Feeling uncomfortable in a foreign country - Little India, Singapore

Feeling uncomfortable in a foreign country - Little India, Singapore

Feeling uncomfortable in a foreign country - Little India, Singapore


“When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.” - Clifton Fadiman

Singapore is more than just the Marina Bay Sands Resort. Venture around this compact city-state and you will be amazed by the amount of diversity. On a leisurely walk around the city I would come across a Mosque, Christian church, Buddhist temple and a Hindu temple all in one morning.

Singapore maybe diverse when it comes to its culture, food and religion, but one thing they are uniformly known for is their stifling heat and humidity. Coming from a Mediterranean climate of Southern California it took some time to get use to (it took me over a month to condition my body for the Southeast Asia climate).

In Little India is the Sri Veerama Kaliamman Temple a Hindu temple dedicated to the goddess Kali. I could tell you about how it was built in 1855 by Tamil laborers or that the goddess Kali is the destroyer of evil or that in 1942 the locals took refuge in the temple to protect themselves from the invading Japanese army. All I can remember was that is was a very hot day and even hotter inside the temple.

I stared at amazement at the intricate details of the statues along the walls then my mind would wander off about the dangers of dehydrating.

It started to sizzle in the temple.

I listened to the little bells the devotees would ring as they entered the temple to ask for the God’s mercy upon their prayer requests.

As more devotees entered the temple it now became a sauna. I desperately needed a drink of water otherwise I probably would have passed out on the floor and nobody would assist me since they would probably mistaken me as another local prostrated on the ground deep in prayer.

The heat was now escalating to a point of suffocation.

Fatigue began to set in due to the overbearing heat and carrying my heavy DSLR camera surely didn’t help matters, but the pungent smell of the temple kept me awake.

Did I tell you that it was scorching hot inside the temple?

I wanted to head back to the safety of my air-conditioned room, but I reminded myself I did not come halfway across the world to seek safety and security. If I wanted to be comfortable I would have stayed home driving my own car, eating processed foods and paying for over priced Starbucks coffee.

No, I stayed behind and sweated it out. As a result, I witnessed this Hindu priest blessing the devotees. With my wide angle lens I was merely inches from this ceremony that I can almost say I was a part of it.

Looking back I am glad I chose to be uncomfortable that day.

Check back for more of my Singapore adventures!

Happy Travels!

Text and photo copyright by ©Sam Antonio Photography

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Taken on: 5th February, 2012. Copyright: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License - See Sam Antonio Photography's page of Flickr

Read more about Little India

With its throngs of people, chaotic commerce and pungent smells, a visit to Little India will quickly dispel any notions of a sterile Singapore. In fact, if you added a few free-range cows and honking rickshaws to the mix, it could pass as the real deal.

Historically, Little India was an extension of Chulia Kampong, the Indian "ethnic quarter" established during British colonial rule. As the original enclave became overcrowded, the South Indian Tamil population moved to this riverside area, where they farmed tropical fruit and raised livestock. While the only trace of these agricultural activities is in street names like "Buffalo Road", the Hindu temples, sari shops, classical Indian music and dance centres, and vegetarian-friendly restaurants remain in full force.

Though Singapore's official policy has shifted from ethnic segregation to racial harmony, Little India continues to serve as a gathering point for Singapore's Indian community as ... Read our complete Little India travel guide

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