Recently returned to my hometown, Batam, for Chinese New Year. It was a very special trip, mainly because it’s been four years since the last time I celebrated CNY with my family, but partly is because my job had pushed me to look into this island with a fresh pair of eyes…
It was an eye-opener.
I visited my usual favourite chow spots, only this time I am packed with questions. Like this satay stall in front of Morning Bakery next to Tua Pek Kong Temple… It’s the same old man who’s been making me satay since the early 90s.
Pak Muktar came from Padang, he has 6 children, youngest being 14 years old.
I also met his son, Ali, who is also selling satay in from Hotel Nagoya, it was totally coincidence! If I didn’t ask, I would never know.
"My dad is a very hardworking man. Everyone in the family is asking him to retire, but he refused to… Still selling satay at 64 years old," says Ali of his father.
Pak Muktar looking a little shy in the picture, but in person, he has such a bubbly personality, you’d never thought he’s 64. Just a pushcarts, a low wooden table and stools, a humble setup on roadside…
His sate padang still tasted like how it used to be decades ago, I’d like to be specific… but it’s simply delicious.