Monday, January 07, 2008

Nasi Lemak, Kueh Koci

Every morning around 7.30ish, a young chap of 15 would make his way around the streets of Kampung Tunku on a bicycle that perhaps by now, is as antiquated as his way of doing business. It would not be a point of exaggeration if I were to say his rounds were eagerly waited for by the residents of the area, who would rush out of their house on hearing his calling tune which now resonates in my ear.

Somehow, over the 5 years or so the young chap plied his trade in the area, very few knew or bothered to ask of his name and he was constantly referred to as the Nasi Lemak boy. Strangely though, it was not his nasi lemak most craved for, but the kueh koci which was freshly made every morning and was as soft and sweet as any good kueh koci should be. It was over this same period that he, with his sometimes hoarse voice - perhaps due to sore throat or simply being unwell - he may have witnessed more changes to the housing area than the residents themselves did.

There was an empty piece of land that stretched perhaps 200 meters, hemmed in between a road and a large monsoon drain - the length between the two reaching no more than 50 meters. The elder of the children in the area grouped together to pull out the overgrown grass and weeds, then trampled on the ground in hope to make it decently flat. When they were done, a large portion of the empty land became a barren field of coarse reddish earth which sufficed as a small soccer field. And many more children started to join in the fun; "Who will help me bake a cake?" asked the hen.

As more and more people began taking a greater liking to the nasi lemak and kueh koci, the boy responded by adding more to his inventory in a new basket, in addition to the old one which he still use then. There were now kueh bom, pulut panggang, and kueh ketayap - long and greenish with coconut fillings mixed with gula melaka. Still, the kueh koci remained as the choice of pick.

Time flew by quickly, and with it, the children began to grow. An 8year old became 13, and the nasi lemak boy an adult. I cannot remember when he stopped plying his route, only to suddenly realise he no longer did. Between morning school and extra-curriculum activities, his soothing nasi lemak singing faded away for a very long spell, and of late reverberates again in my ears:

Na(3beats) - Si(staccato) - Le(2beats) - Mak(3beats),
Ku(2beats) - eh(3beats) - Ko(3beats) - ci(3beats).

24 comments:

acciaccatura said...

salam shah,
hah... tapping my feet to get the right beat of the nasi lemak and kueh koci tune.

Kata Tak Nak said...

Nasi lemak aplenty, kueh koci, not my cup of tea but kueh ketayap, thats a favourite of mine also throw in a packet of pulut inti, mmmmmmmmmm

cakapaje said...

Wa'alaikumusalam Accia,

Its a nice tune actually, one which was born out of real-life. In other words, its like the Blues music - Malay Blues.

cakapaje said...

Salam Cikgu,

Kueh ketayap and pulut inti, hmmm...should be accompanied by a good cup of kopi-o! :)

anis said...

Hahaha I feel the sudden crave for kuih ketayap now. :)

cakapaje said...

Salam Anis,

I heard somewhere that eating kueh ketayap alone can be hazardous to one's health; so what say we grab one together? :)

Kerp (Ph.D) said...

the nasi lemak would be a must-have if the boy ply his trade around this area. i imagine the nasi lemak is similar to the ones that can be found at train statuon in small towns. thats simply exquisite man.

cakapaje said...

Salam kerp,

Bro, you really are a rice man, aren't you? :)

Well, apart from the heavy filling nasi lemak which in some ways are now more like nasi kandar, I would now prefer those small RM1 packs as they are normally more tasty. But its getting harder by the day to find them now.

Mior Azhar said...

Salam shah,
When I grew up, there's no nasi lemak boy going around the kampong selling nasi lemak or kuih muih. India jual putu mayum ada lah.Orang kampung made breakfast sendiri. It was only when I moved to 3rd College UM in the early 80s that I was introduced to the kuih boys. They will come every petang making their rounds selling all sorts of kuihs. And they have (there were two or three of them) their own signature beat that in no time we all pun ikut sama. I wonder what happen to these boys...Thanks for the nostalgic nudge here.

cakapaje said...

