Sunday, January 30, 2011

Disney Magic

Cinderellas Caslte

What kind of superheroes will an Indian a la Disneyland have, I wondered, when I visited Disneyland in Orlando, Florida.  Some friends of mine instantly recalled our very own Chacha Chaudhari and Sabu.  Instead of the simulated launch on to Mars in the ‘Mission Space’, we could go to Jupiter ofcourse after traversing the planets that come in between. We could have a 3D movie with Sabu throwing off evil villains off peaks.

Or how about a Rajani ride…It would ofcourse include rides which would flout all laws by Newton, Einstein or any scientist!  If Disney had an Epcot World Showcase, our Bollypark could have all the locales which SRK spread out his arms and sang to his heroines. That would pretty much cover all the gorgeous places there are in the world.

Instead of delving into the fairy tales of Snow White, Cinderella, we can always dig into our treasure trove of popular mythological characters like Ganesh, Hanuman, Bhim, Ram, Krishna who have already been animated too.

Anyway, I guess, there is no point in me speculating about what can be, when I have just returned from a trip to this truly magic kingdom…a kingdom for the kids actually.  It was fun walking through the Main Street, Adventure Land, Frontierland, Fantasyland, Liberty Square, Mickeys Toontown and Tomorrowland in this fairyland.  It certainly made me wish I was back there as a kid.  However as an adult, I did enjoy the two Parades, the one in the day time and the electric parade at night, which were fabulous and I enjoyed watching them and calling out to my favorite characters swinging by me.  The electric parade was a dazzling display of illuminated floats and wonderful lighted up costumed dancers and characters.  The shows ended with a spectacular display of fireworks with the backdrop of Cinderella’s castle. Unforgettable. Amongst the rides and shows, I did enjoy the 3D movie with the popular Disney characters, the jungle cruise on the boat, and the Space Mountain rollercoaster ride.

But as an unfortunate adult in the world dominated by kids in this magical land,  most of the rides such as Winnie the Pooh, the Magic Alladin carpets, Peterpan, Snow-Whites adventure etc, were for ages 2-8.(we read to  our consternation after enjoying them earlier!). The lines were long and winding and the waits were intolerable 30-80 minutes for each ride.  Though after the first crazy wait, we discovered using our ‘Fastpass’ to beat the lines. And this was supposedly in the off-peak season.  I reckon, the lines would be even worse in the vacations and summers.

Epcot was the other Disney Park I visited, and though the Rain Gods spitefully tried to dampen our spirits and us all day, we still managed to have a great time, especially as the crowds thinned and there were no lines as compared to those in the Magic Kingdom!  Epcot was certainly one targeted to adults and teens and was an educational as well as a fun experience that helped kids and adults alike learn about a variety of burning issues.  It taught environmental consciousness through the ‘Circle of Life’ short film through the eyes of Simba, Timon and Pumba. Another show explained power and energy sources with the Ellen DeGeneres dream that took us through a journey from the Dinosaur jungles to the nuclear age today in a vast moving theater. The fun rides were the space mission ride to Mars, the fast paced drive on Test Track, the entertaining 3D video by the King of Pop Michael Jackson as Captain EO and the Soarin’ ride to California. However, the best part about Epcot was the World Showcase with its miniature country pavilions.  Dining at an Aztec temple in Mexico, riding a Norse boat in Norway, seeing miniatures of the Teracotta warriors, and learning about the various other cultures of France, Germany, Itay, Japan, Morocco, France, UK and Canada through short films in huge theaters were highlights.  I particularly enjoyed the China video that was very well done and was projected in a 360 degrees absolutely humongous theater. All in all, a wonderful experience for people of all ages. 

How I wish I were back there as a child! Some snapshots of my trip here.

Walt Disney- The Man behind it all.

And the fun started with the Parade!

The Genie to grant wishes with Alladin

Dancing with the stars

Lighting up the day at night!

Dazzling lights and illuminating memories

Hola! At an Aztec Temple
A German Square
A Japanese Pagoda

A spectacular show at the Magic Kingdom

The Epcot dome

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Krazy about the Kindle

As this is my first blog of the new year and decade, I wish you, my dear reader, a very Happy and a Wonderful New Year!

I remember a class in school once in which we envisaged a future world in 3000AD that would have kids having no more books and them scribbling on tablet like computer devices. Well, with the advent of the e-reader and tablet devices, I believe, we are slowly getting there. Imagine, kids not having to carry those heavy satchels that we once did. One device would do it all.

eBooks started way back in 1970 with the advent of Project Gutenberg that still works to digitalize and preserve books. From a limited selection formerly available to a limited audience, eBooks have come a long way in threatening the paper and pulp books. Amazon can be credited with developing the first hardware to read e-books, the e-reader. The Amazon Kindle is a product that I cannot help eulogizing over and over again to anyone who will or will not listen.

At a tiny 8” x 5.3” and as slim as a 100 page notebook, the Amazon Kindle has a capacity to carry 3,500 books, if one can read that many in a lifetime! It is a miraculous device with benefits that totally outweigh real books. Reading tomes such as Tolstoy or Tolkien feels much lighter than it actually is! I can read in the flight, in the train, on the beach, in the park, in the gym and what’s more, I never fall short of choice as I can carry my own personal library wherever I go! If I want more, I can simply browse to the Amazon store and buy books wherever I am to be delivered within seconds! If I am driving, and can’t read, I can make it read aloud to me. I can increase the font while in the gym and make it autoscroll. The embedded dictionary as a super fast reference certainly helps my vocabulary. The Kindle apps in various other devices, help me flip between devices as well. I can highlight, book mark pages,  share them over facebook and twitter, make notes and read more than I ever did!  What more could a book lover really want? Unlike backlit devices such as the Ipad and other tablets, this magic tablet doesn’t even strain my eyes anywhere, and it beats me, why one would read in the dark anyway!

I can almost now imagine an exam question now. Cite the differences between an ebook Reader and a real book in a history lesson in the near future! Well, the pros I have stated above. The only thing I do like in books not available in the Kindle , is…is… well there is nothing I can think of now!

Those individuals, who smell the paper in old books, love the sound of turning pages, enjoy delicately handling crumbling paper, cringe about e-ink and decry the new eReaders and eBooks should just have a reality check and check foolish sentimentality. It wouldn’t hurt to think of all the paper and trees that will get saved as more and more books go the e-way. eBooks and eReaders are here to not just stay, but to take on the real books. Maybe I should just start collecting hard copies of books now. They probably will be very rare a few years down the line and might sell for a fortune!

Cheers to the New Year and  Happy Reading!