Sunday

Reel Life

Note: This post has been very long overdue...in April 2010, after coming back from Universal Studios, Singapore, heard that my uncle was sick, so writing this post was the last thing on my mind at that time. Now, things have changed for the good. However, this post might miss the level of enthusiasm & excitement I had when we visited the Universal Studios...

With lots of expectation & excitement, we booked the tickets online to visit the Universal Studios, Singapore, when it was opened in April 2010. Among friends, it has become my 'duty' to do the homework when we plan for some activity. Therefore I took sometime in identifying shows and attractions that would be suitable for our group. May be, I wanted to catch the best or just was keen on getting good value for my money as we had paid SG$ 72/person! Either way, we had fun:) Photos would be more suitable for this post rather than text...

The trademark entrance logo that is synonymous with Universal Studios...

We entered the studios through the Hollywood Boulevard, which kinda had western ambience with a mini replica of Walk of Fame...

We went for the show "Light Camera Action" as it had boasted that you would get to see and feel an experience of category 5 hurricane hitting New York. We didn't have an expectation, so we were pleasantly surprised to see how an empty stage gets transformed. There was no seating arrangement, we were asked to stand on platform, which was supposed to be a boathouse by the harbor in New York. The show started with a pleasant day, and slowly, the sky started turning dark, followed by thunder, rain and hurricane. The board on which we were standing rumbled too..lightening struck on a building roof and suddenly a big boat crashed in too! True, it was indeed a magic!! Photo was not allowed and also I was too keen in experiencing:)

The Castle set of Far Far Away was cute and we went in to catch 4D Sherk show, where we got to experience the adventure.

Even before entering the theater, there was interactive preview, preparing us for the experience. The preview was good for a couple of minutes, but I felt like it was buildup after that. Well, the actual show was fascinating, the theater had mobile seats, and we were given special glasses called Ogrevision. Sherk goes on his donkey driven cart to save Princess Fiona. We were also bumping and moving when the donkeys started to move. Moreover, we got a fine spray when the donkey sneezed! It was enjoyable.

At Madagascar, "We like to Move it", live performance was going on...

But, Madagascar attraction itself was still under construction at that time...

We saw many visitors carrying funny looking Dino drink and finally we spotted the sales cart at The Lost World.

It was COKE, priced @ SGD13!, Well, at least there was an option to refill carbonated drinks at any of the F&B outlets @ SGD1.

There was a long queue to watch the Waterworld show, which shows live stunt action from the famous movie Waterworld. For the kids, adrenalin flow was pretty high, by just watching it.

The rows of the viewing gallery was marked, so that guests who don't mind getting soaked sat in the first rows, followed by 'spray zone', where we sat, as we didn't mind a fine spray. For those who wanted to be dry had to sit farther away. The actors were, hitting, jumping and diving, the calm blue water turned into rough wavy sea, and there was action packed water scooter stunts. Suddenly pirate boat entered, the pirate started shooting, and actors were just dropping in water like how we see in movies:) Towards climax, a mini plane crash-landed in water and there was fire. It was awesome to watch the show.

Sci-Fi City was not my cup of tea...the rides were still under construction...

People had to queue up to take photos with dressed up cartoon characters like Panda, Sherk, Madagascar animals etc. The park allows outside food, (especially for special dietary needs) but not packed picnic lunches in large or hard containers. So, we carefully chose soft containers and packed vegetarian meals. Overall, I'd say it's worth going to Universal Studios @ Singapore...especially for those who don't have plans to go to Florida or Orlando in the near future...

Friday

Diwali Bazar

After 10 years, I'm in my hometown, Madurai, India. Usually Diwali is synonymous with home made sweets, new dress and fire crackers (this order varies depending on the age).  Last few days before Diwali people get frenzied with shopping. Moreover, vendors create hype by advertising attractive offers, where you happen to get great deals for all kinds of stuff. However, the rush is unbelievable and you could say as "people people everywhere".

As it has been a decade since I've been in this crowd, it was quite difficult for me to walk in it. Instead, I just opted to gaze and take pictures from my aunt's house.

A typical roadside vendor selling fancy frocks - target customer is usually 18 patti grama makkal (this directly means rural folks from near by 18 villages)! This time, most of the shop assistants were yelling as "masakali", which is the name of a salwar suite! Then as for as sarees, I heard about "Ravaana" & "Enthiran" (supposed to be names of new hit movies) sarees! I dunno how they end up with giving such names, as you could never see such sarees worn by any of the characters in those movies^^

Brisk sale of inner-wares...

