June 30, 2016
As I mentioned…and I am not surprised…not at all. Many so called ‘experts’ will tell you all Brexit is closer to perdition than salvation. They will also patine it with insularity…xenophobia…parochialism…and irrational fear.
Only bear this always in the mind – the very people who stand to lose most from the UK pulling out from the EU are those who stand to benefit most from the idea of a common market…..i.e they have a very clear agenda to engineer public perception in order to convince the masses…this is not a good thing.
Always bear that in mind!
It always invariably goes back to only one aphorism – cui bono?
‘If trade blocs and free trade agreements really promote free trade – then I will not have any problems with that idea…why should I? I am not a communist – I believe wholeheartedly in the idea of capitalism…the problem as I see it is the innards or shall we say the raison that once made capitalism great and the gold standard of the economic order has broken down into a mish mash of what I can only describe as a nonsense – that only seems to benefit a few and deny the masses the right to set their elemental right to live, work and play with dignity and a decent wage.
Trade blocs and free trade agreements don’t benefit people – if they did, then why would so many farmers Mexico run the risk of crossing the border to the US – because their livelihoods that once supported whole communities and nourished the idea of the common good has been totally eviscerated by the idea of globalization.
Globalization has dumbed down wages to a point where the PM of Singapore even tells people quite openly, no need degree lah! Just go and work!
That is because globalization cannot possibly produce a sustainable means to provide the average Joe even a morsel of a chance to strive for the good life….if that were really possible why things and opportunities beyond on the reach of so many people these days who work so hard…something is fucking wrong here….something may even be bloody broken in half…what do you think – so why should I support supranational slavery just for a the sake a few elites who have never ever worked one single day in their life before?
Today a fat woman who weights two metric tons told me – I read your blog….you are a communist! I told her that I may well be…but at least I don’t have to wake up every morning and look like you every day! Good day! My point…is the Brits are not dumb…they made a wise decision…a turning point as to how we have always seen personal and organizational success has been rewritten….but like I said, they will many derelicts and arm chair philosophers who will always try to convince you it’s all doom and gloom after what the Brits did – but that is not true…they will thrive…jobs again will be revivified to be real jobs….opportunities, the real ones will emerge and the British will be great again!
That at least is how I see it!
I want to give power back to the common man – I want him to believe in the idea, if he worlds hard and puts his shoulders to the wheel of life and turns it diligently – then it will all come around – the good life.
Is that so wrong….what the fuck do I care about the stupid delusional new global economic architect of a few mad people – why should I even bother about what they have to think….why?
You see it is very simple…you can’t fool people like me…not at all! As I happen to know what the game plan is!’
June 30, 2016
Intelligence is often confused with wisdom and vice versa – I guess these notions are so utterly encrusted with parts from one another….it’s hard, if not impossible to tell the difference….not convincingly at least.
I don’t mind admitting…there was a time when I thought the most important thing was intelligence…. I guess it’s easy to be enamored with the sheen of how many cars can I fit into a space or how many seats and tables can best be arranged in a restaurant without having people to put up with bruised kneecaps….yes intelligence is certainly sexy….as it has an immodesty that so naked that it leaves nothing whatsoever to the imagination….except maybe for most people, including myself to say….that’s so bloody smart!
These days I am not so sure intelligence trumps all – I think slow burn qualities and traits such as patience, determination and one’s ability to keep steadfast to one’s philosophy and beliefs seems to have more mileage than just raw intelligence — I once watched a shoemaker construct a shoe…and from time to time….this man just threw it out exclaiming – it’s not right….that seemed awfully stupid to me then…as the detailing was so faint to be indistinguishable to most shoe customers….even the most discriminating. But when I think about it now – this craftsman was disciplining himself to keep steadfast to his philosophy which was presumably to be the best shoemaker that he could possibly be…so I guess when one looks at it from that vantage – of trying and to try and to try until it comes out exactly right….it makes perfect sense now.
As what this shoemaker was doing was polishing his philosophy ruthlessly by being so intolerant to minor imperfections that he felt departed from his goal – to be the best shoe maker in the world
That to me is just a complicated way of saying – he was content to throw away anything that is false no matter how much he might have made money wise..or what that ‘wasted’ time may have cost him and his enterprise.
When one develops that sort of discipline – I guess the most valuable and important thing one ever gets out of it is the uncanny power of insight – that sort of superpower in my experience is free for anyone to take and run with…it’s not conditional on your intelligence quotient or even whether you may have a natural bent for mastering languages…to put it simply, it’s like being able to blow bubbles with your saliva…my point is one can really only do that…as vapid and useless and meaningless as that act may mean with insight..as insight is not just a word that means one thing to me…it’s a bag word…that possibly includes curiosity, a questioning mind to mull, and to muse why is it like that and not like this…or just one tendency to peer deep into darkened interiors to satisfy an inexplicable yearning that can never ever be described. And if one has that attitude, then I don’t think intelligence matters at all…sure it will still give you a sort of mysterious sheen and may probably make a difference…but my point is with wisdom..it could just as well take you there as well.
‘Insight is what really gives a man depth, nuance and simpatico…you can’t buy it….no you can’t! You may have it, but if you don’t have insight – then you could just as well never once possess it.
You know we seem to talk a lot about elegance….you know the art of dressing well and putting your best foot forward, making a memorable first impression….but if you think really hard about elegance at it’s highest form and why you take so much effort to dress well….it really just means, you genuinely want to demonstrate respect for others and institutions – that’s to say you’ve gone the extra mile to understand that person or institutions philosophy and what he or it stands for along with it’s raison and the reason why they think the things they do and do what they do – all that can only come with insight…otherwise all you really are is a monkey dressed in a tuxedo.’
June 29, 2016
When a fuck up of mega proportions happens…as with Brexit…I just don’t let it go right by…there is a very simple philosophy that guides my outlook to when governments and firms take a very wrong turn – I always try to learn from it…yes, there are lessons….plenty to be gleaned out of this event and other such mega upsets.
I once hooked up seventy computers to recreate the epic of mid way – I poured thru every single detail of how that battle panned out….minute by minute…after that I did again and again and again and again….
Same with Brexit – what lessons can policymakers, politicians and businessmen learn from this epic upset. First never try to control people too much – provision the illusion they have such a think as a choice (even if they don’t) – this requires skill – that was what the European Commission and the European Parliament were totally ambivalent too – the need to always provision the illusion that the small is in full control of his destiny – but what they did instead was to come across as so bureaucratically over bearing to the point where they over-regulate and killed the idea of autonomy…individuality…choice…perogative…they dropped an atomic bomb on those invisibles by force feeding a pheltora of non consultative, unilateral and unreasonable terms on the private sector and on the consumers. Even fucking farmers in the EU were told what to grown…as for cheese makers they were even told how they should conduct their business.
Second, the EU policy brainiacs failed to produce quality jobs for their young people – they paid scant regard to the whole idea of dignity of labor that is a corner stone of brotherhood philosophy. In some of the EU countries, youth unemployment went right up into double digits – while real jobs that could support a sustainable lifestyle for most Europeans simply became a forlorn dream. The bureaucrats in their ivory towers in Brussels simply lost sight of Maslow’ theory – the idea that work means nothing at all when it’s NOT coupled with the idea of dignity labor and a wage that respects people and their right to actualize their dreams – instead all they did was pump out reams of meaningless data to convince the masses jobs were created without ever once….not even so much as once paying heed to the idea of quality jobs that can sustainability support a decent standard of living – instead the business environment promoted liberalisation under the name of meritocracy which only benefited a select privileged few will defranchiseing and alienating the masses…..aka they treated people like cattle!
Thirdly, the proponent of the EU economic policy should have ensured that the fruits of globalisation and integration percolate down to ordinary hard working Europeans and not just the privileged, highly- educated urban elite – had they paid homage to the idea of egalitarism and income equality instead of dismissing it as just a necessary social economic cost for perpetuating their new order – Brexit would never have happened…
Observe….learn…and don’t ever make the same mistake….as it makes more sense to learn from the mistakes of others!
‘To manage oneself and others well…one would do well to craft a philosophy. Otherwise there is always the danger of being labelled a used car salesman or worst still a ‘dishonorable son.’ Many politicians. So called influencers and so called leaders have to live with that adjective as they don’t have a philosophy – theirs is a notion of doing what is most expedient of pays out the highest – as a consequence these people debase themselves without even realizing it. Recently I went to a function and a politician’s aide de camp asked me in a concern tone – why don’t I seem to pay and respect to his boss…I told this man quite plainly, he’s a Lalang – that means if the wind blows this way, he will lean that way…and if it blows that other way, he will lean that other way as well…so what is the point is cultivating the friendship of a man with no philosophy as to HOW or even WHY he lives his life – I went on to tell this person after all, how far can he can go in life…..he’s a bad investment…I went on to tell this aide the camp in a sardonic tone, it’s best if he worked for men of consequence….this in a nutshell is what happens when a man or woman is not able to convey his or her philosophy to others clearly and unambiguously…he or she can only come across as inconsequential…insignificant and devoid of all depth….and that unfortunately is true of most people and the most conceited part is they wonder no end why they are poor and no one wants to be associated with them or why when they open their mouth – no one seems to be very interested in what they have to say….life is cruel!’
