Kilometer 34 447: butterflies of Melaka
Ua-ua-ua-ua! I’m in love with your body! Bombastic, ele fantastic, pa pa l’americano, asi voce me mata, ai se eu te pego, ai aiiiii so hot in here! so ice ice baby… ice ice favorito baby! pasito pasito oppa gangnam suave suavecito gangnam style poquito a poquito, mista lova lova sube sube!
There is one city in the world where adult men earn their living by pedaling on glitter covered pink and yellow rickshaws ornamented with multiple Hello Kitties, Pokemons or Minions. These rickshaws are very sensible means of transport. The passenger rests comfortably in the back seat, protected from too much sun by a butterfly-shaped roof with the same cartoon character as the rest of the vehicle. The butterfly’s antennae joyfully bounce while the driver fails to avoid all the bumps and holes. The soft floral décor cushions the backrest while the huge mascot on the bumper neutralizes the potential collisions.
The loudspeakers placed on each rickshaw cheerfully play one of seven songs that not only amuses the paying passenger, but above all lets the whole neighborhood forget about their worries. And not just the close neighbourhood. Well, not as much forget, more like be unable to concentrate on their worries. In the evening, it turns out that the flowers, tentacles and the centrally located Minion glow and sparkle. The vehicle is perfectly complemented by the driver, usually a bored Hindu man in a baseball cap and blank eyes.
I elbowed my way through the weekend market on Jonker street and thought these were the most colourful butterflies I’d see in Melaka.
And then I ran into a jam session and met Bono. Bono has waist-long dreadlocks, can play any instrument he lays his hands on and has two wives. He acts like a magnet because the jamming group grows by the minute.
Just round the corner, by the river, there’s Bernie, managing the most popular bar in Melaka. Bernie licks people on the neck, rolls joints for his favourite customers, dances around the tables and has a French arrest warrant.
Jotti is a tiny elderly man, calls everyone “dear” and walks the streets in a scarf nonchalantly falling down his one shoulder, a blouse revealing the other one, with a dog under his arm and every week a new backpacker staying with him for free and helping out in daily duties.
We met Monika while she was cycling around Iran and we knew immediately that we would want to visit her. What we hadn’t realized was that we’d stay for two months. Monika goes beach combing and decorates her blue village house on stilts and half of the cafés in Melaka with her findings. She has people coming over for homemade bread, original Slovak goulash and ginger beer. She serves them dressed in a Japanese kimono and a mask from Indonesia, dancing to What is love.