Market Friday: searching for bean curd in ginger syrup during a walk.

Friday was quite a busy day as I had to go to the bank and get some basic shopping at the Robinson shopping mall. The sun was shining and the sky was beautiful blue, my spirit was high with hopeful vibes. The busy street scene and the crowds at the flea market including the bus stop raised my optimism about the improving economy. More tourists could be seen walking along New Road and around the pier by the Sathorn bridge.

I liked to have a quick walk along this stretch of New Road. Things changed very slowly around here as the older generations of residence still continued to live in these old shophouses. Most of the shops, drug stores and groceries have been around since I was at the secondary schools behind the main road. The school was situated right by the river bank so I often got distracted when tug boats appeared on the river with ten big boats full of rice. Later on the school put air-con in all classrooms so the windows were boarded up, I could no longer enjoy the river views from my desk any more.

But the atmosphere of the old days of carefree joy and friendly vendors along New Road always warmed my heart. People around here were always ready to chat with strangers and assist them even though their English was negligible. I always smiled when listening to fast food vendor talking to foreign customers. It always amazed me that they could actually managed to get the right order for their dishes. Sometimes the cook even asked whether foreign tourists wanted chili in his food!

I liked to friendly vibes and warm welcome of this area a lot that’s why I had to get back there to regain my balance composure and inner harmony. There was a very nice ice cream stall selling old style coconut ice cream so I was hesitating whether I should go for cold snack of warm Chinese ginger syrup snack. Finally I decided I should have something warm to increase my Yang energy.

The stall selling bean curd in ginger syrup was quite a long walk from the main road. But it was worth it as I could observe changes along the row of shophouses and take some photos. Some very elderly lady who used to sell very delicious padthai had decided to retire last year. So, I had only two favourite fast food stalls left around the narrow alleys.

I really preferred to see how my food was being freshly cooked in front of me than having to wait for food cooked in a far away kitchen which took the staff five minutes to deliver at the table. My friends never understood why I declined their offer to go to posh restaurants in four-stars hotels. I often negotiated for my choice of traditional restaurants with old generation cooks still active in the kitchens there.

I wonder where I could have a quick meal when all the elderly cooks decided to retire one day. I might have to carry my lunch box with me as I used to do during my school days. Nowadays people tended to add condiments and various artificial taste enhancers while cooking. The advertisements had destroyed self-confidence of many cooks. Some cooks even told me that customers requested these artificial additives! I was totally astounded! They wanted the chemical poisons in their food for the sake of their taste buds!

I was so glad the vendor opened his business as usual; I hadn’t been there since the long lockdown. This young vendor was very nice and kind with strong work ethics. He prepared and cooked all the ingredients daily that’s why the texture of the bean curd was always consistent and fresh. The ginger syrup was always boiling on the stove and we had the choice of white or brown sugar. The portion was the most generous among similar stalls but his was not diluted with too much water. I had to sit down and enjoy a big bowl of bean curd in ginger syrup there.

The whole thing became a ritual for me as I could suddenly be transported back to my childhood days of sitting on a small wooden stall eating my snack served by an elderly Chinese man in front of my grandmother’s house. I would try to catch him during late afternoon everyday. He would be ringing a small bell and yelling his Chinese phrase to attract his customers. In his brass set of pots, he also has other Chinese snacks like boiled monk beans, red beans in red sticky rice and some other things which I had never tasted. I should have ordered a bowl of each every afternoon, had I known that it would be impossible to taste these Chinese snacks when I got older. This would be my lesson! I had a chance and I didn’t take it!

Talking about letting slipped many chances on offer in my life, I could kick myself in the backside. Sometimes hesitation, procrastination and play safe became my worst enemies! How could I learn to find the right balance?! I didn’t know that most successful people listened to their intuition! I was taught to be reasonable and logical. I had to empty my glass of my conditioned knowledge and start my learning process again.

With the new year looming on the horizon, I dare not setting any resolutions as I always forget them after a week! It’s tricky trying to be moderately skeptical and be perceptive on the present. I know I have to at least try and experiment till I found the right balance. Whenever I feel confused and jammed in my head, I could always go for my bean curd in ginger syrup to heal my aging brain and refresh my spirit.

Wishing you all a very happy and prosperous New Year 2023.

Stay strong and cheerful.

#marketfriday hosted by @dswigle.

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