Thursday, January 03, 2008

Little India

The same way you have many India(s) in India, you have many India(s) in Little India.

Let me explain, you have many different part of India even in the Little India around the world, yet you can expect to see the same thing over and over again. In every Little India, you will be able to find the jewelry shop with the protected bar between you and the merchandized.

You will still be able to find terraces where you can seat down all day long and drink Massala Chai while talking with your friends rebuilding the world over and over again.

You can even find Sari shops where you eyes will hurt attacked by so many colors dress and scarf that you will have to close them for a while before moving back to your exploration.

You will eventually find a street shop in a back alley, where the line up is so huge that you have to stop and ask why people waiting in line. You might face an awkward smile and a head shaking urging you to take your turn in the line for a fantastic Dosa or Butter Chicken.

But you have in each Little India a small a slide different taste that you don’t have in the other one you can find in the world, even mother land. In Singapore you can find in some places some Chinese signs slowly being replaced with Tamil, Hindi, Bengali and other more exotic Indian scripts.

Houses in Little India in Singapore are almost all the time colonial style, two storeys high with 2 wooden windows symmetrical to the entrance door.

Then at the end of the block, you have the biggest mall of all, Mustafa Center, Open 24 hours, where you can find whatever you want ranging from Rolex watches and washing machines to fresh mangoes, bags of lentils and tailored suits.

In the middle of the place, the busiest street in the place to house hair cut shop that takes you back to the future of 1988. Only Tamil Latin dance competitor, Scandinavian soccer player or Singaporean skateboarder can appreciate the deepness and the range of the long-tail-but-no-pony-tail look you can get there.

Within a block, temples, churches and other devotion places cover the main Serangoon Street and compete with other place of religion more modern I would add, namely Backpacker Hostels.

The smell you can grasp on your journey has nothing to do with what you can expect from a (small or big) Little India. Flowers used to warships the Hindu gods and goddesses fulfill the streets with not only graceful colors but also with some amazing exotic smell. You can buy your flower necklace of bangle for your pray just before going to the temple, but also as I saw many times to garnish your home for the special event you throwing tonight.

Everything changes when around 7 PM, people start going out to appreciate the cool and pleasant nascent night on their way back from work. Fruits and vegetables change colors and shape due to the over lighting that shops put together to attract mosquitoes and buyers.

In the blue night of Singapore, the colorful Little India made me wonder what would be the Big India at night. I whish I could use this transportation machine I saw during the day in one of this scary shop in the Little India, to go to the real thing. Maybe one day I use a plane instead. More time though but less experimental.

Eating stops along the way.
  • Komala Vilas (76-78 Serangoon Road). A Singaporean institution featuring purely vegetarian Indian food. Downstairs is fast food, head up for restaurant-style seating and serving. Sets start at less than $2 and even the largest platter of breads and dips will cost less than $5.
  • Saravana Bhavan (36 Belilios Lane). The Singapore branch of a restaurant chain from Chennai, serving up vegetarian Indian food. Cheap and fantastic Massala Chai.
  • Banana Leaf Apolo (54-58 Race Course Rd) An institution for all sorts of South Indian food; no prizes for guessing what serves as the plate. You eat on a banala leaf, with your hand, a lot of food in your stomach.
  • Tandoori Restaurant (166 Serangoon Road) has an excelent Chicken butter, and Cheese Nan.
  • Sitara Restaurant (291 Serangoon Road) supposed to have the best sea food menu in the Little town. Same owner as Tandoori. Mentioned but not tasted.
  • Azmi Restaurant (Junction of Serangoon Rd and Norris Rd) is a unique restuarant, very cheap and authentic where Chapati are still made the old way by old man and distributed on old table for old fashion customers, at an old price.
  • Sri Kamala Villas (662 Buffalo Road) is reputed to have the best Dosai in town, not yet tasted, but soon to be.