Its always interesting to see an the point of view of someone who has not been accustomed to our way of life and lifestyle. To observe how ordinary things that we take for granted is seen as amazing to others.
When Cartcart came over to Singapore, I was amazed at the things that he noticed. Like the countdown timer at the traffic lights and the tri-pole in trains.
Cartcart gushed about the usefulness of these features, and started to wonder aloud as to why he did not have the same feature back home.
I met up with Attilio, a reader of this blog whom has recently arrived in Singapore. Attilio is a native from Italy and will be here to undertake his phd at a local university.
After a bit of a blunder at the train station, we finally met and started to chat. I listened to him amiably describe about his first experiences here.
As Attilio was game enough to try some local food, we headed to Ananda Bhavan, a vegetarian Indian restaurant in Little India.
We talked about a multitude of things over dinner, such as life and inevitably compared notes on lifestyles of our countries.
Attilio enthused bout how efficient things are run here. Like how the trains were on time and the speed of how administrative matters were resolved. Being the devil’s advocate, I mentioned the ever rising cost of living and the fast pace of life here.
On the other hand, we both agreed that because our countries are a melting pot, there are some similar traits. Attilio said that some of the Indian sweets reminded him of those back in Sicily.
After dinner, we decided to walk around the area. It was a bustling saturday night. There were a lot of people and activities around. We walked past goldsmiths, saree shops, provision shops. I see customers inside, examining the items sold or haggling with the owners.
Eventually we spotted a temple and decided to take a look inside. There were so much activities going on. It looked rather festive. There were already a number of people entering the temple.
Whilst inside, I observed the devotees praying, some were prostrating to a deity, some were carrying oil lamps and walking around an altar. I noticed some devotees clasping their hands to the priest who was inside a prayer hall. The priest then later pressed a dot of ashes on the devotees forehead.
Attilio was walking here and there, observing different prayer halls.
It was so facinating to see.Truth be told, that was the first time that I watched a Hindu prayer up close as I’d usually be too nervous to go an event such at this by myself.
Attilio explained to me about the statues, and the items needed to prepare for a prayer ceremony. I felt like such a tourist in my own country. But it was really very cool to see the devotees praying and I really enjoyed myself.
We found out later that it was called the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple. The temple was built by Bengali labourers and it was said to have sheltered the devotees during the bombings in World War 2.
Eventually we called it a night and said our goodbyes. Grazie mille Attilio! It was very nice to meet you 🙂