Saturday, June 17, 2006

The colourful Little India

"To go or not to go." I decided to choose the former, and to embark on the journey of yet another of The Original Singapore Walks: Dhobis, Saris & a Spot of Curry earlier this Wednesday.

This tour brings participants along what is commonly referred to as Little India in Singapore. The tour guide greeted us "Welcome" in Tamil, and she was wearing a North Indian punjabi suit. Were these to complement the theme of the tour?

The tour started with an introduction that bought us to hear about how Race Course Road was like in the good old days. There was more, but I shall leave it to you to join this tour to find all these out for yourself.

The next part of the tour brought us to the Tekka Wet Market. What does Tekka mean? Where was the original location of the Tekka Wet Market? What are the characteristics of a wet market? The answers to these questions will be revealed on the tour, of course.

Till you join the tour, I could only bear to tempt you with scenes from the wet market.




Coconuts, on the right of this photo.



The floor of the market is wet. Wear good shoes on this tour. In my opinion, doing so would help prevent one from slipping.

My favourite section of the market is that of the fruits. Whichever market that I am in, the fruits section never fails to bring me the fragrant smell that only fruits could bring.





Tropical fruits, and more fruits.



Along our walk about the wet market, the guide pointed us to various interesting items that were sold in the market. For example, the "drumstick", believed by the Indians to have aphrodisiac properties. Also, we get to hear about the tonic black chicken that you would see below.





Top left: Black chicken. It has white feathers, but its skin and flesh is black.



More interesting thing awaits. This part of the tour will definitely lend the novice some insights to parrot-astrology.




Have your fortune being told here.



This tour unravels many interesting stories about the past of Little India. Many buffaloes used to roam about in Little India. Is it a pity that we have progressed so much that people from my generation could no longer witness the rearing of buffaloes on that very same grounds?

Anyway, the tour has given me more insights to the history of this little island that I inhabit in. It also gave me more insight to the culture of the Indians in Singapore.





Snapshot of Little India Arcade.



One of the stops for the tour was the Little Indian Arcade. Here, I learnt more about the art of Henna Tattooing, Indian candies and even got to see a demonstration of how the Indian saris is being worn. The guide also shared with us about the pottu and the symbolic meanings behind it.





Henna Tattoo






Indian candies. Some of these taste very good!



Little India is charming in its own way. Occasionally, as one walked along the streets of Little India, one may find himself welcomed by the exotic smell from the Indian spices. Some of the shop houses in the area have been existing way before yours truly was born.











A shop selling spices and groceries.



I think I will never look at decorative items found on the doorway as simply decorative items. Look at the dried mango leaves on the doorway that you would see below. If you were to see mango leaves like these hanging on the doorway, there is high likelihood that that place of residence belongs to an Indian household. If you want to know why this is so, please ask the tour guide.





Those dried leaves hanging at the doorway are mango leaves.






Walking along streets of Little India.



One of our final stops was the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple. Here, I learnt a little more about the Hindu religion. Thanks to the guide.





Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple.






The statues here all tell the story of Ganesha.






Could you find the Statue of Ganesha?






The statue with the long tongue represents the protector of babies. She's looking fierce, in order to deal with the evils.






Finally, the tour was concluded at an open space nearby the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple. Certainly, this tour has been an educational one, even for a local Singapore citizen like myself.

As I part from the rest of the group, my eyes were attracted to the colourful garland from a shop nearby.





I couldn't agree more that Little India is full of life, colours and more. And if you are still deliberating whether to go for this walking tour or not, do consider the former option too.

Information on this tour can be found here: http://www.journeys.com.sg/singaporewalks/tours_dhobis.asp

7 comments:

Veron said...

Little India is one place in Singapore that I would consider very un-Singaporean. When I had the rare opportunity to be there last month, I was wowed by the many sights I got to see. In a nutshell, it seemed like a foreign land altogether!

The tour sounds interesting, especially the parrot astrology part.

There are many other hidden gems in Little India. In the past I used to accompany a friend there for some authentic Indian eyebrow threading and henna tattoos.

Last month I was there during the International Museum Day celebrations. There's a Shanghai Toy Museum right in the heart of Little India! My blog entry can be found here if you are interested.

Besides there, I also dined at a North Indian Restaurant there. You may read about it here.

Ivan Chew said...

Hi PY, I posted a comment at Yesterday.SG (see the second comment. Inspired by your Little India blog post. :)

oceanskies79 said...

Veron: Your post on the food at the North Indian Restaurant makes me tempted to try the food. Now, I just have to figure out its exact location.

Ivan: A good idea.

Anonymous said...

hi,

I came across your blog through the yesterday sg website. Your post on Little Indian caught my attention as I also think it is one of the more interesting places in Singapore. I accompany my boyfriend sometimes as he too is a keen photo enthusiast and Little Indian is his favourite haunt. We both love the food...it never fails to disappoint! I have never been on any of the walking tours but am inspired to try it out now thanks to you. I thought the parrot-astrologer was adorable too.
Just wanted to stop by and say thanks for the tip about the walking tours and kepe up the great work!

oceanskies79 said...

Hi Anonymous: Thank you for your encouragements. The walking tours under the Original Singapore Walks is very educational and enriching. It is worth a visit.

I went for yet another Little Tour recently, here's the post.

Anonymous said...

Hi! My name is Marvin and I am the director of Museum of Shanghai Toys which located at Little India. Please feel free to visit my museum in future and in a meanwhile, pls visit our museum blog: http://shanghaitoys.wordpress.com for more info. Thank you and looking forward to see you soon.

oceanskies79 said...

Hi Marvin, thank you for coming by. I am likely to visit the museum with my friends sometime later this year. Your museum's blog is nice, and I have been keeping my friends informed of it from my main blog.