The gully-games of India

Some say chess or ‘shatranj‘ came from improvisation of ‘chaturanga‘ played in Mahabharata period; Polo was invented by Indian shatraps; Playing cards were popular in various courts as ‘Kridapatram‘ or ‘Ganjifa‘; Kalaripayattu gave origin to Judo and Martial arts by Buddhists; Teer-Dhanush promoted to archery; Kabaddi in Asian games. And ofcourse, land of snake-charmers must have been the idea behind ‘snake and ladders’. But, those games gained enough popularity to spread their wings across the world from Olympics to Vegas casinos.

But, some games couldn’t make it.

1. Antyakshari: College kids singing with deafening voices, trying to culminate songs with ‘tha’ (ठ), ‘dha’ (ढ). And the veterans coming up with ‘Thandey Thandey Paani se‘. A popular among college trips, and in boredom of trains, Antyakshari remains the most glamorised indigenous game featured even in movies and TV shows.

2. Goli a.k.a. Kanchey: One game, which led to frequent thrashing in childhood was this marble ball game. An intoxicating addiction. The enticing colourful shiny balls, and the ease of hitting with bow-stringed finger. The game is a miniature version of golf where we try to put the round balls into the hole, breeding many Tiger Woods of Kanchey.

3. Lattu a.k.a. Bambaram or spinning top: Spinning top is the first childhood lesson in practical physics. The ‘torque’ and centrifugal force, the spinning velocity. A game of perfection, Lattu needed hours of practicing to develop that reflex.

4. Aada-paada: Razma-mooli/Dosa-Idli eating Indians have always been obsessed with farts and purgatory desire. No wonder iconic Amitabh Bachhan was chosen for Piku (the movie). A detective shot at who farted and a wonderful limerick!

Aada paada kaun paada

Mamaji ka ghoda paada

Aam paam dhuss

Chane kee daal phuss.

One of the nasty embarassing game to nab the ‘wasn’t me’ guy.

5. Pitto a.k.a. Lagoria/ Satolia: Game may sound benign but it was the only violent skin-ripping masculine game played ofcourse by the notorious boys. A soft ball (technically) would be thrown at a pile of flat stones. While the opposite team tries to stack it back, the attackers would hit hard with ball at them. A cowboy game of ‘who shoots first’ played in gullies of India.

6. Raja-mantri-chor-sipahi: A chit game where ‘mantri’ have to choose the thief between ‘sipahi‘ and ‘chor‘ on raja’s instruction. I am sure similar chit games must be existing elsewhere but police and thief in similar garb may be unique to India.

* Games like chhupam-chhupai (Hide and seek), patang (kite-flying), chausar (roulette or board game version), gudda-gudiya kee shaadi (barbie indian version), gulli-danda (cricket) are excluded as they didn’t seem purely indigenous to author.

Kanchey: the game

Lattu: Glamorised as ‘spinning top’

Play pitto

Raja mantri chor sipahi

Another brick in Deewaar

Some ten people were being trained about cliff-jumping, their legs shaking at the sight of torrential rapids of river Bhagirathi. I knew this training will scare the hell out of me, so I just jumped ignoring all instructions. Only after diving into deep water, I realised I never learnt swimming. My wife was already shouting, “help, help!!”. Life had made me so exam-oriented, that I took it as just another exam. The distance to shore, the requisite velocity and the momentum of rapid…….the genius aced it. 

A peek into Indian schools of yore and present.

The rotes and the notes

Grandpa asked kid the meaning of rhyme “Humpty Dumpty…”. The fledgling convent educated kid said, “I just know the rhymes, not the meaning.”

Grandpa declared, “Convents are based on rote learning. ” (This wasn’t true but grandpa’s words were a dictum). 

I never had any assignments or homeworks since I studied in a dilapidated sarkari (government) school but that came out as a boon. Books became the toys, and innovative mischieves we played in hostel got me into scientific thinking. 

The rhetoric

For many years, it remained a same syllabus and curriculum. My brother would get a brand-new book which he would embellish with plastic covers and colorful marker pens. What I would inherit is, a creased and shabby book and my younger bro would get a thing-once-called-book. 

