November 30, 2017

Tux & Milo

November 29, 2017

I was given these two pups a couple of days ago by a lady. They’re mixed breed. That is good as I find pure breeds are not as resilient and durable for plantations. They are prone to skin diseases and due to the excessively damp conditions during the rainy season they tend to fall sick very often.

One of the pups has a black coat and white chest and paw markings. He looks as if he is wearing a tuxedo. So I’ve called that one Tux. The other is brownish with what seems to be basset markings. I’ve called her Milo.

Q: Crown Prince has recently arrested nearly two hundred high ranking princes, officials and businessmen – how will this recent development affect the rest of the world and why? Why is Saudi Arabia so important to us? The last question is from the guilds.

A: Allow me to respond to the last question first. You know I don’t really mind you stacking up one hundred questions in one question. But it can hard to respond intelligently only because one question has nothing to do with the other. I would appreciate it if you limit it to one question at a time because this is a very big issue with many moving parts and it can get terribly confusing if you stack it all up like a Big Mac.

If you can buy into the weatherman’s aphorism that if a butterfly flaps its wings in Hiroshima park and one week later that very act percipitates a hurricane somewhere off the coast of America. Then happens to Saudi Arabia will by the same logic also affect the rest of the world. I think when we talk about superpowers it is not confined to only those in the security council of the UN – US, Russia, China etc. This is especially so in the Middle East and Africa where Saudi Arabia is very much a regional power that has an extensive economic and military sphere of influence. If you look at what is happening in Yemen, Qatar, Syria, Egypt with the Muslim brotherhood, Lebanon with the recent resignation of the PM and even in Xinjiang. You will find that many of these proxy insurgents are funded by Saudi intelligence. That is the military dimension. On the economic front Saudi Arabia has perhaps one of the most well developed apparatus in the region in many cases even exceeding the sphere of influence of USAID and the WFP and FAO of the UN that it is has used successfully to leverage on its geopolitical agenda for the last 40 years. Saudi Arabia has the largest stockpiles of grains and cereal and livestock in the region. It is a major player in OPEC. As a consequence what happens within Saudi Arabia will have major repercussions thru out the world for years to come.

Q:Crown Prince has recently arrested nearly two hundred high ranking princes, officials and businessmen – how will this recent development affect the rest of the world and why? CP Salman has justified this recent move under anti corruption to put an end to radical Islam and it seems he is getting a lot of support from western nations – what is your take?

A: I think Salman is a great PR man. Much better than our PM who prefers to talk about frivolous subjects like the perils of consuming too much sugar. He has certainly hit all the ducks in a row by promoting gender equality by making it possible for women to drive in SA. This may be small to us, but comparatively it’s like dropping a social cultural atomic bomb on most Saudi’s. He has also mentioned that he wants to roll back conceptually the philosophy of Islam to what it was circa 1979, which is actually code for dismantling wahhabilism which again the west can only see as a good thing – what you have to understand is eleven out of the fifteen hijackers in 9/11 were Saudi’s and wahhabilism is definitely one of the reasons why Islam has been weaponized. On top of all that for domestic consumption – SA is a country where seven out of ten people are still below thirty. So all this plays out well for the mellinials who have never got along with the conservatives.

But if you ask me is that why Salman is doing all this. I would have to say no. Because it’s very dangerous. It’s like juggling live grenades just to get into the circus. I think it is important to differentiate public relations for foreign and domestic consumption and his hidden intentions.

Q: So you believe CP Salman has a hidden agenda. Why do you say it is dangerous.

A: When CP Salman says he is going to dismantle Wahhabilism. He is not just saying he’s going to tinker with an ultra-conservative Salafist brand of Sunni Islam. Because Wahhabilism is not really just a religion that is merely a component of how it fits into tribal societies, specifically Bedouin life that makes possible class politics and ritualises all the aspects of how a hegemony should perpetuate itself – without complicating it too much, it is just a more evolved version of what the British at the turn of the last century called wadi politics – before the age of the discovery petroleum, there was really only wadi politics. Wadi refers to a source of water – water is a very valuable commodity in greater Persia before the creation of artificial states that we know today like Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar etc etc. Even the map makers of empire drew out the countries that we today know based on wadi – water sources. So even today if you want know who were the dominant tribes during the period of empire it is a very simple calculation based on the supply of water, the quantity of water that is controlled by a particular tribe is inversely proportional to its sphere of influence. The reason why this observation is so important is that it illustrates succinctly that so much of how politics is conducted not only in SA but you could say even for the rest of the gulf states is that it is heavily influenced by tribal culture and conventions that have nothing whatsoever to do with our western understanding of power and politics. Now if we can for one moment come to terms with what I have mentioned, then corruption as we know it, that is to say, graft, patronage and nepotism is not something that is alien to tribal culture, you could even say it is encouraged and even seen as moral and not wrong as so often perceived in the western context of governance. Always bear in mind what I have just mentioned about how wadi politics is conducted is very alien to our understanding of how power is best administered. And if all that can be taken at face value then CP Salman justification for doing what he has done recently in SA is highly conventional and can be seen as foreign in SA. Like I said he is a good PR man.

Q: What are you saying it is a power grab by CP Salman?

A: No. I think it’s more of an old fashioned night of the long knives purge. You don’t ever go to this extent and then turn around and say sorry to these people. Most will take it so personally as to come across as dangerous in the future – dangerous for CP Salman and SA. As many of those arrested have an unimaginably huge largesse outside SA. So what you are likely to see in the near future is massive capital flight along with loss of investor confidence in not only SA, but the gulf states as well if these arrest are not well managed. In this respect CP Salman is doing a very good job with the western media as the only thing they seem to remember is he’s the guy who is going to restore Islam back the way it used to be before it was hijacked and radicalised by fanatics.

