19 comments

    1. Hello Ina,

      It is an endeavour is it not, for we need to take action.

      Appreciate your visit and the welcomed comment. Good one.

      Cheers,
      Eric

      Knowing and doing
      Pursue worthwhile endeavours
      Grow flowers, not weeds

      ‘I’m not a conformist’ said Tom Slinger, ‘never was and never will be. But I did all right for myself.’

      ‘You’re a family name,’ said the biographer. He pushed the recorder under the bars and closer to Slinger.

      ‘Yes, and a church going man too,’ said Slinger. He raised his hands, to show the manacles, and made a face.

      ‘So what went wrong?’ asked the biographer.

      Slinger brought his face inches from the iron bars. He crooked a finger and the biographer leaned forward.

      ‘I got caught.’

      Thomas Slinger was an enforcer for the mafia and reportedly killed more than a dozen men.

      Haiku & Story: Copyright @ Eric Alagan, 2018

    1. Thank you, Celestine,

      For your visit and comment,
      Eric

      First step, know the truth
      Next comes the difficult part
      Acting on the truth

      Marshall Young, the CEO, gave his weekly spiel, this time about the importance of the customer. He said,

      ‘As a matter of fact, people, all our stakeholders are keys to our business success. We must treasure them and must—must—provide them with the best experience we can muster.’

      And to show their approval of yet another rousing speech by the big man, the executives in the conference room tapped on the table; all except one person, the workshop manager.

      ‘You don’t agree Arief?’ said Young, and all heads turned towards the youngest man in the room.

      ‘Oh, I agree with what you say, Marshall,’ said Arief, ‘but I wonder how long more it will be before we practise what we preach.’

      A murmur rippled through the long room and several executives leaned back on their seats, afraid to be caught in the cross-fire.

      ‘Since my first day here, I’ve noticed your cynicism,’ said Young. ‘If you’ve something to say, young man, go on, get it off your chest.’

      ‘The parking lot next to the building is covered and reserved for the senior staff of the company,’ said Arief.

      ‘So?’ said Angela Heng, the HR & Facilities Manager.

      ‘Our visitors—customers, suppliers, and everyone—have to park under the hot sun and hike fifty metres to reception,’ said Arief. ‘Do you really believe our visitors think we treasure them?’

      The painters were called in and of the twelve covered lots, two were reserved for visitors.

      This flash is based on a true story.

      Haiku & Story: Copyright @ Eric Alagan, 2018

  1. Awesome haiku and advice, Eric. I’ve usually done my own thing and haven’t been affected by peer pressure, haven’t even smoked one cigarette, for which I am proud. 🙂
    But I’m afraid many people, especially younger, are lured in by “cliches, fads, and hypes.” 🙁
    Happy Monday, my friend…

    1. Thank you, Lauren, dear friend,

      Good for you, and you have my admiration. Looks like you and I share the same values.

      Not once have I succumbed to peer pressure. I’ve always cut my own path and sometimes got horribly lost. LOL. But they were my mistakes and I learned from them.

      And you’re right, many young people do easily succumb.

      Happy week ahead,
      Eric 🙂

      Birds of a feather
      Uniques in a common pool
      Challenge to stand tall

      It was 1983 Singapore and CenterPoint was the latest and swankiest shopping mall along Orchard Road. Girls hung out in their high heels and short skirts, and wealthy guys gathered like bees to honey. And there was the shopping—a paradise of imported fashion and high life.

      ‘Come on, don’t be like that,’ said Pauline, and found ready support from the other girls. It was after office hours and they were headed for CentrePoint.

      ‘Even a drink costs five dollars, and I don’t have the money,’ said Linda. This was not the first time she had declined to join them.

      ‘Hiyah!’ Pauline exhaled in exasperation and said, ‘Meet us this Saturday at People’s Park Complex.’

      When Saturday arrived, Linda found herself in a nondescript office on the eight floor. The place was packed with a dozen other girls, including Pauline and her friends.

      ‘Your job is to take bets over the telephone,’ said the Operator. ‘Record their names, telephone numbers, and the bets. Don’t make mistakes.’

      The girls were promised a tiny cut for every dollar’s worth of bet sold and a percentage of the winnings.

      ‘Police?’ asked Linda in a whisper.

      ‘Don’t worry,’ said Pauline. ‘See that one over there, Snake Eyes, he is the lookout.’

      Linda proved dexterous and at any given instance she could handle four telephones. Her takings were good, and she earned good money.

      Linda joined Pauline and her friends and soon became a fixture in CentrePoint. She met guys and went on many dates. She also had money for shopping and life proved quite agreeable.

