Santai 27 Sep, 2019


@ahmad abd hamid
Served as a journalist for a year at Berita Harian and for 33 years at Utusan Melayu (M) Bhd. beginning 1980. Last post was Assistant Editor in Chief Utusan Melayu. Also served as Editor in Chief, Magazines. Retired in 2013.

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“MARI… Mari! Mari Mat!…” (Come…come! Come Mat!). 

I could remember vividly the owner of the ‘mamak’ restaurant and his workers yelling while at the same time waving to the people who passed by their restaurant.

THE Teluk Intan Clock Tower, also known as 'Pisa ot The East'.

No, they were not angry or insane. They were just trying to persuade people passing by to drop in at their restaurant.

That was in the late sixties and early seventies. I really missed this yelling and waving as I went down memory lane at Teluk Intan, Perak, recently. 

The once busy restaurant besides the Perak River is now so quiet, unlike during its golden days.

Actually it was a not a restaurant in its real sense. It was just a simple ‘kedai makan’ (eating place) but was a very popular spot among the people of Teluk Intan and also among those who came from outside the town.

The restaurant owner would simply call everyone passing by as ‘Mat’, a simple name to pronounce probably.

 But of course not all of those passing by were Mat. Sometimes they would strike the right name if among them happened to be Ahmad, Samad, Mohamad or Rahmat.

I did not go to Teluk Intan very often then. The town was quite far from my ‘kampung’ (village), about 40 kilometres. 

But during festivals like Hari Raya, my friends and I would throng the town to have some good times and watch movies.

After all it is the biggest town nearest to my kampung. If you want to have funs or watch movies, you would have to go to Teluk Intan, which is the third largest town in Perak after Ipoh and Taiping.

Every time we were in town, the ‘nasi lambai’  was a spot that we would never miss. From far away we could see the waving and hear the yelling “Mari Mari”. 

There was a glimpse of happiness and satisfaction on the face of the owner and the workers when they managed to persuade us to drop in.

The rice was nice and cheap too. With 50 cents, you would get a plate of rice, a slice of curry fish and gravy, a few slices of cucumber and a bit of ‘sambal’. If you requested chicken or beef, that would cost 80 cents per plate.

That was history. When I passed by the ‘kedai makan’ which once stood as ‘kedai nasi lambai’ recently, I was so touched. 

Old memories keep coming back to me. But alas, there was no more yelling and waving to welcome me.

THE Cathay Cinema, Teluk Intan.

Apart from the ‘kedai makan’, the cinemas that I used to frequent, Rex and Cathay, were also close to my heart. 

They are still there. The buildings are still the same, looked old except for the new coatings. These two cinemas usually screened Malay, Indonesian or Hindi  movies, apart from English movies. 

I do not know whether the cinemas still attract many people like they used to be during the golden days.

During Hari Raya, for instance, the cinemas were packed. That was also the time when black market tickets were sold very much above the usual price. There were always buyers, unwillingly though.

Aman Yusof Restaurant.

Just opposite the Cathay cinema is Restaurant Yusofia, once a very popular restaurant in Teluk Intan. Now it is run by the descendants of Yusofia. It has been renamed as ‘Restoran Aman Yusof’.

But with challenges from other food outlets, including fast foods, Restaurant Yusofia now is not as bustling as before.

The historical Clock Tower is still standing strong. The leaning ‘Pisa of The East’, like the Pisa in Italy, remains a popular tourist attraction.

The tower which was constructed in 1885 is strategically located, surrounded by Jalan Pasar, Jalan Selat, Jalan Bandar and Jalan Ah Cheong. It is 25.5 metres tall.

The main purpose of the tower, apart from being a clock tower, was as a reservoir to supply water to the residents of Teluk Intan in those days. During the Japanese occupation, the tower was used as the Japanese’s watch tower.

Coming to Teluk Intan and not visiting the clock tower is as good as not visiting the town. So the next time you visit Teluk Intan, make sure you visit this unique and historical tower.

Going down memory lane at Teluk Intan was indeed touching and brings back sweet memories of yester years. 

There are so many memories that just could not be spelt out one by one.  May be in the near future I will drop by again.

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