Friday, 7 December 2007
Roti Man Through The Ages
Since I have been harping on the topic of bread recently, I thought I might as well try to preserve the memory of our Roti Man before they can only be seen through paintings. Nonetheless I am not so old to remember if the Roti Man ever peddled his breads via 'kandar' or yoke, but my earliest memory of buying bread from the bread vendor or Roti Man is from one who cycled in our neighbourhood while balancing a specially designed container that shows off his wears. And something that sticks to my mind till now was that at that time, the Roti Man even offered something that what we called 'tikam-tikam' or actually a form of roulette except it can be of two version, a real spin the wheel number game where the number you get determines the prize you win or the pull type like shown here. The prize is not big, either another piece of bread or bag of crisp. I was quite good at it actually but the fun stopped when the authorities wisen up to the gambling elements and put a stop to the nonsense. I had thought that this species of a bicycle paddling roti man was extinct bit recently I saw one roaming the backstreets of Jalan Ipoh in KL, so I guess the prevailing high price of gas may see them making a comeback. But this guy had his bread container at the back, unlike those traditional types here.
Next came the roti man with the tricycle that are still prevalent in my hometown of Ipoh but seems to have vanished in Kuala Lumpur. I guess it is not easy to maneuver a tricycle around KL traffic so they have gone the way of the dinosaurs. However one advantage of this machine is that the roti man can still maintain their business of stacking kuih2 and loose breads and buns in the bread trays in their special container unlike what is happening with the more common roti man with a single covered container on the motorcycle back with all manners of goods hanging by the side. I loved the variety of breads showcased through the glass windows, and would not fail to buy a different type of bread when he called to the house. Beats the monotony that you get from the roti man nowadays.
The road hazard type of Roti Man you see nowadays is what I guess the last evolution of the species before they vanish from this earth. Yes you used to see bread vending vans previously but I have not seen any for a long time so I think I can safely assume they are gone. Yes the Roti Man still serve a variety of bread, but like I said you cannot get loose breads and kuihs from them anymore. At least in KL though I see in Penang they can still maintain the tiered type of container at the back. Although they seem to be an endangered species nowadays, I do not think they can vanish that easily. Too many households still depend on them for their daily bread delivery. Oh yes I forgot to mention a special service that sets them apart from buying bread from stores. They offer credit so it is convenient for some to maintain their regular bread purchases. Enough said!