To me, there is nothing that I look forward to during Ramadan more then to go to Mahbub in Lorong Ara Kiri Satu in Lucky Gardens, Bangsar around 6pm to get food for buka puasa. A joy to see people happy getting food - and happiness because everyone is in a good mood. Nothing else comes close to it. The array of food at Mahbub spilling all over the side walk, the jostling for position to take your pick of what you want – Fish, Prawns, Meat, Chicken, Lamb, Vegetables, Soups, Briyani, Nasi Minyak, Nasi Lemak,Nasi Putih….prompt and polite service ..and then to the counter for payment – fair prices – and then you zoom back into the car. You have to decide whether you should walk over to the stalls near the mosque –take a short cut through the mosque or drive the car over and risk getting caught in the traffic? Either way you must get to the stalls for some drinks and maybe a piece of ayam percik and some kelantanese sweets. That done you smile as you stroll over to the car and head straight for home –for buka puasa. Tomorrow, you tell yourself, you are going to go for Nasi Dagang and Ayam Percik - but Ayam Percik done the Kelantanese way!
Bangsar in Ramadan is a joyful time for everybody. Who cares about the traffic jam? Everyone is part of the traffic. So everyone waits patiently for cars to move. If the car in front of you has stopped to pick up somebody–you put your gear in neutral and smile indulgently as you see the wife hurrying towards her husband in the car in front of you–the husband still with a tie just back from office. He is smiling thinking of the Rendang Tok he will be having for dinner that night - and the guy is Chinese!
Sometimes a flash of glamour as you sees a familiar face from the silver screen. A famous face perhaps. A friend. A cousin. Always somebody you know. Everybody hurrying without stress – the day is almost over and what can be more pleasant that being confronted with more food then you can eat at prices you can afford? Sometimes you wonder how that Briyani Gum stall could expect to sell the three huge cauldron of Briyani’s he had brought over from his stall in Putrajaya. No problems. They are lining up three deep to try and get their fix before he runs out. You knew that the watermelon drink is half watermelon and half water – but that beautiful red color gets you every time and you take two bags home at RM2 each.
What I marvel at is how these stallholders are able to charge you for what you have taken yourself from the dishes spread out at the stall. You scoop the dishes into the container - take as much or as little as you want then all the cashier needs to do is look at what you have taken and she tells you $3.50, $4.00 or $2.60…no hesitation. And the Malaysian public is unfailingly honest. You remind the cashier that you took two pieces of fish –and she will nod her head - all charged for.
When you have done getting all you want – not what you need – but you want –which is invariably much much more then what you need – you go home and quietly tell yourself off for getting more then the family can eat for dinner. But of course you excuse yourself, as there is always shahor….
So if you ask me what do I miss about KL, about Bangsar – it is the food. So much choice and so affordable. Anytime of the day and night. There really is nothing like it anywhere in the world……well at least not in Australia.