Thursday, April 30, 2009

Buying Rice in Sibu Central Market

A group of my friends buying rice in the Sibu Central Market where prices are very reasonable. In many places all over the world rice price can skyrocket at the whims and fancies of the suppliers and government. Some rice have to be even bought at black market prices. We are indeed blessed by Sibu suppliers who have been able to maintain a good price.

Rice is fresh and nicely displayed in this age old style. You can tell that rice is fresh from the shiny look and good solid colours without any speck of dust and smell of mustiness.

This is the ancient metal scoop for scooping an amount of rice into a plastic bag for good measurement on a scale. We used the daching a long time ago but today that is no longer permissible by regulation. So a normal international metric scale which is easier for most people.

The Foochows would used the term "leurn mi" meaning to measure some rice. Many decades ago in Sibu when the farmers did not have ready cash for their purchaes they would have to say "chok mi" meaning "borrow some rice" and the shop keepers would know that they would get first and pay later. Immediately the shop keeper would take out the account book and write down the rice bought against the name of the farmer.

I still remember a very very old story of a relative who had many children who ran out of rice. His wife did not have the "face" to borrow some more rice from the shopkeeper. Finally when the son came home from school at about six in the evening he was asked to borrow the rice . He took his father's bicycle which was way too big for him and pedalled the three miles to Sibu from their rubber garden. He was very embarrassed but he knew that his sickly father could not tap rubber fast enough to feed the family. Each push of the pedal must have been excruciating for him. After the incident he decided that he must tap more rubber by getting up even earlier before he went to school. At a young age of 15 he was already more than the "father" to his siblings. He is one of our most filial sons of Sibu.

He developed great humility from his daily errands. Today he is a multimillionaire and is always very helpful to poor people. He continues to be very frugal and simple.

Looking at rice always make me think of katis and tahils for old time sake. But very few people can remember that any more. However in most places in China this measurement is still being used.

11 memories:

Superman said...

I used to buy rice there with my mum also. Like the Bario rice over there! Nice and reasonable price.

pennylane said...

haiyah when i see rice in sarawak i just get so very home sick. i miss all the bario rice and rice planted by the ibans.

i know that when my aunt plants and harvest her rice and gives some to us we eat it sparingly. if we have extra we give them to close friends and it's such a valuable gift, for me event a standard charterd golden handshake retirement award cannot be compared to giving and receiving rice planted by relatives who toiled hard planting rice to earn a living.

have a read here:

I wonder if the rice planted will ever taste as good or be as valuable as rice grown by relatives.

sarawakiana said...

Thanks for stopping by. Bario rice is great. So soft for the throat and after swallowing some of it you just want more!!

sarawakiana said...

One is always longing for the best rice from home/kampong. Home grown rice in Sarawak is particularly fragrant because it is often the hill padi type which is more superior to wet land or swamp rice.
Hope you will enjoy some when you get home.

catherine said...

I am not sure the shop keepers here use this kind of scoop in Miri. Everything we buy in the supermarket is already well packed. Interesting to know people still use this. A little part of our Chinese culture.
Rice is really so important to us.

kamaliah said...

I like your story of your relative borrowing rice. It is always very tragic to be poor.

In my mother's culture no one should ever ever borrow rice because they all have to plant their own rice and have more than enough every year. However today with too many urban poor around this borrowing of rice may become even more prevalent!!!

sarawakiana said...

It is nice of you to visit!
I am sure some very old sundry shops still use this scoop.
supermarkets are very new systems actually and everything is different to speed up buying and selling.

sarawakiana said...

Yes I know many indigenous cultures have very rich customs about growing of rice. Such customs have kept the people alive for centuries!!
But with the advancement of modern culture many of these customs (wisdom) have been left behind.

Just a Little Kindness said...

When I was young I used to carry the rice my grandfather bought from our special kawan shop. We tried our best not to owe. But sometimes my father did not send enough for the month or two months. So we had to "owe". After some time it was not that painful anymore. It became a way of life.
Nowadays we have to budget well and pay cash. No more owing because two of us are working - husband and wife. Long ago may be only one person (son) would have to earn for 15 people. So it was harder.
Thanks for the story.

sarawakiana said...

Thanks for your sharing. Our lives often become exceptionally significant when we start thinking more deeply about the whys and the hows and move forward bravely.

All the best to you!

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Kamaliah and Catherine

I have not entirely abandoned Sarawakiana. At Sarawakiana@2 I will continue to write more (more on other places in Sarawak too). But I will come back to Sarawakiana to redo some of the older stuff. So do visit....
Also I can write some more in Sarawakiana...but no more new photos

Thanks for your support.


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