This entry is in a way an attempt at my already failed challenge with Datin Rosmah Yaakob.
Makan Cafe, right in the heart of Portobello Market, is the place to be on Saturday - or any other day. The atmosphere, the people and of course the food. Yesterday, a little late, the children decided to have their favourite all day English breakfast of toast, halal sausage, baked beans, fried eggs. I had my usual laksa lemak and Hulaimi ordered satay. I have always wanted to be a fly on the wall in Makan Cafe. Ani and Azhar - the owner have what it takes to attract all kinds of people to their popular eatery in one of the most popular street markets in London. It was made even more popular by the film Nottinghill with its blue painted door.
Yesterday, the crowd at Makan Cafe was a mixture of the usual tourists to the area and regulars like us. Ani, after making whatever she had to do in the kitchen, came out and talked to her customers, chatted with her regulars and even sat down with them for a natter. She is the magnet to Makan Cafe, apart from the food. She listens to their worries, shares their good news and generally a friend to those coming in from the cold.
An old man, sat at the table by the toilet - I couldn't see him at first, but heard his booming voice, sometimes agitated , sometimes, bursting into a song. Ani told me he was one of her regulars - perhaps a singer in his younger days and now a little confused and in his own world in his advanced life. He found sanctuary in Makan Cafe, he found someone who accepted him for what he is, or what he has become.
As one by one customer left to see what was left of the market, a couple walked in. They held on to each other - each with a white walking stick. Both, visibly impaired was the proverbial blind leading the blind. Obviously regulars too to Makan Cafe, they found a table opposite us. The man, perhaps in his sixties, and blessed with a better eyesight then his wife, adjusted the chair for her to sit on. She is hijabbed, and kept her dark glasses on, whispering constantly to him and he responding back.
I couldn't take my eyes off them and felt so much an intruder into their private space. All around me , couples , families, groups of friends were communicating and getting connected - but via their gadgets; whatsapping, sms'ing,, bbm'ing and what not. But this couple, though blind were looking at each other and communicating. The husband would only look away from his wife when he cut and diced the food on her plate. He guided her hand to the cutlery and with saw that she ate her food.
For once I didnt finish my laksa lemak. I watched them enviously. How beautiful is their way of communicating with each other. How connected they are without their Samsung S3 or iPhone or the latest gadget in the market.
When we were done, I took a snap of them together but mysteriously, there was no trace of that picture. Perhaps I wasnt supposed to intrude into their private space. Perhaps they were not even there - but others with me saw them too. Perhaps, the blind couple were there to make us see what we have lost. Yes, perhaps.
We left Makan Cafe, after a rendition of My Way by the old man sitting by the toilet. The cold evening air greeted us and I left Portobello Market with memories of the couple who have more sight and insight then us with 2020 vision.