One fine morning, as I was having breakfast with my buddies…
Mr. A: Ms. B, can I have some of your nescafe?
Ms. B: It’s not nescafe, it’s neslo.
Mr. A: Neslo? What’s that?
Me: You haven’t heard of neslo? You should try it!
FYI, Mr. A is sort of a modern American-educated Malay guy. Lots of things about local Malaysian culture that he absolutely has no idea. He’s also a bit clueless (read: blur) about what happens around him. So we weren’t really surprised when he said that he never heard of neslo. Regardless, he filled half of his cup with the drink.
I told them about a story when I was at a mamak joint in Singapore with my relatives. I ordered a glass of neslo. The mamak guy replied, “Saya sini suda 20 tahun juga kerja, tada pernah dengar itu air” (“I’ve worked here for 20 years, never heard of such drink”). Hahaha! Then he asked me, “Apa macam mau bikin?” (“How do I make it?”). Just imagine, a mamak operator asked ME (who don’t know how to cook to save my life) how to make neslo! I mumbled something about mixing nescafe and milo and condensed milk, he shook/nodded his head (the way they usually do, which I couldn’t tell if it was a negative or an affirmative) and left for the kitchen.
A few minutes later he came back with our drinks, including my neslo. He said to me, “Kasi try dulu, kalu tada sedap cakap sama saya” (“Try it first, if it’s not nice let me know”). I took my first sip. My aunt, uncle, brother, cousins and the mamak guy held their breaths. “Apa macam?” (“How is it?”), he asked me. “Cair sikit laa, kalu tambah lagi nescafe sama susu lagi best” (“A bit too thin, a bit more nescafe and condensed milk would make it better”). He said okay, he would take note of that for his next neslo-making attempt. As we left the place, my aunt exclaimed, “I bet he’s gonna put up neslo in the menu soon!” Hahaha!
Back to the breakfast story…
Mr. A: At least it took him only 20 years before discovering neslo. I’ve lived for 40 years yet never heard of it till now!
Ms. D: So do you like it?
Mr. A: I still think nescafe and milo shouldn’t be mixed.
Me: Have you tried cham before?
Mr. A: What’s that?
Me: Tea mixed with coffee. You can find it at kopitiam joints, like Old Town or Kluang Station.
Mr. A: Never tried such thing.
Ms. B: Neither have I.
Mr. A: Why do they call it cham anyway? Neslo I understand (nescafe + milo = neslo). But cham?
Me: I don’t know, never bother to ask.
Ms. D: Maybe you should ask them next time
Mr. A: Wait a minute, I get it, cham is short for campur (mix)!
Ms. C: Still, why cham? They should call it tehpi (teh + kopi = tehpi).
Mr. A: Or k**eh!
Ms. B, Ms. C and Ms. D and me burst out laughing. Mr. A, always blur, stared at us for few seconds.
Me: Mr. A, you should think before you speak!
Mr. A: *Now only realizing what he just said* Hahahahaha! You’re right! I should think before I speak!
P.S. The names of the people involved in this conversation have been concealed to protect their “innocent” images ;-p