Saturday, May 15, 2010

The stories behind Simple Vegetarian (3)

One of the lovely traits of Jessie
was that she liked to go around island-wide to support vegetarian and organic businesses/events.
(Perhaps she understood the hardship behind and it could also be the influence of her dharma learning -- subconsciously I now inherited this trait from her!)

I didn't know why she did that inititially anyway,
but she had high tendency calling me up from time to time
and ask me go visit organic/veg places and attend health seminars.

One organic veg places she suggested was
an organic cafe "Friends of Earth" at Shenton Way
(now closed, it has been so long that I may have mistaken the name too).

It was a partnership between a few strong women
Beng Khim, Mei Li and Sophia Teh etc.

Sophia Teh who was the chef of the cafe then,
caught my attention.
It's not just because of her refined culinary skill,
but also her knowledge about the nutritional values of food
plus her sunshine personality!

I naturally invited her to teach
a few VSS cooking classes at Buona Vista CC,
and since then fell in love with her magical cooking.

Soon after, the organic cafe at Shenton Way closed down
due to the taxing workload, and Sophia was then out of job.

At her age of ~50+, she didn't just stay put/ keep idle.

You can't believe that she called me up one day
and invited me to her place for a free meal.
-- Why? It's a marketing skill of hers to inform me that
she sold organic brown rice set meal from home! ;)

She even organised cooking class at her place
to earn some income to pull through her tough times.
That fortified my respect and admiration upon Sophia!
After a while, with some loan from her brother in Malaysia,
she revived her organic cafe at 4th Floor, Fortune Centre (Bugis)
which she lost out 10s of thousands to her dishonest partner
before she joined Friends of Earth cafe.
She renamed the revived cafe the "New Green Pasture".
I was excited with her passion
but at the same time concerned if her cafe would survive
with her sole effort (after seeing so many organic cafe closed down).
So, I volunteered to help her out with some administrative stuff
like clerical work, menu artistic design and minimal publicity.
In return, Sophia asked that I set a VSS donation box at her cashier counter.
For every bowl  of soup she sold, she donated 100% of the proceed (SGD1) to VSS.
This practice hasn't stopped since her cafe revived and
it's still there at the same old spot today.
(except that the box has recently been re-designed by Clarence, a VSS exco member)
-- this donation box is also the only permanent VSS donation box in Singapore =)
Sophia told me that she also set up donation box
for the blessing of her workers at her shop.
Because it's her workers who cooked the soup and they would get the merits.
Sophia practised dharma in real life, no doubt.
After a year or so,
Sophia started to expand her shop.
That was very good news and it's only then
I felt relieved that her cafe stabilised
and started to slow down my personal publicity for her cafe.
(I kept bringing friends to Sophia's cafe when it started, just like Jessie taught me)
During the course of these few years,
I tasted a lot of, not only Sophia's magical culinary skill,
but also her positiveness, creativity, perseverence and integrity.

Without Jessie, I couldn't have known Sophia.
Without Sophia, I couldn't have known a true example of a vegetarian.

As I write this blog, I could feel my heart weaken
and appreciate how blessed I am. ~What more do I ask in life?

With gratitude,
Kee Yew

{Learning Holistic Wellness for Wisdom and Compassion}

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