There is a certain sense of bittersweet beauty that comes along with relating mythology or history with the life that we currently lead. Wars, epidemics, lockdowns – our generation has been fortunate to have only read about these and to have the freedom to choose if we want to imagine what life was in those times or to dismiss it as the past. But now, as our lives turn into an event that will be remembered for several years to come, like how we remember the Black Plague or the Bengal famines, it may be soothing to look back to instances like ours, where we have fought and survived.
The concept of people packing their bags to explore new territories is as old as time itself. And despite coming from a long lineage of Gujarati merchants – I know that we are not alone in our desire to chart uncharted terrains in the names of commerce. There are others like us – from all cultures and creeds from around the world.
As I made my way down Jonker Street, I found myself at The Royal Press – one of the world’s oldest surviving polyglot letterpress museums dedicated to preserving the craft of letterpress printing. Located in one of Melaka’s many shophouses, I was immediately hit by a sense of nostalgia when I walked in. As a descendant of Southeast Asian merchants, I am all too familiar with the concept of the shopfloor on the ground floor and a living space on the second floor.