Caught by surprise with low prices


The almost 1kg octopus bought for just RM20 at Pulau Tikus market after prices fell when market-goers stayed away due to Covid-19 rumours.

AFTER rumourmongers scared the community senseless about Covid-19 cases in Pulau Tikus market in Penang, going there became an episode of fear for me.

But it was time to re-stock the fridge, so I cast the fear aside and went anyway, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

I acquired a freshly caught octopus of nearly 1kg for just RM20.

The fishmonger was so friendly and chatty. He taught me how best to turn that octopus into a succulent, tender delicacy.

Why did the fishmonger have so much time for me? Because he had no other customers at all.

This is the third time in the pandemic that I went looking for bargains in a wet market that got slammed with baseless Covid-19 ‘news’. And it was great.

The place was nearly deserted. Physical distancing was a piece of cake. I was treated like a VIP. Every trader greeted me warmly. I paused and chatted with them about their best offerings of the day.

The other fabulous stuff I got were wild, deep-sea tiger prawns, so big that when I held one in my fist, it felt like I was gripping a mountain bike handlebar. They were going for RM70 a kilo.

They were so fresh that when I lightly boiled them in a soup, they yielded that wonderful sweetness of seafood and that snap and bounce to the meat texture only huge tiger prawns can give.

Going to wet markets on Saturdays yield the best chance for finding good stuff.

Office workers would go to get fresh ingredients to whip up good food for the weekend, so traders comply by getting good stuff from the wholesalers.

But rumourmongers scare the community senseless with their unhindered dissemination of ‘news’.

And then there are the rumour- mongers who add “forwarded as received” to their heart-stopping ‘news’.

It seems to signal that somewhere deep, deep in the caverns of their conscience, they know what they share are unsubstantiated and unverified.

So adding “forwarded as received” is their way of washing their hands of the obligation to ensure what they share with their friends is rock-solid info.

For Pulau Tikus market, the word was that four market traders in three stalls were hospitalised with Covid-19. At the time of this writing, it is not true.

I did a bit of digging and found out what the truth was. But people’s medical information is confidential, so it is not my place to publicly reveal it.

What people need to remember was that, last year, when Old Town Market and Sea Park Market in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, had traders with Covid-19, authorities sealed the markets with barbed wire and had every other trader tested.

Did that happen in Pulau Tikus market? Not at all. It was just sanitised for safety’s sake and remained open as usual.

What is really happening is that people — in Malaysia and around the world — have developed a general distrust for politicians and health experts, whether it is about Covid-19 cases or the safety of vaccines.

Have you registered for vaccination yet, by the way?

People prefer — even want — to believe in eye-popping stuff that are forwarded as received, and this will be a great topic for deep psycho-sociological research after the pandemic is over.

For now, I am “thankful” for the benefit of good food at good prices that I was blessed with.

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