Ramadan buzz

Ramadan buzz
FESTIVE: The Geylang Serai Night Market offers a wide range of items for Hari Raya Puasa, from cookies to fairy lights to carpets.

As lights of many colours burn in the night, a mix of stalls old and new vie for the crowd's attention.

It is the final week of Ramadan and at the famous Geylang Serai Night Market, among stalls hawking kebabs and coconut ice cream, is newcomer myTELLA SG .

It serves up toothsome delights such as mini cheesecakes and chocolate brownies. The cheesecakes, packed in plastic cups and come in Nutella and Oreo flavours, are most popular.

Owner Shafiah Hamid, 27, says she launched her baking business on Facebook two months ago.

For her stall at the night market, she and her assistants start baking their halal sweet treats every morning at 8am before heading to Geylang Serai at 3.30pm to set up the stall.

One of the popular items at her stall is banana Nutella bread pudding with special vanilla sauce.

Miss Shafiah says she is always experimenting with interesting new flavours.

"I ask people for crazy baking ideas on the shop's Facebook page," she says, adding that her first brick-and-mortar shop is opening in Bedok next month.

Through the colourful curtains and fairy lights at the bazaar, the voice of the singing legend of Geylang Serai can be heard.

Mr Mohamed Arsad, 58, has been running his stall selling artificial flowers for 31 years.

He goes by the nickname Kembang Malam (blooms by night), and is best known for crooning Malay songs - he perches himself on his "throne" (a ladder decorated with flowers) and sings Malay poems into a microphone.

"I don't look at books. I think of all these songs from my heart," says Mr Arsad.

He sings about flowers and how they have an important place in different occasions - birth, weddings, festivities and death.

"Flowers symbolise love, sadness and peace. Without flowers at home, something is missing," says Mr Arsad, who will return to his regular job as a senior operations assistant in an events company when Ramadan is over.

But not everyone who goes to his stall is there for the flowers. "I have regular customers who come (here), some even in wheelchairs, just to hear me talk," he says.

His unique flower arrangements are also a draw and the self-taught flower arranger sells about 1,000 hanging floral arrangements.

He can earn $10,000 a year selling flowers, but he claims that 20 years ago, $80,000 was the norm.

He is dedicated to his Ramadan flowers. Even two heart attacks (in 2002 and 2012) do not deter him from returning to his stall after being discharged from the hospital.

Mr Arsad says: "It is not that I am good. God gave me this gift. As long as I live, I cannot retire. My heart is in Geylang Serai."

"I have regular customers who come here, some even in wheelchairs, just to hear me talk."

- Mr Mohamed Arsad (above), who has been selling artificial flowers for 31 years


This article was first published on July 27, 2014.
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