to everyone else under a cloak of anonymity is what I miss most about city living.
It’s the direct opposite of pineappled eye kampung living where a man can’t even enjoy the simple pleasures of life such as being able to scratch his balls without provoking mass fainting spells amongst the ranks of the busy body auntie brigade.
Seems paradoxical…ironical that I should consider my life in the kampung corseted, scripted and choreographed when compared to the city. Even more incredulous is how I’ve come to regard this imposition as nothing short of an attempt to appropriate my individuality.
No. I don’t think you would take to me readily if you came face to face with my self effacement of hypocrisy in the kampung. Over here. I am known as a hard, implacable and ruthless man. I inspired fear precisely because my very form, demeanor and values leverages on a stream of consciousness that has always inspired fear in kampung folk ever since the dawn of mankind – the ramrod no nonsense bush jacketed, briar pipe belching planter of lore. That variety of man one spies occasionally in sepia prints from a bygone ago of candles, sails and cantankerous machines. Or maybe that other man invaded…supplanted and overcame me. Yes….it’s conceivable. It’s hard to say for certain how that stream of consciousness ever intercepted my life to finally fashion me as who I am today.
Recently I experienced a rare moment of epiphany: how much the landscape of where we live affects and creates who we are and how we think. Perhaps I’ve been living for so long in this time capsule of a tiny farming hamlet. The values and attitudes of what it means to be a part of that has obliterated the person who I used to be…..I can’t be sure….not for certain. Except perhaps to say with some measure of certainty.
I am who I am. Who am I? Do I even exist.
‘Into my second year of farming. Just after I beaten up so badly by gangsters who worked for a greedy landowner who eyed my small veggie patch. I nearly threw in the towel and ran back to Singapore.
I was afraid….scared.
That same week something strange transpired. A old plantation mansion deep in the jungle smack in the middle nowhere was put up for auction. It belonged to the old defunct Hartfield and Cross Estate. Since I was the only bidder who bothered to turn up. I got it for a tuppence, which wasn’t surprising as there was really nothing of value in that rat infested dilapidated mansion – but I know timber well and I knew there was at least SG$10,000 that I could strip right down with my bare hands and sell off for a handsome profit. I said to myself that way when I return back home, at least it wouldn’t all be for nought.
When I got to the master bedroom of this old mansion. I found a old trunk secret behind a hidden door in the headboard. When I opened it, there were three changes of bush jackets in various colors, a pair of steel tipped black shoes, dated square rimmed dark glasses, brass knuckle duster, ivory handled stiletto, a briar pipe, an ornate horse whip and a traveling shaving kit.
I tried it for size. I don’t really know why I did that except to say it called to me. I am not kidding – it’s like that evil ring in that hobbit movie.
That evening when I went to the village kopitiam dressed in a bush jacket – a very old man upon setting eyes on me began to shudder and wail, ‘it can’t be….he is back!’ Later on I gathered the bush jacket belonged to a planter who once waged war on the communist. He was a widely feared man who wore a glass eye and walked around in a stump. He was eventually gunned down by the communist as since he gave them no quarter and asked for none himself. They put a bounty on his head.
From that day onwards I knew this was a superhero suit like maybe a iron man’s or superman’s super duper armor. Only my wonder bush jacket could perform other miracles besides stop bullets such as stave off neurosis, neuralgia, relieve menstrual cramps, chase away melancholia arising from unrequited love, instill discipline in slothful policemen, render sober drunkards, straighten bengkok politicians, bring locomotives to a sudden halt, disperse violent crowds, pacify crying babies, ward of malevolent spirits, tame cantankerous women, cure epilepsy, scarlet fever, necrosis, mercurial eruptions, paralysis, hip diseases, chronic abscesses, and even keep at bay mass fainting spells, high blood pressure and sudden heart attacks amongst kampung folk.
Somewhere in all this. I realize what we call “I” has to be at best an illusion. As within the four helms of my superman suit. There is no discrete self or ego living like some ghost in the machine of the mind. And the feeling that there is—the sense of being in some cockpit where one is one control somewhere behind one’s eyes, looking out at a world that is separate from oneself — can be so irrevocably altered or entirely extinguished. Although such experiences of “self-transcendence” are generally thought about in religious terms, there is nothing, in principle, irrational about them. From both a scientific and a philosophical point of view, they represent a clearer understanding of the way things are.
Eventually the hard, implacable and ruthless man took over all the lands of the greedy landowner. As for the boy from Singapore. He was never seen again. Many believe he was murdered and his body was thrown into the river.’
February 26, 2015
I am a self made man. Put myself thru university by whipping Orange chicken fast and furious in a Cantonese restaurant called the magic bowl in London.
It’s my signature dish that I can rightly call my own creation, won numerous accolades along with a cult patronage.
One reason why I felt compelled to redefine the whole Orange chicken experience is because I’ve always regarded the idea of deep frying the chicken in batter as a sort of cop out. I figured if anyone wants fried chicken in batter. They could just go to KFC. The second reason why I radically change this dish was I always had great difficulty teasing out the orange flavor in orange chicken. It was always there, but not really there and that always bothered me. So I wanted to make a dish where the citrus flavor comes from deep within instead of from a two dimensional sauce.
I didn’t consciously set out to change this Hunan dish. It came in bits and pieces mostly thru my solo motorcycle ride throughout Europe during my student days. In Seville. I came across a very interesting version of this dish called Pollo a la Naranja where star anise powder was used. Another version of this dish I chanced in France where it’s menued as chicken A La Orange – a twist on the classic Duck a L'Orange dish famously served in Maxims. But the X marks the spot moment for me when it all came marvelously together, came during a period of self introspection when I was exploring Russia by motorcycle all by myself, just around the time when the Great Soviet Union was crumbling under the influence of free capitalism, I found it in a little Ukrainian restaurant where the dish is cooked by baking chicken coated with orange marmalade and served using bitter sweet Goronsky oranges.
Later on when I wrote the my first e novella. I incorporated the name 'magic bowl' into the story.
I am in the field now and will return later with the recipe.
In Wales, located some six hundred miles or so North of London – lies the sleepy town of Llanwrtyd Wells hidden snuggly between two towering mountains – hikers often recount to other each somewhere mid- way up those steep valleys, how they could make out every detail of this tiny toy village, with it’s red roof church spire which tilted ever so slightly, to the only red bricked post office building and even the park square with it’s circular lime stone fountain.
On a clear day, one could even see beyond the town square with it’s four sided clock tower and beyond, the only school with it’s white washed walls of Cumbrian stone and open grassy rugby pitches. If one proceeded higher, one could just about make out a row of shops at the very far edge of this little town – one of them located somewhere around the middle, in between a garage and a funeral parlor was the “The Magic Bowl” Chinese take away.
There really wasn’t anything magical about the “magic bowl” – like all other Chinese take away’s, they had chicken chow mein and choy suey in their menu and on Fridays after midnight, they offered a ten percent discount with double servings of sweet and sour pork. Neither for that matter was the young Chinese couple that magical either, the husband with his short cropped hair, limped and had terrible scars on his face, (his wife had mentioned something about a car accident and a terribly vicious one at that, I dare say) he hardly spoke a word, neither did he have much of an opinion except to smile politely from time to time – but it’s like that with those Chinese, they never say very much – his young wife would often be the chattier of the two and exchange pleasant words with the patrons who were mostly made up entirely of lorry drivers stopping for either a rest and some hot and cheap food before they resumed their journey Northwards – the wife took orders from the counter, while her quiet husband cooked behind the kitchen, one could only really only hear him behind clanging on his pots and pans and only see part of his hands in the cut out in the wall, where packed food would be brought out to the counter.
