The Moretti Obsession Continues

There’s something about Moretti pipes! Here’s one that just came in; its almost 10 inches long and what a beautiful masterpiece it is!

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It’s been a long time, but I still have nightmares from that hospital room. I still hear the humming of the machines. I still smell the antiseptic.

Why was her life so short?

Years after J was gone, whenever I was in a crowd, I would still see her again. Only when she turned around, it wasn’t her.

For years, I ambled along as I walked, like a boat unmoored from the dock, hoping against hope – frantic, primordial desperation of hopeless hope – eager for the off chance that I will actually see her again, see her, face-to- face, a real person in flesh and blood, and not an apparition.

In my dreams, I strode, discombobulated, through dusty, fog-filled rooms in a huge mansion, its windows open, its frayed draperies blowing in the wind, a musty smell in the air; I looked for her, yearning for a look, just one look. Sometimes I see a glimpse, a quick shadow of her ahead of me and I would run after her, but she could never be found.

Some nights I woke up screaming. Once again I saw the medical staff turning away and leaving the room as I looked on in horror. I saw the hospital blanket pulled over her face. It was as if I was hovering high up in the room, invisible to everyone, looking down as the unthinkable scene unfolded below me. Once again I saw how I cried so inconsolably, how strong hands pulled me away – hands so forceful they hurt my upper arms as they attempted to prise me from the hospital room – how my legs turned to jelly and how I collapsed, wailing and keening.

When I came to, when the service was over, and the mourners have departed, everyone treated me as if I was an untouchable, damaged beyond redemption. Many simply didn’t know what to say, some avoided me, for not everyone knew how to relate to an aggrieved fiancé, an emotional wreck who was living out his days zombie-like, as if in a state of drunken stupor.

The emptiness I felt was an emptiness of deep, dark void; mine was a life changed forever. How could I ever be the same again? I was dispirited and felt alienated, knowing the world was spinning, and hurtling forward, but not feeling being a part of it. I was angry at how the rest of the world has moved on when mine has ended the moment she vanished from my life and my world.

It was as if a missile had shot through me, leaving my being with a hole the size of a crater. I felt as if a large part of me had been ripped off and torn away. An incomplete life with a huge sense of loss and hollowness accompanied me for decades. It took me years to process J’s passing. How could there be closure when in place of youthful laughter and happiness, often the only sound I hear was that of the clock ticking.

Then came S. And the aching was soothed somewhat though the relationship was tumultuous, fraught with uncertainties and more-than-frequent bouts of exasperation and anxiety. Still, the years passed, and time flew. And as if I wasn’t already dented and bruised enough emotionally, I was blindsided because she too was snatched away from me.

I have experienced enough bad news in my life but the one news that continues to plague me was when the doctor put an end date on S’s life.

Through tears, we said our peace, poured our hearts out, said what had to be said, worked out the forgiveness and all but I stayed away like a deserter as S deteriorated. I couldn’t bear to sit at the side of another hospital bed, with the result that friends who couldn’t understand thought me cold and heartless while S slid rapidly downhill until she was no more.

At my age, I understand very well the unescapable passage of time. As months and years passed, the darkness in my horizon seemed to slowly recede. They didn’t seem to cast much of a pall on daily existence. The gashes inflicted seemed mostly to have scarred over. But the scars were there and a return to life as usual was illusionary at best. Throughout the years, the memories of loss and desolation I tried burying for so long would inevitably rear its head when I least expected it. Opening a drawer, the things I glimpse – trinkets, cards, a note, a bookmark – would bring everything back. Catching a whiff of someone’s fragrance, and tears would flow. Chanced upon a tune, and I get all choked up. Fleeting memories of events and persistently recurring flashbacks infiltrated all too frequently into my daily life.

I could not forget.

To this day, I still hear the humming of the machines. I still smell the antiseptic.

Now you came along and for fifteen years you cradled me in your embrace and nursed me and soothe my hurts. You cared when no one else did. Sure, everyone showed concern but with empty words not backed by any action. Everyone was busy with their narcissistic, self-centered pursuits, posting food photos on the Internet, struggling with inane personal issues, bragging on social media about their supposedly glamorous lives, asking mindlessly existentialist questions while millions in the world die from starvation, obsessing about their hair color, bragging about their latest material acquisitions, agonizing over the color of their nail polish, blaming their parents for their messed-up lives, catastrophizing minor setbacks, fighting with inner angst, worshiping their lovers, ad nauseam. In the midst of all these self-absorbed individuals that crowded into my life – shallow and empty people so preoccupied with their own frivolous fixations – you made big, bold strides pulling me off the edge.

You empowered me to be the me I was meant to be. But now, it looks as if life has stood me up, yet again…

Words cannot possibly describe the depths of my sorrow.

How many blows can a person take?

