Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Roti Man

There were a couple of of Roti Man in my life but one in particular remains in my memory - the one from Lorong Dua, Eng Ann Estate Klang. He would come by around 5-6 pm in the evening, pedaling his bicycle and a big rattan basket with a domed metal top, behind. Loaves of breads, encased in plastic bags, will hang around the perimeter of the basket. He would press the horn on his handle bar and hoot his arrival, simultaneously shouting "Roti, roti", meaning bread.

Oh, how I am always lamenting that we as a family really did not take many pictures, if at all. I have no picture of my Roti Man. My Roti Man was younger than the man in this picture but his set up was very similar. A favorite treat of the family - but never mine - was the coconut buns. Freshly grated coconut cooked in gula melaka encased in a bun. He has Hainanese Bread - soft white bread, fabulous lightly toasted and smeared with Kaya (coconut jam). Roti Man in picture looks like he is doing just that! Hard rolls, soft rolls, buns with all kinds of fillings and monkey bread....... See how he uses the dome cover as working surface.

Talking about monkey bread - that is what makes this particular Roti Man special to me. Not the bread - the Monkey. Let me explain. Around this time, dad had bought me a pet monkey - a pig tailed monkey. Kiki. I would take Kiki out for a walk in the evening, just like you would a dog. Roti Man loved Kiki. He was always trying to get me to sell him Kiki. He offered me a lifetime supply of all the bread our family could eat if I gave him Kiki. I never ever took him up on the offer.

Roti Man would save stale bread for Kiki. Of course, he continued bribing me with extra or free bread every so often. Our street became his rest stop. He would take time off and walk Kiki while I tended to his bread. Ha,ha. I know - how simple life was then. I collected money from the neighbors for the breads purchased while he walked Kiki, all within my sight of course.

Roti Man said he wanted Kiki to pluck coconuts for him. That is what they train pig tailed monkeys to do in Malaysia. I could never give up my buddy and he knew it but Kiki was what linked us together. Sadly, I do not have a picture of the Roti Man or Kiki......


  1. Hi there,

    I stumbled upon your blog searching for pandan in San Diego. And this blog entry caught my eye immediately as I went to Kwang Hua High school! So glad to know there's another Klang folk in town. Hope we can connect in SD. :)

    1. Hi there fellow Klangite! I went to MGS Klang. Pandan is a hard plant to find and also to keep alive. I had a mother plant that lived for 5 years but died 2 years ago. While pandan grows almost like weed in Malaysia, it is easily damaged by cold weather. I know of nurseries who had to go back to their clients to buy back pandan plants when their mother plant died. Last year I bought some pandan plants from Baker Creek, only 1 survived. When it gets bigger and has "babies" I could spare you one.