Bendahara Bread and Buns


With retired
Malacca Council municipal worker
Muthaya, 87

Conversation on
25 October, 2018
Jalan Temenggong

The market at Bukit Cina was built in 1952, I came here to Melaka when the building was being constructed. I was 22, I came to look for work. My first job was as a municipal worker, carrying things in a lorry. They paid me RM2.28 each day. That was about RM50 to RM56 a month, which was a big amount of money for me, when one kati of rice cost around 20-25 cents. I retired after 34 years in the field. 

From the age of 30, I sold bread and buns for 30 years. I rode a tricycle, now it’s at Bukit Baru Museum (my elder son gave it to them without asking for any money). Once done with the morning’s work, around 4pm I would go around selling bread and buns along the Pengkalan Rama, Bukit China road. The bread cost 20 to 25 cents, the buns 10 cents. These were Chinese buns, packed in paper, not plastic (there was no Gardenia Brand in my time!). I would collect the bread from the bakery, then later return the day’s unsold bread. At night I worked part-time in a restaurant, for only RM20 a month. 

I married in India and brought my wife here. We have five kids, my three daughters live in India, my elder son is a doctor and lives in Kota Kinabalu, the youngest lives in Melaka to take care of me. Since I worked in the government, all my medication is free.

Chettiar people are good to me because I have been helping them cook for temple prayers [Sannasimalai Temple. Cheng, Melaka] for almost 35 years. We cook at the temple for all the devotees. At Diwali I go for prayers in Kampung Chetti, at the Sri Subramaniam Thuropathai Amman Alayam Paribala Sabai Temple. 

Little India

Devibala shop [Devibala Enterprise at 4-6 Jalan Bendahara, selling all manner of Indian goods] had just been set up, previously the street was full of florists. But the shop selling betel opposite Devibala has been there for some time, the owner came here in 1953. The Star Kris hotel was previously an Indian restaurant [Sindamani restaurant], but all of them are no longer around. Mr Govinda, the owner of the shop next to the hotel, was a rich and well-known man. Now the son has over the shop, he’s based in Singapore. The Star Kris flour mill [5 & 7 Jalan Temenggong] has also been there for some time. In the olden days, Little India was more joyful, with cheaper household stuff and firecrackers at night.