Kampung makan on 14th storey corridor

Kampung makan on 14th storey corridor
PHOTO: The New Paper

About once a month, residents on the 14th storey of Block 591A, Montreal Link in Sembawang gather for a meal together.

There are five families living on this level and they take turns hosting the monthly gatherings.

During this period of the Muslim fasting month, the neighbours gathered again one Saturday evening earlier this month to break fast together.

One of them, Mr Jasem Rif'at Muhammed Effendi Arriola, 19, posted a photo of the gathering on his Twitter account and it went viral, with more than 2,800 retweets, much to the surprise of the neighbours.

The photo was shared more than 3,000 times on Facebook and was also shared on online sites such as Stomp.

The comments were overwhelmingly positive.

Some said the residents were bringing back the "kampung spirit."

Others commended the fact that the mainly Muslim neighbours asked their non-Muslim neighbours along.

The neighbours had another meal on Saturday.

For one of the neighbours, Mr Syed Agil Syed Ali, 34, the attention was strange.

"We've always been doing this and we've always been posting these eating sessions on social media," he said.

"This is the first time that a photo of one our makan (Malay for food) sessions has attracted so much attention," said the information technology specialist.

For Mr Ang Cheng Bin, 49, joining his Muslim neighbours to break fast was not an issue.

"Since I moved in, they have always been so friendly to me," he said.

"Plus, we've had these sessions before," added the pastor of Bartley Christian Church.

Mr Ang moved in with his family in February and is the newest addition to the 14th storey.

Even before he moved in, his future neighbours' friendliness was evident to him and his family to see.

"Before purchasing the flat, I came down with my wife to survey the area," he said.

Good guys

"This is when I met Helmi, who invited me, a total stranger to enter his house to take a look at the view. That was when I knew that these guys were a bunch of good guys."

That person was Mr Muhammad Helmi Azman, who lives in the unit across from Mr Ang.

Like his neighbours, Mr Muhammad Helmi did not think that his actions were out of the ordinary - he was just being friendly.

"Its good that we have this spirit," said the 31-year-old nurse.

He and his wife, Madam Noraisah Zolkapli, 26, had moved into the unit beside Mr Syed Aqil's in January last year.

Said Mr Muhammad Helmi: "My heart is at ease, knowing we have neighbours who are friendly and that our kids can play together."

He has two daughters, aged one and two.

Mr Helmi's neighbour, Mr Hafiz Yusoff, 25, told TNP that their children playing together was one of the reason why they have bonded.

He lives with his wife in the unit next to the Angs.

There are six children, aged between one and six, among the five families who live on the 14th storey.

"They play with each other, sometimes in the corridor, most of the time in each other's houses," Mr Hafiz said.

As the clock ticked closer to the time to break fast on Saturday, the mat where they would all sit and eat was rolled out.

Each household brought out the food they had prepared to share with their neighbours.

The main dish of the night was laksa cooked by Mr Hafiz's wife, Mrs Nor Diana Mohamed, and his mother-in-law.

Mr Ang brought out fruits and otah-otah and Mr Helmi brought finger foods. Mr Syed Agil and his wife helped to prepare the drinks and prepare the dining area.

As the radio signalled that it was time to break their fast by playing the azaan, the Muslim call to prayer, all of them tucked in.

When asked if he hoped that this practice would continue, Mr Syed Agil said: "Of course. In fact, I hope that there are more of such scenes all over Singapore."


This article was first published on July 13, 2015.
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