Imagica – Where Stories Come Alive
Weekends had been story
time for me for years. I still fondly reminisce those days when my little daughters
would eagerly await my weekly off so that they would spend time with their Dad,
their best friend.
Stories of folk, grandmother
and grandfather stories, fairy tales and tales of yore, all these would be what
would keep my princesses entertained and would make weekends the best days of
the week for me.


Ever since my daughters
have grown up to adolescence and adulthood, those schedules of story-telling though
went into oblivion for my kids, it still remained etched in my memory. Those
were the days when my little kids used to believe in every word of the fable
and lore that I narrated to them and I could really see the myths and the
parables come alive in their tiny shining eyes.

Another of those busy
working week for me, decades later, I thought to myself, as I entered office
that Friday. As I scanned through the inbox, deleting the junk, my eyes fell on
an interesting subject tag which looked like an invite.


An invite, indeed, it
was, for a trip to IMAGICA as a blogger. Though not sure, whether it would
ignite the childhood in me or not, I indeed confirmed on the RSVP and a couple
of calls during the day directing me for the pick-up and good night of dreams
later, the next morning, I was on-board the BEST bus from Dadar, a transport service
initiated by them on weekends from the city to the amusement park located near
Khopoli, off the Mumbai-Pune Expressway.


An hour and a little
more of comfortable ride in the air-conditioned confines of the BEST bus, and pleasantries
exchanged with fellow bloggers and media personnel travelling with me, there I
was at the gate of the grand amusement park which features 25 marvellous theme rides
and attractions and six theme restaurants and an accompanying water park named
Aquamagica.



Hungry for food, we
were but that was surely dwarfed by our hunger for entertainment and fun, as we
headed straight for the NITRO, India’s biggest and wildest roller-coaster. The
two and a half minutes of pure excitement provided me the absolute adrenaline
rush taking me through five exciting inversions and loops as high as a
staggering 132 feet and looping over 2800 feet of track length, making me gape
for sheer breath as it came to a stop.


We landed at RED BONNET,
the 60’s styled American Diner with vintage cars, as we gorged on all the
amazing array of American comfort food that we could lay our hands on which
surely included the fries, fried chicken and hotdogs and of course the classic
burgers too.


Our guide rightly
suggested that we shouldn’t be trying our luck with further more of the exhilarating
rides with our tummies full and so we settled to take a round of subtle and
restrained shows instead.


We started off with
ALIBABA AUR CHALIS CHORR where we travelled through the city of Gulabad on our
vehicle with our laser guns in hand to save Alibaba from the forty notorious thieves
in this exciting dark interacting ride. I along with my partner in the car could
boast of shooting down the most of the thieves as they popped out from behind a
souk or from under a cave and contributed our might to save the kingdom’s
treasures and retain its pride.


As we moved out, we
were heralded into SALIMGARH with its dungeons, torture rooms beckoning us to uncover
its dangerous secrets. We navigated the eerie corridors of this haunted
fortress trying to save the princess trapped inside for eternity.


We had to encounter the
WRATH OF THE GODS next; the special effects show where we met a noted archaeologist
discovering the ruins of an ancient temple unearthed for centuries where the deities
of the three elements of life, Air Water and Fire unleash their fury with human
causing the ultimate destruction.


It was time for some
river adventure with RAJASAURUS along with the dinosaur obsessed scientist,
Dr. Roy as we were transported into his ferocious world in the unnerving boat
ride adventure packed with sudden twists and ambush turns in our quest for the
greatest discovery of our life.


With our appetite for escapades
back to the hilt, we headed for DEEP SPACE, where we hopped into the
rollercoaster that launched us into deep outer space among galaxies and black holes zipping through various
planets and meteors in our journey to the moon and back. Working on the Linear
Synchronous Motor (LSM) magnetic launch, unlike normal roller coasters, we were
truly in for an out-of-this-world experience as the coaster shot us to crazy
speeds in absolute darkness in a matter of mere seconds.


Back from the amazing
galactic world, we longed to be back in our sweet own country as we headed for MR.
INDIA and hopped into Mr. India’s iconic car for an adventurous ride following
him along with Seema, Calendar, the kids and his new side-kick robot,
Toota-Phoota as we battled the terror of Mogambo and surely were in for some
new age Hawa-Hawai.


We salvaged some time
out for lunch as we headed for the IMAGICA CAPITAL, where we were treated with
the great Indian Buffet of timeless Indian cuisine ranging from the Konkan to
the Kashmir, South Indian to Bengali, Sindhi to Nawabi and more.