June 28, 2016
Dignity specifically of labor is as essential to mental, spiritual and physical well being as water, food, and oxygen. To be implacable, stubborn and head strong about what gives a man character, strength and wisdom even if it comes at an unmentionable cost that can never be uttered in one man’s life time, not even to his wife and to keep that one secret in his heart is nothing short of a commitment to the belief – without these things man is nothing more than an animal. But with these things firmly affixed in your head, heart and every cell in your body – even in the face of extreme physical hardship….even before death….a man has all the power in this world to hold his soul in his hands long past the point at which the body should have surrendered it.
‘Understand this! To be a frontier man who earns his keep from the good grace of the land – you can’t be a sissy….you think I am tough as nails…I know it’s easy for me to come across that way when one has a square jaw, broad shoulders and eyes that can set aflame brush weed.
But sometimes…not all the time, just sometimes….just the mere act of waking up every morning, shaving, putting my heavy belt and strapping my boots so tightly that my feet feel like stumps takes incredible courage…..as it’s not like a movie where it all begins and ends and you still have time to window shop around the mall with those happy thoughts that…at least it all ended well…the hero got the girl…he rode off into the sunset and with these thoughts swirling in one’s head it’s easy to conjure up the romantic image of the frontier man that his life is somehow complete…whole…and of all men…only this variety has got it all together…only he’s got it all figured out…connected the dots etc etc.
But that’s just a movie…in real life courage is to wake up and do the same thing again and again and again…there is no beginning or end…no promise that it may all even end well or happily…it’s just one long road called litany with no turnings that stretches out as far as the eye can see – that to me is real courage. That to me is character. The constant man…whose always there…rain or shine…doesn’t matter how hard the sun beats down…he’s always there, turning the mythical wheel of life….not for himself. But for others who may never ever know his travails…as he hides them from them….but it’s all there…yes it is, the scars on his face…they run deep….he leans forward slowly…a bullet wound maybe that once tore thru flesh and bone….he never takes the same route twice…he’s always mindful of how life and death are merely two sides of the same coin…the constant man….who keeps going on and on….with no thoughts, none at least that seem to preoccupy city folk all the time with all their nonsense of trying to pretend to me someone who even they themselves know they’re not….just the constant man who keeps going on and on….the infinite man.
I don’t doubt in the very beginning…there will be wagon loads of nay sayers who will harp on and on – this is a monumental social and economic step backwards for the EU and UK and perhaps even for the whole idea of humanity…..then again NEVER ever forget…these are also the very same people who stand the most to benefit by keeping the status quo ante intact….so to me, they have as much credibility quotient as Count Dracula wordsmithing the annual report on the national blood bank.
I wish the British the very best of luck! I believe it was right, timely and necessary for them to go their own way…a plucky move that I am very sure will prove difficult….complicated and even fraught with all sorts of political intrigues by those who know that this represents curtain call of their goal to control the world and it’s affairs.
And when more countries with the EU see that Britian and a independent Scotland are benefiting from this bold move – the idea of breaking away from the ridiculous idea of big is beautiful can only inspire many other countries in the EU and elsewhere to do only the same……take control of their social and economic destiny and not simply sell it off for a tuppence – a superior way of doing things always trumps an inferior method…..I am certain the British will have the last laugh at the end of the day and the whole world will follow suit.
‘History has a funny way of coming around – Britain starting from the mid eighteen century tried to show to the rest of the world – they knew how best to live, work and play…it was a hierarchical, top down affair with convoluted chains of command and control…the problem with that idea was it was not very efficient – so to accomplish what they planned it came at an extraordinary cost of loads of gunpowder, men in uniform, propaganda, nationalism, insularism, myth making etc etc along with maybe a truck load of ideas that were really much suited to the medieval period……today the British are once again leading the world on how there is a much better way to live, work and play without having to give so much to the ridiculous idea of work that work in the EU always seems more of a grind than a source of joy, litany than arduous journey with no end or beginning, hope rather than the black hole of nihilism…and many people will be watching how the British navigate the complexities of this historical period where they now stand very much alone like the island that they have always been – many will look on, some with skepticism, others with derision and askance….I like to believe, I am one of those who belong to the hopeful….the sort of people who actually believe if anyone can pull this off marvelously…it’s the British!….but that is NOT REALLY THE MAIN POINT OF THIS ESSAY!
As look very carefully what the common man is saying – this is not just UK planning to decouple from the EU like two Lego blocks peeling off – it represents a historical shift in power from state to citizenry, officialdom to grassroot and most importantly it’s a crie de coer from a significant majority that they don’t want to live under the social and economic architecture that is conceived by the privileged class of elites any longer…John Smith has literally given two fingers up in the air with a forward thrust of his manhood about what he really thinks about their utopian farce…..the sudden pull of the UK from the EU will likely reverberate across ALL other trade clubs like the WTO, G20, TPPA even ASEAN will feel it’s effects etc etc…as contrary to what many intellectual pundits have said, this is not simply xenophobia per se….if it was really that simple, so many of the elites would not be experiencing spikes of high blood pressure along with sleepless nights – the rationale for the UK to decouple from EU remains a compelling and logical narrative with measurables, pay puts along with hard nosed trade off’s – and given that it’s laced with such a coherent rationale that makes perfect sense to what is currently on offer – the UK’s sudden move to pull out from the EU will be like a torpedo that will rip thru steel and leave a gaping hole on the leviathan that drives the whole philosophy of the common market in Europe….either way….one thing is certain…things will never be the same again as the elites now know, they can’t just railroad droves of thinking folk like fettle to think, behave and act the way they want them too – neither is that sort social engineering on such an industrial scale easily achievable any no longer without real penalties…backlashes of electoral losses included….the have simply given the idea of a common the market the thumbs down enmass, it’s even conceivable they may have just decided to put their foot down and not even move back one single millimeter while shouting out in one clear voice….enough is enough!
We no longer want to simply exist as ants…we want to live with dignity, hope and pride like humans!
Well done Britian!
There are many people. Many, who may be rolling their eyes and throwing up their hands into the air – BUT if you notice, they are all happen to be only the corporate cigar chomping fat cats and power brokers who can really only see the UK thumbing their noses at the EU as the proverbial spanner in the works – no doubt what has occured is historical! There is no doubt, there are really so many things thrown right up and nobody for sure knows where or how they will all fall to shape the final outcome.
All they can do is speculate….postulate….theorize.
But one thing is certainly in the cards – if theory pans out into reality within a few years when the devil of the details have been well and truly worked out – the UK will no longer be a member of the European Union.
To me this is far from a catastrophy – if anything it simply illustrates how so many parts of what we consider to be globalized economy is and has always been chimeric at best and a tragic social and economic experiment that was doomed to fail!
Though we know so little about how this will play out – one thing is certain…this idea of nations opting out from security blanket of the EU will increasingly gather momentum amongst other EU countries.
Truth is the theoretical science – a supranational bloc of countries all stand a better chance of perpetuating social and economic growth by creating a borderless world where people, labor and goods can move free and encumbered merely appears sound in theory – in theory, the single market economy that the EU is premised on has systematically dumbed down most EU members to such a point of intellectual anorexia – that many of them no longer posess the core competencies that once made France, Holland, Germany and even Greece great – all they have managed to accomplish despite their best intentions and efforts is to McDonaldlise trade and commerce and industry thru out the entire EU to such a sad point where whole generations of Eruropeans with possibly the exception of the French and Germans know how to manufacture anything original any longer – added to that corrosive economic melting pot – the unmitigated transmigration of labor and people thru out the EU has not increased the living standards of most Europeans. Infact, it has created an economic Chernobyl that has created perfect conditions for boom and bust unsustainable business cycles, stagnation, wage regression and emotional anxiety that continues to fester and create serious social fissures and deeper divisions than even threatens to even divide rather than unite Europeans.
I am especially fond of this field jacket….only bc the tailor suggested a very narrow and unconventional formal peak lapel…I told him quite directly that’s very unplanter…but he was most insistent as he did mention, I have a tendency to be slightly sloppy when wearing tweed pants and my shoes tend to have a military tenor about them…so as I did remember saying to him, ‘do what you like!’….the green is very subdued….just a hint…linen and silk with wool around the waist to presumably convey the planters modus of airiness. It cuts wide with very liberal waist suppression to assist free movement in the field, but I felt the master tailor did corset it very well to create the perfect balance between executive formality and a wabi sabi bottom feel….but I was advised to either pin a flower or wear it with a loud pocket square to achieve la effect!
‘What makes Europe the greatest trendsetter in the world is their ability to lead the world…I am not talking about $. As to me that’s the lowest common denominator of inventiveness, panache and intellectual verve – I am referring to diversity, choice and authenticity….if you take the trouble to notice, shops in Paris are all very real – we are not talking about coded business models where if you walk into a Burger King outlet in either Orchard Street or Munich – they look exactly the same, the same layout, same counter service floor plan, same time and motion theory of how to serve up a burger in three minutes flat!
