Back home, to Mumbai after a long work week of meetings and more meetings and a delayed flight which circled around Mumbai for a couple of times before landing. Followed by a long wait at the luggage belt for my bags and then beating the longer queue to grab a cab is a “been there done that” kind of feeling at Mumbai airport.
Traffic woes add to my misery, but then the thought of a nice hot shower keeps me switching from forcing my eyes to remain wide open and drooping down to my world of dozin’ n dreamin’, for the entire drive home.
Reaching home maybe chaotic, exerting, like a military obstacle course at times but then when you get there (anywhere in Mumbai you call home) has a feeling that is indescribable.
You hug your loved ones, have that glass of Mumbai vala taste ka paani, shower and then kick your feet up on your favourite sitting spot, procrastinating the mountain of a task, of unpacking.
Just when I was getting a little comfortable, while I sipped my favourite cuppa, the doorbell rang continuously till one of us had to rush to open the door, only to see a tsunami of kids and relatives splash in with food and goodies, and loud hellos and hoos and haas. Oh oh! I say! But within seconds of more hugs and pai lagoos, and salaams, and beta kaise ho, I am all warm and happy again by this crazy swarm of mad buzzing things, aunts, uncles, their kids and their kids…my family!
Once the storm settles, by that I mean women finding a corner of my living room sharing their shopping stories, and the uncles attacking the bar with their chaakna, I am at peace again. Of course, with a minor disturbance of kids fighting for who gets to play FIFA 2014 or the nail art app on my very smart tablet. When it’s new and shiny, we don’t let anyone touch it, but as time passes, you learn to let go with children using it (read manhandling), as you realise they are better at using it than you. Without a doubt! But still you don’t want to lose all your data or crack the screen, so I held on to it tight!
As the fighting got louder and one kid wailed out loud, and loud is an understatement. After all attempts fail to pacify the screamer, I finally dived in to the rescue as the older sibling, I blurt out loudly “Why don’t you play some real kiddy games?” HAHAHA…now that was not the perfect way of consoling a child but they all love, respect and fear me at the same time. I get some blank looks and more crying, and as I very assertively take my “office ka tablet” back, I also pataoed and grabbed the attention of a few of them and start playing a game, what most typically every adult has played with us! The game of “when I was a kid, I did this and that” “jab main chota tha, badi shararat karta tha” Hamare time pe ye sab nahee tha” (Gosh, am I that old now? Naah)
Anyways, like one old grandparent, telling us raja rani stories, I started reminiscing my childhood and sharing the games we ran down our buildings, societies, complexes, neighbourhoods to play with children from all the wings and floors, and flats (after having 4 spoons of “kacha” bournvita and then more in the daily glass of milk) gloriously in the “Once upon a time” way!
Wow, so many! Say my nephews and nieces. So what did u play?
I started rattling out names like Seven tiles – Lagori, Dabba – Ice spice or Hide & Seek, Sankli, French cricket, Lock n Key, Catching Cook, Hospital tips. One uncle nudges me and says, Oye, hope you are not talking about Doctor Doctor, with a naughty gleam in his eye! I smirk and say, No! No! Uncle, it’s a variation of the catching cook game, where the “den” taps a body part of one of the others who then becomes the “den” but has to catch others by constantly touching the body part.
One kid laughs out loudly and says, HAHAHA, if I am the den, I will touch the toe…hehehehhe
See, what fun! Follow the leader, Stick in the mud, Blind man’s buff, and my list went on & on. One curious child even started writing down notes with a pen & paper. I was made to explain each one of these games and rules and I did that with all josh (you should have been there to hear the excitement and bouts of laughter). I felt like a rock star! One kid raises his hand and says, in my building we play CP. I was taken aback and asked like a tech geek would ask the full form of GB or RAM…hahah…What is CP, I asked. She replied shyly, Chor Police and I went euphoric…just the thought of that game brought back so many memories. What a game, super!!
Of course, I mentioned the usual games cricket, and its variations like cricket outside your flat on a narrow floor passage, football, volleyball, baddie or badminton, football in the rain, even rugby, carom, TT; all are a given. Thank god some kids still do that! But the fun was when two buildings competed for a game of cricket, or badminton, volleyball, where all would watch and cheer from their windows and balconies. Psst…even the boys vs girls matches were of great interest to all of us and bring some really fond memories, na?!
Then to make my story more hero like, I shared with them the mad child in me, who climbed trees, walls to pluck fruits, or find the ball that someone chucked across, hang upside down the only monkey bar in the children’s play area or simply chill with my best friends on top of a car. Scratches, gashes, sprains, even fractures attained while playing as a child have made special corners in my heart and received a special mention by showing off my wound marks as my gallantry awards.
Like a good orator, I wrapped up my speech by summarising, adding a limerick, questioning my audience to check how much they remember and I closed with a reward, ICE CREAM!
While all of them huddled on the floor deeply engrossed in their ice cream bowls, some on their own and others’ being fed my mom or dad, I sat there gazing at them, holding my tablet not so closely now.
