Quek Jing Yan | April 04, 2015
I always avoided going to Little India during the weekends, especially after dark. Be it navigating through the perpetual traffic jam or maneuvering among the masses of people, I always felt suffocated, wanting to detach from the crowd and find myself some breathing room. Therefore, when I first stepped off the train onto a packed Little India MRT station on a Good Friday evening, I rolled my eyes, “What was I thinking? Going for a walk around Little India after dark on a Public Holiday?”
While it was indeed challenging to weave through the crowds at times, The Little India Trail (one of the three Diverse City Trails organized by The Thought Collective) turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Going off the beaten path, we experienced an equally vibrant scene beyond the bright neon lights along Serangoon Road that most locals and tourists are more familiar with. When our big group made up of mostly Chinese Singaporeans first started on the trail, I felt that we were encroaching on a community that was just getting comfortable over the weekend. We definitely did stick out and attracted curious stares.
Like the colourful sun rays we saw peeking behind the block of flats along the way, our journey started to give us a wonderful insight to the trail’s theme as different elements were introduced along the journey. We were introduced to traditional shops and dying trades as the area gentrifies. We walked down narrow back alleys and discovered a little known side of Little India. We witnessed the gentrification of the area with old shophouses getting a second lease of life as co-work spaces. One of my favourite stops was stepping into a shopowner’s front yard and hearing about his story on his fast changing neighbourhood. Listening in, it connected me to a very different side of Little India.
While this trail has been run many times before it was opened to the public, no journey is the same as the landscape is always transforming. And each change highlights the economic, political and social implications that are so delicately peeled before our eyes and discussed passionately during the trail. I look forward to returning for more!
Note: We have not gone into detail regarding the content of The Little India Trail. This is done deliberately to ensure that everyone experiences the walk anew.
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