During the day time – when business was slow in the magic bowl and lorry drivers preferred to make the most of their day light hours – the quiet man would often be seen behind the kitchen with his tools fixing motorized wheel chairs or lawn mowers – they said, his workmanship was first class – but really, I am sure those lads were simply being kind, after all he looked hardly like an engineer and more like a tradesman with his soiled baggy overalls stained with patches of mineral oil he hardly ever took off even when he was seen around town doing his errands – so one day, when the clock tower failed to sound and all that the railway tradesmen could do was to take off their hats and say.
“Bloody old girl finally kicked the bucket – she breathe her last, she did – well after all she lived a ripe old age ain’t it, seen, bloody Hitler’s bombs and all that – it’ve be sad to see the old girl go.”
When the quiet man heard there was money to be had in the fixing – he made his way to the town council and asked for the blue prints of the tower clock and though the clerk refused at first – saying only registered tradesmen where allowed to work on council property and it was the law and nothing could be done about it and since he neither had the right papers or was registered, working on the clock was really out of the question- his superior, a barrel chest Welshman overhearing the conversation, simply handed over the dusty blue prints,
“You can keep it mate, those bloody blue prints are in Blooming German, they might as well be bloody written in chinky chink language – you’re wasting your time mate, but go on give it a go, if you like laddie –it wouldn’t half hurt if you gave that old bat a good working over, if nothing else. “
That whole week the quiet man worked on the clock tower even checking out a German – English dictionary from the library to help him make sense of those blueprints – and one day when it sounded as it usually did at twelve – even the railway stewards who maintained the tracks looked up at the tower clock in amazement, some saying quite openly.
“Bloody chink brought her back from the grave – fancy that!”
So after being paid his repair fee by the town council – the quiet man made his way into the only antique shop in Preston and picked out a gold band with oak leaf carvings in relief, I imagined he must have wanted to give this sort of gift for so long to his wife, but till then they hardly made enough to make ends met – According to the Jewish merchant,
“The China man knew exactly what he wanted right down to the words engraved on the inner side of the ring”. The Jew often said, it was strange for such an uneducated man to appreciate such fine poetry, the engraving read.
“To my one and only love – who was always strong.”
Whatever, little he had left from fixing the clock tower, the quiet man spent it on a white evening silk dress with prints of red roses, he would later say to the lady who owned the shop, it reminded him of someone special.
Even the councilor, who had a day job as a the local postman would often be heard recounting in the pubs,
‘Half the bloody town is dropping off like flies – the other bloody half is falling too pieces – and the only chappy who seems to be able to put it all together and make it work again is the chink”
So one morning, when the councilor made his way to the magic bowl, where the quiet man could always be seen with his tools behind his kitchen – the councilor cum post man made his offer for an opening in the town council for the position of a engineering supervisor – to take charge of the towns common boiler, traffic switch board and main supply generator – he was saddened to hear the quiet man declined the offer politely after hearing some forms had to filled up and sent to London for approval since he would be an official employee of the town council. In the words of the quiet man,
“You embarrass me with this offer – I neither have the skills or training for this sort of thing – I am a simple man – and one should not really make a big story of the clock tower either, because all I really did was to strike it with a hammer – but from time to time should the boiler or the switch board go on the blink –you have my word I will be more than happy to take a look at it”
On the weekends the quiet man would be seen climbing the valleys – he climbed alone. Starting off earlier than the others even before daybreak and though he was known as the quiet man who limped a little when he climbed – when he climbed it was not unusual for those who saw him saying, “he climbs like a tormented soul” – for he would often stop and stare defiantly at the mountain with eyes of an uncommon man –
But even these accounts can’t really be trusted, as when climbers often slipped and fall as they often do– the quiet man would always be prepared to patch them up – his quiet manner hardly conveying a trace of anger.
When the quiet man came down from the mountains usually around lunch time – his wife would always be seen driving up to the foot in the mountain in the grayish white Morris van – only six months ago, the quiet man had bought it from the junk yard merchant who said,
“No I wouldn’t consider selling you that heap of rusted rubbish –what do you take me for I am a junk yard merchant, I have you know we English take pride in what we do – no she beyond a junk (the merchant shaking his head) but if you could give me a 50% discount on your take away’s for the next six months– we can call it a done deal”
Though the quiet man bargained it down to 25% with a free wanton dumplings no matter what the order – that same day hardly had he shaken on the deal, he began to work on the junk. Till one summers day, this couple could be seen laughing quite hysterically as they drove round and round our little town in this old car with it’s patchy paint job – and when they finally ran out of roads, because our town was so small – the quiet man came to lie with his wife on the grass – from time to time – he would be see caressing her breast, kissing or whispering into her ears – and just when the sun turned the valley a bright orange splendor, the quiet man simply stood staring out into the vast expanse of the English country side – his eyes conveying the sadness of man who perhaps remembered the passing of a loved one and during these quiet moments which seemed quieter than even the quiet man himself, his wife would slowly come to stand beside him, as if she knew of a terrible secret they both shared.
And the quiet man would simply look at her and bury his scarred face into her bosoms.
February 25, 2015
No chicken dish has been bastardized as much as Kung Po chicken. There are so many variations to this dish that no one can quite agree what it should rightly taste like, ranging from the kitsch Americana take away version that’s teeth decaying sweet to the Cantonese version that uses bell peppers and taste rather bland.
Truth is stranger than fiction. Kung Po is not even Chinese. It’s a Khalkha Mongol specialty which is known as hor akrul. Roughly translated it means pickled spicy chicken – to make good Kung Po. You need to prepare the chicken in the Mongolian way first. This is what gives the dish 99% of it’s bang! The frying and condiments is just a after thought. The original recipe calls for wild licorice root – this is a condiment that I have reproduced with cinnamon and dried raisins.
Start brining the chicken – be calm. Don’t be intimidated, it’s easy…I walk you thru – cut half a chicken up. Put it in a zip loc plastic bag with two rounded tablespoon of salt, two teaspoon of cinnamon powder, sugar, two cups of cold water (I prefer honey as it imparts a much more rounded flavor). Agitate it a bit to infuse brine solution into muscle fibers of chicken and bung in the freezer for two hours.
Brining is the mongol field craft of preserving meat using permafrosting – it’s unique to only Mongols, once they hunt an animal, they skin it, cut it up, brine it, stuff it all in the gut of the animal and bury it six inches beneath the earth. The ground in the steppes is a natural refrigerator, that’s how meat is traditionally stored and transported since the time of great Khans. The world’s first military meals on the go! That is also incidentally how the dish acquires it’s flavor thru brining and not cooking – it’s a professional kitchen secret.
Now you know why the vast majority of Kung Po taste bland and cardboardish.
In a separate bowl, add the following. 7 dried chilies sliced up, less if you desire it to be milder soaked in brown vinegar for two hours.
In a second bowl, two tablespoon of chili oil. You can buy this in NTUC. 1 teaspoon of chili powder. 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder. Two tablespoon of dark thick soya sauce. 1 tablespoon of light soya sauce. Half a tablespoon of sesame sauce.
After two hours remove the chicken. Drain brine solution. Run chicken under tap. Pat dry. Cut into small pieces. Run marinade over chicken.
Add 4 tablespoon oil into skillet. Fry one large white onion with 3 garlic and one thumb ginger thinly sliced (don’t over do it with the ginger). Once brown.
Add chicken stir fry. Cut another onion into large squares. Add after 5 minutes for crunchiness. Crush one cup of chasew nuts. Don’t do like the restaraunt – you want the nut oil to add complexity to the flavor. Add half a cup of dried raisins for that tangy sweet flavor. Remove dried chili from vinegar squeeze excess out. And throw in and continue frying for another 5 minutes. Dash of black pepper.
