Saturday, 3 September 2011

flying. shrieking. swearing. pleading.

The sister, the bff, the bff's sister and I walked into Sha'ab Leisure Park with one sole purpose. To go on the skycoaster. The skycoaster is a structure consisting of a triangular frame and a tower, connected with cables. Strapped into the cable, it pulls you up to a height of 60 m (15 stories). On reaching the top, you pull a cord. And then, you oscillate like a pendulum at 93 km/hr.

It's on my old bucket list; I've been wanting to do this for years. If you've lived in Kuwait since you were a kid, I can probably surmise your reaction accurately. 'You haven't been on that yet?' Didn't get a chance.

We planned to leave the best for last, as the sister put it. She's been on it twice before, sang 'I believe I can fly!' her second time. The rest of us were virgins.

It was a longggg queue. We waited.. and waited.. a really long while. The bff and her sister were too freaked out to go together, ruining my own sister's plan of going with me. So I paired with the bff.

The sister was her usual hyperactive self, totally pumped to go.
The other two were scared out of their skins, having a fear of heights. 
I was hungry.

We watched the people before us take their turns either two by two or three by three. 

Going up... before us

We gasped 'oh my God!' at one particular trio that didn't hold on to each other as they were tossed down, looking as though they were going to separate and fly out in three different directions. We cracked up at hypothetical scenarios of the bff's sister sneezing (allergies) at the top and then flying face first into the remnants of her sneeze in the atmosphere :D The bff's sister almost chickened out. My sister reminded her she was getting married next month; that was scarier. The bff, still freaked out, gave her sibling her ATM pincode and told her to tell her family she loved them. I tried to console her with, 'dude! Zindagi na milegi dobara! (You Live Only Once - a recent Hindi film). Her sister was nothing less, she called her fiance to tell him she loved him. He told her to get a grip.

And then.. FINALLY.

the tower?

The bff and I each stepped into our harness, posed for a quick pic and walked to the platform where we would be strapped in, all set to be lifted up. I instructed my dear friend to pose like Spiderman does when he thrusts out his web and like Superman when he flies fist forward when we were at the apex. My heart started pounding as the realization hit me. We were going to be suspended from 60 m. And I wanted to go sky diving! They were playing the worst music ever, slow love songs, totally inappropriate. The song that played for us was Whitney Houston's I Will Always Love You. Was that supposed to be a sign?

I was going to pose like this.

and like this. Went clean out of my head.

Three Arab guys that went before us stood waiting for the platform to be lowered as we were getting buckled up. Since I was going to pull the cord, I had to go on the right. 
The guys started making conversation, 'your first time?' 
Bff said nervously, 'YES!' 
'Ah, it's very scary.' said the tall one.
'Hold tight,' said the guy in the middle.
The attendant told us to let our legs up. Confused, we muttered 'what'd he say?' and then screamed when our feet suddenly went off the ground. We were hanging face down from our tummies like sheep for slaughter. We continued screaming though we were two feet off the ground. I wondered whether the guys were laughing at us because I couldn't see their faces and I couldn't hear anything; the air was rent with our screaming. And then.. we were being pulled up diagonally towards the triangular wire frame.

The bff went into hysterics.

She clutched at my arm really hard, squeezing it, both of us yelling blue murder. I quietened after a bit gazing at the view straight ahead. It was kinda relaxing. But the bff? She wouldn't shut up!

What she shrieked: 'OH MY GOD! Bismillah hir rehman nir raheem (in the Name of God, The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful)! Oh God, please I'm sorry! Dude, I can't do this man! Dude, please I want to go back down! OMG!' And then she closed her eyes.

At a couple of points I experienced weightlessness, which was a little frightening. I'm not really afraid of heights but when we were getting higher, I looked down below me to see hard concrete and people eating right below (ALL staring at us, their attention caught with the high-pitched wails). Even my heart failed a little and I hurriedly looked straight ahead again, warning my unfortunate friend not to let her eyes trail downward. But she did. I desperately wanted to laugh out loud at her reactions but just giggled silently.

When we finally stopped ascending, we heard a voice on the megaphone - '3.. 2.. 1.. FLY!'
This was my cue to pull the cord.
The bff - 'Dude don't pull it! Please don't do it!'
Me - 'Sorry dude.'
I pulled.