Q: What is your take regarding CP Salman’s move to render wahabillism a less militant strain of Islam? How achievable is it?

A: It certainly sounds good on paper. That I will give you at no cost only because talk is always cheap. Because Wahhabilism is without a shadow of doubt the tap root of radical Islam as we know it today. ISIS draws directly from the same source to justify its reprehensible war. But ironically, it is also what keeps the house of Saud in power as well along with furnishing it with the means for it to perpetuate its power politics in a cooperative manner. So when he says, he’s going to take it apart and remove all the undesirable things and put it back again – what you need to understand is it cannot be so straightforward.

Q: You mentioned it is what keeps the al saud in power. Can you elaborate?

A: One of the enduring contradictions of power and politics in the 20th century is if Wahhabilsm was really such a bad ideology why was it allowed to exist and proliferate for so long.

What I am going to share with you is based on my personal research and reading. Three years ago I wanted to seek the answer to this question. The story goes like this – in 1945 when FDR was returning from the historic Yalta conference. He met up with all the movers and shakers in the Middle East on board a battleship in the suez. One of them was Ibn Saud. He is like the taiko or the don of the Saud family. The British at the time wanted to dissociate from Ibn Saud as they saw very little value in cultivating his friendship, they had more oil than they needed from Iran and Iraq, so SA was an asset that the foreign office in London specifically wanted the US to take equity in. FDR and Ibn Saud reached an agreement on board that battleship based on two points – the US would get all the petrol dollar oil they needed in exhange for security.

This has been one of the most enduring agreements between governments as twelve US administrations have come and gone and yet this alliance has held solid. From 1945 to 1979, the US Saudi special relationship was relatively uneventful. It was only after the shah of Iran was deposed in Iran that the US began to rely more on the Saudis as their proxies in the Middle East. Prior to that US Saudi collaboration was minimal partially due to both Ibn Saud and Fahd’s strong stance concerning the intifada in the West Bank in Israel.

If you ask me where was the point when Wahhabilism was first exported as a militant theocracy, it was around 1980 when Russia invaded Afghanistan. The US, SA and Pakistan had to collaborate to create a resistance force to blunt the soviet invasion – this is not social and cultural science because Afghanistan is a one to one facsimile of how society is organized in tribal societies. What the CIA found out much to their consternation was all the Afghan tribes couldn’t cooperate let alone form up into a coherent military force that could be commanded and this is where Pandora’s box was truly open and released to the world – as the only way in which the intercinal warring tribes in Afghanistan could be reasonably ordered was if they buy into the whole idea of SA’s religio cum politico based ideology in the form of Wahhabilism. Since it was also a highly evolved tool of statecraft that is very suited for tribal societies they. The Afghan adopted it. Today we have the Taliban, but who are the Talibs. They are not a nation or even a creed, the word Talib means student. So what are they students of?

And this long and convulsed story brings me to my point when CP Salman says that he wants islam to go back to 1979 what he is saying is he wants to put militant Islam back into the box and bury it. But it is not so easy to do that as it first requires dismantling Wahhabilism itself – to paraphrase he means to undo the very ideological foundation and tenets that keeps not only SA together but also cements the power base of the house of Saud as well. So to me this is a very big fish with many needle like bones to chew on.

Q: Am I right to say you are not confident CP Salman can set out to do what he said he will do when he mentioned restoring Islam to the way it used to be.

A: Many western analyst seem to be applauding CP Salman’s move. I think they are premature in their euphoria simply because ideology in whatever shape or form can prove to be very resilient. For example the bed rock of communism is the USSR. But when it collapsed, did all communist regimes all round the world fall like dominoes? No, some did, but most thru a process of political and economical accommodation are still living very happily with communism. And that to me should not be surprising as ideology is never set in stone, it’s always in state of flux and when you have so many adherents it can even perpetuate itself complete with a class system of intelligentsia and critics so that guarantees that new information will be synthesized. And this has already happened when we talk about radical Islam, it has splintered into so many sub categories, not only isis, but other strains as well which may appear quite benign such as the Muslim brotherhood in Egypt. And I think it’s important to highlight this – as many people think that radical Islam is going to simply go away just because Saudi Arabia doesn’t condone militant Islam any longer. To my understanding that is both unrealistic and naïve.


November 28, 2017

Being vulnerable is not the same as being weak. frequently these two words are used interchangeably as many assume them to be one of the same reality. I don’t think that is true. As for one to be vulnerable, one must first be very connected to the self and those around. This awareness that we can be easily hurt and perhaps even slightly fragile should not be construed as lack of confidence. Rather it is to be acutely aware of what one can and cannot do.

Knowing this is often a source of strength. Beware of people who don’t seem to filter their emotions to come to you without the slightest trace of vulnerability. As often when they do so, it is like looking into a phantom mirror – we can only see so much of our hidden self reflected in their eyes that we constantly hide from the world…it can be both terrifying and beautiful.



‘Man shies away from his own vulnerability because he has been schooled to see it as a form of weakness or character flaw. But nature is very practical, if feeling vulnerable is so anti survival, then she wouldn’t have seen fit to incorporate into our being…like the tails our distant ancestor once had, it would have long disappeared.

That’s the first lesson the wild imparts to every man who feels so small and insignificant before her majesty…being vulnerable can be both terrifying and beautiful at the same time. This is certainly a contradiction, but it is also very much the human condition as well.

It is only when we begin to shed the shame of feeling vulnerable can we really begin the process of connecting deeply and meaningfully with ourselves and others.’

Nothing like this has ever happened before in the ultra secretive Kingdom ruled by the al Saud family. It is very difficult to know what is the real motivation behind this unusual move where nearly 200 elites some of them royalty have been arrested.