That to me is the corrosive philosophy of globalization and Kenichi Ohmae’s ‘borderless world’ thesis – as a social and economic theory in a nutshell – the goal is the anti thesis of individualism and venerating diversity, range and variety – it’s all about feeding everyone whose a member of this dumbo club the same tasteless gruel and passing it off as edible food…you know I once asked a lady in the supermarket….do you have any idea where these carrots are grown and how…and all she could manage was look at me with a dumbfounded look as if it’s some pick up line….that’s how dumbed down people have become…they don’t know how cotton shirts are made any longer…forget coffee as well, everyone claims to be a professor in baristaring, but you know what? They know nuts. I once even went to McDonalds in Newton and after taking a look T the shit that they claimed was edible food…I asked the manager where’s the beef….you know what that idiot did he call the police – like I said that’s the summation of globalization as philosophy to transform everyone into exactly everyone else…someone who reads the same books, listens to the same music and even thinks and forms roughly the same opinion on their objects of interest….and should you depart even slightly from this idea of how to define personal and organizational success everyone calls you weird and no one ever buys your products or sees the wisdom of engaging your services….so maybe you can tell me where is the value added when the only thing that globalization as a school of thought seems to ever perpetuate is the premised on the aphorism – same shit, different day!
Take the way I dress – I am a planter. Now I don’t ever have to broadcast that to knowledgable people who are well travelled….I don’t that’s my wonder weapon of how I differentiate my services from my many competitors – as those who know can all tell – it’s all there for to the discerning eye…my trousers are usually helmed one full inch higher than usual – and when I prance around the field in formal wear – as at times I have to rub shoulders with VIP’s – they can tell instinctively I am wearing field socks, the sort where a man can even fold his trousers discreetly and hold them up two inches below the knee cap to prevent them from getting muddied – my point is I just didn’t read up on this or get up to speed on it by just investing ten minutes reading a GQ write up by some hack who knows even less about how to dress appropriately like a respectable planter….I used to mix with other European planters who did the same in Africa..I used to dress their shoes and I even took notes – real gentlemen, who know how to field dress in such a way that conveys competence trust and a certain lineage of heritage and elegance in the way they take pride in the lost art of manliness – and why is this important – because I don’t see dressing well as just something to do with the vapidness of dandyism – to me it’s strategic…deliberate….well conceived and executed like a commando mission and that’s how it really is in the real world – no one is ever going to consider handing you a one thousand hectare concession if you’re a slob and someone who rolls up his trousers like some mandur! That’s reality…that’s life! now you compare this cultivated custom of how to dress like a real man to what one regularly sees these days….people who dress in suits and they don’t even wear socks or roll up their sleeves as if it’s a bloody shirt….now if you really what to know how did all that shit leach into the art of manliness – then look no further….globalization!’
June 26, 2016
Don’t be crazy….no one really wants to go to war in business…no one really wants to break fellowship and start a Cold War. No one really wants conflict or strife either – all these things I just mentioned…sucks up time, resources, brain juice and it’s a bloody waste of opportunity cost….BUT
Yes there is always a BUT…As it’s reasonable and even sensible to expect within the sum of probability in one man’s life – there will always come a time in his life when he can no longer put off choosing….understand this….understand it clearly…I am not talking about pie in the sky stuff like doing the right thing or being true to yourself.
Truth is I don’t even know what those phrases really mean – I just know they sound good, wholesome and probably give you a feeling of warmth – that’s why those sound bites are always used as a prefix before someone begins to explain what he did and didn’t do that’s controversial.
Like I said…I don’t know and if I don’t know I am not in the habit of pretending I know….
All I know is when the chips come down – you have to choose one path or the other.
Sure! You can tend towards safety…or that’s what you think at least…you’re better than them because you can see the bigger picture etc etc….again another meaningless soundbite that I don’t understand.
Or maybe since everyone knows you turned the other cheek or let a transgression slide…forgive and forget…. and by doing so…you may even be able to seek fellowship, oneness and understanding from the vert same people who will always tell you…you did the right thing by looking the other way…walking away…or just pretending you didn’t see or hear what was said or done….my point is, YOU as the elemental individual have every capacity and right to do all that and let me tell you something really funny as well – you will even feel happy, healthier and sleep better at night for believing in what you choose to believe….BUT..yes that word keeps jumping out like a crazed Jack in the box!
But life doesn’t work that way – it only seems too because the movie business always needs the provision the promise or hope of redemption to close a narrative….fact is at times, you can’t allow things to just slide….because if you do. All you’re doing is painting a bull eyes on your back for others to take pot shots at you….it’s an unpleasant business, but at times you just have to stand your ground and hit the otherside so bloody hard and everyone for a radius of two hundred kilometers hears about it….sometimes when crooks think they can pull the wool over your eyes….you just have to show them that they all they did was buy into a life time of grief…this is the only reliable way to keep the peace….to be able give as well as you take….always, remember this: People never remember the crowd – so fuck what they have to say. Besides the accounts keeps changing all the time so that would just blow away like dust – the only thing people will ever remember is the one person that has the courage to say and do what no one dares to ever do…they make talk about doing what you did….but even they know….that’s the deep end and it’s very dark, still and very scary there…..get used to it, some people may not even respect you for what you once did either, they will whisper behind your back, stand up and just walk away when you take a seat…..but that is ONLY because they know deep down – they don’t nearly have the balls of steel to do what you once did.
Only be smart about….if anyone ever ask you whether you really did what they all said you once did….just laugh it off and exclaim like a jolly good fellow, ‘I thought we were friends…what sort of question is that?….what sort of bloke do you take me for?’
….and everything will just work out fine.
I really like tweed specifically (Prince of Wales prints )…..most tweeds IMHO suffer from a Dr Jackal and Hyde personality syndrome, that’s to say while they may look endearing close up and personal, but from afar one comes across as a bag man or vice versa…but not the Prince of Wales prints, I find this pattern to be quite robust in conveying La effect. As it seems to fulfill both criteria’s with great versatility under every conceivable lighting condition.
Fortunately, Tweeds these days are no longer tweeds…that to me is not such a bad thing as originally, they were primitive, parochial and woven by people who used fish bone needles…like wearing gunny sacks. Besides real tweeds are simply too darn hot for the tropics…so although I happen to be great fan of tweeds along with appreciating it’s deep roots in English Country life – as a tweed appreciator, I am much happier with the modern re-engineered tweed – like most things these days that used to be like this or that, but are now closer to this and that, but still encapsulate the look, feel and texture of what it was originally without the minus points – modern tweeds are continually improved by loo mers and have been re-imagined, restructured and re-engineered to a very high performance standard – tweeds these days, especially the super light range Japanese variety are both cool and durable….don’t even require a lining – but it takes a certain savior faire to match tweed to convey the right look – for me, I like my tweeds to be paired with heavy no nonsense brogues – as for the top, it should be simple as there is already so much going on below the belt.
I like the way the sleeves on this shirt folds up just once – no, it’s not an elastic band that creates the effect, that’s just the way it’s tailored….it’s supposed to be worn ONLY rolled up just once….and no more.
Look how my Alsatian plays death – she’s dumbstruck man!
June 26, 2016
The Chinaman Cocoa planter who stood ramrod for hours on the hill scanning the Northern horizon with his field glasses knew that trouble was brewing up north in Uganda – three days ago a strange metallic pod was found on the Western part of his lands – he had picked up a fragment of this cigar shaped container and surmised, it was a recently jettisoned fuel tank from a jet fighter – the Cyrillic and Arabic markings with the hyphenated “Jin,” suggested it was a Sudanese jet, probably a MIG-21 – through the whole of last week, the Chinaman had stood on the same spot and traced out jet vapor trails high across the far Northern steely skies – he could make out from the neat trident shape of the vapor trails high above, they were military jets probably on a bombing sortie – even in darkness, the Chinaman Cocoa farmer had stood on the same spot and watched the eerie glow of arklight throughout the whole week, as they waxed and waned in the distant horizons to the far North – he knew it to be heavy artillery.
Even in the early morning, the Chinaman had still stood on the same spot – he had noticed how even the red footed falcons that usually only began their long epic flight home to the Russian steppes in July had began their journey earlier that year – he noticed, that his fine feathered friends who flew in from the North were all tired, so tired that some even rested in the rectangular apertures that the Chinaman had constructed to allow many of his fine feathered friends to rest, hunt and fatten themselves before they began their aerial marathon across the Ugandan Great Rift Valley and swung off sharply Southwards towards the Indian Ocean through to the Himalayas to make the 10,000 mile flight all the way back to the Ukraine. The Chinaman had even looked closely at his fine feathered friends – he noticed the tips of their feathers were stained with a fine powdery white substance – when he plucked the feathers out and brought it close to his nostrils, he recognized instantly the deadly yet sweet smell of cherries that he knew to be phosphorous mixed with paraffin – napalm.
Even the yellow fitches that usually flew through Kenya and rested in Lake George of Uganda to the far South did not come his way that season – the man surmised his fine feathered friends had taken the treacherous route northwards through the falcon invested Sahara instead of the northern arid plains through Chad and Egypt that led to the Mediterranean – the Chinaman realized even his fine feathered friends, the yellow fitches knew that there was trouble brewing somewhere northwards.
In the evenings, when the Chinaman strained his ears to listen to the wireless – even that only seemed to confirm his suspicion that something was amiss – he had been in Africa long enough to realize that the white man was the first to leave a sinking ship like crafty rats – for the last three consecutive days, the VOA, the Voice of America had began to play, Bing Cosby’s, “White Christmas.” Even though it was only June – as for Radio Moscow, it had been more subtle yet equally revealing – He had noticed how the news announcer who usually spoke with a fake Bostonian accent had used two consonants on three consecutive sentences during the beginning of each news broadcast of the African service for the last three days – this the Chinaman realized were secret codes that something terrible had broken out to the North. Neither could he count on the UN which the man considered to be the UNITED NOTHING. As for the legion he surmised even those cowards had secretly pulled out in the cover of darkness and had now begun the long retreat back to Djibouti.
