Tuesday, 26 July 2011

a whiff of india

So titled because, " A Taste of..." is so cliche! I believe, Indian culture is more than a teasing of the palate. It's an assault of the senses. Your olfactory can sense it in the air, even before you can catch sight of the colorful Saris, or feel the stare of deep-set eyes, behind you in the grocery counter.

I've always wanted to go to Little India. In the times I've been to Singapore, my colleagues & my husband would decline. It's a noisy, smelly, hot and crowded marketplace. They take me to the nice air-conditioned malls and coffee shops. Not that I'm complaining. But malls are almost the same anywhere in the world you go.

Now, that I'm here. I am bent on exploring. I'm the type who likes cultural / historical places & stuff. I also like to go where ordinary people go. Think 168 or Divisoria in Manila. Mangga-duwa in Jakarta. Chatuchak in Thailand.

For this adventure, I dragged my BFF Mitch. She's the kind of gal who would be at home, whether in the high-end Rodeo Drive in LA or in the backstreets of Quiapo. In short, her class cut across social classes.

For a city of skyscrapers, Land is a national treasure. The Singapore government conserved this area of small, usually two-story shophouses, to preserve the culture of the Tamil People. An ethic group whose roots traces to India. Tamil people comprises 9% of Singaporean population. (Chinese 74%, Malays 13% and Others 4%. The India enclave here in Singapore, is much like how Chinatown is dominated by the Chinese anywhere in the world.

I've been lounging in Ikea the past weeks. I can't help but compare how Swedish decors pale in comparision to the richness and "effortful" bric-a-bracs of Asian culture. So have so much more interesting things to offer.

Just one of the shops that we went to.

Check out these bass reliefs! Perfect for your garden or even indoors, just mount it in a clean board.

This elephant is a must-buy! The colors just pop out!

Any one of these will look lovely in your mantel...

There's still one in existence! A great conversational piece in any living room.

Classical Puppets! Ignore Pinocchio. The characters from Mahabharata has more personality.

Cute window Treatments. Will liven up a boring view.

Enough of domesticity -- Off to Fashion Shopping...

Colorful Saris. Don't you just admire Indian women? Despite the western fads and trends they still wear traditional Saris in the 21st century! I'll only wear baro't saya, probably on a United Nations-themed party or a Terno, if I'm attending the SONA.. which is out of this world.

The burnt sienna color is fab, the sequins and the faux gems lends that indian touch. But the cloth is a tad itchy, and would it be alright if I just wear the top? The pants will reduce my size and the scarf is overdoing it a bit!

Look at these shoes! So Sex & the City 2, the Marrakesh, Morrocan Adventure!

The shoes don't discriminate. You can interchange both right-left feet! They don't have my size :( Not that I'm gonna wear them. I actually just want to place them somewhere around my Kikay domain in the house.

Funky bracelet! Soooo her!

Carry your religion! Edgy Totes, with images of Vishnu, the Hindu God of War.
If we do this with the Sacred Heart, or Mama Mary, we will probably get excommunicated.

Jewelry boxes made from cut-glass. Nice to keep your shiny baubles in.

We worked up an appetite going around the shops. To keep up with the themed-expedition, lunch, of course, is Indian cuisine.

Just one of the many hawkers (carinderia).

It just looks mushy, but it actually taste delicious! Biryani (Rice) with lots of spices. Chicken moist with red curry.

A piece of Naan and Prata, to be dipped in Dhal (curry sauce).

We are not foodies, so I cannot give you glowing descriptions. Words are cheap. Experience is the best! Just come over, and we will let you taste them :)

I washed it all down with Laasi Drink (Yogurt and cream). Basta, masarap sya!

We were apprehensive. Omigosh. Baka lokohin tayo dito. We didn't ask how much. They were asking us where we were from etc. etc. Just being friendly, we breathe a sigh of relief. Just 12 SGD! Hay..

There were plenty of desserts/ snacks. Colorful but doesn't really look appetizing.

S0, we went back on track ...

Indian women are known for the dots on their foreheads. Originally, it's only for married women, and the color is red. To discourage adultery?! Seems to shout, "I might be a hottie in my Sari, but I'm Taken, Sorry! "

Nowadays, the Bindi, is just part of Indian fashion... in fancy shapes & colors!

This little girl's mom asked us for directions. But the kiddo ran after us, asking where we got our Bindi?! It's ok, girl. Your hip Big Sisters will give you one!

Indian women also looooove bangles. You can get them here, in all the funky colors...to match your shoes, bags, tops. And if you're a belly dancing aficionado, to match your mid-dribs!

Or if bangles bore you, how about these glittery hand stick-ons to call attention to your smooth arms?

If Catholics offers flowers to the Saints. Hindus are no different, in fact, they lavish their gods with thicker, more over-the-top leis, be it fresh or artificial. There was one shopkeeper whose garlands is as thick as his arms, running the whole length of the wall. But I was shy to ask for photos, lest, I might offend. Next time!!

We came across several temples. For Hindus, and a little bit further, a mosque.

Apart from the quaint shophouses, there are also malls within Little India.

The most famous of which, is The Mustafa Center. It's not a mall per se, but more like a hypermart. It's attracts soooooo many customers, that they operate 24 hours!

They have rows, and rows, floors and floors of different brands of groceries, electronics, accessories, and toiletries. What probably attracts the crowd, is they import brands come from different countries, from Sri Lanka, to the UK! As in, variety!

We only made it to the 2nd floor, we almost choked on the variety of choices. No Kidding! Look at some of these brands, whom we only remember during our childhood days...

---------- Brut!!
Jovan! Our house boys in Masbate, used to make "vale" advance their salaries, to buy these, while the female help, buy "Charlene" cologne and "verbena" powder.

Lux Bath? in Wines & Roses scents?

"Omigod!" shrieks Mitch. "I remember my mother, used to have this Enchanteur in her dresser, all the time!"

Mind you, these are not old stocks ha. These are newly-imported items from God knows where.

Then, we remember our history. Since, the British colonized India, and also Singapore. These Indians here, naturally, have British tastes! None of those American stuff that we are so used to. O di ba!!

Look at these Yardley Talc from London!

Mitch tells me that these weird brands, are not even found in the usual shops in the city. We stuffed our basket with the English Rose and Lavender hand soaps ;)

We also went to some Goldsmith shops... looking for the perfect hoops. Gold is expensive these days! Wisdom from my BFF, a wife of an investment banker. So, take heed!

We went back to her place, dragging our tired feet. Nothing that a cup of hot tea (Four Fruits Flavored Twinnings only, please!) and a whole pack of biscotti won't cure !

Did you notice the Shops' famous monicker?



  1. Love it! Can't help but notice how colorful the pictures were, as colorful as the culture that embraces it.

  2. Thanks friend! Credit goes to u, as well!! You take awesome pics! The place was bursting with colors! It also helped that we lugged the huge slr in our necks. Augh!! Till next adventure ?!

  3. love the way you all described in details...i dont have much time in front of the pc now, so i can't make that long remarks here, hahaha. anyway, the pix are awesome. OMG! you really caught a "Dewish Parlor! cute!

  4. thanks teena! you're the best in little details!

  5. Thanks for sharing! A very good read. Appreciated Indian culture in a new light. Can I add a photo of my yoga instructors? Hehehe.