char kway teow man

not the best pic, but just wanted to preserve a little something abt the place, and the bulb was in the way.

No, the char kway teow man is not made of grease and flour noodles and does not climb skyscrapers in singapore. He works at a food centre at Margaret Street which happens to be rather old and those left untouched by renovation and the works.

Of course, I happened to be want to crazy enough to wait 1 hour to eat char kway teow at this place, because it's famous, and since I had nothing to do during my wait, I pursued a train of thought. Now, apart from this stall, really, the rest of the food centre was really quiet. Next to it was a satay stall and the owners were lounging around. A far cry from days when this place used to be crowded.

now, singaporeans rock at queues, or so we like to say. you could get very impatient and start questioning how smart u are to have started in the queue. but, typically, you won't settle for 2nd best when it comes to food, so you wait, and the longer you wait, the longer your investment becomes.

thoughts like these keep me patient. but as i waited i got more and more impressed. because this guy does not have any helpers, he has stacks of plates and he keeps dishing them out. it's almost relentless, there's a one hour queue backing up, no respite for him in site. He remains fumigated in vapour and grease, grabs noodles, ladles in the chilli the "hum", lup cheong, taugeh, add dark sauce, break the eggs, fry fry fry, top up with water... next customer, ad infinitum, except some say mai hiam or mai ham and he takes 1 step or 2 out of the whole process. its fucking tiring to be frying non-stop in such heat (oh of course, he must be used to it.)

and maybe it would be better if he screamed at someone in the queue for not staying in line or for not ordering correctly, just to vent his rage and stress at the neverending queue or at work. but know, he smiles before each order and there are pple who go up to talk cock with him occasionally but most of the time he is frying with robotic efficiency. can his 50/60+ yr body hold?

no, i'm not holding him up as an example of someone so wonderful and charitable or anything, because the only responsibility he feels is probably to serve customers who've been waiting an hour, so he cooks as fast as he can. and at 2.50 a plate, having a neverending queue is a good thing, and lots of money. and, he gets press too, when the food reviewer comes down and says his char kway teow is a word of art. and everyday he does this, excepting mondays, and what drives him? this is something else the world is throwing at me, something i don't understand.

because i can understand why someone would jump in front of a car to save someone, and sacrificing himself. that's sacrifice, it's simple, and u can do such things in moments of foolishness=p. but to do something like this day after day, it must give him such pride, or, what? what drives him? uncle, close down for 3 days and go to bali? or just stay at home at watch tv? do you have kids, or a wife? so much i don't know.

because even if i made the best damn char kway teow in the world, i don't know how i could keep it up at the rate this man does. i would want to go to bali to slack after earning enough, or maybe learn how to cook something else. basically, maybe i wouldn't have that drive, if i had enough money, or enough fame? but this guy does this day in day out, and i don't understand.

and one day, maybe, there will be no one who fries char kway teow like he does in singapore. i'm not saying this to tar progress with a bad brush or to be romantic. i understand why everyone would possibly want to progress to eating and cooking in air-con comfort, have hygienic and clean places. i'm just saying it because it is a fact, that one day he will die, and if he has children, he won't want them to fry char kway teow, although he loved it like the world, and that he deserves to be remembered because he's actually holding out against the world by being his old, resistant to change self. and maybe that's just something i simply can't understand, not quite yet, not quite now.

the char kway teow? oh yeah it was good.

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