That evening the Chinaman drove to the German school teacher’s house at the edge of his plantations – this time, he had insisted that she pack up her bags and he was here to drive her all the way to Kampala proper where he knew she would be safest in the German embassy in Kololo – the nun had refused vehemently and even protested at considerable length, but the Chinaman was in no mood for a prolonged conversation – and when it seemed a war of words was just about to flare up between the school teacher and the Chinaman; the latter had slapped her so hard that even her habit had come clean off. He had regretted instantly what he done and when he had reached out for her, the woman cringed away. And though she was none the wiser as to why he had behaved in such a brusque manner – the nun began to pack up her belongings.
That night as the Chinaman sat behind the half sobbing nun in the car; the car stopped on the fork road – the road to the South, he reckoned would probably be filled with LRA militia and the entire Acholi tribe all the way to Kampala by now – so he instructed the driver to take the longer Southern Westerly less used village road which would have doubled the journey time to Kampala. Hardly had the car proceeded more than 20 kilometers – the car was stopped at a makeshift checkpoint. In the half glow of the crescent moonlight – the Chinaman could just make out a man in his thirties armed with a semi auto along with a couple of other kids perched like birds on the metal railing blocking the car – he saw the way the man looked at the European woman with the long flowing blond hair – he knew what would happen next – without even so much as a word, the Chinaman stepped out of the car drew out his revolver leveled it at the man and shot him squarely in between his eyes – the boys immediately cocked their AK-47’s but the man could make out these weren’t battled hardened child soldiers, their weapons lacked the patina that came with regular use. So he stood his ground fired another shot into the man and after lighting a cigarette he shouted in a booming voice,
“Aki Shahidi, name tombu mama kaba di mabuto jia-kimba!” (I am the Shahidi, now run or I will kill you all like this pig. Obey me!)
They dropped their weapons promptly and ran like hell. The Chinaman looked relieved. His gamble had paid off.
That long night as the German nun and the Chinaman sat at the back of the car as it barreled towards Kampala –– it was as if both of them were hermetically sealed in their own world – the Chinaman features looked distant and implacable as the few passing cars from the opposite direction illuminated his granite face and blood stained bush jacket from time to time – it seemed as if he might not even have been aware that the nun had gripped his hand so tightly throughout the entire journey. Harder if not impossible to really know whether he was even thinking why she needed to do such a strange thing – perhaps she realized then that she had meant much more to the Chinaman – perhaps she realized how naïve, stupid and irresponsible she had been to have kept on insisting to stay on even when he had previously pleaded with her to leave and now that she had pushed him to this point….this point when all hell had been unleashed….the point when the man even knew deep down. It was really impossible for him to ever run away from whatever he was running away from – when he decided to settle in Africa to turn the well of life as the Shahidi – she knew only too well at that very moment the Chinaman may have once lost someone dear to him and he was not going to ever let it happen again – he had crossed an invisible line in his head to that other world that had brought him all the way to Africa – but when the Chinaman had made a decision to protect her no matter what the cost. He not only cared. He went back into that other world in his past – a world that he once turned away from. In that world, he did not have the luxury to care. He had after all made a decision to protect her.
Even if it meant that she had to see a part of him that he had never ever wanted her to know about him…..never….never ever. A part of him that had probably brought this Chinaman to Africa in the first place. And with these thoughts she griped the hand of the man who she knew probably cared more about her than even the God she served and worshipped with all her heart – the man who she knew may very well have been the devil everyone said he was….but that night Eva Meyer, the woman and not the nun had crossed an invisible line….like the man who now sat beside her in the speeding Mercedez……he too had crossed a line….. with these thoughts her grip on the man’s hand who she knew loved her even more then even himself – with these thoughts Eva Meyer removed her habit and leaned against the shoulders of this man amd their grip tigthened further as if this was ever all she ever wanted to last for eternity – a man who could and would love her with all his heart…as the car barreled through the velvety night towards Kampala.
June 25, 2016
Ago I asked everyone to go into gold…do yourself a favor. Don’t be lazy – you owe it to yourself in the good name of due diligence – go find that post written some ten or eleven years ago. At that period, I had to put up with a ton of shit from armies of Mr know it all…they came from top, side, center and even the bottom to torpedo me – while they steered all the wide eye unassuming sheep into the equities market as they successfully sold it to the masses as la Dolce Vita…the new hope…that I saw and called out as a Ponzi scam.
Today the SGX is the living dead…so you judge for yourself who was right on the money and who were the con artist.
But having said all that – there is one redeeming feature – historical charts…especially the ten year ones that track every single day of every month – they don’t ever lie!
Even if you balance it out with this….I reckon there is loads of room for the upside when it comes to gold and silver.
June 25, 2016
I’ve got to admit…one reason why I much prefer to tailor make my shirts and trousers has a lot to do with my fetish for hidden pockets – and thru the years, I’ve sought out tailors from Nairobi to Paris (especially bespoke shirts) to accommodate my fetish.
The hidden pocket follows the outer seam line…very discreet.
Turn it around and viola! Hidden pocket!
Same goes here! The only revelation that this pair of trousers may possibly accommodate a telephone book is two discreet belt loops to support the weight…otherwise…it’s impossible to tell.
Again Viola! This time the hidden pocket goes all the way down two inches below the knee without spoiling the lines.
When it comes to shirts…unfortunately only one tailoring Maison in the whole wide world seems to be able to accommodate my unusual request for hidden pockets…the rest just roll their eyes, make teeth sucking sound and say…I am sorry sir, it cannot be done!
I don’t expect anyone in Malaysia or Singapore has ever heard of this shirt Maison – but what I am especially fond of is the impassiveness in which the master tailor will enquire about the specific details of what sort of shoulder holster am I wearing etc etc…and the way in which this is conducted is as though, he’s talking about roses and primroses with a glazed smile like a dolphin….very considerate…very professional….very discreet…that’s a service that I am willing to pay premium for!
Nope! I don’t imagine for one moment you will ever know what’s underneath there…really…and I am not kidding when it comes to sartorial discreetness and understanding for the needs of a frontier gentlemen…imho no tailoring Maison can and has ever come close to Le Maison Charvet when it comes to the practical realities of what a gentlemen needs and how he will always insist on putting his best foot forward despite the obvious constraints of turning the wheel in life in difficult and harsh places….I wouldn’t be surprised…not at all if they can even manage to secret a 747 underneath my everyday wear.
They’re not the cheap…not at all….but they do deliver…and that to me means everything and much more!
June 25, 2016
It’s only a matter of time before the clever money will migrate with both feet knee deep into the gold…I am not kidding – that’s given…with the turmoil in the Middle East, oil is quadrupled fucked for the next five years…and with the latest shocking move by the British to decouple from the EU and refloat the £ – good luck to them…even if they can’t possibly do it with the systematic constraints on the Bank of England (real or imagined…matters little) either way, that very prospect alone is going to precipitate a massive flight of capital…to where. Equities are well and truly double if not tripled fucked…all that’s happening for the last ten years from what I can make out is the same money is just playing music chairs – no capital Injection there….not the sort that can really revive an already beleaguered market that is so cashed starved that it needs to cannibalize itself just to stay afloat. All these investors are holding on to is worthless paper that one can just as well wipe their ass with….that’s how worthless paper currency has become in the last five years – to me it makes far more common sense to go back to basics and to own physical gold – not the paper variety where you just get a colorful paper with credentials to say your gold is stored in some basement that you have never ever or will ever see in your lifetime – I am talking about the real stuff that you can hold, put between your teeth and bite it really hard to make a mark. I have absolutely no doubt – none whatsoever in a matter of just weeks alone, not even months – the sublimely clever money will begin to come around to the wisdom of hoarding up on yellow metal. Besides the writing is already well and truly on the wall from everywhere ranging to Cairo and Brooklyn – money is not longer what it used to be…at the bloody unmitigated the world’s central bankers with the complicity of the IMF are printing valueless money it’s going to be only a matter of time before they debase their currencies.
Say what you want about gold – it’s unyieldly, but it’s traded for over 5,000 years and it’s always kept it intrinsic value within the acceptable limits to hedge against everything from war, famine to an economic melt down of mega proportions – for the first time in perhaps 200 years, I expect in many parts of the globe bankers will now have to get a handle on the hubris of how to perpetuate economic growth with the absurd notion reconciling with negative interest rates – I simply don’t see this as sustainable any longer and coupled with the recent absurd British move to decouple sterling from the Euro – the world has never been closer to the edge of the cliff….only gold…the eternal currency makes any sense now!
As for the rest…they don’t even come any where close.
‘To me the idea of personal wealth management has nevertheless ever been about HOW much you can earn in one calendar year…or even what is your nett worth at any given moment in time. Neither does it have any corresponding link to your intelligence or how well educated you are..it might, but to me those factors are optional…if you ask me what is the ONLY defining philosophy of sound and competent personal wealth management…it really boils down to one sentence:
‘Do you really know the value of things?’
Now! That is a very very compelling and deep question – I am not asking of you if you walk into a shop and there is a big sign there that says, JM Weston, Zegna blah, blah, blah, blah…..then you know instinctively, you’re in one of those places that presumably sell good things that usually come with four digits.
That’s not what I am asking of you….but you have to excuse me. I have to attend to some matter urgent matters in the field. I will return to write more about this subject that involves the whole enterprise of knowing the value of things…please excuse me.
