The Cheerful Durian Seller

Under the blazing sun and fasting, Norsiah Nordin is trying to eke out a living selling durians harvested from her own trees. I really respect that. Not just for her fortitude and adherence to religious obligations but also for her sunny disposition by the roadside.

Makcik wanted to give me a bunch of durians for taking her pics. When I declined, she wanted to give me cash to go print her pics at the 15-minute ‘instant print’ shop down the road.

Many younger people I photographed are happy to get the url to my website, Facebook or Instagram to look up their pictures later. Senior citizens without surfing skills or internet access do not have the means we take for granted.

I will make a properly-framed picture and surprise her later as I have done with a few others in past trips. Meanwhile, the encounter is another reminder to get a portable printer or a separate instant camera. Young or old, instant gratification brings joy.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 100, f2.8, 1/500 sec.

Chilling With Makcik Hasiah

Was exhausted after a long hard day exploring the railway area of Behrang. Thus was happy to see a roadside hawker stall serving cold drinks and food. Also a good place to rest and check accumulated messages on my phone, I thought.

Makcik Hasiah, the elderly stall owner, asked me if I came for the lekor. It is east coast fish crackers made from fish and sago flour. It wasn’t ready at the time I arrived.

I told her I came for a cold drink. She said whenever a non-Malay come to her neck of the woods, it must be for her lekor.

Me: Wah! It must be good then?
She: But of course! Muahahaha.

We then went on to joke about so many random things, exchanged anecdotes and laughed ourselves silly. I called her aunty. She’s like an own aunt: motherly, wise, caring, honest and funny.

Me: How many grandchildren do you have?
She: Make a guess.
Me: 10?
She: 27!
Me: Wah! (clasping my head in mock disbelief)
She: Why? But I have 8 kids. Hahaha.

Funny how two strangers from different worlds can connect even with nothing in common, except maybe for the slightly twisted sense of humour and good vibes.

I ended up not looking at my phone at all. When you have good company, you won’t even realise you have a phone. I bid farewell and packed some lekor to go.

She: Will you be back soon?
Me: I am afraid not. Will you miss me so soon?
She: No. Hahaha. I want to see the prints of the pics you took of me.

I should get a battery-operated printer soon.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 800, f13, 1/60 sec.