Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Little India in Singapore

Thats what it's called. Little India. Originally a 'district' established by the British during their regime, Little India is the hub of Indians in Singapore.

What strikes you most when you get down at Little India Metro station is that you feel you suddenly popped up somewhere in Chennai by accident ! Look all around, you see Indians, especially Tamilians. Tamil spoken all around, along with Hindi and the occasional Malayalam. Even the announcements at the railway station are made in Tamil, only for this particular station !

I got down at Little India to go to Mustafa centre, a get-it-all place, Mecca for all Indians in Singapore. You can buy anything there, food, jewellery, electronics, clothes, book tickets, send money to India, anything at all. We were at the Mustafa clothes store, tired of hearing some Indian language all the time for the last 4 hours and turning to find all Indians around us. At the bil payment, I was searching around when suddenly I catch some Malayalam being spoken !.. Surprised, I turned, to find out that the cashier guy was a mallu and was flirting with the other female cashier, who, u guessed it, was also mallu :). No surprises, this is Little India. And mallus, we are everywhere.

We went to the mobile store to check out some Nokia handsets. I was secretly passing critical comments to my friends in Malayalam, only to find out that all the salesmen there were mallus and had understood every 'secretive' comment I had made :). Well that was an embarassing situation I wudnt want to have again.

Outside, Little India is decorated for Diwali preparations. (check out the pic on the right) Brightly lit, you'd feel more excitement here than in India. We searched for somewhere to eat, and along the road we see the following : Saravana bhavan, Ananda Bhavan, Annapoorna, and Komalas. All Indian restaurants. How can you blame me for believing this was truly India?

We had some typical South Indian dosas at Ananda bhavan (with the song "Machchaan Peru Madurai" playing in the background). Felt like heaven. And a lot closer home. Even walking on a road here feels like India. Dirty, crowded and noisy. Ironically, some of the people here label Little India also as the dirtiest place in Singapore !

Little India is a true centre for India in Singapore. It houses quite a few temples and mosques, a bunch of cheap shopping centres for all cheap (Indian type) items that you would never in your dreams find elsewhere in Singapore, the main link for anything to do with India through Mustafa centre, and ofcourse, too many Indians walking and talking all over the place :-).

Hah! Did anyone say India was thousands of km away from Singapore !

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Breeding under Captivity?

This is a question I came face to face with through my recent Zoo visits, and a debate I had recently with a friend. Gave me another possible insight into the situation of captive breeding, and its possible implications on our attitude/duties/powers over or towards nature.

So many species are going extinct now. And yes, obviously we (humans) are directly or indirectly responsible for a lot of them. But now, if we cannot help it by not disturbing their habitats, does this mean breeding them in captivity to ensure they survive is a noble option?

Many of us have gone to zoos. And most of us have at some point felt :"How sad.. that animal must want to be free and roam the jungles now, instead of being caged like that".. But we may not think, that the animal if left in the forest by itself might not have survived in the first place. So by capturing it, does it mean we ensured it survived, and hence we have rights over its life ?

I am not taking sides in this argument. I do think that captivity is important sometimes to make sure that atleast the remaining species dont go extinct. But then, when I see the poor cheetah forced to walk about in 20 yards of space in Singapore zoo, I remember the dialogue I have quoted previously also from Wall-E : "I dont want to survive.. I want to live !..".. and I imagine the cheetah saying this while he suffocates in his meagre make-do 20 yard jungle.

So, simply survive, or else live free in some jungle under the risk of extinction. Is that the only options these creatures have now?