Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Little India

While Bryan and I were still staying on Orchard Road, we made an excursion to Little India, mostly because I wanted to check out the food there. I was surprised at how much different Little India was from the rest of Singapore. It was very crowded- the sidewalks were packed with people and shops, and sometimes we just had to walk on the street. The streets were also pretty littered, which is uncommon in most of Singapore, especially in the areas that tourists frequent. In the very first store that we went into, we saw two mice, and in the next store, I turned a corner and was surprised by a pigeon flying directly at my face. It seems as though the boundary between "inside" and "outside" is pretty fluid in Little India.

With all of its quirks, Little India was a great place to visit. The streets smelled like fresh spices, and the shops were full of all sorts of colorful and beautiful things- whole shops full of bangle bracelets, others packed with vividly colored bolts of cloth, stalls selling tropical fruits and strands of fresh flowers. We stopped into a shop and bought some super cheap spices (bags of cumin, coriander, turmeric, garam masala, black mustard seeds, and more- for less than $5 USD total). And of course, there was food everywhere- little streetside stands with snacks like curry puffs and vegetable pakora, and larger restaurants with full menus. We went into one of the restaurants and had some of the best Indian food I've ever had. Bryan and I each got thalis, which are big meals that are often served at traditional Indian weddings (that's my vegetarian meal above). While we were enjoying our huge meals, we had a chance to take in our surrundings a little bit- the restaurant was beautifully decorated, and we were sitting in front of a huge mural of Ganesh, the Hindu god with an elephant head. There was a TV on in the background, playing videos of Indian musicals.

After lunch, we walked around town and found this super colorful little temple. It wasn't open but we hung around outside and snapped a few pictures. The little place had a big name- the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple. It's dedicated to the Hindu goddess Kali, the dark and violent goddess who is often portrayed holding up severed heads or wearing a necklace of skulls.

As we walked through Little India, I felt like a lot of people were staring at us, and I assumed it was just because we're white and therefore we stick out sometimes. Later, Bryan pointed out that it was only the men that were staring, and they weren't really paying him any attention. Since then, at the market and while walking aroung town, I've often felt like I was being stared at by Indian men in particular (note: I get stared at a lot by a variety of people, because I'm often doing something out of the norm, like sweating profusely, which Singaporeans don't seem to do, or breaking the rules in the produce section at the grocery store, which is a whole other story. So I attract some attention sometimes, but I feel like a large proportion of that attention comes from Indian men). Anyway, I consulted the travel book, which I would be lost without, and it said that a lot of Indian men are in the habit of ogling Western women, which actually made me feel a little better. I was starting to wonder if there was something wrong with me.

On another subject entirely, as I was writing this blog, I heard a crazy ruckus outside so I got up and looked out the window and there was a parade-like procession marching down the street. I was watching and trying to figure out what the occassion was when I noticed a casket being carried on a litter by several men walking behind a band playing music. I'm not sure if this is a typical practice for funerals in Singapore, but I'll look into it.


  1. Yes. What you’ve seen is the typical Buddhism/Taoist funeral wakes practice by most Singapore Chinese. The wakes usually last for 3 to 5 days at the void deck (the spacious ground level of the HDB flat). If you stay long enough, you will most likely to encounter Singapore Malays hosting their wedding functions at the void deck too. On some occasion, you can even find these two contrast events held simultaneously!

  2. Wow, thanks for the information! I had no idea!