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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Ali Baba and the Seven Dwarfs

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nce upon a time, in a tropical paradise called Ehsailand, there lived a man by the name of Ali Baba. Now, Mr. Baba, by Ehsailand standards, was what you would probably call Upper Middle Class by today's economic measurements. Definitely better off than his youngest brother Sai Baba, who lived pretty much hand-to-mouth, working in Ali's rice mill, as he's always done for years. But not when he compared himself to his other younger brother, Toukeh Baba, renowned merchant of Ehsailand, with almost unlimited wealth - at least in Ali's eyes.

Needless to say, Ali Baba was extremely envious of Toukeh Baba's success and wealth.

Image from, hosting by PhotobucketSerene view somewhere in Ehsailand
(click picture for image source)

You see, Ali was the firstborn in the Baba family, but sadly his mother died when he was still young. Daddy remarried, to Ali's stepmother, who already had Toukeh and Sai when she became the second Mrs. Baba.

Because of that, Ali was always the favorite child and got whatever he wanted from Daddy Baba. Toukeh and Sai, on the other hand, had a tougher time getting affection from their stepfather, and from a young age, had to start working in Daddy Baba's rice mill.

Sai worked hard in the rice mill, and did whatever Daddy Baba instructed him to do. Toukeh, too, worked hard at the mill, but instead of carrying out instructions word-for-word, he constantly thought of how the rice mill could make more profits. Then one day, he came up with the ingenious idea of using some of the polished rice to make other, more profitable things to sell. First it was rice cakes, then rice wine, and he even found ways to make use of the rice husks, turning them into chicken feed, which he then sold for a handsome price to nearby chicken farms.

When Daddy Baba discovered Toukeh's innovative ventures, he was so pleased that he relieved Toukeh fully of his rice mill duties to concentrate on the by-products business. Daddy, of course, took most of the profits from his elder stepson's endeavors. This was fine with Toukeh because for once, he finally won a little of his stepfather's affection.

Meanwhile, Ali was given the best education Daddy Baba's money could buy, in hopes that one day he would be able to run the rice mill. Despite the success of Toukeh's ventures, the rice milling business was still considered the family's core business by Daddy.

All was well in the Baba family until the day Daddy died. On his deathbed, Daddy Baba called his for his three sons. As expected, Ali Baba got ownership of the mill. But before Daddy Baba could convey what the other two brothers would get, the patriach breathed his last breath.

Ali immediately took charge, and claimed 70% his late father's liquid assets for his own. He left what remained to Toukeh and Sai. Neither of the two stepbrothers objected. Toukeh, of course, had his own business now, and wasn't really bothered. Sai, ever the obedient son, just took what he was given, and decided to continue working in the mill as he always had.

The years flew by fast. A decade later, Ali was still running the mill, and although profitable, the business suffered during the rice market crash a few years previously. For the most part, however, Ali still lived a comfortable life, partly from his inheritance, and partly from the rental he got from the mill operator. You see, Ali never was one to do anything someone else could be paid to do.

Sai squandered most of his inheritance on wine, women and song, and so continued working in the mill as he always had been. But Toukeh was the best off. The rice market crash was most great for him, as it made his raw materials much cheaper than before, making his diversified processed rice and mill by-product business very profitable. His wealth enabled him to diversify into other business, making him a renowned merchant in all of Esailand.

Discontent with his lot in life (compared to his brother, Toukeh), Ali spent a lot of energy and brain cells scheming and plotting - how to get some of that Toukeh booty. Ali couldn't care less about Sai, but was more concerned about how best to be rich like Toukeh Baba, with as little real effort and hard work as possible. Ali, of course, was too used to living the good life, not really having had to work all that hard to be where he was. First-born privilege, you might say.
(the dream, the dwarfs and the point of all this, in the full post)

One day, while taking an afternoon nap, Ali had a strange dream. In the dream, a Jenglot appeared and instructed him to go to an undisclosed spot, somewhere in Ehsailand, and there he would find a huge rock. The Jenglot told Ali to find the rock, and then, to utter the magic words "Zam.. Zam.. Asam Garam... Gurindam... Arti Um". And if Ali did this, the Jenglot promised that his Toukeh problems would go away.

And so for the next several months, Ali Baba despatched a huge team of private investigators (this is a fable, okay?) to scour Ehsailand for the location of this mysterious rock. Each week Ali would request the private investigators to their progress, via SMS. Week after week, the same short message reply would appear... "Nothing so far". This went on for about six months - and even in Ehsailand, in the once-upon-a-time days, private investigation services didn't come cheap. The mobile bills alone were stagerring, equalling the small fortune made by the Akademi Fantasia organizers. SMS's don't come cheap either, especially when you don't keep track of how many you send.

Then one day, the message he had been waiting for came through. "The rock has been found!" Ali was ecstatic with joy. Finally, he thought, he would be able to be as rich as his brother Toukeh Baba. Without delay Ali Baba got into his one-horse Proton carriage and travelled to the location of this mysterious rock. And after a two-week journey, there he was, standing in front of this gigantic rock, which was covered, almost in it's entirety with foliage - except for one spot.

And so he uttered the magic words taught to him by the Jenglot in his dream, "Zam.. Zam.. Asam Garam... Gurindam... Arti Um".


Ali Baba was about to repeat the magic phrase, when he felt the earth tremble. The bald spot on the gigantic rock suddenly crumbled to reveal what looked like an opening to a cave. Ali Baba, in his excitement, started to walk towards the newly opened fisure. But before he could tread 30 steps, out jumped seven diminutive man-lings... dwarfs!

