Saturday, 20 February 2010

The disappearance of the city's snake charmers

Back in the 1960s, I loved seeing all the snake charmers and magicians who performed their act at the Padang and in front of Raffles Hotel in Singapore. The photo shows three snake charmers, complete with flutes, baskets and cobras, at Mount Faber. When I returned in 1990, of course, they were all gone as was most of the old Singapore that I remembered. They were mentioned in a Singapore newspaper in 1978, ten years after we'd left and although, it sounded like the practice would continue, they eventually disappeared from the streets of Singapore completely. Snake charmers : a dying breed. 7th February 1978. Professional snake charmers were fast disappearing, although several who were interviewed dismissed the possibility. Their children, they said, were trained to folow in their footsteps as a matter of tradition, and even if they did chose other careers, they could always return to snake charming. There were an estimated 40 Indian snake charmers left on the island. They worked seperately, but were part of a close community that pooled earnings and divided the total sum equally.

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