Thursday 11 December 2014

A Sandwich Shop

I have never dreamed myself in a sandwich shop before, which is kind of unusual. It is not as if I've never been in one before. But in Sg we  never had a "make it yourself" sandwich shop. I think people here are too "kiasu" for such a concept to succeed. Folks would simply waste food (stuffing their sandwich) to make their money's worth.

That notwithstanding, I would love to see the kind of falafel sandwich stalls one sees in Amsterdam. Man, those pita pockets are delicious! And you get to fill them up yourself. More greens? No prob. More falafel balls? Well, on certain days you can. 

Despite all that, I do remember a sandwich place in the business district of Shenton Way. I am not sure if they are still here. It was a two-joint establishment: one side a small morning-coffee cafe for standing customers only; the other, a shop space with see-thru fridges filled with a variety of prepacked sandwiches like those sold by 7-Eleven convenience store. Great for "grab and go" hungry office folks. The idea works well during lunch time too where folks could eat a sandwich, have a cuppa and catch up with some reading at a huddle cocktail table.

The sandwich shop I was in in my dream last night is a small one. It reminds me of a similarly tight-spaced Japanese noodle stall I once patronised in Tokyo. There is room enough only for a single-line queue. There's no way anyone can overtake to move faster or jump queue. Everybody filled their sandwich as if they shuffled along like in a slow-moving conveyor queue!

You start with toast bread and top it up with food bits along the queue. The food bits (i.e. fillings for the sandwich) are all contained in small stainless steel bins hanging off the wall rails like some Ikea concept. There are two rows of food: the hanging small food bins and below, the bigger stainless trays with the messier stuff such as baked beans. I note that the beans are warm and steamy. As often is in such a buffet place, the counter top is messy with spilled bits of food everywhere. Otherwise the stainless steel rails and bins do look very clean.

I proceed to top up my toast with beans and lettuce and other stuff.

In the next scene, I am done buying my sandwich and seem glad to stagger out of the shop. A late afternoon sun blinds me and I shield my eyes from it. I am also trying to balance my baked bean drenched sandwich in one hand and and a stainless steel cup of coffee in the other. The cup seems to be clothed in some heat-resistant black polyurethane material. The coffee does not spill as the cup has a screw-on lid.

Like everybody else, I start to look for a place to sit to eat my sandwich.

There is none. And as I am in a side street, I simply sit in the middle and proceed to munch my sandwich. No sooner have I sat down, a car comes and I have to get up. I place my sandwich on top of my coffee cup and put it aside. Baked beans drip down from its sides. That's the lingering image I have of that scene: Coffee cup on the tarmac with some baked beans dripping down the side of a sandwich. Hmm...

After the car passes, I pick up my coffee and kick whatever spilled beans on the road to one side, trying to tidy up. I then join a crowd that's also looking for a place to eat their sandwich. Someone from the shop suggested a nearby place and we all head in that direction.

This new place is quite 'jazzy' and on its walls are life-sized Art Deco-style charcoal sketches of popular figures. There's even one of Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's first prime minister. He is smiling and dressed in a club-like kind of suit (a white one which I think I've seen him wear before).

We all look around the place some more and eventually find some 1960s sofa chairs to sit in. They have vinyl seats and slim rounded legs that taper, very classic designs from that era. The coffee tables come with matching formica tops too.

The End

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