      ‘Told you, right,’ said Pauline. ‘Don’t be a homebody.’

      A few months later the police raided the premises and arrested all the girls, including Linda and Pauline.

      Snake Eye had ratted on them in return for immunity from prosecution.

      Haiku & Story: Copyright @ Eric Alagan, 2018

  2. Often we have to re-visit our values as it is easier to just follow the Pied Pieper. We could have deluded ourselves that we are living by our own values.

    1. Hello Windy,

      Yes, it’s true and we see this in Singapore all the time.

      Parents place their children in pressure cookers to secure high grades in school. The children lose their childhood and focus on winning at all costs.

      A few weeks ago, a retired school teacher said in his Facebook that anyone who reads books for pleasure is a “consumer fool”. His take was, read books that you can “monetize”. All other reading was a waste of time.

      Makes you wonder what values they teach in Singapore schools.

      Cheers,
      Eric

      Values have price tags
      Common denominator
      Heart of nation ripped

      When his neighbour, the Tans, bought a Peugeot, Wong traded in his Korean car and purchased a new Mercedes.

      He spent all his free time at the car park below his apartment block and never missed an opportunity to regale acquaintances regarding the pleasure of driving a “high-end” car.

      Then, the Tans sold their government flat and bought an apartment in a condominium development. Wong did the same and invited the Tans over to view his place.

      ‘Much bigger and swankier than the Mystic,’ said Wong, referring to the Tans’ condominium.

      Every weekend he invited friends, old schoolmates, and anyone he knew to his place for a Bar-B-Q.

      Meanwhile, he continued to take expensive holidays in Japan, Europe, and America—in keeping with his office colleagues.

      Then, he lost his job. And not a day went by without quarrels in the family.

      First, the Mercedes went, then the condominium, and finally his wife and children left him.

      Made a bankrupt, Wong finally started taking charge of his life.

      Haiku & Story: Copyright @ Eric Alagan, 2018

  3. I’ve always believed in that philosophy. All kinds of things are hurled at us these days to manipulate and control but there is satisfaction in knowing you are free and independent to make your own path in life.

    1. Hello Ian,

      Very true, we are free to choose and most do.

      But I suspect this solid core of society is slowly eroding—an erosion caused mostly by so-called opinion leaders promoted by the media.

      Thank you for your visit and comment.

      Cheers!
      Eric

      Choice of one, easy
      Choice of many, a tough call
      Information flood

      ‘The anti-smoking laws are a killer, Mike, and we spent millions on your re-election campaign,’ said Craig Anderson, CEO of the tobacco conglomerate.

      ‘It’s a groundswell, Craig, the people wanted a complete ban on smoking,’ said Mike McKinley, the tobacco industry’s torch bearer in government. ‘Just thank your stars that you can still sell it in this country. But in the long term, a ban is inevitable.’

      ‘What happens to the tobacco farmers, the factory workers, the—’

      ‘Oh come on, Craig, save the bleeding heart routine,’ said McKinley. ‘You’re a history major. Look east.’

      McKinley leaned forward and handed over a book to Anderson.

      ‘The Opium War?’ said Anderson.

      McKinley leaned back and made a face.

      In 2018, sixty percent of all smokers lived in ten developing countries, a list headed by China.

      Haiku & Story: Copyright @ Eric Alagan, 2018

    1. Hello Sarah,

      Thank you. I agree, it is good advice for all of us.

      I’ve abided by it since the 1960s but it comes with certain costs – in my social life, business, and career. In the business world, for example, most managements give lip service to “thinking outside the box”.

      BTW, I hope you are cheerfully ticking off your March “To Do List”.

      All good wishes,
      Eric

      Not more than two sides
      Innovate within a box
      The world is a sphere

      ‘I’ve drawn up a list, a small list for now, to reduce headcount,’ said Naveen, from Finance.

      ‘I suppose the coffee lady will be first one to get it in the neck,’ said Wayne, from Engineering, as he reached for his copy of the list.

      Sniggers rippled around the packed conference room. But Naveen was not amused.

      ‘I’ll be damned,’ said Wayne. ‘You actually have Mrs. Kowalski right at the top.’

      ‘Who?’ This from Naveen.

      ‘The coffee lady,’ said Ovidia, from Personnel.

      ‘Well, these are hard times and every penny counts,’ said Naveen. ‘In any event, we can all make our own coffee.’

      Naveen folded his arms, and looked pleased with himself.

      ‘Expensive coffee,’ said Wayne.

      ‘Yes, it is,’ said Naveen, warming to Wayne. ‘It costs more than $2,000 to have this coffee lady, I mean, Mrs. Kowalski, on the payroll.’

