Saturday, 9 January 2016

First haircut at Videsh!

As a kid, it was my grandfather who use to take me for haircuts. It use to be a Sunday when he also needed a haircut. The hairdresser shop was fixed and he use to greet and give special place on the bench to sit to my grandpa. There use to be a television at one of the top corner of the saloon and I used to get glued to 'Rangoli' or 'Mogli' tele-serials. My grandpa use to read newspaper as we use to wait for our turn. Sunday mornings use to be the 'peak' time for the saloon as it was public holiday and there use to be few of such shops in a particular area.

As I grew I realized my grandpa also use to get preference over others already waiting because of his age and also as he was accompanied with a small kid! The barber use to put a wooden plank on the two arm rest of the chair so that the seating height is higher for kids like me and my head could pop out of the seat back rest. (How I wish I had a photo of that shop and chair, now!) There use to be two boards hanging in the shop with different hair styles and I always to ponder which one I would keep when I grow up! Miss those carefree time!

Fast forward to my first haircut episode away from my home country -

When I came to Singapore and after a month or so, it was time to go for a haircut, I was a little hesitant. The hesitance was because I have heard so many stories from my friends and cousins staying abroad, some good and some mixed experience.

I have enquired about haircut to few of my colleagues in office because I was knowing just them. They shared their own different experiences. They suggested to go to Little India for a haircut by Indian barber or go to any local hair saloon near by. It did not help me much to make up my mind.

I took a stroll infront of few hair saloons in my then residential area but somehow I could not muster enough courage. Two more weeks passed and it was time that I needed an haircut badly. Same week a new shop had open near to the place I use to stay. I premeditated myself to just walk-in and get the haircut done.

As I entered, the shop was full of a pungent smell. It was similar to what I experienced in one of the food-courts earlier in a week. (Food courts are common food joint for general public, serves food at a cheap price on a comparative basis, a separate post on that). Later I figured out that it was from shop owner's breakfast/ brunch. Since I am a vegetarian, probably it just hit me a little harder.

As I entered, I encountered multiple cultural shocks at the same time. First, the barber was a lady, henceforth will be referred as hairdresser. Till that day, I had encountered only male barber for male haircuts- that is the common trend back in India. Second, she was Chinese. Well this was not a shock but I was kind of puzzled if I will be able to explain her how I wanted to cut my hairs.

She glanced at me and gave me a kind of puzzled look. Probably she was encountering first Indian since she had opened the shop. She asked few questions to check if I sure that I wanted to cut my hairs there only. I affirmed her because I was in no mood of exploring any further.

The third observation was that in Singapore, there is a concept of Unisex saloons, something which was not that common in India at-least for adults.

Side shave Haircut - source: google and picked up from mens-hairstyle website, just to make your imaginations better as to what I meant!

It was my turn next then, trust me, I was a bit scared, or I would say that I was a bit more than scared! I explained her that I wanted medium hair size which is uniform all over my head. I somehow managed to explain her because she wasn't as good in English. Chinese in general prefer to have side shaved or smaller hairs at the sides and back of the head. Atleast that was what I have observed till that time and men who had haircuts before me in that shop also had similar style.

As she started my haircut, I prayed hard because I didn't want to take leaves from the office due to bad haircut. But it all went fine. I guess the hairdresser sensed that I was tensed and was careful enough! And yes, I visited her regularly till we stayed in that area.

A recent below notice put up on our lift notice board, which is again unusual as we don't find anything close to this in India. One of the ways of showing care towards senior citizens.

fOoD fOr ThOuGhT: The saying that a beautiful heart matters more than a beautiful face holds good but don't you think people see the face and presentation first and start judging! Who knows you would never get a chance to show how your heart is! :)

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Kid's Garage DIY: Driving, driving in my car...!

My son was playing with cars. I was thinking aloud that if we could create a car garage for his toy cars. It sounded good to my wife and instantly she brought some bunch of cartons from our storage.

Initially, we planned to make a two stores garage. Ground floor for bigger cars, first floor for smaller cars and second floor with surface half that of the first floor, for landing planes and helicopter. As we started putting things together, ideas kept on changing and we finally decided to go with one floor above the ground level with a special 'Hot Wheels' corner for Hot wheels cars.

I must admit that I love Hot wheels cars more than my son does. Whenever we go out, my wife ensures that me and my son both are away from the car section. No, we don't buy a lot of them but yes we admire and spend a lot of time there. My son loves Buses more. Least to say, 'Wheels on the bus...' is his favorite rhyme which he sings all through the day!