Image from, hosting by PhotobucketThe dwarfs, as captured by one of the private investigators
(click for image source)

"Freedom at last! Just as the great Jenglot had promised! What, kind sir, can we do for you!" the dwarfs cried out in unison.

"Who the fuck are you midgets?" screamed Ali Baba, not quite gotten over his initial fright of seeing these diminutive figures suddenly appear out of the rock. The small army of private investigators, eager to benefit from Ali's potential fortune, stood nearby, equally stunned by what they'd just witnessed.

"Oh, pardon our exuberance, kind sir", they proclaimed. Then one by one, the dwarfs introduced themselves:



"Kroni", "Skohmi", "Rehsi", "Geridi", they cried out, one after another.

And finally, "Doc".

"Not midgets, sir. We are the seven dwarfs of antiquity, and your beckoning is our command!" they cried, once again, in commercial boy-band, not-quite harmonic unison.

Without delay, Ali Baba went on to relate what he wanted of the seven dwarfs, on how he desperately wanted to grab some of the wealth his brother Toukeh Baba had, at any cost, so that Ali, too, could be as rich.

The small army of investigators were just about to cheer, "Hidup Ali Baba", when they were interrupted by the dwarfs.

"No problemo!" screamed the dwarfs. And before Ali Baba could continue, the dwarfs suddenly scattered 45 paces in seven different directions, then stopped. Then, they ran back towards each other, to the very spot where they were earlier congregated.

A fiery white flash erupted as the seven dwarfs collided! KA-BOOOOOM!! The sound was thunderous, and the impact of the dwarfs running into each other created a small dustcloud.

Ali Baba, once again was in shock, having witnessed the strange collision in front of his very eyes - still trying to absorb in disbelief what his 20-20 vision had just revealed to him. As the dust settled, Ali discovered that no longer were there seven tiny dwarfs, but one gargantuan ogrish looking thing.

"BEHOLD!" the gigantic 18.9m tall ogre boomed, "We, the dwarfs of antiquity, by the power of Jenglot, are now Chaos, of future, past, present tense! Your wish is granted!"

And in a flash, the ogrish thing called Chaos disappeared into the sunset, each 45m pace taking mere miliseconds to traverse.

The two-week journey back home was perhaps the happiest in Ali Baba's life, every moment of it imagining the riches that were probably awaiting his return. And the wonderful life he could buy with his new fortune. No longer would he have to waste his energy on plotting and scheming against his wealthier brother. And not surprisingly, not a thought was given to poor Sai Baba, the youngest sibling.

Little did Ali Baba realize, however, the carnage the very Chaos he'd unleashed had created. In a short 14 days, the ogre had managed to totally obliterate not only Toukeh Baba's business empire, but the entire Ehsailand economy. That's just how diversified Toukeh's business interests had become. And in the process, Ali Baba's rice mill became collateral damage in Chaos's path of destruction. Sai Baba was lucky to have survived, having suffered a massive hangover from his night out, totally missing work that day.

It's difficult to describe the look on Ali Baba's face upon his return. Suffice it to say, he was not a happy camper. What he had was lost, and what he wanted remained one ugly Jenglot nightmare. In fact, Ali Baba totally lost it that day, and it is rumored, lived the rest of his days a wandering, destitute drifter, walking aimlessly muttering some gibberish, which sounded like "Zam.. Zam.. Asam Garam... Gurindam... Arti Um".

And Chaos? The 18.9m tall ogre, having totally obliterated everything in its sight, simply vanished into thin air. Not a trace of it, nor the seven dwarfs that it was composed of, were ever seen again.

Ehsailand lay in ruins from that day forth, never again able to return to its former economic glory. What natural resources were left, post-Chaos, weren't economically viable to salvage, shunned by even the richest of foreign direct investors.

Several thousand miles away, Toukeh Baba sat in disbelief as he watched what was happening to his beloved homeland, courtesy of the Al-Jazeera satellite newscast. And although Geneva weather was very pleasant that day, his fortunes, safe in the Swiss bank account he had secretly maintained, could not compensate the grief he had in his heart. Little did he know that it was his step-brother that was responsible. Just as well, one could say - there's only so much grief one person can take. Fortunately for Toukeh, the holiday cum business trip took him, his wife and children, safely away from the massive carnage he was witnessing on the TV screen.

"I do hope Ali and Sai made it through alright," Toukeh said to his wife, as they sat on their hotel bed, eyes glued to Al-Jazeera. Whatever fortune and infrastructure he had left behind was gone forever.

"But nevermind", he thought, as he gripped his wife's hand a little tighter, the boisterousness of his children running around the hotel room music to his ears.

And as the sun dipped below the horizon that beautiful Geneva summer's day, Toukeh Baba could only lament for his homeland. His determination to succeed in life, however, was not diminished.

It was time to start life anew.

~ The End ~

The moral of this silly fable? Well, there are a few, actually.

#. Never trust a Jenglot. Lying bastards, every single one of them. Ugly, too.
#. Be careful what you wish for. It might just come true.
#. Several dwarfish little mistakes, when combined, can become one giant insurmountable problem. One that you may never recover from.
#. Real rewards are the fruit of real efforts. A free lunch can sometimes cause indigestion, or worse, food poisoning.

Thus endeth the lesson...