Straight out of lunch
for some and some all veg delights for others at the ROBERTO FOOD COURT, where
we were treated to some delectable vegetarian cuisine which included Indian,
South Indian, Chaats, Italian and Pan Asian cuisine prepared under the expert
supervision of Roberto, the lion cub chef, we surely needed some well-deserved
rest.


As we rested, we
witnessed the GRAND IMAGICA PARADE, a spectacular experience of the perfectly
choreographed magnificent parade which made its way through the streets of Imagica
with over 100 performers accompanied by all the popular Imagica characters
charming us in this biggest entertainment extravaganza.


We surely didn’t want
to miss out the rides and shows for the kids too, as we joined DETECTIVE BOW
WOW, the bumbling and incompetent international police detective as he tries to
solve the mystery of the missing Dragon.


We also went for an
underwater adventure with fantastical mermaids to uncover the Dark Prince’s
secrets at the CIMEMA 360 – PRINCE OF DARK WATERS, as we took a virtual dive deep into the ocean to discover a world underneath in the 360 Dome film all
around and above us on the massive screen of 3100 square feet.


Very soon, we were to
witness the magnificence of our beautiful country in a unique flying experience
in I FOR INDIA as we felt as if we were soaring like a bird above the beautiful
and stunning landscapes of our country as the ride elevated us to amazing
heights to have the virtual experience of this spectacular film shot from a
helicopter displayed on a 90 feet wide screen below us.


We were all geared up
for further extreme thrill adventure as we were seated in the DARE 2 DROP which
took up to the soaring heights of 132 feet and before we could even soak in the
view or try and compose ourselves, we were subjected to a total free fall from
the sky in a matter of seconds.


Crazy for more fun, we
moved on to the SCREAM MACHINE, the gigantic rotating pendulum which first
gains some momentum by spinning before it starts to swing. Just when we think
we can handle it, the ride suddenly accelerates, rotates and swings us high
till the time we literally scream.


Before we could call it
a day, we boarded the family roller coaster, GOLD RUSH, to explore the wild
west which took us through the world of the old American West from farmsteads
to the hollowed gold mines, from the ravines and the ranch grounds of the
cowboys to the parlours and saloons of the pistol wielding outlaws and sheriffs
in this rippling ride which dropped us from a height of 66 feet and sent us
speeding through tunnels and abandoned gold mines all at a thrilling speed of
65 km/hour.



While SUGAR BUZZ, the
special candy store at the exit is a place to indulge for the ones with the
sweet-tooth, we all can surely freeze our special Imagical moments while in a
ride or anywhere else in the park by taking home photo souvenirs.


I surely didn’t miss
out exploring the wonderful merchandise collection including t-shirts, bags,
coffee mugs and soft toys based on the spellbinding characters we encountered
at each of the rides and the shows which was surely an opportunity for me to
take home the fascinating world of Imagica where stories come alive.


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Chalta Hai No More – It’s the Customer’s Right
Christmas Holidays, the
festive mood at home, I applied for a fortnight of festival leave. I was handed
over the packet as I was winding up work that last day at office. Double
bonanza for me perhaps, I realized as I opened it and found it to the festival
bonus.

I need to take my wife
and kids for a long pending vacation; the first thought that crossed my mind.
Excited, I just checked out for the travel itinerary and promptly did the
travel and hotel reservations too.

“Yippee! We are travelling
on a holiday to the North East”, I declared to my family, the moment I came
back home and flashed the tickets. “So we need to book the hotel, too, my
dear”, my wife suggested.

A sly smile and I
replied back, “I have booked at the best hotel in town there. I had called them
up and they have promised me a heavenly stay at the most reasonable price”.



We landed up at the
hotel to discover that the hotel had nothing of what they had promised us over
the phone. I tried to confront them in vain and we resigned to our fate. “We just need to spend our nights here, so Chalta Hai”, my wife
sighed.

“The toilet flush isn’t
functioning” my daughter yelled from inside the bathroom. But her scream was
dimmed by my wife shrieking her lung out as she found that the door doesn’t
latch from inside. I dared not tell them that I checked and found that the
night lamp doesn’t function.

This was my story just
a few years back, a time when people travelling on business or leisure would
find themselves landed up in hotels which would be a far cry from what they
have declared. Payments already made, travelers don’t have a choice.