‘The problem about Prince Salman justifying all these draconian measures in the name of anti corruption is that it discounts the heavy of weight of historicism, specifically how politics and business has always been conducted in Saudi Arabia. As in reality at no point in not only the history of Saudi Arabia but the whole of the Middle East as well has there ever been such a thing as clean, transparent and equitable governance in either politics or business. There has been really only been the institutional culture of kickbacks, patronage and tribal supremacy.’

Hurting those who we love

November 26, 2017

Oscar Wilde the colourful playwright and poet once wrote “each man kills the thing he loves” – in a sense there is alot of truth to this. Since those who we love and receive love from is so much a part of how we see ourselves in relation to the present and future, this person is also the source of our happiness and ironically this also means they can also be the destroyer of our happiness as well: more than anyone else, the beloved can ruin our happiness. Similarly, the security involved in love goes together with the fear of losing that security. Feeling happy is often bound up with the fear of losing that happiness. Caring for the beloved sometimes goes together with hurting the beloved.


‘Just as we cannot talk about fruit cakes without automatically talking about raisins. It is quite impossible to talk convincing about love without including vulnerability as well: the ability to hurt and to be hurt.

Although some kinds of hurt in love are deliberate, most I think are not….they are brought forth by circumstances* where one side may feel his or her expectations aren’t met and often this breeds anger, resentment and constricts the free flow of feelings.

What you have here is the basis for why we hurt those who we love.’

* I did not realise the last time we were together would be our last. I only sensed it on the second day and when that realisation grew me that the reason why we were together then could only have been motivated by her need for closure and to move on with her life without me. At first I wanted to stop her, but I could not. You see I was aware of my own limitations and the futility of the situation. Nothing I could ever do would be able to fulfill her expectations…I would always fall short and end up having to make up more excuses – all I know is that I didn’t want to be all the different men running around in my head any longer who all seemed to be looking for something. I didn’t want that especially with her, I wanted something else….something noble, worthy and deserving that she never once had from me – a sort of man that if she looked back ten or maybe twenty years from now, she would probably say…he was the one who got away – it was really as simple as that. So I watched her slip right out of my life, it wasn’t resignation that accounted for my indifference, it was actually the truest expression of my love for her. I had managed to convince myself by then if I could not provide her with the conditions that could make her happy, then I would not be the person to stop or confuse her either. She needed strength and courage to move on and I or maybe I should say him, that other man who I had willed out of my head at that time would be the one to give it to her. That was my way of loving her truly in the only way I know how thru this new man I had created somewhere in my head. I didn’t care how much it would hurt thereafter or that I would probably never find another kindred spirit to talk about the weather again. I was simply very grateful that she made a last effort to see me and look into my eyes one last time before we parted and she deserved the best of all men I could manage to get out of my head. Grateful because she didn’t have to do all that, she could have chosen the cowards way out like so many lesser women, but she didn’t and that meant the world and much more than I could ever explain. You see till this day. I am convinced she is the best thing that ever happened to me it’s not easy to find someone who can pair with me mentally and spiritually and when a man has that conviction, he has every reason to do what’s right for the woman he loves including giving her the strength to leave him. As she’s always been the one who gave much more than she could ever hope to received. I couldn’t have wished for a better person to come into my life and I will always love her in my own way.’

She was conceived by Etorre Bugatti, the Italian exotic carmaker in an age when most aeroplanes were chunky flying washboards. Everything about her was quicksilver clean and aesthetically pleasing – the twin engine manifold was secreted into the mid aft of her fuselage that powered two counter rotating propellers. An innovation at that period. The three spindle gear box was located at the nose section and both drive shafts ran between the pilot thru a single plexiglass clamshell cockpit which allowed for almost perfect aerodynamics. Unheard of at that time. Air intake was routed thru slots at the ‘v’ shaped rear dorsal stabilisers. No other aeroplane was ever configured in that spectacular way at the period.

Conceived primary as a thoroughbred race plane she never made it into the air. A replica was built powered by crowdfunding and flown briefly, but it eventually crashed.

Then it would be like an empty room in your heart. And even if you do nothing but sit quietly in this room that was once filled, you will feel your insides crumbling away to reveal your pain.

You must never run away from your pain. As to avoid pain is a form of pain. Instead let that pain go right thru you…feel it ripping, tearing and lancing it’s way to the other side…no matter how painful it may be, see it to the very end with both eyes wide open….never runaway from it.


‘Many years ago in a dusty airfield in Northern Uganda

The Chinaman Cocoa Planter of Gabundi Estate looked on impassively from a distance – as the last of the lumbering twin propeller driven Dakota’s prepared to take off from the make shift airfield – he wondered to himself whether it might be too heavy to make it cleanly off the ragged field. Then again the distant rents of approaching artillery shells reminded him – this is as good as it gets.

Somewhere nestled in the crammed to the brim fuselage of the Dakota was his one and only love – Eva Meyer. They didn’t even have time to say good bye. It was a hurried affair. The renegade pilot demanded his Rolex. He thrust it into his oily palms. Endless jostling. A sea of scrambling humans all with only one thing in their mind – to get the hell out of this shit hole. Somewhere in the melee, their hands separated. The door slammed closed.

As the plane picked up speed against the wind, it roared and whipped up a dust storm….goodbye my love…he muttered to himself…He remembered that final look when the door closed…he reckoned, the German nun must have thought he would be taking a seat beside her. But he knew better. This was Africa…and life is cruel, with these stray thoughts swirling in his mind. The unforgiving realization slowly dawned on him that no matter how much he wanted to be beside his one and only love to take off into the sunset like the final moment of redemption that featured in all Hollywood movies – he would have to content with watching her slip right out of his fingers just then…life his cruel…he muttered again to himself, this time turning towards a knot of refugees as they covered their faces with their kheliffa as the engines kicked up a dust storm – he clucked his tongued as he wondered to himself whether he might be like one of them…another desperate tragic soul left beside in this miserable war that was starting to sweep Uganda like a fire storm.