Outside, the birds are chirping, a light breeze blows through and the branches on the nearby trees move a little. I can hear children playing downstairs. Not far away, sounds from a construction site can be heard. The world is as it is as the day is filled with everyday sounds, but I am no longer the man I once was.

Is returning to normalcy even possible, I wonder.

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Come on, it’s Bullshit, no Matter What you Call it

In a newspaper headline stating that “PR firm Bell Pottinger Asia mulls over name change after crisis hits UK parent” Bell Pottinger Asia Chief Executive, commenting on a crisis that has engulfed its British parent over a campaign in South Africa said, “Sadly an incident by a small team has been blown out of proportion…”

Well, it seems rather fashionable nowadays to label certain news as fake, or “blown out of proportion” especially when they put certain people in a negative light. Even spin doctors themselves resort to this behavior when news pertaining to their organizations are deemed unfavorable to them.

Bell Pottinger’s transgressions are serious enough to result in the firm being expelled from Britain’s public relations industry body, PRCA (Public Relations and Communications Association).

The PR firm’s work on a campaign for Oakbay Capital, a South African company had “incited racial hatred” and was “absolutely unthinkable,” said PRCA.

Bell Pottinger’s unprofessionalism came to light when South Africa’s opposition Democratic Alliance complained to the PRCA, accusing Bell Pottinger of a “hateful and divisive campaign to divide South Africa along the lines of race.”

Even Bell Pottinger’s own law firm Herbert Smith Freehills, which examined more than 45,000 documents, has confirmed that certain material created by Bell Pottinger for the campaign “was negative or targeted towards wealthy white South African individuals or corporates and/or was potentially racially divisive and/or potentially offensive and was created in breach of relevant ethical principles.”

Several blue-chip clients have since left Bell Pottinger over the affair, including luxury goods giant Richemont.

One day after making that pronouncement, Bell Pottinger in Singapore indeed changed its name to Klareco and declared that it has formally separated from its parent company in the UK. (Bell Pottinger UK was the majority shareholder of the outfit here.)

But come on, let’s call a spade and spade and not downplay what has happened. Instead, use the episode to garner some learning points on transparency, governance, accountability, and a clarion call for greater scrutiny of the world of international corporate BS, er, I mean PR. A name change is not a strategy. It tantamounts to deception, the last thing a firm in crisis should resort to.

But it did, and so what can I say but to leave you to draw your own conclusions.

But first, a question: How many legs does a dog have if you call its tail a leg?

Answer: Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.

I rest my case.

Posted in Unforgiven | Comments Off on Come on, it’s Bullshit, no Matter What you Call it

Can a Smart Nation be led by Dumb Asses?

Singapore is in the throes of change. MRT stations and many other places where monetary transactions take place – including at hawker centers –  are going cashless, food courts deploy robots, robots fry our rice, parking coupons will soon belong to museums, etc etc as we plunge ahead to become the world’s first Smart Nation.

Change, however, cannot be foisted on people.

Most people, no matter how old they are, grapple with change.

Some cope better, some struggle and are traumatized by change, especially the less educated and the elderly ones. To paraphrase Dickens, this could be the best of times, as well as the shittiest of times.

As we aspire to merge technology into every aspect of life on our small island, it is vitally important to ask several questions:

  1. What is the real intent and urgency to become the world’s first Smart Nation? Not all government decisions are smart; see how the latest presidential election is such a butt of jokes. Look, after all the clumsy political subterfuges, legal wrangling and revisions to the Constitution, Halimah Yacob is now our new president. The poor woman will forever carry the burden of knowing that she was not popularly elected, but that she ascended to the highest office in the land in a walkover.
  2. Have we been hoodwinked by some CONsulting firms into buying their services that will push us towards Smart Nation status? Most of these scumbags running consultancies can’t even find their way to their own homes. I should know, I have dealt with some of these fucktards for 40 some years.
  3. Is this just another pathetic attempt to make Singapore yet another first in something? We already boast of being the most “e” government, the highest man-made waterfall, the first prime minister’s wife to wear slippers to the White House, the first president in the world to have resigned due to alcoholism, blah, blah, blah, what more do we want to be first in?
  4. Are there truly actual benefits beyond our wildest imagination or is it a political move to distract hoi polloi from the real bread-and-butter issues of the day?
  5. To what extent are our people ready for massive, monumental change?
  6. What will be done to enable them to cope?
  7. Will there be enough communication to “sell” the benefits, if any?
  8. What steps will be taken to ensure there is a sense of ownership of the change so as to minimize resistance?
  9. Will there be enough people who really understand the psychology of change to provide adequate training and coaching to ensure that everyone can adapt to change?
  10. Will those who embrace change early and readily be singled out as positive role models to encourage others?
  11. Are the different organizations able to effectively work together in a coordinated fashion to bring about these changes with minimal disruption to people’s lives? I mean, if those clowns can’t even run the SMRT well, I seriously have my doubts about this.
  12. Will testings, trial runs, parallel runs, dry and wet runs, post-change audits, as well as incremental, bite-size initial steps be taken to get people used to the “new world order”?

