living in london pt 10

26 May


I woke up this morning at 5am and opened the curtains and saw the street wet , suggesting it had rained overnight. and went back to sleep and half an hour later woke up yearning for a malaysian or singapore kopitiam breakfast. 

in those days u can order a kopi kau, (meaning the first straining  of local coffee from the cloth filter, so that it is strong) and then from the steaming tower of bamboo baskets chose your dimsum. usually there are not as extensive a choice as u would get in a restaurant at lunchtime, but there will always be har kau, siew mai, or pau, (char siew pau, or pork pau, or black sweet black bean paste pau). and that is filling enough. 

or you would take one of the nasi lemak banana leaf wraps that will be lying around on the table and eat the fragrant offerings inside, usually minimal ingredients with a sambal of anchovies,a slice of cucumber,  and very fragrant coconut rice. they are all very cheap. in those days. not sure nowadays. or even if they are available any more. 

or u might ask for a bread toast of kaya jam, and a soft boiled egg. 

or u might ask for porridge. 

mostly i would go for the dim sum. it is so nice to just sit and sip the coffee , in a thick lipped porcelain cup and saucer, which invariably will have spilt coffee in it, which you wont waste and tip it back to the cup.

i know some old guys would cool the coffee by pouring it onto the saucer and then sip the saucer . A bit gross but you kind of got used to seeing it haha. (though now i come to think of it, i wonder why i consider that gross. it sounds entirely logical.)

and enjoy the cool of the day, as mornings are the only times when the air feels so fresh and clean and cool, and so quiet before people crowd in and things get busy. 

these are the little things that come to me now and then, now that i live in london, memories of my days and childhood in malaysia. and i am filled with nostalgia when it happens. the happy days of yore. 

And i still dream of my working days as a dentist, and just now i got a new dream about my days as a multilevel marketeer. they are pleasant dreams, for eg one where i expertly and swiftly took out a wisdom tooth and feeling good about it. i wonder if people dream of their working days when they retire? I enjoy my working life, mainly because i can take long holidays away from it, so it never gets stale. i never feel overworked and stressed about it, i know when and how to balance it with life… but it seems strange that i still dream about it, now i am not working anymore and happy not to be working. 

these memories are nice but i realise there is no going back to those days. The long lazy evenings chatting about nothing with friends in the mamak stalls drinking teh tarik, for example. Even if i go now to malaysia and singapore and go to a kopi tiam , it wont be the same. i have changed, if the place have not.

I think this post reminds me of my days in singapore and malaysia. 

Now I live in london and breakfast is bacon and eggs , fried tomatoes , baked beans, toast with butter and jam, the traditional breakfast which brings along with it memories too. nowadays i seldom eat it, preferring just to have porridge with a sprinkling of sultanas everyday. though when simon breaks open a pack of bacon, and i have fresh tomatoes, i will have it and bring back memories.

I was in soho yesterday, where they had  street stalls set up as a market. there was one stall selling leather knapsacks and brief cases, from £90. in the old days i would be tempted to buy the leather knapsacks. they are lovely. but i love my gym style nylon bag i use now so i doubt i shall want to go back to using a leather one.

just as well, i was thinking, it saves me spending £90 haha.

It was pleasant walking the street in sunshine, and sitting in soho square looking at people, and reminds me of the old days when i would hang about soho, sitting outside cafe nero, or the long gone old compton st cafe(open 24hrs),  and soho square; and meet and greet friends as invariably they too will be hanging about there. now i dont know anyone. i wonder if i shall wake up dreaming of it years later if i live long enough. 


4 Responses to “living in london pt 10”

  1. Lottie Nevin Friday May 30, 2014 at 5:57 am #

    I think that this nostalgia thing is a sign of our age! I find myself looking back and reflecting on things that have passed. I’m not sad or wistful, it’s merely a way of trying to make sense of life and get some perspective. How fantastic that you’ve had the chance to live in different places. How long have you been in London?

    • alifesgayventure Friday May 30, 2014 at 9:20 am #

      do you dream of your past in your sleep?. that happens to me when i dream. . i dream i am a dentist again. it does not happen often thank goodness. as for wanting to have a kopitiam breakfast, i think that is nostalgia, but i think it is a sign of an expat. i doubt malaysians even when they are retired get nostalgic for that. haha. because if they live in malaysia they could easily go out and can do it even now. have breakfast in a kopitiam i i doubt it is an age thing.
      i have not been back to malaysia for a long time, but i think the old fashioned kopitiam still exists, esp round where my family home is, in petaling jaya.
      i have been in london for so long, i think of it as home now. i used to be nostalgic for the malaysian foods and fruits, but not so much as to make me fly back for them.
      though you are right when u say it is a age thing. when one lives long enough, one can compare what is now with what is when we are younger. the quality has deteriorated. and i am not just saying it like a nostalgic… little things like you get liberal amounts of condensed milk in the black coffee, unlike now when they put a small amount just to colour it and use suger to sweeten it. or when you order satay, u get unlimited cucumber and onions and satay sauce, now you get one portion and that is it. but we got the internet now so maybe it compensates. haha.

      • Lottie Nevin Saturday May 31, 2014 at 10:09 am #

        I have very weird dreams, especially after drinking fresh mint tea…..! I don’t dream of the past as such but I do have people from my past come in to my dreams. Dreams are fascinating. Try drinking some fresh mint tea before bed-time and let me know how you get on 🙂

  2. alifesgayventure Saturday May 31, 2014 at 10:50 am #

    hi lottie, i am not keen on dreams, because they wake me up. gone are the times when i dream of flying…then i dont want to wake up… those were nice dreams. people use weird dreams to write stories, so u might like to take up story writing based on the weird dreams u have. fresh mint!! it is your country life peeping through. i do enjoy the pictures you take of the surrounding areas when u went on that walk with the dog. it is fascinating to see that not all the land is used for cultivation. seems like plenty is left on its own. i see a small stream there, so maybe when it is raining season that gully is a flood.

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