For a while, he wondered to himself whether he too would wail like them, close his eyes tight…like them…scratch his head…like them. Look up to the last departing plane hungrily…like them. And wished that he had a seat…like them.

All the while the dust swirled around mixed with the sweat, spittle and wails of thousands of simmering…desperate souls…he wondered to himself whether we would end up like one of those faceless pulsating whimpering souls. He flashed them a hard look of wounded despondency that just managed to betray how much he objected to their neediness. At that moment when the dust storm blotted out everything, the Chinaman experienced a rare moment of epiphany – he realized he was not like everyone else…

In the distinctly wonderful way only he could have arranged his thoughts to think the things that swirled in his mind just then – the Chinaman had answered a question that resonated deep inside him. If he was indeed different from all other men that day who watched on hungrily as the last plane in Uganda barreled towards the minty blue safety of the skies. Then maybe he did not really love that German girl with the blond hair.

When the lumbering plane finally lifted off, ten feet short of the end of the runway – the Chinaman lit his last cigarello, inhaled and looked for the first time that day at his tall Matabilli tribesmen bodyguard. Together they smiled.

And when the metallic bird banked hard to regain airspeed to break out from the death grip of gravity – the familiar clang, clang, clang of automatic gunfire began to rent out. But the Chinaman continued to smile wryly – he knew nothing could ever bring her down.

His eyes remained trained on the diminishing form of the plane as it cut through the flak covered skies. He noted the slight whine and felt a wave of reassurance that came with the knowledge the pilot had began to open up the throttle.

In a while the burgundy rage of flak subsided as fast as it had begun and soon the plane disappeared from sight completely. What was to follow was an alien sensation that swept through the desolate soul of the Chinaman. A gut wrenching tug that tore right into his heart ripping it’s way like a molten bullet.

The Chinaman breathed hard and wondered to himself again as the plane slowly disappeared from sight – ‘If I do not love her, then why do I feel this aching pain?’ He scanned the steely skies this time with his field glasses, in an attempt to snuff out that smothering yearning that could only come from regret from not being able to escape to freedom with his one and only love. The Chinaman grit his teeth hard and wondered – what is this strange force that is laying siege to the watchtower of my heart?

He wondered where Eva Meyer would go after this. Would they ever see each other again? He was even felt the acute grief that came from wanting to inhale her breath in darkened hours of infinity and to feel the pain of regret when in the morning, the sun would ruefully ripped them from their death grip embrace and throw them out into the cruel world of light. He wondered to himself how his days would u furl without her by his side – would he mourn her passing? Did he even have it in him to fumble through those waking hours without her. He even wondered whether the days would from now onwards feel so long that it might even threaten to scrunched-up his heart and leave him a wreck like one of those whimpering souls who were left behind.

Above all, as the Chinaman stood there like a solitary tongue of light long after everyone had moved on – he wondered to himself how he had allowed a pathetic German girl he hardly knew to lay siege to his being….an insurmountable fortress – in most cases one which has been built around him brick by brick from his many travails – he chuckled to himself like a deranged man when he toyed around with the notion. The perverse reality could well be while he secretly craved the forbidden fruit of reassurance which could really only come from being in love, which he could really only experience from a kindred soul such as Eva Meyer – he was also frightened of what opening that draw bridge might deliver. The Chinaman loathed the very idea charging through the gates of his heart may well be the apparitions of something he could never ever exert control.

On the sixth night when a meteor streaked through the night sky and illuminated an ambushed French armored column – the Chinaman and what was left of his ragged Adomako tribe donned the dead uniforms of fallen legionaires and resumed theor long march along the serpentine roads of Kufu and Khilahsa leading to Sudan – when they finally reached the Sudanese border, even the normally trigger frisky Ma’alia border guards hardly gave them a second look as they strolled right through – the whole entire country had after all gone to the dogs.’

Commentary by the author Darkness

It’s very Casablanca. I’ll give you that on a plate…but with a twist. And the twist makes all the difference. Well that is how I see it in my minds eye at least when I penned it. Comes across as rather gruff – after leading Eva to the plane, the Chinaman shuts the door. Woman turns around in horror and at that very moment there’s an almost eriee finality to the realization this is the last time they’re ever to going to see each other. Eva hits the plexiglass, she wants to ask him what is the meaning of this. Yet he remains implacable and in a sense the scene makes no sense. Because when one considers the normal train of how stories go – man and woman is supposed to take off into the sunset….but instead he stays and she goes. The Chinaman planned all this and this should prompt any perceptive reader to ask why?

