Taste of Tara

A poem was written for the tribute of this taste.
The sky was dark,
Morning started in gray,
If not because of Tara,
There would be no new taste for that day.



          After we gained our fame in having a successful shop, a number of shopping mall developers were approaching us, with a wish if we would relocate our shop in their mall. For the reason, the place we were with at that moment -- a complex within Maritime Square, a property being owned by the Mass Transit Railway in Hong Kong, was subjected to demolition. 

           Out of the many, a softly speaking girl, in her early thirties impressed us with her sincere urge, in an invitation to visit the shopping mall, where she was currently managing – Dragon Center. A huge nine stories shopping area, in the center of a town, with majority of the residents in that district either depending on welfare or are senior citizens.

          From there, we understood her problems in managing such a mall, the buying power had to stay in the lowest level, that was and still is a place for below the standard mark-up selling price establishments. Most people same as us, would never dream to do business in such a place, unless there was no other place to go.

           Once we told her our worries, could see sadness in her eyes. Again, sincerely, she told us, were right about those problems in her mall; really need us to be there, to stimulate the depression.

           In order to cope with our fear, she voluntarily lowering all the expenses that would impose on us, so that, we could arrange a lower selling price for that environment. 

           One of the strong hold in her words, in convincing us, was that -- since the majority of the people in Hong Kong are lowering their standard of living in the coming future, it is about time for us to find a solution for such a crisis.

           We agreed to sign a one-year lease contract with Dragon Center, after visited the other prospective malls, found her suggestion was more interesting, worth a daring try.

           We used three months, to make plans for our strategy in coping with this special situation. The followings are few of the points in our plans:-

            Our grand opening was a hit in the success; customers were queuing up in front our counter. This situation persisted.  

           On the third day, that girl who raised our interest in this mall came to us in tears, delivered a bad news. Her boss, who backed from a trip, just sacked her. She could have her job back, if she could convince us to made a new lease contract with much higher rent.

            With such ethic in a management, we certainly refused such proposal, but chose to leave after 30 days; for this was another way, the girl could have her job back. If we were not doing so, due to the high unemployment situation in Hong Kong, it would be impossible for her to find another job in the same high-ranking position.

            Another reason, drove us to make this rapid firm decision, is that, the person who was managing a cell phone accessory shop, right at the back of our shop, was a heavy smoker, while one of our sales lady was carrying her six months baby.

            Adding to this problem, his shop turned out to be the only meeting ground for smokers within the whole shopping arcade.  As this mall has no official smoking area, in fact, regulation states, nobody is allowed to smoke anywhere in this mall. Surprisingly, one or two of those regulation keepers or arcade wardens occasionally joined those smokers, enjoyed a brief freedom in a smoking party.

            We told them that our pregnant sales lady felt dizzy after inhaled their tobacco smoke. But in vain, nothing changed and nothing was done to end our concern.

            During these 30 days, each day gave us new and interesting experiences with amazing customers.

            In one occasion, an elderly educated Lady, came and stood next to our counter, warned every customers who approached us, that what we were selling were junks, would cause lots of damage if they ate it. Her fatal words could not stop any of our customers from buying; still, she carried on for a few days.

           One day, we closed the counter, and waited for her appearance. Asked her if we could have a talk for an understanding.

           After she nodded, we started by telling her our products were carefully produced without any adulterate harmful substances. The reason we created flavours for shrimp cracker, was trying to make it healthier. She agreed to purchase a packet of shrimp crackers, and selected the Creamy Sesame Flavour, for a trial.

           The next day, she came back, picked Cashew flavour for her packet of crackers. Stood in the same position as before, this time, she told our customers, she did enjoy our created tastes, while she was eating those crackers in front of our sales counter.

            In fact, besides her, there were many more other individuals, who used to hang around our counter side walks, waited for our time off, or occasional breaks, and exchanged a few friendly words with us, we really appreciated those friendly gestures, would never forget them for the better memory in Hong Kong.

