What did you say…

I went to the Rejang Park shops here one morning…

Rejang Park shops, Sibu

In case anybody is interested, that fancy-looking building on the left used to be a cinema. I dropped by the little shop facing the market to buy my favourite kompia – hot from the oven…

Rejang  Park kompia

The ones here are smaller and thinner and sometimes, they may even be out of shape and do not look so nice but looks can be deceiving for I find that they are crunchier and more fragrant than most – others are often tough and rubbery and not as nice when eaten on their own.

Well, since I was in the vicinity, I thought I would just stop somewhere to have something to eat so I went to this coffee shop that I had been to a few times before. I saw a familiar looking old lady sitting at one of the tables with a middle-aged man. I promptly ordered a plate of char kway teow (fried flat rice noodles) with see-ham (cockles) and the guy got up and went  to cook what I had ordered.

It seemed that he mixed a bit of noodles with the kway teow even though I did not ask for it to be done that way and once ready, it was served right away…

Happy Hours char kway teow

…by a young girl – probably the daughter of the man and the grand-daughter of the old lady…and since she was not in school in the morning, I guessed that she must be in a lower secondary class as they usually have their lessons in the afternoon.

Juak chay lui?” (Direct translation: How much money?) I asked.

“Huh?” she replied, looking quite baffled.

Kui lui?” I rephrased the same question in another way.

She stood there in silence. In the meantime, the Indonesian worker came to my table to serve the kopi-o-peng (iced black coffee) that I had asked for and she saw and heard what was going on and she replied loud and clear, “Empat (Four) ringgit!” I gave the girl the money and she took it curtly and left. Gosh! Don’t people teach their children good manners anymore? Tsk! Tsk!

It was rather early in the morning and there  were no other customers who wanted anything from the stall so that young girl sat at the same table with her grandmother. In the meantime, the old lady’s friend had joined her and they were conversing in Hokkien, discussing whatever they could see in the morning newspaper. The girl did not make a sound nor did she display any interest in what they were talking about.

Then, the old lady saw something in the papers and turning to the girl, she switched code and spoke to her in Mandarin and they talked about whatever they were talking about for a while in the language.

Sigh! The signs are showing, aren’t they? It is so very obvious that the dialects are slowly but surely becoming obsolete in this town especially among the younger generation. Anybody else has had the same experience here or elsewhere?