At one level of understanding you could say they come from entirely different worlds and it would never have worked out. The cocao farmer of Gabundi estate is really just a glorified gutter rat. He may very well be seemingly clothed in all the accoutrements of respectability and wealth, but like F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Jay Gatsby this is a man with a checkered past and that could well explain how he ended in Africa. He’s an outlier pretending to be an insider. He doesn’t truly belong and the amount of effort he puts in betrays not only his own psychological inadequacies, but also his will of power like Jay Gatsby to reinvent himself as well, who keeps insisting that he’s an Oxford man when he’s not. Hence his constant use of that sobriquet term of empire, old sport….the Chinaman falls within this genre of this archetypal hero. Both of what I call empire men. Essentially these are characters who experience the inequities of poverty, lowly social status and lack of opportunities to improve their lot and have little or any incentive to conform – instead they see their own redemption in running away from their seedy past, just like Gatsby, I portrayed the Chinaman in the same make belief sheen of ‘greatness’ – his single mindedness to transform his hopes and dreams into reality thru the vulgarity of amassing illicit wealth in gun running and as a merchant of white gold, ivory. But there is a twist here, because Gatsby is the man he is only because he’s fatally drawn to the character of Daisy Buchanan as he sees her very much in the context of forbidden fruit and a sort of secret garden to his own loss age of innocence that he hopes to recreate and even relive. The irony here is Gatsby is not actually in love with Daisy, he can’t be. Because she’s a mess and from the very moment her character gets fleshed out in the chapter 3 of the novel. We the reader can even sense this dissonance acutely – we are dealing with a psychologically unstable character who is bordering on a nervous breakdown because she doesn’t know what she really wants out of life. On one hand she’s distressed by her husband’s constant infidelity, but on the other there’s also tacit acceptance. So from all this we the reader can only come to the realisation, that Gatsby is not really in love with Daisy the psycho woman. He is in love with idea of Daisy. It is very much a personal abstraction very much like the mysterious green light that he keeps looking at from across the Bay. My point is nothing about Daisy in Gatsby’s mind is real, it’s all make belief. That if you ask him is what really makes Fitzgerald’s novel such a laughable tragedy – it’s essentially not a story about love. Rather it’s dysfunctional relationship. A psycho drama.

The Chinaman may have perhaps harboured the same sentiment as Jay Gatsby. I say perhaps only because unlike Fitzgerald’s novel where the story recounted in the third person thru Nick. In the case Chinaman there is no introspective recounting. Rather I have left all this to the reader to assume the position of Nick. I did struggle with this idea, but I felt that less was more and by omitting this third party narration it would have allow the reader to draw his or her own conclusion.

It’s essentially self selecting – you can read whatever you want to read about why the Chinaman did what he did…’

Someone asked me today whether I felt a sense of accomplishment for my replanting project. I told him all that it really represents is just the sum of the beginning…the end I am sure is somewhere in the distant future…maybe you should ask me that question later…much much later.


‘Just because there’s a clear start and end point doesn’t mean anything at all. A start and end point is simply a milestone somewhere in your head or perhaps a metaphor of how you see yourself in relation to time and space. There are times when it even gets awfully confusing such as the moments when you do really inefficient things just in name of progress….so you convince yourself? Maybe it’s just an illusion like walking on a hamster wheel? You don’t really know for sure, do you or maybe you just don’t have faith in the whole idea that you will reach this end point that you’ve marked out somewhere in your head….to me I don’t see things in linear terms like 0,1,2,3,4,5 etc etc. That’s to say I don’t even see it in terms of a defined beginning and end. Rather to me it’s like an ant walking the rim of a teacup or maybe just a man sailing around the world….sure you can put so much effort to cycle or sail round the world. You could probably sweat enough buckets to fill a dam or something. But the paradox is when you finish – you end exactly where you started from. Nothing has really changed at all. That carton of milk that’s probably long gone sour by then is still rotting in your refrigerator along with moldy cheese. You look at yourself in the mirror and maybe you have more white hair or that your teeth could do with a visit to the Dentist….but everything is still the same. Even the world itself is the same…your neighbors are still indifferent as ever. Everyone in the MRT is exactly the way they were before you started your world wide journey……and for all intends and purposes by every definition that the world would feel content to assess you…you are the same.

But you’re not are you….the same that is…not deep down at least…no! I wouldn’t go as far as to describe it as vampirism. The feeling associated with this change that you can’t seem to put a finger on.

But you know. Only you know. You’ve given up too much, turned away even from the things and people that you love to do this one thing that only seems to be like some great act of nothingness to the rest of the world. But only you know it for what it is – a lingering ach that grows on you like an illness… felt it fever thru the marrow of your bones…sensed it canal thru your veins like hot blood. It’s what keeps you awake in the depths of the night for hours on end. Where all you might have done is sit down on one spot for hours nursing the littleness of your courage…and now that you’ve seen it right thru to the other side. Or maybe it just grew tired of you and spat you out cleanly like a seed…you’re there like a forlorn passenger stranded in some strange airport that has a no smoking sign under a giant ashstray waiting for another connecting flight….in transit. Yes that’s the right word transit….as it’s not really here or there is it, it’s really just somewhere in between the point where you once started and hope to end the journey…you see the journey never really ends does it.’

This morning I had a very pleasant surprise. I came across a humble earth worm. You can see just make it out dead center on the pile. I have not seen one for ages. And this is not surprising as the quantity of herbicides and chemicals typically used for commercial farming has rendered the humble earthworm virtually extinct in most modern plantations.

So much of agriculture is hit and miss and at times one can feel quite downhearted as it’s not easy to really be assured whether one is actually doing the right thing….but when earthworms appear it’s the surest sign that I am on the right path to sustainable agriculture.

During the afternoon a group of botanist and environmentalist called on me. News it seems has spread around the growers circle concerning many of my radical methods to save people and planet.

I gave them a tour of my plantation along with showing them the various techniques I have set in place to nutrify the land organically along with the various methods to promote sustainable farming.

They were very happy and impressed.

I am very hopeful.


‘My hope is by adopting this innovative method of agro management smallholders all over the world will hopefully perceive the economic viability of refraining from open burning as a means of waste disposal that incidentally is a source of perennial grief for both people and planet.

Experience informs me one reason why certain destructive practises persist in oil palm cultivation is because it is frequently seen to be both cost effective and expedient.

