This year has been, indeed, different. We had a new stall selling Tepung Talam and other sweet dishes at where we were doing our business, which is a welcoming sight. However, about 10 days ago, we were chased off the area by the Alor Setar City Council, or Majlis Bandaraya Alor Setar (MBAS) for "creating traffic hazards". Coincidentally, their visit was about half and hour after the Datuk Bandar of Alor Setar (head of MBAS) came to buy Nasi Arab from Chet. It was an irony which we find it hard to swallow.
We were forced to relocate about 300 meters away to a Medan Selera located next to the Esso gas station. I find the place quite bizarre as there was nobody selling anything in the food court. Sales for both Nasi Arab Pak Tuan and my dishes dropped as many thought we stopped selling and many more didn't know we were there despite Chet's banner at the old location. I realized MBAS just wanted to somebody to "liven" up the place as it is dead almost every Ramadhan season. The location, next to a school and a traffic light junction after the new bypass made the area laden with a horrendous traffic congestion, putting off a lot of people from going there as parking was a problem.
Our old location? Well, it remained the same as we found out that we never created any taffic obstacle. In fact, there so many stalls located by the side of the road along Lebuhraya Sultanah Bahiyah that MBAS never bothered to see. The Ramadhan Bazaar next to Insaniah posed a more dangerous traffic scenario where masses of vehicles simply park and double park along the road with accidents almost daily. However, since the Bazaar was endorsed by MBAS and the vendors are paid for, MBAS never bothered to monitor.
Anyway, this year saw the emergence of my sister's beef curry-puff and baked macaroni with cheese (pasta) above the others. Close at third will be my Bengkang Susu. One of my customers remarked that, at RM5 (RM2.50/slice), it is more filling and tastes better with a bigger size compared to the Lasagna bought at an international fast food joint. Usually if I crave for pasta, I would buy 2 pieces first before selling the rest. I also understand that my sister supplies about 400-500 pieces of karipap daily to a stall operator at the Bazaar Ramadhan at the stadium, and the vendor still find it hard to meet the demands from his customers.
As the last business day is today, Friday 17th August, I was quite hesitant to make too many kuih. Fridays are usually slow as people usually prefer to stay home and cook or go and eat outside for the breaking of fast. Being in the new place doesn't really help my confidence either, plus, it was raining in the first half of the day. However, I still prepared triple the amount of what I always bring, plus the extra trays of godam (shepherds' pie) and bengkang susu that some special customers reserved. My wife and my son even decided to go along and assist me. Alhamdulillah, the whole supply was sold in less than one hour.
My stall received visits from a number of friends and close relatives, just like the years before, and I really appreciate them coming over and I really hope that they enjoy the food we prepared.
My cousin showed me a picture of his mother's godam, which was more traditional and original compared to mine. That really gives me an inspiration to revise my godam preparation for next year. Her pie follows the authentic style where the mashed potato is used as the base and crust of the pie, with the beef filling in between. My version is a more modernized and simplified version where, due to the size of the cup, it has no base. The beef filling is at the bottom and the mashed potato is on the top as the crust. In fact, the original rustic shepherds' pie in Greece, as prepared by farmers, are more in the style of my aunt's, which is hard enough to be sliced and held. Looks like I'll be experimenting a lot on this for the next 11 months.
If we are to be in the same location next year, I think by that time, many of our usual customers will know of it by that time. To my customers, thank you very much and I really apologize to those who did not have the chance to try my dishes when they came over.
I wish all, Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Fitri, Maaf Zahir Batin, from Syed Alfian Barakbah, Sharifah Rafita Shahab and Syed Muhammad Zulkifli.