Clubs, as I’ve come to realise, are a pretty strange thing.
On one hand, they offer an ample getaway from all of Singapore’s notorious stress: music, booze and eye candies.
Yet, on the other hand, they also create some of the most ill-tempered individuals Singapore has seen in a while.
To really put it into perspective, one need only ask New Shah Alam owner Mohamed Kamaludeen Babu Hussain, 44. Having managed the stall for the past 15 years, he has seen its fair share of drunken incidents.
And really, it makes you wonder; is being a Prata man really as easy as people perceive?
Especially one operating in an area so infested of such ‘ill-tempered entities’?
According to The New Paper, revellers from clubs at Clarke Quay frequently stumble into New Shah Alam at Circular Road, looking for their prata fix.
However, while most eat and leave without any complications, some, either voluntarily or involuntarily, proceed to cause trouble for workers.
Or in other words, troublemakers.
Life Of A Prata Seller
New Shah Alam owner Mohamed Kamaludeen Babu Hussain, for one, would definitely know about it. Having managed the stall for the past 15 years, he has seen enough incidents to fill an entire interview.
“Life is hard as a prata seller,” he said. “Many people drink too much around the area and come here. Some are troublemakers.”
According to the Singapore PR, there have been several fights, and his staff often find themselves the targets of abuse.
It has to be mentioned that even at the time of the interview, an aggressive customer reportedly trudged up to the counter, threatening to desert the place if his food was not served immediately.
Fights & Vomit
“Fighting is not very common, but when people do fight, it’s usually over staring incidents or girls,” he said.
“People also vomit all over, or sleep and then don’t want to wake up, or shout at my staff and throw the food at them.”
There were even cases of ‘leaving without paying’, with groups of young men leaving one at a time without paying.
“The last person then says he’s paying only for himself. When we ask about the rest, he’ll claim he doesn’t know them,” said Mr Kamaludeen.
“What to do? Just let it go. We make a loss, but it’s okay.”
Yet, despite being equipped with multiple CCTV cameras around the stall, staff are unwilling to call the police for incidents like these.
“We don’t call the police often, why bother them?”
According to The New Paper, many Prata stall workers hail from Malaysia and India, and some work here in Singapore to earn more for their family back home.
Some also slog through the graveyard shifts for weeks, collecting days-off for a long trip home to see their children.
That infamous slashing incident at Habib’s Express
While the experience of clubbing might (involuntarily) lead to a whole host of violent incidents, it seems that at the very end, it’s not so much of clubs themselves…
But alcohol that really triggers the monster in everyone.
Just last year, a drunken trio turned up at the doors of Prata stall Habib’s Express in Clementi, requesting for some free Prata. When they were denied, they picked up a 19cm knife and slashed the cook.
The trio, aged between 38 and 59, were subsequently sentenced to jail terms from 10 months and two weeks to a year. Two of them also faced caning.
Prata sellers: a profession that satisfies your bellies at their risk?
Truth be told, I’m a fervent lover of Prata. In fact, before I embarked on this whole caloric-driven run, I used to get my Prata fixes as frequently as 3 times a week.
Which is why I’ve so much respect for Prata stalls now, especially those 24-hour chains that cater to the night crowd…
Considering how they’ve to constantly deal with starving bellies, their own commitments and drunken customers.
Thank you, Prata men and women.
You guys have my utmost respect.