Friday, April 07, 2006

Nasi disaji pula digaduhkan, padi di ladang dilanyak gajah tidak disusahkan

Nasi disaji pula digaduhkan, padi di ladang dilanyak gajah tidak disusahkan

( a rare Malay proverb – literally translated as ‘rice served questioned, rice (paddy) field trampled by elephant ignored)

In a rare instant, one frail lady caught the attention of national press to the extend of gracing the front page for days and an editorial. She was a makcik I fondly nick-named ‘makcik bersila’ – the Che Ngah Nasi Dagang of Chendering Terengganu. I called her so because she served Nasi Dagang sitting ‘bersila’ on a stainless steel platform. And bersila for her is kind of distinctive because in Terengganu women were supposed to be bersimpuh. I also knew her personally because I frequented her stall often, and her architect grandson used to work for me. For that I get VIP treatment at her stall – like getting free ‘kerapah’ - the extra that the fish head was supposed to be after the meat all ‘cobek’-ed away.

In Kemasek when I was small, there was the famous nasi dagang Che Ngah Dayang. I frequented her stall almost every morning to collect the nasi dagang bungkus for sale at my father’s canteen. When we were in the university and later working in KL, the holiday home would not be complete without a breakfast of her nasi dagang even if it meant queuing at her ‘lambor’ in the early morning. Che Ngah Dayang had a similar style with Che Ngah Cendering. They both served their nasi dagang ‘bersila’. You need to ‘kecek’ her for the extra ‘kerapah’ and she would fondly joke ‘Che Ngah tahu doh mung nok kerapah, Che Ngah wi lah. Tapi jangang makang banyok sangat ‘pala ikang, kang bodo.’ (I know you want the head and bones, I’ll give to you. But don’t eat too much fish head, it can make you dumb.)

I love nasi dagang. Yes, my mother make the best one but it’s by invitation only. Next (not in any particular order) would be Che Ngah in Cendering, Kak Pah in Batu Burok, Haji Yeng in Kuala Ibai or Nasi Dagang Batu Enam. I like it so much that even if I heard of a good nasi dagang in KL or elsewhere I would make it a point to try.

I don’t want to talk about the issue of her RM45.00 fish head because it was already so much debated. But if my opinion is worth anything, I don’t think that the RM 1000.00 compound was fair. For a petty trader like her, a thousand ringgit was h-u-g-e

And if this so called price control is allowed to go, soon we’ll hear the enforcement officer imposing fines on the ‘kopi Hai-Peng’ in Cukai, ‘cendol’ trader at Taman Tun, the 'popia' seller at Lucky Garden or the ‘sup torpedo’ at Jalan Doraisamy. Because they all have something in common, their’s were more expensive than others. Perhaps the enforcement officer should include Coffee-Bean and Starbucks too.

And if the enforcement goes on, we would one day be forced to have only a standard priced ‘mi-segera Mawi’ – at all our favorite stalls.

I do not know what our great friend from Putrajaya has achieved by reporting Che Ngah, make her a subject of national debate, but the proverb I use as the title above I guess fits his action.

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