“The parking aunty is squinting into your windshield,” said Mei, our next door neighbour, holding open the shop door and calling out to me in not exactly the most discrete of conspiratorial voices. She is a bit loud. And she is kind. So are most of our neighbours (kind, I mean, not loud). “Thank you, Mei, I take care of that!” I go over to the parking aunty, telling her that we are loading and unloading. “Just a few more minutes!” Her face is grim and determined, she seems to have a quota to fill. She looks at me, and nods. “Five minutes!” “Yes Ma’am.”
When stepping out from the shop you see to your left an antique dealer, just two doors away. (He really deals in antiques, not a very common thing in Singapore.) To your right there is the foot spa, where Mei works, truly a place of relaxation, and across the road there is Sultan Plaza. Hm, well, yes … . (Interesting place if you like this sort of thing, especially the fourth floor, but my lips are sealed).
Here on the good side of Jalan Sultan, however, we have a slice of old Singapore.
Once upon a time, Singapore had been like this everywhere and most of the taxis had been trishaws pedalled forward between the shop-houses with bulging calf-muscles. Now the airplanes descend on a city of surreal high-rises and our shop has become protected heritage. Just go further down to the right, turn the corner and you find yourself in a fillet of lanes and narrow roads all the way down to Arab Street. The two story shop houses cater to a bustling market place for textiles and carpets, souvenirs, perfumes and jewellery. And seeking relaxation after a day of hard shopping, you are invited to visit massage parlours and countless cafes and boutique restaurants. Do you like Turkish food? There is just the place to come to! Only yesterday Michelin did cast an approving eye on our friend’s restaurant at Bussorah Street, that leads up to the gates of a picturesque mosque under golden copulas.
At noon, boys and girls in white uniforms crowd in at the bus stop. Their Islamic school is a block away from the mosque and a longstanding institution going back to the year 1912. Not the only place here for traditions, culture and education: if you feel like stretching, there is a yoga school, and at the back of our shop you find a centre for the arts, dance and performances, batik and crafts, even a Chinese Opera institute (prepare yourself for shrill singing). Next to the mosque, not too far away, I visited once a potter of some renown. As you can see, something for every taste and appetite. But beware of the parking aunties. Be afraid, be very afraid. Put a coupon. Or two.
The nights here are long. In the evening the roads are closed for the traffic and the restaurants expand their seating well into the streets, and to be perfectly honest in the grey hours, it can become a bit seedy and in places the billboarded “massage” may only be a mere euphemism.
As I said, something for every taste.- See more at: http://www.confetti.com.sg/blog/#sthash.eZAz7M7z.dpuf