During frying. Use high heat. You must heard this sound….otherwise it’s no good!
Do not add any salt, as brine solution has already infused chicken with salt flavoring.
Serve with hot rice. Guaranteed one million times better than anything you ever tasted in even the best Chinese restaurant in the world. I am not kidding.
This is the real Kung Po!
February 24, 2015
Allow me speak plainly. As I don’t want to use fuzzy words likes ‘rightsizing’ ‘calibrate’ ‘normalizing’ etc to express my thoughts concerning this topic. As this sort of parlance will only pull the wool over your eyes and confuse you all no end.
It’s very simple.
Commenting about the social political scene in Singapore does not inspired much confidence. It is very difficult to comment without fear or favor about Singapore.
Especially when the people who are always commenting always seem to get sacked from their jobs, bankrupted, sent to jail etc etc. So it’s best if you want any comment go read the Strait Times or Bertha Henson et al. You go judge for yourself the quality of what’s forwarded there. Again I have no comment.
As for me, it doesn’t mean I don’t have a POV. I do. However I have every right as an individual to exercise my free will not to comment about the social and political scene in Singapore.
February 23, 2015
I happen to be particularly fond of cinnamon as a spice. Not only is it tasty, but it also nourishes the brain. The day before I plan for marathon meetings and negotiations – I will usually consume this. It keeps me alert, sharp and improves my concentration.
Do not be intimidated. It’s easy. You have to trust me. As I have created substitutes for condiments which usually cannot be found in supermarkets in Singapore, but only in Bazaars in the Middle East. For example to replicate the sweet and tangy flavor of fermented date syrup. I find that one rounded table spoon of black chili bean paste and a palm full of dried raisins produces roughly the same flavor.
Same goes for condiments like fermented sunflower seed soya – one could just as well use the dark and thick variety of the Lee Kum Kee dark soya sauce in NTUC.
– 4 tablespoon olive oil
– 175 Grammes minced beef
– 1 large chopped onion.
– 3 garlic sections diced finely
– 1 tablespoon black chili bean paste
– 1/2 cup dried raisins
– 3 tablespoon dark mushroom soya sauce (thick variety, the runny sort is no good)
– 3 teaspoon of powder cinnamon
– 1 teaspoon meat curry powder
– 1 teaspoon chili powder
Directions: brown onions and garlic. Add minced beef. Chili bean paste. Dark mushroom sauce. Raisins. Sprinkle, curry and chili powder. Stir for 10 min. Sprinkle cinnamon powder. (Optional: cut half a onion and fry for 5 min)
Serve with spaghetti. Do not add salt into this dish while cooking. You will spoil it. As salt cuts the effects of cinnamon. The correct way to introduce salt into this dish is when boiling the spaghetti – add a rounded tablespoon of salt into the boiling water. After the spaghetti is cooked NEVER run it in the tap – if you want it to be just right, always under boil by two minutes – that’s to say if the pasta manufacturer recommends 13 min, boil for 11 min instead. It’s good. To make delicious spaghetti – you need to use a colander and keep agitating it for at least 5 minutes so that air gets in between the spaghetti and dilates the wheat strands. This is a professional kitchen trick. No one will teach you this. As most people will run it under the tap and end up shocking the pasta – that’s why it always taste like card board. While you are doing this, you may like to add a knob of scented butter or a lash of Virgin olive oil to improve the texture of the pasta.
– People who are under a lot of stress or suffer from chronic depression must eat this dish at least 4 times a week.
– Women who are always nitpicking, argumentative and never happy with you should also be served this dish.
– when you feel stupid. Or more than five people have commented you are stupid in a week. You have to eat this lah.
– cinnamon has a warming effect. Consume this dish if you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome or experience stomach rumblings often.
– if you control your weight. Take this with just a bit of pasta and WASA crisp bread and a dash of yogurt.
February 22, 2015
Today I just felt like sleeping in longer than usual. It’s just too bloody hot to hit the field. So I decided to stay in and make myself cardamon Chili bean Beef spaghetti.
To make this dish. You need to get hold of cardamom powder and not cardamon pods. REMEMBER THIS! I am 100% sure you can find it in any of the spice shops thru out little India, be prepared to pay a bit more. As cardamon powder unlike it’s more commonly sold counterpart, whole dried green cardamon is expensive – cardamon is a strong aromatic that is widely known to have healing properties thru out the Middle East, Indian continent and Orient.
Thru out the length and breadth of Africa this aromatic spice is a widely consumed staple, it features from everything to bread, sweets and pulai. As it is widely believed to have magical healing properties.
The ever wandering Bedouins flavor their coffee during the mistral season when dust storms are frequent with 50% ground cardamon and the rest Ghanian beans. As cardamon is known as a mucous destroyer and muscle relaxant that would otherwise render normal living in the Sahara impossible.
In the southwest corner of Mali, in the triangle formed between the Senegal river to the west and the Niger to the east where illegal goldmines and shanty towns dot the landscape like wild mushrooms. Cardamon commands the same value as gold gram for gram. Kids who work deep in these zero safety gold mines during the dry season would not be able to burrow like Duracell powered groundhogs if their overseers did not regularly hand out cardamon laced candies. Their lungs will clog and they will die.
I once told a UN (united nothing) field officer, if the world was serious about halting the trade of blood diamonds – all they had to do was persuade the African Congress to pass a resolution to make cardamon a controlled substance like tobacco and alcohol. He thought it was a joke! Wonder no more why tribal wars are a mainstay feature on the African continent.
Further up beyond the never ending Sahara up along the narrow shoulder of the Nile that crosses into the upper reaches of the diamond encrusted Congo basin, where elephants still amble along the same ancient route slaves once lumbered as they were prepared to be shipped to Zanzibar.
In this god forsaken place where blood diamonds and poached ivory is still widely and openly traded in bazaars – cardamon is so highly prized for its medicinal value it’s considered legal tender – in these parts where even the mighty French Foreign Legion considers out of bounds since it is the equivalent of Raffles place a veritable Mecca for all the troublemakers, warlords, rouge traders in the whole of central Africa – the calming antispasmodic effects of cardamon is believed to be able to do everything and anything under the sun ranging from imparting bullet proof powers to staving off malevolent evil curses and hexes – here cardamon is known by its ancient name Al Heyl – uttered usually by touching the front helm of the shamagh as a sign of reverence for the great herb that all believe without exception was a heavenly plant that was once secreted to earth by a benevolent angel from syurga.
In these parts where it is not unusual for a men to walk around wearing a shouldered holstered revolver and carrying a samsonite briefcase – and to hear intermittent gun shots renting out from time to time, there is a common saying know to all in these parts.
‘Water is important….but not as important as cardamon, as a man without a morsel of cardamomn is like a ship without the sea.’
– 4 table spoon olive oil
– 250 Grammes ground beef
– 1 rounded table spoon of cardamon powder
– 1 large white onion (diced) separate into two bowls
– 2 garlic sections finely chopped
– 1 rounded table spoon chili bean paste (get the one’s where the chili is dark and you can’t see the beans. You can get it in NTUC)
– 1 teaspoon meat curry powder
– 1 teaspoon ground black pepper.
– 3 or 4 tablespoon Mushroom flavored dark soya sauce (lee kum Kee brand. The original recipe uses fermented dates syrup, but I can’t get it. But this is about 90%)
– salt to taste
– a bit of pickled mango chutney. (I like to add a bit more to create a tangy flavor)
Cut half white onion. Fry one half diced with garlic till brown. Add ground beef. Cook 10 minutes, sprinkle cardamon powder evenly. This will remove the gamey smell of beef, stir in chili bean paste. Add dark soya sauce. Sprinkle curry powder. Black pepper, chutney. After cooking for 15 add remainder of other half of diced white onion. Do not overcook second batch onions as you want the texture of the semi cooked onions to be crunchy. Cook for another 10 minutes low flame.
