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!

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Love the Colourful and Juicy Fruits!

Whenever we visit Super market, the fruits section delights me to the core. I am a fruit lover but the variety of fruits we get in Singapore, the quality and availability all the time, increases the love all the more.

They look joyous and colourful together. My mind comes backs to blog about it, every time I see it. A lot of fruits I tried for the first time here, like the Dragon fruit!

Banana from Philippines and Mexico!
Since agriculture-wise Singapore has limited resources, it imports most of its food items - fruits, vegetables, groceries, etc. The positive side of this is that since the food item is of export quality, you will generally find Fruits of very good quality. This also keeps away potential disease that may happen due to consumption of rotten or spoiled fruits or food item in general.

The other aspect that lifts my heart when looking at those shiny fruits, is the names of the countries from which it is imported displayed next to the rate. At a single instance you can buy Green Apples imported from South Africa or Gala Apples from France, Oranges from China or India, Kiwi from New Zealand and variety of fruits from all over the world! It gives a good feeling!

China Navel Oranges.
When I thought of writing on Fruits in Singapore, I thought it would be a straight forward task of uploading photos clicked by me and writing about them. But then, it took me three days to plan and comprehend. Because only talking about fruits that we get in Super markets like Giant, Fairprice, etc will not be justice to the topic. So finally I decided to break my post in three subposts and give proper importance to other avenues too.

Variety of Kiwis!
In Singapore, we can buy Fruits and vegetables from 'Wet Market' as well. That would be a separate post. And third post on fruits would talk specifically about the special fruits we get in this part of the world. Like the Longan, Mangosteen, Dragon Fruit, Rambutans, Jambu, a different variety of Guava and off-course the national fruit of Singapore - Durian!

The pics put up here were clicked during my recent visit to Giant Super market. We get a lot many other fruits as well, may be I will update pics in this post later or create another post! Photos are taken after taking permission from one of the employee.
Seedless Watermelon, though my experience says Water melon with seeds are more sweet.

Royal Gala Apple from France.



These are all Oranges but all are different in taste and appearance.  From left to right, Oranges from Taiwan, Turkey, China and Pakistan.
Right to left - Pear, NZ Avacado, China Nam Shui Pearl, China Lemon, SA Green Apple.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Break-ke-Baad!

Its been a long time that I wrote something on the blog and made it public. It was a cautious decision.

When I write, I always want to express what it is exactly, no diplomacy or politically correct statement there. If you do that then there is no point in writing because you should be honest with what you write or feel if those are personal views.

A lot of events happened over a period of time. Cartoonist Assem Trivedi was arrested for his controversial sketches, people got jailed or arrested for putting some status message on Facebook, etc Those two three incidents struck in my mind. I am not trying to take sides or justify anybody but then as a common man when you express and are punished then it makes you take a step back. Though, I would go a step further and say that 'Freedom of Speech' has been the most used excuse these days to say any and everything.

Sometimes events make you express in certain way that may not be accepted to small section of authority who may have power or influential enough to hit you back. And these days social media trolling is a fad which can make you a star overnight before you could realize irrespective of which side of the table, right or wrong, you are. You don't want to take 'panga' with anyone. As my boss says, "Try not to make enemies!". It doesn't mean you have to do what others would like. In doing so, you will loose yourself.

Be yourself but when in public discourse, try and avoid controversies. Staying away from blogging is challenging because you want to express, you want to share, you want to leave this place with a little better shade than what it was, when you arrived. 30 years from now, reading this blog would be so much fun. Writing also helps in comprehending your thoughts, eventually it could lead to complete my half complete novels!

Second strong reason for not being here regularly was because I wanted to spend time with my kid when he was awake and do my work when he was sleeping. That pushed Blogging to a back seat. Now I will try to strike a good balance, hopefully!

So with that, I decided to be a bit regular. Share Colours of Singapore, through my eyes. About Parenting, with my first hand experience, some Movie Reviews and definitely a lot of Foodie recommendations to go out! And an occasional off beat item, a love story may be!

fOoD fOr ThOuGhT: Life is highly underrated! There are many hats that you can wear at the sametime and make it a much more colourful life! It feels good to put together thoughts and words and sentences to create a story around it!