Sweets and chaat variety...

Poor lambs, they don't know that they are going to be butchered by tomorrow...For Diwali some of the locals eat non-veg and heard that most of the meat sold during this period is not checked or approved by concerned authorities...

Without fire crackers Diwali is incomplete. But, until now I haven't had a chance to take picture of these shops as I dare not to shop in the crowd.

Thursday

From the Heavens

Its such a happy feeling to watch the clouds. It never seizes to excite me, especially when I fly above them:) Here is a heap of cottony clouds that I shot from my recent flight...

I guess nature was happy too, as it was showing its colors ranging from azure to pale blue...

Monday

Gopura Darshan

Elders say that Morning Gopura Darshan is punniyam. Here is the view of Therku Gopuram (East South Tower) of Meenakshi Amman Temple...

Each sculpture in the tower depicts Purana stories. I have bought the Sthala Varalaru (History of the Temple) in Tamil & this includes pictorial explanation of all the stories am hoping to translate and pen down these stories in my blog, wish me luck...

Sunday

October for Vegetarian Awareness

For many, it seems to be very difficult to be a vegetarian even for a day. As a die-hard vegetarian, I try my best to make my family eat vegetarian food. Luckily, as per our family custom (also followed by many Vaishnavites) my kid and hub are forced to be vegetarians as a kind of fasting, during the Purattasi month which is from 17th of September to 17th of October.

During this period, I have heard many talking about non-veg, and how they miss it. What is the use of fasting, when one can't stop thinking of what they have absolved from? I wish they could change, at least after seeing the benefits of having vegetarian meal.

VEGETARIAN DIETS:
  • Reduce the risk of major killers such as heart disease, stroke and cancer while cutting exposure to foodborne pathogens
  • Provide a viable answer to feeding the world’s hungry through more efficient use of grains and other crops
  • Save animals from suffering in factory-farm conditions and from the pain and terror of slaughter
  • Conserve vital but limited freshwater, fertile topsoil and other precious resources
  • Preserve irreplaceable ecosystems such as rainforests and other wildlife habitats
  • Decrease greenhouse gases that are accelerating global
    warming
  • Mitigate the ever-expanding environmental pollution of
    animal agriculture

Recently I was told that Lantong is a Malay vegetarian food, so I ordered one...

This is served with rice cake and a coconut based curry. Unfortunately, I couldn't eat it because, they had added a spoon of sambal, which has shrimp paste!

Monday

Mood = Monkey

Today, for the first time, I knocked on a parked motorcycle, at the petrol station when I was reversing my car. However, only the helmet fell off and nothing happened to the motorcycle and my car. That was when I realized that I was affected by Monday blues! Like most of us, certainly I get upset, especially when something goes wrong early in the morning.

Over a small matter I was upset, but I was not able to pin-point the exact reason and was flying off the handle with anyone/anything that came my way. Then, I was blaming this and that and started wondering about all the "ifs & buts". For sure, I knew that talking about this with a friend would not give me any relief, but it would only add fuel to what had happened. On the way back from school, I happened to see a monkey and at that instance I remembered a story that I'd often heard in my childhood. It's about a monkey that had thorn in its tail.

Someone tries to help the monkey to remove the thorn, but accidentally cuts off the tail instead. Now, the monkey blames the man for cutting his tail and demands that the man gives his knife as compensation. The monkey was happy and singing merrily about what it had gained by loosing. After a while, the monkey sees a small girl trying to cut fire-wood with bare hands, so it offers her the knife. After chopping, the knife gets blunt, so the monkey was upset and demands that the girl gives the firewood to the monkey. Like this the trading of goods keeps growing, but the monkey was never satisfied, it kept blaming others!

Well, I thought I was having the monkey's attitude, where I was trying to blame on my "bad mood" for the carelessness while reversing. Well, this gave me an opportunity to write about the monkey story^^:)

Sunday

Wooden & Dry Fish

Recently, I went to Pantai Putrei to buy fish. When the shop assistant was cleaning the mackerel, as usual I was gazing around and noticed this cute wooden fish...

Then, I saw this as well...

At first, I thought that it must be carved out of a coconut shell, but the assistant said that it was a dried fish head!

