A Trip To Imagica – Beyond Imagination!!

imagica

A few years ago, one of my cousins from Delhi visited us with her kids. I took her to all the usual touristy sites in Mumbai, Juhu beach, Gateway, Siddhivinayak, etc. I also wanted to take her to Alibaug given the attraction a beach holiday holds for non-coastal residents, however she was not too keen on it. She wanted to take her kids to Adlabs Imagica instead. Well, to cut the story short, she went to Imagica with her kids, while I chose to stay behind, my then toddler wouldn’t have enjoyed it, and so neither would I. But, I was still surprised that she chose a theme park over a heavenly 2-day stay at Alibaug. She replied, “When your child grows up, you will realize.”

4 years later, last Saturday, my daughter, now 6 years, and I visited Imagica to experience the wonder first hand. We started around 9 from Mumbai and reached Imagica at Khopoli around 11:15. We took the tickets for all the parks; i.e Theme Park, Aqua Magica (water park) and Snow Park. I chose to take Express passes (which for Rs. 1000 more gives you the license to surpass long queues at all the rides). And God, wasn’t that a wise decision, given the unusual crowds that day, as Imagica has been celebrating Children’s Day all the month round in November.

water park1.jpg

We decided to enjoy the water park first. To my surprise, they offer locker facility at a charge of Rs. 150. It is compulsory to wear nylon clothes; swimsuits, dry wear, etc. would do. Aanya had a whale of a time at the water park, and didn’t want to come out of water, especially the waves pool.

aanya water park1

My water baby

There was vigilant and friendly Imagica staff (3-4 personnel per ride) stationed at all rides. As my daughter couldn’t do all the rides there, we finished early and headed to the theme park. There is a free shuttle service between the theme park and Aqua Magica.

Once at the theme park, we lunched at Armada, a boat-shaped restaurant that serves a limited but nice menu. Our tummies loaded with food, we decided to avoid the rides and try the indoor motion simulator rides instead. I for India takes you through the stunning sights of India, but Aanya was not too keen on it (also it’s not recommended for people suffering from vertigo), so we went for Anil Kapoor starrer Mr. India, which through an animated motion simulation form movie takes you through the various rides and attractions of Imagica.

mr. india.jpg

Mr. India and his car

Though we enjoyed the haunted by lanes and dungeons of Salimgarh, I personally feel it could be made more eerie and terrifying. Alibaba and Chalis Chor was like a real-life video game, and thoroughly satisfying. We missed Wrath of the Gods, which is said to be a sensory delight, as none of us wanted to get drenched again after our 2-hour adventure at the water park.

horse.jpg

Next, Aanya and I sat on various rides like Tubby Takes Off and Splash Ahoy! I liked the fact that I could sit on these rides with Aanya, as she was more comfortable with me around. I would have liked to try a few of the more adventurous rides like the Loch Ness, Gold Rush, Scream Machine, Dare Drop, but we were short of time. May be the next time!

ladder.jpg

Steps to the faraway lands

There were many school kids on picnic from some of the popular schools of Mumbai and Pune having fun at the pop jets, licking ice creams and candies.

snowpark.jpg

We watched the end of the day parade, which is a visual treat while sucking on an ice cream. The last item on our itinerary was to visit the Snow Park. The Snow Park has 1-hour slots. We decided to go for the last one, that was at 6 pm. It took me a little time to make Aanya and I ready in gloves, jackets and gum boots, and so we entered the 50-foot-tall snow dome just in time for the snowfall. It was impressive and the highlight of the day. We indulged in a snow fight, crawled inside the igloo and touched the ice sculptures.

Before calling it a day, we decided to check out the evening lights. Imagica in the evening lights looks magical, straight out of a fairy tale.

night imagica.jpg

We left from Imagica around 7:30 and reached home at 9:30, exhausted but totally exhilarated by our memorable experience at the theme park. And, I finally understood the meaning of the remark my cousin had made 4 years ago. As children grow up, they become ready for a different kind of adventure. And Imagica, thankfully, gives it all!

tree.jpg

A few tips to note before you head to Imagica:

