My food court is sandwiched between two buildings, my hotel.
The chairs are gathered around the atrium.
In the morning, I can look down from my room at the busy little food hall.
Drinks and other goodies are supplied by Hock Ping Cafe.
It’s the heart.
The lungs and other vital organs operate on the other side.
Wonton soup, mee noodles, and other goodies.
Madam runs the fruit stall at the front on the pavement.
She moves the fruit.
Think I’ll have some pineapple, I interject into my narration.
She has an old and sharp knife that’s been cutting fruit for decades.
She tells me she bought the knife from Singapore.
It’s German made, she adds, and the acidity of the pineapple has been eating away at the blade. She never sharpens it. That’s a knife story for you, hay?
It’s hard to keep track of which stall is open and which is closed.
The afternoon shift is a bit quieter after the hectic morning trade.
But they still have stalls operating.
Everyone wants the morning shift.
No one wants to sell in the evenings. Well, that’s the philosophy at another food court near the river.
This one thrives. It’s on a busy artery of the city. And pretty too. Lanterns light up the street with a soft red glow.
I’m an expert on Chinese food courts.
I’ve been to my fair share.
But this one runs quite well.
There are no surly foreign workers here.
‘Well I did have a run in with an Indonesian Muslim working the Paki curry house, who gave me those Allah Akbar eyes, so was laying low, they are pretty handy with knives, those extremists.’
Doesn’t that tweet by Vanya Vetto say it all?
Yesterday I paid five Ringgit and fifty cents for the best coffee in Malaysia.
I won’t be making that mistake again.
Give me the one Ringgit fifty cent cheap and nasty coffee any day.
I enjoy the ambiance of this place.
Pineapple lanterns drip from the ceiling.
‘Fresh Kedong Juice,’ shouts an advertisement, not failing to add, ‘good for detox and lowering cholesterol.’
The old Chinese drunks come later in the evening.
One of them just gets the giggles after his first beer.
There’s no reasoning with him.
He’s in his own world, lapping up the ambiance too. And harmless. I know he’s not going to play Allah Akbad on me, a sobering thought.
I play the old Chinese Tea House game and order another cheap coffee.
The cute waitress, a Christian from Indonesia, is more than willing to take my order.
She looks great in her glittering jeans too.
Always support your local food court. It’s salaries you’re paying by ordering drinks.
That’s what I tell myself at least.