If you like, you the can dress the dish in either chopped cilantro or fresh coriander. I much prefer it plain.
Note : this is a dry dish. Do not add any water. Serve with el dente spaghetti or flat bread. Once you cook it 2 or 3 times, it will only take you 15 minutes tops to whip it up. It’s not heavy like Italian spaghetti, there is no butter, milk or cheese. So it’s very light and I highly recommend this as a evening meal accompanied by either a chianti or robust Pinot.
Medicinal properties: cardamon strengthens the lungs, staves off runny noses. If you are sensitive to dust and often sniff and sneeze. I would seriously recommend this dish as a prescriptive cure. During the haze season. I usually eat this dish at least three times a week.
Women who are nervous, agitated, argumentative and like to find fault should consume this dish religiously during the height of the hot season – alternatively just add 3 pods of dried green cardamon to hot pipping tea.
Children who like to run around like monkeys and have trouble finishing their homework and suffer from a chronic inability to concerntrate should have lemonade with ground sprinklings of cardamon.
Men who experience sexual problems in so far as they run out of breathe during their nocturnal sojourns with their dearly unfortunate other half – should seriously consider consuming my cardamon spaghetti before intimate encounters if they are indeed serious about restoring matrimonial harmony and felicity.
Ministers who regularly face rigorous questioning in Parliament. Or political figures who suffer from a lack of imagination to prosper under the media spot should also consume this dish – as not only will it fortify their constitution and improve their carriage – as consuming my recipe will stave off nervous tic along with other conditions associated with anxiety such as stammering, babbling, mumbling along with mitigating butterflies in the stomach and involuntary body movements such as farting and distracting shaking of body parts.
(I will post a pic later)
February 21, 2015
Today I received the biggest shock of my life. My enemies visited me and one by one they offered their sincerest apologies.
This was after all what I have been fighting for, for all these years and now that this thing is in the palm of my hands.
It is so meaningless.
‘I am invested so much in my war machinery. I have even planned meticulously often devoting whole evenings into crafting my diabolically evil strategies to destroy them all…..and now they offer me an apology!
I wonder have they ever asked themselves. How am I going to occupy my evenings from now onwards! There is suddenly no meaning to my life, it’s as though the wind has suddenly died leaving my sails limp and lifeless. My very raison that accounts for all my waking hours has suddenly been rendered meaningless. What do they expect me to do after this….sleep in on Sundays! Take to knitting cardigans to past time!
I really cannot imagine anything more inconsiderate than this!
Surely these people must understand I have been fighting an economic guerrilla war ever since I can remember….I don’t know any other way to live, except this one way. Granted. It may not be ideal conditions to live, but it is the only bloody life I know! I’ve grown so accustomed to my enemies Pearl Harboring me all the time – that I even have daily rituals to interdict these threats. They are so interwoven into my entire existence that one can even say this climatic environment. I can’t but help feel my life has been irrevocably diminished – where this ridiculous proposition of peace is constitutes nothing less than a forceful attempt to appropriate my character, individuality and branding as a human being. I have every reason to believe it is designed to render me benign, harmless and malleable. To turn me into a dud!
After all what bloody use is peace to me!
The worst part is I can’t tell any of these men all these things. They would probably think that I am a psychopath. The worlds biggest troublemaker cum high blood pressure inducer.
I need to engineer another impasse….another elaborate false flag operation to justify the continuation of war. Besides it’s not as if war doesn’t serve the necessary function of supplying the means to an end. As Clausewitz said, ‘war is merely a continuation of politics by other means.’
In a state of war should I decide to take an aggressive posture to prosecute on my goals, such a damming up the river on my side to deny my enemies water during the dry season. No one would think that I am anti social psychopath like Adolf Hitler. Since there exist a defacto state of war, it would be widely regarded as uneventful, normal to be expected. But if I accept peace – then I would have to content with loads of goody good folk giving me disapproving looks along with having to regularly come up with 101 excuses why I did what I did.
So as you can see peace no good!
A state of war must continue to exist for progress to be made. It really must. Otherwise there will be no meaning to my life.
This has come as such a shock to me that I am still reeling over it.’
February 21, 2015
The work aspect that makes up your life is very likely to fill up more than 50% of your time – and the only way to be sustainably happy at work is if you can work under your own terms and not for someone else.
The only way to do this is by running your own enterprise. There is no way to negotiate around this. You are either your own boss who works under your own terms or a salaried man who has to take shit from people who regularly dump on you from above.
‘Many people who deal with me often remark that I am autistic….I am a difficult person to deal with….a weirdo….a freak. But because I run my own enterprise as a plantation owner – if you don’t like how I look, talk of respond to you, then I can very easily get a Sikh guard armed with a shotgun and a special forces Doberman to escort you out of my plantation. It’s as simple as that – I’ve done that to many people, including a politician who visited me one day and used fuzzy words that gave me a headache such as ‘right sizing.’ I told this character abruptly, this conversation is over! Get off my land!
The same goes if you think that I am a weirdo or that I have tremendous difficulty in interacting effectively with people normally – I always have the option to say, ‘this meeting or conversation is over…thank you…now please follow this man….he will see you safely out of my lands.’
And when people who don’t like me gang up and try to ostracize and torture me to feed their own insecurities and render their averagely miserable lives more successful. It never ever works either. Because I run a successful enterprise. I have the power to intimidate, bully and thumb my noses at them. As I have money and people I notice fear this aspect of me. They may not respect me, but experience informs me fear is form of respect. So it works just as well lah.
This I can do by buying up land! Or threatening to drive them out by cornering the market. So again do you all see how what the world thinks of me hardly matters at all – what I think counts….how the world does things or regards as norms is a matter of profound indifference to me. It’s optional. It’s always negotiable in my self created world….if you don’t like the way I do things. I always have the option to say, get off my land! Go. Bye Bye.
‘Get off my land!’ May sound a tad rude and a rather crude way of managing conflict intelligently. But I feel at times these people who so often judge me do so righteously, arbitrarily and parochially. They actually believe all humans are created like mass produced battery operated dildo’s. Fact is we are all born very different with varying degrees of inclination and interest and we all come into our respective seasons at our own time – besides it’s always educational and instructive for these robotically programmed folk who have roughly the same intelligence as a digital rice cooker to realize – power is relative. They may well be ‘right’, but if right = no money, no opportunity for bettering their lot, then it’s like a three pin plug in a world of two pins sockets lah. This is a very effective way of influencing judgemental people to accept you under your own terms and to even give them the incentive to behave considerately, be comfortable or pretend as best they can with the notion – they must come to terms with who you are and not how they want you to be. This is the only way to influence judgemental people! There exist no other reliable way. Jesus and Buddha also don’t work. They are no good. Monetary incentives and penalties work like a charm.
To empower you to follow thru with this attitude of managing yourself and others. You must first believe. Despite your difference with the vast majority of ‘normal’ humans. You have every right to insist on being respected and treated with the same level of dignity as any other human being. Should they foolishly forget this, then you can hurt their wallets to give them a gentle reminder.
I count myself fortunate – if I had to work under someone or an organization instead of running my own enterprise. It’s very likely that people will ostracize me by sending me to Coventry. I will probably end up getting hit on the head by a evil and abusive boss everyday and at some point I will either just come to accept this a necessary occupational liability to get by in this cruel world. Or worst still I end up having to put my faith and destiny in the good will, sagacity and kindness of others just to get by. Either that or I will have to chop my boss up like char siew and feed him to the carps in Chinese Garden which is another level of complication that I don’t want to get involved in.