Monday

Fishy Dino

Saw this peculiar display at one of the cart shops in Makhota Parade...

First, I thought it must be some kind of deco item or herbal medicine, but the sales assistant said it was fish-ball snack!

Tuesday

Information - glut or organization?

An oft discussed subject, which intrigues me!

Information glut is the term we often come across in this Internet era. There is yet another group that complains that the lack of information is the main reason for not performing their tasks. Though this sounds highly contradictory, the cause for this should be examined carefully.

Advent of net has led to the availability of abundant information, which is not necessarily organized and it has become information glut. This disorganized content or rather information is not visible to the user in time of need. So it becomes very important for the organizations to implement a high level of information organization.

Is it worth to invest in information organization?

Naturally, to many of the small organizations this would sound as a improper measure. Information management means time, money and at the same time improving efficiency and effectiveness of the employees. The key behind organizing information is to build a knowledge base for the organization, which would not only help the current team but also for the future members of the organization to decide on a right course with confidence.

During the early stages of a project there would be few brain-storming sessions where lot of ideas are left unrecorded. At that moment, those ideas might sound far fetched or would be considered as not feasible due to certain limitations like time or money. When an organization has a right type of information organization system, every small idea could be recorded and stored for future use. This would come in handy, during the course of a project itself or for some other project. For instance, when there is a bottleneck in the project, you might have to revisit the ideas or scope of the project. In these situations, organized information would come be handy. Either the existing content would shed some light or they can even trigger you to come up with suitable solution.


Organized information becomes an asset, else it becomes chaotic and inaccessible.

Wednesday

Kecil Udang

Usually, I have seen road side vendors selling fish, crab and mussels, on the way to Pantai Klebang and Pantai Puteri. But, few days ago I saw something that resembled worms!

First time I was not sure what it was, but my daughter said it looked like shrimps...Next day, I stopped at the stall and asked the seller what it was, in my broken Malay. Yes, my daughter was correct, he said that it was kecil udang, which means baby shrimps.

I came to know that they don't have to purposely go and catch it, instead during June/July, these baby shrimps get stuck in the fishing net.

Thursday

Pantai Klebang

I have been passing through Pantai Klebang almost everyday, as it is on the way to my kid's school. There, land reclamation is at full swing. So, I thought that it was not worth going until we explored it last Sunday.

It was a clean and peaceful stretch. Children were happily building sand castles and other fancy buildings. Here is an imitation of the Great Wall of China!

As usual, nature had its store of surprise for me and rewarded with a glorious sunset! Well, my hand phone camera was not sufficient to do justice. However, I did capture the dark clouds that were rushing to view the last rays of the day...

It was a golden moment!Here is yet another shot after the sunset...

Though it doesn't have any resemblance, I became nostalgic about Marina Beach at Chennai, India. Well, I must be really missing it.

Sunday

Different Angle

On our umpteenth trip to Batu Caves, I was too tired to climb the steps, so I opted to stay down and do some tourist stuff. I sat down at a coffee shop for tender coconut drink, and was absently gazing at the towering Golden Muruga. My mind was racing with a lot of "if only this or that" and accidentally I raised my hands to shoo away a fly and by that angle I noticed that Mrga was just fitting in the curve of my hands!

Now, ratillator in me woke up and here is the shot...

There are many ways to look at things and our woes would become small in size when we look at things in wide angle!

Tuesday

Idly Steamed to Perfection

My recent trip to India was very short and hectic. I didn't take any pictures, but to compensate that I had a good opportunity to take this shot in Melaka...

Captured this @ Kaveri Restaurant near Jonker Walk, Melaka. Memories flooded when I saw this idlys steamed to perfection. Like any authentic Indian joints, here they serve sambar, thenga chutney, malli chutney along with this mouth-watering delicacy.

Typically, we used to see this kind of lay out in Madurai and Courtallam.


Sunday

The Helix - A Tribute to DNA, Life, Growth

After visiting Universal Studios, Singapore, (will post about this fantastic experience soon) we heard that a new pedestrian bridge named The Helix was opened with big fanfare in the Marina Bay area. As we stayed in Singapore for a week with friends, we decided to spend an evening at The Helix. When you see it from the National Stadium, you would get a full view...

