Stock taking time

The time has come when the rays of life’s sunset can be glimpsed over the horizon. Age is just a number, yet one has to take stock to know where one stands. Why am I doing this? What purpose does it serve? For me? For you? for all out there, who may chance upon this record of personal history? This is the story of my thoughts, feelings, opinions, views, judgments, memories…

As my body slows down, and mind becomes slightly blunted, I look back and wonder, “What have I done? Is this of use to anyone?”

I have no successors, like a lone voice in a wilderness, only I know. It will one day be silenced in death. Yet, I’m not anyone important, I’m not a celebrity. I’m just a lone wolf writer, casting my lonely thoughts to anyone who cares to read them.

I know it’s too late to change, for there is peace and contentment in this solitary existence that I’ve lived for most of my life. Will I die alone? Do I care, if I do?

I’ve hit a trough, becoming familiar with what it means to age even though my mind still feels as inquisitive as a child’s, craving for adventures into knowledge and experience. The thirst to create something new, find a new way to make this world a more livable, peaceful and happy place, persists in my being. How can I deny this? This is my spirit which will live forever, even when this soul leaves its “mortal coil”!

Toothless tigers,wingless birds and armchair politicians

Look at us, my friends. There’s so much talk of how we might become a better nation, a better humanity, a better society…it’s just talk. When do we get down to brass tacks? When shall we walk the talk?

We want a more just world, more equal distribution of wealth, clean government, zero corruption (we will be in heaven then), our human rights and freedoms, equality and all those wonderful ideals we aspire to.

Coming down to earth with a hard thud! The reality of our human condition is so very different. It is difficult, degrading and dirty. It’s 3D, whether you like it or not. The bodies that are supposed to protect us, often persecute us, make our lives miserable, humiliate us. Many of us feel the pressure of being used and exploited by autocrats we may or not clearly identify. The systemic exploiter, oppressor and slaver. The inherent systemic cheats that spew toxic promises of better lives, bright futures, rich rewards, all in exchange for our blood and our souls.

The ‘do-gooders’ make deals with the villains calling it a democratic compromise. They must work together to overcome the problems of this era. What happened to your principles? Were they too difficult to keep? What are the best compromises to keep the people happy in hallucinatory limbo, suspended animation, waiting for something to happen. We’re waiting for Gordo!

We applaud at the publication of the promises. Yes,yes, we agree a hundred percent! Then, we hope, hope and hope… Soon we are treated to the parade of the toothless tigers, the guardians of our rights, liberty and sanity. Again we give loud applause! At last our rights and lives will be protected! They pass by with much fanfare and more promises of better governance, guarantees of justice to be done. The end of criminality, a slate wiped squeaky clean. No more dirt, no more slime… they disappear into the distant fog of the future.

Boyd by the last display of righteous promises, we turn to the next float in the procession – the birds of aspiration. Our aspirations soaring into a grey sky. But, when will they take flight? We are convinced by our hope that they will soar into a clear blue sky,one day. The birds are yet chicks, they haven’t got their flight feathers yet. But, our optimism still fuels hope, they will be propelled by great winds carrying them on wings of freedom and prosperity. So, we wait for the birds of our aspirations to mature and take flight. Always trusting in our choice of human masters who keep feeding our hopes with candy floss.

Over cups of tea, or whatever we choose to drown ourselves in, the talk continues. We engage in intelligent debate, in argument, in conjecture, in gossip, in plain speech, in criticism of our rivals, in friendly banter or sarcasm. Reassuring ourselves of the accuracy of our deductions, the rightness of our convictions, still munching on hope and optimism as we sit back comfortably in our deep armchairs as the politicians of the day.

When reality dawns, the armchairs feel lumpy, the birds of aspiration are wingless and the tigers remain toothless. The dregs of our beverages turn cold, the conversation buddies lie in a drunken stupor. It has all been a mirage, a dream in a matrix of virtual reality, nothing more.

We are our own rescuers, our own heroes, our own catalysts of change… break our addiction to sunshine promises, handouts, and narcotic hope. Disperse this hallucination of better tomorrows with single-mindedness to regain our truth, freedom and independence.

Pets don’t need clothes

Cats love my garden, they treat it as their territory. I don’t really mind except for the odor left by their pooh and other mess they make. I can’t do much about it. These aren’t always strays, they are my neighbour’s pet cats.

