Nileshkumar Manilal, 59
Pankajkumar Manilal, 62
With the owners of
Syarikat PM Timbadia Pankajkumar and Nileshkumar Timbadia a/l Manilal
13 January 2020
Syarikat PM Timbadia 6T, Jalan Kee Ann 06-282 6704
Operating Hours: 9.00am - 6.00pm
Nileshkumar: I’m Nileshkumar, 59 years old. We sell carpets and bed sheets, mattress, pillows and we fix wall to wall carpet, for masjid, surau and offices. We are professionals in fixing carpets wall to wall.
How long have you had this business?
My business started in 1978, before that my father, his father (my grandfather) and [my father’s] uncle started this business. Total about over 100 years.
At the same place?
No, a different shop at Bukit China: Jalan Temenggong (Mill Road) near Little India there. Unfortunately 3 years ago, morning at 9 am, there was a short circuit. All the shops there got burned, including 2 of my shops. No.18, Jalan Temenggong: that was my birth place. Our birthplace. Me and my brother. That was the place where my grandfather, father, his uncle and we all, 4 generations started this business. Unfortunately it was fully burned. So, here is the branch we have left.
What memories do you have of Jalan Temenggong?
We both were born there. We had wonderful memories. We are a close-knit family. Family of 15 people in 1 house. Joined family.
So your grandfather started the business?
My grandfather’s uncle came here from Gujarat, India, during the Japanese time. Before the Japanese time. He was a very well-known man in Melaka. He was given the award of JP [Justice of Peace]. That was in 1953. [Note: According to the Malaya Tribune, a Ratilal Sukhlal Narechania was appointed a Justice of the Peace in January 1948].
For what services did he get the award?
Pankajkumar: For doing social services to the community, especially, helping the poor. And because of that the government of that day named a road after him. Jalan Ratilal in Jasin. The only road in Malaysia named after a Gujarati. And during the Communist time he had the power to come out with his old car and help the community. That time JP [Justice of Peace] is recognised all over the world. Because it was a British Award.
Nileshkumar: So, the thing is that we are a very close-knit family. And we open the shop from Monday to Sunday. We are hardworking.
7 days a week? Never go on holidays?
When we have a function like a wedding, or our kids bring us on holiday, then we close lah.
From where do you get the merchandise?
Suppliers in Kuala Lumpur. Because Gujaratis are importers of all of these products. So, we buy from there. We bought the mattress from the factory.
Pankajkumar: Yes, we get from suppliers from Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.
How long has this shop here been open?
About 18-20 years. Now the crowd is less and less. Today there’s a lot of online business, and direct selling from Pakistanis.
Before Hari Raya, a lot of Malays come here?
Yes, a lot.
And during Chinese New Year?
Nileshkumar: During the Chinese New Year it’s about 10-20% of business. Because most of the customers/buyers here are Malays. They decorate their houses beautifully.
Pankajkumar: 85-90% of our customers are Malay. Overall we are satisfied. Our children, especially my three boys are engineers. Doing very well working in Kuala Lumpur. Nowadays the competition is very hard.
“We are a close-knit family. Family of 15 people in one house”/br> -Nileshkumar Manilal
“...because of that the government of that day named a road after him. Jalan Ratilal in Jasin. The only road in Malaysia named after a Gujarati”/br> -Pankajkumar Manilal
Are you siblings?
Nileshkumar: Yes, we are brothers. We are partners in these shops.
Pankajkumar: He’s younger and I’m the eldest.
Could you tell us more about the memories about this shop here?
Nileshkumar: In 1971 there was a very big flood. That time I was about 10 or 11 years old. That time my shop was at Jalan Temenggong in Little India there. I took a stick and walked to Jalan Kilang near the old bus station. It was 10-12 feet high of water. The whole of Bunga Raya was flooded. That was the biggest flood.
The biggest flood ever?
Not ever. In the 1930s also got big flood. After 1971’s floods there was no more flood after that. There were boats everywhere in Bunga Raya. I even have the photos.
Pankajkumar: One more experience: there was the emergency in May 1969. In the whole of Malaysia the roads were closed, the road is open a few hours only, to buy groceries and all that. Every morning I like to eat idly [steamed pancakes]. In front of my shop there I always buy, that time the cost was only 5-10 cents. I remember, all the soldiers’ trucks came from everywhere.
Do you remember the old pasar, Lido Cinema?
Nileshkumar: The Lido cinema, yes I do. There was the matinee show. All the Hindi movies like Sanggam. When we were young, we always rushed over there.
How much did it cost that time?
40 cents, 65 cents and 1 dollar. First class was 1 dollar. Second class was 65cents and the third class was 40cents. I remembered one time a movie played in Melaka for 1-3 months, but in Penang it played for 6 months: the elephant one [Haathi Mere Saathi]. And it was fully packed with people when it was showing [the Sanggam movie]. That time it was very popular, the Hindi movies, even amongst the Malays and Chinese.
Pankajkumar: The Gujerati population in Malaysia is around 2000 people. And only one temple in Malaysia. And that is in Ujong Pasir. The Sri Ambaji Temple. My grandfather, he and his Gujarati friends set up a committee and bought the land and built the Temple. The only Gujarati temple in the whole of Malaysia.
Your father is one of those who helped to build the temple?
He’s one of them who helped form the committee. A few fellas lah.
How old is the Temple?
That time when they laid the foundation stone after they bought the land I was 11-12 years old.
How old are you now?
So, what’s your hope for the future for your business?
Nileshkumar: During Datuk Ali Rustam’s time [Ali Rustam was Chief Minister of Melaka between 1999-2013] they wanted to make an Arab City but it never jadi. Because they want to conserve this area, this Kampung Jawa is well known to everybody. Throughout Malaysia people know about Kampung Jawa.
Pankajkumar: It’s a historic place. My hope is that they don’t develop this place.