An article about Lee Kuan
Yew, the grand old man of Singapore, in the New York Times reminded me of the
mid-1980's when I visited Singapore many times and came to admire what Lee Kuan
Yew achieved even though there was a feeling of "Big Brother"
keeping a watchful eye over the
inhabitants of Singapore.
Ocean transportation -- the
most economical means of moving large volumes of cargo from one country to
another -- continues its role in
international trade. The industry embraced modernization by adopting cargo
containers in the late 1960's. Then more functions were computerized and the
interaction between shippers and carriers slowly ceased to be an important part
of the business I knew and enjoyed being a part of for many years.
My career began in Calcutta,
India, and ended in the San Francisco Bay Area.
In those days offices of steamship lines and freight brokers were
located in or around California Street, San Francisco. No longer so.
Nowadays, modern communication systems have made it possible to run a
steamship company far away from ports of call.
A few employees handle operations and sales instead of large offices
bustling with staff.
Popular among steamship
company employees, Tadich Grill is still there, but Paolis on Commercial Street
and Doro's on Jackson Square are gone. Neckties for men were de rigueur
at Don Dianda's Doro's. Historical Merchants Exchange Building, which
was home of Commercial Club -- another
gathering place for the shipping fraternity -- changed ownership in 1995 and
went through extensive renovation. The
staid World Trade Club, located in the Ferry Building, served mediocre food but
offered a great view of the Bay. It went bankrupt in 2006.
The late Herb Caen wrote in
one of his columns: "San Francisco has the charms of Sydney, the style of
London, and the rascality of Paris."
A great city. On a clear day it
offers breathtaking views.
It was while working for a
Danish shipping company in San Francisco that I heard of JHM, known as "Mogi" Mogensen who was talked
about as "Our Man in Bangkok".
As the country manager of the company in Thailand for almost a decade, Mogi was legendary. Years later, employed
with a different company I met him in Singapore when he came to pick me up from
the airport on my first trip to that
city. Subsequently, he moved to California
and we worked together for a few years.
A tall, courtly man, Mogi followed some old world customs. For one thing, he always put his jacket on
before meeting a visitor. He returned to
Copenhagen in 2006 but continued to be active in the chartering business. We remained in touch, with meetings during his periodic
visits to the United States. He had been suffering from
melanoma for some years. The condition
gradually worsened. Mogi died on Feb 16, 2011. His last message read:
yr phone call & your concern. A very belated Happy Thanksgiving!
I was hospitalized witn an infection and could
not write you but back home
- I am still under chemo-therapy treatment which to continue until
half january, I think. Wish I could get out jogging again!
Seamus Heaney, in
day the clunk of a baler
evening before I came to
missing: summer’s richest hours
they had been to begin with,
nearly rewarded enough
giddied-up race of a tractor
what I also remembered
woodpigeons sued at the edge
stood inhaling the cool
mighty cylindrical bales
last time he sat at our table,
could bear no longer to watch
asking please to be put
his back to the window.
Labels: "Mogi" Mogensen, Doros. Paoli's, Lee Kuan Yew, Ocean Transportation, San Francisco, Singapore, Tadich Grill