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Sunday Tamu in Tuaran

The early crows of the cocks welcomed a colourful
and busy day , Sunday .

Indeed , the usual quiet and dormant town
of Tuaran , suddenly becomes lively and
gay on Sundays . People rushing from
different corners of nearby kampungs ,
from as far as Kota Kinabalu on one end
and the Ulu on the other end , swarm
into Tuaran and scattered themselves
about the shops and the Tamu .

It is the best day in the week for the
businessmen and the hawkers.

When daylight is yet but dim , the Malay
fishermen and the Kadazan farmers carry
bags and baskets , trodding along bare-footed
on the way to the Tamu .
Amidst their laughter and chatters ,
their rhythmic quick paces can be
heard in the quiet morning .
The womenfolk retain the Kadazan habit
of balancing bags of rice or baskets
of fruits on their heads .
This makes them look like a bevy of proud
duchess sailing down the street.

After reaching the Tamu ground , they select
a good corner to spread their mats.
Then they arrange the fruits , fishes, crabs ,
vegetables etc for sale.

The Malays and the Kadazans , however , are
not the only early birds on Sundays . The
Chinese hawkers are just as anxious to catch
the worms. As early as four oclock in the
morning , the adult members of the family
get up to bake various kinds of flour cakes
and bean curds . Vegetables and fruits were
plucked the previous day and only have to
be collected from the outdoor platform to
the baskets. Piling on top are other
tit-bits , nuts, chillies, gingers ,
sweet potatoes and other farm products .

Thus they make their way to the Tamu ground.

At seven, the Tamu ground is already quite
a spectacular sight . The rows of small huts
with raised platforms are gaily adorned
with colourful clothes, dresses , sarongs ,
hats, and other articles. Squatting on the
grassy ground and along the paths are hawkers
with their display of goods in front of them.

Everywhere sounds of different tongues
bargaining , laughing, greetings ,
fill the place . Most ofthe hawkers
put on their smiling faces ready
to talk you into buying their wares.

Away from the Tamu , along the road to
the church , there is quite a different
sight again.

Here , the churchgoers dressed
in their Sunday best, each has a prayer book
or a veil tucked under their arms .
They come in cars, motor-cycles, bicycles
or by means of their own pairs of legs ,
all dreading to hear the chiming of
the church bell before they have
reached the church .

There is nothing of a hurly burly here.

So , at about nine , flocking into the
Tamu are the churchgoers, housewives ,
holiday makers and tourists .

Now the hawkers no longer retain
their serene and cool business-like look.
They become busy and calculative.

This is the time when their baskets are
emptying and purses filling and
their buyers purses emptying and baskets

This is also the height of business making
in the Tamu.

Two hour later , the Tamu ground becomes
hot and dusty. Gradually , the crowd drift
to the shops and market The hawkers now
yawn into each others faces and decide to
make a move ( into the shop area )

They gather their remaining goods and carry
the light burden to the shop area . There ,
they spread out their goods on the pavement
of the shops, just in front of the market.

Those who come later , retire to the ground
behind the market to start their business again .

This is the time when the shops especially
the coffee shops , steal the scene of the day.

Shopkeepers and their family are
practically on their feet the whole
day .,serving the customers. Sometimes
the coffee shops are are so crowded
that the shop owners offer
the use of their kitchen tables
to serve the customers..

The one shop that sells satay is especially
packed . The people consider it a luxury
sit down and enjoy their sticks of satay while
listening to the gossip around.

Luckily , satay is not every body's cup
of tea or else the satay eaters would
have to book seats in this particular
shop several day before hand to ensure they
have their fill on Sunday .

In front of the market , some Indian peddlers
advertise their medicines for curing snakes bites .

They play their flute , dance round an evil
looking bag and finally produce from it a
hideous looking snake .

Then they perform their snake play .

When it is over , they recite in an
exciting voice ,
"Ladies and gentlemen . I have
traveled all the way from India This
medicine is peerless.Give it a try.
.no regret at all . "

The crowd about him would watch to see
who among them would buy the medicine..

At noon the people gradually return home.
The deserted town now looks like a tired
and unshaved man. Pieces of papers, leaves
and clouds of dust float about the streets
when there is a breeze . Here and there
stray dogs wander about..

Sunday is indeed a bright and gay
day in Tuaran . It is a day of pleasure
seeking and relaxation for all.

It is however a day that no shopkeepers
and hawkers would relax .



A flood in Tuaran , December 1999