Monday, February 18, 2013

What Happens to Old Kopitiams When They Die?

With her more well-bred, educated ( though somewhat mysterious ) background, my sensible grandmother has always revered education as her personal pantheon. Despite having some ill-formed doubts, my working-class grandfather, not knowing any better and far more awed by the intelligentsia, obviously capitulated easily when it came to schooling their numerous progeny.

Like the majority of earnest, diligent Chinese immigrants back then, they've always hoped for their prolific descendants to study hard to graduate as doctors, lawyers, engineers etc. Climbing the social ladder so to speak. So even with the meagre earnings from the family coffeeshop, all my uncles and aunts managed to scrape through high school - and yes, the peers of my own generation consequently got browbeaten into returning with, at the very least, a university degree.

Leaving the unfortunate family coffeeshop as the inadvertent victim of their own success, you would say.

Since now, the old coffeeshop seems to be sadly languishing in need of urgent direction. Hardly the money-spinner it was in the post-colonial heydays, the metal grilles of the gate lie open on a daily basis but few customers trickle in, more from the dismal lack of dishes on the menu than anything else. Literally a coffeeshop these days since that's almost all that's on offer these days.

A cup of coffee anyone?

Overly educated with books and degrees, few of us pampered college boys can handle the zealous back-breaking work required to run a simple coffeeshop. Mixing a simple cuppa wouldn't be that difficult for me but I doubt I could handle more than that. Not that my conservative grandmother would even hear of such a thing.

Paul : Maybe it's time one of us came back to run the coffeeshop. 
Grandma : Good God WHY!
Paul : Someone has to! It's a family legacy. 
Grandma : I didn't send you all to college and university just to return here to roast coffee beans!
Paul : You'd be surprised at what we're learning at university these days. 
Grandma : Don't even think about it! It's such awfully laborious, time-consuming work!
Paul : But -
Grandma : You work with your brains, not with your hands. In air-conditioned carpeted offices not the sweltering kitchens.
Paul : Trust me, my brains don't work that much actually.
Grandma : Put it out of your mind, we shall just leave shop as it is. 

Like many other similarly abandoned coffeeshops around the older quarters of town. Old downtown kopitiams left behind as the younger generation moves on to easier, more profitable enterprises.

Of course unbeknownst to her - probably much to her horror - some of my more entrepreneurial cousins and I have started coming up with ambitious new proposals on how to refurbish the coffeeshop and make it work. Artisanal coffee maybe? Perhaps even a stylish bed & breakfast?


sharman said...

Oooo i can't wait! Im sure its gonna be fab with your ideas behind it. Have a cozy corner, i can bring my books to read :D ... Dont forget to invite okay!

Ash Godiva said...

legacy need to go on!where's the coffee shop?i want to go,and cute barrista there:D

savante said...

Will definitely have a cozy corner to read books, sharman!

And cute baristas as well, ash.