Tag Archives: kopitiam

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.