Uncle Khaja - Nazneen Meat House
Khaja, the owner of Nazneen Meat House, was busy cutting up some meat for a customer when we walked up to his stall. When we engaged him in conversation, he proudly told us about all the various kinds of halal meats that he sells. As we look across the stall, we realize that he wasn’t joking about the wide variety of meats and one can tell with just a glance, how fresh the meats are.
The stall was passed down to Khaja from his father and he has been handling the business since 2001. Like many vendors at the wet market, Khaja did not have a say in whether he wanted to take up the family business or not – it was simply passed onto him. Of course, he says that he has no regrets whatsoever and that the stall gives him more happiness than any other occupation could have.
Being the charismatic and chatty person that he is, Khaja truly loves interacting and talking to his customers, as well as, recommending to them the fresh cuts of the day. He says that meeting new people and forming meaningful connections with them is what makes this line of business so rewarding despite the hardships that he faces. Due to his very busy lifestyle, he rarely gets to spend time with his family and does not get holidays either – every day is a workday.
When the Circuit Breaker was first implemented, like many Singaporeans, he too felt anxious about the future of his business and was unsure if it would continue the same way. Luckily, the government provided many subsidies which helped the business to continue staying afloat and it even got better as many people started cooking their meals at home. Not only this, by joining hands with Market Boy, Nazneen Meat House was able to increase its reach and cater to the needs of Singaporeans spread out far and wide across the island.
Khaja says that his future plan is to retire in a few years and catch up on the lost family time. Nazneen Meat House will continue to function for years to come and continue to be a place where customers can come to purchase the choicest of meats and form valuable connections. When asked what he considers to be a ‘must buy’ item from his stall, he recommended the lamb as it is always very fresh and there are a wide variety of delicious dishes that can be made from it
As we thanked Khaja for the interview and were about to walk away, a customer asked him, “Do you get interviewed often?”, to which Khaja laughed loudly, shook his head, and continued cutting up some meat. Looks like we made Mr. Khaja a local celebrity!