Sunday, February 17, 2008

Appu Ghar

If you aren't aware of the news already, let me break it to you. India's first amusement park, Appu Ghar(Delhi), is operating for the final time today. News channels and other streams of media are covering it from a historic point of view or asking questions such as "What about the employees?"It was the first amusement park in India, opened in the early 80s and named after the mascot(Appu) of the 1982 Asian Games, hosted by India and held in Delhi. The (around)250 employees associated with it have apparently nowhere to go.

But my take on it is pretty much selfish. I grew up in Delhi. I played on those rides which now will never be operated again. I remember the "My Fair Lady" not as the grim, badly dressed giant that they proclaim it to be but as a ride where your knuckles turn white from holding on too tightly and the glee on the failure to control yourself from sliding to the corner, apparent on your face.

The now rickety "Bhoot Bungalow" did manage to get out a few "eeks" if not screams and shouts. Nobody actually found it scary but it was quite entertaining in its own silly way, no doubt about that. The "Dragon" ride, not sure if that's the actual name of the ride(pardon my failing memory but it has been a long time since I last visited it), was and is still quite fast by any standard(it was the roller coaster of the park).

More than any other ride, I think it was Appu Colombus though, which was the favourite ride amongst all age groups(permitted). If you were there with classmates, on a school picnic, sitting in the middle area made you look like a loser. So almost everyone, even the ones with weak stomachs(they would simply close their eyes, hold on tightly, muttering prayers and/or shout as loud as possible) would rush to the top/corner places. It didn't help that the bars that were supposed to hold you down were quite shaky themselves, and more so at the peaking time. Even now, just remembering it, gives me a pleasurable rush.

This ride was also the one where the men's chivalry surfaced. More often than not, during every visit there would be a couple seated, the woman squirming at the prospect of being flung so high and the man, with an arm around her, flaunting his role as the hunter, gatherer and protector. Quite a funny scene, especially for kids. The essential part and role of the "back benchers" were the shouts, or chants, if you may. Laced loosely or generously(depending on the crowd) with expletives, the "oooooo"s were varying in tone, pitch and volume, with each passing stage of the ride(the most audible being at the peak, obviously).

As years passed by, other amusement parks started cropping up, most of them employing much better technologies and rides. Everyone, including my friends and I, started cheating on the orange elephant. And now, it's time for it to go. I don't oppose the decision to bring it down, old things always must make way for the new. But I do mourn for it. On second thoughts, so what if the place won't remain, my memories always will.

1 comment:

  1. wow, didn't know abt it being a pioneer! but, why is it closing down?! Haven't visited Appu Ghar, have visited Excel World, Mumbai (dunno abt the spelling!)

    "Nice" write btw! :)