Nowadays, we have more windows open on our gadgets than in our buildings, I sighed. When I enter my own building or visit a friend, the only sights I see are a few kids still playing cricket or as seen in the new format flashy apartments with pools, swimming pools, tennis courts, even pool tables, with families and their kids walking around with their fancy mobiles, branded clothes and playing kits, with sippers in their hand, and a little domestic help in the form of a boy or girl running behind them.
I almost think so loudly that one kid looks up at me as I if I was speaking to him “Arey, we hardly ever changed our school uniforms, and would cry to run down with our mothers chasing us down with a glass of milk or sayin change your clothes and do your homework first. Followed by calling out to us from the window to come home for dinner, dad’s getting angry now!”
This same kid, my nephew like a sweet well-mannered kid plops himself besides me and, softly murmurs in to one of my ears asking me, “chachu, what’s the score? You were playing FIFA 2014 na? “3 – 1,” I say! Secretly embarrassed. His immediate question was, which team are you? Are you the losing team? With a low voice, “ya man, dude I am losing, it’s really difficult. This version is dam tough”. Confidently, he says, “would you like to win?”
I think how? Thinking whether he knows some cheat codes, or tricks and before I realise…he has the tablet in his hand and is sliding his tiny fingers away on the touch screen continuing play of the same game I had started with 10mins to spare in the game. I step away like a lost soldier and also coz am distracted by a few saying goodbye. After about 10 minutes, I suddenly notice my nephew sitting with a relaxed look on his face as the settling score was 5 – 3. Really? In less than 10 mins, you shot 4 goals? His answer was this is game is too easy chachu, you might be new at it. You brat! I said and dived on him with the maximum tickles and soft punches, and we fought man to man!
There are many little gadget gurus like him in our city who somehow find the time to wake up early go to school, attend tuitions, swimming lessons, dance classes, tennis lessons, athletics, basketball, football in fancy clubs and turfs, watch tv, play games, dance in functions, weekend art classes alag se and spend time with their families and be in bed on time!! And then there are those kids you see while you drive by, in open gymkhana grounds and railway tracks, playing cricket or simply running around chasing stray dogs or rolling a tyre with a stick, kicking around in rain puddles, trying to make sand castles on a crowded beach, with the same enthusiasm.
The city provides a playing arena for all kinds of kids, fancy and otherwise!
Kids are Kids!
They will always find a way to entertain themselves. Although, lifestyles are changing, conscious Mumbaikars still find a way to remind their children about the simplicity of playing in a park by talking about it and acting on it. They still take their kids out to ride the bus, auto, and train (ab toh metro bhi aa gayee hai bhai) and visit the museum, local zoo or even a simple bike ride or trek nearby. They make a genuine effort to give children a normal childhood like theirs in good old Mumbai and to create new generation of childhood memories of modern Mumbai for them.
Way to go Mumbai Mommies and Daddies!
Ever thought of stopping and wonder who has it better us or them. I still try and do that with my friends when I can, while we simply chill on swing.
So The next time you see a kid with a gadget in his hand in the back seat of a fancy car, don’t go Tch! Tch! He might be just taking a break from a hectic day at school and serious play!
Aaj kal ke bache! Uff Chota Tablets! Smart and Efficient
Just to refresh your memory we have listed out a few games we could think of, and their rules. Do share your stories of games you played as a child and don’t forget to pass them on to the kids in your city!
Rules of a few games, so all my reader friends can enjoy them
Seven Tiles – https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=cfeUP9zo_MA
French Cricket – https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=JTXWoh9JnIc
1. Every time you touch the ball with the bat its considered as one run.
2. If the ball hits the batsman under the knee the batsman is out.
3. Direct catch by any fielder, batsman is out.
4. Direct hit outside the big box batsman is considered out.
Is to be played exactly like catch n cook, but in hospital tips for e.g. If the person who is catching you touches your toes, you need to hold your toe and catch the others, subsequently if you manage to catch someone touching that persons elbow, he or she will hold the elbow and catch others.
Hide n Seek
One person closes his or eyes and counts till 50 say slowly until which others playing the game hide, after that person opens his or eyes needs to find everyone…every time he/she spots anyone, need to come back to the start point and shout out loud the name of the person spotted…if the person who has been spotted reaches the starting point before the denner then he/she is considered save…if 3 people for e.g. are spotted the 4th person can save him/herself and even the 3 before. If all are spotted the first person spotted then seeks all.
Lock n key
Another way of playing catch n cook, one person tries to catch everyone, as he/she touches someone and says lock, that person has to sit down…the others can touch that person and save him/her by saying key…task for the denner lock everyone, and then first person locked will try and catch everyone.
Every time a denner catches someone he/she holds that persons hand and makes a human chain to catch others…if the human chain breaks whiles catching others the person wont be considered out, task is catch everyone without breaking the human chain, first person person caught will then catch everyone.
Follow the leader
Is where everyone follows what one person does best played on bicycles my childhood variation of the game, specially doing some stunts as a leader if you touch your feet down on the ground then the next person becomes the leader.