Tuesday, 21 February 2017

The Promise of an Amusement Park!

It’s been a while since I put up a post on my blog. Reason, I needed to get back to my younger frame of mind to write this post and it was tough. Ironies of life, I say, getting back to the past seems tough when I never managed to get past anyway.
Now that I’m here, we visited Dubai for the winters and I was whirled back to my old love, an amusement park. I need to give it the due.
The adrenalin rush on a roller coaster, is what I crave for. Perhaps, something my mother did when I was in her womb, jump a lot, give an extra bounce to her belly; I’m obviously clueless.
As a child, most of my birthdays were celebrated at Appu Ghar, the erstwhile Appu Ghar, Delhi’s only claim to an amusement park back in the day. The tryst began when I was six. We were to head out to some place for my birthday treat, and my sister and I had no clue what was in store. We dressed in our birthday finery, devoid of frills. A decent pleated dress that could be used for multiple more occasions till it either appeared piecemeal on the kitchen slab or on a younger cousin in the country in a lighter shade. Pristine white socks, mid-calf. Shiny black or cherry colored leather shoes to top the icing.
I was, after all, the star of the day and waited for my parents in best behaviour. The treat still held a threat of cancellation. One raucous exploit, and it could get decommissioned without notice. After an unbearable wait playing “Statue” with my sister, we finally left home, butterflies fluttering in my belly for I knew not what joys and challenges the rest of the evening held. As a child at six, the world was still a container of unexplored experiences, and that meant anxiety. The walk to the taxi stand under an umbrella, for the late afternoon sun and dust, eased the anxiety to excitement. I sat on my mother’s lap in Sardarji uncle’s black and yellow taxi, and a familiar sense of security engulfed me.
Appu Ghar turned out to be everything I had hoped for from the evening. It was beautiful. At the entrance stood a giant elephant welcoming us in a sort of skip. It didn’t really skip; now wouldn’t that be great!
Inside were rides on little trains and toy helicopters, a dragon, an aerial swing and more. Tucked away in a corner was a dome shaped theater that played a movie along its walls, simulating a roller coaster experience for the viewers who sat on the floor.
I sat on various trains and helicopters at Appu Ghar, enjoyed speed and splash in limits and watched the simulated experience of a roller coaster in the theater.
Perhaps I should not have, cause soon I realized that I wanted it live. More speed and higher flight was what I needed, but could not have. I saw Dad get off the dragon with hair pulled back, eyes wide open, and a resplendent smile, like he had experienced joy beyond imaginable permits. I wanted it too, I could see the promise it held.
I ran from swing to ride to experience similar exhilaration, alas!
I begged the guards at the dragon to let me pass, I was turning a big girl that day. Alas!
That day, I wasn’t disappointed only determined to return when older.
Appu Ghar happened for many years to follow and I experienced the rich promises of my imaginings. I grew older, climbed up on more challenging rides and experienced adrenalin rushes like never before. The Dragon, Appu Columbus all after my fantasy. I would run for the last seat, the highest drop, the fastest ride.
Eventually, the rush died down and the last seat was not far enough, the highest not high enough, the fastest not fast enough. Appu Ghar died its natural death in my mind.
It was at ten, that I saw home videos of a friend’s vacation in Disneyland. And, with that Disneyland became my dream destination, a dream I nurtured over to adult years. Through the years higher, faster, bigger, risqué amusement parks made it to the papers, but I was loyal to the wonders imagined at ten. I worked hard to make the money, life butted in, but deep down I retained the goal, a secret one, a childish desire my children sat in awe of. So as a mother, I decided to feed them on it too. I showed them the glitter, the pinks, the purples, the princesses, the adrenalin. I made my dreams, their dreams. Yes, I was selfish!
Thus, when my children got their passports, the first destination I pinned on the map, drum rolls, Hong Kong Disneyland.
Thus, after decades of dreaming, one bright, sunny day I entered Disneyland. At the entrance, stood a statue of Mickey Mouse balancing itself on top of a water fountain. The magic! I refuse to talk about this scientifically. You’ve got to believe in the magic.
Disneyland was everything my heart desired and much more. The magic, the strange miniature lands, the oversized plastic make believe gloss, the picturesque displays, shops, stores, princesses, princes and characters, rides, multi-dimensional shows and the fireworks. It was a dream come true in Motion Picture Style.
Of course, we covered the other tourist highlights of Hong Kong. Ocean Park with its rides and exotic animals from habits distanced from mine, Ngong Ping where we got to experience rides on cable cars with crystal floors, made penitential climbs and prayed for eternal peace on Buddhist mounts and had fan girl moments with celebrities in wax. But Disneyland was the dream I had nurtured, strived for and fulfilled across nearly half a lifetime.
We ended our trip at Macau, where I did the skywalk on the Macau Tower. But with little kids in this gaming capital, I could only peep into the casino at The Venetian from the escalator. Though, I could not enter a casino I satisfied my chaperoned spirits with shopping. The gondolier in the indoor canal of The Venetian wooed me with the ballad “Do lavzon ki yeh, dil ki kahani…” Ladies! I was young again.
As you can see, Hong Kong and Macau were high on adventure, adrenalin and technology. After a vacation drenched in all such, I had had my fill. And, when I landed in Dubai this winter, I did not want technology or artificial parks. I wanted the old-world charm of Dubai. Except, hold on, the fastest roller coaster in the world, Formula Rossa in Ferrari World.
Wooooohoooooo! It’s over, the ride. You’ve returned from the clutch of death, People. Pray. In less than 5 seconds, you went to 240 km/h, climbed a few mountains there and landed back on Earth. Before, you realize what hit you, you’re off the machine. Let me not talk much about it, cause the ride is exactly that, no introduction, no conclusion, pure ride!
I leave you here with an image of the mean machine. That mild stretch you see before the climb, is the killer 240 km/h in 5 seconds.

Image source: Google

In conclusion, all I can say, “There’s life before Formula Rossa and there’s Life! after Formula Rossa.”

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© 2017 by Donna Abraham


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Puneet! So glad it struck a chord somewhere.

  2. Wonderful Donna..relived beautiful memories of Appu Ghar but boy I do not possess your dare devil spirit to ride any roller coaster leave alone the formidable Formula Rossa!!

    1. Thanks Parul. Glad you liked this post.
      It's only one of the best 5 seconds of your life...

  3. Job j palakunnel30 March 2017 at 13:19

    Very good attempt. Interesting. P

  4. It is only after reading your blog, i felt like having a go at it. When your first roller coaster ride is the fastest i was afraid if i could digest the experience..well here i am writing about it .Needless to say those 5 secs give you the hardest g-force punch you can't get else where..and it was totally worth. Glad that i made the ride but i am afraid if i ever will appreciate any other ride because of the incredible standard set by this one.

    1. Ah Chris! Awesome you tried the Formula Rossa...and liked it. Perhaps we'll be on the lookout for bigger rides ;) What say?