Monday, August 4, 2008

Chee Cheong Fun Seller

Last week when EL and I were in KL, we met with an old couple, selling Chee Cheong Fun just outside of the YMCA compound in Brickfields, KL. Actually it is not just Chee Cheong Fun, it is Chee Cheong Fun AND Yong Tau Foo together. You mix and eat the Yong Tau Foo together with the Chee Cheong Fun. There is no option to eat it with rice. This is something special here and not available at my home town. Haha, maybe I will start one.

The old couple that sells them are quite pitiful in a way. They come at about 9pm and sell until 4am the next day. I donot know why they sell at night, but I can only speculate they do so to avoid having to pay the DBKL hawker licence. Or maybe the night licence is cheaper. I don't know. And I estimate they are both over 70 years of age and yet they have to travel to and from Cheras where they live. They travel by motorbike daily and open their makeshift stall on the motorbike. I think they bring a big bottle of clean water for the soup but the water for washing the dishes are obtained from the water pipes nearby at the place where they are selling.

The old man is the main person selling the food and his old wife helps around getting the water, washing the dishes, getting more ingredients for the Yong Tau Foo, and other miscellaneous tasks. At times, when there are a lot of customers, the old man will feel the stress and start scolding his wife if she doesnot get the money for change correct. The wife doesnot understand Malay and the husband will sometimes say in Malay for some of the Indian customers. Or, sometimes she will misheard, probably due to hard of hearing, and then the impatient husband
will start scolding her infront of the customers. But she took it all patiently in her stride and never once scold him back or grumble. At first, EL wondered which worker in the world would be able to stand all the scoldings. Then it occured that perhaps they are husband and wife. And it turned out to be true.

I guess she has accepted the scoldings as part and parcel of her life. After all, they have been together for years. Like a majority of other people, suffering has been accepted as an inevitable part of life. I donot think she has any idea that there is an end to suffering. People just accept that we inevitably have to grow old, become sick and suffer from this and that, until we eventually die. Majority of people are like them - work, work, work till they retire or unable to. And then, they will have no more purpose in life. In the end, what do they achieve? Even if you accumulated lots of wealth, was there any real happiness in your life? What are your achievements?

The wife talked and smiled to me on the first day but I am not sure what she said as she spoke in cantonese. I took pity on her too for getting so much scolding and I tried to smile to her more. EL liked the food so much that the next day we went back to the couple again. This time we spoke to them and found out the old man can speak hokkien. We told them where we were from and they told us they were from Cheras. When we finsihed eating, EL said goodbye to the wife in cantonese and she was obviously delighted. I suppose that's the small little spats of happiness she gets in her life. But it gives her the joy to continue living, otherwise, it would be nothing but all hard work an suffering.

We hope to return back to the good food another time.

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