The closer you get to India, the more Indians there are. The more Indian's there are, the more Indian restaurants there are and the better the Indian food is.
There are quite a few Indians in New Zealand and Singapore and thus those countries are COVERED with absolutely mouth-watering, DELICIOUS Indian food . . .
I had never had Indian food until I went to New Zealand.
And I fell. In. Love.
Chana masala, tikka masala, korma, garlic naan, plain naan, all the naan . . . I love and wanted it all. And I got it often. Since our lovely study abroad didn't cover our meals as formally promised (still very bitter about that), Indian food became my main diet in New Zealand.
After finishing the study abroad, I met up with my sister and we toured Australia and Singapore.
Okay, okay, okay guys. Let me clear up some misunderstandings about Singapore that I have heard since I decided to go to (and actually went to) Singapore.
I promise this is important to the story.
- "Why are you going to Singapore?"
Singapore is one of those countries that very few people (at least in the US) think of going to, and once they go there they love it and want to go back. I wanted to go because I'm a geography nerd who studied the history, culture, and attractions of Singapore (and many other countries).
I also wanted to hit up Asia without having to worry about a language barrier or my safety.
"Safety? Language barriers?"
-"You're gonna get whipped or caned if you jay walk, or littler, or chew gum!"
First of all - no. You'll get fined.
Second of all, you don't want to jay walk anyway because the streets of Singapore are INCREDIBLY busy, so you'll die if you choose to jay walk. I guarantee you'll rarely get the chance to. In my six days there I only had MAYBE two opportunities where I could've jay walked if I wanted to.
Chewing gum? Again. You're fined. And you'll be fine, I promise.
Actually first of all if you're so addicted to gum where you can't go a week without it, I have sorrow for you. Your dentist would cringe at your teeth and jaw.
Second of all if you're that addicted to gum and really can't bare the thought of giving it up for a trip to Singapore, I've got no advice for you besides -
Thank you, Alan Rickman. I hope you're resting in peace.
Litter? How often do you intentionally litter right now? If you do, we'll have a little chit-chat about the importance of the environment and the problem of pollution.
Then again my friend just sent this picture to me today so . . .
*Sigh* and people wonder why I'm losing faith in America . . .
-"They don't speak English there!"
Actually, it's the official language.
"But that's just because there's so many different languages in the country, so they make that the official language but nobody actually speaks it!"
Wait what? Okay, no! EVERYONE SPEAKS ENGLISH FLUENTLY. EVERYONE. Take a break. Let that sink in. Repeat that to yourself five times with conviction. Singaporeans speak English fluently. Singapore was under British rule (which also makes sense as to why it was in the third pirates film! Oh ho ho! The things you know when you're a geography bum! Ahem. Anyway.) It's an incredibly modern country. Everyone speaks English. Yes, there's also a lot of Malaysian, Mandarin, and Indian speakers. And everyone speaks English.
(I'm only annoyed by this because I've explained this so many times and STILL people think I'm lying or something. It's like, girl please. If I was gonna lie about something, it wouldn't be the official language of a country. It'd be about my relationship status.)
-"It's clean there."
Yes, very. You could fall asleep on the floor of the subway station's bathroom it's so clean.
- " (insert nothing about the weather here) ."
IT'S LIKE YOU'RE WALKING THROUGH A SAUNA.
Now, there are four main ethnic groups in Singapore: Chinese (74 percent of the population), Indian (9 percent of the population), Muslims (which I think is mostly Malaysians; 13 percent of the population), other (3 percent of the population).
When these groups settled, someone (probably some British person. Might've been Raffles. I heard about him all the time both in my research and while I was there. They even have a hotel named after him he was so influential!)
decided to put each . . . race? (Ethnicity? Identification?) into their own community. Thus bringing to pass Chinatown, Little India, and Arab Street.
(See? Not only is my blog hilarious, it's also educational!)
Sorry, Alec Baldwin/ Jack Dohnagey. I'll get onto the story now.
We had the opportunity to tour each one in the lovely sauna-like weather. No, I really did enjoy it! Despite the weather.
The day came for our tour of Little India.
We learned about the history, toured the shops, looked at museums, and toured a Hindu temple.
During the tour, our guide pointed out a restaurant and said it was one of the best in Little India. Following the tour, my sister and I went to the Indian restaurant the guide pointed out earlier.
A nice Indian man whose head came to my chest because of his height (like most of the people of Singapore. I found that generally the men were about my height, and generally the women were a bit shorter. I hit my head on the subway handles that dangle from the ceiling to hold onto EVERY TIME) and showed my sister and I up to the second level of the restaurant in a lovely table by the window. We thanked him as he handed us a menu and walked away.
And then, we read the menu.
". . . What is this stuff?" asked my sister.
"I uh . . . don't know."
I realized then that rarely did I actually looked at the names of the Indian dishes I had been getting. I had been solely relying on the descriptions of the food course.
This menu only had the names of the meals. No description.
The meals I did know the names to? Naturally I couldn't find them on the menu.
I scanned the long words with letters mushed together to form names of meals I wasn't familiar with. I bit my lip and flipped the menu.
