"Ahow" Nestle Man
Have You Seen the Old Man?
When I first reported for duty in Kuching in 1994, one distinct figure that kept emerging from my memory was the sight of an ice cream man and his bicycle. At one time it happened when I was in my car and the song 'Streets of London' came into play. Come rain or shine through the years, this old man will always appear as if out of nowhere. With his cap and distinct 'Nestle' brand shirt thats hard to miss. I would always remember the time I am caught in a jam while on a bus or car, Mr. Ice Cream man would be walking along with his bicycle either crossing the road or opposite. It has been many years since we passed by one another this way. There was always this intention to buy an ice cream or two but during most times I could only see him from afar and the busy traffic would push me ahead. So most of our meetings would always be just a matter of seconds. It seems impossible to get some sweet 'Red Bean' potong ice cream from Mr. Nestle Man.
So last Sunday, after a heavy downpour Mr. Nestle man suddenly appeared in my sight as he walked along Jalan Tun Jugah. This was my opportunity I would not miss after waiting to buy from him for so many many years. I made a point to park my car as parking by the side was quite risky due to the recent downpour. It was unfortunate that I had left my Nikon D5000 at home this Sunday. I had to rely on my 2MP Cameraphone as I chatted with Mr. Nestle Man.
Catching up with Nestle Man. It seems that age has weathered him ~ he walks with his bicycle for a few metres, and then pause to catch his breath before walking on again. I remember about ten years ago he walked upright and was able to stabilize his bicycle better. Now it seems a struggle to do so.
Easy does it - the road seems slippery
Not easy to steady the bicycle if the load is heavy but Mr. Nestle Man and his bike lean against one another as a loyal partner would
The cars pass by at high speed but they are considerate of this ice cream seller and his old bicycle
In my conversation with Mr. Nestle Man, he introduced himself as 'Ah How'. By the looks of the bicycle I would say it has been loyal to him for those many years he sold ice creams
'Ah How' says he has been in this trade for almost thirty years. Of course he was more fit when I saw fifteen years or so ago. He is proud of his work and is dedicated to it. Here he is struggling to find my Ice Cream potong... "Kacang Merah Potong ada, ada" he says as if not to disappoint me.
And so I got my Ice Cream potong and bid 'Ah How' goodbye. I am happy to have bought it from him after so many years. I had asked him many questions regarding his welfare but he brushed them off. He seems to have decided that this will be his trade as long as he can steer that bicycle. So my friends, if you see Mr. Ah How aka the Nestle Man, do stop and get your favourite flavour from him. I know he will appear again one day as I cruise along Kuching roads and I will surely get some more Ice Cream Potong from Ah How.
He said, "Those ice cream seller on motorbikes, if they need to take a leek where would they go? They would stop by the roadside and shake the bushes. And how do they pee? Obviously, they had to use their hands. And where do they wash their hands afterwards? You got my message?"
Ever since he told me this story, I never bought wafer cone or bun ice cream by the road side anymore. But once in a while, I still stop these roadside seller for its popsicle (aiskrim kayu), or ais krim potong or packed cone ice cream. That's as far as it should go to help them earn a living.