Thursday, February 24, 2011

RIP Uncle Pai

I fondly recollect those good old days of summer vacation especially. Free from school burden, the lazy hours were spent dutifully flipping the pages of the all time favourite Amar Chitra Katha. The tales of the God and Demi Gods indeed ignited a mystical feeling within us. As children, mythology never failed to fascinate us. Probably this was what helped in inculcating the right values as we grew into big swans, ready to face the world. Morals from these tales were imbibed in our subconscious minds which helped us in crossing the hurdles in life. Philosophical quotes derived from these stories inspired us to take things in our stride.

These Comic books undoubtedly influenced our thoughts and ideas to a large extent. It is sad to know that the Author of these works-Anant Pai who is fondly known as Uncle Pai is no more with us. He will be missed and may his soul rest in peace. Amen.
RIP Uncle Pai.

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Friday, February 18, 2011

Universal Studios: Flight into fantasy land
A trip to Universal Studios in Singapore arouses childlike enthusiasm in Swetha Amit and provides her a quick visit back into childhood
-By Swetha Amit

Theme parks have always been a fascination for children. Fairyale and Disney characters and magical roller coaster rides make a visit to a theme park a joyful experience. The trip ends up being a treat for adults as well, who get a rare chance to bring out the child in them, making it a must-visit place irrespective of its location around the world. Inaugurated in March-April 2010, Universal Studios in Singapore has gained popularity in no time.

The grand entry: Situated right next to Sentosa, Universal Studios seemed to overshadow it. As we entered the fantasy land, we were greeted by colourful candy carts and Kung Fu Panda posing for photographs. We joined the long queue waiting to click pictures and got our turn and a warm hug from Panda. It helped that we had a map of the studio to find our way around. It was divided into seven theme sections, each of which had its attractions, namely rides, souvenir shops and restaurants serving global cuisine.

We like to move it, move it: We paid a visit to the characters of the well-known animation film Madagascar at the park. The theme of the section revolved around the four main characters in the movie, namely the lion, giraffe, zebra and hippopotamus and the group of eccentric penguins. After clicking photographs, we went to join King Julian’s Tea Party Ride, a simple merry-go-round with merry characters and lively music in the background. It was a pleasant five minutes when we became children all over again.

The Kingdom of Far Far Away: The next theme section was centred around another popular and well-loved animation character called Shrek. The first attraction was a spectacular Shrek 4D adventure where we got an opportunity to hear, feel and see the characters in close proximity. The second attraction was the Enchanted Airways, which was a roller coaster ride. We flew over the Kingdom of Far Far Away and beyond. The other features in this section included The Donkey Live Show, which was an interactive singing session, and a Magic Potion Spin only for children. The latter was a miniature giant wheel which proved to be a treat for the young ones, as they were spun around for a good five minutes. After a ‘happily ever after’ experience, we geared up to go back in time to encounter some extinct species.

Dinosaurs and more: The Lost World was like walking into a Steven Spielberg thriller. Our first ride was probably one of the best. As we entered this section, we were instructed to buy plastic raincoats at the counter as there was a possibility of us getting drenched. We waited patiently in the long line for the Jurassic Park Rapid adventure and presently headed to the circular raft. Fastening our seatbelts, we entered the primeval habitats of the gigantic species. Every corner had a thrill in store and we couldn’t help but give a shriek or two. The special effects were well-executed along with the lifelike cutouts of dinosaurs everywhere. The end took us by surprise. We glided down the stream into darkness only to find the ride coming to an end.
After the excitment of the ride, we opted for the milder Dino Soaring next, a merry-go-around with friendly-looking baby dinosaurs as seats and buttons for moving up and down. The other attractions included Canopy Flyer, which was another roller coaster, and a rock-climbing ride; both didn’t quite catch our fancy.

Water water everywhere: An interesting poster of the Water World caught our attention and words like death-defying stunts enticed us to go see the show. The artists poured water on the audience in a friendly greeting. There were some spectacular stunts and explosions. The high-risk stunts left us gaping in awe.

Mystical mummies: We then entered the realm of the pharaohs, ‘Ancient Egypt’. Our first ride in this section was The Revenge of the Mummy, which was a psychological thriller. We entered a dungeon to board the ride, which passed through a never-ending twisting and turning passage. The eerie land had mummies and pharaohs out to seek ruthless revenge. Scary booming voices, special effects and the roller coaster left us gasping for breath. The second ride is designed primarily for young children. It was called the Treasure Hunt. Children could drive their own desert jeep through an abandoned Egyptian excavation site. The large line put us off and we decided to explore the other theme sections instead.

Sci-fi reality: To our amazement, this part of the studios was practically empty. There were only three rides in this area. The first two were called cyclone rides, which, with their massive appearance and descriptions of whirling upside down, scared crowds away. No one dared to board them. We opted for a milder one called the Accelerator. There were circular seats, reminding us of a cup and saucer, that whirled us around for a good five minutes. Feeling a little dizzy and hungry at the same time, we decided to grab a bite. After which we proceeded to New York City.

