Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Paper lama man




You hear him before you see him! Over the loudspeaker, his cries of ' Paper lama, Paper lama. Old Newspaper! Old newspaper!' ring out loud to signal his presence in the neighbourhood. He's our itinerant collector of recycled paper ( others may ask for all types of paper). Some come on tricycles, while those who can afford a van/lorry, come calling on households in the different townships to eke out an eco - friendly living .

I've forgotten when these familiar figures first appeared on the scene. Initially, there was a kind of curiosity and very soon they became a welcome sight as they go about their small businesses . Demand for recycled paper has taken a leap and a viable business is born!



Mr Lim and others, like him is a recognised figure in residential neighbourhoods. The modus operandi is simple - make regular rounds to buy old newspaper from households and sell them to the recycling plant. Some 'paper lama' vendors also trade in used car batteries .

The rain had just ceased and it dampened his spirit a bit. With his trolley, he helped me get 2 loads of old newspaper from my store in the porch into his van. It was half stacked with papers already and Mr Lim was making his rounds in Damansara and Petaling Jaya.





Mr Lim was camera -shy and was not comfortable with full- front pictures. However, he was relaxed when we spoke about the business at hand.

A typical day for him starts at 9 am till 5pm, rain or shine. He drives around the residential areas at a slow speed. Sometimes he has to make an abrupt stop as he has bypassed a resident and he pulls back to the gateway of the house. There, he faithfully pushes his trolley to cart the load of papers to his van. Payment for the papers is mutual - the vendor assesses the quantity and pays the 'current' rate. I have never quibbled about the payment as it is a win-win situation! He sends all the paper collected to a recycling centre in Petaling Jaya where the newspaper is used to make newsprint and paperboard. Previously there was a main recycling centre in Kepong.

He laments that people used to buy 3 dailies but these days, it's only one. Moreover, with internet access and information at their fingertips, people do not find the need to source news from the papers. His business has also decreased as schools give their recycled newspapers to the main dealer. That cuts off his source of income.

Business is usually a brisk affair but that morning, with the chat , it lingered a bit. Mr Lim was eager to resume his rounds 'coz the day had barely started for him. Till the next collection round, here's to our convenient collection agent- our very own 'paper lama man'!

44 comments:

  1. I think he is a very friendly men :-)
    He works very hard !!
    Papers are business ..... LOL

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  2. What a superb post!
    This is so "Malaysian", one of special "Malaysian things" that we take for granted!
    Paper Lama Man rocks! How about a post on those "Old bottle shops", but I doubt they are still around nowadays ... I remember selling those "kicap bottles" for like 5 sen those days for pocket money!

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  3. Brilliant!! As all your stories on individual people are - you take the light of your attentive detail and shine it beautifully on so many wonderful aspects of human existence. Never mundane, always carefully crafted and thought-provoking. I love your blog!!

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  4. Hi Keats! Great story! Wonderful post! A great way to end the day...

    Thanks for your comment at my new blog Blogtrotter Two, now at the Art Deco District in South Beach! Hope to read you there often! Have a great week ahead!!!

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  5. Hi
    Anya, he sure does work hard. The other day,as I was driving , I spied another paper lama man - he was on a tricycle. I look forward to saying 'hello' to him:)

    lupie, thanks! it certainly is 'malaysian'! those 'old bottle shops' are a reflection of the good ol' days - sweet memories to you:))

    Shaista, thank you soooo much for your generous comment. Hope you're keeping well.

    Trotter, good to hear from you. Congrates on your new travelogue 2. As usual, you open up the world to us !!

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  6. We have them too over here. We called them Karang Guni Man. I always donated my papers away to the school who comes and collected every month to raise money for its needy students.

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  7. I'm all for anything pro-environment! Paper lama man has certainly become an iconic feature in Malaysia's daily life. This is a nice post, Keat!

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  8. Hi
    alicesg, good on you! Recycling and doing your bit for the community too:) When we say the paper lama man it is instantly recognised. that's his call!!

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  9. Hi Keats! I feel sorry for the old newspaper men, driving around for hours just for a vanload of papers. I normally give them my old newspapers for free. They take flattened cardboard boxes and car batteries too. I enjoyed this post!

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  10. Hi
    petite nyonya, not only is it a way of small business, it is pro -environment. thanks for dropping by.

    ~Covert_Operations'78~, the other day, as I was driving away from the house, I spied a much older man on a tricycle doing his rounds. I hope he comes around, as he definitely can have them free:). Our residents' association has a recycling initiative too and the money goes towards the fund. Hope you had a wonderful time at the animals conference in S'pore.

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  11. They help us care for the environment by recycling and also we declutter our homes in the process.

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  12. You always have very interesting posts. You lead a very interesting life.

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  13. Wonderful post about an ordinary man doing an unglamorous but very important job. Actual these are the people who are the heroes of our day to day life - hard working, dedicated, honest and simple and ever ready to help. This is indeed a Sunshine Story!

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  14. Hi
    Prem, thanks so much!

    Autumn Belle, great reasons to recycle!!