  • Buy Imagica coupons online. There are various deals available regularly. Find one which best suits your needs.
  • No outside eatables are allowed inside the park. However, you have a choice of 6 restaurants serving a variety of cuisine. The food is absolutely not an issue.
  • You can buy Meal Packs (food coupons) online which are redeemable at any of the 6 restaurants. However, you can use them at carts to buy ice creams, sweet corn, soft drinks, etc.
  • They have locker facility everywhere. Instead of lugging heavy backpacks that would hinder your fun, just make use of it.
  • Imagica is more fun if you have a bigger group. However, if not, try to visit on a weekend when there are more people. Don’t be shocked, believe me, no one wants to go on an empty ride.
  • Avoid visiting in Diwali or Christmas holidays, but if you must, to beat the long queues, I would recommend buying an Express pass for Rs. 1000 pax. It’s totally worth it!
  • In case you forget to carry a swimsuit, cap, goggles, fret not; Imagica has various merchandise shops from where you can buy everything and more.
  • Carry flip flops and a sarong for roaming in the water park. It can get uncomfortably hot even in the winter months.
  • Carry a pair of socks for the Snow Park. The rest of the snow gear jacket, gloves and gum boots are provided to you at no additional cost.
  • No one can stay beyond 20-25 mins inside the Snow Park. Time your entry around the snowfall, so that you don’t miss the experience.
  • If you have adventurous teenagers with you, I suggest enjoying the theme park on one day and the water park on the next, to get the maximum out of your adventure. Imagica boasts of Novotel where you can board up for the night, or there are more options at Lonavala.

Hope, after reading this post, you are raring to check out Imagica, that is at par with many international theme parks! And do let me know about your experience.

Advertisements

Nursery Rhymes Made More Fun For Your Toddler With Chu Chu TV

I started playing nursery rhymes for my daughter very early. I might have started as soon as she was born. I had read somewhere that music is the best way to connect with kids. So, apart from singing lullabies and songs to her, I also sang nursery rhymes to her. And, she loved it. When she was 6 months old and started sitting on her, I showed her nursery rhymes while I engaged myself in various household chores. I remember I showed her a video of 30 minutes and she sat through it the entire time. She loved it. It was the same video that I played for her every day, till she got bored of it. Luckily, I found another video that had more rhymes, and she lapped it up too.

Today, the choices are many, and one better than the other. In a gamut of nursery rhymes that you find online, I recently came across nursery rhymes by Chu Chu TV. When I clicked on one of its videos on YouTube – a popular rhyme ‘Head shoulders knees and toes” – I discovered it was a traditional rhyme that we have grown up listening to, with different animations, of course.

However, immediately, I came across another rhyme by the same name. I clicked on it and found the song was done differently – though the words were the same, the music and the animation were different.

On listening to more videos, I discovered that there were rhymes that were done in their traditional avtaar, and were also given a slight twist by changing the lyrics. For instance, go through this rhyme “Johny Johny, Yes Papa” done brilliantly in two different versions and you will understand what I am saying.

The traditional way –

The Chu Chu TV way –

And, I must say, both are equally good and appealing. I showed it to my neighbour’s daughter who is 2 years old, and she enjoyed both the versions (and now knows them by heart). She loved the videos so much that she started visiting my house every day in the evening and urged me to start rhymes for her, until one day her mommy found out about Chu Chu TV from me and started playing them for her. Needless to say, she is a big fan of all the videos on Chu Chu TV.

The team has smartly picked up the most peppy numbers that are loved by little kids all over the world, and worked on them to create beautiful videos. Not only these videos educate, but also entertain and engage toddlers who watch them.

I found the animation of nursery rhymes on Chu Chu TV quite unique. No two videos in the 100 odd rhymes are same. They also have a series of educational videos, that teaches kids about colours, opposites, shapes, etc.

I am sure your child will love it, as my neighbour’s toddler did.

Chu Chu TV also has a mobile app for both IOS and Android users.

Crafty Afternoons With Jumboo Hand Puppets Wild!

I am a mother who is not very inclined towards craft activities. It’s not that I don’t enjoy doing crafts, but not possessing a creative streak, I usually source my inspiration from Google. On the other hand, my daughter loves craft activities. And so, more often than not, I end up doing crafts with her, though the results are not always satisfactory. 😉

IMG_20160901_161419

Super happy with crocodile and giraffe hand puppets!