Wa'alaikumusalam Pak Mior,

You are most welcome, sir. As for your question, I believe one of those kueh girl - not boy - made it quite big by merely practicing her voice selling the kueh. Like I mentioned to Accia, these people were literally the Malay Blues singers.

Bte, the kueh girl...remember Siti Nurhaliza? :)

Kerp (Ph.D) said...

yes brother. i'm a rice-person, which explains my big tummy.

dengkil RnR to sepang serves delicious nasi lemak bungkus. imagine i had 3 packets, at 530am!
siap bungkus dgn daun pisang lagi.

tokasid said...

Salam Shah:

I wonder what that kid is doing now.Fr me nasi lemak,it depends which stall I buy it from.
Kuih koci....I still have my teeth intact.
But like che'gu,kueh ketayap and seri muka is a must(maybe bcoz when in primary school Mak likes to make kueh ketayap and seri muka for us).And dangai(or some of my friends called it kueh kuboq for its just like a kuboq)and tepung bungkus and kueh kesuie and buboq gandum and..and....and...ohhh the list goes on.

PrincessJournals said...

ahhh teringat masa duduk kat army camps dulu. tho usually those kids jual kuih for tea time (i so miss those times!) so its almost always karipap and other mouth-watering kuihs.

cakapaje said...

Bro, if nasi lemak bungkus with daun pisang, that's a totally different matter! I mean, the aroma from it is enough to make most men go hunting for :)

cakapaje said...

Wa'alaikumusalam Doc,

Kueh kasui! Lor...lama tak jumpa! Same story with dangai and buboq gandum. Hmm...mana nak cari ni?

cakapaje said...

Salam Princess,

Army camp? Hmm...interesting.

About the kuehs, I believe you can make some more than decent ones too! :)

anis said...

I heard somewhere that eating kueh ketayap alone can be hazardous to one's health; so what say we grab one together? :)

Ha ha ha. Is that an invitation? :O

Zawi said...

Shah,
The years of training with his voice has developed him into a singer of note. He now knows how high his voice can go. I bet he is Ito himself?

cakapaje said...

My, my, Anis, it certainly is. May I? :)

cakapaje said...

Salam Pak Zawi,

You mean, the nasi lemak boy is a singer to himself? Aye, that definitely he is. As he is to me too :)

ain said...

salam..
ur story reminds me of a girl selling kacang rebus in jb bus station, from the time it was still in jln trus until it was moved to larkin.
"kaaa-caaang re-busss", she chants, boarding one bus to another. and she gets down only when the bus was ready to leave. i think last year, i saw her in the bus station, and i was surprised to see her, all grown-up. i wonder when she'll ever stop..when she gets married maybe..

cakapaje said...

Wa'alaikumusalam Ain,

Hmm...that's quite a sad tale there. I mean, one would have thought the circumstances in one's life would have changed with time. But this does not seem to be with the case of the 'kacang rebus' girl. In all probability, she has sacrificed her studies to contribute to her family's economy. I can understand that because in some very small way, so have I, with different circumstances, off course.

Mat Salo said...

Bro'.. really enjoyed this post bro'. I think I know who this NL boy is. Dok kat Sg. Way. Remember, for a period of time off and on I lived in Jln 22 (now re-zoned to SS3) when the FTZ area was still a tin mine (not disco tu ler).

But u tube tu tak dapat view. Why? because I work for a 'Big Brother' company. IT administrators has banned U tube and skype because we use this data line (same one I ciluk to type this comment)to send real-time telemetry to kantor. Depa takut meagre satellite-link bandwith kene squeeze.

Anyway, although I enjoy the post bro', a bit cruel laa for someone like me or PJ in LA for that matter sebab meleleh ayaq liuq oni.. no way of satiating the craving. Good thing guys dun mengidam.

Salaam bro' have a good Ma'al Hijrah and hope your dreams come true.

cakapaje said...

Salam MS,

Hey bro, you are right! I totally forgot the NL boy was from somewhere that area! And he did have a large turf to cover - SS1 to SS3 area! Yeah, that's right! I wonder how he is doing now; you have any idea?

The video, nanti you balik sinilah. I made it a personal thing never to delete any of my postings, no matter how bad or good they are.