Little India in Singapore is the Indian equivalent of the Chinatowns that are common all over the world. New migrants started their lives in their new country by gathering, meeting, and living in a specific area. Then that area becomes a Chinatown, or a Little France, or a Little Mexico, or in this case – a Little India.
I actually recommend Little India as one of the must-go places for anyone visiting Singapore. Singapore’s Chinatown has become extremely touristy and quite modern. It just feels like another tourist destination in an ultra-modern urban city trying to sell tourist souvenirs. However Little India in Singapore actually feels like a different place, with an authentic cultural feel in its streets. It really is one of the last few handful of places in the country that still exudes real cultural character that is relatively un-marred by consumerism.
Trying to describe what gives Little India its charm is difficult. It is like trying to describe what makes Paris, Paris. It is not just one or two aspects, but a combination of multiple characteristics – the buildings, the sounds, the food, the decor, the language, the people, the things for sale, the colours, the shops and businesses, the subtle difference in the way of life, etc.
Little India really comes alive during the weekends, when the large number of foreign workers from India working in Singapore have their day off. This place really explodes with the crowd. There are about 1.5 million foreigners working in Singapore. Many of them hail from India and work mostly in the construction industry. You can imagine how crowded this place can get as people gather to meet and to experience that taste of home.
Little India is also right next to the Jalan Besar area, which carries some traditional Chinese influence. So it is not uncommon to see Chinese businesses set up right beside Indian businesses in some streets. In fact, it is normal to see Chinese working in some Indian-owned businesses. Nevermind the language barrier – everyone can communicate in English.
This certainly is not the last time I’ll visit. I should follow up with more pictures of life here when I get another chance to drop by. – WY