During my corporate days, I developed a unique set of phrases which my team understood. I referred to these as the “Elephant Syndrome”, the “Fried Chicken Syndrome”, and so forth. Though I spoke three languages, mutilated German and swore in seven, sometimes a special code was necessary when conversing within earshot of people not in my circle.

The result: We could be at a negotiating table, a seminar or any other gathering and to express an opinion, all I had to do was lean close and whisper, for example, “Leap Frog Syndrome”. And my team members would know my sentiments regarding the unfolding situation, expressed opinion or the tabled proposal.

The genesis for the idea took root when I was growing up in rural Singapore – 1950s through 1970s. Those were great nostalgic days when one would receive a mail and a meal via carrier pigeons. 😉 But some animal activist came along and replaced the pigeons with postmen and we had to switch to chicken.


Then, I noticed how the chicken would dash across the path – right in front of my on-coming bicycle. Quite often, when the chicken was a few feet away, I would press on, expecting it to stop until I’ve zoomed past. Instead, it would dash right under my wheels.

Taken by shock, I would swerve and crash in a clatter of metal and tangled limbs on the dirt track – or worse – into rose bushes.  The first time it happened, I had an epiphany and could suddenly speak in tongues – all seven of them! German came later – viel später – much later.

I refer to this behaviour as the Chicken Syndrome. I refer of course to the chicken’s behaviour, not mine.

But, some humans behave in a similar manner – instead of waiting, they dash across, metres from your car.

Red is not my favourite colour – certainly not for cars – and therefore I slam the brakes and come to a drunken stop. It also happens when riding a bicycle and even when walking – people cut across my path with centimetres to spare.

I think it has to do with – you are what you eat – too much chicken ala KFC.

Chicken was one of my favourite meat dishes, but not anymore.

Poor fish!



  1. Maybe some people ” swerve across their own words” when trying to make a point as a reflection of their egos? Who knows…interesting text, by the way.

    I recently wrote something that correlates to this, take a look if you have some time.

    All the best!

    1. From what I understand from the Japanese – people who eat plenty of fish to the exclusion of other meats, live to be a hundred years – and smell fishy 🙂

  2. Did you have a Dog Syndrome? I experienced that when I was in Bogota Colombia. People would dart across the street and cars would press on their gas pedal. Not intentionally trying to kill them, just threatening them with their deadly steel and making the people: elderly and mother’s with strollers even- have to run in what was an open street. Like dogs trying to catch their prey!

    1. Hello Michele,

      No, I don’t have a dog syndrome in my tool kit but you have one, I see, from your experiences in Colombia. Scary when you think about it – people darting across busy roads.
      We have the same situation here in Singapore but government erects all sorts of facilities and obstacles:

      1. Overhead bridges for pedestrians. Oh too many steps to climb? Okay, here is an escalator. And in other crossings – here is an elevator. Yes, escalators and elevators for people to use overhead bridges! That’s Singapore.

      2. People continue to dash across. Okay, so they built barriers – fences on the road dividers. People run across and climb over – so, they make the fences higher!

      And it goes on – this cat and mouse nonsense.

      Oh, well 🙂

      Have a great weekend,

  3. You are the only person I’ve met who knew Singapore back in the early fifties… halycon days in my memory…
    long bamboo poles hanging across the alleys with flapping washing on them…
    the early tropical darkness, and little groups of people crouched on the pavement cooking food with a delectable aroma..
    the scent of frangipani hanging over garden walls…
    fabulous, famous Raffles, but denied entry by the parents because I was not old enough to waste good money on a drink for me!…

    1. Hello Valerie,

      Good to have you visit and post a comment too 🙂

      There were the Caucasians and privileged Asians who lived a generally good life.

      For the rest of us locals, the vast majority, it was a back breaking grind. Poverty was real, malnutrition was ever present. Poor sanitation. And not all homes had running water and electricity. We relied on bores (wells) for water and kerosene lamps for light. The list goes on… It is a miracle indeed that within one generation – Singapore had catapulted to first world status. Even many Singaporeans in their 30s do not really appreciate how their parents lived…

      But we made the most of what little we had – relished every little treat – and in some sense, those were halcyon days.


      1. Hello Eric, I really learned something from your reply to me. I was writing from the point of view of a dazzled twelve year old fresh out from a grey February winter in England. After a few weeks at the Rex Hotel round the corner from Raffles we went to live on the edge of the harbour in Penang – utterly beautiful.
        But now you have made me more aware of the realities of life then… and I suppose that in the early fifties , only a few years after the Japanese Occupation, many services had not been restored after the Japanese destruction of so much .. later when we went to live at Kota Bahru, the machine gun bullet holes were still running along the walls of our little pink stuccoed house by the river where they had chugged past in their motor boats in the early morning invasion, randomly shooting…
        Your reply gave me much food for thought, thank you Eric.

  4. Haha. Love the secret codes idea. If I’m understanding you right, many humans tend to speak before thinking it through first. No checking both ways for vehicles or kids riding bikes, which can very likely make us crash.

    1. That’s the truth, Lori,

      Many humans are sprinters – they let their mouths run ahead even before their brain gets into gear.

      Thank you for your visit and comment 🙂

    1. Thank you, Tanveer dear,
      I don’t know why but your posts are not coming through but I’ve today again clicked to “subscribe” to your blog.
      God bless,

  5. I do pity the chicken, they not only end up on our table as one of our meat dishes, they are often the brunt of jokes for many, whether it is mockery, similes or metaphors. But they contribute to making a name for people, like KFC and our famous hainanese chicken rice.

    As for you, Eric, you did get the gift of tongues, even if it is momentary, lol. Thanks to the chicken.

  6. I’m with you, let’s deplete the ocean fish supply between us. Of course steamed with rice and ginger with a little chilli thrown in and some nicely prepared vegetables. Get those chop sticks ready!

    1. Sometimes I don’t understand my tongues too. But with age, I’m losing my skills in tongues 🙂
      Or should that be – losing my inclination to go into tongues 🙂

      1. Whatever language we possess can be too easily forgotten by my age (almost 70), so I try to sharpen it with daily digital scrabble games online. 🙂 Working to keep what is left in the old noggin as sharp as I can. 🙂

I like to hear your thoughts

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

error: Content is protected !!