Dedicate yourself to be the very best that you can possibly be….by this I mean, dedicate your mind, body and spirit know everything there is to know about your field of expertise…ONLY when you commit yourself totally and completely, not once, not twice, but so many times that everyone knows that you are the indisputable subject matter expert…the man who is literally indispensable to the mathematics of the formula success in a project.
Then you will stand apart from all other men.
Not many men know Africa….truth is the very idea scares the living shit of them…it gives them the runs. But those who know are highly sought after by businesses….it’s economics…Africa is the easiest place to earn big money PROVIDING you have the arcanum to manage the risk.
This has nothing to do with arrogance and everything to do with knowing WHAT needs to be done and most importantly HOW to conduct yourself as a subject matter in your field of expertise…if these two criteria’s are not in the palm of your hands – then walk away from the deal….like I said, it’s got nothing to do with arrogance or coming across as an obnoxious son of a bitch…Africa is not a place where a man decides to venture to on Sunday and hatches a business plan by the end of the week to start a multi million dollar mining project….you can do that in EU or the US, but not in Africa – get it wrong on the first step and you may just end up with a full metal jacket bullet right between the eyes.
Be good at what you do…aspire to be the very best in your field….be so good that if the subject comes out even so much as casually in a garden luncheon…your name comes right out.
With that money will come very naturally…you don’t have to chase it…it will chase you….never do it the other way round…that’s the mistake most people commit – they charge high, but since they’re woefully short on the delivery quality and reliability of fulfilling their commitment – it’s a one time business deal…thereafter they have to live for their rest of their life with a crummy reputation of a big talker whose short on the doing – if you want to do under that sort of configuration my advise is please consider a career in organized crime.
As a professional once the movers and shakers know you are the best and the man who can deliver the bacon – you will always have been eating out of your hands like pigeons.
Be assertive. Be polite of course, but remember to firmness is the confidence to say ‘no’ and if all the criteria’s are not met….just walk right out of the door.
It’s never personal, it’s business!
‘Understand this! Understand this clearly because it will only come once and if you don’t catch it the way you’re supposed too nice, snug, tight and with a reassuring thud that it’s there to stay in your hands….you’ve lost the plot.
THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS LUCK! Fuck bunny foots, magic amulets or anything else that is suppose to alter the interception of destiny and fate….as for God, to be he’s optional…we all make our own luck. That’s to say, you, me, the guy whose serving us dinner or even someone who you hardly know in the street are all dealt the same deck of cards….sometimes if you’re lucky you get a pair, not a very strong one, but if you edge it right….you may just bring the house down. At other times, it’s jokers all the way with cards that really take you no where….but that doesn’t mean you can still sip your cognac and exude that knowing expression to others on the same table that you may well have royal flush….that you can even wipe them all out along with cleaning out the casino in Monte Carlo…do you see my point when I say, we make our own luck…as for the rest, you could just throw it all out of the proverbial window and it would make the least difference to the outcome of your life.
But remember if you can buy into that notion. As ridiculous and implausible as it seems that a man,..any man can make his luck…can step on that invisible line where date and destiny intercepts called X marks the spot…then, it would have absolutely no problem understanding why I say, we all…without a single exception ALL have the capacity to make our luck and put it all together.
It’s as simple as that…the tragedy in life is most people discover this truism too late. Some even die without even the slightest inkling about what I am talking about…the business of making one’s luck….that at least was what Africa taught me so very well…..they said…or least some did…I sold my soul to the Devil to come to wealth in Africa…maybe they are right….if I had the opportunity to go back one more time, maybe…just maybe, it would have been different…but even then, I probably have to make my own luck for it to all to happen the way I imagined it every night.’
June 24, 2016
Got nothing against bell bottoms per se….but what I can never ever figure out is why would any sane and respectable gentleman pay good $ just to impersonate a tree?…that at least is how I see bell bottoms on men….talking trees….thinking trees…trees that can even drive.
The idea of trees and bell bottoms to me seems to be so encrusted that it’s one inseparable reality.
The bell bottom craze…well it lasted for a good five years…so you can’t say it didn’t have a respectable fashion run…in my opinion it was just one of those moments when men’s fashion took a wrong turn….but you never know with fashion….it always has a funny way of coming back and bitting you when you least expect it.
Recently I came across someone wearing it in the streets….and to be perfectly honest….he looked cool.
So hold on tight…as bell bottoms usually come with disco….actually I don’t mind disco…infact I quite like it….so my hope is bell bottoms gives us all a big miss, but disco stays!
June 23, 2016
In business strike with the element of surprise on your side…keep it short…keep it manageable…be mindful and above all realistic as to what you can and cannot do. Never get embroiled in protracted campaign that threatens to transform into a war of attrition.
That is what your business rivals wants you to do…tie you down…keep you looking at the rear mirror instead of up front….make you worry about stuff like whether have enough juice to reach home…..
Trust me…you NEVER ever want to get into the bottom pit of a war of attrition!
It should be hit….and hit very hard…hit with precision…with the just the right calculated quantity of force and desired effect…thereafter disappear…run deep and silent…keep an ultra low profile and make double and triple sure your next move is unfathomable.
The goal is keep your business rivals guessing….all they can really do when they’re up against a shadow warrior is to speculate…postulate…theorize….plan endlessly…that’s what you want…..to put them into that bottomless pit called a war of attrition.
Once your rivals settle down into a mood of complacency again where they believe the status quo ante is back again….turn 180 degrees and strike hard again!
Above all never be arrogant….as when one is ahead of the pack…believe it or not, you are…you truly are…your worse enemy.
Be humble, alert and train, train, train and train for the unexpected!
‘The origin of the term ((戦勝病 senshoubyou) in Japanese is associated with the irrational exuberance following Japans advance into the Pacific Theater of World War II, where, after attacking Pearl Harbor in 1941. The imperial Japanese navy (IJN) won a series of spectacular victories against the Allies in Southeast Asia and the Pacific.
Although the Japanese had planned to establish a perimeter and go on the defensive…they allowed the Dolittle raid to cloud their judgement – added to that past victories encouraged them to continue expanding beyond their point of supply limit to where it strained logistics.
This to me has always been something that I can’t understand even today – as during the first few years of the pacific war – the INJ was literally the best navy in the world, not only in terms of men and material, but they even outstripped the American Pacific fleet by a factor of 4 to 1 – this was high quality and very experienced fighting juggernaut and yet it was literally cut down to size during the Battle of Midway in 1942 – till today people who play war games seriously have simulated what’s the possible outcome – and on virtually every single play, even with one where it’s sympathetic to the Americans – the Americans always lose…..they lose all the time in a simulated war game. The Japanese win, but in reality in 1942, the INJ experienced such a catastrophic defeat involving four aircraft carriers and their entire highly trained naval air wing was completely wiped out overnight….if I had to supply am explanation how did a bunch of third rate amateurs take on the INJ and bloody them blue and black till they went down for the count and never got up again….it’s got nothing to do with numerical superiority, intelligence, quality of men or material….if anything this illustrates how having a delusional sense of invincibility can only lead to complete and total defeat.
That’s why when one is ahead…stay humble…disappear if possible….keep below the radar…and above all never mythologize your past victories…what has happened is over…that’s all water under the bridge….stay humble, alert and be prepared.’
June 23, 2016
The first thing strikes anyone who has ever engaged the services of a master tailor in Japan, especially in Osaka – is they don’t seem to be ever fixated on material….never.
Infact based on all my experience with Japanese master tailors – never once have I even been shown a piece of cloth.
They seem to order ONLY after establishing the terms and conditions of the tailoring criteria.
Never! Not even once! And it’s not unusual to visit a tailor who ever breaks this rule – I suspect it’s a sign of bad tailoring or maybe it’s taboo to do so.
I can only draw the logical conclusion that sort of tailoring culture may have alot to do with the importance of priotizing form followed by function and fit and finally carriage.
A bespoke Japanese tailor is always trained to observe how the client walks….moves…and even carries himself, it’s almost intuitive for them to such extent that the client is always conscious that he’s under a sort of sartorial panoptical cross examination whenever he walks into the establishment – where everyone from the master tailor right down to the apprentices and lowly cookie cutters – will literally drop what they are doing and simply observe the client as he moves around the shop…I don’t ever see this in London, Paris of even Milan….only AFTER a conclusion of sorts as close to reality is formed when these tailors discuss amongst themselves what’s the best suits the client – then and only then does choice of material feature…even then it’s only an adjunct to the specific goal to create the desired effect based on what the master tailor has to work with…style…fashion is yet to even feature….the focus is first and foremost on the balance between function and form.
Italians don’t ever do this…that may account for why they have to resort to mesmerizing their clients with their endless repertoire of fine cloth to attempt to hypnotize them – which could possibly supply an explanation why Italian suits only look good providing one stays still like a wax work or superglue yourself to a chair. The English are far more devious lot – they seem to always agree with the client even if it comes at the cost of crafting an awful suit which they always seem to excuse away as a ‘endearing’ – the only reason why Savile Row suits look dapper is simply because most British men prefer the buy one get another free at M&S. As for the French, they are the most conceited of the entire lot. As all they seem to do is way lyrical no end about elegance as if it’s some sort of philosophical abstraction that only they have the DNA to understand and everyone else doesn’t have the skill or experience to see thru their smoke and mirrors….which accounts for why to look dapper one needs to maintain their suits like finicky Continental sport cars, otherwise they look like dried cabbages.
