Möto Café is a biker café set in a warehouse in the Al Quos district of Dubai. It was founded in 2018 by 2 East Germans Marco Muller and Frank Ortmann. It has a gentlemen’s barber, serves food and bespoke coffee and has a small stage with a collection of guitars and a drum kit. It also has a gallery for computer workstations. The café sponsor is His Excellency Majid Al Qasimi.
The café is known for a shrine made by Marco Muller which he has dedicated to an idol he has called the Piston King, an alleged spiritual guardian of travelers overseeing their well-being on the road. Marco claims the idol has ‘wept’ tears of oil much in the same way Christian icons have wept blood or have bled from stigmata.
Marco’s claim is that the biker idolatry of the Piston King owes its mythology to India and a time ½ a millennium ago when there were unprecedented and inexplicable advances in science. Marco claims the idol was fashioned from a metallic mineral compound found whilst on a road trip in India with the late and venerable Nelson Suresh Kumar who also had motor bike garage in another warehouse neighboring Möto Café. Having stopped for the night to camp in the Sanskaar valley near Bhopal, Marco claims he spotted a metallic lump protruding from the ground. He retrieved the object and put it in his motorbike satchel. The next morning he claims a puddle of oil could be seen under his bike. When the bike was found to be mechanically sound it was assumed that the oil was coming from his satchel and the compound inside.
The composition of the compound with its oily patina is thought to be similar to others that are not naturally found on Earth or cannot be made here. Gold for example, is made in the heart of exploding stars – the only conditions capable of creating its dense atomic structure. Similarly, meteorites also contain unique compounds. One example is the Wedderburn meteorite named after the Australian town where it was discovered in 1951. Weighing 210 grams scientists have spent the last 70 years analyzing its composition. The rock contains traces of gold, iron and rarer minerals like kamacite, schreibersite, taenite and troilite. But in December 2019 it was confirmed that the meteorite contained another mineral - a rare form of iron carbine never before found in nature. It has been called Edscottite after the renown meteorite expert and cosmochemist Edward Scott of University of Hawaii.
According to planetary scientist Geoffrey Bonning from the Australian National University, the meteor, and thereby the mineral is thought to have been made in the heated and pressurized core of an ancient planet. The planet is then thought to have suffered a fatal cosmic collision involving another planet or moon or asteroid. The ancient planet would have been blasted apart and its fragments flung across space and time for millions of years before encountering earth then breaking into pieces as it entered our atmosphere. Marco’s claim is that such a provenance might be attributed to the compound used to make the Möto café idol given that India has other examples of a minerals having unique properties.
Around the 5th century AD, during the dynasty of Chandragupta the iron pillar of Delhi was made. Situated in the Qutb complex this iron pillar is 23ft-high, and weighs 6 tons (3000kg). The pillar is said to never rust. Modern metallurgists have worked out that the rust prevention is a property resulting from a complex amalgam of phosphorous acting as a catalyst to form a protective film of Misawite. Misawite is an amorphous iron oxyhydroxide that forms a corrosion-resistant barrier.
The pillar is mentioned in Erich von Daniken’s book Chariots – Unsolved Mysteries of the past and used as evidence of extraterrestrial influence offering an explanation as to how 5th century smelters would have known about Misawite and have the technology to smelt such a large single piece of wrought iron.
The pillar and its composition are used by Marco to legitamize the Piston King idols chemical properties. Marco has also adopted the name Piston King claiming it is a corrupted eponym of ‘The Pashtun King’. The Pashtun King is a title associated with Qais Abdur Rashid Pithon who lived around the same time as the iron pillar of Delhi was made. According to post-Islamic lore, he is the legendary founding father of the Pashtuns. Their genealogy can be traced back to the Bronze Age ( 3000 – 1200 BC) and there are several conflicting theories on their origin. Present day Pashtuns are largely native to Afghanistan and provinces of Pakistan. But significant communities of the diaspora persist in the Sindh and Punjab as well as Uttar Pradesh state in India and communities in Delhi where the iron pillar now stands.
The languages of the Pashtuns also suggest historical Indian connections. The native language of the Pashtuns is Pashto - an Iranian language, but the majority of Pashtuns also speak Dari (a variant of Persian) or Hindi or Urdu as a second language. This can be explained by what is known as the as the Greek and Rajput theory. According to the British physician and authority on oriental languages, Henry Walter Bellew, who wrote the first Pushtu dictionary in colonial India, Pashtuns (also known as Pathans) are a mixture of Greek and Indian Rajput peoples. This assertion comes from the fact that most Pashtun tribal names derive from Greek and Rajput names, suggesting a great mixing of Greeks with the ancient border tribes of India thousands of years ago.
Like his ancestors the Pashtun King, is said to have been a great traveller making his way from modern day Afghanistan and the Hindu Kush to Mecca and Medina in Arabia. These Indo-Middle East routes have long been favourites of bikers, endearing Marco to Qais as the original spiritual guardian of the road, hence ‘Pashtun King’ conveniently moulded to Piston King. Furthermore, Oais’s broad appeal is owing to fact that Islam was only in its early years and his lineage is diverse and complex. It is therefore impossible to assign any particular faith to Qais and therefore his idolatry for Marco and his biker fraternity is reassuringly agnostic.
The iron pillar is only one example of sudden technological advancement. Also in the 5th century Indian mathematician and astronomer Aryabhata was the first to use ‘zero’ without which modern and complex maths as we know it today would not be possible. Using his maths he insisted correctly that the movement of the stars was owing to the rotation of the Earth and not that the stars and planets revolve around our planet – something Copernicus would not confirm for another 1000 years.
For Marco and his biker fraternity the story used to explain the shrine in the café is that the oil found under Marco’s bike came from the compound and not the bike. The latter being roadworthy, Marco and Nelson continued their road trip and were struck by how calm and uneventful the rest of their ride was, the conclusion being that the oily compound conveyed some sort of protection. Upon returning to Dubai Marco fashioned the compound into a figure head which can be seen mounted it in the small shrine in his café. An iconic tribute to the Piston King (or Pashtun King) complete with a candle and adorned with many prayer beads left by bikers who visit the cafe.
Visitors to the café are told that after mounting the icon in the café shrine a cleaner remarked how each morning, he was having to clean an oily stain off the floor directly under the shrine. Intrigued, a camera was set up overnight to reveal oil weeping directly from the Piston Kings eyes that Marco had crafted into the figure head.
The shrine now attracts pilgrimages from bikers from all over the world. They continue to leave trinkets and prayer beads, and light a candle to pay homage to their guardian of the road.