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Lego madness! What kids loved in #Berlin 1/3

Udai is crazy about Lego. He has been that way since he was say a year old. He made the choice to visit Berlin, inspired in part by the German lessons in school that are still a novelty and mostly by my mention of a Lego Discovery Centre in the city. We found ourselves at the stunningly beautiful and modern Potsdamer Platz at the end of our excursion to the Berlin Wall. It was evening time and we dashed to get into the Lego place, barely stopping to admire the architecture of the Sony Centre, in which the Lego deal is located. Rahul opted out owing to the high ticket charges (Euro 18 per person, unless you book in advance) and I spent two hours with my super excited Lego-crazy kids.

What was inside? Well, I really liked the lego reproductions of Berlin city. They were amazingly detailed and vibrant. I didn’t care much for the Star Wars section and even the kids weren’t captivated by it, though there were spacecrafts moving around and everything was made with Lego. There was a dragon themes ride that puts you in a car and takes you into a castle, with ogres and dragons and knights, all mads of Lego again. There are Lego figures standing around- batman, Hagrid and Harry, you get the drift…

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It’s a small place and the highlight for Udai most certainly was the zillions of Lego pieces at the workstations and time to sit and make stuff. What did he make? Airplanes…duh! Aadyaa just ran around and explored the place. And we topped this all off with a short Lego film at a built-in theatre they had inside.Fotor0718110043IMG_7284IMG_7286IMG_7287

It’s not a very large place and perhaps not exciting for grown-ups, but little detours like this is what keeps children engaged. Especially when we travel to cities that are high on culture and sightseeing, we’ve found to useful to mix it up a little. Once the kids know that we’re willing to do ‘their’ stuff, they are quite happy to do ‘ours’!

PS- I did get some shots of the Sony Centre plaza once we got out of the Lego place, and here they are….

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Green open spaces are best assets for a city: Summer picnic @ Leisure Valley- May 20, 2012

On a day when the maximum temperature was above 40 degrees C, some enthusiastic parents of kids in Aadyaa’s class decided to get together for a picnic. I must admit I considered the scheme rather addle brained and I wondered who would turn up!
As evening approached, I realised I wanted to go. These kids miss their friends during the long summer vacations and if anyone was taking the initiative to help them meet up, it was fair to attend .
And so we trudged to Gurgaon’s Rajiv Gandhi Renewable Energy Park, set in a green belt known as Leisure Valley and better known for its eatery Roots Cafe that serves a sumptuous veggie fare. Despite the heat, which gave way to a violent dust storm, which turned into a squall and finally ended in a bit if welcome pitter patter, there were a few hundred families all gathered to enjoy the open space and exercise, from a variety of backgrounds. In half an hour, we saw our kids make new friends cutting across the usual social barriers of class and income. We saw families spending quality time, parents and children discovering new challenges and overcoming them together on the various play equipment. Clean air, healthy lifestyle, the experience of a vibrant public space, unfortunately, elements often absent from the lives of our privileged protected kids! If anyone needed proof about why green open public spaces are a city’s best asset, here it is!

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Open spaces in the heritage context- A sunny afternoon at the Qutb Minar- Jan 15, 2012

Delhi offers its residents numerous opportunities to enjoy open air recreation in a heritage context. Lodi gardens, Purana Qila, Lala Qila, Qutb Minar, Humayun’s Tomb, Safdarjung Tomb…I could go on, and these are only the most obvious places to visit.

Mum, me and the kids decided to celebrate the last weekend before school begins again by taking a stroll in one of these. We opted for the Qutb Minar, despite anticipating the tourist hordes, merely because its closest to Gurgaon. We did meet the tourist hordes, but we regretted the outing not a teeny weeny bit!

We had low expectations at the outset. We had all been here before, so it wasn’t a touristy thing to do; rather, we approached it in the manner of paying a casual visit to an old friend. A warm, sunny winter afternoon it was, getting there and parking were not a hassle, ticketing and entry were organized (except that Udai’s bat and ball were politely confiscated and kept safely until we returned) and the crowds were convivial and relaxed as well.

I was struck by the merry atmosphere here and the myriad ways in which people were enjoying the space. Many were viewing everything through the lens of their cameras–from serious enthusiasts armed with digital SLRs (how I missed mine today! It’s being repaired!) to those who recorded their visits on mobile phone cameras, capturing the frame and moment was the order of the day. Others merely lay around the vast lawns–families watching kids play, friends chattering, lovers in silent communication. Tourists listened avidly to guides belting out history lessons in English, French, German and Japanese. We saw a very elegant pair of English (perhaps) ladies, dressed in their pearls and well cut pant suits asking an equally dressed set of Pakistani lady tourists to pose with them for pictures!

Amongst us, too, each person’s agenda varied slightly. Aadyaa clearly viewed the complex as a very interesting obstacle course, constantly looking for appropriate spaces to jump over, climb up and slopes to run down! Udai was willing to get the occasional history lesson, reading the plaques and asking us questions; but simply loved exploring the ruins that comprise Alauddin Khilji’s tomb. For mum, it was partly walk down memory lane thinking about many previous visits, and mostly relaxed observations about the place and the people. As for me, I whipped out my little sketch book and doodled a bit, besides taking pictures and running around with the kids.

Pure family fun, while soaking the sun! Mum and the kids

Exploring the ruins

Aadyaa's giant obstacle course!

Udai gets a history lesson from Nani

I whip out a sketch pad for a 5-minute doodle

The 5-min doodle of the Alai Darwaza- as Udai says, the dome isn't quite right 🙂

Most visitors simply clicked away!

For me, these experiences are an integral part of Delhi’s charm and what bind me to this city despite its many frustrating contradictions. I love the strong backdrop that heritage provides, that adds to our lives a sense of history, art, architecture, proportion…in short, beauty packaged in an easy-to-enjoy form!

I came away imagining toothless skeletal smiles inside the graves of good ‘ol Qutb-ud-din, Iltutmish and the rest of the Mamluk, Tughlaq and Khilji clans who created the wonderful complex over time!

The mandatory touristy pose!

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