In the moment of my youth I had the good fortune of registering that most people harbor a morbid and irrational fear of me. This was because I seemed to be get along better with animals than humans. Men have always feared me ever since I was conscious of the power of memory. Women on the otherhand are the direct opposite. They take to me like ducks to water and have always been kind, considerate and understanding to me. But unfortunately since it’s still a man’s and not woman’s world – if I work for others….it’s very likely that I will always end up at the bottom of the heap. I realized from a young age people like me will always be hated, feared and discriminated as I simply have a lot of trouble fitting in. It’s not that I want to be deliberately difficult, it’s just the way I am hardwired. As a consequence I saw the idea of going into business as a form of liberty – of not only gainfully earning a living to get by comfortably in this cruel world, but also as a means of living life under my own terms with dignity and without having to regularly deal with grief.
That is why I always encourage people who regularly experience difficulties in fitting in to to run their own enterprise whenever possible…in the long run it makes far more sense to devote your finite time and energy to something that gives you a decent return on investment than trying to be the person who you were never meant to be. You might as well go and plough the sea!
If you have an autistic or just a child who is just different and often worry how he or she is going to get by in this world after you turn off the lights and go on to the next world. Then take my advise very seriously…it’s good to go ….fashion a world within a world for him and her where there is always a option for your pau peih to say ‘go and die lah!’ ‘Get off my land!’ ‘This conversation is over….please remove yourself from my sight! There may exist other ways, but this is the only reliable way I know – it doesn’t have to be a big enterprise like General Motors. Not at all. One could even be a hawker serving up char kueh teow in a food court, a artist, baker or a planter selling potted cactus, but that to me is a far better proposition than trying to fashion a person who is intrinsically different to be like everyone else, just to please stupid people who have zero powers of imagination and never ever bothered to read broadly to be comfortable with people who are just different from them.
I write this with the best intentions and truthfully from my heart.
February 20, 2015
People who are bad tempered must simply learn to live, work and play all by themselves. Granted there might be other ways. But this I believe to be one of the most reliable ways. Because if something doesn’t go their way – they will never have the opportunity to lash out on others and can only blame themselves.
‘When one is consumed by the flames of anger. It’s best to do, say and think nothing. Under the influence of this destructive mind altering state of mind. One would do well to seek refuge immediately in the sanctuary of nothingness. In this place one should commune only with nothingness….At first you will discover much to your surprise how impossibly difficult it is to empty your mind. But with perseverance this becomes easier – right or wrong does not exist….do not brood over what was said and done. As this will only fuel your anger leading you to destructive thoughts…..reduce everything to the purest state of nothingness – like how a man would sit on a park bench all by himself and takes on the healing sights and sounds. To just stay there as long as is required…a hour…day….month….year…years. It’s doesn’t really matter. Because to be consumed by anger is to be in a form of hell. It is the most painful form of suffering.’
February 19, 2015
Today a few elders came to me and told me in a soft tone that is pointless for us continue fighting any longer. They wanted peace. During the brief sitting – some of them intimated to me – that we have much more to gain if we all united, set aside our many differences, enmities and resentment. One of them mention – ‘no good can ever come out of this….it will only bring us grief.’
I gave them all my word of honor – that from today onwards I will try my very best not to be the world’s greatest troublemaker and with their help and encouragement I hope to rehabilitate myself to be a team player, that I will even forgive all manner of transgressions once committed against me. As now I can appreciate the broader picture and how my acts and omissions can play such a preponderant role in shaping the final course of our little community.
By the time I had finished. All of the landowners who were once my enemies seemed suitably relieved thereafter. Even those hard skeptics who prefer to believe that I am a dangerous man began to loosen up. A village elder recounted to all thereafter as we were all laughing and exchanging CNY wishes and greetings, ‘I told you all…didn’t I….he’s a reasonable fellow after all.’
I lied thru my teeth naturally. There can never be any peace…..only war. I need to lull them all into a false dawn. Tomorrow I will strike like a cobra.
‘With trust everything is possible. Without it….nothing is possible. That is why when someone puts their trust in you. Treat it as a very delicate and valuable thing. Like a fragile eggshell vase. Be very gentle, considerate and thoughtful with matters that involve trust. Honor all your promises. Never do anything to break the trust. Do this as often as you can and the field of possibilities will open up.
Abuse the trust and you will find that people will despise and want to have nothing to do with you.
It’s really as simple as that from my experience. If I had to give a leader only one sentence of wisdom…this would really be it – with trust everything is possible. Without it…..nothing is possible. Print these words out. Laminate them. Carry it in your wallet. Never leave home without it.’
February 18, 2015
I no longer believe the middle class can be saved in Singapore. I believe it is broken. Droves of kids have grown up watching daddy and mummy struggle in ever diminishing circles to improve their lot. Meanwhile the aperture for upward mobility becomes narrower with each passing year due to a multitude of factors ranging from salary repression to the having to make ends met in the worlds most expensive city.
One day when it is time for these mentally scared kids to step up to the plate of fatherhood – many will have to deal with so many demons of their childhood. Having witnessed first hand endless squabbles over money…divorces…and the grief associated with raising a family.
Many of them will likely say Dowan lah to raising a family – no….I don’t blame them at all.
I don’t feel sad or angry when I say all this. Not any more. I used to. I don’t say this out of spite either…it’s simply a case of….it is, what it is and no amount of hype and spin is ever going to make right something that is so broken. It’s best to just throw it away and start all over again.
‘If you ask me why I wake before dawn everyday. Work seven days. Put in twelve hours a day. It’s because I see myself as a sort of Robert Neville. I know that may come across as slightly peculiar and odd to you…but that is really how I see myself.
I did not choose this role. No….I never harbored such grand aspirations. And even if I did, it’s doubtful that I ever had the foresight to believe that I could possibly find my métier in farming. The corporate world perhaps. Or maybe some other vocation that requires me to wear a tie, drink a lot of coffee, use fuzzy words like ‘rightsizing’ instead of downsizing where I spent the better part of twelve hours sitting in a cubicle surrounded by sticky yellow reminder notes.
No! You could say my role choose me. Fingered me out from the blue amid the faceless sea of humanity. Like a lightning bolt scarring the desolate plains momentarily. We plan our lives only to be ruled by accidents.
It all began one day when I came across a listless man wandering my land. He looked lost. Not spatially lost. But lost in the way he sank his hands deep into his pockets kicking the gravel indolently in the way people do when they’re there but really some where else. Lost like one doesn’t really know whether it would get worse or better. Lost like how every passing moment cuts like a knife – that sort of lost.
I continued spying on the stranger from afar with what I can only describe as a curious air of detachment…then when he knelt down picked up a clod of earth and broke it watching the dark grains crumble and flow through his fingers like dust. Suddenly a softness prevaded him. As if for the very first time in this man’s life he had been struck by the thumping force of some awful reality….it all came upon him with a sudden force and I saw it all…..I understood.
I don’t want to explain – let us just say I understand and that is really all that matters.
You see I am not like you or for that matter them – those men who go about their daily lives with their name tags flapping over their bellies, carrying their cups of coffee as they trudge along to work every morning. I know every continent…peninsular and cove of that cold and desolate country called LOST. Know it so very well that I can even lay claim to calling myself a honorary citizen of this domain.
Like I said, I prefer to keep it all to myself.
