Breaking fast at the bazaar
The azan, or call to prayer, coming from their small radio signalled that it was time to break their fast.
However, they had no time to stop and have a proper meal.
The constant stream of customers at their stall meant that they had to break their fast in between serving their customers.
"We are used to this," said 31-year-old Mr Nur Azhar Sulaiman,in between orders.
"We are only able to grab a quick bite before continuing on," he told The New Paper in an interview last week.
Mr Azhar is the co-owner of Dendeng Duo, one of the many food stalls at this year's Geylang Serai bazaar.
He co-owns the stall with his cousin, Mr Qaliff Rahim, 28.
The bazaar is an annual affair, popping up during the fasting month around the Geylang Serai area.
This year, there are about 770 stalls in total. Carpet and curtain shops do business alongside food shops, and stallholders in the latter category are getting increasingly experimental with menu items like rainbow bagels and the hugely popular "watermelo," a slushy of watermelon juice, condense milk and ice, served in half a watermelon.
Mr Azhar and Mr Qaliff sell dendeng (a grilled beef or chicken jerky slice)
, burgers and their speciality, taco dendeng.
Taco dendeng is made by stuffing dendeng into a taco shell, which is then topped with cabbage and their own home made salsa.
Customers can then choose to add a layer of cheese for an additional $1. Most customers do.
The burgers cost $3.50, while they sell 100 grams of dendeng for $5.
Their speciality, the taco dendengs are sold at $5 for 2 pieces
Their famous taco dendeng. TNP PHOTO: AZIM AZMAN
Mr Azhar said that he developed a taste for tacos during his days as an air steward. So when he quit flying, he decided to sell tacos but with a local twist.
"I'm think I'm the only one in the world that uses dendengs as a taco filling," he exclaimed.
Response has been good so far - he says they sell between 300 and 500 tacos a night.
When The New Paper visited the stall, it was manned by just four people, which meant that when it was time to break fast, they barely paused to eat a few dates and have a few swigs of ice water.
"We have to make sure our customers get their orders," said Mr Azhar.
One of his staff, Mr Syazwan Maktar
said that on really busy days, there would be a total of 6 people who would be working in the stall. That night, there were four.
"We're all either cousins or close friends. I'm Azhar's cousin in fact," added the 24-year-old who is waiting to start school at the Singapore Institute of Management later this year.
Mr Azhar said that their peak periods are the period just before the break of fast at around 7pm and after 10pm, when people are done with the nightprayers.
In between those times, the staff take the opportunity to take turns and have their meals.
"We would buy whatever food that is available from around the bazaar and just have a quick bite," he said.
"There will always be someone manning the stall," added the former air steward.
Mr Azhar and his staff would start preparations for the day's sales at around 3pm.
This includes buying stocks such as plastic bags and topping up their sauces which they buy from nearby grocery shops.
At about 5pm, the stall is open for business, and things only wind down around midnight.
According to Mr Azhar, the space that he was given for his stall measured just 3m by 3m and, cost them $12,000 to rent.
"To get a bigger space, it would mean that we have to fork out more money," he lamented.
So Mr Azhar decided to expand upwards, adding a "second floor."
Mr Qaliff Rahim assembling the tacos on the second floor. TNP PHOTO: AZIM AZMAN
He bought an industrial racking system, normally used in warehouses to store goods, for $2,000 and allocated the space on the second floor for assembling the tacos.
The assembled dendengs are then passed down to the staff on the "first floor" via a small chute.
It looked to be the only two-storey stall at the bazaar.
Does it bother Mr Azhar that he has to work around so much food while fasting?
"Not really, but maybe it's because I'm used to it.
"Probably it is also because, the time just moves so fast when I'm working."
Get The New Paper on your phone with the free TNP app. Download from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store now