Watching Life Go By in Sungai Po
I have recently shifted my base to Jurong in Sungai Po, spending just a week in a month up north. It used to be the other way around the year before where I got to spend more time on-line. Now I spend more time in kopitiams observing the Sungai Po way of life, which is a lot fun really to understand your surroundings.
The kopitiam system is good: you pay for your coffee (and food) first and then find a seat to enjoy it. If you're lucky, you'll get one in one of those rarely vacant smokers' corner, so you get to enjoy a puff too. So, you only go to a coffee shop if you have money to spend and you only pay for what you eat or drink.
But, back in the old village you can order your food and drink and only pay when you're done. And usually, friends would join you at the table because it is polite to invite everyone and sundry to eat and drink with you. Of course it is equally polite for others to decline the invitation. But friends are an exception because you do want them for company to enjoy your teh tarik with.
However there is an unwritten rule that requires the first person to leave the table for any reason whatsoever to settle the whole bill. Sometimes, that of the next table too if the people there belong to the same circle of friends or participate in the conversation on the same topic, etc. So, if you don't carry enough with you, you just sit there until someone leaves. Or stay for a second round of drinks with the boys.
Back to the kopitiam observation. The tattoo and other body decoration is in fashion. Aparently every young person out of school is trying to out-tattoo each other. Some are tastefully done, quite a lot overly done and there are some that looked like they used one of those permanent ink marker pens. And most of the tattoo wearers are Malays.
The kiasu spirit is well and alive. Just the other day I spoke to a retired long-haired Bawean guy and he told me he had a room full of expensive fishing rods and tackles. The accessories alone filled a whole cupboard, but he regretted that none of his children are interested in fishing. I told him that it is such a waste and suggested that he open a shop selling all those angling stuff.
No. He's not selling or even lending the collection to anybody. Just like his bicycles. He has three of four of them; all branded, imported and expensive. At the end of the conversation, he tried to sell me a hand-made tobacco pouch for SGD10 a piece. I would've bought one but I found the stiching was quite poorly done.
At this moment I'm wondering why do some ladies have the tendency to grow bigger from the waist down? There are scores of them here in Sungai Po. It used to be an Indian problem but they have got over it and passed it on the Malays here. I reckon it must be due to the Nasi Ambeng that causes their booties to kembeng (bloat) all around, right?