Recently, I chanced upon this fun and colourful craft kid from Hand Puppet Wild. It was from Jumboo brand, which was unknown to me till I saw it in the toy store. On further inquiry, the toy store owner assured me that it was quite a hit with young kids and he had sold it to many mothers who came back to him with positive reviews. Keeping my skepticism aside, I decided to give the brand a chance and bought it.

The same afternoon, after my daughter came back from school and had her lunch, I showed her the activity kid. She saw the packaging box and was quite excited to see the animals on it. I told her it was a hand puppet making craft. She loves puppets and immediately opened the box.

IMG_20160830_130931

Out came 4 different packets containing material for 4 animals, glue and a step-by-step instruction guide. My earlier apprehensions about this brand quickly dissipated as I went through the contents.

What I loved about the packaging was that –

  • The kit contained all the material I needed to make 4 different hand puppets.
  • All the materials were cut to precision, hence it was a scissor-free activity.
  • The material for each puppet was neatly packed in individual plastic envelopes.
  • The small parts, i.e. eyes, teeth, tongue, nose, ears, etc. were packed in smaller separate packets inside the main plastic envelopes.
  • It contained Fevicol, hence I didn’t have to worry about the quality of the glue.
  • It gave a step by step instruction guide which was easy to understand and follow.

With the above materials and knowledge, our puppet making activity rolled out smoothly. Although the package box recommends it for 5 years and up, my recently turned 5 year old found folding the parts a tad difficult. However, an older child of 6 might be able to do it effortlessly. My daughter loved putting glue and sticking things. While I folded the parts, she glued ears, eyes, teeth and the smaller parts.

IMG_20160830_152018

Though initially we looked at the instruction manual, we soon got the hang of it, and didn’t even require it for the third and fourth puppet. Every afternoon for four consecutive days, my daughter and I made one hand puppet daily. We had a fun time making them and enacting a little act with them once the puppets were made. It was great fun!

At the end of the day, I felt good (and not guilty) that I could spend some ‘crafty’ time with my child, and also that my daughter’s time was spent in a creative way rather than getting wasted watching the numerous shows on TV.

I have very good intentions to go to the toy store and give my positive feedback on the toy, and see if I can get similar creative toys of Jumboo brand. Or else, will buy it online. I checked Jumboo brand’s website and found quite a few interesting toys there. They seem to be quite reasonably priced too!

Hope you enjoy many creative, crafty afternoons with your child as I did with mine!

7 things to do with your child in summer vacation (holiday trips not included)

kids summer fun

Image: pixabay.com

Come summers, and my heart beat increases. It is the harbinger to summer vacation, relentless heat and unlimited fun. As a young girl, I loved the summer holidays, the break from the school and everyday homework, playing outdoors the whole day, no curfew on bedtime, plus sometimes a holiday trip or a mandatory visit to my nani or dadi house.

But, now as a mother to a daughter, I dread this summer vacation. Reason? No school. What to do with your child the whole month and some more.

Well, there are two options that I can think of:

To go on a holiday. Well, as simple as it may sound, it’s definitely not. Especially, when you are not thinking of going on one. Hubby doesn’t have the time.

My daughter is already asking me, “Mama, where are we going in this summer vacation?”

She has recently started understanding holidays and its significance, I do not want to disappoint her.

So I told her, “Let me think!”

“How about going to nani house, I want to play with XXX (my nephew)? And go to the park, and eat ice cream.”

Luckily for me, my parents and my in-laws stay in a different town than Mumbai, so that would definitely be a change of scenario. It would be a lovely vacation for my daughter, though Ahmedabad would be hot as a furnace in the summer. But, I can’t keep my daughter from having a good time when I still have fond memories of my summer holidays with my cousins. But, again this visit can’t be for the whole span of the school holidays. And I will still need other options.

To enrol her in a summer camp. Now, the only glitch here is – most summer camps are for only a couple of hours. And, she still has 12 more hours to pass. So, again I will need other options.

I mean TV is always there, but I don’t want her glued to the idiot box the whole day. And it’s only so much a child can draw and paint.

Hence, I have thought of other options for my daughter to stay engaged without resorting to screen time. You can try some of them too.

Make activity groups: Most people find it a nuisance, but What’s app comes in very handy at such times. I have made an activity group of my daughter’s classmates. We meet as often as we can for activities such as canvas painting, crafts, visits to the beach or park, fire-free food making, scavenger hunt, movie dates, etc. Kids love to meet their friends in a non-school/formal setting, and it is fun for them. Also, I catch up on some much needed gossip. 😉 And they hardly cost anything.