            A retired street pancake vendor, who insisted to let us have his secret pancake recipe, to commemorate his founding us as a pioneer hero in creations. We were really flattered, and told him there bound to be another person with the same will as us, might come his way one day, and this person might need his recipe for a better future. His agreed with a smile, and said he never met anyone like us in Hong Kong, who would turn down such an offer.

            At one time, a young chef in his late twenties, came everyday, told us frankly that he wanted to start something, or a business of his own with the same idea from us. But, he assured that, he would use the same idea only for bakery, a business that we would never consider.

             A neighbourhood street gang leader always came with his beautiful girl friend, and always in such a hurry, for a packet of extra spicy crackers.

           Customers usually behaved well and queued up in a single file or Indian file in front of our counter.

           One day, an elderly lady, in her quick tempter started another line at the other end of the counter, and demanded for our service, while this young man with his girl friend were with short and nasty tempter for sure, threaten that elderly lady back to the line where he had been stood there for ages.

           Tension grew when that lady refused, because in split of the second, there were people lining up behind her, at that moment, the whole scene seemed freezing. 

           Everybody was keeping quiet, until this street gang leader ordered and shouted to that elderly lady, that she better get on with her purchase as quick as she could, and every others behind her had to get back to his line. After everybody did what he suggested, things were back to normal.

           Next day, this young man came to us again for his regular purchase, greeted us politely and apologized for what he did yesterday. All we could say was thanking him for his wise decision, he laughed heartily after his pretty girl friend smiled as beautiful as ever, cuddled him closer as she was admiring a hero.

            A family of three, held a small shop at the end of the arcade, sold their shoes with unbelievable bargaining prices. The husband and his wife strove for their earnings, all for the hope of their son in his early teens.

           This child with tangible interests on what we had written for our products, he could spend all his spare time, listened to all the stories behind those flavours from our service cart. With the permission from the parents, our shop became his favourite spot.

            A young mother, who came regularly just for that Hong Kong Imperial Crab flavour, she rarely said anything, but, on the last day of our presence in that mall, she told us, she would miss that taste and us, after we were gone. Again, that sad moment came to our minds.

            The lady stationer who was managing her shop displaying hundreds of Made-in-China items, at the pitch of her voice, shoppers from several yards away, would learn that those mark-up prices were just half the market value.  Because of her shouts, she needed breaks to recover from exhaustion; would come to us, for her selection in those Asian tastes, she could never get used to western or Middle East flavours.

            Another memorable incident, a group of four, sometimes five people, stood and looked at us from a distance for a number of days. One day, out of curiosity, we went over to them, to see if we could explain to them about what we were selling. 

           After we found out they were handicapped, they could not speak, we leaded them through the crowd to our counter, and show them the list of flavours, which they could choose for their crackers. At that moment, first time, we were seeing smiles on each one of their faces.

           From that day on, they came everyday, always carrying a smile in their faces, chose and tried almost every taste we had, and busted in laughter when they found some taste interesting, in this way, our friendships developed without a word speaking to each other.

             From what we had experienced in this shopping arcade, we developed a special flavour, named after West Kowloon Shrimp Flavour and Fiery West Kowloon flavour, to match the average taste buds of this area. These tastes worked well and became distinguish the first day arrived in our stall.

           Each day, we created a new flavour, on the 25th day, we felt the sadness as to keep our promise to leave on the 30th, that day, we were very depressed, and could not create any new taste.

           There came Tara, a girl with amiable character, picked Chinese Garlic, Southern Roaster chicken, English Bacon, French Garden and Cilantro, asked us to mix them together, and shake to mix with her packet of shrimp crackers, after she tasted it, she let those customers around her to have a try, everybody loved it and asked for the same mix. Tara smiled beautifully and said that would be our new taste for that day.

           Because of such joy from this girl Tara, a poem was written as a tribute to her.

           Tara started a new trend for us, from that time on; we let our customers create their own preferences with the flavours from our collection. 


-- End --


Last modified : 17 March 2004

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