More than three decades of helping organizations and companies lead and manage change – yes, welcome to my life! – have convinced me that unless and until these questions are sufficiently answered, failure is almost certainly guaranteed. Ask those clowns at SingTel. (You jokers there know what I am talking about!!!) This will lead to disillusionment, widespread skepticism and cynicism, and even the potential of sabotages, and any more talk of further change in the future will be even more strongly resisted and fought against. You cannot force change down people’s esophagus especially when leaders themselves are the last to accept the changes they preach about. Furthermore, such outcomes may lead to societal upheaval, dividing Singaporeans into “haves” and “have-nots,” “cans” and can-nots” – no longer a “united people” as per our national pledge, surely something our founding fathers do not want.

No joke, those dumb asses and clowns in charge ought to know that change is no laughing matter.

But do they?

Posted in Unforgiven | Comments Off on Can a Smart Nation be led by Dumb Asses?

More Morettis

My addiction to Moretti pipes continues unabated. Here are my latest acquisitions:

Giant Smooth Freehand

Collection Emblem Freehand

Collection Emblem Billiard

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RIP Sir David Tang

2 August 1954 – 29 August 2017

Sir David Tang was chairman of the Pacific Cigar Company Limited, the exclusive Cuban cigar distributor for the Asia Pacific region.

He walked with royalty, and cavorted with stars, yet he made me, a nobody, felt like a somebody.

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Well, I Guess it’s Still Better than Blowing her own Trumpet

Bitch couldn’t find a toilet to do this in?

In mid August, I was attending a three-day training workshop at the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine when suddenly a loud sound – like a foghorn – came from where some of the admin staff were sitting. I almost jumped out of my seat only to realize that a young woman was loudly blowing her nose.

Well, it’s her fucking nose to blow and it’s her birthright to honk like a goose, but “how rude!” was what I was thinking. Many people think of nothing about blowing their noses, even when in the middle of a conversation or a meal.

Maybe it’s because of my year spent in Korea on a consulting assignment once that has made me very conscious of how public nose-blowing is so impolite and certainly for that young woman, it was absolutely most un-lady like.

You see, while blowing your nose is generally acceptable just about everywhere else, this is not the case in Korea. In that culture, blowing your nose is considered gross and bad-mannered.

If that young woman wishes to be uncouth – as many women her age are nowadays (have you been to eateries and seen young women in groups bellowing and guffawing like no one else exists?) – it’s her bloody business but in my mind, she just shot up to the very top of my shit list, no matter how attractive she might have been.

Next time, bitch, spare a thought for the people around you; they deserve some peace and quiet and for those other bitches who laugh like hyenas in restaurants, please don’t spoil our dining experience. Olfactory intrusions into our space are not socially acceptable. Didn’t your parents teach you anything? Are you so really so ill-bred or was it defiant behavior in a room full of men who have chosen to ignore you?

No? Well, next time, you might as well fart like a whale or pick your nose in public too!

Posted in Unforgiven | Comments Off on Well, I Guess it’s Still Better than Blowing her own Trumpet

Why I’m Singing in the Rain

Fox umbrellas have been hand-made in England since 1868.

I opted for a “solid” meaning the handle and stick are made from one continuous piece of wood and is, therefore, almost as strong as a walking stick and can actually be used as a walking aid.

The handle of a Fox Congo Crook Solid Umbrella in my collection.

And in Milan, Francesco Maglia makes great umbrellas too.

“Chino,” as he likes to be called, is the fifth-generation descendant of another Francesco Maglia, the man who in 1854 founded the Maglia Umbrella Company in a town near Brescia, in northeast Italy.

The company relocated to Milan in 1876.

The Maglia Umbrella Company is so famous CNN did a documentary on it.

The handle of an umbrella made by Francesco Maglia.

Both brollies cost me something like one thousand bucks. I know that’s heck of a lot of moolah. But one cannot put a price on craftmanship, or pride of ownership, it lasts a lifetime, a thing of beauty is a joy forever, yada, yada, yada, and yes, most of all, YOLO!

For me, none of those cheap, factory mass-produced shit from China.

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Rimowa Gourmet Travel Humidor

Cost me an arm and a leg; what I paid for this could enable me to buy 5 pieces of Samsonite luggage, but what the heck, YOLO!

Dimensions: 9.8 x 6.7 x 3 inches, weight: 2 pounds.

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Just in – Another Two More Moretti Pipes

This time, a super magnum volcano; thanks Marco!

And a Canadian:

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