      ‘That was sarcasm, Naveen,’ said Leigh, the Managing Director.

      ‘The time taken by each of us to walk back and forth to the pantry,’ said Wayne, ‘make our drinks, perhaps three or four times a day—’

      ‘Six times, in my case,’ said Leigh.

      Laughter rippled around the room.

      ‘Okay, six times,’ said Wayne, to more snickers. ‘Multiply and add to that the time taken for each of us to wash the crockery. We’ll be drinking the most expensive coffee on the airfield.’

      Murmurs of approval filled the room, and some executives even laughed out loud.

      Mrs. Kowalski’s name was taken off the list.

      (Based on a pilot for a TV series I wrote, which is based on a true story.)

      Haiku & Story: Copyright @ Eric Alagan, 2018

      1. I like Wayne’s cost-benefit analysis but I have a feeling Naveen will be looking for individual desk-based coffee and tea making facilities so he can get rid of Mrs. Kowalski and cut out money wasting walks. He’s on a mission….

    1. Thank you, Richard,

      Cheers!
      Eric

      Clichés seductive
      Review current practices
      Change is a constant

      ‘How long has this been going on?’ asked Rajah, the Singapore country manager for a logistics corporation.

      ‘For about a month, since Ganesh took over as their purchasing officer,’ said Shirley Tan, his customer service manager. ‘He calls every day at 1.30 pm and the girls are afraid to pick up the telephone.’

      ‘Get me Chandra Shankar.’

      When Shankar, their agent for India, came on line, Rajah explained the situation. He said,

      ‘Pay Ganesh a visit and tell him, the next time he berates my staff or resorts to expletives, I will lodge an official complaint to his boss. I don’t mean his boss in Bengaluru but his boss’ boss’ boss in Toulouse France. I will let the French decide whether this is their company culture.’

      ‘But he’s the customer, Raj, and the customer is always right.’

      ‘Don’t spew clichés at me,’ said Rajah. ‘If he wants something done, tell us. Don’t scream at my staff. Tell Ganesh that I will personally make sure he loses his job. And if they decide to remove us from their approved vendor list, so be it.’

      The following day when Ganesh called, he was a changed man and business between Singapore and Bengaluru grew.

      This is based on a true story.

      Haiku & Story: Copyright @ Eric Alagan, 2018

    1. Thank you Willow dear,

      Quite often peer pressure can be daunting.

      Cheers!
      Eric

      Military life
      Look, think, act alike on cue
      Individual clones

      It was the 1960s and the hippie look was all the rage in Singapore too: long unkempt hair, denims (which until then was a workman’s attire), and dirty looking tops. Teenagers valued jeans with the faded look, and dyed new t-shirts to give them the dirty look.

      Raju wore clean pressed clothes, and he kept his hair short; the only one on the street.

      ‘Hey, punk, you’re a square,’ said Ganga, his elder brother. He and his friends laughed.

      Raju ignored the taunts but the ribbing became worse. Instead of protecting his younger brother, Ganga would join his friend in the bullying.

      One weekend, when Ganga had his friends over, one guy threw an insult. When Raju asked what he meant by “cool”, the guy said,

      ‘You know, cool like in hip, like in casual.’

      ‘Casual?’ asked Raju.

      ‘Yeah, casual,’ said Ganga, coming to his friend’s aid.

      ‘I don’t wear a suit, I wear a shirt and trousers. Casual,’ said Raju. ‘You guys go out of your way to dye your clothes and fade your jeans. That’s not casual, that’s filthy. You guys keep your hair long in this muggy heat. You’re not cool, you smell.’

      Ganga and his friends, who saw themselves as smarter than the “punk”, laughed. But after that day, they stopped picking on Raju.

      (This is based on a true story.)

      Haiku & Story: Copyright @ Eric Alagan, 2018

    1. Hello my Nairobi friends,

      That’s a good one. Be yourself because all others have been taken. LOL!

      We see young people—teenagers—dressing up, changing their hairstyles and lifestyles to mirror some boy/girl bands. This is especially prevalent here in Asia.

      Have a great start to the week,
      Eric

      All four look alike
      Mirror, mirror on the wall
      Who’s prettiest of all?

      ‘I’m an individual and want to be treated as one,’ said Girl #1

      ‘So am, an individual. Don’t put us in a box,’ said Girl #2

      ‘Keep all your over-the-hill, grown up thoughts to yourself,’ said Girl #3

      ‘Yeah, because we’re all different. We’re in-di-vi-duals. And don’t you dare refer to me as Girl #4.’

      And the four girls turned around and stomped off in a huff.

      All four had platform shoes, short torn denims, and identical hairdos.

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