    Lucy,thanks so much for your appreciation of the posts. I hope my friends who pop in will also check your blog out too as you have many stories to share of your life experiences too :))

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  15. Hi Keats, you have picked another 'tradition' that is close to the Malaysian hearts. A classic of Keats the Sunshine Girl.

    We used to have our dailies, but not anymore. Newspapers are just to clumsy to handle. Keats, what is the paper lama in Chinese? (what is it they use, Cantonis?) The sound is in my head but I could not say it out.

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  16. It's nice from you that you pay attention to the ordinary people and the work they deal with. This is another interesting post. Thanks for sharing.

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  17. It's high time our paper man get a feature in blogland. It's nice to see the feature of daily normal people over here. Happy week ahead.

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  18. Hi
    R.Ramakrishnan, well said about our paper lama man. Bravo!

    Ocean Girl, it's alright. the words will come when you hear them, once in a while. it's in Cantonese. I speak only a little to get by, sometimes.

    MedaM, good to hear from you:)

    M. Kate, you're right. When i told mr lim I wanted to feature him and his story, he was publicity- shy. I guess, he's like some of us who get 'scared' of seeing their faces in the media. I'm glad there's so much appreciation for the paper lama man:))

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  19. I have thouroughly enjoyed reading your story!

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  20. Hi SS!
    What did he think about getting his picture on your blog? Was he excited? I love this story in action. Great job!
    Rosey

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  21. He's a diligent and an industrious man, very inspiring of his cause to recycle.

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  22. Hi
    Laura in Paris, being a former expat in Kl, I'm glad I can offer you some more insights of life in KL. Enjoy!

    Rosey Pollen, have to say he wasn't sure of my intentions. I told him it was to let people know of the kind of job and a wee bit of background of his dedication to his job. When he pops around the next time, I'll surely let him know the positive response:))

    Pacey, will let Mr Lim know your kind comment. thanks!

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  23. Hi, Great post...enjoyed....plz visit my blog http://flasing.blogspot.com/

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  24. Thanks for yet another informative post. What a great insight into someone we take for granted.

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  25. Wow! I wish we could sell old newspapers in the U.S. We just recycle (:

    I'm glad everyone makes money out of this deal.

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  26. You have great pictures of Mr. Lim at work here, and I love the story also.

    Here, we collect the newspapers for our church, which then turn in to recycling centers for money, and the church uses the money for our Youth Group projects.

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  27. Agree, less and less people are buying papers nowadays...just read online news!

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  28. Hi
    Sugeeth, thanks for your comment. Hopping over to visit you.

    Veronica Lee, he's our guy around the neighbourhood:))have a great weekend!

    Gran, I'm glad we recycle papers here besides other stuff like bottles, old clothes,books etc. Have to remember to follow the proper procedurse to recycle - as every little bit helps.

    Icy BC, That's a great way to put the gains from recycling. It's a win-win situation.

    Pete, I guess, you read news online. Some people still prefer the hard copy. We subscribe to one daily instead of two.

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  29. GREAT!
    I like the glimpses you give about the daily activities around you.
    Here too we see the paper man on his rounds on a cycle.

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  30. dear friends, i have a lots of papers...seriously looking for some1 like Mr.Lim to sell it off. If u guys have any contact pls drop me a mail at mahen_titan@hotmail.com. Thank you.

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  32. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  33. Hi.

    Can we call him to pick up old newspapers from our home?

    Email me if you guys knew.

    yusri1423@yahoo.com.

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  34. Hi, can i have his contact number..kindly email to clientservice@perpetualtrustees.com.my

    thank you very much.

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  35. Hi,

    can u just post this man's hp number so ppl can get it and give him more business ?

    I would like to have his number too.

    thanks

    R

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  36. hi, i would like to have his number too so kindly email to snowdog_82@hotmail.com. Thanks.

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  37. i also want his number..really need!!!
    pls email me at kechik_xyla@yahoo.com
    thank you :)

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  38. Need the contact for the paper lama man if you still have

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    Replies
    1. Dear Friends, I spoke to the paper lama man this morning. Caught him on his rounds. He only covers my area and he is not prepared to go elsewhere as he says petrol costs will eat into his profits. And he hasn't other contacts to give me to pass over to you. Sorry. Hope you can find other sources to do your recycling bit. Or get your community to organise one:)We do not use his services now as we have our own community recycling effort through Alam Flora.

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  39. Hi Keats,

    Can u email his phone no to cyesum@gmail.com? I am staying near Damansara.

    Am looking for one as we have a lot of old newspapeLS for sale before CNY.

    Thanks.

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  40. Hi Keats,

    Can u email his phone no to heeven999@gmail.com? I am staying near Ampang.


    Thanks

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  41. Hi Keats,

    Can u email his phone no to heeven999@gmail.com? I am staying near Ampang.

    Thanks.

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  42. Hi Keats,

    Can u email his phone no to iqbal.jusoh@gmail.com? I am staying near Pantai Dalam, KL.

    Thanks.
    Iqbal

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Great to have you popping in!