Games we used to play….

Went back to a different time this time when I was in flight.

The flight entertainment menu consisted of many video and audio options – and one of those was a RK Narayanan episode based on the book ‘Swami and friends’….

Swami, some may recall, was a young student of Albert Mission School, Malgudi…a young boy who hated word problems, and didnt know whether to multiply, divide, add or substract when faced with a problem that went like, say, “Ramu went to market to buy mangoes. One mango cost 8 Rupees. Ramu wanted to buy five…” etc….He was more concerned whether the mango was ripe or not….

The movie clip was an abridged version, and showed just one episode….that of Swami, his Dada classmate Raju, and the other classmate Mani, the son of the local Deputy Superintendent of Police….Lovely picturisation…

One of the scenes I really liked was one that showed Swami pick up a half torn page of ‘Malgudi Times’ newspaper from the ground…make a paper boat with it….and let it float down a little stream. He then sees a school of ants, picks up one, and ever so gently places it in the boat…and then suddenly there is a rapid in the stream, and the boat rushes into a deep, and capsizes….And Swami searches high and low for the ant, worries ever so much that it may have died, and mouths a silent prayer….Little Swami, with a vibhooti on his forehead….

Reminded me of the times when kids actually played with paper boats. I could make two types of paper boats, one a plain boat, and the other with a knifelike extension jutting out of the bottom – the better to cut ones way through the waters…..”katthi-boat” (knife boat) it was called….

Simple toys…paper airplanes, rockets….balls made from rubber strips cut out of a discarded rubber tyre-tube of a cycle….

These games still survive….The other day I noticed a gang of kids outside their little slum home, sitting and playing some game with just a pile of stones….It was a real intense game that they played….or that time in Goa, when I saw this kid, running down the road, rolling a tyre, beating it forward with a stick…Simple games….Games that need just basic stuff…Maybe a chalk to draw a board on the ground, some stones, maybe a ball, a used tyre…

I remember a game called seven-six that we used to play….Needs a ball, and a wall….and you can play for hours….

The stick-and-bail game, Gulli-danda, is mentioned in the Mahabharata….

Wonder how many kids nowadays know any of these games….What with electronics, computers and such having taken a stranglehold in the world of games….There ain’t no free games any more….

Snakes and Ladders anybody?



One Response to “Games we used to play….”

  1. krishashok Says:

    On the one hand, google and wikipedia have democratised information. They have levelled the playing field at least at the middle class level. Everybody now has access to the same quality information.

    On the other hand, sociologists also warn us about the overall laziness the internet and video games have brought about in kids today. My little cousin plays excellent cricket. I meant – excellent EA Sports Cricket 2007, the cutting edge, must-have cricket video game for the playstation 2. He has a lot of friends too – online. He does physics experiments at home – using an educational software and he even speaks a new language – smsese , where vowels are optional, correct spelling is outlawed and brevity is cherished.

    Are these good or bad influences? I dont really know. Perhaps it is just a sign of changing times.

    Douglas Adams makes a poignant point about the impact of science and technology in our lives. In true Adamsian fashion, he chooses the language of humorous science fiction to get his points across. The scene is from the book titled – “The restaurant at the end of the universe” and our protagonist is surprised to find a largish cow sitting at the chair next to him and to add to his surprise, the cow begins to converse in flawless english – “Good evening. I am your dish of the day. Would you like a steak from my juicy thighs? Or marinated ribs perhaps from my well-fed chest area” The protagonist, needless to say, is shocked and disgusted beyond belief. He says – “How can i eat something that talks to me?” and proceeds to order a salad. THe cow replies with sarcasm – “Finally science invents an animal that wants to be eaten and now mister wants a salad instead. I know a few plants who might disagree with that”

    Humorous and irreverent, perhaps, but he does make you think about how science and technology inevitably change culture and more critically question our existing notions of ethics and morality.

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