The mad rush of Deepavali, and traffic woes at Little India

Photos by Loong Wai Ting

“Vange, akka… vange, aneh…(come, sister… come, brother…)” is all the visitors to the Little India in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur can hear throughout the busy street.

These days, to save energy, traders selling all sorts of products ranging from everyday-use household items to street food, opt for the battery-operated loudspeakers while calling for curious shoppers.

The loudspeaker stands hidden among the shuffling curtains as excited shoppers scramble to perform their last minute shopping spree; stocking on goods, condiments and colourful decorative festive items – all ready to welcome the festival of lights, Deepavali.

A few months ago, construction workers and big lorries can be seen lining up the street along Jalan Tun Sambanthan, leading towards Jalan Travers and KL Sentral.

For some, the project is seen as a way to further clog up the already-congested road, leaving some of the business owners crying foul over their losses.

However, the newly-refurbished Little India, which has officially opened its door to visitors, has brought smiles to the traders here, who earlier complained about the limited parking space and fewer customers as compared to the previous years.

An Indian sweet seller, who declined to be named, said that business in her area can still be manageable.

“Last year business was good. But this year, things have slowed down a little,” she said.

She blames the poorly constructed road and the traffic, where a supposedly two-lane Jalan Tun Sambanthan has become a one-lane street.

Furthermore, cars that are parked along the road (most of it belonging to the traders) were being towed away by the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) officers.

“Where to park (the cars)? You tell me!” some of the disgruntled visitors and traders ask.

Just a short distance ahead, a blue truck with flashing red-and-blue lights is seen whisking away cars, especially those who parked illegally on the shoulder of the road.

The officer on-duty can be heard calling out the car registration numbers, while “ironing” out the road ahead.

The friendly Mr Visu, who sells carpets and doormats at the bazaar, recalls how a stretch of cars were issued a fine for parking along the curb of the road.

“Yes, the police came and saman the cars here (pointing to the road). But they won’t do much if you’re putting your motorcycle there. These days, I park my car behind the shops for free,” he said.

There is also a newly-constructed traffic system, with beeping sounds to help the blind cross the road safely at the heart of Little India.

Two RELA personnel can be seen controlling the traffic area.

Sin Kee Restaurant owner and cook, David Foo complains that his business has gone down 70% since the construction took place.

“There used to be this bus stand, where people coming off from the monorail and the college nearby will stop over for lunch or drinks. But now the bus stand is no longer there, and my customers have been getting fewer by the day. Those who claimed that their business is actually doing very well, I can tell you, they’re all lying. No one does better,” he claimed.

As the sun is setting on the horizon, five officers from the Kuala Lumpur City Hall can be seen patrolling the area on their motorcycles.

When asked whether the locals will object when being issued summons, here’s what officer M has to say. (Due to the nature of his job, no name can be mentioned in this article)

“Biasalah… diaorang mesti bising punya. Tapi nak buat macam mana? Undang-undang harus dipatuhi juga.” (“As usual, the locals will rise their objection, but what to do? There are laws, and laws are meant to be abided by.”)