‘… I feel like having Nasi Lemak Antarabangsa @ Kampung Bharu. Want to come ? ‘ So said the sms from BroN. BroN is in town to attend the MIHAS trade fair, and as usual, he needed his fix of non-sterile eating places which have since extincted from our hometown.
BroN and I went back a long way, where he was very much a mentor and the elder brother figure in the association I have been part of since I was a kid. Through those wonderful years, we have worked together to invite scholars from the world over to come and give public/in house/closed door lectures and/or discourses on our little island.
So at around 10-ish last night, we fetched BroN from the hotel. He was not alone but came to KL with one of the teachers from his school. This teacher, a Morrocan carries the citizenship of my hometown due to his marriage, have lived in Kedah for 6 years but speaks Bahasa like a native Indonesian. And he teaches Arabic in my hometown now. Globalisation, yes?
The 4 of us went to Kampung Bharu, to a shack which says Nasi Lemak Antarabangsa. Neither the husband nor I have been there before. For a first timer, I was observing intently the things around. It was 11 pm when we arrived but the shack didn’t look as though it was closing anytime soon. In fact, a huge container of sambal was just sent out from the kitchen. People were queuing, most seats were taken. There were also many huge pots and baskets on the counter. In the pots there were sambal sotong, rendang and their signature sambal. In the baskets there were crispy fried chicken, thinly sliced paru goreng garing-garing, bergedil, telur rebus, telur goreng and a container full of crispy ikan bilis. And people just kept on coming.
Sitting down facing the street, I saw Kampung Bharu at night. In a while, the mat rempits made their sporadic appearance. On their motor kapcai and colourful helmets, they rode noisily across the narrow street, whistling cat calls to the groups of mak nyahs walking past. From where I sat, Menara KL seemed almost within within reach. So near yet so far. The shack, a wooden warung is as humble as it could be with no frills tables and chairs. The waiters were very prompt and its owner, a smartly-dressed man in his 40s went around to see that customers were attended to. In one corner, I noticed a dignified looking group of ‘pakciks‘. Well-dressed but very exhausted looking. When they left, I saw that their vehicle was branded Kerajaan Negeri Sabah. Ahaks…another long,long day at Parliament I guess.
Well the for the novelty, the nasi lemak was quite good. Nothing spectacular but yes, the rice was cooked well- nice and fluffy just the way I like it. The sambal was nice but not spicy enough for me. I had a plate of nasi lemak with crispy paru and sambal sotong– (the janggut part) thrown it. I succumbed to the temptation of midnight supper and threw my diet plan down the nearby longkang.
In between mouthfuls, I asked BroN about how things are back home. As usual, the topics of price increase and the influx of PRCs coming into the island, making it their new home came first. Like, what’s new? Every other visitor from back home talks only about these two things these days and on the latter, with great disdain. Then the men started talking about everything else–Malaysia, post elections, philosophies and other stuffs, while my eyes continued to roam and observe every minute detail of the surrounding.
While my eyes were busy, my ears were not idle either. I did listen to the conversation happening at our table as well. Usually at dinner table talks, I prefer to just listen. Listening allows me to really analyze whatever anyone is saying, study their body language and think of where they are coming from when they put their opinions across. Well last night, I was studying/reading the teacher. Simply because, he’s new to me while I am married to the husband and have known BroN for yonks.
Anyway, whatever they talked about sort reminded me of what Imam Al-Ghazzali said in his book My Dear Beloved Son. He told his son, ” My dear beloved son ! Knowledge without action is madness and action without knowledge is useless ! “.
Oh well…In the light of the mad and useless world we seem to be living in now, I think it is best I seek refuge in a plate of Nasi Lemak Antarabangsa @ Kampung Bharu, with its grime, the sights of mat rempits and maknyahs and down it with a cup of hot teh O halia.
It’s nice having visitors from back home. Somehow they seem to know more of where to lepak compared to us living here.