S R Nathan treated everyone equal, including staff
Restaurant owner reminisces about Mr S R Nathan's friendliness
It was supposed to have been a quiet Valentine's Day lunch for former President S R Nathan and his wife, courtesy of grandson Kiron.
The place: Quentin's, at the Eurasian Association just across the road from their home in Ceylon Road.
Instead, Mr Nathan spent about 45 minutes posing for pictures with other patrons.
REGULAR: Mr S R Nathan and his wife Urmila Nandey were often spotted at Quentin’s. TNP PHOTO: JEREMY LONG
"He was always happy to oblige," the restaurant's owner, Mr Quentin Pereira, told The New Paper, of that incident which happened a few years ago.
"Mr Nathan was a very down-to-earth man. He did not put on airs. He treated everyone as his equal, including the staff at my restaurant."
Mr Pereira said Mr Nathan, who invited friends and family to his home every Deepavali, would also extend the invitation to the staff at Quentin's.
"(During Deepavali) he told them to go over for a bite before the restaurant got busy. He was very sweet to have done that."
RESTAURANT OF CHOICE
Being just "a hop and a skip" away, Quentin's became the late president's restaurant of choice.
"He and his family ate here regularly. He particularly loved the mee goreng. He could even tell if the noodles were cooked by someone else and not me," Mr Pereira said with a laugh.
Mr Nathan's grandson, now 24, could often be found in the pool room of the Eurasian Association or at Quentin's.
"Kiron loves coming here since he was 10. He would often hang out and his grandparents would be concerned that he was being a nuisance. Mr Nathan would often apologise, saying he hoped Kiron wasn't a bother," Mr Pereira said.
Whenever Mr Nathan travelled, he would bring back souvenirs for Mr Pereira.
"He gave me a bottle of wine from the Taj Mahal and a penknife from Switzerland. Often, these gifts came with a note that said, 'Thank you for taking care of Kiron'.
"He even remembered I had told him that my son loves cars. He would get books on cars or tiny toy cars for the boy."
And every year when Mr Nathan returned from the National Day Parade, residents would line Ceylon Road to wave tiny flags to greet him.
"And every year, Mr Nathan would get out of his car to shake their hands," Mr Pereira recalled.
"Such a humble, unassuming man. Ceylon Road will not be the same again. We will all miss him."
He and his family ate here regularly. He particularly loved the mee goreng. He could even tell if the noodles were cooked by someone else and not me.
- Quentin's owner, Mr Quentin Pereira