maandag 16 april 2012

Plaatjespost & Picture Post: Little India and Haji Lane

Way back when Sir Stamford Raffles, Singapore's British founding father (not that it was a desert island before the Brits landed), was laying out the street map and colonizing the Forbidden Hill, he decided to divide Singapore into ethnic quarters. Everybody, the Chinese, the Colonials, the Indians, the Malays and the Arabs, were to have their own space. (The Colonial quarter is nowadays also known as the "Civic Quarter".) The Singaporeans took to this with gusto (well, after a little rioting in the sixties anyway, forcing Lee Kuan Yew to take power and turn the island state from a pirate's nest into the safest, cleanest, best-behaved prosperous country in the world*) and each quarter still retains its special atmosphere.

These pictures I took in Little India, where even in Singapore the Indians manage to import some of their unpredictability and independent spirit (people cross the street without waiting for the traffic light! Merchandise on the curbs blocking the way! I even saw some trash lying around - gasp!). Nearby Haji Lane and Arab Street are partly exactly what you'd expect (veiled ladies shopping for fabric) and partly exactly the opposite (hip Singaporean designer showcasing their wares among graffiti'd murals).

This does not mean Singapore is segregated - far from it. I saw Chinese altars in Little India, short-skirted women shopping for silk in Arab Street and lots of plants decorated in the Chinese fashion with lucky red bows and strings everywhere. This is why Singapore is known as "Asia for beginners".

Little India

Work in progress near an HDB block (apartment buildings by the Housing Development Board, home to 80 percent of Singaporeans). Note the four official languages (English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil) and the apologetically bowing man on the sign.


Arab Street

Haji Lane

* Do not quote me on this criminally short summary of Singaporean history, which is doubtlessly not only factually incorrect but does not even manage to convey a smidgeon of the spirit of what actually happened.

1 opmerking:

  1. I especially love your photo of the jewel tone purple sari....pretty :)