I was amidst an exciting exchange with my childhood friends about how schooling has changed. We reminisced on how we adored our days out in the sun, turning red as beets by the time we got home. We chuckled as we chatted about the pranks we used to play. We also began listing the games we enjoyed playing outdoors in our humble schoolyard.
I thought about the contrast between our education and the school I teach now. Manicured lawns and imposing structures bedazzle prospective parents. World-class infrastructure tempts students to dream of competing on world-class stages and arenas. When I think back to my upbringing in the air force, moving schools every couple of years, I never dreamed of having these facilities. I was happy in my oyster.
Why play traditional Indian games?
Nowadays, I find myself pondering what the next generation is missing out on. Where are the trees to hide in and hang from precariously? Where are the flowers and fruit to be plucked and relished as we strolled home from school unescorted? And lastly, where are the traditional Indian games drawn on the roadside where students spend their happiest moments?
I loved these games because of the happy times I spent with my friends. Unlike board games, Rubix cubes, and the like, every child in the class can play these games in large groups.
I decided to introduce the city kids in my classroom to a few of my favourite games. School had just begun on campus, and the weather was perfect for a game of chaar-kona, paanch-pathar or hopscotch!
As the name implies, four boxes need to be drawn with chalk. Then, the child must throw a stone into the first box and maneuver through each box without touching the lines. The students had such a laugh watching their peers wobble their way across the boxes and cheered their friends on when they made it out unscathed.
As the name implies, players need to have five small stones to enjoy the game. After tossing one stone in the air, all others need to be picked up before catching the one whizzing through the air. Begin with picking them up one at a time, then two, three and finally all four!
Other games to play
How could we play games on the street and not draw a hopscotch template? Hardly traditional, but a sure shot for a couple of laughs! We also wanted to play one of my personal favourites called ‘Pithoo’, but we couldn’t find enough stones to make the pillar knocked over. This is just another example of the terrible challenges we face at city schools today- no random rocks lying around! Maybe next time!
Videos on how to play some of these games-
Paanch pathar- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwT5H7qV27U
Pithoo/Seven stones- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCjF1rbA4mU