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Murugan - The 'Authentic' Idli shop!


Fresh Banana leaf on plate with four amazing Chutneys!
 Murugan Idli Shop is home for us when we want a break from routine North Indian food of Tandoori Roti, Sabji, Dal, etc. It is located on the busy street of Syed Alwi Road close to Mustafa.

The restaurant is small, simple with basic seating arrangements. It is often crowded especially on weekends when people shop at Mustafa and stop at Murugan for lunch or Dinner.

As you occupy seat, you are presented with a piece of paper and pencil. That paper is Menu card cum Order note. All the dishes are listed along with prices and you are suppose to select what you want to eat and indicate number of quantities. Unique way of taking order and I quite like it.
Menu Card cum Order Note.
By the time you make up your mind and complete the order, you are presented plate with large fresh Green Banana leaf covering the plate and 4 different chutneys on it. This is standard serving irrespective of what you order. In Southern parts of India, serving and eating food on Banana leaf is a tradition. It is believed that top of the leaf is naturally coated with some chemical. When these are consumed along with food, it makes food tasty and makes digestion process better. Other advantage of using Banana leaf for the restaurant is that the turn-around time is quick as they don’t have to wait for cutlery to get washed, cleaned, dried and ready for next serving. Though it adds to the operating cost, I deeply appreciate the restaurant for keeping the traditions alive in foreign country where managing cost is critical.

Since the name itself has Idli, it is but natural to try atleast one Idli, you can call it a starter. The Idlis are soft, big, generally hot and fresh. It is a must everytime you go there. I like Vada and they serve it really crispy. Onion Uttappam, Masala Dosa or Butter Masala Dosa, all are good with authentic South Indian taste. A special mention about Sambar – it is really tasty and you can ask for more servings without any additional cost for it.

They also serve variety of rice (Lemon, Tamarind, Tomato, Curd, Sambar) though I haven’t tried them yet so I will reserve my comments on them. But going by my experience on other dishes, it should be good.

The way Idli is must have, coffee is also a must have at the end of food, irrespective of you want to have it or not. It is served in traditional half-cut steel glass, coffee filled till its brim accompanied with a small bowl. The aroma and taste of that filter coffee will definitely revive your energy and mood.

I always enjoy food here though it is somewhat congested place with limited open space from baby-pram or shopping bags. You may have to struggle for seat sometimes but when you get it, the food is always served by heart. Options on Menu card are limited saving lot of order time and helping restaurant in keeping low items of inventory.

Murugan is part of Indian food chain and has been able to keep its long established tradition of quality and taste.

Ambience: Simple, small layout, basic seating arrangement
Price: Reasonable
Quality: Good.
Quantity: Average
Taste: Authentic
Service: Fast
Rating: 7 +1 for the Chutneys and Sambar

fOoD fOr ThOuGhT: It is a place for perfect brunching, snacking when you want to eat light still be tight!

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Tulip-mania in Singapore!


Beautiful Tulips.
The beauty of Singapore is that though it is a small place with limited resources but it has unlimited planning and execution will. It is called a Tiny Red dot on the World map but if you happen to visit the place there are plenty of ‘must-see’ locations here. One of them is the Garden’s By The Bay.

It is built on a 100 hectare of reclaimed land to transform Singapore from ‘Garden City’ to ‘City in a Garden’. International competition was held back in 2006 to design the master plan. Today it boasts beautiful themed Horticulture, two conservatories - Flower Dome and Cloud Forest and Supertrees Groves. The place is considered as an outing place for urban social class. Various initiatives are taken round the year to keep the entertainment and fun quotient high for the local people. One such even is the Tulipmania started in the year 2013.

We happen to visit it this year and it was a delight to see so many Tulips of different colours and species under one roof flown directly from Netherlands. Miniatures of Netherland, Tulips gardens, Windmills, houses in Netherlands where for show and was quite a refreshing one.

It was certainly a delight for photographers for exploring different camera modes and lenses and projections. To our surprise, there was queue of roughly 20 minutes inside the dome to view the tulip arrangements but it was worth the wait. If you are planning to go there next, try a weekday!

Here are some of the pics that I took during our visit:

Windmill with Yellow Tulips.

Miniature of Neatherland house with Tulips.

Breath-taking view!

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