Posts Tagged ‘ food ’

The Bakwan Story

If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to make a Facebook status update about it did it actually fall?: that cool thing that just happened to me so now I’ve come straight home to tell the world about it. (aka. the Bakwan story) [Originally published on Pesbuk.]

I was walking home from Lakemba station and remembering the one dollar coin in my pocket that I had taken from the spare change jar in my lounge room this morning with the purpose of buying a box of Teh Kotak I made my way towards the Indonesian store that is next to Al-Aqsa hair salon, a very very new business that seemed to have all of a sudden popped up in between the Indonesian store and Sana’s gift shop. I took the Teh Kotak from the fridge and paid my one dollar. I then noticed the assortment of kue, gorengan and other snacks on the counter. I felt a bit hungry so decided to stare at the foods and see which one I wanted or at least which one’s were suitable for people wishing to maintain a vegan diet. I saw a box of fried stuff that looked like bakwan (cucur sayur for my Indonesian-impaired Malaysian friends). I asked the kakaks at the counter if it was bakwan. Yes it was bakwan. I asked how much was the bakwan. The bakwan was $1.30. I started counting the remaining coins in my pocket and had to stop one of the kakaks from putting a bakwan into a plastic bag, explaining I didn’t have enough money. I left the store and continued on my way home.

After passing Warung Ita, someone behind me sounded like they were calling me. I turned around and it was one of the kakaks from the Indonesian store. She was holding a plastic bag with a bakwan in it. “Here, we felt bad for you. You can just have it anyway.” “Ahh… oh my god, thank you so much.” I was feeling quite speechless but as I turned around to walk off I hoped that I was at least to use my words and other sounds to convey an adequate level of gratitude that would make the kakak think I’m a nice person. [Ed. – if you don’t know Lakemba geography, Warung Ita isn’t really that close to the Indonesian store.]

At this point my tendency to be a little shit (or a flirt – depending on which way you look at it) kicked in. I turned back around. She was at least fifteen or twenty metres away and I yelled out, “Kak! Kak!”. She didn’t turn around. “Mbak! Mbak!” She turned around. “Ada cabe gak?!” I smiled and laughed trying to convey a sense of kelucuan. “Oh no! You want cabe? Sorry!” “Haha! Gak apa!” “Ok, ok, next time ya.” And then I turned around and kept walking hoping that I came off more silly and cute than ungrateful. And hopefully she didn’t think I was racist for yelling out at her in Indonesian. I just couldn’t help myself, it just happened. And I ate my bakwan and, and, and, oh em ji, I love the world so much.

The End.

PS: Also, on my way home I found a CD on the side of the road. It didn’t look too scratched. I turned it over and it had something printed in Arabic on it. I put it in my hoodie pocket hoping it will be as fruitful as the time I found a CD of Indian music on the side of the road and made some beats taking some samples from it. A few minutes along I found another CD. Maybe the lawn in the Lakemba-Roselands area is fertile for the growing of CDs. It was more scratched than my previous finding and didn’t look as interesting (i.e. it wasn’t ‘exotic’ enough).


TL;DR Version:

Luka walks home followed by Indonesian girl bearing gifts of bakwan. Luka now loves life again. We don’t know anything about her except for what she can do to make Luka’s life worth living. She has no will of her own. Classic MPDG story.

Masih tak boleh berbahasa Melayu.

All I have is a teh o ais in front of me to show for my ability to speak and understand Malay, even after seven months.

There was a new kakak here at Ammoo today as well as the kakak I call “Kak Az”, though never to her face. I don’t really say much to her at all, usually just a smile, maybe a nod, maybe a nod without the upwards motion so it ends up just being a looking down. Tonight she greets with a smile and a “Hey Boy!” from behind her table of vegetables and condiments and stuff for frying.

The new kakak came to the table I was seated at and asked, “Water?”. I smiled on the inside at her direct translation of the Malay. In Malay, I replied asking for a teh o ais. She then asked what I’d like to eat, this time in Malay. I said the words that I intended to mean “that thing with the rice and that plate of fried tempe and uncooked cabbage and long bean and cucumber with peanut sauce”.

Usually when I say those words the kakak asking would nod and after a few minutes I would get a plate of rice and another different plate with all those yummy things I asked for on it. But this time the new kakak didn’t nod and leave, she started saying things. I got confused which made it harder to understand what she was saying. The shattering of my food dreams made listening to a language I still have a shit grasp over really hard.

I think she told me they didn’t have it and that they only have sambal instead of the peanut sauce but maybe she also said there was no tempe and they only have tempe in the morning and the only stuff they have now is stuff like nasi goreng. It all added up to more confusion. They always have that tempe thing I want at night time, why not now? It didn’t make any sense. I said not to worry, I’d have the teh o ais only.

But I was still hungry. I guess I could’ve easily ordered something else, but I didn’t. Maybe I was hoping Kak Az would come by and save me and say, “Sebenarnya, we have that!” She didn’t though. And when I did finally think I might order something else – nasi goreng without all the animal bits – I was scared the new kakak wouldn’t understand and confuse me more.

The thing I like about that place is that I’ve been there so many times the workers know what I like and want that I could probably make any sounds with my mouth and then in a few minutes i would be given some food that I wanted. But not today. Having to deal with a new kakak ended with me realising how shit I still am at Malay. Seven months on and all I can get is a teh o ais.

I went to pay, at the cash register Kak Az was standing at:

Tak makan?
Tak nak makan?

Kenapa tak nak makan?
Tak tahu.
Kenyang lagi?

Bila balik?
Balik mana?
Tak tahu.

And that was about it. She said something else but I didn’t catch that either.

As I left the shop and walked past the kitchen set up out the front I walk past a plate of fried tempe.