People seem to treat their pets like human children. I’ve seen a cat wearing a T-shirt or singlet creeping around the garden, not for the first time. I wondered how the animal actually felt about being dressed up. I saw a dressed cat once try to scratch its back but the T-shirt was in the way and it must have had a really hard time. Poor animal, how it must have suffered! Why? Oh why, did the owner do such a cruel thing to the poor cat? just because you see cartoon animals dressed in clothes, doesn’t mean that your pet is a cartoon character. Your pet cat (or dog) is a living , breathing animal that should be cared for as required by its species, not as a cartoon or inanimate doll to be dressed up and given a change of clothes like children. They have fur to protect them from temperature changes, they don’t need clothes in this hot tropical climate. Cats clean themselves, they don’t need to bathe everyday.

This went on for some time, until one day while trying to clear some debris of plastic bags, paper wraps and leaves that fly into the garden from outside on increasingly strong gusts of wind, I found two mini cat singlets at the base of a bush. Ah ha, I thought, kitty found a way to discard these ridiculous, unnecessary and torturous apparel! Good for you kitty, you’re not as stupid as your owner thinks.

Cats are pretty intelligent creatures. They’re independent, have minds of their own and often seem to make decisions. Some years ago, somebody was cruelly poisoning cats in the neighborhood. Cats were dropping dead in my garden, including female cats with newly born kittens. It was pitiful and downright disgusting. The reaction of the neighborhood cats, including the strays, was interesting. They would not accept any food offered to them, no matter how starved they looked. Now, that was simply amazing! It shows an unsuspected intelligence in cats.

I’ve never discovered who the culprit was but have my suspicions. However, I also discovered that poisoning animals, besides ones considered vermin, is illegal. Well, perhaps the perpetrator of those cat murders also wised up to that and the poisoning stopped. I’m so glad this inhumanity and animal cruelty has stopped but wish human beings would stop treating their pets like human children, that’s a cruel and painful existence for the poor critters.

Age of impermanence

Forgive this rather dark view, it’s simply how I feel today. We, our society, our world is in transition. The Age of Impermanence is here. How long it will persist is anyone’s guess. The world seems to be trying to find its feet, its balance, its stability, but keeps slipping on the banana skins of disease, environmental upheaval, economic and political crashes. Nothing seems to promise stability or security. No government or ideology can promise security with the freedoms and rights most of us aspire to. Many give speeches of hope but it seems hope is all we have. When will that hope become a reality, a fulfilled dream…Everyday, everyone has a mission. The mission to survive one more day, one more trial, one more struggle. When will we breath a sigh of relief to at last find rest, refuge and peace of mind, at least for one more day?

Impermanence brings forgetfulness. Friendships peter out into yesterday’s dreams, thankfulness diminished by greed, what works today becomes obsolete tomorrow, often for something less useful which satisfies for a short time. People seek instant cures, instant relief, instant satiation, instant food, instant obedience as if the human being were mechanized and moves at the click of the mouse. What have we become? We have dehumanized ourselves, muted our sensitivity, suppressed compassion, giving full expression to base desires, self-centered engrossment where there is no thought or vision for the future.

Trapped within the four walls of our dwelling spaces, we forget to look out of the windows. Scenic views are only for the rich. The poor look across into neighbor’s flats, garbage filled alley ways or oxidation ponds. The sights and smells of the slums. No light penetrates the dark dank spaces between the tower blocks of low cost flats ( now called ‘apartments’). The word ‘flats’ is unfashionable and politically incorrect. It makes no difference to the reality.

Climate change and all these looming disasters make us realize, how real impermanence is. The rotting establishments of yesterday whose leaders still cling to by their finger tips, living in delusive security, struggling to keep afloat in the storm of questions. The masses must know, they crave knowledge of the secrets behind official closed doors. Anger prevails at decades and centuries of deception by power mongers taking control of our lives. The world, the planet, is in its birth pains. It is a painful birth; will a wholesome child be delivered or one deformed by prevailing destruction and turmoil?

Do unto others…karma

At home and in my travels to other countries as a visitor, I do run up against unpleasant locals or permanently resident migrants who in their great ignorance practice discrimination. I believe that this is an experience shared by quite a number of foreigners who go to various places for various purposes. Racism and xenophobia are common in almost every country in the world. Most of the time we brush off these unpleasant incidences not to spoil our enjoyment of the wonders found in interesting places, or not to offend those who show genuine welcome to their native lands and pride in their customary hospitality.

The ignorant who choose to react to strangers in a prejudicial manner, are often myopic to the fact that their behavior doesn’t go unnoticed by the world at large. People talk to other people, whether by electronic means or face-to-face. Not forgetting videos on YouTube actually recording the incident. Gossip and rumours, now ‘fake news’, spread like wild fire. So, these persons who judge others on their external appearance, skin colour, ethnicity, perceived social status etc. need to be aware that their unpleasantness, prejudice, malice, racism or whatever else will be made known to the world at large. At times, they will also be pointed out to others to their detriment. If they are a business, the victims of their discrimination may inform a larger community to avoid them, so as to avoid being similarly faced with irrational, baseless, malicious discrimination.