#HotelFormule1 has come
out with its endeavor to correct his “Chalta Hai” mind-set and aims to end the
accepted perception and conception by delivering what they believe is every
customer’s right.

As a customer and guest, we have every right
to expect what has been promised to us at the price that we have paid. #HotelFormule1 is
committed to stand up to this cause, by facilitating necessities, amenities and
requirements that you expect that assure and guarantee an enjoyable,
pleasurable and pleasing stay at its hotel.



Accor Hotel has come up
with the #ChaltaHaiNoMore campaign which is driven by the conventional and
habituated “devil may care” casual and indifferent attitude that most of us
carry around.

With provisions such as
free high speed Wi-Fi to keep you connected with the world on the go, 24/7
safety and security that keeps you relaxed, sound proof rooms to provide you
complete privacy, comfortable beds that ensure that you get that undisturbed
nine winks after a hectic day or work or leisure, and access controlled rooms
and floors which cuts off any unauthorized intruders, Hotel Formule1 calls to
break us free from the nonchalant habit.

A pioneering company,
Accor Hotels has built its history on a deep dedication to forging ties. As a leader,
it has always cared about upholding a high level of commitment to their guests,
by delivering what they have promised.

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Pristine Daman – a paradise of peace, solitude and contentment
In my pursuit of
seeking happiness, I have had the opportunity to travel across the length and
breadth of the country, in my hunt for higher and higher education in the
initial stages of my life and later in the expedition and rummage seeking my
livelihood.

Finally landing up in
the West Zone of the country, I settled down in the financial capital of the
country, Mumbai where my efforts bore fruition and culmination. This city has
given me everything I had ever longed for and to write about this conurbation,
I could conceivably go on and on.


However, I would prefer
to write about a place, very close to Mumbai situated at a distance of approximately
180 kilometres, which was a Portuguese enclave for over four and a half
centuries till the close of the colonial rule in 1961.


Daman, earlier known as
Damao, was incorporated into the Republic of India on 19th December,
1961 by the military conquest of the Indian Forces against the Portuguese rule. 




Daman is the melting pot where diverse races and ethos meet and mix to bring
forth a multi-coloured uniqueness and distinctiveness.



A laid back little
town, Daman had remained a lesser known place on the Indian map for many
decades. 




It is only in the recent one decade or so that it has become popular
as a tourist destination in West India.



A quaint an antiquated little
place with serene beaches, Daman is divided into two parts by the Damanganga
river, as Nani Daman (meaning Little Daman) in the north and Moti Daman
(meaning Big Daman) in the south.


The Design:

Nani Daman houses major
industrial units with almost all the business houses of Mumbai having their
manufacturing units situated there mainly due to the tax and other fiscal
exemptions provided by the Government.


Moti Daman on the other
hand, retains the Old Portuguese atmosphere with the Government buildings and
the churches of the colonial origins fenced within a magnificent and daunting wall.


Having retained its
multi-cultural and diverse identity, one can find several monuments in the form
of forts, churches and temples here. 




St. Jerome Fort, Old Daman Fort, Somnath
Temple, Church of Our Lady of the Sea, Jain Temple and the Church of Our Lady
of the Rosary are the monuments worth visiting for their finely carved statues
and architecture.



The Drive:

The twin beaches of Daman,
the Jampore Beach and the Devka Beach, are excellent locales for sunbathers and
swimmers alike and gratifies their impulses and fancies to perfection. 




These
beaches, with casurina trees lined next to the sea shore makes it an amazing
location for the lazy evening strolls too.



The coconut groves, the
profuse greenery and round the year moderate climate provides a lovely escape
to those in search of ecstasy, delight and fun far away from the bustles of
city life.


Being a port town,
Daman offers and exquisite variety of sea food fare to satisfy the demanding
palate of the fish lovers, while the antiquated bars and sea side modern
restaurants satisfy the pleasures and inclinations of life.

The Connect:

Offering virtually
everything, be it heritage, culture, leisure, fun, adventure and business
tourism, and situated at such close proximity to Mumbai, of late, Daman has
fast emerged as the right place for corporate meets, conferences, seminars,
orientation programmes and training sessions.


The easy accessibility by
both rail and road makes it one of the topmost leisure destinations for
peace-starved Mumbaikars like me.



The design and the
connect that drives me from within to Daman is what makes it a great
destination, exactly like the TataMotors #madeofgreat.


This video clipping takes
you through the paradise of peace, solitude and contentment that is Daman, a
must watch.



Video courtesy: Youtube, shot by Maifuse Kadri

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