Basically, it is a pedestrian bridge that links the Marina Center and the Bayfront areas. This 3.5 KM bridge is still under construction. But, they have officially opened the completed segment! The completed part has a couple of viewing decks facing the national floating stadium. At the entrance of the bridge, there was an interesting explanation for this design and here is an excerpt from the description...

Design Symbolism - ...This resembles the double helix structure of DNA and symbolizes 'life and continuity', 'renewal', 'everlasting abundance' and 'growth', reflecting the key aspirations of Marina Bay.
Engineering Feat - The double helix structure is a world's first for a curved bridge.
Lighting Concept - At night the bridge is illuminated by programmable, low energy lights that express the beauty of the structure and enhance the visitors' experience. Colored symbols on the walkway represent the four bases found in DNA.
Besides, it was a good idea that the whole helix is covered to protect the pedestrians from sun and rain.

As mentioned earlier, the lighting was superb and it was on when there was still day light...

Luckily, I took the above picture with natural light as the ones that I took after dark did not come out well:(

On the whole, The Helix was a great experience, where we had the spiral chips for the first time:)

Thursday

Roguish Business?

I admit that capturing customers attention is a major factor in any business, but I was appalled when I saw this name board at one of the small push-cart type shops in new Jusco complex, Melaka...

This shop was selling fancy decorative items. 

I asked the person who was at the shop if there was any specific meaning for having such a weird name...but she just shrugged...perhaps she was just an employee, who doesn't know enough to answer me!

Sunday

Spiral Yummy Junk

Potato snacks, be it chips, crisps or wedges, we all drool over. When we went to see the newly opened Helix Bridge Singapore, first we noticed a couple of children running with some kinda new snack. And we noticed that one of the snack shacks were over-crowded and adults and children were happily munching on a spiral snack. Here is yet another avatar of potato, the SPIRAL CHIPS...

Actually, whole potato is poked in a stick and run through this spiral cutting machine...

It was awesome to watch the man when he slowly pushed the stick to bring out the spiral...

And then it is deep-fried...

Finally, this is served with a choice of yummy flavors (cheese/garlic/curry) sprinkled on it...

Only the price was very exorbitant, as it was charged @ SGD 2.5/stick! But all of us had one and it was lovely:)

Concrete Jungle

I like to visit Singapore especially for shopping and eating authentic Indian food. However, I don't like to live there as am reminded of stacked match boxes whenever I look/think of indomitable flats that dominates the country.


Here is a view of the concrete jungle that I shot from Marina Bay in Singapore.


Tuesday

Hide and Seek

Usually, by 8.30 AM you could feel the wrath of sun and watching clouds without coolers would not be that great. Today weather was unusually pleasant and cool, well one would argue that the sky was full of furious dark rainy clouds. At a traffic light, I was happily watching clouds and sun playing hide and seek, here is a shot...

Isn't it beautiful? To me it looks like even Sun feels lazy to get up:)

Thursday

Ignorant Car User

I've been driving for more than 8 years, but am still unfamiliar with stuff under the hood. When my foreman says if something is wrong, I have no choice except to accept and spend. Luckily (I believe), this time round my mechanic seems to be a reasonable guy who doesn't suggest changing every part.

During last service, I complained that lately my car did not have enough power as it used to be. After checking crazy wires and parts under the hood, one of the assistants crawled under my car to examine, dunno what. Then, I was told that my exhaust pipe had a hole, thanks to my fast track driving, especially over the humps!

Being a reasonable fellow, my foreman asked me to go to the exhaust pipe shop and weld the hole. But, I was wary of going to a new place on my own so I convinced that my foreman take me to a reliable place to fix.

At the exhaust pipe shop, as expected the so called expert examined and recommended that I have to go for a "brand new" exhaust pipe, which would cost me "just around" RM180! But, the hole was only about the size of a pepper. When my mechanic argued on my behalf, I was told that "well you could weld, but you would hear a noise when you drive". However, my foreman said that would not be an issue with car performance, so I just opted for welding...

After fixing, there is "no noise" when I drive and also the power has been restored, all for just RM 15! Moral of the story, be careful and watch out for lame excuses when you are asked to replace something completely, especially when it looks good enough to you.

Monday

Trying to be Healthy

The long Easter weekend was refreshing. I tried to eat healthy, cross my heart!