Organize play dates: This is different from the above point. Here, a single mother (a noble sacrificing soul) invites 3-4 kids or more, as per her patience level and the availability of help, to her home. She can keep kids engaged with a few craft activities, Lego, play doh or just let the kids play with the toys and bring the house down. Mothers can take turns inviting, so that not all mothers are involved at one time.

Enrol her in a library: My daughter is already a library member and we borrow one book a week. But for the summer months, I am planning to upgrade her plan, and hike it up to 2 or 3 per week. It might mean, I will have to do read her more, but it will be worth it. Also, I can assign her book-related work like spotting words, writing spellings, etc.

Buy her activity books/kits: I am planning to subscribe to activity books like Hot Pot, etc. that have puzzles, colouring, jumble words, spot the difference and more. Also, there are many activity kits such as FlintoBox. They are quite child-friendly and keep the kids engaged without minimal parental supervision.

Household activities: This summer vacation, I have decided to enlist my daughter’s help. She would be taking care of watering the plants, cleaning her room, helping me in the kitchen, etc. Also, I am planning to cook and bake some exciting stuff, and I am definitely going to need her for that. When last month, I had made strawberry jam, she had helped me in washing the pinky berries, adding sugar and other stuff, and lastly in tasting the sweet jam. This time around, she will be helping me with mango jam and baking breads, cakes and cookies. Hmmm…I can already visualize the holidays taking an interesting shape.

Window shopping: I love shopping, well who doesn’t. Of late, with my husband’s increasing work, he hardly gets time to take me shopping. Well, not being a kind of wife who nags her husband for his absence or lack of time, I have started taking my daughter along. And what an asset she has proved to be. She has helped me buy shoes, clothes and accessories.

I love the way she takes snap decisions for I take forever to arrive at one.

“Mama, buy that purple dress.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Because Princess Sophia wears purple, and she looks so pretty!” She beamed.

So this vacation, I am planning to visit malls (she loves going up and down the escalator) and the nearby local market with my partner in crime for some mouth-drooling window shopping. Oh, I forgto to tell you, she loves it too! Like mother, like daughter! So, licking on Natural’s mango ice cream (it’s a must in the summer), we are going to paint the town red (or rather the Lokhandwala market! 😉 )

Learning a new activity: Summer holidays should be as much about fun and frolic, as it is about learning. So I am planning to enrol her for swimming. She dreads swimming, and I would like her to get rid of her fear. So along with her friends, so that she is comfortable, she will be learning swimming. I have a good mind to join her for swimming as well and make it into a mommy-child learning experience. Let’s see!

With so many activities listed down, I am in a better (or should I say, calmer) state of mind than before. I have always advocated a liberated childhood for my daughter. And my above plans, some of them made with her in consultation, will do just that. My daughter will experience a #khuljaayebachpan, as always!

You can read more such posts here – http://www.mycity4kids.com/parenting/first-time-mommy/article/7-things-to-do-with-your-child-in-summer-vacation-holiday-trips-not-included

A trip to Chhota Kashmir in Aarey Colony – The green lung of Mumbai

How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? Of course, with your partner, right? Wrong, a valentine doesn’t always need to be someone you are sexually attracted to. In my case, it was certainly not. I had decided to celebrate this Valentine’s Day with my 3-year old and her friends.

For all those who are wondering what is Chhota Kashmir, it is a huge green expanse of land in Aarey Milk Colony in Goregon East. It’s green and beautiful, hence the name. Tell you something, it’s not something that has developed overnight. My mother-in-law used to visit it in her childhood, a good 50-55 years ago.

A trip to Chhota Kashmir in Aarey Colony – The green lung of Mumbai

So history aside, we went to Chhota Kashmir on the Valentine’s Day. Being a Saturday and the school’s holiday helped our case. My daughter and I were accompanied by two of her classmates and their mothers. We booked a radio cab and set out for our picnic. Miraculously, the traffic was quite light at 10 am, and we reached there within 30-35 minutes.

