One of the main reasons for going to Little India on the very first day was that I was curious to connect the dots with this iconic road called Serangoon Road. It cuts across Little India form the center and ends up at Punggol near Serangoon River. In its original avatar, the history of road dates to the year 1822. The area around the road, at that time, had been dotted by the Indian settlements. The cabbie dropped us at the T-point from where the Serangoon Road starts. This place is close to Rocher MRT station and Little India MRT station on either side.
Back in 2013, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and HBO Asia had collaborated to produce a 10-part drama series named Serangoon Road. It is a detective series set in the 1960's era, and the plot revolves around the Serangoon road. The storyline pertains to the period when the nation was in the middle of its independence struggle from Malaysia. There were lots of political tensions and social unrest during the period. The drama succinctly captures the turmoil and tumult of that era. The series was broadcasted in United Kingdom, Brazil, and France and had garnered positive ratings.
When we made enquiries at our apartment complex about the food options, we were suggested to go to Tekka Center in Little India, which is located adjacent to the T-point, where we had been left by our cab. It is a big building complex that has shops selling clothing, hardware, Indian costumes, quickly-stitched clothes apart from a huge food center where one can find vegetarian Indian meals served in typical local style on banana leaves, Chinese vegetarian, North Indian, and Malay food. This is the perfect place for foodies with so many options under one roof. We, however, decided to skip the place as we wanted to move on to this iconic road to explore what else it is holding beneath it. We were sure we would find something that would inspire producers to create an entire drama series surrounding this street.
The moment we stepped ahead, an Indian imprint was hard to ignore. An aroma of Indian food was wafting in the air and people wearing typical Indian dresses were hard to go unnoticed. As we started walking, on the right-hand side, restaurants with Indian names as well as those belonging to famous Indian restaurant chains started popping up. There were names like Ananda Bhawan, Komala Vilas Bhawan, Chennai Dosa, Suriya, Khansama, A2B, Delhi Restaurant, and many more. Naturally, if one goes inside the alleys, many more options like Banana Leaf, Copper Chimney, Balaji Bhawan and Saravanan Bhawan will be available. On the left side, there was Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple. It is dedicated to goddess Kali and is one of the oldest temples in Singapore, having been built more than a century ago. Later, it has undergone renovations a couple of times. Its earlier name was Soonambu Kambam Kovil. As it was the evening time, and dusk had started falling, the lighting at the temple was looking beautiful and making the surrounding serene. We could see a rush of devotees lining up to go inside. Perhaps, it was a Saturday and a perfect one for working locals to visit the god to offer prayers.
A couple of paces ahead on the road, many more Indian names started popping up on the signboards of the shops like Shree Ghanesh Textiles, Malabar Gold, Chennai Goldsmith, and many others. There was a remittance center of Indian Overseas Bank bang in the middle of the market presumably to facilitate the transfer of funds of the Indian diaspora back home. There could not have been any other better place for the bank than being on the Serangoon Road. In the adjacent road, there is a Gita Reading Society as well as an India Heritage Center. The Heritage Center captures the history of Indians and South Asian communities in the region. It has been set-up by the National Heritage Board of Singapore with the support from the Indian community. It is a beautiful building built in an Indian architectural style. There are a whole lot of activities which are conducted here. This is a must to visit place for the history students and, especially for those looking to explore about history of Singapore.
As we were ambling across on the Serangoon Road, we had bouts giving us a feeling of being in any typical Indian town, and for a moment, I felt like assuring myself if I am indeed in Singapore. The reality check would be quick and easy by having a quick glance on the road where the traffic would be moving in an orderly manner with due respect to pedestrians and vice versa with no jaywalking. The buildings, shops, streets, and sidewalks looked scrubbed and polished. The entire surrounding was oozing a feeling of elegance. We had a good two-hour stroll on the road, in-between spilling over into the alleys, absorbing different colors of India in its full bloom. The Indian touch was omnipresent, and the Saturday effect was visible as everybody seemed to be in an unhurried mode. There were people waiting in front of restaurants for their turn. We wound up our first but very long day in Singapore at Mustafa Center with purchases for our kitchen for the next couple of days, the make-shift Indian Kitchen for our Singapore sojourn.