New York: Universal Studios left us marvelling in admiration at this unique section. They had created a miniature of New York City. The bright yellow cabs, the bustling streets and the coffee shops made us feel that we were actually in the Big Apple. We gazed around in awe and clicked a few pictures. The main attraction was a light-and-sound show hosted by the renowned director Steven Spielberg. After a video of a welcome speech, we proceeded to watch a hurricane hit the city. The special effects were riveting as we felt caught amidst nature’s fury.

Hollywood: This was the last section of the theme park. The sole attraction was the Pantages Hollywood Theatre. This was a musical show about the infamous Universal Classic Monsters. However, we couldn’t watch it as we arrived late and the last show for the day had already begun. We chose to visit the merchandise section instead and browsed around for a while. The day was ending and we were quite tired after long hours of walking around. We seated ourselves on a bench in the Kingdom of Far Far Away awaiting our chauffeur. To our immense delight, a jovial Puss in Boots strolled by. Forgetting our fatigue, we shook hands and clicked photographs.
Our fantasy trip ended and we headed back to the real world. We look back at our visit to the theme park rather wistfully. It had been a joyful tryst with a part of our childhood, making it worth another trip.

Some useful points:
1. Book the tickets to Universal Studios online before your visit to avoid disappointment.
2. One can go on as many rides as many times as one wants.
3. Avoid going on weekends as it gets very crowded.
4. Carry a plastic raincoat or umbrella as Singapore receives light showers during late afternoon throughout the year.
5. Some rides do not permit one to carry cameras or water bottles; however, Universal Studios offers locker room facilities.

When to visit: Singapore is a year-round destination.

How to get there: Major cities around the world have direct flights to Singapore.

Written for


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Big Day

Four years ago, it was a dishevelled squad which faced defeat at the hands of the Minnows. This was a game which sent shock waves across the country especially when it was their exit ticket from the World Cup. Not many have forgotten the 2007 disaster, though later that year a much younger Indian team brought back smiles on to their fans' faces after winning the T20 champions’ title.

Dhoni is known for his cool stature and great captaincy skills. Many are hoping to see a repeat of the 1983 world cup. What makes prayers even more earnest is to seek sweet revenge against the Bangla Tigers this Saturday which is the first game of the World Cup? With every successive year, Bangladesh has been improving as a team. Will Men in Blue manage to tame these tigers and get their revenge that they have been waiting for?

With just three more days to go, heres wishing Team India loads of luck!!


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Valentine's Day

‎'We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly.'
Happy Valentine's day!


Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Chocolate Day

What initially was my best friend during my childhood days turned out to be my worst enemy as I grew older? I've always had a sweet tooth and indulged in chocolates for what seemed like eternity. Last few years however, having been bitten by the fitness bug, I had no choice but to bid this friendship goodbye. This also meant goodbye to the fat percentage and persisting tooth problems.

As I reflect back in times, these no doubt gave the needed feel good factor especially with exams around the corner or post exam results. A chocolate shake was what I needed to boost my spirits up. A chocolate cake was what I looked forward to when birthdays were around the corner. Swiss chocolates were an incentive for me to do well in my maths tests back in school. Despite severing ties, this old 'friend' of mine no doubt evokes sweet memories instead of leaving a bitter taste in my mouth.:)

Despite its several not so great side effects, this pal of mine continues to be a favourite among millions still. Both of us have seemed to move on in our respective ways yet I couldn't help remember this friend; especially today being world's chocolate day.

The saying goes:
Life is like a chocolate box, each chocolate is like a portion of life, some are crunchy, some are nutty, some are soft, but all are DELICIOUS.

Happy Chocolate day my long lost friend.


Monday, February 07, 2011

A call from God

It wasn’t a usual Sunday morning I woke up to considering the dream I had. As I recollected the image, it was the one of Ganpati Bappa beckoning me to seek his blessings. Wondering what it could have possible meant, I decided to pay my visit to Siddi Vinayak Temple which was long overdue.

It isn't known to be crowded on a Monday, especially around noon time. However as I reached the holy abode, I was quite taken aback to see a long cue of people perspiring in the hot sun and waiting patiently to get a glimpse of the almighty. I stood there as well for around an hour. I hadn't finished my lunch since I didn't realize that it would take around 2 hours including the travel time. I soon got immersed in my own thoughts wondering why God had called me and the strange dream. Before I knew it, the line started to move fast and it was just a matter of time when he graced me with his Darshan. It was a massive crowd out there pushing and eager to get a glimpse of this powerful deity of Mumbai. I finally paid my respects and also received a token of appreciation in the form of motichoor ki ladoo outside the temple which was again a rare thing.

I walked out at the temple feeling peaceful and lighter yet that question kept popping inside my head, “What was the reason behind God's call?". As I approached the vendor from whom I had collected the Puja plate, I asked him the reason for this sea of crowd that had flocked to the temple today. He replied saying it was the lord's birthday today. I smiled as I knew the special occasion for which my favourite God had personally invited me in order to be a part of the divine celebration. I had never felt blessed and honoured.

The end of 2010 had been a phase of immense pain and suffering as my health took a toll. There were times I would be at God's mercy and the rest of the time I would wonder why is it that only the good souls go through agony? Today I firmly believe that God only makes those suffer in order to move closer to him. Nevertheless I had always believed that I am God's favourite child and will continue to be so. After all it’s all at God's call isn't it?