But for the Samurai tailor – there’s an almost unalloyed purity of dedication, purpose and precision – as to how he approaches his pride and joy…the craft of tailoring…the suit ALWAYS looks good…even when you’re jumping out of planes – he always has the goal in mind….to create a product of incomparable excellence for the man of all seasons. As for the means to the end….Like the famous aphorism….don’t expect to go very far in life when you put the cart before the horse.
The samurai tailor seems to me…at least to be the only craftsman who abides religiously to this truism…wonder no more why they are truly the best and probably the most underrated tailors in the world when it comes to high quality bespoke suits.
One of the best known bespoke tailors was the late Hideo Takeshita – travel well my friend….a true Gentlemen…a samurai tailor.
A conversation between a tailor and someone…perhaps anyone.
‘You’re not accustomed to walking on even pavements..I suspect you may even find walking in the city an all together strange affair (slight knowing smirk)…like an astronaut on the moon (laugh). Your gait is how should I say…slightly wider than usual to make up for the uneven terrain that you’re accustomed too.
So I wouldn’t recommend a single fold for your trousers…you should have it a full inch higher than usual like a bush jacket. I realize that’s a departure from the norm and may comes across as odd, but in your case I happen to believe that’s necessary, besides you will find that arrangement much more comfortable….besides you have impeccable taste when it comes to shoes…you should show them off…one inch up!
Just try to remember not to cross your legs whenever you sit down – that may look very odd.
I also notice you like to rest your right hand on the side of your hip…you’re accustomed to wearing heavy belts and you have a habit of carrying something weighty on that side…a side arm…a machete….that’s a bit complicated when it comes to tailoring suits….I may need to provision for two belt loops….again that may look odd…but I happen to believe it’s important for you…otherwise you will look loop sided in a full suit…better to break up the colors between the top and bottom half….and if you don’t mind me saying so, your shoes, they’re the heavy sort…English….with unusually thick soles complete with metal caps…you’re accustomed to walking in the wild with them…so I am going to tailor a hidden pocket for you…one with two belt straps like I said…may look odd Sir…but we will make it very discreet. This way when you walk, your trousers will never pull to one side and spoil the lines…it will always stay centered and it wouldn’t bite into your crotch.
Now to your shoulders. They are broader than most Japanese men – you’re definitely a someone who is used to jumping out of a plane in the morning and going to the opera wearing the same suit in the evening (sardonic laughter) – I noticed that the moment you stepped in, your left shoulder leans forward, you’re using your upper torso to balance yourself – you climb mountains?….maybe you used to carrying a back pack…I will accommodate that particularity by recommending wool mixed with spandex and double stitching with extra strong military thread…I know that’s very unusual, but silk doesn’t give unfortunately, it’s not for you….you see, it’s like a starched cloth…it will rip and we can’t have that – can we during a delightful evening in the opera….what will the ladies say? – besides if you don’t have something elastic that can give a little, your whole suit will have a tendency to go off center when you walk the way you do – may I recommend a small alteration to your shoes? The heel be slightly higher, that way when you lean forward when you walk, it doesn’t pull at the back of your trousers and the collar at the back will never crunch up – but if I make it like rubber then you can wear it like armor and it would never move from side to side, that should stop your lapels from crunching whenever you get up from a chair or sit down.
Oh by the way….may I have a look at your pocket knife. You’re carrying one aren’t you…I know it’s rude to be so forward..but really your tailor shouldn’t have located your secret pocket in your breast – see how it spoils the lines completely…see how it weighs down the cloth especially when you button your suit…may I suggest that you relocate the secret pocket under your left armpit – I will make it discreet….that way, you don’t spoil the lines or have to put up with unsightly bulges.
I don’t think we need to bother ourselves with looking at cloth…leave that to me…why don’t you come back for a second fitting next week.’
June 23, 2016
Many years ago somewhere in Africa….
In the palatial colonial house on the top of the hill where the Chinaman Cocoa planter of Gabundi estate lived – the legionnaire deserter who worked in his kitchen knew that his master always preferred his eggs runny and his bacon flamed with Cordon’blue for breakfast.
He also knew that his master found the sonorous background drone of the BBC world service comforting whenever he scanned his estate from the upper deck of the alfresco roof top dinning area – usually, the deserter could make out that his master always began the morning by looking through his field glasses at the tiny village at the edge of his lands – the legionnaire deserter servant could tell that whenever a smile tore across the Chinaman’s face – that meant, he was training his eyes on the only well in the village where he delighted in feasting his eyes on women balancing earthen pots on their heads as they walked in straight neat lines early in the morning.
But that day the China planter did not smile as he peered through his field glasses. Neither had he smiled for that whole week either. Perhaps not even for longer – even the Chinaman’s tall Matabilli tribesman bodyguard who was a wired framed muscular man in his late forties who always seemed to follow his young master everywhere couldn’t remember when he last smiled either.
The only person in the vast expanse of Gabundi Estate who really knew the last time the Chinaman Cocoa planter smiled – was the new German school teacher, foot doctor and scientist nun called Eva from Germany who replaced – the sixty something two metric ton Fraulien Gunther from Muchen, Bavaria – who the Chinaman didn’t really care very much for.
With Fraulein Eva it was quite another thing. The Chinaman planter not only smiled very often whenever she was around. He even made it a point to improve himself – he had even exchanged his flared ridding breeches, boots along with open neck khaki shirt complete with shoulder holster and revolver with a stylish bush jacket and laced shoes that came in by special courier service directly from Cape Town.
The German nun and school teacher had even approved of this new look and mentioned that the Chinaman planter now looked like a dapper “gentlemen planter.” She was so pleased that she had even invited the farmer to attend a reunion party which she had arranged in the school to celebrate the return of a lost child that had been recently found by the ever wandering medicin sans frontier who had discovered the half dead boy somewhere along the porous Northern Sudanese border. The nine year old boy from the Adomako tribe had gone missing a year or so back ago along the river bank and had somehow been magically reunited with their parents – it was a one in a millionth – and the whole village had come out in full force to celebrate with beating drums, asseki juice along with generous lashings of K’du leafs which the women folk chewed.
Everyone remembered how happy the farmer had been as he stood beside the German nun – the boy had after all being presumed dead by all, eaten probably by a crocodile and now he had been magically reunited with his parents – who seemed eager to show off their child to the rest of the village.
The nine year old boy named Komu had after all learnt a range of tricks that seemed to enthrall the rest of the villages since his return – he knew how to drive a truck, operate a generator. But one of Komu’s most impressive tricks involved field stripping an AK-47. When the farmer watched Komu remove the linchpin of the Soviet Amotov with a small horn tip by clamping the entire barrel and stock against his tiny neck and limbs that held together the breach and firing mechanism he realized that the boy already knew the AK-47 had 8 parts – the hardest section to remove was the gas piston assembly and the cumbersome spring mechanism that often proved so unwieldy that even adults struggled with this section. In many cases giving up completely – in this case, the boy had used the Sudanese horseback open palm method of slapping this complicated mechanism apart in one single smooth action – everyone clapped. Except the farmer. Who insisted that Komu do this again. And again. Which he did specially for Dada Shahidi – as he was after all the guest of honor.
For the grande finale, the young boy was blindfolded and within a matter of seconds, he assembled back the 8 parts of the semi automatic flawlessly – the show ended when Komu finished off the show by cocking the assault rifle menacingly which the farmer knew chambered the first round into the breach and smiled to the rapturous applause of the villagers – that day, everyone smiled except the Chinaman Cocoa planter who looked stern and grave as if lost in his own thoughts.
That evening as the Shahidi approached the innocent nine year old Komu seated beside his happy parents – his eyes seemed to radiate an awareness that bordered between fascination and fear. He leaned close to the boy and in a slow and stern voice whispered,
“Komu tell Dada (in Africa, the prefix father follows before, as a sign of respect) Shahidi who taught you how to do this.”
From that day onwards the German school teacher and nun who ran the only school in Gabundi noticed the Chinaman Cocoa planter never ever smiled again.
June 22, 2016
Who is he really? I mean how did he come to wealth?…No! I don’t imagine for one moment that’s a very sensible question that can ever hope to produce a satisfactorily answer….not at all…not a real one at least – after all, there are really so many men in one man…so many lives in one life time and above all so many timelines in one age….so you will never truly know who he really is…
The infinite man that is….all one can really do is imagine….and if you get lucky maybe manage a peek a booh!
Sure! He wears a Rolex. But it’s hardly the sort that one associates with jewelry…there is too much scuff on it. Besides it’s rare variety with no date….what professional divers call a tool watch that harks back to another age…what of the bezel that’s always set at nine. A cosy inderism desert trick that only caravaners who brave the Sahara know of…where if a man extents his arm straight out against the sun, where the shadow falls in between nine and seven points to magnetic North…he laces his shoes all funny as well and ties them off with a triple knot like a Legionnaire…or maybe he learnt that nifty trick like climbers who use the same knot to stop the back heel from slipping on the descent…maybe he used to pit himself against mountains…what about the strange way in which he pinches both ends of his cigarettes before he lights them….like the way sailors do to slow the burn…maybe he used to sail. Or maybe not…maybe it’s all nothing….or could it just be the remnants of another life…another man…in another forgotten age crushed by time like a dried leaf under the foot of boot…who really knows…except maybe the infinite man himself.
Many years ago in a forgotten part of Africa lost in time..
