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Living At Constance Lodge….Part 10

Living At Constance Lodge….Part 10

There were other simple games that kept us entertained for hours. One of them was Cat’s cradle. I think all of us who were born in 1950-60s must have played this game with a piece of thread. It used to be a woolen thread in our case because the thread has to be thick enough to be played around with without it getting tangled and woolen thread was very easily available to us because our mothers used to knit sweaters with them.

A loop is made of it by tying the free ends with a knot. The loop is then held on the fingers of the hands stretched apart. Various shapes can be made by picking up sections of thread. Does anyone remember what was it called?

We surely didn’t call it Cat’s Cradle. Another toy made with just a coat button and a thread was a Whirling button spinner. It was also sold with a button fashioned out of a sugary dough and a thread passed through it. The child could play with it till it broke and eat it if it broke. You really don’t need big money for buying expensive toys for making your child happy. A child can be happy with simple things. In fact the child should be taught to be happy with simple things because there’s great message in it that- Keep life simple to be happy and that one doesn’t need big money to be happy.
In buying our children fancy toys in fact we live our childhood through them, fulfilling our desires of buying those which our parents couldn’t buy us then. For a child it doesn’t matter. Playing with the simplest of the toys can be most thrilling. He doesn’t understand the worth of money.

Labyrinth Ball maze was very popular in those days. It was a very cheap toy with concentric circles with one slot in each circle for them to enter in the inner track. The skill was to get all the balls in the inner most circle.

Pin-ball game. I don’t remember who brought it home but, O Boy! What a fun it was from the day it came home or was brought home, meaning that either someone who visited us brought it for us as a gift or Papaji bought it for us because it was the latest in thing. A small board with a semi-circular top would sit inclined on a flat surface or not so flat surface because my memory is of playing it while huddled together in the quilt. A track in the corner could hold the balls lined up.
There were ten steel balls smaller than the marbles. A tapered wooden stick was provided for pushing the balls. The whole board had tracks made by pins driven in position for guiding the balls. There were depressions on the board where balls could get lodged during their course of travel and there were scores written below the spots. The fun was when the whole family played it. There were fights over losing turns for faults and there were penalties and so there were protests and there were fights and there was all the fun in those
fights.

Then there were Carom and Playing Card games like “Note Bhunnana” (getting cards in exchange for picture cards), teen-do-panch, Bhabho, Sweep and of course “Chaar sau bees” or bluff, where you cheat about the number of cards and name of the cards you add to the pool where every cheater puts his share depending on his/her ability to lie.

If the one who is sitting next to you doubts your truthfulness then he can flip them to check the authenticity of the call. If the call is wrong then the one who has lied has to pick up all the accumulated cards in the pile and if it isn’t then the one who asks for a show ends up picking up the pile. Four twenty is the one who ends up with all the cards when others have exhausted the hands dealt to them. This game I tell you is a sheer fun and if you haven’t laughed since sometime, then play it with your family today. We used to play all these together. All six of us together on holidays or Sundays.

One of the best games that we played was of making words from a long word by putting the alphabets together in different permutations and combinations. I think it sharpened my skill of playing with the words which I still love to do.

I don’t remember if ever we went together to The Mall as a family for a walk. I have some memories of going to Lower Bazaar with the parents though. Having Aloo Poori at Nathu Halwai was like a special treat to us. Decades later, when I visited Shimla, I was appalled to see a cramped, seedy place full of people. Thick grease settled all over the shop, infested with flies which weren’t there when I was a child. The thought that I ever sat there and had something nauseated me. The owners perhaps rolling in money had little time or interest in spending some of it in cleaning it up.
I had a natural tendency to use my left hand, especially for eating and my father saw it as an aberration. His words on discovering me use my left hand for eating (“main kya ainu samjha lai” (I say, make him understand (mend his ways, or I will beat the shit out of him-this part was unsaid), still ring in my ears. This is the best translation that I can give to the phrase very often used by dominating husbands warning both mother and the child in one go. I used the word ‘discovered’ because it was rare for him to see me eating while sitting before him. My favourite place for having my meals was in the kitchen where I would get warmth of my mother’s love and of the angeethi radiated simultaneously to me and there was no fear of a hawk hovering above. Eating at Nathu Halwai came at a great risk but for good things in life one has to take some risks. The warning was very effective in correcting my abnormality.
Later when I grew up and I learnt that very creative people, great players and achiever had natural disposition towards using left hand, I drew some solace by blaming my father for my mediocrity as if he had done a great injustice to me by correcting my distinctiveness because he saw it as an aberration when it was not only a gift from God but a signal that I was born to be outstanding.
Should I thank the coming of computers in our lives that brought my dormant left hand in to use and made me ambidextrous? Sincerely after a few of those “Main kya ainu samjha lai” warnings, I spurned the nascent tendency of using the left hand when I was a child. All along, before I switched over to writing straight on this electronic medium, the thoughts flowed with facility from my brain to the paper through the pen in my right hand. In fact for a long time a mental block held me from trying to write straight on the computer and after starting using it, I am reluctant to spend time on all that was written by hand before I started using the computer.
Note:- All pictures are from the internet and used here for representation purpose only. I do not have any rights over them,

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Navneet Bakshi

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Ushasurya
Ushasurya
7 months ago

Sent me rushing back on a nostalgic sojourn!!
We also played something calles Pallaanguzhi ( Mancala or Beab hole); They say these days that it id a good exercise for the fingers and mentally invigorating.

Nice blog on old games.
These days’ children are very unlucky in this that they are missing out on the Simple Pleasures of Life.
But mercifully in the villages I still sea small boys running behind wornout tyres with sticks propelling them or inserting sticks into empty palm fruits and driving them like small vehicles with their hands !!

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