“Boss, how many times do I pull?” – Born in Malaysia – A Photographer's Journey
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“Boss, how many times do I pull?”

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Kedai Kopi Din Tokyo, Kota Bharu

Mohd Rudin Sulaimeen, 71, proprietor

Malaysians love their “teh tarik”, literally, “pulled tea”, which is hot milk tea poured from one mug to another to cool it down. The skill of the tea “puller” is the height from which he can pour the tea: the higher he can go, the frothier is the tea.

In Kota Bharu, Rudin is the teh tarik maestro. He has been holding court in his coffee shop, standing behind his unusual U-shaped counter for over three decades. Despite his age, he can pour tea from a full arm-span in height. People come from near and far to watch him “pull” tea and enjoy the sweet frothiness of the drink.

He chats and jokes with his customers as he prepares and “pulls” cup after cup of tea. One customer asked for his tea to be “pulled” six times and Rudin patiently obliged.

An astonishing multi-tasker he also prepares half-boiled eggs which are mysteriously called “telur taliban” or taliban eggs, toasts bread and does the washing up. Even with his whole family helping out, he is kept on his toes.

The name of his coffee shop is derived from his name and that of Tokyo Hotel, which occupied the premises in the 1960s and was regarded as something of a landmark. Today, Kedai Kopi Din Tokyo is the landmark and one that is not about to vanish as Rudin’s son looks like he is firmly entrenched in the business.

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