There are only really two varieties of men who go to that God forsaken interior of the deepest bowels of Africa to turn the wheel of life. The first are of course those who are stupid enough to join the French Foreign Legion to try to escape from their averagely miserable lives.
The other was that variety of man who lived on the hill overlooking the vast expanse of Gabundi Cocoa Estate. The Chinaman Cocoa Farmer who was now looking at a spent heat stroked white man with cropped auburn hair who claimed to have lost his way somewhere along the dusty road between the Seritati and Kafuri road 200 miles from Kampala.
The Chinaman knew he was a deserter from the Legion – it took him exactly 5 seconds to form that conclusion – he could make out the bruised callouses on the outer edges of the man knuckles – a physical disfigurement brought forth by a design flaw on the cocking device of the St. Entiene standard issued FAMAS that the legion used – the last two laces of the man were parallel and finished off with a butterfly knot. The Chinaman knew again, legionnaires used this to keep out fine sand from their boots on long marches.
But despite all this – the Chinaman nodded to the tribesman who had brought him in that hot afternoon. At first the Matabilli tribesman looked to the rest of the braves – he too had after all known that this was probably a deserter from the legion. The tribesman had wanted to say something to the Chinaman Cocoa farmer, but he had been cut short by a stern voice as the farmer narrowed his eyed and now the tall Matabilli tribesman had looked down submissively.
The deserter was taken into the plantation house by the Chinaman’s servants – the Chinaman was after all the Shahidi – a chieftain and medicine man and above all rain maker in his own right. Such a man commanded respect in these parts. This was how politics was conducted in the deepest bowels of Africa. To the far North, East, West and to the southern reaches of Uganda where the confluence of the Nigiri and Togoba river met – the Shahidi was known to all the tribes, the Adomako, who were once descendants of the fierce Zulu. They guarded the Chinaman’s estate. Only the Adomako were permitted to roam the grounds of the Shahidi’s plantation. To the South, the man knew the Kashari who once transported salt cones on caravans of camels across the barren plains of the Sahara – they served as the eyes and ears to the Shahidi and had told him the legion were scouring the western plains in search of the deserter.
The Chinaman was the Shahidi – the rain maker, the man who could open the heavens and bring down the water of life. This he did by firing his world war II antique 88mm canon which he filled with silver halide at clouds to seed rain – the tribesmen considered this a form of magic. And so they all obeyed him.
The following day a column of legionnaires in light armored entered the gates of Gabundi estate – the officer who was in charge was mindful of the Chinaman Cocoa farmer. He had heard so many things about the Shahidi that he ran an illegal goldmine in Nariobi that stretched even all the way across Burundi, had dabbled in the illegal ivory trade in Kenya and had even smuggled arms right up the Serengetti through Zambezi and Congo rivers – he had even once saved some of his own men from certain decapitation three years ago, when he had intervened and negotiated for the safe return of two kidnapped legionnaires and a French TV crew with the dreaded Askhali tribesmen who made it their living hijacking tankers off the coast of Burundi. That day as his armored column approached the planters house at the top of the hill the young legionnaire officer was wary that he was very far from civilization. As the armored column passed by the many Cocoa trees, the farmer’s Adomako tribesmen who eyed them suspiciously as they cradled their AK-47′s – while the younger braves looked on with their spears.
When the Chinaman planter was shown the picture of the deserter – he was brusque and replied in crude African Pidgin French also called Guinea Coast Creole Francaise – this was the lingua franca, or language of commerce, spoken deep in the interior of the heart of darkness known as deep Africa. And had been used since time in memorial along Western coast of Africa during the warring period of the Atlantic slave trade. It had all been lost – but in these remote parts where only the omnipresent law of the AK-47 ruled – this dead language which was once used by all stretching across the Coast of Guinea had come alive that day.
The officer of the French foreign legion who wore his pristine white kepi blanch knew that the Chinaman cocoa planter could have used, le français standard, le français normé, le français neutre – civilized French which he much preferred. But that day, the Chinaman had chosen to reply to the representative of the French government in Creole Francaise – perhaps he was simply reminding the French officer that he was very far from civilization. It was the Chinaman’s way of conveying to the nervous French officer that in these remote parts where only a godless sky ruled – a man could very well die in a thousand and one ways – the legionnaire realized that it was pointless to continue the conversation. He realized only too well, that it wasn’t worth trying to intimidate the Chinaman Cocoa planter. He was after known to the Legion – and his superiors had warned him – “we may need his help one day, so don’t push your weight around with him, otherwise you may end up having to go back in a plastic bag.” with these thoughts, the young French officer turned around and left. After all this was how politics was conducted in deep Africa. This wasn’t Kenya, Nariobi or Cape town – the laws were malleable here, elastic to the point where it even meant so very little. And everything under the sun was negotiable. Besides all the Shahidi had to do was snap his fingers and half his men would probably be cut down by machine gun fire – it was after all the legionnaires last tour of duty in this God foresaken part of the world. Besides he only had less than a month to go before returning to wife and kids in France. The last thing he needed now was to stir up a shit storm. So that day the French light armored column did a U turn and drove right out of Gabundi estate.
That same evening as the man dined with the deserter on the thirty or so feet long table on the plantation house on the hill – he was impressed by the man’s cooking. He has earlier allowed the man to wander around his kitchen. Somewhere between desert and cognac, the man turned to the deserter and asked in a slow and grave voice like rolling thunder,
“Tell me why did you run away from the Legion?”
The deserter knew instantly the Chinaman who wore flared ridding breeches and ankle high mirror polished boots with a revolver slung from his shoulder holster had seen right through him like a pane of glass – he was transparent – he had known it all along and pretended not to know till this moment when he had raised the question when he was most relaxed and comfortable.
“I couldn’t take it anymore. I rather take my chances on the run than to spend another minute in that hell hole.”
The man nodded his head. He murmured, “I understand completely.” Then he continued, “it is not easy for a man to run away from the legion….tell me what will you do if it was possible for me to arrange to get you the right papers to make it all the way back home safely?”
“I am a cook. That’s what I do best. I am happiest when I am in the kitchen…..”
The Chinaman sighed as he emptied his third cognac that evening – he began to loosen his shoulder holster and remove what to the deserter seemed like an oddity – an old Webley revolver. He knew instinctively that the Chinaman knew his weapons – as only this clumsy British firearm was the preferred side arm of the Bedouin as only such a weapon could stand up against the fine ochre red dust that blew from the North to the South every year clogging and jamming even the best modern firearms – the deserter had once served in Sudan and Chad. He began to look at the man – and wondered whether perhaps the respectable cocoa farmer, illegal gold miner, rain maker who the tribesmen called Shahidi with his magic rain making canon might have been a man who had also once seen the terror of war.
“Yes, I understand how it must be like to be hunted…to be on the run….you should stay here longer…..when the coast is clear…..I shall make arrangements……meanwhile please be feel free to cook wander around kitchen….cook for me…..and one day perhaps many years from now…..we may look at this time and place….and even laugh out loud…..you see civil war will rip through this country very soon…. I have really cashed out…soon you wouldn’t even need papers to walk from here all the way to Kampala. But for the mean time…..you will be safe here.”
June 20, 2016
If one is serious about living a purpose driven life. I cannot emphasized the importance of crafting a personal philosophy towards every aspect of life from work, managing yourself and others to perhaps even striving to be the man who you believe you were always meant to be….ants cannot do this, but humans can….and you really…really must!
Man can look at a thing…it doesn’t even have to be awe inspiring, neither does it need to even take your breathe away like a magic carpet…it may just be a thing…any thing…a thought…a passing fragment of an image or a series of words once spoken crushed by time….but man can reflect and above all he has the capacity to stir deeply on how those experiences and things, people and events that once came his way shapes him and continues to either add or subtract from character.
We all like to believe or maybe we r all conditioned only too…that the greatest and rare life changing moments of epiphany can only come from spell binding experiences….but there are times when I am just sitting all by myself on a park bench and there before me is the entire majesty of life as it unfurls.
That is really all I want….that is really where I want to be…to be nowhere and yet everywhere to hold not a single thought in my mind and yet to be able to see a thing for what it is in marvelous completion to call my very own…a beautiful thing.
Recently I dressed a shoe….it’s an old shoe, but what intrigued me most about this pair of brogues was the sheer amount of scuffing and rasping at the back heel….these are everyday working shoes – at first I planned to give the heals the standard textbook cosmetic treatment, but the more I looked at them under the wan of the melancholic evening light….very slowly a sort of story oozed out from those random lines and scrawls…here was a story of a man who walks purposefully…his gait plumbs to the left which means, he’s always in a rush…it’s not fabricated…it’s authentic…a real story and it’s his history that’s written in the language of shoes…that’s when I encountered a rare moment of epiphany and I put down my brush and said to myself there and then…I have a right to paint shoes…but I don’t have a right to erase the history of a man and his relationship with his footwear – besides this is so beautiful…only because real beauty is filled with flaws…it’s natural…one part serendipity and the rest that just involves the act of walking – beauty has got nothing whatsoever to do with perfection, balanced symmetry or even the idea of permanence or eye candying…if that idea just happens to be mainstream, it’s only because it’s an acquired taste that most of us have been force fed without us even realizing it like foire gras ducks by the mind dumbing machine of the marketing manifesto – suddenly those lines acquired an almost a supernatural quality – it is a life once lived… and it would be a travesty for me a witness to this incredible insight to just wipe it all out along with revising it’s history…so instead I immortalized it in dye using a time consuming technique known as ‘water tracing’ that took the whole night…by the dawn, the collage of scuffs…scratches…mottling that may not even look endearing to the untrained eye was preserved with hardly any alterations….to me…this is the philosophy of how I see elegance…not as something contrived or for that matter anything resembling the close quarters of manufactured perfection or structural harmony like the vapidness of eye candy. Rather it’s a wispy and ephemeral notion that only reveals itself to one who is perceptive and always strives hard to understand, appreciate and even give it the respect it rightly deserves….and when we do just this alone…it could be said, we have a philosophy in life.
