My durian escapade

Today is nomination day and I probably should be writing about GE 2015. Today also used to be Teachers’ Day and I probably should be reminiscing about teaching. But seriously, what I really want to talk about is durians. Yes, I am dead serious about this dreadfully frivolous topic.

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You see, I have never been big about durians. At best, I am a social durian eater, i.e. I eat because my family or friends want to eat. I am usually the first to stop and back away from the table, enjoying the company and conversation more than the fruit itself. It has been this case for many years now. I vaguely remember being passionate about durians a long time ago, in my childhood days maybe… but since adulthood, I can’t say I am a big fan.

So you can imagine my surprise when i found myself craving for durians and willingly subject myself to queues in order to buy durians. The last time I stood in line to buy something was more than 10 years ago, yes, for Hello Kitty when I was still an undergraduate.

I guess it all started when at the start of the durian season, my brother brought home some really tasty durians that whetted our appetite. We went into the habit of having a mini-family durian party almost once a week (sometimes less often) and we usually ended each session wishing we bought more of the fruit. Not wanting to be a freeloader, I decided to do my part and stand in line for durians.

My first visit to Ah Seng Durian was fuss-free. I arrived at around 4 pm on a weekday and there was only one person before me in the line. Their professionalism was really impressive and the quality of their durians was also good, as advertised. There was nothing difficult or particularly memorable about this visit, save for some initial awkwardness, not understanding the workflow of the durian seller, not knowing what constituted good or bad quality durians and the like. But, I survived and we enjoyed the fruit.

My second visit some weeks later, nearing the end of the durian season, was the reason for this post. I distinctly remember it was a Friday afternoon and I was on the verge of making my way to Ah Seng Durian again when I decided to give them a call and check on their stock status. Thankfully I did. I was told that they were completely out of durians and I should only pay them a visit at 6 pm. When asked if I should place an order, they advised so and I did. And that was 3 pm.

As I read from their website that the durian truck typically arrives at 5:30 pm, I decided to arrive at 5:45 pm, hoping to beat the crowd. I thought I was being clever. However, when I arrived, I saw at least 20 people sitting around waiting… must be waiting for durians. I approached one of the staff who verified that I had placed an order and I was given a queue number. I was then told to take a seat and wait as the truck has not arrived.

During the slightly more than half an hour wait, I saw people being turned away as the durians were fully reserved. As much as I felt for their disappointment, there was nothing I could do. I could see people who arrived earlier getting more and more fidgety as time passed and when asked, one of the staff said that the latest arrival time for a truck was 7:45 pm, and that was last Friday. He added that the truck was usually late on Friday. I could see some of us (yes, myself included) flinching.

And it is therefore no surprise that people were ecstatic when we saw the truck carrying our durians turned into the carpark. I myself almost jumped from my seat to cheer. And I realised I was not the only one. Almost everyone jumped up from our seat, rejoicing the arrival of our long-awaited durians. At that moment, the solidarity among strangers, the momentous connection we had because of a tropical fruit, it was mind-boggling.

If we were to think about it, almost nobody eats durians alone. Durians are consumed with friends and family. Even when we can finish one fruit by ourselves, we somehow do not do that. I don’t know why but I am glad for it.

In all, this durian season has been slightly emotional, slightly special and rather different from the durian seasons over the past 10 years. As such, it sure deserve a blog post of its own.

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P.S. On my second visit to the durian seller, as it was during peak hour, I was unable to flag or call for a cab for my return trip, and I had to sneak the vacuum packed durians into MRT trains. I am thankful that no one called me out for it and for those who sat near me and who might have caught a whiff of the fruit despite the air tight packing, thank you for your understanding. 😛

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