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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Craving for durians

Every once in a while, I get a craving for durians. So I headed down to my favourite durian seller. I arrived at his stall and was surprised to find it half-empty.

Usually, it would be filled to the brim with customers. There would be a lot of yelling and hollering as orders for the exotic fruit were placed by hungry customers. And the owner's assistants would be lugging durian after durian tirelessly. It was a well-oiled machine that did one thing very well: satisfied the customers' craviings.

I saw that my favourite seller was on the phone and decided not to bother him. But he saw me and called me over. Pleasantly taken aback, I joined him in his office. He ordered teh for the both of us, then offered some cakes.

I asked him, what had happened to his business? He looked at me, then shook his head with a loud sigh. Had I seen what was going on nearby? he asked. I admitted that I had heard some rumblings, but hadn't paid much attention to it. So he filled me in.

Apparently, some other durian sellers had set up shop. Now, my favourite durian seller had been plying his trade for a long time. Not only had he turned in a tidy profit, he had also built up a strong reputation. He had nothing to worry about. As long as his durians were of the XO grade, customers would buy them.

But this time, somehow, somewhere, his competitors had brought in better durians than before. These still were not of XO grade, but delicious nonetheless. And they had peaked the interest of durian buyers.

And that irked my favourite seller.

Was he worried?

Sure, he was worried! Who could survive losing half his business? Like everyone else, he needed to earn a profit too. But he was a wise businessman and had prepared for competition. He took out a durian and passed it to me. I inhaled its sweet aroma. Mmm. Good, right? he asked. I nodded.

That's why he wasn't overly worried. As long as he sold good durians of XO grade, he was confident that his customers would return. This was normal business, he said. Sometimes, someone new will appear, and customers would flock to him to sample his wares. But they always know who sells the good stuff. And they would come back.

I had to go then, so I thanked him for the chat. When I wanted to return the durian, he told me to keep it. You're a good customer, he said. I trust you. I like you. Keep my durian. Eat it. Enjoy it. And when you want more, come and look for me. I always sell you top grade durian, he promised.

So I thanked him again for the durian and went on my way home, my craving satisfied... for now.

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