This reality is frequently elided by most environmental agencies that fail to recognise WHY certain destructive practises continue to persist despite the harm they frequently create for people and planet. The primary motivation in my professional opinion has to be economic i.e the profit motive. This hubris can at best be summed up in what I once presented to a group of Swedish environmental NGO’s when I asked them the question – why should any farmer in Riau who earns USD$2.50 a day care about some intellectual abstraction like a hole in the ozone sphere somewhere Antarctica, when he has a hole in his atap roof? Which one do you think he will be more motivated to fix?

This brings into sharp focus the need to craft NOT only environmentally friendly methods of clearing land without resorting to open burning and the rampant use of harmful chemicals. But for new ideas and methods to take root and be widely accepted, the logic forwarded must also make economic common sense as well.

No doubt this method of clearing land may at first appear to be capital intensive. And it is. However if smallholders are able to appreciate the long term cost benefits along with how buying into this methodology might even enhance their property values considerably, attitudes concerning parochial crop management can only change with time and my hope is it will be offer a way to make our planet a better place to work, play and live for not only us…but our children as well.’


November 22, 2017

Today I reaffirmed the seven point protocol with the rest of the rival landowners…they were very happy.

Starting tomorrow I will begin to double track on my word. I have planned this for over two years.

They will taken off guard as there is an elaborate scheme of deception in place….for instance I have improved roads to the east. This lead them to believe that I will supply fruit there. Neglected the road the west…but unbeknown to them I have invested in new technology to move fruit even in bad roads using modified drive trains fitted on trucks.

Tomorrow I will strike….they do not know this but all their information is based on what I want them to believe….it has nothing whatsoever to do with reality. I have spent a lot of time and money to hide my real intentions and to create countless diversions. I will strike very hard. If I am asked to explain…I will delay. If that fails I will feign surprise and even insist these things are done without my knowledge….I will unsettled them and when maximum damage has been inflicted I will turn around about face and sue for peace. I will pretend to cry and lament that the world has not been fair to me!

All warfare is based on deception.

is that you always remain understanding, patient and strong.


‘Love and hate are intimately linked, according to a study that has discovered the biological basis for the two most intense emotions.

Scientists studying the physical nature of hate have found that some of the nervous circuits in the brain responsible for it are the same as those that are used during the feeling of romantic love – although love and hate appear to be polar opposites.

A study using a brain scanner to investigate the neural circuits that become active when people look at a photograph of someone they say they hate has found that the “hate circuit” shares something in common with the love circuit.

That should not come as a surprise – as both are born from the same mother…that is why when people fall out of love their feelings invariably veer towards resentment, anger and hatred….knowledge concerning how we are hard wired allows us to navigate the pitfalls….it steadies us to keep an even keel and brings out the best in us.’

The dependence game

November 22, 2017

How do you go about selling an over price gold plated fire engine. This how the game is played. I start a fire and when it threatens to burn down everything that you hold dear….a salesman magically appears to offer you a fire engine that is guaranteed to break your balls….but you have no choice….you have to buy.

End of story.


‘The problem with plantations where I turn the wheel of life is it’s not so different from the days of lighting and thunder when warlords rule. Some of them are so powerful they literally have the influence, money and network to make a person disappear.

It is very hard for me to stand alone – as at times circumstances can turn against me so suddenly and unexpectedly, it’s very hard to do anything except to roll with the punches….but no matter how painful it is. One has to learn to do this. As the alternative is to give in….and giving in to bullies is never a good thing. All you really do is buy peace of mind for a short while only for them to come back for more….it’s best to fight all the way even if one doesn’t have a chance of succeeding, that way even if you don’t win…at least you take a few of them with you.’

Knowledge & Understanding

November 22, 2017

Knowledge is definitely a great resource, but there is one thing higher than knowledge and that is the ability to use knowledge creatively and in a way that brings happiness to people and planet. Mere knowledge i.e information by itself is worthless, unless it can be arranged in ways to make sense to enable one to form effective decisions.


‘A little knowledge is a very dangerous thing.’

The days of big rain & Sleep

November 22, 2017

The rains these days don’t last for very long. Maybe a hour or two, but when it rains…it’s usually so fast and furious that it can pose so many problems.


‘I know it sounds paradoxical – but when one is really tired, sleep is usually difficult to come by. Athletes refer to this as overtraining sleep disorder, what happens is when the body is pushed beyond a certain point of physical endurance, then this will have a disruptive effect on the body rhythm that regulates sleep.

Since the bridge collapsed. I find it more convenient to use my bicycle to make my rounds. I cover quite a wide area and it’s not uncommon to cycle 30 to 40 miles a day. The rain season makes it that much harder to cycle. As the trail is soggy and tires don’t bite so well. Sometimes I push myself over the top without realising it.

This means I find myself waking up at around like now…2 or 3 with just a few hours sleep and very much wide awake. Maybe I should pace myself.’

You are ultimately responsible for your own happiness. You should never make anyone responsible for your happiness. Even if you love them with all your heart. You should never assign to another this power over you…it has nothing to do with trust. And even less to do with love.

Rather it is only when you are courageous and wise enough to assume full responsibility over your own happiness will it then begin to come from deep inside you and not from outside or someone else.

Then it is truly yours to command and call your own.


‘Often when we are unhappy. We seek out others to beacon out our murk of our own unsettled feelings. Not realising that these same people who we seek wisdom from to set us on the right path in life are just as messed up as us in their own way. And when I say this…it includes me as well.

They like me are also dealing their own garbage, so it is not really good advise that we receiving from them…doesn’t matter whether they happen to be our best friends or even people who have stuck with us thru thick and thin…all those you can throw out of the window. Always remember they are dealing with their own garbage as well. That’s my point.

