Walk into ain Singapore during lunch hour, and you'll probably see packs of tissue paper on the tables, one for each seat around the table.
, these aren't free tissues for customers. Rather, Singaporeans have a habit of choping, or , seats in hawker centres by placing items such as tissue packs, name cards or staff passes on the tables while they for their food.
Chope is Singaporean slang that may have come from the word chop — which is itself aword that comes from Hindi and means a stamp or .
I can't remember when thisbegan, but it's recently become a hot topic on . After the government announced that a fund would be set up to boost the hawker trade, several readers wrote to the papers to criticize what they feel is a rude practice.
, many tourists are left when they're told they can't sit at tables. Some rudely. But most Singaporeans choping. So we'll look for a seat without any tissue pack or , chope it with a random item of our own, then buy our food before returning to our seat.
Perhaps it looks ridiculous to have lots of tissue packs and random items on empty tables. I can also imagine how frustrating it may be for someone who's unaware of the practice., a choped seat may actually be left vacant for ten minutes or longer while the choper for food. Someone else could have occupied the seat and finished their meal.
But I alsohow people don't just simply someone else's tissue pack and replace it with one of their own. To me, this is a sign of . More importantly, choping out of necessity. During lunch hour, and especially at popular hawker centres, crowds form so quickly it's pretty challenging to look for a seat while balancing a tray of hot food. If you are lunching with others, one person can be left at the table to reserve it. But you are alone? Wouldn't it be easier to mark a seat so you can queue for a meal knowing you have a seat waiting for you?
Istudents who chope seats at cafe chains. They arrive early, their laptops and textbooks, buy one drink, and then the seats are theirs for the entire day. Some youths all their valuables while they take study breaks. Meanwhile, customers who really need a drink or meal waiting.
I guess neither issue can be resolved easily. Meanwhile, if you are planning a trip to Singapore, do remember to carry a tissue packet. It'll.
The Japan Times ST: May 5, 2017