No Tsmo King Sum Ting Wong Ug Lee Soon Fat WaiHongMi Mi
We wondered how long these guys had hung out together. Suspended from nails, we discovered them dangling cheek-to-cheek in a dusty cubicle in Kuala Lumpur. The more we examined them, the more convinced we were that they weren't getting along very well. In my imagination, a conversation was on-going.
Sum Ting Wong: “Are you ever going to stop smoking that f______ cigarette stub? Look at my mouth from the second-hand smoke! Spit it out for God’s sake. And do you think anyone’s interested in you with those eyebrows and that thing stuck to your lips? You’re going to hang here forever. “
No Tsmo King: “Quit your constant belly-achin'. Will you ever understand that I’m happy here on the end? “Bloom where you’re planted,” they say. That’s what I’m doing. By the way, you’re dead wrong about the eyebrows. I get compliments all the time. Just the other day some marijuana people from California looked me over, but I put them off with my Bad Karma trick. The last thing I’d want is to end up in Ventura posing for Doobie package art. Ugh.”
Ug Lee: “Did I hear my name? Could you two pipe down? How about a little peace and quiet? I’m sick of being caught in the middle settling your petty beefs and lying to all of you about my feelings. One more little white lie for the sake of peace and my nose will be dragging on the ground —Fatso, you’re snoring again. “
Soon Fat: “What? What? Oh, I must have nodded off. Sorry about the snoring. It’s my stretched out lower lip and the boredom. Look at the bags under my eyes. I feel sick. And if you’d all help with the karma thing, I might get out of here and onto a restaurant wall, where I belong. How about giving me a shot at the end spot. Trade places with me Wai Hung!”
Wai Hung Mi: “What? I have to be on the end because of my claustrophobia. And it’s not just that. The dot on my forehead—you guys told me it was nothing—I think it might be a melanoma! Can you see it Ug? What do you think? Before we moved in here, my face was in the sun half the day in the old stall on Petaling Street And I’m so pale now…..”
The conversation sounded like an old Bickerson’s episode. We moved on but the chatter in my head hung on.
Like in other Asian countries, there’s been a move to relocate many of the vendors from the crowded hot streets, indoors to resolve myriad problems with street sales: safety, sanitation, and noise being three of many. We as tourists enjoy the markets and the casual food, but I can see where it’s for the common good to relocate them where they can be licensed and probably taxed. Will the zany, noisy, smelly streets, like Petaling Street in Chinatown endure or like in Singapore, will it all disappear?
There’s a generational demographic effect ongoing as well. In Singapore, the children of food stall vendors have done very well. Many have gone to university or have become professionals or entrepreneurs. They are not going to sell noodles for a living and take over the family business. Once the old folks retire, the businesses close up or, with luck, they can sell them to immigrant newcomers. The same thing will probably happen in KL.
A few more KL photos....
A few more KL photos....
|Cute Bangladeshi sunglass vendor. Did I buy a pair?|
|The wonderful Chinatown shopping street.|
|How to eat fries on a motorscooter.|
|A restaurant being remodeled uses graffiti for reviews.|
|Another dark and dusty shop. More masks.|