"Ah! Channa Malasla! I love that stuff!"
My sister and I went to the cashier to order our food where I ordered Channa Masala (curry with chick peas. So good.) and plain naan bread.
We paid and took a seat. I began scanning the restaurant and looking around at the decorations, when I noticed something.
"Bethany!" I said to my sister, "We're the only white people here!"
Sure enough, everyone else was Indian. Now WHY this was so shocking to me I really don't know. Generally speaking we were the only white people anywhere we went. Maybe it's just cause usually there were Chinese among the Malaysians and Indians. But nope. Just Indians with their beautiful tan skin and silky back hair knowing exactly what their order was. . .
And then this pale redhead shoved in the corner layering on sunscreen and trying to figure out how to best control her hair in this humidity while she had been looking over the menu for something that looked familiar.
After a few more minutes, the nice waiter who sat us brought my plain naan bread and . . .
"Masala chai," he said.
". . . thank you . . ."
A steaming hot, brown drink in a tall, metal cup with a saucer attached to it sat in front of me. I stared at it completely dazed.
He walked away and I glanced desperately at my sister saying, "What is this?"
"Did you order it?"
"No! I ordered channa masala. She must've misheard me. Is it tea? Can I drink it?"
My sister (who had data. Lucky butt.) googled the drink and said, "It has black tea leaves."
"Man. I can't drink that. Think I should give it to that guy?" I asked nodding to the guy at the table next to us.
"If you want."
I looked from the man, to my drink, back to the man . . .
and began eating my naan bread.
(Looking back I wish I would've just given it to the guy. #Regret)
I finished the naan pretty quickly, due to my hunger and obsession with naan bread. Then, I pushed myself up from the table, and walked back to the cashier.
"Um . . . hi. So, I ordered channa masala. Not masal--."
"Do you want more naan bread?"
"Uh . . . oh, no. That's okay."
The woman told me the price, I smiled sheepishly, handed her my money, and sat down.
Minutes later, the waiter brought my sister her food and turned to me saying, "Your channa masala is on it's way. Do you want more naan bread?"
"No, thank you,"
"Yes, I'm fine." I insisted.
He left, and a few minutes later he brought out my channa masala - a curry.
I didn't realize it didn't come with rice.
And I had no naan bread.
For those of you unfamiliar with the ways of Indian food, eating plane curry isn't the best way to go about it. I mean I'm sure it's possible, but when you're as sensitive to spicy food as I am? Rice and/or naan bread with curry is essential.
So I stared at that plan curry, dread filling my stomach alongside hunger as I realized that I would have to go to the counter and re order food . . . again.
"It's not that big of a deal, Carmen," my little brain said to me.
Yes, yes, I know.
But here's what I discovered about myself:
In America? I have close to no issues telling sales people or the like to back off, and that I'm not interested. Waiters and waitresses? I don't care. If my food was ordered wrong, I will politely correct them. If I'm shopping for clothes? I don't CARE what looks good one me. If it's 300 dollars, I'm not buying it and I will let them know that!
In other countries? Oh man. I have SUCH a hard time doing so. It's like, America gets such a bad rap already (#ThankYouTrump. Oops did I just type that?) that I don't want to ADD to the bad reputation by seeming mean by telling sales people to back off and just let me look, or in this case . . . I didn't want to seem dumb.
I tried eating it plain, but I can tolerate spiciness as well as hair can tolerate chewed gum.
Not at all.
"Hey," I said to my sister. "Can you go up and order me some white rice?"
"This is all you."
"You owe me! You almost left me on the train!" I tried to argue.
"Don't pull that card with me."
I pushed my chair out and walked over to the lady once again.
I smiled uncomfortably and said, "
Can I get rice?"
"What kind?" she said, and I swear I could see humor and mocking amusement in her eyes.
"That kind," I said as I pointed to the menu.
As I walked away, the waiter walked past me, and I heard him and the Indian woman talk. I knew they were talking about me.
"Aren't you paranoid?" you may be asking.
Nope. Cause the woman motioned towards me.
Thankfully I had my rice within seconds, and devoured the channa masala like there was no tomorrow. This was partly due to deliciousness, partly because of hunger, and probably a large chunk was because of embarrassment and I just wanted to get out of there.
I was pretty relieved to get out of there for my self esteems sake, and I wouldn't be surprised if the waiters were happy to see me leave, too.
My overall review of Little India? Fantastic. Just like the food. It - along with Arab Street especially- was one of the highlights of the trip.
(I didn't have any memorable awkward moments in Arab Street, so here's a highlight of the beautiful Mosque we got to go to.)
I truly did fall in love with Singapore. I guess if there's anything I want you to get out of this blogpost specifically it's that Singapore is an amazing, clean, safe, underrated, undiscovered, humid, hot, cultured, curious part of the world with some interesting history behind it.
I guess all I have left to say is . . .
Have an awkward day, and an awkward meal everyone :)
ps - I can't figure out how blogspot works with pictures. They're displayed SO organized under the editing section, and then I push publish and the little world is like bwahaha see what your organization looks like NOW, Carmen! Sorry, guys.