Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Of nasi dagang bungkus and sambal belacan

One thing I noticed among my more successful friends is their keen observation, eye for learning and desire to teach. They may be successful in differing degrees or in different trade but the similarity is there. One that that I noticed most is their keen eye and sharp though witty comment while dining – be at the gerai or in ‘five-star’ restaurants.

I have not written for sometimes because I couldn’t find a subject interesting enough coupled with being busy ‘cari makan’ – moving most of the time. But I was forced now because of a paper I have to present to Part 3 candidates this coming weekend. As always, and as of my other bad habit, I can’t just do one thing at a time. I read like two or three book at one time, moving from one book to another in different places at home or the office. Likewise when writing I move from one subject to the other, in different window. Likewise designing. No wonder clients complain we are rather slow.

Back to the subject of learning.

I met Dato P and To’ Puan yesterday morning at one gerai nasi dagang in Kuala Ibai. The gerai he said he preferred over the more famous Mak Ngah in Cendering for a simple reason; it is much more efficient. ‘Look’ he said, ‘they have the take-away readily packed in ‘kelongsong daun pisang’ and they served you faster. Oh, I didn’t notice that. Well, the nasi dagang may differ but no two nasi dagang taste the same anyway.

Weeks earlier, we had lunch at the new restaurant in town, Restoran Penyu at Bulatan Batu Bersurat (used to be Bulatan Penyu). With us was Ayah Ku. The Chinese fare was good, especially the ‘ikan siakap masak nyonya.’ During the meal, Ayah Ku called one of the waitress, ‘Mek, sambal belacan tak dok ke?’ ‘Tak dok’ she said, we served Chinese food, sambal belacan is not in our menu.’ ‘Tapi kalau ada sambal sedap lagi,’ Ayah Ku added.

Yesterday, when we had lunch there, I recalled the last lunch and ask the waitress, ‘sambal belacan ada?’

She went in and bring out a plate.

This one certainly adapted fast to satisfy their customer. Keep it up and they would go a long way I am sure. I, at least had a good laugh. Similarly, one owner of a gerai tomyam in Cendering became a good friend after I scolded him for asking what we (like ten of us) have eaten after we had cleaned up a large meal. The next time I asked him to ‘kira’ he came with a written bill. Both will be on my list of restaurants / gerai worth going to again.

Another friend had a ‘tissue’ encounter at the old gerai famed for ‘ikan patin masak tempoyak’ in Temerluh. Washing his hand he looked for serviette. None to be seen around. So he went to the counter to enquire. ‘Tissue ada?’ he asked. ‘Ada. Encik ni makan kat mana?’ the girl asked. ‘Sinilah’ he said. So the girl opened her drawer, pull out a piece of serviette. Not exactly one but one already cut to two. ‘Kenapa tak letak tissue dekat sinki?’ he asked. She said, ‘kalau letak situ, semua orang pakai, rugilah saya.’ Clearly furious at the answer, he said, ‘berapa harga tissue sebungkus? Tak pe. Se bungkus ni saya bayar. Awak letak dekat sinki tu. Saya sedekah. Untuk semua orang pakai.’ Turning around he remarked ‘ patutlah awak meniaga tak kaya-kaya, takut sangat nak bersedekah.’

This few anecdotes serves well to show me that successful people are not ordinary people. They live their lives unlike normal people who let things happen and the world passes by.

Those on the way to make it are special people too. They show their willingness to change and adapt and quickly at it.

Me? I don’t know. Really.

No comments: