July 26, 2012

I don’t care who rules the world

I have said many times that I am a simple man … nothing fancy really. I am not into brands, I am not into cars and I avoid expensive places … I just don’t have any extra money for all these things. You will see me in my khaki shorts, singlet and sandals most of the time … occasionally when I am required to “dress up” a bit … I will put on a pair of old jeans, tee shirt and sneakers. I am most comfortable this way.

I don’t really care how people look at me … I may look like a ‘pasar malam’ (night market) trader, a coffee shop man, a hawker and there were a few times people mistaken me for an odd job worker. 

Let me tell you one funny incident. Several months ago I was fixing the roofing of my house … while taking a rest outside the house, a guy driving a nice SUV pulled beside me and asked me how much I charge to clear a blocked roof gutter. Remembering a joke I once read, I wittily told him … “Errr Mr, for this house I am working on now, I get to sleep with the owner’s wife”. Realizing that he had mistaken me as an odd job worker, he embarrassingly apologized and drove away probably laughing at himself. My amused neighbor who was listening to the conversation told me jokingly … “you lose ‘face’ lah, people “tai lei ng hei” (look down on you). I can’t blame the guy in the SUV … with a straw hat, pair of shorts and a dirty singlet, I do look like an odd job worker. 

Lose ‘face’? I am not bothered at all. To some people, ‘face’ is important … what they own, what they drive or what they wear. But I am not concerned about “face” … I don’t need to show what brands I own, what cars I drive, where I go, what clothes I wear …  I don’t need to show any status, class or prominence … simply because my values are not measured these material units.

 I remember a senior manager (in a large MNC) once told me that her car must at least be a 2-litre (2000 cc) car and worth no less than a hundred fifty thousand bucks. Her very own words … “I am a senior manager … not enough ‘face’ lah if I drive anything smaller or lesser”. She probably have some sort of formula that calculates ‘face’ value by evaluating what position one is in, to match what type of car one must own and how much it should be worth. Well, if that makes her feel good about herself … so be it.

‘Face’ … is it really that important? Maybe for many people, it is … to them ‘face’ is a stage where they show how big they can be, is an arena where they display how much they have achieved and is a platform where they walk as if they ruled the world. 

I don’t need a stage as I have nothing big to show, I don’t need an arena as I have nothing much to flaunt and I don’t need a platform to walk because I am confident of who I am, what I do (or don’t do) and how I look. I can walk anywhere ... because I don’t care who rules the world. 

July 11, 2012

Who is the bad guy?

I am currently watching the very popular Chinese historical fiction series “San Kuo” or “Three Kingdoms” (also known as Romance of The Three Kingdoms) which I downloaded recently … I watched it once back in 2010 (in Mandarin) and now I got the Cantonese version, so I am watching all 95 episodes again. I have read the book many times since I was a teenager and I am still very much captivated by the famous characters in the story such as Liu Bei, Cao Cao, Tung Cho, Lu Pu, Zhuge Liang, Sun Quan, Sima Yi, Zhou Yu, Guan Yu, Zhang Fei, Zhao Zhe Lung and a long list of other interesting characters. I am also fascinated by the loyalty, devotion, fidelity, faithfulness as well as the betrayal, deception, ruses, schemes and the treacheries displayed by the various characters in the many struggles, disputes, clashes, conflicts, battles, and wars that formed the background of the whole story.

My son, a bit too young to understand the complicated conflicts between the many characters of the story asked me … “who is the bad guy?” … a simple question but I did not answer the question … told him to find out for himself.

So, who is the bad guy? It seems like Cao Cao is the villain and Zhuge Liang is the hero or maybe in another instance Cao Cao maybe the hero and Sima Yi is the villain … they are all as cunning and ruthless as they can be trying to outwit each other.  They all can be villains and they all can be heroes.

I am not trying to take you through a fictitious historical journey ... you will see my point soon. And, let’s not worry who is the bad guy for now … maybe you can tell me later.

OK, let’s move on … now, whether it is ancient people thousands of years ago or the people around us today … we are all the same. Like the characters in the “Three Kingdoms” story, some of us are like Cao Cao … ambitious, bold, ruthless and determined and others are like Liu Pei … trustworthy, devoted, faithful and committed. Then there are those who are like Zhuge Liang … genius, wise, cunning and wily while the rest are clever, scheming, crafty and shrewd like Sima Yi. 

Today, though we are not in battles and wars but we faced all sorts of conflicts and disputes … at home, in the family, in the office, in business and in relationship. In every conflict or dispute, there are those who will take advantage of you, those who are ready to betray you, those who are loyal to you, those who will help and those who simply don’t care at all. Each and every one have their own ambitions, own point of views and own ways of seeing and doing things … on one hand everyone can be associating, working or living together …  on the other, everyone may be trying to outwit, outdo and outsmart each other.  You may not like what they do and they may not see it the way you want. 

I would like to say this … if you are betrayed and taken advantage of, you only have yourself to blame for letting it happened. Don’t condemn the actions of those who betrayed and took advantage of you … why? Let's be frank, if the situation was the other way round, I am sure you would have done exactly what they did with no guilt. Who is right, who is wrong, who is the good hero and who is the bad villain? My point is … it all depends from whose side one is looking at it.

Watching the epic “Three Kingdom” drama series, I appraised the many characters with an open mind. In the many disputes and conflicts, the plots and ruses in the story, while many will stereotyped Cao Cao as the villain and Zhuge Liang as the hero … I beg to differ. The way I look at it … the way I see it from Cao Cao’s point of view and the way I understand his approach … I see Cao Cao as a great hero. Maybe the same goes for Zhuge Liang or other characters of the story … if you see from their point of views and understand their approaches … they are all heroes. Then who is the bad guy?