I had some time to kill last weekend while waiting for a friend at Chinatown. Chinatown is such a magical place. An Austrian runs the sausage bar, a Hongkonger runs the pastries stall, the elderly play chess everyday regardless of everything that’s happening around the world, the shop-help works hard to peddle his products to the tourists everyday. I just wanted to while my time away, but never expected Chinatown to be so interesting even for a local. There is so much activity happening in one place and everybody who comes wants to be part of it. Chinatown is run by locals and foreigners, attracts the old, the young, the Chinese Nationals and the local community, welcomes tourists of all countries with open arms. This is truly, Uniquely Singapore.
On the early morning of 27th of July, I embarked on my first ever trip to explore the streets of Little India. I never really stepped into the streets of Little India except for a cultural trip back when I was in primary school and few years ago when I needed to get a shirt from one of the stores at the outskirts of the area.
It was a trip I wanted to do for the longest time and the desire to make it come to pass was re-ignited when I caught the movie ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’. Like what the movie said, truly there’s no place on earth that has ‘such an assault on your senses’ even if Little India is not actually in India.
The colors in Little India alone is enough to paint the town red, and along with it yellow, green, blue and what have you not. The strong scents that come from the garlands, food, perfume and temples overwhelming but inviting. The people, migrant workers or not are so friendly, perhaps more than the average person you meet in other parts of Singapore. The unity of this close-knitted community is amazing.
While there, I chanced upon a filming in progress. A Native Indian programme that seeks to shed light on the life of migrant workers took them across the seas to Singapore to film these people themselves.
For the Indians and Bangladeshis who came here to work, Little India is more than just a place to rest one’s head, it’s a home away from home. To the migrant workers who came here to make a living, thank you for literally making Singapore a better place to live in. Brick by brick, you build our city. And I am grateful.
To the average Singaporeans, perhaps this is one part of the country that you will always shun. For me, this place is truly a gem right at the heart of the city. I will definitely be back to breathe in the wonders of this place that holds a special room in my heart.