A day with a satay vendor from Madura

For me life means preparing and selling chicken satay.

I wake up at 4:30 a.m. to say my morning prayer. I usually have about three hours to relax in the morning, during which time I have some canned milk and smoke some cigarettes. I actually love coffee but the doctor told me not to drink it because I have stomach problems.

My breakfast is accompanied by kasidah (a religious chant usually in Arabic sung to the rhythm of gambus music) and a religious sermon I play onmy tape recorder.

At 8 a.m. I go to Tanah Abang market (in Central Jakarta) to buy three or four live young chickens and other needs. They cost me about Rp 200,000. Before the economic crisis I usually bought five chickens.

I clean the chickens and make the satay myself. Almost all of the chickenparts can be used for the satay; I can even sell the heads and bones for Rp 700 per chicken to a mie ayam (chicken noodle) vendor who will chop it up and cook it.

I don't know how the peanut sauce for the satay is prepared as this is done by my wife.

After all of the satay is prepared, I have time to take a nap until 3 p.m. before taking the satay to my ""base"" in nearby Palmerah, Central Jakarta, which I have occupied for 20 years.

I actually had no experience selling satay when I lived in Bangkalan, though most people associate Madurese with satay vendors. I was a cigarettevendor when I was in Bangkalan.

I came to Jakarta to seek my fortune in the early 1980s, after seeing some of my friends become successful here. I first learned how to make satay from my brother-in-law, who is also a food vendor.

I do not remember the amount of financial capital I needed to start the business because my in-laws help me a lot during the start-up.

For instance, it was my father-in-law who made the cart I use to sell thefood, so it was cheaper.

And I was not wrong in getting into the business, especially after I found a good location near the Kompas newspaper office. My satay sells wellalmost every day.

I found that dealing with this job was quite difficult in the beginning, especially when I had to manually fan the satay during the cooking process because it made my arms stiff and sore. But it's not a problem now.

I know that other vendors tend to fan the satay with electric fans, but Idon't do this because it affects the taste.

Don't ask me how much money I make in a day, because I never count it; I just give it all to my wife. She counts the money and manages the finances for our family.

What I do know is that I sell the satay for Rp 3,000 per portion, but if it is served with lontong (rice steamed in a banana leaf) the price is Rp 3,500.

I think my wife is smart enough to manage our money, because we are able to take part in the traditional annual exodus (to Madura) during Idul Fitrievery year.

Thank God my oldest son has his own kiosk selling sop buntut at Tanah Abang market, so he can help with the family finances. I still have to pay the school fees for my other three sons. My second oldest son is a student at a technical high school, while the other two are in junior high school.

My satay is usually sold out by 10 p.m., but if I have some left my family finishes it at our small house in Petamburan, Central Jakarta, whichI rent for Rp 1.1 million per year.

This doesn't mean that I can start relaxing as soon as I get home, because I have to cut palm leaf ribs to make sticks for the satay.

After everything is finished I go to bed at 1 a.m.

Sumber: The Jakarta Post, Sat, 01/26/2008

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