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Little India on list of world’s coolest neighbourhoods

It gets crowded at times, and can be a bit of an assault on the senses, but Little India, like Chinatown, Arab Street or Geylang Serai, has plenty of character.

And now, TimeOut has listed it as one of the coolest neighbourhoods in the world.

Little India placed 19th on a list of 51, with only two other spots in Asia ranked higher.

For the tourist, especially one who hasn’t been to India, it can be quite an experience. The colours of the flower shops, the glitter of the jewellers, chants from a temple as you pass by or snatches of Bollywood film music, the smell of incense, and above all, the food.

Who can resist a good, crisp thosai or briyani in a variety of styles? Not to mention those outrageously sweet sweets, and especially at this time of year, all kinds of goodies for Deepavali.

The accolade has indeed come at quite the right time, with the annual light-up and bazaars drawing the crowds back after the Covid-19 disruption.

In recent years, Little India has also been acquiring something of a hipster vibe, with its art locations, edgy watering holes and backpacker hostels.

So what defines a cool neighbourhood and how did TimeOut make this list?

It polled 20,000 city dwellers around the world and “combined their views with expert input from our global network of local editors and writers”.

It admits that the coolness can be subjective, but says these are “areas with accessible, cutting-edge culture and nightlife; brilliant and affordable food and drink; lively street life and big community vibes”.

Colonia Americana in Guadalajara, Mexico, tops the list, followed by Cais do Sodré in Lisbon, Portugal, with Wat Bo Village in Siem Reap, Cambodia, in third place. Tokyo's Shimokitazawa is seventh.

Most of the top entries are in Europe or America, with Hong Kong’s Wan Chai coming in 22nd, Ximending in Taipei 37th, and Bali’s Ubud 42nd.

Lower down, there is also Bandra West in Mumbai, placed 45th, followed immediately by Bangkok’s Thonglor.

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