Eventually we started talking and I found out he used to be in my bicycle team in Siglap. Just when he was about the leave, the man asked me whether it’s really possible for him to make a living from the land – I said yes.
I don’t really know why I made such a bold commitment – you see I am hardly the sort who sticks his neck out for another. That isn’t really like me at all. I am not proud of who I am…but that’s really how it is with me.
Nonetheless that day when the light died ever slowly as it arched over the brow of the mountains….I found myself crossing a line into that country that I once knew called LOST. No….I don’t believe you’ve ever been impelled to reach out to another stranger before with that sort of attitude.
I wish I could tell you it was goodness that accounted for my benevolent spirit that evening. Or that there is a part of me that still has faith in humanity to believe wholeheartedly in the idea of helping a fellow man – truth is I felt an almost casual indifference as I looked on at this pathetic figure and even murmured something to the effect, ‘how lucky I am not to be that sod!’ Truth is if this man had asked me to put a bullet in his head to put him out of misery. I would probably have done it.
But that evening the light was so very different – I remember it as a wooly and suffused light. The sort of light that I once bathed in, in that country called LOST.
You see I am a fugitive from that God forsaken country called LOST – I betrayed everyone, even myself, suspended all my beliefs for that one moment to break out….I saw an opening and ran as fast as I could thru it….I didn’t look back….I never looked back. Worst of all I let down so many other men who once looked up to me to cut a path.
But I was simply too self centered to care…I cared only for my own cause and in the course of accumulating my largesse…I had betrayed them all thru the act of forgetting. Left them.
So now you know why I had to reach out to this one lost soul. I didn’t do it out of kindness. I did to placate the many demons that I have always had to struggle with since discovering my fortune in distant lands. I did it in a pathetic attempt to seek forgivenesses…..redemption….for all those who I had callously left behind.
To cut a long story short. I shepherded this man successfully thru two harvest. I kept him tucked tightly under my wing as a master farmer whilst he was content to play the role of the apprentice. Taught him not only how to farm. But also worked on him in the way one twiddles with a piece of driftwood to fashion a shape and form – softened his edges, strengthen his core to finally make him a planter in my own image. And when the work was finally done…..I waited for the cool balming breeze of forgiveness to swept over my troubled soul of infinite contradictions….but it never came.
That was when another man came. And another…yet another.
Someday more will come I reckon from that god forsaken country called LOST ….and when they do…there will always need someone to show them how to plant. You will see….as for the lingering feeling of guilt for all those who I had forsaken to amass my freedom and wealth. Not a day goes by when I am not haunted by them…life is cruel….is it not.’
February 17, 2015
Many of the landowners are wary of my recent land purchase. They don’t understand how I have managed to slip thru the iron curtain of the land embargo that their cartel has created against me. I am after all a blacklisted man who is not supposed to own land in their district. What these landowners dunno is the art of transforming plastic flowers into a wonder weapon of influence (of course lah one doesn’t tell these girls plastic roses are cheap…sell the environmental aspect…tell them they’re eternal) – Since I have managed to seduce all their secretaries. They funnel me vital intelligence. This recent purchase will yield access to the eastern plantation roads – it’s strategic.
Many of the landowners must know from this point onwards. I can no longer be contained. Cannot be boxed in any longer. Their greatest fears have been realized today. I can sense their trepidation. Smell the fear even in the air.
They all call me the sub commander. It is an apt metaphor as a submarine is really a sneaky apparatus to conduct war usually against a numerically superior foe. Surely they must know that I can easily use the vantage of my recent acquisition to move eastwards – I will be use it to control both the water resources and to gobble up more land.
I popped up periscope. Made a few calculations. Fired my torpedoes. I know I’ve hit something possibly even a couple more….I just don’t know whether it’s enough to bring them all to the negotiating table to sue for peace.
Now I must slip silently away…..once they recover from this set back. They will close ranks, reboot and proceed to hunt me down like a pack of hungry sharks….I can run wild…hit and run for possibly six months to a year. Thereafter, I run the risk of fighting an expensive war of attrition. I must sue for peace….detente, at the very least.
Now I must go deeper….and deeper…to run silently away….after all I am just a glorified tub.
This is how it is when all you have is a tube of Mentos in your pocket playing a high stakes game of sudden death poker.
It doesn’t get scarier than this….no it doesn’t….trust me.
February 17, 2015
All men eventually come to the knowledge at some point in their life – living is dangerous. I am not even talking about jumping out of planes living. Or even the sort of living that requires one to operate heavy machinery. Just ordinary and mundane everyday living can be frightfully dangerous.
The sort of living permeated with litany where each day starts and ends like one prayer bead slipping over another seamlessly – where the only difference between today and tomorrow and the day after is the sudden realization. You need a hair cut. Or that you’re running out of toothpaste.
Yes……Ordinary living can be highly dangerous.
For those who come to this sort of knowledge latter than most men. There is always a poignancy. A cruel irony even – that life is never neat like a row of white picket fences, it’s an awfully messy affair: a muddle of desires and inhibitions and compromises where one literally has to get by….as best one can…as best. Usually with copious amounts of potluck along with superglue and ductape.
When this man looks back at his entire life like someone who sits in a darkened movie theater somewhere in his head – watching the matinee, ‘this is your life.’
He laughs at all the missed opportunities that once came his way. That’s only because he prefers to see himself in the third person. The self imposed distance insulates him enough to keep him whole. But as this man watches on. Soon his laughter turns into a sort of languor. Eventually he falls silent lost in his own thoughts as he watches impassively how fate has always conspired again him. Suddenly this man mutters to himself as if thinking aloud – living is so very dangerous.
He watches how his once placid marriage devolves into a horror movie. Somewhere between wondering whether he should just walk right out of this movie theater and realizing even if he did so, it would hardly change anything at all – since it’s all been played out in some darkened corridor in his mind.
The man suddenly resigns himself to finding a comfortable spot on his chair- it’s as if he has suddenly adopted a militant disposition to do absolutely nothing….to even allow despair to descend upon him like a thick fog. This he must do…to get safely to the other side. He needs to know whether the movie will end with the classical Hollywood promise of redemption….he hopes it will.
When the movie finally ends. The man continues to sit all by himself in this darkened hall….this palace of decaying dreams? No….not dreams. He can’t be sure how to call this place. He can’t seem to find the right word. Not just yet, but he’s sure it will come to him latter….it’s always like regrets…like a slow burning fuse.
He now suffers from no delusions about his own place in the world. He may finally concede others may find him absurd and that his intellectual contributions to his arcane field are at best minor….inferior even. I wouldn’t go so far as to say this is resolution – perhaps a sort of reconciliation would be a better way to put it. Like how a man switches his bag from the left to the right to stave off tiredness with the knowledge that he may have to continue to rhapsody of languor till he comes to a resting place.
Meanwhile. Over and over again, the images that once projected on the silver screen begins to replay somewhere in this man’s head. Again and again….fragments of memories scissor thru the present nudging him ever so slowly to that point of reckoning. Till all that remains a solitary man in an empty cinema compelled to confront his own reality.
Yes….who could have possibly imagined living…just ordinary…benign…cosy insiderism living can be so very very dangerous.
February 16, 2015
I believe these days the iPod is the closest reflection of politics. Either that or it manages at least to convey the right allegory of how vapid politics has become these days…how evacuated it is of depth and content that it can do nothing except titilate and pander to fleeting wimps and fancies – very much in the way one flits from one song to another on a iPod. Never ever really having to cultivate the necessary patience to bear out the full song from beginning to end.
Something is lost….yes…something.
