I woke up at half three this morning as a result my usual dose of jet lag. Twenty two years of this and biology still kicks in as it should. I wasn’t really complaining as ayah and I then left the house at about half four to do the grocery shopping at the usual – the weekly pasar tani at Kelana Jaya.

As it is with my family, we only frequent the stalls of our regular vendors. We have this thing about loyalty (brand or otherwise – just see what make of a car I drive for the past 16 years) unless we notice we’re about to get shafted before which we will bring our custom somewhere else. The one thing that still struck me, no matter how long I’ve noticed it, is the price of goods. Of course, I shouldn’t be comparing today’s prices with those of 1985. Nor should I forget that we are in KL, not Kuala Perlis.

Haa. Tiga baghang haghi ni. Enam puluh tiga ringgit. Saya jual.

That was one kilo of udang, one of sotong and a few small silver pomfrets (son of bawal putih). The catch was absolutely fresh as we note the rebound of the ikan merah‘s flesh after a prod. Ayah then told me how ikan tenggiri (King mackerel) have two general appearance – one with stripes and the other with spots, which was on display. I also learnt that the senangin (we call it ikan lipstick – Wiki describes it as the Indian salmon) is the next best one to ikan kurau (used to love fried filet of kurau made into fish and chips at Si Rusa in Port Dickson as a kid). Unlike yours truly, he knows a lot about fish.

Our next pitstop was the dried goods seller where we bought some pappadom, potatoes, asam keping and my one-kilo limit supply (as described by DEFRA) of ikan bilis. I always buy the bersih variety as I couldn’t be arsed to get rid of the bilis’ heads. And how much is a kilo of bilis? RM38. Dude, that’s just about £7-8-ish.

As we get to the pasar early, we made absolutely sure that we catch our usual daging man (a chap called Alwi) just as he gets down from his truck to unload so that we can tell him what we needed. We tend to go for the sirloin cut (we used to ask for batang pinang until he corrected us that what we’ve describing was actually sirloin[1]). And when we buy it, we get the ENTIRE sirloin cut from that lateral half of the cow. That would last us a while. And the damage? RM59.

The total expenditure for this sebelum subuh venture came to about a few sen under RM180. You would immediately want to chastise me for complaining about prices of what I have indeed described as ‘luxury’ versions of the common or garden items people would get from the market, which is fair enough. But, I daresay the regular stuff ain’t that cheap either. A security guard earning less than a grand a month risking life and limb may not buy sirloin but can you imagine how is he going to feed his family, let alone sending his kids to school. I may not work in my home country but those close to me are, and I know the deal.

If you’re not up there, you’re little people (to paraphrase Rick Deckard’s ex-boss in Blade Runner). And not everyone is up there. Which is no wonder, really, why people are the way they are when it comes to getting a slice of the proverbial cake.

[1]Please don’t ask which category of cut he was referring to, ie American, British or Dutch.