Journey Through Little India

Little India is a place in Singapore where you can get pretty metal and plastic bangles for just a few dollars. I just adored the shades of blue and pink that these came in. Bangles used to be made in glass, but not anymore as when glass breaks it can cut your skin. As a little girl I experienced this, and it can be very painful.

But nothing will beat the pain of getting your ears pierced at the age of 3. The old man marks the spot on your ear with a pen and then they used a heated needle to pierce the tender earlobe.

The pain was excruciating and definitely not worth it, although three of my cousins may beg to differ. They recently got their noses pierced as well! Ouch – it may be trendy, but that just sounds like pure torture to me. Body piercing – no thank you!

photo by bookjunkie

There are bangles galore and not just at one shop, so shop around till you find the best designs. Usually Indian women find bangles that are an exact match of their saris. Trust me, it works.  Especially if you want to look Bollywood perfect.

photo by bookjunkie

The price of saris can range from below 20 Singapore dollars to up to thousands of dollars depending on the silk used and the hand crafting on them. I spotted these cheap ones which you could even use to craft a table runner or bed spread. If you have a craft store on Etsy and are good with a sewing machine, you could come up with a couple of little dresses to sell on your Etsy shop. They could probably even be a hit for customers who appreciates the vibrant colours and jewel tones.

photo by bookjunkie

Here’s a secret. The further in you go into a Sari shop, the more expensive the saris get. The most exclusive bridal saris are usually stored on the second floor. These can be breathtakingly beautiful in silver and gold spun silks.

photo by bookjunkie

You can get your eyebrows or upper lip threaded as well. I can’t understand why the woman in the picture is smiling when she should be grimacing in pain. Believe me this is painful and I find it worse than waxing so I hardly do it. I tried it once but ended up with cuts on my face from the sharp thread. My sister and cousins swear by it and have better luck with it than me.

photo by bookjunkie

These days Bindis or Pottus (tamil word or how it’s called in South India) no longer come in liquid form which tends to smudge.  (You apply a pottu, on your forehead, just above your nose and in between your eyebrows or slightly higher.)  Rather it’s in a convenient sticker form and there are various designs to chose from. Traditionally a woman wears a red pottu to signal she is married while an unmarried young girl wears black. These days its rainbow colours and no one really follows tradition anymore. They take the style lead from Bollywood.  Yet again you choose the colours to match your sari or outfit.

photo by bookjunkie

There were school kids on their heritage tour today, looking sweaty and amused. They were surprisingly orderly and well-behaved.

photo by bookjunkie

There are loads of yellow gold sold in Serangoon Road. Indian people love gold, and pile them on at weddings. People from India tend to prefer Singapore gold as it is of a higher grade, while Singapore Indians tend to prefer the craftsmanship of gold jewellery in India. You can exchange your old Singapore necklace for a brand new one in India due to the slight difference in the gold quality.

photo by bookjunkie

You can buy Punjabi suits for women and kurtas for men as well as the ornate footwear that goes with it. Saris can be cumbersome to walk in and if I have to wear traditional attire I would go with the Punjabi suit or Salwar Kameez. The pyjama like trousers are very comfy. These are worn in Afghanistan and Pakistan as well.

photo by bookjunkie

There are little magazine stalls selling Bollywood tabloids and women’s magazines from India.

photo by bookjunkie

photo by bookjunkie

photo by bookjunkie

The architecture here is pretty colourful with the preservation of old shop houses. I was attracted by the marine blue paint at this very old spice store.  It’s looks grimy but that’s part of the authenticity of the place.  At least it’s not sterile looking like most of the new buildings in Singapore.

photo by bookjunkie

photo by bookjunkie

There was also an interesting new outlet called a kulfi (Indian style icecream with spices and pistachios) bar.

photo by bookjunkie

I also saw some pretty wierd stuff, boadering on creepy, like some wood carved apes and the Komala Villas (South Indian Vegetarian Restaurant) Mascot which is actually an animated version of a Thosai (fried dough pancake that’s served rolled up)

photo by bookjunkie

photo by bookjunkie

photo by bookjunkie

Be sure to come here if you visit Singapore, Little India is full of wierd and wonderful things.  I will come here another day to slowly walk through all the small lanes which I missed today.

photo by bookjunkie

About bookjunkie

Blogging about my daily life in Singapore helps with my mid life crisis.
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7 Responses to Journey Through Little India

  1. J says:

    Ooouuu… I have been wanting to try threading. Well, not that I have bushy eyebrows to start with. I have this idea that when you thread your face, it kind of makes it looks ‘brighter’. In olden days, Chinese girls who are going to get married will have to thread their faces (I heard). That was in my grandmothers’ time.

    An Indian friend once told me, if I want fine quality sari, forget about getting one here. Head out to India. Is that true?

    p/s. I frequent that restaurant opposite that ice cream bar. One of my favourite hunt in the area when I crave for a good appom, and good prata, and idil. I had looked suspiciously into that ice cream bar, and yet to try out that place out cos each time I was there, I am already lured opposite by my cravings.

    • bookjunkie says:

      Yes it’s true.. most people I know say they buy their Bridal saris from India, because you can get it a lot cheaper and there’s a lot more variety.

      I am not so much a kulfi fan and would rather go for the food like rice or thosai…i love appum too…and the best one I found at tekka market…wonder if it’s still around….must post about it one day. By that time I am too filled up for anything else as Indian food tends to be pretty heavy.

  2. Dear Book Junkie,

    Thank you for taking us on a virtual tour of Little India in Singapore. It was so low cost for me. He he he.

    You are doing an excellent job on catching the spirit of living there. I think maybe you were cut out to be a journalist. 🙂

    Keep up the good work.

    Julie

  3. thinkpinktoo says:

    I kinda managed to get away with only one year pierced with the man poking a stick through your ear by screaming my head off 😛 Apparently if you are a tantrum thrower you get away with lots… LOL

    But now apparently because I got my ear pierced in the civilised way (via the gun thing) I can’t wear those indian earings with the thicker stems…..

    • bookjunkie says:

      I can’t wear the thicker ones too…cos I let the holes close up. Felt they were too big and I kinda hurt from wearing earrings and having to answer the phone a lot at work.

      Oh no…poor baby!! I was just thinking of cute little you screaming your head off in serangoon road.

  4. thinkpinktoo says:

    oops i meant ear not year

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