Vibrant, fragrant, and frenetic, the alleys and laneways of Little India pulse under the sun of a Sunday afternoon. Men gather to watch television outside, women walk through the shops lining Serangoon Street, and the roads and markets surrounding the BTS station are thronged with what feels like an entire nation of people taking the day off. Crowds gather in small patches of grass and on cement benches and behind houses. People elbow their way through Mustafa Center. The din of a thousand conversations emanates from every outdoor restaurant. The smells of freshly rotting fruits and vegetables and tempered spices and things on fire fill the warm humid air.
I’m drawn to the shop fronts and sidewalk vendors, to the men yelling and smoking outside of gold shops. To the young children in colorful saris being carried along by their mothers on one errand or another. To the man crafting betel nut leaves like an art form. The call to afternoon prayer over the loudspeaker at Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple. The devout hunched over in meditation. The woman filling lemon rinds with wax to use as candles for the altars.
Little India feels overwhelmingly like a sum of all its parts. A chaotic rainbow of colors, scents, and sounds. Take one thing away, and the authenticity starts to fade. But as it is, it’s unlike anywhere else in Singapore. A neighborhood completely made of its own design, marching to the strange dissonant beat of its own weird drummer. And that’s a beautiful thing to see and experience, especially on a Sunday afternoon, camera in hand, with absolutely nothing to do but wander and get lost in the beautiful madness.