‘Wars of Panipat’ remained quintessential poser in history papers for years. Ten-year question papers and guess papers were vogue to ace any exam. Nobody cared to frame a new question.

The crouching children and sleeping teacher

Maths lessons were perfect for whooping ass and punishments (read my other blog), and literature lessons for a blissful nap. I had a hindi teacher who would ask to recite a story from textbook para-by-para in turns and sleep off. I always spoke loud, so when my turn came in lesson ‘Ibrahim Gardi’, my para began,

Ahmedshah Abdali said “Dozakh ke kutte!!”

Teacher got up from sleep, and all he heard was loud “kutte” (you dog!!) and slapped me in quick reflex.

The bliss of ignorance

One of the commonest phrase we heard when we were inquisitive, “That’s a very good question. Sit down.”

And that’s it. The answer would never come.

The aura of respect

One of the spiritual leader said, “India has the best culture in world.”

A child with gleamy eyes asked, “why?”

He retorted, “Because we respect our elders and never question back.”

His curiosity would be gagged for entire life, and he would never question.

The filmy fuchhas

The love-duets, the long chats, and emotional breakdowns. I-pills replacing candy-boxes. In my cosmopolitan practice, when I see a 12 weeks innocent fetus in a smiling teenager’s womb, it gives me goosebumps to just imagine its fate. I am not into moral policing but unwanted pregnancy must be avoided.

Schools have come a long way, and originality is creeping in. We all need to just free our mind from the rotes and rhetorics.

Macaulay revisited

Desi mid-life crisis

“Sir, you look pretty young, must be in twenties!” The callous bubbly girl remarked.

I never realised how swiftly I entered into 30s and close to heading what they say ‘midlife crisis’ or ‘frustrated forties’.  Could have been a genius-in-day-hoodlum-in-night kind during my college days, and then the pursuit of Dilli-waali girlfriend (read my old blog). Unbound uninhibited. For most of the born middle-class, this fool’s paradise gets over with a simple-yet-effective word called ‘marriage’. Its a symbolic end to any imprudent or luscious desire.

For many mischievous incorrigible young goons, marriage would be ultimate weapon to bring them on track. “Beta! Abb to shaadi ho gayee. Abb to sudhar jaao.”  (Now you’re married. better fall in line!). Even people like Ajay Devgn began doing movies like ‘Bhagat Singh‘ and ‘Singham‘ after marriage, while skimpily clad gyrating Kajol decimated her career to kid movies and Alpenliebe chocolate ads.

So, it wasn’t inapt for me to ignore the lively charming girl. Given a choice between Katrina Kaif or Konkana Sen, I prefer to go for Konkana’s movie which carries some substance-as they say. Wonder why these calculative producers pay so much to Katrina, a woman without substance? These ‘hot’ and ‘oomph’ don’t quite register in mind……anymore. The definition of ‘substance’ for me has flipped for good, like ‘Congress-to-BJP’, a character reversal, moderates to hard-core rightists. No other women. No indulgence. No freedom. No wits. Restrict to roman code of ethics and the supreme boss- your spouse. Konkana couldn’t hold me for long, and gradually the interest for movies died. TV soaps or those millions of singing idol shows were equally brutal.

Aren’t men cheering up Sachin and Yuvraj while gobbling on chips and drinks becoming rarer? I don’t remember when I last watched a test match. What would men do if they are stripped of historical ‘couch potatoes‘  status? With women conquering the couches watching all TV shows, should we begin calling rather ‘couch tomatoes‘?

To make it worse, era of ‘bigbasket’ and online shopping confiscated the lone birthright of indian husbands- shopping vegetables. I remember men enjoying evening walks to shopping ‘haats’ and fish-markets, a healthy respite from family woes. They would drift around, have long chat with buddies, have a ‘bhang-sip’ or a small ‘drink’ based on local preferences, discuss women may be or an unchaste joke. And there was no mobile to track you down either. Deprived of this casual pleasure, I have slowly forgotten the contours of gourds, and colour of flours. Big Bazaar revolution eliminated the pleasure to explore.