Back in the analog era of records and cassettes when tracks had to be physically reversed or forwarded – at least that constraint imposed upon the listener the necessity to be coherent…to even allow it all to run it’s course. Either that or one had to impersonate the fabled tinkerer who kept having to disrupt whatever he was doing to get up from his chair press a button…wait…and play. Say what you wish of old technology, but perhaps Einstein hit the nail on the head – when he mentioned the end of civilization as we know it would come when technology precedes humanity. I reckon with the advent of gizmos such as Ipod, we may have already reached that tipping point. Wonder no more why these days the digital technology looks more like mass hearing impairment and dyslexia with droves of automatons glued to their devices than actually talking to each other. These days in the age of endless choice. At one whirl of the wheel…a track can be summoned….politics like music has a lot it common it seems – for one the process, or lack of a better word has very little to do with coherence or for that matter even the rigor of intellectualism or even about social justice…true to ethos of plug and play music…like politics these days. The narrative is no longer about a coherent set of national ideals, we’re not about collective wisdom. More about….what WE want to listen to and ignoring everything else… We’re about giving ourselves a mindless feel-good treat every two minutes laced with the attention span of a house fly – We’re no longer about substance, wholeness or something substantive – it’s all about appealing to the stimuli of a twelve year-old.
Back to sand box politics….I can’t think better way to waste one’s time. Much rather read a book all by myself.
Why would anyone waste time on politics or politicians these days is literally beyond me…these days.
‘If you ask me what is politics all about – I would probably say firstly: it’s got to have absolutely nothing to do with politics and is simply the art of possibilities viz-a-viz making tomorrow a better and more hopeful place for stakeholders – it’s really as simple as that. I could perhaps write two pages about it – but when you strip the whole ideal of politics down to its credo and look at the bare chassis for what it really should be instead of is…these days and summarize all the parts that make up this SHOULD be machinery that’s really what it comes down too. Nothing more or less….but I admit you may perhaps need to cultivate a agricultural way of seeing the world. To put it another way, to simply call a spade…..a spade and nothing else.’
February 14, 2015
Yes…I believe it is essential. After all the work needs to be done right…
The rich and pampered plantation ladies have always been enamored by the quiessential frontier man – their fathers have warned them of such men….do not fall in love with them. They can only bring you grief….. men who have so very little and turn the wheel of life in the kampung.
For eons the privilege landowning classes have been the chess masters of the plantation industry. To consolidate their power in the kampungs they have relied on the ilk of men who they fear and admire most – the frontier man….the man who can always be trusted to do their bidding without ever once turning against their masters.
So in the city I am a bit of a oddity to high society. A mix of fear and fascination flits over their eyes, wavers in the tone of voice whenever I appear….like a tiger that suddenly appears in a village…shattering the calm…it is just a hint…a suggestion….but it is all there. I can tell from the way these ladies look at me. They crowd together whispering. Their hungry eyes. They are intrigued. As the frontier man is never supposed…never allowed to enter into their cloistered and hermetically sealed vacuous existence.
But I cannot be excluded….no…I cannot…I went to all the right schools…was born into the right family….a card carrying member of the landowning aristocracy. His pomade my be a bit sloppy. His attire even not the latest fashion and his shoes slightly soiled, but nonetheless….he is indelibly one of us. It’s really a vampire thing – one has to be born into it.
As for their trivial ways which I have always secretly regarded as grotesquely abhorrent – seems as if their only goal in life is to rush head long into decadence by dissipating all their time on frivolous pursuits….endless shopping laced with gossip…parties and gala dinners, where a sort of Byzantine nothingness lingers and pervades everything. Like an evil vapor…getting into everywhere…corroding me from within even like how rust weakens steel.
Yes…Here in the city…they are all damaged goods. The men are all flabby and weak minded preferring not to work. As for the women folk they’re perpetually bored behaving like a restless fly buzzing to one pile of shit to another.
But what they do not know is that I have created a superman…..a man who is not only highly educated, but one who is as comfortable in their rarefied world as that of the field….a hybrid…a ninja.
This new man will destroy their class from within the seeming inner sanctum…I mist move quietly like a assassin…I must mask my intent….meanwhile they all look on with that mix of fascination and intrigue.
They and their wasteful, vulgar and stupid ways…they will go the way of the dinosaurs. Men like me will gladly waltz them all to their sunset.
We will win!
February 13, 2015
There is something very wrong with this picture. It’s just not right. Not at all. I know what some people may say: life is not fair! Get use to it!
But I don’t imagine people who regularly say this even if they seem to say it with such conviction have ever farmed before. No! They have never had to clear land pit their sinews and muscles against a stubborn root – to hold on to that line of litany till the sun goes down and wake up the following morning to do it all over again. Coming to think of it….these people who regularly say life is not fair….have probably never even grown a cactus before in their whole life.
That’s the only reason why they can say with such conviction – life is not fair!
But men who are accustomed to live off the land. All know deep in the marrow of their bones – it’s precisely because life is intrinsically unfair that it needs to be worked on. Just like maybe how a farmer works on his land day in and day out to rid it of marauding pest and weeds to create just the right conditions to grow heavy and sweet fruit.
Life left to its own…and it doesn’t really matter what it is. Could just as well be your lawn, better half or even something really juggernaut big like the world economy will always threaten to drive out the good….if left to its own. That’s a truism.
That’s one reason why it’s so important for us all to always strive to make the world a fairer place…precisely because if left to it own – life can never fair.
No…there is something very wrong with this picture….very wrong indeed.
‘I am not particularly impressed by people who like to say life is not fair! That’s like saying if I don’t even bother to open the hood of my car from time to time to make sure all is well – then one day that car is just going to die somewhere in the ECP or PIE.
Its a no brainer.
But one reason why I take exception to people saying, life is not fair as if they’re so wise and sharing some secret arcanum is because, they just stop right there and don’t bother to go on further.
That has always bothered me terribly.
If I had to really ask myself why, it’s probably because I am a farmer…a person whose estranged from the world…an exile of sorts – and folk who live off the land know only too well that life is never bloody fair from the word go!
We are the only industry in the world that buys everything a retail prices and sell at wholesale! So you tell me where’s does fairness even feature in farming. That I imagine could be why whenever there is a war between evil and good. The first to enlist have always been farm boys – it’s no coincidence the battlefields of Ardennes and Normandy are littered with the bones of farmers….precisely because they all know life is intrinsically unfair….that’s why it’s so important to roll out the sleeves and make the wrong…right – like maybe how a farmer clears the land of tree trunks, ploughs it straight, sows without missing a single row to yield a bountiful harvest…to me it’s a very agricultural way of seeing the world an attitude that’s even climatic to the whole vocation of farming.
City folk I don’t think fully appreciate this dimension of thought as they have probably never ever grown anything in their lives before or had to put food on the table with the sweat of their brow by tilling the land. They’ve never had to stand there helpless before pestilence, disease and drought and see their crops die, suck it all in and muster the courage to try again….but farmers are accustomed to making the best they can with these vagaries of what life regularly throws out. You could even say, that’s the only thing they ever do, day in and day out….to constantly make things which were wrong, right…so that it yields a bountiful harvest – that why I think the vantage of the world is all wrong – all they see is a bunch of rednecks from Nebraska who probably have slightly more brain cells than Forest Gump rushing off to war without ever once thinking deeply – but it’s not like that, not at all. It’s much more philosophical…measured…studied…and even intellectual….it’s the idea, if we want tomorrow to better, then we all have to work at it…it’s never easy…never supposed to be…it may even bloody kill you! But that’s an allegory of what it means to be a farmer and to see the world in those terms. I guess.
You see there are never any shortcuts in farming, it’s not like city folk where they can explain it all away with clever words like rightsizing…better calibrate or some other bs word that their spin doctors hatched as the flavor of the month….no it’s never that handsome in a farm…..like they say, life is not fair!