Observe and you will see this wherever you go in Singapore or any where else in the world – people who are unhappy will come together to create their own version of the joyluck club. Men and women who are sufferers of destructive relationships will come together under the name of solidarity. They will gather for Sunday buffet or in their weekend bicycle club under the aegis of ‘support’ ‘fellowship’ ‘camaraderie’ etc etc. Theirs is the brotherhood or sisterhood of victimhood….that is how they see their predicament when they are estranged from the very idea of love….but in this temple of doom and gloom that they are adherents of where the high priest or priestess may preach why all men or women are predition and bad for your soul etc etc etc….what are they doing actually? Might they be healing themselves? No! Because their therapy requires them to first hate and tear down everything that is good, noble and beautiful about the whole idea of love….to paraphrase to make themselves seemingly whole and complete again where they might perhaps even believe ‘to be part of love again’ I have to forment hate against the very person who has denied me my happiness!

Don’t say this is a small and insignificant movement…it is not! MGTOW will of course insist they are more of a philosophy than a movement and that is the same for the worshippers of the temple of spinsters or jilted women as well how will also insist that their hatred of men is simply incidental and never operative in whatever makes up their philosophy….but my point is they all subscribe to essentially the same belief….to gain membership in this club, you first need to hate and believe resolutely in the idea that your happiness lies in the hands of another….so tell me where might all these lost souls be heading?

But I do not believe that to be true…I don’t need to tear down, hate and throw into the sea that person who once came into my life and has now decided to walk away from me just to make myself whole and complete again.

I can always commune with myself and seek answers from deep within I don’t have to be a part of the temple of hate…and that is what it means when I say, do not be resentful, angry or sad as what has gone will come back one day in another shape and form….but that is only true is if you are gentle with yourself and never allow your heart to be hardened and cold….otherwise it could be standing right before you and you will not even see it for what it is…love.

Do not be sad.’

At a time when most Singaporeans and stakeholders are cynical as they are critical of everything about trains. The PM is nowhere to be seen or heard. Maybe the decision dice has slid from his table and disappeared into another universe. Maybe the golden parrot that can always be counted to pick the yes, no or maybe cards has pengshan and died. Maybe the PM’s speechwriter is lost somewhere in some ghost train that never made it to the next station…


Draft speech….

‘My fellow Singaporeans I would like to state that I too share many of your concerns and anxieties about the state of our train services. I happen to know how disruptive this can be (actually dunno lah, as every where also chauffeured, but just include a snap shot of standing in a the train with a concerned expression)…and first allow me apologise. (Say sorry even when not sorry as this softens you audience for what you have to say)

I am not here today to make false promises that all our problems with the trains will disappear like lemon drops. No! (Pause for a while as if you are reminiscing about some conversation…it is very easy to do this, just play mental soduku and your facial muscles will take care of the rest). Neither I or my colleagues for one imagined this to be easy from the day we tasked the new leadership to do this, it would not be easy but hard. As never fear my fellow Singaporeans just as we successfully developed home grown technology to filter water from the sea to guarantee our independence and survival and much earlier before that we had the wisdom to develop a competent arm and security services from scratch…(pause again. This look if you sharing a national secret like whether maybe Japanese gold is buried in Oxley road… a good way to do this is to pretend to stammer) You see we have to develop homegrown core competencies to run trains well. We need to master this in the same way the Romans were good at building roads to secure their interest or the British in the days of empire built ships and later the Americans to built rockets to enable them to conquer vast territories and space (maybe that is not such a good idea otherwise people will label us closer imperialist)…without this as a strategic imperative we would not be able to participate meaningfully in heavy industries. Some have asked why not just give it all to foreigners who have more experience and a stellar trek record to run trains. But if we do that then many of the learning outcomes such as heavy industries, tool and die, engineering and fabrication will be outsourced as well. We will lose out! Truth is our trains support a multitude of jobs along with opening countless opportunities (have pictures in the background of people welding, aunties putting together blue and black wires in a conveyor belt, ITE students looking at engines etc etc) and that is why it’s important for us learn how to manage trains even if it means in the short term we will most likely experience setbacks. As this is the only way for nation to go about steadily acquiring knowledge….thru trial and error (pretend to drop a pen or sheet of paper…pick it up to reinforce the subliminal message that you are fallible…I use this trick all the time).

My fellow Singaporeans since MRT started some thirty years ago (screen behind shows sepia pics of MRT along with commuters wearing bell bottoms and ties the size of napkins sitting in trains….screen then shifts to image of a how the MRT network has grown to cover a wider area like an octopus) we have been steadily growing our service area of coverage to make it possible for every singaporean to enjoy affordable and safe (better drop the word safe…as it comes across as defensive…use instead pleasant) public transportation. As the service area grows so does the complexity. As we are pushing the envelop of technology. Many say we should not have embarked on such an ambitious plan to grow our rail services at such a fast speed (give them the trade off’s), but that would also mean there would be gaps in system. (Show pics of kids walking under the hot sun with their grandparents and maids carrying NS men back pack)

My fellow Singaporeans both I and my better half Ho Ching have been informed that Khaw Boon Wan will be retiring due to unexpected health reasons arising from signal problems with his pacemaker. (Khaw appears in a wheelchair. He is waving to the crowd who been given instructions to clap…..the persons with no necks who all look like the friendly Gestapo have been given strict instructions not to stop he goes from left to right and disappears).

My hope is that now that I have shared with you all the bigger picture….(background switches to images of a corn coloured sunrise to symbolise rebirth and renewed optimism…slow music plays in the background and the image of the mythical train slowly appears to overwhelm the entire screen…..cut and edit it.)

This is how I will do it…. That’s all folks!

Last night it rained again and this time round my lands are flooded….most of it at least. I will be a laughing stock. That much is clear.

Last night I cycled to the land under the cover of darkness and closed all the overflow points….You may ask why did I do so or bother to go to such lengths.

