Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Little India

Today's entry starts with a little joke from our operations manager here at INSEAD..

"There's a large Indian population in Singapore, many were born here, but many are also guest workers. We have a lot of Indian professors and students here at INSEAD. (KL's note: there are a total of 57 Indians in the entire program between France and S'pore, making them the largest single national group.) So, be careful when you ask a taxi driver to take you to Little India .... they might bring you to INSEAD instead!"

My parents were here in Singapore this past weekend, they flew in from Taiwan, visited here a few days, and they're currently in Malaysia. On Sunday, my mom wanted to go to Little India, so we took a taxi instead of the MRT, because it looked like it was going to rain. There was a HUGE traffic jam once we approached Little India, and the taxi driver told us we should have taken the MRT and it's always crazy in Little India on Sundays. I honestly felt like half of subcontinental Asia was packed in Little India that night. There are millions (?) of imported Indians, Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Sri Lankan laborers in Singapore who work in the infrastructure projects here, and they all have Sunday off, and they just spend time roaming around in Little India. I've seriously never seen so many people, and especially for Singapore, such flagrant violation of traffic patterns... these huge groups of people would jam up the streets. It was like driving through a sea of people. After dinner, my parents and I walked around in Little India, and it was an amazing sight - all these people walking around, crazily buying up cheap goods (clothings, etc), and there was even once place where an Indian guy was quickly running a foot-pump sewing machine, tailoring the clothes right on the spot. Not too far away, SingTel was selling prepaid SIM cards like crazy, and it looked like these laborers had never used or bought a SIM card before. I wish I had a photo to explain just how many workers there were! It is interesting to think about the perception of expats in Singapore - not only do you have the highly educated expats, working for international companies, there are also sub-continental expats who come here for the manual labor, and then return to their home countries aftewards.... making me realize that not all the "immigrants" to Singapore are of the same class, but all of them, hopefully, are finding better jobs/careers than what they have at home..

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