Now coming back to the picture….there is something very wrong with it.’
February 12, 2015
I must have ridden perhaps 60 miles….or maybe it’s 80. It’s hard to say. I’ve been on the saddle the whole day.
Trapped a small fowl for lunch hardly a full stomach meal. But it will have to do. That’s how life is in the field – have been touching base with the older farmers to find out more about the history of the land. Need to go back at least a good fifty years. This is a very important stage in assessing the potential of a land that for some incomprehensible reason even professional farmers omit. One must know the history of the land as a problem associated with growing any crop is that once the land has been devoted to agriculture for a single species, soil fertility diminishes greatly. Knowing the history of the land allows the professional to undertake cost calculations on the expected yield along with the projected expenditure required to revivify the nutrients in the soil.
Not all types of land are suitable for the strain of oil palm that I have designated to grow – the variety that I will be cultivating this time will be the experimental African E-26, it’s a hardy strain characterized by short fronds and especially resilient to drought and tropical disease. I need to be accurate in my assessment. A soil test is good – but nothing beats historical and primary data.
It’s never easy to approach the villagers. Most of them are wary of strangers and often they are mistrustful. But now and then…not very often, one does come across kindred souls who go all the way to beacon out the murk. Nonetheless one should still be mindful and keep a distance – as accidents involving matrimony and unrequited love can occur with remarkable ease in these parts. Danger lurks everywhere in the endless labyrinth of the plantation trail – especially when a farmer innocently offers free board and dinner for the night to the unassuming traveller. That’s really kampung code for – might you be interested in considering a marriage with my two metric ton internal beauty worlds famous village Bo Lang Ai daughter. I will even throw in a few acres of flat land, a second hand tractor and a cow to sweeten the deal. I’ve kena this a few times before – and since these kampung dinners usually involves the whole village with lashing of kampung moonshine called ‘tuak’ or ‘samsu’ where the alcohol content (due to zero quality control since it’s homemade) can range anywhere between the manageable 15% to the heady 50% proof – anything can happen by the sixth course lah……anything lah!
So these days whenever I get an invitation to stay the night I usually make teeth sucking sounds, excuse myself to take a leak and ride off as fast as I can into the sunset. These days to complicate matters with Photoshop nothing can be trusted. Not even photographs. So it’s best that I don’t complicate my already complicated life.
As I said, I had many narrow escapes…even have the birdshot scars to prove it…so Dowan lah!
I am just so tired. Dead beat tired. Low bat tired. Limbs feel like jello tired. Butt feels sore. I need to rest for a while before I make the long trip back. I still have a bar of snickers that I’ve been saving up for the return trip. That should keep me perky on the saddle.
It’s been a good day. A very productive day. I am spent, but happy.
February 10, 2015
I don’t nearly have a fraction of the resources and network that my enemies have. These crooks are so big – they can make one investment mistake after another and like Temasek or GIC, they can just shake it off and get back into the game again. In my case, there are no second chances….no safety nets. If I take a wrong turn. I am toast….it’s game over.
I am always mindful of this unforgiving calculus. The discipline is one shot, one kill! It’s got to be righter than right the first time with no margin for error. Failure is not an option.
Hence attention to the details. Before I decide to buy land. I will secretly survey the neighboring plots to create a moving picture in my head of how the land will look like in the wet and dry season. I never rely on the feasibility report. Much prefer to piece it all together in my head – what kind of lorries ply these routes? Where is the bottleneck? How many tons can be produced and transported? What is the moral of the workers? Etc etc…..thru the years. I have managed to reduce it all to a science.
I am so good at my craft – can even tell you with a margin of error +\- 500 kg, how many tons you can transport under X or Y assumptions and nine out ten – I am right on the number! That’s how good I am.
Added to that, I will also gather information on the social hierarchy of the place – find out who are the movers, shakers, troublemakers etc etc. Take loads of pictures. Find out their strengths and weaknesses. Infiltrate their social networks.
Often this requires a mixture of stealth and deception where I am able to proceed unseen and unheard in the labyrinth of the plantation with my trusted mechanical horse: the humble bicycle – neither is it unusual for me to deploy a range of disguises.
I once impersonated a traveling fortune teller to gain more knowledge into the power structure of a village where no one talks to strangers. I found out the headman was keeping a china mistress and used that information to blackmail him for gain.
On another occasion I assumed the form of a dirty beggar outside an oil mill and was able to sow the seeds of discord amongst the workers which led to a strike.
In one particular case I even took on a disguise of mentally deranged person (which isn’t very difficult) who had a habit of drumming on a Milo tin. It worked so well that I was even able to eavesdrop on the designs of my enemies in the village kopitiam during one of their many mahjong session without anyone even realizing who I really am.
Business is war!
Finally I now have access to the east….finally after five long years of relentless fighting. I am now confident. I can win!
February 10, 2015
You need to stop beating up yourself with Jalan mati (dead end) beliefs that you’re not good enough or you haven’t done what’s expected of you to deserve a good life. To put it simply, you need to make a conscious effort to stop feeling sorry for yourself. To stop blaming yourself for the situation that you’re in.
I don’t say this as an indictment of those who are hopeless, defeated or seem to be going nowhere. I say this as it’s a indelible aspect of the human condition that requires us all to remind ourselves to stop feeling sorry for myself too.
I’m going to speak plainly. Nobody’s is going to better your lot for you. Not that pastor who tells you to give till it hurts and all will be well. Not even that man who you saw on TV who speaks to you thru a teleprompter and assured you – tomorrow will be better. Truth is simply this. If things are going to get better it will never ever come from your church, government or MP. If they don’t give you false hope and suck you dry like a vampire…you should consider yourself lucky.
If you want to better your lot. ONLY you can do it and no one else. Once you come to terms wth the idea – you have been abandoned….marooned….forsaken and no one really cares two shits about whether you live or die…not your wife, kids, parents, pastor, church elders, MP…….to be honest with you. If you only have fifteen minutes to live and you made a call to them. They would all probably put you on hold.
Now once you accept all that….no matter how painful and gut wrenching it may be….then you know why you have to go….
Like I said, it’s all comes down to ONLY you. Don’t believe me look back….go on….I dare you! Go on!…..there…there is no one there…. is there?
See I told you…..it’s only you!
‘A man who once left to seek his fortune in Africa once told me….I am 45. No one wants me. I mean absolutely no one. I am damaged goods! No one wants to hire me as they think I have an entitlement mentality for insisting on asking the salary range I do. They much prefer to hire someone younger who doesn’t mind settling for less. No even my wife doesn’t want me. I don’t even know whether she is sucking another man’s cock right now. It’s not that I don’t care. But I don’t believe anything good is going to come out of it, if I decide to care….you see I can’t even care…nothing good except maybe violence and the electric chair….so I much prefer to push it to the very back of my mind and hope that it doesn’t come to the front. As for the whole idea of government being able to improve lives. I no longer believe in that idea. I used too. But now I don’t any longer. I just believe in them any longer. As you can see I have absolutely nothing to lose. Even should I go to Africa and the plane crashes. No one and absolutely no one will give a fuck. They would probably say, good riddance to the greatest mistake of my life. Now excuse me…I have to board the plane….my destiny awaits me in Africa.
When I heard what this man had to say. I knew he would succeed in Africa. I just knew deep down in the marrow of my bones. Nothing could ever stop him – that is how it is when a man swims out to sea in a race and doesn’t even bother to leave a bit back for the return trip – he will cross the finishing line!
Three laters this man became one the biggest Independent mining firms in Central Africa and is currently expanding his business to the caucasus.’