Friday, July 06, 2007
posted by PabloPabla at 12:20 pm

Petaling Street is known to be Kuala Lumpur's Chinatown. The real Petaling Street with people walking and traders hawking. Not the cyber reality Petaling Street where bloggers ping their posts. I was there yesterday evening as I needed to grab a quick dinner before my meeting in Church. I go there, perhaps once a month in recent years due to my involvement in Church activities.

Anyway, I settled myself for a plate of Char Siew Rice sold by a road side hawker situated outside a stationery shop. When I mentioned Char Siew Rice, I mean Char Siew Rice. Just Char Siew (barbecued pork) and rice. Oh, perhaps I should give mention to that one sad piece of sliced cucumber which found its way into the plate of rice. Must be lonely indeed to be in the midst of char siew and rice in the face of a voracious eater.

Prior to digging into the plate of Char Siew Rice, I was wondering what language I should speak. Well, most, if not all Char Siew Rice hawkers in Kuala Lumpur are of Chinese origin. So, speaking one of the Chinese dialects is the natural way of communication. The lady behind the stall who's busy chopping and slicing the various barbequed meat is too busy to listen to my order. And just before I reached the stall, I could hear her shouting impatiently at her helper to send a couple of plates of rice to a waiting table. What stood between me and her was a man. Her helper. He is tanned. He does not look Chinese. Neither is he a Malay. He is not an Indian in any way. He looks Myanmarese. Or is he Vietnamese? I don't think he is an Indonesian. So, what I did was I just tried my luck and praying I would not irritate or distract the lady, I mouthed my order for a plate of Char Siew Rice.

As I sat down waiting for my plate of rice to arrive, a visual assessment of my surroundings show that this lady employs non-Malaysian helpers. They all spoke in a slang which was foreign to me. There were at least 5 helpers around. A walk into Petaling Street later for a cup of overpriced Air Mata Kuching further alarmed me to the number of foreign workers employed by stall holders to peddle their goods - from fake branded watches to bags to clothings. They were haggling with customers (mainly tourists), all in a non-Malaysian accent. I felt as if I was suddenly transported out of the country to a foreign land. The Petaling Street I once knew as Chinatown is now no more than South East Asian Town. You can extend it a bit to South Asia as well if you add the number of workers whom I believe are from Bangladesh.

Anyway, pardon my digression. Back to my plate of Char Siew Rice. For a meal on a plastic stool, served on a plastic plate with slightly crooked and oily fork and spoon on a slightly rickety plastic table, I had to pay RM4.50. Not cheap by any standards. Definitely too expensive in my opinion. But then again, I was served by foreigners, wasn't I? Perhaps that was the price which I needed to pay. Bah!