Friday, November 26, 2010

Kingdom of Dreams

The trip between Delhi and Gurgaon is full of unexpected adventures of the horrifying and nightmarish traffic jam. But but this is not what i am “musing” on today. With husband going to work to Gurgaon everyday, a trip in the evening for a show or a visit to KoD had remained a dream only so far for me. However the opportunity came right through when his business partners descended on the city with the wife. so when the boss calls….you go, and yours truly was ever so excited at the prospect. After all it was recommended by the heartthrob ShahRukh Khan.
Kingdom of Dreams is spectacular and dazzling, this is where culture, art, food, grandeur combined with mindboggling scale and technological wizardry all meet in a blend that is truly breath-taking.
Two huge elephants greeted us at the entrance, a photo-op DSC00933was missed because soon the husband spotted the group we were to meet. When we entered the main space a lotus gate flanked by two huge urlis led us to the Culture gully. 

On entering was a spectacle we weren’t really prepared for. DSC00936 Huge air-conditioned space covered with a sky dome complete with clouds etched Rajasthani puppetson the dome lent the place a clear-day kind of a feeling even though it was well past 7.20pm. We just had 10 more minutes before the show actually began. After a couple of gasps of awe and wows it was time to proceed towards the Nautanki Mahal. 
sky dome

The cameras had to be deposited at the theatre entrance with the security as photography is prohibited. The entrance to the theatre was grand too.  entrance to Nautanki MahalWe rushed in and occupied our plush red colored seats.

The show, Zangoora: The Gypsy Prince has all the ingredients that go on into making a succesful, opulent “Om Shanti Om”esque Bollywood bonanza. The story line, the selection of the music, the performances everything was at a grand scale. A sensory treat it is nothing like any Indian would have seen before, infact the wife of a delegate even commented that she has not seen anything like this even in the Vegas. Well that was some compliment, that made me feel proud to be an Indian. Seriously, it is quite a matter of pride when good things are being said about one’s country that is so underrated.
An elephant comes out of the floor, the throne of the king and the queen gets elevated, the heroine enters on an eagle, and the play bursts open with the Jodha Akbar’s signature “Azeem o Shaan Shehensha…” This pic is courtesy the Internet The beats and the spectacular stage design, the perfectly crafted Neeta Lulla dresses…each element has a life of its own and has a story to tell. The stage props and the LED lends an atmosphere of grandeur, of a feeling of being transported into the palace, a forest, being in the middle of a storm and all of it.
The story line is that of love,deceit,revenge, and of eventually the good triumphing over evil. At the end of the show many dancers come up in the aisles and dance with the audiences to a really fast beat and rhythmic Zangoora title track. A fitting end to the spectacle.
The flawless choreography by Shiamak Dawar is just that…flawless, and as always awesome. The acrobatics were perfectly in sync, a Macbeth kind of a witch hanging upside down, the arrival of the princess in an udan-khatola, everything was at a grand scale. Which was great and the visual treat made up for the lack of understanding of the Hindi language by the delegates and a few other foreigners. The visuals and the performances took everybody’s collective breath away.
The story line was a bit draggish at a couple of places but all else made up for it. It is actually high priced, i mean tickets costing Rs1500 each in the silver category…is exorbitant by any standards. But i guess the scale of economies in the case are such :)
After many oohs and aahDSC00954s we were ready for more gasps and some chilled beer. Took the trip to Culture gully again and was greeted by the resounding thumping of drums and shouts…the tribal dance was on and the group surrounding them were trigger happy and a few even shook their leg. 

