I was a bit worn and tired from a long day. My backpack weighs heavily on my shoulders. My cheeks are flushed from the intense afternoon heat. I sense a headache brewing. The last place that I wanted to be was squashed up amongst a weekend crowd. But weekends are the only time that I’m free to explore around. With that thought, I made up my mind, gobbled a sandwich for sustenance, downed plenty of water and headed straight to Little India as planned.
As soon as I stepped off Serangoon Road and ventured into the tiny lanes, all feelings of fatigue vanished. Instead, a psychedelic burst of colours, sounds and smells took over all senses. It was the late afternoon. Some shops were closing. But others were just only coming into life in the glow of the fading sun. Colourful shop houses huddled closely on the narrow lanes. Displays of storewares, saris, flowers, heaps of fresh vegetables spill over onto the narrow corridors and walk ways.
I checked out the different shapes and types of brinjals (eggplants). Oh yes I like them very much, whether in curry, moussaka, baba ghanoush, yong tai foo or just plain steamed topped with garlic & chilli paste. Whenever possible I’d buy brinjals from Indian vendors, just because they have more varieties. And look at the piles of gorgeous beets and gourds! Too bad I won’t be cooking in the next couple of weeks. Otherwise I’d stocked up.
I darted in and out of the narrow lanes amidst chatter, music, sweet scent of jasmine and sharp smell of curries. I’m feeling hungry again. As the skies begin to darken, the streets are soon filled with weekenders. The atmosphere is getting more chaotic, slightly maddening and ever more alive.
I took off my shoes and entered Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple which was packed with devotees. While trying not to get in the way of worshippers, I pondered over whether photo-taking inside the temple was allowed but didn’t see any signs saying otherwise. Elaborately sculpted deities adorn the inner and outer facades, stock-still amidst impassioned chanting, incense burning and heat emanating from oil lamps.
Not far from the temple, the setting sun outlines the silhouette of a mosque, as people started streaming in for prayers.
Nearer Mustafa Centre – Singapore’s 24 hour one-stop shopping centre – weekend shoppers throng the area amidst the cacophony of congested traffic. Perched on a corner shop stool, I chomped on thosai and gulp down a glass of deliciously cold ice tea while watching the world go by. And even though the thosai wasn’t that fabulous (I had better), the day ended on a satisfying note. I always believe that travelling comes from the mentality. If you want to discover something, you will. Whether they are new sights, or new insights. To those who fret that they don’t have the time or money to travel, start with exploring your own backyard. You may be pleasantly surprised.