Re-Route Festival 2022 aims to show visitors different side of Little India

The Re-Route festival comprises food walks, workshops and installations scattered throughout the area. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

SINGAPORE - A new festival in Little India is aiming to present the lesser known sides of the popular tourist destination.

The Re-Route festival, which runs from Friday to Oct 9, comprises food walks, workshops and installations scattered throughout the area.

"I believe that Little India has a lot more to offer than what most people know it for. I notice that even for tourists, they will start at Tekka Market, walk to a temple, go to Tan Teng Niah villa to take photographs and then leave," said Mr Mervin Tan.

He and Ms Cheryl Sim, co-founders of design studio Plus, are the brainchild behind the festival.

"So what Re-Route is trying to do is to open visitors to new experiences, new tastes and new cultures that are all in their backyard, which is why we have built installations and highlighted landmarks across the whole district."

Six installations have been built by Plus for this festival, including a 10m-tall lookout tower in Lembu Square - an open space just off Mustafa Centre - and a 3m-tall gachapon vending machine that dispenses yoga balls mimicking giant versions of toys in capsules.

Mr Tan said the landmarks and eateries were chosen with the help of data provided by the Singapore Tourism Board.

"They gave us a heat map which showed us data of where the most and least visited spots were, so we were able to use analytics to plan where we wanted to point visitors towards."

Re-Route Lookout Tower is a observatory deck located at Lembu Square. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

The festival also involves small businesses in Little India, such as Usman at the intersection of Serangoon and Desker roads. Opened in 2003, the Pakistani restaurant is frequented by customers from the Pakistani community, and is known for serving naan and palak paneer.

The eatery will feature in the Gastro Intersections part of the festival, which partners Australian chef Drew Nocente, 41, to pair ingredients like stracciatella cheese, pistachios, pickles, pineapple and coconut with the traditional cuisine in Little India.

Mr Usman Shahid, 23, the second-generation owner of the restaurant, said: "My dad started this place because he saw a need in the community, so we're used to eating naan with the usual dishes such as dhal or butter chicken, which contain a lot of masala (spices).

"I was very surprised with what Drew was able to make and it paired really well with the naan, even though it used different flavours."

Mr Nocente said: "From a culinary point, I wanted to be respectful of the food that was already being served in the area. So there was no need to improve or tinker with it, I just wanted to find different ways of pairing the dishes so more people can experience it."

Visitors can go to the festival website for more information.

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