I scooted and slithered one final time to Bao Sheng’s, where to-day we laid the Durian Season mournfully to rest. Well, I was to find out, nobody else is marking the occasion with sorrow.
To begin with, two Malay gentlemen happily bade my dimpled ass a fine morning as they cycled past – me only to find them, up around yon bend, just settling in at a roadside stall. When they heard of my objective for the day, it was off to the races they went, learning me good – as is the sacred charge of all red-blooded Penangites – the One Truth of the Penang Durian (viz., don’t bother looking anywhere else, because you’ve found, here, the best in the world that there is — or words to that effect). The one dude was so enthused, he never even bothered to remove his helmet and goggles; the other kept begging him, “First we eat, then we talk.”
When I remarked of the sadness with which I observe the end of the Season, they looked at me as though they thought I were a little bit retarded. But they nevertheless shared with me some of their Ganja (making the obligatory drug reference along the way), which was quite good.
The walk to the farm was the best yet. Beautifully resplendent were the flora…
…and there was practically zero traffic whatsoever.
I expected to find some Fruit Peeps with whom to share my Last Supper, but they’d all flown the coop. It was only myself and six or seven walk-ins scattered throughout the day. Which, turned out, was almost too many people, such was the ænemity of the Morning Harvest – only half a bin’s worth of the good stuff.
Durian Seng and Durian, Jr. quickly sorted them out, finding no Level 3 Aegis. So I paid for the Level 2 Day Pass, and – surprise!, surprise! – we ended up with two full-on Numb fruits (both Kampungs), and one or two less-pronounced Numb fruits. Not at all a bad pull for such a small sample. Elated, I ponied up some extra Ringgit – don’t ask me how many I’ve added to his fanny-pack this season, ’cause I don’t even want to know — and scarfed them on down.
Durian Seng was loquacious as always; and, of course, his font runneth over with rivulets of Durianical wisdom. But every time I tried to steer the conversation toward the King Of Fruit, he brought the prow back around to bigger-picture items: Organic farming, building a community, and Fruitarianism. Though he is not yet in practice fully on board, he loves the Fruit People – not only ’cause he’s philosophically down, but also because it is we who appreciate his works the most. He says 90% of his customers just want to try some Musang King and then split, while the Fruit People are there to listen, learn, and explore – this, of course, is the very reason his farm exists in its current form.
At last I queried whether the people of Penang, when the Durian are not in season, just mope around in a Durianless stupor all the day long? Durian Seng and two other guests just laughed and laughed, explaining that Penang being the Food Capital of the World, they wouldn’t even notice its absence. I suppose the Thais might have something to say about the assertion, so casually advanced, of World Food Supremacy. But be that as it may, his point stands: There’s much more than Durian to the gustatory life of your average Penanger — who will gladly, for example, wait on line for an hour just to get a plate of noodles from a favoured vendor.
Well, if nobody else gives a rat’s hind quarter, at least let me have a good cry, ain’t it?
Goodbye Kun Poh
Goodbye Ang Bak Kia, Ganja, and Hor Lor
O Green Skin and Red Prawn, I bid you good bye
Please come back next year
And ’til then farewell
Durian Seng says the name is to do with trees: If we treat them right, they will honour us with all of the glories that Mother Nature has to offer. I wanted to bid adieu to Bao Sheng, as well — but when I emerged from the pisser, all the guests had gone, Durian, Jr. and Mrs. Durian were mucking about in town, and Durian Seng…well, after three solid months bringing in the harvest and Preaching dat Gospel, even Durianmasters can find themselves all tuckered out.
Thank you, Mr. Chang, for your creativity and vision; for offering to our woeful world this most treasured of spaces, the Bao Sheng Durian Farm.
As if to prove his point that Penang won’t miss its Durian not a whit, the denizens of Balik Pulau were nothing like their usual reserved selves. Quite the opposite, in fact: Popping wheelies in front me, smiling, honking, waving, saying hello, and offering me rides in they vehicle. And that was just on the walk into town. In Balik Pulau itself, the phenomenon was so well heightened, I was sure that a laugh-gas-powered dirigible must have recently exploded in the general direction.
I mark it down to the conclusion of Ramadan – unlike George Town, whose demographic pie is more less equally shared by Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and others, Balik Pulau is decidedly Muslim-orientated (though there is one Hindu temple in town). However you figure to slice it, the good people of Balik Pulau are, of this Tuesday eve, gay as a lark at wing.
By the way, I seen two traffic incidents to-day. Well, I didn’t actually see either one, but bore witness first, on the bus to Teluk Bahang, to a man who’d spilt his motorcycle. Lying on the ground, being attended to by a friend or passerby, he seemed rather agitated, gesticulating to and fro’.
Secondly, walking toward Balik Pulau, a rooster emerged from its yard, let out a mighty cock-a-doodle, walked behind me and, yes, crossed the road. A few seconds later, hearing a loud, hollow thump, I turned expecting to see that a motor-car had struck a cardboard box, or something — instead, the rooster was there struggling in the middle of the road. A second car managed to avoid squishing it, and it then got up and ran/flew back across the road, very narrowly avoiding being hit by another motor coming fast the other direction, and, running with a noticeable limp, made it safely back home.
No idea how it survived, nor even whether it survived. And as for the proverbial question: Why the Hell did that chicken cross the road? Had a fucking deathwish, is the only thing I can figure. Let’s be careful out there friends and feathered folk — looks like the roads are going to be a bugger this week.