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Taken for a Ride

Taken for a Ride
Lead Illustrations: Anthony Lawrence
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By Dilip Bobb

Amusement parks are seen as an enjoyable diversion for families and kids with their Ferris Wheels and water slides but of late, the main attractions are rides that are scary and hair-raising. Disney got the ball rolling but now amusement parks are coming up all over, with newer and more innovative rides. Some examples:

The Modi Meteor: The most popular ride, according to the Pew Research Center and Moody’s, this takes passengers on a roller coaster ride like no other. Scary, exciting, hair-raising, eye-popping and unpredictable, it is meant to convey order and dramatic progress while simulating chaos and confusion. Opinions are divided on the overall experience but the fact that it starts relatively calmly and then diverts into wild corkscrews named Demo and GST leaving riders gasping for breath and out of pocket is one reason for its wild popularity among a certain section of the crowd. With its hi-tech focus, called Namo-technology, it projects a glimpse of a rosy future. Passengers are required to wear rose-tinted glasses.

The Raga Rocket: This is the new, improved version of an earlier ride that had become stale and outdated. The new version has sparked considerable interest and is picking up in popularity, thanks to some media-savvy promotions and attention to improving customer acceptance. Still has some way to go to erase the memories of the past but passengers get to feel they are on an upward trajectory and are experiencing a more stable ride compared to the earlier version which was mockingly referred to as The Magic Kingdom.

Malice in Wonderland: The scariest ride of all. Based on Lewis Carroll’s fantasy novel, it offers an experience that combines the epic grandeur of a Bollywood movie featuring a queen, with a number of twists and turns that propel the ride into some dark places. Along the way, passengers get a virtual view of violent mobs demanding the queen’s head, instead of the other way around, and other spooky stuff that will make your hair–and logic–stand on end. Billed as a history-breaking experience, it portrays Malice and Madness in equal measure.

The Sin Bin: Designed and created by Himanta Biswa Sarma, an inventor of Assamese descent, this death-defying ride descends into extremely murky depths which he has named the Sin Bin. This is a ride for people who want to know what happens to sinners, which he translates as those with an incurable disease.  It is designed to give users a frightening experience so that they stop sinning before Divine Justice catches up with them. Sarma is well-known for switching allegiances and tracks unexpectedly, so any sinners on board can expect a wild ride.

Jurassic Park: As the name suggests, a throwback to prehistoric times which takes riders for a ride, showing them epic battle scenes where heroic Hindu warriors defeat villainous raiders from alien Islamic nations before reaching a panoramic display of ancient India where airplanes roam the skies, doctors conduct complex surgery and cosmic weapons obliterate demons and disbelievers. It is a history remaking ride that reminds all those on board of the greatness of an ancient civilization, minus those pesky dinosaurs.

Bumper Cars: The standard entertainment feature at all amusement parks, this is where grown-ups can behave like children and drive vehicles erratically, bumping into each other and displaying all the symptoms of road rage. Actually, there’s no need to go all the way to an amusement park: one can enjoy a similar experience on any day on any road in any Indian city.

The Ballot Blaster:  Another heir-raising ride, currently restricted to two locations, which attracts large crowds being blasted with expulsions of hot air. It has its own nomenclature where passengers are called voters who have to select the person–called candidates–who will take them for a ride over the next phase of the journey.

Primeval Journey:  A smash hit ever since it was launched recently, this involves a railway journey where monsters await to ambush unwary passengers, cracking skulls of those with skullcaps and otherwise causing grievous bodily harm to ticket-holders from a certain community. Statutory warning: some scenes can be stomach churning, especially the ones where the attackers get away scot-free each time.

Bullet Train:  The ultimate fantasy, it is still to take on passengers but the excitement and anticipation is building up as the deadline fast approaches. Based on a Japanese model, it is meant for those with a yen for travelling at breakneck speed and promises a thrilling ride with unexpected turns considering the frequency with which Indian trains derail.

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