The reason is simple…too many questions have been raised concerning where I might have once acquired the skill to clear land in the way I did. You see clearing land in agriculture isn’t just setting aside old trees and planting new ones – it’s like a resume…a story…a very detailed chronological account very much in the way one twirls dirt between the index finger and the thumb and brings it to one’s nose to say this is good or bad or average….that sort of skill can only come from having chalk up plenty of Seasons.

It is the little things in life that gives a man’s past away…setting the bezel of a Rolex submariner to the three o’clock mark and wearing it inside the wrist may mean nothing at all most people. Some may even assume you do this just to keep track of time while driving. But to someone who is a accustomed to tranversing the Sahara, this is insider information as it’s a reliable way to navigate by time and azimuth in the featureless desert. Setting iron sights at 300 metres on a 1918 Lee Enfield may mean nothing to most people, but to professionals who are accustomed to taking long shots that speaks volumes about marksmanship….or tying one’s boots with a double closed surgeons knot…that only legionnaires ever do to keep out sand…it is the little things in life that betrays one’s past.

Most will I assume only wonder and stop right there…but what about those who may choose to drill deeper to find out about my past….the life of that other man who used to farm in a faraway land.

This way at least they have something to chew on and laugh about. Meanwhile I will slip silently away like a submarine on a moonless night.


‘If there is anything that the custodians of power did to exacerbate public opinion against SMRT it was that they came across as Kay Khiang. In the Chinese dialect of Hokkien this vernacular translates as being too smart for one’s own good. It is usually used to describe someone how has bitten off more than he can be reasonably expected to chew and usually this phrase is coupled with a rejoinder that goes something to the effect – you will get your due!

This unfortunately is the psychology that accounts for why the national hobby of Singaporeans these days seems to be indulging in spot of Schadenfreude when it comes to all things related to trains.

Retrospectively one cannot blame the custodians of power for believing in the cult of scholars as a reliable means of achieving good results. But they could have scaled the expectation more realistically to even manage public perception in such a way where the masses would not be so impatient to the perennial breakdowns trains seem to experience daily.

For one the team put in charge after the cleopatra sales girl was sacked could have been watered down to such an extent where expectations would have been more forgiving. The custodians of power could for instance have appealed for more understanding by stressing from the day of inception that train technology and its management is something strategic like perhaps water or having the core competence to make rifles and it has to be homegrown rather than to take the easy street route of being outsourced to foreigners. And although growing things at home may often create disruptions at the end it would be worth it. As it would mean, we can do it all of these ourselves one day without being beholden or relying on anyone.

But instead they stormed right in like the dream from the nation of the master of the universe and true to the rejoiner of being Kay Khiang they got their teeth kicked it for six….as they bit off more than they could possibly chew.

I think there are many lessons to be learnt here.’

The wisdom of giving in

November 19, 2017

One of the elders in the village asked why I didn’t turn up for the charitable school dinner. I did not answer him. This man went on to tell me that it did not seem right that the most educated man in the village does not seem to show much enthuism for education. Again I did not answer him. Feeling exasperated and slightly infuriated by my response. He said say something…I told him, yes you are right, I will certainly make an effort to attend next year.


‘Often we associate giving in to be a sign of lack of confidence and weakness. But that is only because so much that makes up our understanding of what is strength is really only derived from stereo typical images of what and how a strong person might respond to a given set of conditions.

In reality, it takes a lot of strength of character to ‘give in’ to others.’

Gently making way

November 19, 2017

When you truly love someone. You should never stop them from finding themselves in the world. If you allow yourself to be guided by the spirit of love. You will have the wisdom and courage to step aside and make it easy for them to take flight.

After all they’re about to embark on a long journey into the unknown to find themselves….it will not be easy for them. They will be nervous and even a bit scared.

In such moments. If you allow your heart to be guided by love. You will give them the strength and courage to break free. You tell them their feathers are so bright and beautiful. Assure them. The wind will always be right behind them to give a gentle push and it will be a breeze.

Be very strong like a mountain and assure them that they too are strong like you and capable of all things even if they doubt themselves. Tell them heroic stories to lift their hearts and souls, so that they have it in them to fly high above the scary sea beneath them…make them laugh at their own fears.

Love is not about possessing, it is not about collecting stamps or how to keep fishes in a tank, it is really only about one thing….appreciation for the person who once came into your life and now stands before you to take flight into the blue yonder.

It is really only about freedom.


‘Don’t be childish and stop the person who you love from ever growing. Do not confuse abuse with love. As that need arises from the selfishness of your ego to always posses and control. Don’t be manipulative either by making unreasonable demands or guilt tripping just because you want them to stay with you. Again that has nothing to do with love either. That is blackmail and cunningness of the most despicable sort that comes from an evil and uncaring heart. All these dark thoughts have no place in true love. As even if you succeed in doing all that so cleverly – he or she will certainly be with you, but their heart will be elsewhere.

Instead give them the freedom and confidence to find themselves in the world beyond you. Be grateful for all the beautiful times and memories they have given you by coming into your life. That is part of appreciation.

If possible find the courage to give them your blessings. Never stand in their way.

Above all do not stop them from finding themselves just because you are afraid to stand all by yourself in this world. Or that you have no one to share the sight of a beautiful sunrise with.

Truth is…you came into this world alone and when it is time to depart. You will be alone as well…..and even if you can be with the person who you love and loves you in return…you will also be alone. loneliness will follow you to the end of your days – that is the default position of all matured minds. It is not something to be feared. Or to run away from like a frightened child. Rather loneliness requires deep understanding and patient study.

Above all do not be sad, bitter and resentful just because things didn’t turn out the way you had it all lined up in your head. As what you have lost has not died, not at all, it will all come back to you in another shape and form.

Without deep understanding of love, there can be no such thing as true appreciation.’