While driving back home, I was crooning an oldie, “O bade miyan diwaane, aise na bano” (an old song based on a moonstruck middle aged fellow). The girl who complimented in morning suddenly flashed in the rear-brain. She must be in her twenties or could be even younger. Huh! a kid. Yet, she brought in me a conceited grin, a quick look on car mirror and a stroke through own beard. May be I am still so young and charming! Day-dreaming I reached home. My spouse was surprised to see an exuberant beaming face instead of routine insipid fatigued profile. Mirror was even more surprised to find me staring at it for long. Everything seemed in tone, except the bulging tummy. I began coming home early and rushing to the gym. After lifting plenty of married life burdens, those weights and dumb-bells looked so wispy and light. Soon, my gait transformed from kyphotic bent Neanderthal to a Modi-style bold bloated stance.

Funky T-shirts, kamaal-khan sunglasses, a goan rejuvenation escapade and counting female stranger ‘likes’ on facebook. The new life had begun. Essentially, a suave doc was turning into a silly lampoon.

The tummy kept its contour intact not even budging for an inch. I sweated, panted, pushed up, tread-milled. Futile attempts of revival. God pushes you into such a karma-cycle that the only girl who would ever genuinely appreciate you, is your wife, sometimes more imposingly termed ‘life-partner’. A sacred elaborate marriage ritual and those seven-pheras glue you forever to somebody. Bond becomes even stronger with kids stepping in. The concept of ‘yours’ , ‘mine’ and ‘ours’ kids never crept much in Indian familes except a few like famous Mukherjeas where family lived like a riddle never knowing which son or daughter have come from which womb.

Coming back to the bubbly girl. She deserves some credit for bringing a sense of revival in me. A life lost in undesired burdens and imposed routine. A much early mid-life crisis which engulfs most of the married, divorced, or never-married people, is simply unwarranted. A ball-room dance with spouse may be extreme for many, but may be a bunch-of-roses would do.

What nonsense is buzzing in background when you write such a serious blog? ……Daddy mummy nahin hain ghar pe…….uncouth lyrics, oafish gestures.

Note: All characters (including me) are fictional and any resemblance is mere coincidence.

Continue reading “Desi mid-life crisis”

Baahubali: A lesson from Lanka.

While scrolling through facebook posts, I come across umpteen of innuendos about Dalits, Muslims, ‘We upper class’, Sardars, the Hindus, Brahmins, Biharis, We Indians, Those Pakistanis, and so on. The fight for claiming one as better race never ends. And we condemn Hitler? Anyway, back to Bahubali.

Baahubali of my story wasn’t anybody close to the muscle-men of movie, rather a disproportionate figure sledged once as ‘overweight fat cunt’. On top of it, he was heading a crew beaten and bruised since its inception for last fourteen years.

He belonged to a strife-torn kingdom fighting war of races since years. A country debt-ridden. A country so small mimicking almost a ‘tear-drop’ on world map. A country infamously called Lanka, the land of demons. The ugly ones.

Entire Baahubali’s kingdom denounced the minorities,  suppressing them, burning their houses, decimating them. Mutthu’s house too was burnt when he was a kid. While many Dalits turned Naxals, Mutthu rose beyond the ashes believing in the place he belonged. His skills were unique when he could spin the ball beyond human imagination almost like the leper ‘Kachda’ from Lagaan movie.

While many would have resisted, but Baahubali must had spoken like Aamir Khan, “Kachda khelegaaaaa!”. And so he played.

Baahubali took his newly shuffled bunch alongwith ‘Kachda’ to the land of whites down in a southern island of world. They were thrashed and booed. Kachda’s bowling action was made fun of, when he was asked to bowl seven times on the ‘Boxing day’. This wasn’t a dalit being made fun of, but a Lankan. All the majority upper class in their own country have been reduced to ‘dark uncouth race’ in the land of ‘whites’. This all caste and race thing is so relative. A brahmin in India would be a ‘brown indian’ somewhere else. All the barriers vanished, and Baahubali’s crew stood firmly with Mutthu.