We visited the Indian restaurant for some curry in no hurry (bad one). But it rhymes. The ambience was great and in keeping with the entire look and feel of the place. The chaupal DSC00963 like seating, copper tumblers, a wall lined with lanterns and another with the kite manjha rolls in various hues, and yet another with matkas emanating soft light was good.DSC00962 But :( the food wasn’t much to talk home about, very regular fare.
It was a memorable evening and one that all thoroughly enjoyed. Next day husband’s office was abuzz with only Zangoora and it occupied a place of pride on my fb status too.
Kudos to the team behind this. Infact am planning to take my parents and in-laws there this winters. Inshallah!! Though the husband is still petrified of his Gurgaon trips he promises to indulge. It is a lingering experience that leaves a big grin on the face.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A trip down to God’s Own Country…

Planning a trip with the husband is most often than not filled with adventures of a different kind. What begins as a confirmed trip sways between various Kabhi haan and Kabhi Naa; as always professional commitments have a nasty way of raising its serpentine head at just that precise moment. So after many a tantrums thrown by our 8 year old we finally decided to cut short the trip but go for it nevertheless. And was it a good decision…yup ultimately it was. Cause over a measly 5 day trip including 2 of travelling we enjoyed the most and carved out our moments. Yes like the Kerala tourism ad says my moment sure was waiting…and grabbed it..i did.
A day of sightseeing in Kochi and we were ready to embark on a cruise to the backwaters. 2-3 hours away from Kochi to Alleppy which is where we boarded our cruise. The cabbie poor chap had heard of the Rainbow Cruises 1st time and made many calls to find out exactly where it was. His anxiety reflected on my poor baby as he thought here too is something might go awry. Thankfully it didn’t. En route there were many small shops selling jute and coir products and the hammocks took my breath away. It was awesomely priced at just Rs.350 pre bargaining. But the baby was like “why do you always have to do shopping mum, let’s go” and I had to give in. My bargaining prowess did not see the light of the day here..but a mental note was made already.
Reaching the dockyard, we all let out a big sigh of relief and amazement it was an extraordinarily beautiful sight. On checking in the guy at the reception told us we had been upgraded to the luxury houseboat from the premium category that we had selected. Our hearts did a somersault..whoops it was too good. 67613_445114387751_585582751_5076066_2465725_n
The houseboat was true to its promise. What a luxury. We had a sit out area with a lovely rug thrown in and sofas with fluffy and comfy seat cushions. A relief for the aching bums after a journey of 2 and half hours. The dining room was separated with glass sliding doors and behind it was the bedroom. The room had a bay window, a four poster bed and an A/C that was on full blast.

Our little photographer had started clicking the swaying palms and the ducks and other birds that he spotted. The journey began with a cool and fresh nariyal paani that the hubby loved, i ignored and baby refused. The cruise along the backwaters was breathtakingly beautiful presenting some of the gorgeous sights and waterways, and some funny ones too like the buffalos bathing alongside. There is a whole economy thriving along the banks and a life style that is so alien considering that we are in landlocked Delhi.
The cruise revealed many sights that were visually delightful and indelible etched in the memory. Aft66559_445121697751_585582751_5076283_754363_ner meandering through several kilometers the backwaters opened up into a large water expanse. this is where the boat anchored for the night. The site overlooked a beautiful field of water lilies that stretched over a couple of kilometeres on the right and the left side was all open water. 

The sunset was magical andinspired all of us including the little tyke to meditate. It was really heart warming to see the little imp quiten down and close his eyes facing the sunset and do his bit for 2 minutes. those 2 minutes trust me were peaceful…what with him keeping his ever blabbering gob shut. phew!
While we were on the deck a rice boat vendor came trying to sell us live prawns! A67789_445122847751_585582751_5076318_2399834_n fisherman came along and spread his net wide to catch some. However it was very difficult to stay out on the deck post sunset since insects of the flying sorts took over and shooed us into the cabin. 

A chilled glass of beer down, we were ready to gorge on the fantastic gastronomic treat, dishes cooked in Kerala style. Fortunately the child also loved what was served. We wrapped33710_445123147751_585582751_5076324_639209_n up for the night promising to each other on catching the sun rise. But the next morning the sun played truant and hid behind the clouds during the sunrise and eventually shone bright in all its glory at around 8.30. The fisherman from the night before came to collect his fish and along came a toddy collector too. Kerala has many Toddy bars.  
Breakfast was served around this time and was a delectable spread of uthapams, sambar, and idlis with a choice of sandwiches which all ignored. At 9.30 we docked back….the journey on the houseboat ended. Lovely experience made up for treasured memories for all of us and the baby ranks this as one of his favorite holiday trips. After this we left for Munnar…which is another story for another day.
Kerala Rocks!!!!!