When I get to Chinatown I avoid Petaling Jaya and I look for a restaurant patronized by the locals. It reminds me of some places where I used to eat when I was in China, with fine-tuned atmosphere and better hygiene. A strip of dismal buildings flows on my right: a magnet for tourists, two fetid inns, my eye is searching for a reference point. I reach the junction and turn around, then my sight lines up with a closed rolling shutter. I consider the possibility of going to another area, or a further search of the quarter's streets, but I've defied my appetite for way too long and I find myself sitting on a seismic stool, in one of the joints that I brushed off earlier on. The plastic bends, my bottom sways, while I stare overwhelmed at a heap of rubbish. I proudly stand up, the hell with my hunger, then I spot a table in a better place. The owner is coarse, a Mr. Disgust, he tears the order away from my lips and walks away without any grace. With chopstick thrusts I gut noodles and vegetables, armored food, adulteration-proof, scorched in a wok right next to me. Mr. Disgust, in between orders, sits at a small desk facing me. He's using his teeth to smash the shell of a crab, sucking meat and saliva, licking the fingers that brought me the tools and a straw. Shreds of the carcass hang from his chin before sinking into a basket filled with white cabbage. I hope - and I don't believe it - that it's kitchen waste. I shove the dishes away, ask the caveman my bill and with the glass in my hand I intercept disjointed scenes. A waiter arrives carrying a basin, then he empties it into the clean cutleries tray. A spoon hits the edge and falls on the sidewalk: the waiter picks it up, fiddles with it for a while, then lets it fall with a clinking into the tray.
Damn the hunger that doesn't let one wait. I carry out a rough statistical game: this is what I've seen in just less than half hour...
Photo by Fabio Pulito
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