Friday, 4 June 2021

21st Century Diogenes - a tribute

Not many people in life leave an impression. There’s been three men that have had a profound impact on how I view the world. Armin (Austria) whom I met in Malaysia in 2008; Joe (Australia) whom I met in Thailand in 2014; and Dave (Wales) whom I met in Cambodia in 2019. They’re similar in some ways yet as unique as can be in others. The underpinning characteristic they all share, other than speaking foreign languages, is that they most certainly do not follow the Nietzschean herd.

This ramble will focus on Dave. Never have I met a person who has evoked so many conflicting emotions in me. We have a few things in common. We’ve both been in Asia, solidly, for over a decade. We’ve both gone native. We both speak the language of our host nations (Thai for me, Khmer for he). We both come from modest backgrounds. Our parents have passed. We both like maths. We’re both minimalists. We’re both susceptible to liquor’s seduction.

The first thing that shone out was his intelligence. It becomes apparent rather quickly that he has it in spades. It was no surprise when he revealed he has a degree in maths from Cambridge. I was delighted to have someone to bounce ideas off – I’d never met anyone in Asia who enjoyed the rarefied abstract world of mathematics. Obviously I admired this quality in him.

However, he has never applied his god-given gifts. The lad’s barely done a day’s work in his life. It’s like he has a medical aversion to graft. This is where my admiration pivots to a strange duality of disgust and respect. Half of me admires him for sticking two fingers up to society yet the other half holds him in contempt for not supporting himself and blowing his meager funds on piss n tabs.

I sometimes wonder if the universe orchestrated the gazillions of quantum events necessary for us to meet? Force me to hold an introspective mirror to myself. Have I finally met someone who’s living the life I’d been destined to lead? He takes the “zero fucks given” philosophy to the next level. Diogenes personified in the 21st century. Living a life barely one step above a tramp in society’s eyes, yet I never heard him complain. On the contrary, rarely has anyone made me laugh so much. An air of stoicism as he knowingly rides the consequences of unsubscribing from a sick society.

It makes me chuckle that he out-does me on the few things I like to think I’m good at. I can take him out-maths-ing me but being out-minimalised is a dent to my pride. He’s the only person I’ve met that can out-do me on the food and accommodation front. Dude is next level – he’ll go into full sedentary mode in order to conserve calories should he be experiencing a fiscal emergency.

Anyway, a short note on how I met a man who causes me to simultaneously feel admiration, contempt and respect.

Long live Dave.


  1. LOVE this tribute! So did Dave move to Battambang straight away after graduation? Cheers.