Indian Socio-cultural Influences in Penang: Both Rich and Prevalent


Tea kadai at Little India back in the day. PENANG WAS A colonial port on the margins of the East India Company’s sphere of influence, and a magnet for free traders. Its economy depended largely on the shipment, wholesaling and retailing of bulk goods such as edible grains, pulses, condiments and spices. During the 19th century, a ship’s arrival was often given little prior notice, and dock workers – who were largely South Asians – would while away their time at tea kadai (stalls). These brawny workers loaded and unloaded goods, often surviving on one daily meal. These koota-kadai, or waterfront workers, were ...

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