Sunday, September 23, 2012

Singapore's Identity: Roti Prata

Today we went to a prata outlet at Clementi. It is located below the public housing estate. It occupies 2 shops space and one of it is allocated as the sitting area for customer and has air-condition.
When we enter the shop, a guy actually greeted us with a big smile. It was not common for a prata shop to do this.

We sat down and the menu was served. It is in a thick folder.
I ordered: 1 egg prata, 1 plain prata and a coke light.
Samantha ordered: 1 Nasi Goreng and 1 Teh Halia.
The bill came out to be about $10.

I think it is a good business selling prata. They could modify the prata by adding some other ingredients and 1 prata could cost up to $4. Such prata shop would be quite profitable. I noticed that there is a trend of upmarket prata shop to hire PRC to help out.

Singaporedream team would rate this outlet as an expensive and yet normal standard prata shop.
The prata shop trend is not about food. It is about hanging out.

The prata shop is always a place to go after clubbing. It also served as a meeting point for bikers to hang out. Although some prata shop are very pricy but the owner allow us to stay and chit-chat as long as we want… if our cup is not empty. Usually they will not chase us away even we do not order any big meal from them. Also, many prata shop is located at places where we could park our vehicle within our sight and so convenient for vehicle owners.

Importantly, what we notice is that prata is something very Singapore. All races would come to the prata shop to eat and hangout. The 3 main races: Malay, Chinese and Indian. This is one of the very few places that we, Singaporean, has an identity.

The PRC would eat at the Sze Chuan food outlet.

The Pinoys would eat at the San Jose Papa restaurant.

The new India immigrant would eat out… hmm, never see them eat out before… they are always in a pair and have a stroller. We witness many at Clementi Mall and Jurong Point. Their baby/child would ridiculously do something, like sitting down on the floor crying and shouting for something, doing things as if he/she owe the whole shopping mall. Their parent would quickly attend to he/she and pamper them. these new baby/child are our new immigrant. What can you see in 15-25 years when they are older which they carry such family and social values? I can see.

Point here, I am not talking bad things about our new immigrant friends. I would want to welcome them and help them to adopt to Singapore life, but this is not my first priority. What come very first is our own citizens, like my dad. He came from China and served his National Services for 6 years in the police force in the 1960s – 1970s. He contributed to nation building when Singapore back then was much simpler. So as your parents, when the nation needs you, we would step forward and help.
Going back to the prata topic, it is one of our very own identity where all our races share…

Don’t you agree?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

what am i doing?

What am i doing? im not sure. im looking for something.

it seems that a part of me has left. what is that? biking. what continues me to biking? that is Sam Leong.

Biking is not just biking to some destination. it also involves companionship. the success of a person does not determine by what he does but by a group of people that agrees on what you have done. If Samantha and I did the first round the world trip on a motorcycle trip for Singapore, without the nodding of head by my close biking friends, we are just another begger going around to look for home.

Sam Leong always organize outing amoung our friends. many would turn up because of him, not because of the number bikes gathered.

Sam Leong is just a taxi driver. he treat his career seriously. He once told us: our job is very simple, that is to bring our customer to his required destination fast, cheap and safe. He also complained about some other friends in the same industry that did not do this 3 simple task.

being an ex-navy cook, he got to know many people along the same boat. he told us stories about the life in the ship. he needs to feed people but he NEVER use his authority to press on anyone.

riding to thailand on a motorcycle in the 1990s sounds like a hero? he did it using the trunk road, first time, leading another fleet of newbies to thailand. so don't boost around when u have ridden to thailand on your bike on the north south highway.

the community of friends he made were very wide. i had never felt shy introducing him to new friends, telling my new friends that he is a cabbie because i felt proud of him.

on the later days of our friendship, he often drive our older friends, like mr lim of about 70 years old, to our coffee session. friends like mr lim does ride with us but due to his old age, he deteriorates on his judgement and riding skills. Mr Lim just live 2 blocks away from us. Sam would use his cabby time to ferry Mr Lim, me and samantha to the coffee session. Sam would offer to go back early because Mr Lim need to rest. the kind of respect he had for the elderly is a great learning lesson that we must learn.

I had a Singapore - Dallas friend. He came back to Singapore to stay. I intro him to Sam Leong and they clicked well in just a few days. We gathered a few times together. In a moment, Sam Leong was gone and i could see the blood in his eyes, as if he has lost an arm. Aaron, i am sorry. my friend his ahead of you. i am sorry.

When we just came back to singapore in 2010 August, he helped me by giving me a space to work in his small home. he intro me to his family and that is the very first time i see him with his family, so caring, so warm, so true and having fun with the presence of his family members. that was 2010 aug 09, Teban.

Now, he has gone, i feel something is missing in my life. friends go after their work and living expenses. when sam was around, we would throw away what ever we had and gather for biking. Mr Lim ask me to take over this role of Sam, which i will never never be a substitute of such a great person.

i am hiding. hiding somewhere to hope he will appear in some dark corner. i am hoping some miracle to happen. i was hoping i had a deep dream and all this is just a dream. my life just couldnt carry on.

Sam Leong has great biking dreams. He told many that i sparked his life. sorry, it was him that allow us to continue our biking life. he once told: one that has no dream is similar than an salted egg. meaning: dream is important.

there was once i envied his horn. i told him i want to get a set verbally. one night he called me but i couldnt answer the call. few hours later, i called him back. he said:
" i bought the horn for you. i called u just to check if u r at home but u did not answer. i just left it at your doorstep."
i wanted to pay him but it seems like he wanted to give me as a gift.

Friends, although we had lost him, please chose to stay around. i have been hiding. i know it was hard to lose him. everytime we hear the song we would tear and think of him. there are many biking groups out there but we choose to be 'color ball' because we love the companionship of each other, not restricting ourself to some society but to be friends with friends, truely, true hearted and no hidden agenda.

Sam Leong Chee Wah, please come back...