Taking photos in India was one of the highlights of my travel career. I was shocked to find almost a perfect replica of those experiences right in the heart of Asia–in Singapore's Little India! Here I found the same colorful sights, enchanting sounds, and exotic scents from some of the best Indian restaurants outside of the subcontinent.
Words & Photos By Nathan Allen
Little India is quite vibrant and diverse–comprising people and cultures from all over India. Though not a morning person, for the sake of good lighting, I went on a few early photo walks with my Ricoh GR II.
This is the entrance to a temple which serves the northern Indian community. Also shown are the colorful buildings near "Kerbau Rd", which means buffalo in Malay, because this area used to be known for cattle trading. Hard to imagine that, when you consider what a modern, expensive city Singapore is today.
The buildings on the streets of Little India definitely win the award for "most colorful" in Singapore...but this affinity for color includes the clothes that locals wear. Seemingly never contented with a bland, white shirt, I think Indians have a great sense of independent style. The scene above has a bit of a yellow / orange theme.
The shot below was taken on the way into Tekka Food Center, where I found my favorite vegetarian Punjabi food. Perhaps I will let you know the name of the stall at a later date...but you must follow along to find out!
Anyhow, the Ricoh kicked up the ISO quite high in the challenging light here, and I had to work to clean up the file a bit. Converting the photo to black and white helped.
By the way, it's not just the market called Tekka, – locals here actually call Little India as a whole "Tekka". A true testament to Singapore's diversity, the name actually comes from the Hokkien Chinese word Tek Kia Kha, which means base of the bamboo (named after the plants found growing at nearby Rochor canal). Apparently some Chinese stall owners in Tekka Centre even speak Tamil, and their Indian counterparts, Hokkien!
Here you see an old man riding his classic motorcycle with sidecar. Little India MRT is in the distance.
Next to Kerbau Rd is Buffalo Rd, and I find that a bit funny...though I guess it makes sense when you consider the Malay & British inhabited Singapore together early on. Buffalo Rd attracts many shoppers looking to buy fruits, vegetables, or hand woven flower garlands that are used by temple worshipers.
Along a side street, I came across these workers unloading a truck. I was struck by the "blue theme", and wondered if this color scheme was something done intentionally.
Just another striking splash of color...this time in red.
It seems most people shoot street almost exclusively in black and white when they use the Ricoh GR II, but I think it would be a shame to photograph a vibrant place like Little India in B & W. However, with its striking contrast, the scene below was just begging for it.
Across the street from Tekka Centre there is a lot of pedestrian traffic. This is where the community hosts many bazzaars and holy festivals. In the distance you can see "Campbell Lane", which always makes me think of a street where I grew up in California (it shares the same name). It's as close as I can get to home I suppose, being on the other side of the world.
Below you'll see more colorful shops and houses along Serangoon Rd. The streets of Little India seem to get more traffic than anywhere else in Singapore, though it's still nothing compared to neighboring Asian countries.
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The Little India MRT is quite a busy station. Tourists come here from all over the world. I think the area is known for affordable traveler hostels, so that explains why. That, and the neighborhood's vibrant tourist attractions, of course!
Don't miss the giant murals painted on the walls near here.
It seems that I find mostly southern Indian food around the neighborhood, but from what I read, Punjabis, Tamils, Malayalis, Sinhalese, and Bengalis all live and have represented cultures here.
This colorful building is quite an iconic landmark...it's known as the Tan Teng Niah Residence, and is actually Chinese. The building structure itself may be Chinese, but the colors seem to be distinctly Indian to me...
I quickly snapped this photo of a man riding his bike past the bus station. Thanks to the Ricoh GR II's "snap focus" mode, I never miss a shot.
FYI, you can click the image below to learn more about my camera on Amazon...
...or use this link to the Ricoh GR II on Lazada (Asia)
Here's another black and white shot to keep you "street tog" purists happy...
I have really enjoyed exploring this fascinating place. I eat at Tekka regularly when I stay in Singapore, and have made some good friends in the neighborhood there. Little India is definitely worth seeing!
I hope you enjoyed my Singapore Street Photography series (previous articles below), and I look forward to hearing your feedback.
- Nathan Allen
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