Don’t imagine that what you do to one person, stops there. It doesn’t! Remember the warning in the Good Book, that what is done in secret will be shouted from the mountain tops. In this century, from the tops of telco towers, and telephone poles. It can’t be stopped.

Showing prejudice is like stripping in public, it doesn’t reflect on the victim of your humiliation, it reveals to the world what you are.

In the case of kindness and consideration, the giver doesn’t need to broadcast. A kind deed flows like a clean, clear, fresh spring to sooth and calm. These are also remembered and will rain blessings on those who act with love towards others. Goodness has its rewards, given a hundred fold and overflowing when the time comes. Karma will take its course.

I’m the Don Quixote type

I found myself, self-analyzing this morning. It occurred to me that the twist and turns of my life so far have led me to think of Cervantes “Don Quixote”, the man from La Mancha who imagined himself a knight errant on a white charger riding out to do good deeds and save damsels in distress. Although I don’t own a horse and probably can’t say I am that chivalrous or polite, I guess that it does feel like engaging in a battle with windmills sometimes, frequently ending in ‘defeat’, only for the moment. I’m no Dulcinea, patriarchy is something I don’t readily accept or leave unquestioned. Since I was young, I think my folks thought I was a little mad. I spent my time drawing and exploring my world of imagination, it took up most of my time but set me thinking about things from a different angle. Well, it was hard for them to understand what it’s like to try to go over the high wall of the known and accepted concepts of time, space and established practice. I wanted something more, I wanted to be free!

It’s hard when people don’t understand freedom of mind, especially when you’re young, fresh and ready to venture into the unknown. I guess, that’s the root of my frustration most of my life, to look beyond present existence and believe in something better or which could be better. So, it’s been nearly a lifetime of battle with short spates of ‘peace’ or ‘truce’? It’s hard when people don’t understand freedom of mind, especially when you’re young, fresh and ready to venture into the unknown. I guess, that’s the root of my frustration most of my life, to look beyond present existence and believe in something better or which could be better. So, it’s been nearly a lifetime of battle with short spates of ‘peace’ or ‘truce’?

I did things they didn’t expect and even in school, I was ‘accused’ of daydreaming during lessons. I wasn’t daydreaming as my teachers seemed to think. I was actually paying full attention, but one idea sparked a plethora of other ideas or questions in my head. They didn’t understand and often reacted negatively. So, I was relegated to Sancho Panza with his own dreams of greatness on a more materialistic and mundane level.

It didn’t stick. As in an old Energizer Battery advert, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going!” I was that stubborn and still am to an extent. Once on that road, there’s no turning back. So, I beat my own path, shaping my own philosophy of life, hitting numerous dead-ends and retracing my footsteps only to emerge somewhere else. Lost? Yes and No, there was another way, another world to explore, another adventure in this quixotic journey of life.

Age and physical limitations are not a hindrance when the mind can fly beyond the borders to any time or space it chooses. So, Don Quixote rides on to battle the giants, the dragons and monsters, to save the damsels in distress…

Will he ever return to his Lady Dulcinea? Probably not unless, he’s wounded and needs some TLC, yet there is hope of one day settling down or disappearing into the spirit world where he’ll continue his noble quest…with Sancho Panza, ever hopeful, clinging to his horse’s tail. Rest in Peace, milord. I look toward another sunrise.

Dehumanizing the less fortunate

During the Muslim Fasting month of Ramadan, corporate philanthropists use the season to engage in the general outpouring of charitable giving. These are often large, very public events. But, there are also smaller charitable works that are not publicized. It is generally accepted that those doing charity do it from the goodness of their hearts. In most cases, this is true, however, the Devil is never far away to twist a kind action into something wicked and ugly.

Continue reading “Dehumanizing the less fortunate”

Little chiefs Big heads

In the world of Little Napoleons a little power can be a dangerous thing. Yet, it is something so common with petty officials who quite often seem to follow their whims and fancies operating in their own miniscule fifedoms behind office desks or service counters. Continue reading “Little chiefs Big heads”

Yam is not raspberry

Certain Malaysian run eateries in this country seem to think that customers don’t know about food. In a boutique cafĂ©, one day, running through a menu of light desserts, I spotted “raspberry ice-cream”. Ahh, that would be wonderful on such a hot day, especially when I’d already had a cup of coffee and hadn’t treated myself to an ice-cream for ages. Continue reading “Yam is not raspberry”

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