Broadcast on Gold 90.5 FM, Vintage Show, 5 August 2018
D’Almeida Street was the center for banks and had had many big European style buildings. There were 3 Indian banks there – Indian Bank, Indian Overseas Bank and UCO Bank. There were also a few European banks - ABN AMRO Bank, Mercantile Bank and Bank Indo-Suez which was memorable for its large stone lions at the entrance. These banks and buildings had resident Sikh security guards as jagas.
Raffles Place along with nearby High Street was the premium shopping district in Singapore then – like Orchard Road is today. Apart from Robinson’s and John Little’s much of the smaller retail establishments were run by Indians. There were 2 Sikh owned department stores where today’s Chevron House/Clifford Center are located – Bajaj Textiles and Gian Singh Department Store (which later became Oriental Emporium). Major retail outlets with a prominent presence on Raffles Place were - MS Ali (the largest pharmacy, Tamil Muslim), Motiwalla’s (a large stationer next to Robinson’s, Gujerati), Marican & Sons (the largest magazine shop, Tamil Muslim) and Raja’s College (the first commercial private school, Hindu Tamil). The commercial buildings - Bonham, Mercantile, Arcade buildings in particular - housed many professional Indian law firms, audit firms, accounting firms, travel agencies, moneychangers.
Change Alley and the Arcade were filled with Tamil Muslim and Sindhi retail shops selling – like a Lucky Plaza – perfumes, watches, luggage, gifts, tailored clothing, toys, electronics, etc. Change Alley also had a sizeable number of Chinese retailers selling a wide variety of things (perhaps a third of the shops).