Anyway, my post today is not about this issue. I've said my piece on this thing (a rather skewed one at that) as comments on other blogs. Today's post is about events that happened during my years working in Terengganu in 2000 and 2001. Actually, there are two stories that I wish to tell...
1. Breakfast in Dungun
The most popular breakfast food in the whole of Malaysia would probably be roti canai. Of course, each state and sometimes even each town has its own local special delicacy. Terengganu is famous for its nasi dagang. In addition to nasi dagang, I found that there are some other dishes served during breakfast time in Terengganu that I've not seen elsewhere in Malaysia. Among these are nasi minyak and nasi kunyit.
Photo credit to Cool's Flickr Photostream
Photo credit to Cool's Flickr Photostream
Now in Johor, nasi minyak is normally found at wedding receptions only. I've never come across any foodstall or restaurant in Johor that actually sells the dish, at any time, let alone for breakfast.
Nasi kunyit is also known as pulut kuning. It is glutinous rice cooked with tumeric to give it a bright yellow colour. It is normally eaten together with either a beef or chicken curry or with beef rendang. In Johor, pulut kuning is also normally served on special occasions. If you come to JB and ask me to take you to a breakfast of pulut kuning or nasi minyak, I'd be at a loss.
But not in Terengganu, or at least in Dungun where I was once posted to. Every morning, my colleague Steve Wong and I would go for breakfast before heading out to the project site. One of our favourite makan place was a stall run by this chubby lady with a friendly smile and a sweet-looking young assistant. Come to think of it, all the makan places that I went to in Dungun are run by ladies... Anyway, we liked this stall because she sold nasi dagang, nasi lemak, nasi minyak, nasi kunyit plus a whole lot of other side dishes. In short, she had variety (and did I mention a sweet-looking young assistant?).
I would normally go for nasi dagang or nasi lemak but my friend Steve had this strange preference for nasi kunyit, everytime. Steve was a big guy with an equally big appetite. The first time we ate there, Steve asked the stall-assistant to add more rice because the standard portion was too little for him.
`Nasi lebih, nasi lebih', Steve gestured to the girl. She had a confused look on her face so I ventured, `Mu tamboh agi nasik tu, Mek.'
So she scooped up the extra rice but still with the surprised look. A Chinese guy eating double portions of nasi kunyit with mildly hot beef curry early morning at a stall somewhere in the small town of Dungun in Terengganu?
The surprised looks later turned to smiles of appreciation when Steve finished his plate and announced, `Sedap...' A good burp would've rounded the scene nicely but luckily that didn't happen.
On subsequent visits, Steve would get his extra portions with no questions asked. (Nasi kunyit photo credit to koleksiresipi.blogspot.com)
I loved eating out with Steve. His healthy appetite meant that I ate well too. I could never really match his capacity but most times, I was close. He never hesitated at sharing. When the two of us ate at this delicious chicken rice shop in Dungun old town, Steve would order portions for 3 persons plus additional cuts of chicken liver. I would finish the meal with him on equal basis, 50/50.
Steve and I parted ways when our company completed the project. Steve works in Singapore now and we are still in touch.
2. Oh, you're so vain
So now on to the second story... but before that, I have this question to ask you. Do you remember the first time that someone called you Makcik/Pakcik (Auntie/Uncle)? This `someone' is not your real nephew or niece and he/she would probably be working in a service industry such as a cashier at the supermarket checkout, a waitress at a restaurant or a teller at a bank counter. Remember? Sure you do!
When I first set foot in Dungun in 2000, I was quite surprised to see that Terengganu girls are generally fair and beautiful. I arrived at this assessment after meeting so many pretty `Mek Ganu' at shops, foodstalls, cashier's counters and at government offices too.
The first time I drove to a Petronas petrol station in Dungun, sure enough the pump attendant was a pretty young lass. As I got out of the car to open the tank cap, she flashed a sweet smile and asked, `Nak isi berapa ringgit, Pakcik?'
Whoa! Time out.... I was like, what? Did she just called me Pakcik? Hey, what happened to Abang, I thought. Do I look that old? The vanity in me suffered the knockout punch that very moment.
I was dumbstruck for a while, before I slowly realised that it had to happen sooner or later. I have grown old. From that day on, I have officially entered the group called the `older generation'. Tak boleh lagi nak perasan muda.
So there you have it, my friends. My answer to the question that started off this story. I was first called a Pakcik by a pump station attendant girl in Dungun, about 8 years ago.
My nickname of Oldstock, given to me during college days, finally became appropriate. No turning back now.