When we went for Chinese vegetarian makan, I ordered fresh mixed fruit n veg juice, which was suggested by the attender (beetroot, orange and ginger). In a short while, a shocking pink juice was kept in front of me. I thought OMG, it looks like 'sarbaths' sold during festivals in rural Indian villages...

Well, it tasted OK, but I would not go for it again, may be I'd ask them to replace orange with some other fruit. My kid says I gotta wired taste:p

For those who wonder about the dish in the background - it is "Pattaya Tomyam fried rice", my kid's choice.

Participation and Fun = Sports and Family Day

After all these years, this is the first time I have been actively participating in my kid's school activities. To be honest, only now time is under my control and I can decide what I really want to do. When there was a call for volunteers, I signed up as a sports committee member. Don't ask me what sport I play!

Well the experience was refreshing. It was great to listen and to contribute in coming up with games list for children and parents. Unlike workplace, there was no tension or mainly EGO clash:) All the ideas were given due importance and there was a sense of satisfaction. Above all, there was no one grumbling behind the back to do a task:)

The whole event was planned like a typical project with a main objective to encourage participation, team spirit and fun. After a couple of iterations, we came up with the list of games that can be played within the available time frame, budget and resources. The best part was that every kid would get at least a medal to take back as a memento. No hard feelings at all.

The team games included Macaroni and Chopsticks, where the kids had to pick and pass macaroni using chopsticks and the last kid in the team should put them in a string. This is a time based game and the team that has the maximum number of macaronis in the string wins.

Then there was this Caterpillar Walk for children, parents and the teachers. A team of 4 should walk together on a plank. It was funny to watch when they say left/right and lift the foot simultaneously.

Relay race, where children have to walk on coconut shell and then on a narrow beam...

"Dressing Up Dad" was rather hilarious:) However, only 4 families were daring for this adventure. In this game, a heap of costumes & accessories were kept from which moms need to select and the kids need to dress up the dads as beautiful dames.

Rolling dough for making chapatti is an art that comes by practice. Here the dads were asked to do it. In this there were 8 contestants. Finally, 3 winners were selected based on largest (measuring 34" in diameter), roundest (almost!) and the chapatti that can be lifted from the table.

One of the participants declared that even his chapatti could be lifted AND demonstrated by lifting the table itself^^:)

Usually in any sports events the winning stand is out of reach for the children. But, here the children were happily climbing and playing on it...

Besides all these activities, potluck lunch was organized. I was a bit concerned if the lemon rice I prepared would be left untouched.

Well, I was in for surprise and lemon rice was one of the items that finished!

To put it in a nut shell, it was a memorable event, where I had a chance to mix with other parents and staff and have fun.

Flying in Air and Walking in Water...

After a lot of expectation and planning we went to Putrajaya to fly in tethered hot-air balloon. The counter opened at 5.30 PM. We assumed that we would be one of the 300 people who would get the tickets for the ride.

Balloons getting ready for the flight...

But within few minutes the guards came up and asked us to go back as there were only few more tickets and we don't stand a chance of getting it. With great disappointment, we were still standing there when a youngster approached us and told that she has 4 special tickets which is priced "just" RM5 more than the counter rate.

I was not sure if this was the real ticket or the person was trying to con us, so I refused to buy. But, a couple decided to take up 2 tickets and the deal was closed. By then, another bystander asked for the remaining tickets and NOW the seller demanded extra RM10!

I decided to go to the counter to see if there is any chance of getting tickets as we had driven up around 150KM just for this. There was a small angry crowd blasting the ticket issuers for the chaos. When I questioned them about the black tickets to the person in charge, she refused it outright by telling that the tickets were sold only to the direct persons who wanted to go for a ride. Further, she simply stated that I should have brought them red-handed. It was not at all funny.

We wanted to make the most of this evening, so we moved on to see the live hot-air balloons being launched by various countries. Some of them were usual types where us some were in unique shape and design.

Orange shaped - by Belgium...

Bespectacled fellow from Poland...

 Leo faced from France...

In the form of Jeans...

Besides these, there were lots of activities like Gacgaroo walk, which imitates Kangaroos...

Walking on water...

The children seemed to enjoy themselves like hamsters in a rolling ball. See this video that I captured...

video

When it was time for us to go home, we crossed the tethered ride area and saw that the public rides were canceled as the hot-air balloons were malfunctioning! After all, we didn't miss anything and the evening was pleasurable:)

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