Where have all the uncles gone?
It’s 10am and I’m packing my school bag, ‘pon pon pon’ sounds in the distance.
I grab the house keys and run to the door shouting ‘Uncle, Chee Cheong Fun!’.
Ah! My lunch has arrived at our doorstep. I grab a plate and carry it out for my fill of Chee Cheong Fun and fish ball. I watch expectantly as Uncle chops up the Chee Cheong Fun and gives my fish balls a quick dip in his pot of boiling water. Then he adds a scoop of sauce or curry and a dash of oil and toasted sesame seeds. Food cooked on the spot and it’s yummy too.
Then there are the other food vendors who come around with delicious temptations. If you have observed them as you’re waiting for them to prepare your food, you are bound to remember some familiar sounds or movements till today.
The cendol man goes ‘swish, swish, swish’ as he shaves the block of ice over the blade embedded in the wooden block. Listen to the rojak Uncle, and you’ll hear, ‘tok, tok, tok’ as his spatula hits the side of the ceramic bowl. Watch the deft actions of the putu mayam Uncle as he rolls up your order. Now the Roti man in our area used to have a squeaky ‘pin, pin, pin’ horn and he would swerve his bike a little and skid to as stop in front of our house.
However, everyone’s favourite must be the musical sound from our beloved ice cream Uncle. The bells and jingles can be heard many streets away, and he’s like the Pied Piper, luring all the kids out onto the street in the afternoon. Long before fast food delivery service, the Uncles were already providing us with home delivery and made for you food, there on your doorstep with all the theatrics included.
Where have all the Uncles gone? These days, except for the roti and newspaper Uncle, everyone of them seem to have disappeared. It’s just too bad that I can no longer feed my hunger right at my doorstep. Those were indeed the good old days. – By Teh Hui Yee