An evening at Orchard Road, Singapore

Mustafa



“This is the first and last time I am here and that is final,” I told myself. Everyone, whoever learnt that I was going to Singapore, asked me to visit Little India, as it is a must visit place in Singapore. Well, I noted the point and decided to visit Little India before I proceeded to Orchard Road. But, the moment I landed my feet on the streets of Little India, I was disappointed. I got down just in front of Mustafa, the so-called biggest shopping centre in Singapore. I never expected it to be so chaotic. Gawd! Little India is crowded, hot and humid with blaring loudspeakers selling almost everything on earth! To the right of Mustafa Mall, (Mall? Huh!) there was an alley filled with tired people sitting with their shopping bags. At a distance of two feet, garbage bins were overflowing with people walking alongside the garbage bins. I walked through the area a little and thought, since I was there already, I could as well check out the store/mall! I entered and suddenly realised that it was nothing but a few ‘Big Bazaars’ put together. I also realised how big a queue I would have to face to pay if I bought something. The thought was creepy and I came out immediately. 

Bangladeshi campaign

South Indian restaurants, saloons, temples and hardware stores were all in the same lane just opposite the Mustafa centre. The area felt like any other thickly crowded Indian market. Can we seriously do something about this population explosion in India? Why are there so many of us?! Well, the place also had a large number of Bangladeshis doing their business announcing rebates in Bangla on the now omnipresent loud speakers.

To catch a cab and run away from Little India proved to be an effort in itself. There was a huge queue for taxis, quite predictably, as I realised no taxi was willing to stop there. After waiting for about ten odd minutes in the queue, I realised that there was no point wasting further time in the queue. I walked towards the left of the road where there was a junction and waited there for any car with a “Taxi” sign on top. A taxi came towards me and the old driver asked me if I had called for a taxi. I denied, as I didn’t call for any. He nodded, as if he said, “Yes, lets go”. I asked him if he would go to Orchard Road. He nodded again. Without uttering a single word I got into the cab and said ok let’s go to Orchard Plaza. I saw him pressing some buttons on his monitor and saw the display saying, “Call fulfilled successfully”. Well, I did feel a little guilty for not clearing his confusion, but I had to get out of that place then. I also consoled my guilt, thinking, may be these confusions are not uncommon and they would understand. 🙂
Orchard Road (available parking lots on display)

On both sides of the Orchard Road, there were several shopping malls and swanky branded outlets making it one of the hottest shopping areas in Singapore’s map. The taxi dropped me at the dropping zone of Lucky Plaza.

Well, before I forget, let me share with you, one of the most important reasons of my going to Orchard Road. I had to look for a particular sun screen hat that I saw some girls wearing in the Hippo Bus. The hats were so cool, as they not only protected the entire face from the harsh rays of the sun, but also had UV Protector Film on the shades. I enquired those girls who were wearing those hats, regarding those hats and asked them where I could buy those. They told me to go to OG Departmental Store on Orchard Road.
So, I had to look for the OG DS. First I entered Lucky Plaza and enquired the security personnel if they knew where OG DS was! He told me to walk straight leaving Lucky Plaza on my left. I did just that. Suddenly there were more branded stores and no OG in sight. A few boys were withdrawing money from a cash machine.  I went to the ATM and asked the boys if they can guide me the way to OG DS. They told me it was at the end of Centre Point, another multi-storeyed mall. I thanked them and continued my OG DS search. I walk past four malls and finally found OG and said to myself, “There you are!”
(: OG 🙂


Girls and new shoes have an inexplicable connection. On the ground floor of OG, I saw a variety of shoes apart from cosmetics. “I have already purchased two pairs of shoes at the Peninsula mall and I must not buy more,” I told myself. Focusing on why I was in OG at the first place, I enquired with the cashier about the sunscreen hats. She asked me to go to the second floor. I enquired there again. The second floor sent me to the third floor and I found those hats waiting there for me. I carefully picked-up four. While paying, the cashier asked me if I had membership of their shop! I said, I didn’t, as I was a tourist. She suggested, in that case, I must go to the fourth floor to get a slip with which I can get eight per cent refund on my purchases in the airport as a tourist. I ended up visiting all the floors OG had and yes, it was a pleasant experience.

Evening was setting in and the almost deafening commotion of nest bound birds on the Orchard Road was making the atmosphere very appealing. I completed my purchases and wanted to be in the Orchard Road area a little longer. So, I entered a roadside cafeteria called the The Connoisseur Concerto a.k.a. tcc and ordered some iced lemon tea and a chocolate confession. While sitting there enjoying my drink and confection, I observed the happenings around me, on and across the street apart from the cafeteria itself.
tcc


Suddenly there was a big sound. Bang! I looked towards the direction of the sound and saw there was an accident. A biker was hit by a SUV. But, look at the beauty of this chaos. If it was in India, both the men would have shouted at each other trying to blame each other etc. But here, the gentleman in the SUV came out of his vehicle and helped the biker collect his things and helped him settle down by the roadside. Then the gentleman came back to his vehicle, rubbed the dent his car had got and went to the biker again who was taking care of his bike and helmet. The SUV man suggested the biker to squeeze and release his palm just to see if it hurts somewhere. Both waited, talked and cordially said good bye to each other and gone. There were no unnecessary crowd as well. Such civic behaviour!

My fav poison and sin


On the other side of the cafe, I saw people queuing up for taxis. Nobody was showing any restlessness or annoyance. Quietly and decently people were waiting for their turn. No ladies first policy, except a group of five blind old men, who were given the preference to board a taxi out of turn. That was humanity and good citizenship. I asked the waitress a thing about Lucky Plaza. She told me, I will have to take a bus or…. She misunderstood. I clarified to her, “No, I don’t need a transport. I know where it is as I came walking from there to the OG behind.” She was surprised and shocked. She asked me, “You walked from lucky plaza to OG?! That’s too far”. I said, “No it’s not that far. It was an easy walking distance for me.” She exclaimed, “That’s too far for me!” I realised the reason. I just smiled in reply.

Singapore is a small city. The city can be covered from one end to the other in just 45 minutes by car. For me, it was very small, area-wise. I am used to bigger cities and longer walks. So, for me, walking from Lucky Plaza to OG was no big deal. But for the waitress, it was. Singapore has excellent public transportation facility making every inch easily accessible by the city dwellers. So, they prefer to just hop on and hop off from any of the air-conditioned public transport facility wherever and whenever they want to.
It was getting dark and I had shopping bags in my hand. So, I decided to go back to my hotel and asked for the check. Paid, took my things and headed towards the taxi stand where people were queuing up.

manashree

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