wa min Allah at-taufiq.
|This morning, as I gently eased my stout body on the plastic chair of the chinese kopitiam (restaurant) below my office, a wave of contentment passed through me. I have a home,but after almost 8 years of practising here, this is also home. Waves, smiles and handshakes were exchanged between me, the proprietor, the owners of the hawker stalls and workers that work here. I miss the awesome iced Nescafe that I always have in the morning before work starts. My office is still on holiday, but I yearned for the comforting atmosphere which greets me daily. So here I am, at my favourite table, facing the back alley, while above me a ceiling fan whirled. I am back where I belong.|
|Near me sat my favourite server that often brings me that iced Nescafe. He is having his brunch break for 10 minutes. He is Burmese, his wife is Indonesian, and they have a baby daughter of about one year old. I find it a comforting thought that fate somehow brought their lives together here, where they married and is starting a family. As a foreign general worker in Malaysia, things can really be difficult, but if you have the luck of getting a good boss, things are not so bad. The wife used to work in the chinese kopitiam next door, but since the change of owner, I have not seen her.|
|This man used to make the most awesome char kuay teow (chinese fried broad noodles) in another chinese kopitiam nearby. But the owner of that kopitiam wanted to increase rental of space for his hawker stall, so he and a bunch of others left and joined this chinese kopitiam under my office. I remembered he once permed and dyed his hair purple, which did not affect the sale of his char kuay teow, but made him a curious sight here in Desa Sri Hartamas. He doesn't fry anymore of his char kuay teow, focussing instead on serving curry mee, beehoon soup and instant noodles. Which is too bad for me.|
|The chinese kopitiam nextdoor (which is seen next to the overturned tables) has always had a jinx to survive. I guess it 's because my chinese kopitiam has already built up a regular clientele who are loyal. In any event, the hawker stalls there are less varied. I know the first owner, a well-preserved chinese lady in her 50s who rejoices to the name of Jennifer. She is very friendly. But not even her charming manners could save the establishment and after one year she decided to cut her losses. She sold the business to a chinese-mongolian family. I do believe that the father figure is Malaysian (or possibly Singaporean), and he married a mainland China lady from the northern Chinese province of Inner Mongolia. The kopitiam is managed daily by their daughter who is called Yu Yu. They also tried to make good for about one year before succumbing to the inevitable. Now the kopitiam is run by two local chinese brothers. I have not had time to get to know them yet, but I guess I will soon enough.|
|In my breakfast today, I am accompanied by no one, save for one tech magazine and one tech book. The book is written by Cory Doctorow (co-editor of Boing Boing) and entitled 'CONTENT...'. Having almost finished the book, I am a convert to Cory's provocative thinking about information technology, copyright and the internet. This will have a big impact on how I interact with the netizens. But more about that in a separate posting later.|
|This is also my favourite spot in the kopitiam because if I sit here I would face what I call 'The Pillar of God'. The tiled column doesn't look like much but it is very important. For one thing it directly supports the structure and floor of the unit up stairs, which is my office. But most significant of all, upon its ragged surface an anonymous soul wrote in red ink - "God IS ETERNAL (or perhaps INTERNAL)." There are signs of the Divine in the most unlikely of places, and you will find them, if you are looking for them. Do not limit your cognitive senses for God merely in a mosque, church, temple, ashram or synagogue. God is everywhere, but you need to remind yourself of this all the time. Then the Universe will speak to you in words that your mind cannot compute, but is the mother tongue of your heart - In the Language of Love.|