1. Start off your stroll by wandering the streets that surround Tekka Market (664 Buffalo Rd), an unmissable landmark that has been a go-to community resource – wet market, hawker centre, custom tailor shops, Indian fashion boutiques – for over half a century. Keep an eye out for small tables covered with tarot cards, posters of Hindu gods, cosmic charts and – the most important tool of this trade – the bright green parakeets. These fortune-telling birds (tables set up on streets surrounding Tekka Market; $5-$10) assist their owners in an astrological practice that originates from the South Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. They step out of the cage and use their pointed beaks to pick up one of the cards, which are said to predict matters such as your love life and financial status.
2. Hopefully you have received good news and are able to continue on your walk with thoughts of the bright future you have in store. Just ahead, on the crowded Kerbau Road, dip in for a free examination at Orchid Pharmacare (37 Kerbau Rd; 6297 5493, www.orchidherbal.com) with alternative medicine specialist Dr Ramesh. Using a mini flashlight and basic, non-invasive pokes and prods, he will prescribe the perfect natural remedy to cure any ailment, be it a sore throat, indigestion, aching joints or a pimply complexion – sending you home with the herbs and potions necessary to get back in tip-top shape.
3. Upstairs, just a few doors down, artist Jane Walker has set up a studio that welcomes the curious passersby. Singapore Art Garret Gallery (9A Kerbau St; 9725 2020, www.theartofjanewalker.com) stays open until 11pm, and when Walker is not working on her own paintings, she opens up the space and plays host to other creative talent in the city. There is a cosy couch to lounge on and great views of the busy street below.
4. So you’ve worked up a sweat walking down the street and need a sugar rush? Make your way over to Big Bites (70 Serangoon Rd; 6297 6297, www.bigbites.com.sg) and select your sweet from the well-stocked Indian dessert counter. Pista rolls and gulab jamon ($2 each) can be wrapped up for takeaway, and serve as the perfect strolling snack.
5. Continue down Dunlop and head upstairs to Eazy Eazy (47A Dunlop St; 6295 1312, www.facebook.com/eazyeazy.mypfren). This is a shop you would not expect to come across in Little India, or any part of Singapore for that matter. After opening just a few months back, the five owners – a mix of childhood friends and siblings – transformed the second floor of an old shophouse into a vintage boutique, one that also houses a leather workshop and dreadlock-making hair salon. (A hairdo can take up to eight hours, so if you want to make it through the whole walk, it’s best to come back for this one.) Take a swing on the home-made skateboard that hangs in the middle of the store or sit down for a chat with the new-generation hippies on the bohemian carpet. It’s rare for these guys to close before midnight and they’re welcoming to all visitors.
6. Backtrack to Clive Street, make a right on Kantang Kapor, and march down Rowell Road, where you will find a large group of men lining up for a glimpse of the provocative ‘ladies’ sitting on steps behind iron bars. A more salubrious sight comes near the end of the street, where you can tuck inside Post-Museum (107/109 Rowell Rd; 6396 3598 www.post-museum.org). This cultural community centre and ever-changing art space displays rotating exhibits and opens up its multipurpose room for film screenings, music performances and talks by local and international activists. Stay up to date via the website for the latest happenings, including a bi-monthly Sunday Market where you can trade in your own junk and go home with someone else’s – think old postcards, T-shirts and other random trinkets.
7. Dip down the alley, admiring the walls painted in brightly coloured street art, and stumble upon Hookers Bar & Grill (120 Desker Rd; 8111 0883). The owner Jeffrey repeats his ongoing joke to new patrons that his watering hole is named after a rugby position rather than the seedy surroundings. This jolly jumble of a bar combines Nigerian food with $5 beers, ’70s tunes with pop tracks, and live screenings of football matches with a relaxing, off-the-grid bar to chill out. ‘We want people to come and be comfortable. Everyone and everything is welcome here… well, everything but birthday suits’, quips Jeffrey.
8. One or three beers later, walk left down Desker Road and make a right on Lembu Road, leading up to Mustafa Centre. You will come across Lembu Road Open Space park. Towards the back of the park you’ll spot a crowd of men playing carrom under hanging fluorescent lights. A mixture of billiards and air hockey, a few tables are set up at weekends to play this game that’s found all across India. Feel free to peek over the shoulders of the gamers and, if you’re up for it, ask if you can have a go. Keep in mind that women will stand out in this crowd.
9. All the excitement is sure to leave you in need of some grub. While cheese prata joints line the streets, greasy goodness can also be found at Swee Choon Tim Sum (191 Jln Besar; 6225 7788, www.sweechoon.com). This round-the-clock dim sum dive doesn’t get started till 5pm, then keeps its doors open right up to noon the next day. Over-the-counter treats for on-the-run basics include char siew pau, siew mai and yam fritters ($0.70-$3.50). But those looking for a chance to take a load off can sink into the plastic chairs in this always-crowded setting and chew over the smorgasbord of findings. If it’s early enough to jump on the MRT, head to Farrer Park – if not, call it a night and hail a cab. Or walk!