Guest Author - Nandini Tirumala
Little India is a neighborhood with a large group of stores, restaurants, residences , cultural and financial institutions, entertainment complexes and businesses of everything that is owned and managed by people from India in a foreign country. Most metropolitan cities in countries with high number of immigrants from India have an area that evolved into Little India.
It is very common for people of Indian origin to frequently visit these places to catch up and relive India. The businesses have a yearly street festival in summer, which also becomes a tourist attraction and in turn helps promote business in the area.
A stroll in Little India, with Indian music in the background, smell of curries filling the air, barbecued corn, cane juice and lassi(iced sweet buttermilk)stalls and finally bumping into people from your own ethnicity, can be very rejuvenating for many indians who come to foreign universities or for work and miss their families and the atmosphere of India.
There are Little India’s mushrooming in many suburbs of USA, UK , Canada and Australia due to large influx of Indians from different parts of India, having their unique needs and diverse Indian cuisine. With more Indians moving to the suburbs,the demand for more areas dedicated to their needs developed closer to where they live. Now, we can see more than one Little India in the same city.
Popular restaurants and businesses from India compete to set up their shop in Little India to cater to the Indian population and also establish their presence world-wide. Restaurants like Woodlands, Udipi vegetarian restaurant, Saravana Bhavan and State Bank of India can be seen in almost every Little India worldwide.
Many shoppers from other ethnic backgrounds come to Little India to look for ethnic jewellery, paintings, dresses, artifacts and little keepsakes to add to their collections. This also opens up their cultural experiences of India. Parents can take their kids to the annual summer festivals to expose them to the food, music, dance and other exhibits of India.
I have visited the Little India in Chicago, New York, Toronto, London and Malaysia. The experiences have been a lot similar but with their own touch of uniqueness. While waiting for your next trip to India, there is always a Little India nearby.
Popular Little India locations to visit are: Devon Avenue in Chicago (between Ravenswood Ave & California Ave), Lexington Ave in Manhattan, New York (between East 26th &East 30th streets), Gerrard Street East in Toronto, Canada(between Coxwell Ave and Greenwood Ave).