‘Philosophy is a big word, but don’t allow it to intimidate you…that’s to say….stand your ground and just look at it for it….it’s just a word…nothing more or less. Even if it seems to be a big intimidating word that you feel you may not have the means to wrap your head around it…the funny thing in life is if you look at something long enough and bear it out patiently – even if it’s something so everyday and forgettable as grass growing – you will eventually notice something about it that no one else can ever see.
That to me is encapsulates the ethos of the word philosophy – it means to know a thing for what it is and not what others day it is….that’s all it is. The rest you could just throw right out of the window and it wouldn’t make a molecule of difference to your understanding of that word.
It’s like the periphery world of fire extinguishers, exit signs and stuff that stick out of ceilings blinking lights and maybe elevator music – they’re there, but we hardly notice them as most of us aren’t really invested in the present..even if we claim we are. As most of the time, we have one foot in the distant past and the other in the future and whatever little is left is really the sum total of our consciousness.
That’s not an indictment of humanity…that’s just how most of us go thru life.
That I imagine is why so many people miss out so much of life – it’s not that life isn’t there…rather we are all somewhere else and that’s a function of how we all conditioned and scripted to go thru to life….being there, yet somewhere else…but never where we should really needfully be to live well – in the present!
There is a quaint story about that tragic painter Van Gogh who once chanced across a pair of worn-out shoes in the flea market somewhere in Paris. The painter who was at that time, a Mr nobody took them back to his bed sit. Rumor has it for reasons known to him, he spent days, weeks and even months looking at them – in the morning to catch the light. In the afternoon to sense the melancholy of the leather and even in candle light to seek it out it’s morose essence and one day in the moment it takes to swath a fly, the painter who was a no body, nailed a parchment, mix some paint and painted those pair of shoes. Today, they have become the most celebrated footware in the history of modern art.
It’s been debated, spliced and even put under the equivalent of the philosophers electron microscope as to what this depiction represents – there are many critiques, but the one that endears to me most and is perhaps resonates most with me is perhaps Martin Heidegger’s account when he first saw the painting in an exhibition in Amsterdam.
“From the dark opening of the worn insides of the shoes the toilsome tread of the worker stares forth. In the stiffly rugged heaviness of the shoes there is the accumulated tenacity of her slow trudge through the far-spreading and ever-uniform furrows of the field swept by a raw wind. On the leather lie the dampness and richness of the soil. Under the soles slides the loneliness of the field-path as evening falls. In the shoes vibrate the silent call of the earth, its quiet gift of the ripening grain and its unexplained self-refusal in the fallow desolation of the wintry field.”
Although they were many other critiques which included the Shapiro and Derrida, to me…at least, none of them matched the sympatico, profundis and breadth of Heidegger’s interpretations of Van Gogh’s painting.
As ONLY he could see and understand the tragic metaphorical struggle of a failed painter’s weariness and threadbare life.
Others have simply extrapolated and superimposed themselves causally….by imaging themselves in these shoes and conjuring images of walking through diverse landscapes, working under bright skies, or trudging home with sweaty feet after hard labors in the fields. Others are willing to let the painting simply speak for itself as a study of shoes with dull brown color and a background of gold….but not Heidegger…ONLY he and he alone was able to expre the philosophy of the painter who was trying to express the inexpressible…a man marooned in his own mind swirling in collages of colors and tones that people in his own age didn’t even understand.
In a letter to his brother Theo, Vincent Van Gogh said, “It is good to love as many things as one can…..I see paintings or drawings in the poorest cottages, in the dirtiest corners. And my mind is driven toward these things with an irresistible momentum…..Poetry surrounds us everywhere, but putting it on paper is, alas, not so easy as looking at it. I dream my painting, and then I paint my dream.”
To be spiritual is to have an abiding respect for the great mysteries of life and to see the fingerprints of the Divine in the most ordinary objects and things….when a man is imbued with such a profound philosophy in regards to how he sees himself and his craft and those who choose to misunderstand him time and again and to even ridicule his works.
Momentarily. The artist touches the heavens and conveys the sanctity of the pair of dirty worn shoes and as a result, even we the ordinary are compelled to reframe our view of how we see the world around us….that to me is the power of having a wholesome philosophy…it can make life so very beautiful!…even the dirty, mundane and forgettable is transformed into the miraculous.’
June 20, 2016
If you’re angry with the world. Then I say don’t ever take your eyes off me. No! Don’t look down either…it’s a flaming sea of lava….just keep your eyes on mine and make every effort to disregard everything that is happening around you…soon you will be so very still and once enter this state of tranquility….observe and sense this life force of anger scissoring right thru you. Notice how it’s speeding up your heart rate, frying your brains and sending you reeling in all directions. Observe it carefully…as it is a very powerful force – study it long and hard and if possible detach yourself from it in the way, you separate your mind, body and spirit from your very essence to stand and observe what it’s doing to you and how it’s destroying every aspect of your sense and sensibilities – now set about learning how to harness this force like a windmill or water wheel…imagine yourself as this structure that can take and convert this force into something gainful and dedicate all of your consciousness to harvest that negative energy in the way you would focus stray light into a pin point like a laser beam.
Remember don’t look down….keep your eyes on mine! Or the spell will be broken and you fall. I want you to know one thing – I’ve been there….the very same place you find yourself in right now…..even know all trap doors of that place where every passing moment cuts like a knife!
Do not fear it…understand it…and make it work for you!
Now direct that concentrated energy of the sun to something significant, transformational and historical. Fuck the world! Because if you happen to have that as a starting premise in your life….being different…even if it’s just being angry…that a rare gift….it’s a form of power like the wind, sun or sea.
Learn to use it!
But I need to warn you – it’s a double edged sword….it can be perdition or salvation…..heaven or hell….you’ve got to get the philosophy right. I know that’s a big word that intimidates, but it just simply means – you need to have a life goal…a strategy…a game plan where you can work towards that mythical point where X marks spot!
I am not like most people. I don’t see the idea of being different as a curse or character flaw. Most people if you take the trouble to observe don’t ever have that sort of raw intensity or unbridled verve in their lives – they’ve never felt that life force pulse thru their veins before. Never! They have only read about it or seen it in the movies….but they have never felt it before…it’s like being a vampire walking amongst mortals! It’s like trying to explain snakes to Eskimos! The vast majority of humans go to work, save money, take holidays, get married, have kids, hold down the same job for 20 or 30 years, take their quota of shit that life shovels at them and they just die.
But if you can just learn to direct all that energy that makes you different to something significant – and I am not even talking about inventing rockets that can make it all the way to Mars. I am referring to really mundane stuff like how to make scramble eggs better than anyone else in the world. Or how to fold paper aeroplanes that can fly higher and further than anything that has ever existed before. Or even sometime as forgettable as how to mix paint in such a unique way that people would just stop, pause and look at it longer than usual, because it provokes and stirs something deep and compelling that they have never sensed before….then I think you’re on the right track of harnessing that once destructive force into something useful and meaningful.
But if all you’re good for is being different for the sake of being different – then I say, there is no mileage there lah. Look here! That’s a dead end!
Because one day when you hit your thirties and you’re still living with your parents hacking away at a computer in a room where overnight pizza and clothes go to die and your nett worth is a tube of Mentos and the sum total of your blog entries with X or Y cachet of readers – that counts for nought lah!
You know why….because that’s not reality. Let me tell you what is reality – reality is when you can make things happen – when you can harness that which marks you out as different from the world to make a difference.
Alan Turing was different. He was so different that, he was even light years ahead of his time that was why they feared him – but when you consider the sum total of his singular contribution to mankind amounted to shortening WW2 by maybe two years and a bit more and saving maybe twelve million lives…that puts it all into the right scale and perspective….the power of being different and what it can do. Same goes for every man who has been able to harness this power of being born different.
It all begins and ends right there lah…..take and run with it and I guarantee you, it will serve you, people and planet very well. Go the other way and I say, you’re just throwing away a rare gift.
This is wisdom that your mama and papa will never even share with you as very few people know of this and can appreciate it for what it is….now you can look down…now that sea of lava that used to scare the living day lights out of you means crud…as you have wings!
June 20, 2016
Last night a big rain woke me up rudely at 4.20. I sat up the whole night right thru morning – it’s not the volley rain that is usually associated with La Niña. No it’s not. It’s the good sort of rain….but even then, it’s hard to say for sure whether this is the first La Niña rain. Besides it’s bloody June! And it shouldn’t even be bloody raining at all!
I’ve put all my chips on La Niña being a no show this year! If I get it wrong…it’s going to be very costly. But the way I see it, I still don’t believe La Niña is going to follow in the wake of a diminishing El Niño.
Farming is like Russian Roulette and one just needs nerves of steel to see it right to the very end!….for better or worse…come what may!