Nathan and I have many habits and routines, but I think we only have one real tradition, and it is this.
Every time we pass through the Kuala Lumpur Low Cost Carrier Terminal, which is often, we have kaya toast at the Old Town White Coffee near the arrivals gate. Every time, no matter what.
If we’ve just arrived on an eight-hour flight and kind of want to get out of the airport as quickly as possible, we still pause at Old Town White Coffee. If we’re actually spending the night at the airport’s salubrious Tune Hotel, we will go to Old Town White Coffee twice: last thing at night and first thing in the morning.
We order our kaya toast using the little pencils and paper they give you, and the soft-boiled eggs, and a coffee, and we feel extremely happy.
This is no small feat, because the Low Cost Carrier Terminal is a really, really awful place to be. It’s one of those budget, shed-like terminals, and it’s always crowded with too many passengers with too many bags. Poor people always have so much luggage.
But for us, it’s a place where we reflect on holidays about to start or that have just passed, and on all the other times we’ve sat in the exact same spot. And it’s exciting to have a “regular” place in a country where you don’t live. Maybe some people say “Whenever I’m in Paris, I always go to Le Cafe Rond Point”, but we say “Whenever we’re in the KL LCCT, we always go to Old Town White Coffee”.
And every time we’re there, we have the same little disagreement, where I claim that Nathan’s propensity to dip his sweet kaya toast in his savoury soft boiled eggs is just plain wrong. I always point out that no-one else is dipping, but just eating them separately, like me. But Nathan always says it’s how it’s done, even claiming we were instructed to do just that the first time we had kaya toast, which was with the Goulds in Singapore in 2009.
Recently I met some Malaysians in Hanoi and I asked them straight out about dipping the kaya toast in the egg. They shook their heads furiously. They’d never heard of such a thing. Why would you put something sweet in something savoury?! Nathan still claims it’s how it’s done in Singapore, even if not in Malaysia.
While I very much enjoy being right, I actually felt bad for asking those Malaysians, because it will change our tradition. Nathan will still do it, but it won’t be the same.