Friday, 15 July 2011

Bao Sheng's KL durian party

It was an opportunity that I couldn't decline. Last month while I was visiting Durian Seng's durian farm in Sungai Pinang - on the other side of Penang island - he asked me whether I had the time to follow him and his friends down to Kuala Lumpur.

We are delivering some 600 durian to a private function there, he told me. But I'll just be in the way, I replied. What do I know about your durian except to eat them when opened? I don't have a durian penknife to open the fruit and even if I have one, I wouldn't know how to use it. Don't worry, he assured me. All he wanted was to recruit some friends who could join in the drive. It would be a long day, he warned me, because we would be going down in the morning and possibly be driving back in the middle of the night.

Well, I was all game. As I said earlier, this was an opportunity not to be missed. Six hundred durians. Of the best quality. From Balik Pulau, Penang. All the Hor Lors, Red Prawns, Bak Eus and whatever else. I'd be surrounded by a treasure trove of the finest quality durian.

On the day we were supposed to go down to KL, Durian Seng called. Sorry, he said, his customer has now requested 900 durians and so, he has to use the morning to source for more fruits from his siblings' farms. You see, it's not only his farm alone that's producing those durians. He has several brothers, all durian orchard owners too, but he is the most visible among them.

Eventually, he came to Bukit Mertajam and picked me up at about 12.30pm. By the time we arrived in Kuala Lumpur, it was 5.30pm. Just about one and a half hours left to unload the fruits and wheel the containers into the clubhouse.

So this is what a carload of 250 durian fruits look like, the first thought that came into my mind when I opened the boot of the Avanza. That many, huh? And there were altogether four cars. Inside the clubhouse, it was left to Durian Seng and his wife to separate out the durians. They were the experts. They knew which were which.

This then, was the lull before the storm. All the durian had been stacked nicely at the back and also beneath the tables. Durian Seng was getting ready to open one or two fruits for display. For variety, there were also rambutans, mangosteens and langsats. When the guests started arrive from 7.30pm, Durian Seng and his friends got busy opening the fruits. Me? I stood in the background, my job being to help them clear away the empty durian skins. And I tell you, it was hard work and agony. We worked non-stop right until 10pm.

That was when we finally had time to catch some breath and had something to eat. But before long, people started pushing forward again, this time to take back those unopened durian. They knew that the best among the fruit had been reserved for last, and this was what they were waiting for.

It's funny how people can react to durian with the wildest abandon. When it comes to this fruit, sometimes they lose all their reservations and inner inhibitions and you see their starkest, unadulterated characters. Their behaviour is either at their best or their worst. So if you are a student of behavioural science, you can certainly draw conclusions from seeing how people react to the durian fruits.

Anyway, this was just my observation. At 11.30pm, we started packing up for the long drive back to Penang. We left the clubhouse way past midnight and I reached home at about 5.30am. Funny though, despite the long drives and the hard work, I didn't feel tired at all. I only managed to catch some sleep at nine in the morning. But it took me two days to get over the experience and return to my normal routine. And I still don't know anything about opening a durian with a penknife.

No comments: