Broadcast on Gold 90.5 FM, Vintage Show, 22 July 2018
My name is Subbiah. Before I introduce my topic and get started I want to take a moment with you to travel through time to 1975. It will take just a minute, close your eyes and unlock your imagination as we do a bit of time travel.
You are going to take a leisurely stroll down an unknown street. As you take your first steps, you hear the call of the Muezzin for prayer (Azaan), “Shadu Alle Illaha Illallah”. You look to your right and there is a crowd of bearded Muslim men in Sarong and Songkok hurrying to the mosque. As you pass them, on your left you hear a money changer shouting US$, Pounds, US$ pounds. You cross a two lane street with busy traffic and in the shop houses on your left you see shaven headed and bare-chested Indian men sitting on the floor in front of low desks. They are Chettiar bankers bent over their desks and writing on open account ledger books with total concentration. Then you smell the sweet smell of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and nutmeg followed immediately by the pungent smells of garlic, pepper, onions and other Indian provisions. As you turn your head away from the strong smell you see a colourful sari shop across the street with shining sequins. As you feast your eyes on the rainbow of colours you are accosted with the smell, the strong smell, of roasted coffee and sweet tea.
As the coffee smell fades away your ears are irritated by the rolling sound of iron plates from a metal workshop on your left. You quickly dash across the street to escape the din and run into a barber shop and just past it flour and curry dust floats your way and its sharp smell accosts your nose. As you stare at the curry mill your eyes tear up with the irritation. Crossing a couple more banana leaf restaurants you come to the end of the street and curious ….. You look up at the street sign to see where you are ……. Where are you? The sign says Market Street ….. The original Little India of Singapore from 1822 to 1977.