We return home from the Universal Studios, Singapore. And are still mentally on a vacation after those warm hugs from Shrek, hair-messing roller-coaster rides, platefuls of Mediterranean delicacies and Oscar memorabilia

Betty Boop just winked at us. And Marilyn Monroe blew kisses at one of the male members of the group, who predictably, is now chasing after her looking like a love-sick poodle. “She's only a look alike,” we shout out, but he's out of earshot. Just as we start laughing at him, Shrek and Puss in Boots pass by. I shriek in excitement and scoot towards the green ogre. He opens his arms wide and hugs me and three other squealing kids. I surreptitiously try to elbow the pint-sized frilly frock clad fans away to have a solo picture of me with Shrek. But before I know it, I am being pushed out of the frame by a mass of little fans. So I run over to Puss in Boots who nonchalantly rests his arms around me and obliges with photographs. At the Universal Studios, it doesn't matter how grown up you are, you still end up feeling like a 10-year-old. And trust me, its difficult to stay focussed on one thing when there is so much to see and do. Such as , for example, I've now dumped poor puss for the cuddly Kung Fu Panda. The big furry creature waddles about affectionately greeting people and his big blue eyes light up every time someone embraces him.

A castle in sight!

Meanwhile, I see a castle in the distance and a flurry of people rushing in. It's Shrek and Fiona's castle. I make it just about in time to catch the 4D Shrek show where donkey teams up with him to save Fiona from an evil prince. Alright, where to next? The studio staff helpfully tell us what their most popular ride is. “Transformers is a hit. The Singapore Universal Studio is the only one to have this ride. So far, not a single person has had anything negative to say about it,” they say. Not really a fan of the movie franchise, I reluctantly follow the others and stand in the queue. The waiting time is 90 minutes. Universal Studios has seven themed zones each done up like movie sets — The Lost World, Ancient Egypt, New York, Hollywood, Madagascar, Far Far Away and Sci-Fi City, and that's where we are now. Not a fan of science, the subject, or of science fiction movies, I'd much rather be prancing around the other sections. I move around the serpentine queue that inches from one room to another and then another. After half-an-hour, I have lost count of how many dimly lit rooms we've passed through. Finally, it's our turn to jump onto the ride. The 3D thrill ride transports you to the world of Transformers. We scream, laugh and gasp in delight as we whiz through tunnels, subways, survive 90-degree drop from high-rise buildings, blasts and fire balls and finally escape from the grasp of Megatron to save the planet. Swallowing pride, I admit to the others the ride was fabulous.

Judging by the queue at the Battlestar Galactica, the ride seems rather popular. It is said to be the world's tallest pair of duelling roller-coasters. The blue and red coasters move at great speed and at a point give you the impression that they are about to collide. We scream so much that after the ride our throats seem dry, and we look as if our hair hasn't been combed in years. Time for a quick vanity and snack break.

Snack break

The place is dotted with numerous themed restaurant and cafes. We are in the mood for Mediterranean. So we walk to the Ancient Egypt block and feast on shawarma, a variety of mezze and biriyani. The entire area has an Egyptian feel with pyramids, obelisks and people dressed in Egyptian outfits. At one point, we encounter a woman in golden attire who looks so much like Rachel Weisz in “The Mummy”. “Should we try another ride? The Revenge of the Mummy is quite something I was told,” says one of our team mates. “Given how much you just ate, I don't think going on another roller-coaster is a good idea,” retorts another and sheepishly adds: “Maybe we should shop a bit?” A welcome suggestion since we haven't had the chance to indulge in retail therapy since morning. Steps are retraced to the numerous souvenir shops we passed by earlier. Movie memorabilia, hats, t-shirts... The glistening Oscar miniatures catch my eye. Some of them read, ‘World's best parents', ‘World's best boss', ‘World's best friend', ‘World's best mother-in-law' even! One of the girls picks it up. “Anything to be in my in-laws' good books,” she winks. Brilliant idea. So, now when I return home, my bag is weighed down by numerous such Oscar statues for a whole lot of people I interact with on a daily basis. For a week I'm assured none of them can find fault with me. Especially since I'm still mentally on a vacation.


Priyadarshini PaitandyJune 28, 2012