I was going on a YouTube spiral of 00s songs and I came upon Lily Allen’s LDN, which was one of my favourites from the mid-00s era. If you don’t know, or can’t remember the song, it’s about how things in London (=LDN) aren’t always as rosy as they seem. The music video features Lily walking through the streets of London in a bright red dress. Everything in front of her is pleasant and happy, but as she passes, it changes into the dull and bleak reality of which she seems to be unaware.

As I watched the video, it dawned on me that the message of the song could be about Malé, so I decided to tweak the lyrics a little just for some fun.

First, here is the song:

You can see the lyrics here.

Now that you have a better idea of what the song is about, you can see my version. Non-Maldivians might not get all the references, but I annotated it and there are explanations at the end. Here’s an instrumental version of the song so that you can sing it:

Without further ado, I give you…

MLE

Riding through the city on my cyk1 all day
I’m too lazy to seek employment2
It doesn’t get me down and I feel okay;
This is all I can do for enjoyment3

Everyone thinks that it’s paradise
but I wonder if they had to live here
There’s a fellow looking salhi4 but I see he has a valhi5
So I run away in fear

You might get yourself run down6
Walking around Malé town

The sunny side of life7; oh why, oh why would I want to be anywhere else?
The sunny side of life; oh why, oh why would I want to be anywhere else?

When you look with your eyes
Everything seems nice
But if you look twice
You can see it’s all lies

There was a little old maama8 walking down Majeedhee Magu9
She was struggling with bags from Agora10
There were Bondhus11 from the ‘Desh12 serving sai and hedhikaa13
I believe they are called “dias-pora”14

A paatey15 came to offer a hand16
but she did not want to accept it
He stabbed her in the head and left her for dead
The police did nothing17 – as expected

You’ll find corruption abound
Walking around Malé town

 This city makes me cry, I can’t deny that I want to be somewhere else
The druggies are all high and I know why: They want to be somewhere else

When you look with your eyes
Everything seems nice
Then some random guys
Will come and touch your thighs18

Life – yeah that’s Malé life
yeah that’s Malé life
yeah that’s Malé life
Life – yeah that’s Malé life
yeah that’s Malé life
yeah that’s Malé life

I can’t even see the sky – the buildings are too high! I want to be somewhere else
Lanka, Dubai, Malay, Brunei19 – I want to be somewhere else
I can’t afford to fly, that’s why I sigh – I want to be somewhere else
My end is nigh, I want to die20 or at least be somewhere else

When I look with my eyes
At a city so nice
I must thank the Rice21
He is so so wise
But when I look twice
I see past the disguise
I know it’s all lies
This is no paradise

Notes

  1. Motorcycle (cyk rhymes with bike)
  2. I don’t think the unemployment rate in Malé is terribly high, but it would be a lot lower if Maldivians didn’t think manual labour is beneath them.
  3. Sometimes, people just ride their bikes because there’s nothing else to do. Hani Amir has written about this.
  4. Cool
  5. Knife
  6. There are so many vehicles on the streets – there is a high chance that you’ll get run over if you’re not careful.
  7. Tourism industry slogan
  8. Grandma
  9. One of the main roads in Malé. It runs east to west and divides the island into two.
  10. A supermarket
  11. Bondhu is a Bengali word meaning “friend”. Maldivians use it in a slightly derogatory way to refer to Bangladeshi expats who do all the work they (Maldivians) don’t want to do.
  12. Bangladesh
  13. Sai = Tea, Hedhikaa = Short-eats/tapas
  14. Yes, I know “diaspora” doesn’t rhyme with “Agora”. But poetic license…
  15. Thug/Gang member
  16. A paatey would never actually offer to help anyone with anything
  17. The Maldivian police have a knack for being incompetent. Sometimes it seems intentional.
  18. Street harassment is frighteningly common. Pretty much every woman in Malé will have a story about being groped.
  19. Sri Lanka and Malaysia are common destinations for Maldivians trying to escape Malé. Dubai and Brunei not as much (but they rhymed!).
  20. Life in Malé isn’t unbearable to the point of suicide, but sometimes it can get very close.
  21. President. See here.

Hope you all enjoyed that 😀

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