As soon as we crossed the Western Express Highway and moved towards the Aarey Milk Colony, we noticed a huge difference; the tall buildings gave way to tall dense trees on either side of the roads, the cacophony of the blaring horns transformed into sweet chirping of the birds and the infamous Mumbai traffic thinned out completely. Nobody passing through the WEH would know that there is a heaven tucked away in the middle of the concrete jungle. It looked like a scene from a period movie, old and untouched. Soon we reached the Chhota Kashmir garden. We bought entry tickets Rs. 20 per person (kids above 3 are charged the same as an adult). Inside, we came across a cafe where we saw furred rabbits and colorful sparrows. It goes without saying that the kids were absolutely delighted.

A trip to Chhota Kashmir in Aarey Colony – The green lung of Mumbai

We moved ahead to find a few kid-friendly amusement rides. They charge Rs. 20 per child and Rs. 30 per adult, and no bargaining. Later on, we decided to explore the park a bit. Sadly, apart from the beautiful trees, cacti and flowers, there was nothing much. The park was in a shoddy condition, the grass was patchy and plastic bags and bottles littered were everywhere. But the love birds (I guess due to the Valentine’s Day, there were a lot of couples looking for some peace and quiet) tucked away behind the trees and bushes hardly cared. We had a good time playing kiddie games like blind man’s buff and oranges and lemons, and racing. If only we had a mat (FYI, we did carry one, but left the packet in the cab 😦 ), it would have been fun sitting under the shade and munching on  junk, but tasty foods like biscuits, fried finger rings, cream cones, chips, and Choco sticks.

There was nothing much to do, so we headed to the Chhota Kashmir boat club, on foot. It’s hardly half a kilometer, so we decided to walk. Yup, kids walked as well. It was midday and it was quite hot. I had thought of hiring a nice functional six-seater boat with a boatman. But when we reached there, we came to know that they had only pedal boats (Rs. 30 per person/child). So, though the boat could accommodate all of us, there was to be no boatman. My friend and I pedalled the boat around the pond, with some help from the kids. 😉 There were ducks sitting pretty at one end of the pond; at the kids’ behest, we pedalled over there, took some pictures and returned all under 20 minutes. Some feat! But the legs, I must tell you, continued to groan due to the unexpected labor even after a few days.

A trip to Chhota Kashmir in Aarey Colony – The green lung of Mumbai

There was a small cafe near the boat club. After the hard work, we needed some serious food and how we hogged on the butter dosas, missal pavs and cheese grilled sandwiches. We again booked a cab for the return journey. The mothers were exhausted, but the kids. Nah! They wanted to enjoy some more picnic. Some enthusiasm these kids have!

It’s a great place to visit, but advisable only if you have a small to large group. Also, I would recommend you visit the place around 4:30-5 in the evening and enjoy for a couple of hours. But leave the place before the sun sets as it might get deserted.

However, this little haven in the heart of Mumbai may not be there for much longer. The BMC has come up with a redevelopment plan for Aarey Milk Colony under which 3000 healthy trees (some as old as 80-100 years) will be cut to give way to a swanky business hub like the BKC. It’s a pity, the air quality level is deteriorating and a concrete jungle feeding off a green zone will hardly help matters. We need to stop it. And fast. If you support deforestation, please join this group https://www.facebook.com/groups/saveaarey/ and tweet using the hashtag #SaveAarey. Every single tweet will help.

Sunday Fun @The Equal Streets

The Equal Streets at Khar-Bandra was launched sometime in October. Every Saturday, we would decide to wake up early and hit the Equal Streets at Bandra the next morning. But somehow, it didn’t materialize. Or should I say, our sleep and laziness won over our enthusiasm. But last Sunday, I decided to go, come what might.

For those who don’t know what Equal Streets Movement is, it is an initiative by The Times of India Group to avail of traffic-free streets for Mumbai citizens. So every Sunday, from 7 to 11 in the morning, one side of the street on Khar-Bandra Linking Road and parallel S. V Road are non-accessible to vehicles.

My friend and I took our kids and hit the Equal Streets at 8:30 am. The activities were in full swing. Kids were cycling, rollerskating, skateboarding, running and jumping on the road without a care about the notorious Mumbai traffic. Then there was street graffiti. Kids and adults alike were drawing on the street with colorful chalks.