It was so relaxing, the spitting image of rock a bye baby. We sent flying kisses to our sisters. We waved at an old lady calling out to us. We swung around and around.

Once we lost momentum and came closer to earth, one of the attendants cried, 'remove *something*!'
Assuming I had to pull something else, I replied indignantly, 'I'm not removing anything!'
He meant our feet from the harness so we could land feet first instead of face first..

The sisters went next. They had a fantastic experience too. The dialogue was more colourful.

We all wanted to have another go.
So much for fear of heights.

It's not sky diving.
It's not exactly bungee jumping either.
But it's a start!

Thursday, 1 September 2011

redefining the horror movies genre.

Usually when I have a sleepover with friends or cousins, the one activity everyone wants to indulge in is watching a horror movie.
My reply: I don't do horror movies.
They call me a sissy.

I ain't no sissy. Horror films today are most definitely not horrifying. They don't stab a crippling fear into my heart. Most of them are immensely disgusting and fill you with utter revulsion. Minus the blood, gore and sound effects, nothing substantial remains but really bad acting.

Wiki: Horror films are unsettling movies that strive to elicit the emotions of fear, disgust and horror from viewers.
Disgust? Check.
Fear and horror? Fail.
Unsettling? Yeah. My stomach.

Add to that: A lasting impact, perhaps of dread. I'm not an authority on this genre, but I opine that the movie should end with a sort of hopelessness, where the protagonists think they have got out alive, vanquished evil and everything will now be fine and dandy, but it is far from it. To illustrate: I Know What You Did Last Summer and its sequel.

Horror films can be categorized into mainly 3:
1. The unhinged killer out to savagely slash everyone on the planet.
eg.: Saw and its many unnecessary sequels, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, A Nightmare on Elm Street etc.

2. Apocalypse scenario where all of humankind has been infected with a killer virus mutating them into zombies that a precious few survivors must save themselves 28 Days Later, 28 Weeks Later and others I can't think of right now (feel free to add)

3. Lingering on the supernatural or demonic - the devil, witches, haunted houses, spirits, vampires and the like.
eg.: The Exorcist (this one just made me want to hurl), Devil, An American Haunting, Final Destination etc.

I refrain from watching them all. As for vampires, I prefer them in the form of Damon Salvatore.

Evil, but oh so yummy.
If you agree with me even remotely, worry not. There are movies out there that do not traditionally fall under the genre, but in my opinion they most certainly should.

To name but one:

No one said horror must be limited to the image of a psychotic murdering whack job carving numbers into the flesh of his victims.

Narrated by Matt Damon (I never liked him but now I like his voice) and starring the honourable men who destroyed the American economy, caused a two year long global recession and brought 50 million people around the world out on the street. 
Explained lucidly with graphs and videos so even a layman can comprehend, Inside Job makes intentions very, very clear. Nobody, read nobody in power cares about the common man. Wall Street has corrupt egotists running amok, all out to make a quick buck, no matter whose life's savings are lost to get that buck. As if that wasn't bad enough, they are also pulling the strings in politics. They are in academic institutions that the world holds sacred. They are everywhere. It's like a cockroach infestation. 

When a robbery takes place and the police discover the criminals, all steps are taken to apprehend them and recover the stolen goods, which once inspected are then returned to the owners. So now, when the people responsible for robbing America of billions of dollars have been discovered, why have they been allowed to run home scot free to sunbathe on the decks of their yachts and dive into pools overflowing with their ill gotten wealth like Uncle Scrooge?

not that Uncle Scrooge's wealth is ill gotten.

The movie does not prepare the viewer for the climax. It induces despair and strikes that elusive emotion of terror in one. You think I'm overacting? Watch it and tell me it didn't scare you, even a little.

Only fitting I rate this as per the 'feelings elicited' by a horror movie as stated by Wiki (and me):
Fear, with the knowledge these men are still in power and that nothing will change (that takes care of the hopelessness and lasting dread);
horror at the thought of what they're are capable of and what they have done;
disgust at the insurmountable and insatiable greed that got us into this mess and what the money was ultimately used for.

Definitely unsettling.