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vendredi 15 mars 2013



I have been lucky enough to meet some special people this past year and none more remarkable than the Humble Man of Bogor, Pak J. So, when he invited me to visit the “master”-the one who has mastered the art of living well, healthy and happy; I couldn't resist.
Lim had chosen the Khong Sea Food Restaurant in Bangkok, close to a Metro stop and was already at the restaurant when we arrived at the appointed time.
Humbly dressed in shorts, white T shirts (his uniform, Pak J told me later) and slippers, he exudes humility while you are made aware of the fact that you are in the presence of a remarkable man.

Now 85 years old, he had lived in Bangkok for nearly 40 years. He was born in Singapore, then part of the British Straits Settlements and is an expert on aquatic plants.
Armed with an incredible feat of memory, he can remember and describe the plant encyclopaedia. Wanting to know how an 85-year-old Chinese man had such a remarkable memory, I was further astounded by the fact that he can remember around 100 telephone numbers of his clients including the country codes, and recite them from memory!!
The mobile numbers in China are a bit difficult, he said, they have far too many numbers, longer than the usual 13, which he finds easier to remember.
Any particular method or tool for remembering? I queried
No, I just remember, it has always been like that!
He was in charge of ordering the dishes at this restaurant, Chinese seafood fare, not a single item could be labelled unhealthy. No alcohol was consumed, but there was plenty of hot Chinese tea. I noticed that there was no water accompanying the dinner
Crab Curry, two plates
Fish, two plates, two different fish, two different ways of preparing
Green vegies (shoots of pumpkins)
A noodle dish
Steamed rice with Prawns
Giant prawns in sauce
Mango, Cassava in Coconut Milk
(Altogether 12 dishes, the bill amounted to 120 usd)

He was in charge of the conversation, flowing in different directions and levels, content congruous with a long well lived life. No personal details or gossip.
Breaking traditions at an early age, he has been a good father, a good businessman and more importantly a good friend.
Many anecdotes some of which cannot grace the pages of this blog flowed. Never a bad word against all the people who came across his life, never a discriminatory remark, no disapproving tone, the wisdom of a life well lived, continued to be lived. He does not eat dinners on ordinary days, a piece of fruit may be, but this routine is broken when friends are in town, such as this night, this rule does not apply.
I have always eaten less than average, while heartily enjoying this meal of his choice, compared to others I always ate less.
He then pondered for a while and then pronounced for all of us to hear
Eat Less and Love More
Loving other people, mentally, emotionally and physically, cleaning out your mind and body of accumulated toxins. It is not good to gather such things in your body, it would react badly, he continued.
Eat Less and Love more
We all echoed
A sage indeed!
The current day city-state of Singapore is only 48 years old, not mature enough to forge a cultural identity of its own, apart from the state sponsored propaganda. He was born at a time of solid Chinese values, but not the modern ones of selfishness, greed and arrogance.
A visiting Malaysian Chinese businessman in our group noted, after Lee Kuan Yew, the founding father of Singapore, Lim might be the wisest that island has produced!
I couldn't agree more.
As we were leaving, he runs off to his car, at 85 he drives himself whether in the chaos of Bangkok traffic or to his aquatic farm 300 km away, he brings back a small package (ubiquitous in the sidewalk stalls and stores in Bangkok, but he stands by the quality of his gift) and hands it over to the Malaysian visitor
I have plenty of these; keep it in case you need it!
All of us knew what was inside the box!