My daughter and my friend’s son sat down too on the dirty ‘ew’ street and doodled. She looked up happily at me and said, “Mama, see I drew Peppa Pig.” On closer inspection, it did look a little like the chubby animated character.

Sunday fun at the equal streets

As we looked at the activity sheet, we realized that all the happening activities were on the other end of the street which was a good 2-3 kms away. With kids in tow, it felt like a death sentence. So we caught a rickshaw from the other side (the other side of the road is accessible to vehicles) and went to National College.

There at a kiosk, we got ourselves these pretty paper hats made. We look adorable with our silly hats, don’t we? By the way, that’s my daughter’s classmate. He was sulking (he had to give back the chalk that he borrowed and that upset him) and didn’t want to be clicked.

Sunday fun at the equal streets

Further ahead, there was a live drumming session in the middle of the road. It was fun!

Sunday fun at the equal streets

There were group Yoga and Pranayama classes too. We decided to give them a miss. Next time, maybe.

We saw college going students playing hopscotch, dog and the bone, badminton…oh it was so nostalgic! It reminded me of those good old days when I was young and played these games with the kids in the neighborhood.

There were some fitness activities promoted by a nearby gym. Our kids enjoyed that too!

sunday fun at the equal streets

Equal streets on a Sunday morning was like a fair. At every 50 meters, we saw something new. It’s a treat for us as well as the kids. It was something that we could do again and again and not get tired of it.

We plan to go again very soon, and this time I am taking the bicycles. By the way, there is a bicycle booth where you can rent bicycles on an hourly basis.

For more details, visit the Facebook page of Equal Streets. – https://www.facebook.com/equalstreetsday

Though the activities largely remain unchanged, they update the activity chart every Saturday for the next day. This event will take place every Sunday till 31st May. It will discontinue briefly during the rains and then resume in October.

Also, one more piece of advice – Try to reach as early as possible. Mostly, activity booths start closing by 10-10:30 as it becomes hot, the crowds start thinning and material for origami, clay molding, craft activities, etc., start depleting.

It was a great way to spend my Sunday doing things I would normally never think of doing on a street. As for the kids, they had a super duper time. But my Sunday was not over yet. In the evening, my friends and I took the kids to Juhu Beach, where they played in the sand (while we yapped), watched large kites flying in the sky and saw the beautiful orange sun setting into the sea.

sunday fun at the equal streets

What a day! I loved it. And so did my daughter.

The Sunday, the guilty mommy and the television marathon

Come Sunday and I am in a bit of a frenzy. Being a working mother (so what if I work from home, it is still work and it requires as much devotion), I do not get to spend as much time with my daughter as I’d like to. So like any working mother in the world, my guilt overtakes my better sense and I think of ways to make it up to my child. This Sunday was no less different. Well, now come to think of it, it was a little different. With my  husband travelling (yes on a weekend too), I did not only need to think of activities but also to do them all alone.

When I woke up, I did not even drink my customary glass of hot water, before I sat at the laptop to search for ‘activities to do with your kid this weekend’. Google is an amazing thing. Seriously, it’s the answer to all your prayers. Well, almost. So these activities, I found aplenty. Some in Goregaon East, Chembur or in Thane. Then I thought of visiting my relations who stay in South Mumbai, but then thought the better of it. Traveling four hours for a two-hour visit did not seem like a smart thing to do. Then I thought of visiting the newly done Five Gardens in Wadala. But I again dropped the plan. I said I was guilty, not suicidal. Travelling in a local train or a BEST bus for hours with a child who asked to be carried round and when refused, sat unceremoniously anywhere or everywhere she found herself (even if that meant on a dirty street), was certainly not my idea of a fun day.

I called up a few friends to arrange for a play date, but as luck would have it, they all had plans. I thought I would catch the new Madagascar movie playing at a cinema near my place. But it was running only in 3D and my daughter refused to wear the glasses. It wouldn’t have been fun for her. She doesn’t enjoy the malls, so again a big cross on it as well.

After running out of ideas, I finally switched on the television. And once started, we spent the entire afternoon watching one stupid thing after another. In the evening, we spent off some restless energy doing (oops, trying) hula hoop. And lastly, we went for a short walk and ate ice creams. So that was our Sunday. It started with some good intentions, somehow they just didn’t materialize. And as for the guilt, it’s amazing how quickly it disappears when confronted with sloth.  😉