In one session we created the raw structure of the garage. Initial plan was to paint it all through. As we progressed and the amount of time we spent, I suggested my wife that we should instead go with putting papers over it. So, her paint brushes have to wait for our next undecided project.

The intention was to expose our son with different possibilities, things are and could be created at home. It wasn't his hands on but he did play with glue, putting all over his palms, pants, floor. We told him different activities like cutting, sticking, colors, shapes, etc.

Among the most amazing part I found was the Hot wheel corner. The white strips on the garage floor has enhanced the overall effect.

My son has already started sliding all his cars one by one, well, including the big ones too! But then we haven't made it delicate, so he can go ahead and use the way he wants.

We told him that the way he sleeps at night, cars also go to sleep. So he needs to park all of them properly at night before going to bed!

Final finished product - Kid's Garage!

Trivia: In Singapore, houses have common, multi-level car parking system called as 'Car-Park' sounds like 'Ka pak'!

fOoD fOr ThOuGhT:  An activity like this is far more superior and fulfilling than spending time on smart phones. Nothing beats a hands on!

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Universal Studios, Singapore - Mind blowing place to be at!

Universal Studios Singapore (USS) is one of the major attractions of Singapore. This time I visited USS at the eve of New year 2016 with friends.

Ideally, tourists should start early of the day to experience all the activities in time. But we visited it in the evening as the park was open till 1:30 AM and the intention was to stay back till late night.

Hollywood style boulevard at the beginning.

Its a place where you would constantly be clicking, right from the rotating Universal Globe, a signature photo spot, to the Hollywood style boulevard. The amusement park is subdivided in several themes starting with Hollywood, New York, Sci Fi City, Egypt, Lost World, Far Far world and Madagascar.

We started from Madagascar as kids were in playful mood so thought of entertaining them first. The Madagascar boat ride was adventurous. Boat goes through the Madagascar island where various characters from the movie interacts with us on the way. Zebra is seen enjoining sipping coconut water. Lion, Hippopotamus, Penguins and other animals were also having a gala time at the new found independence on the island. The light and sound effects adds to the fun quotient along the ride. Next we did Carousel ride (Party-Go-Round). Kids enjoyed it thoroughly. We sat at the very first row of Dragon ride which added to the thrill.

Alex, the lion at Madagascar ride.

Beach Party-Go-Round Carousel.
Shrek 4 D show is enjoyable though my 2 years old son got scared while Shrek rode the Horse-cart in the show, we realized it was because of the 3D goggles he had put.

We skipped the Lost World rides this time as we have done it earlier. The Mummy ride is one ride which I love the most. I did it multiple times, full of unexpected turns in the dark. An express pass is always worth its money because you skip two hours of waiting for rides during weekends and can do the rides as many times as you want, because the waiting time is zero to 5 mins.

Human & Cylon, World's tallest dual roller coaster ride.

We did Human roller coaster ride after that. Human and Cylon are the World's tallest dual roller coaster rides! I was mentally prepared for Human roller coaster and did it. It was fun. Cylon is bit more challenging and I was little unsure about doing it. After lot of pestering and feedback from first timer friends, I decided to do Cylon too. There was huge queue in normal tickets lane and we went directly at the top and were immediately next to get-in. That time I thought perhaps I wanted a normal ticket so that I could make up my mind by the time my turn comes. I saw small kids doing the ride casually and that helped me in pushing myself. It is also good to experience everything that my son would be doing someday, so that I know what he would be getting into!

You get twisted, upside down, against the gravity, across the park...shouting all the way, pure adrenaline rush. It is as if cutting across the sky, then a free fall and before you realize anything...or overcome your emotions, it is all over...and you can hear your heavily pumping heart beats, you look right at your friend seating next to you and then there is a big laugh! Good that we did!

Transformer ride was next. And it was a treat to the eyes. If you have already done Human, Cylon and Mummy rides, Transformer may not give that adrenaline rush but the graphics are of superior most quality. 

On the boulevard, there are some street performances. The shows are good especially Light-Camera-Action is my favorite. Vintage cars are parked on the way and American style architectures ensures there is never a dull moment. In the evening there is a Party Parade too with different characters roaming around the park.

USS is one of the most adventurous place in Singapore and is truly one of its kind!

fOoD fOr ThOuGhT: Life is a studio itself and we are the characters playing our different roles. Do we create our own destiny or are we mere puppets in HIS hands, can always be pondered and debated!


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