A calm determined Baahubali took up the task to organise himself and take the revenge. He just looked at the bunch, their playing order, and shuffled it. Man at the top goes down, and men idle at bottom comes up. Lying at bottom for many years, when somebody get a special privilege, he thrives to do his best. To prove himself. Like first dalits who were renamed ‘harijans’ or uplifted by ‘reservation’, didn’t dance with joy but had tear in their eyes and thrived to sustain themselves. Sanath and Kaluwitharna proved giant killers.

Baahubali wasn’t alone. Another land of Moslems were too blamed for ‘fixing’ by the southern-islanders. And the prosperous land of Gandhi joined them naturally.

The supreme south-islanders had reason to laugh and scorn when an embarassing ‘bomb blast’ happened in Lanka right before the world cup. They refused to even step into the land of demons. What the world saw in return was unprecedented. The ever-fighting people of two lands- The Pakis and Indians joined to form a single team, and played an exhibition game with Baahubali in that very ‘blast-struck’ land. When Waseem Akram couldn’t find his T-shirt, he accidently wore the Indian captain Azhar’s T-shirt. Quintessential enemies were joyous together every time they took a wicket. The borders were broken as if they never existed.

Bahubali’s top men fired from the first ball. No defense. No pause. No adapting to situation. It was just blasting the bowler from the word ‘go’. This kind of cricket was never played before, and the same kind would be played now onwards. They changed the pattern of game forever. Sanath Jayasuriya rose from nowhere to ‘Man of series’, and ‘Most valuable player’ . Mutthiah Murlidharan shined with his swerving, dancing, mysterious balls, and what more? (Oh yes! Coach was Dave Whatmore).

Top batsmen of world cried at the pitches; Pace bowlers flummoxed by attack resorted to spin bowling; Spectators couldn’t bear the brutal thrashing of Baahubali’s team and vandalised the Eden Garden.

The murderous lankans reached to coveted finals with Australia. The Baahubali’s revenge to South-islanders.

For the first time, entire Lahore of Moslem was roaring for somebody from other land, flagging Lankan flags. A nation so neglected and deprived was getting a full-house crowd of supporters, that too in a jingoist Islamic country.

Baahubali knew he had arrived. He achieved the pride he never had.

Top order collapsed, but Baahubali was calm, assured. A Kumbhakaran look-alike Gurusinghe and Bibhishan look-alike De Silva have joined together for Lankan pride, and Bahubali kicked the final shot to glory. The world was conquered.

sri-lanka-cricket-world-cup-victory-1996
Arjun Ranatunga: The Baahubali, lifting World cup in 1996

#Abolishcaste

Dilli waali girlfriend

Morning newspaper had a photo clipping of Salwar-clad thinly built girls with two long hair-locks (colloquially called ‘chotees’) jumping across an iron-grill gate, since they were late for pre-medical exam.

Nothing attractive about them. No tight-fitted jeans. No lip gloss. No funky tops or overblown assets. No attitude. No X Y Z factor.

Morning newspaper was ofcourse the quientessential boring ‘The Hindu’, read by only two class of people- IAS aspirants or one who dreamt but never became one. They prefer to be called an elite class now. Moment I began counting myself as one, I terminated my ‘Times’ subscription, switched to ‘The Hindu’, and also changed my reading desk from study table to the toilet commode. And then, long verbose facebook posts and blogs followed, in efforts to bring myself in the elite league.

But, this fascination with elite class haunted me since my days in school. Asking for ‘the hindu’ was certainly not in a kid fascination. It was a blue-eyed urbane sophisticated convent educated girl who could speak fluent english. She seemed just out-of-reach, yet I began brushing up my english, practicing a heavily accented english in school backyard. I could never get the girl, instead aced my english papers.

Med-school ragging days followed, where a Bihari senior would gang-up all Bihari freshers and command like a Jehadi commander, “Saale! Tum log sab ke sabb yahan tak to aa gaye. Par aage ka raasta kathin hai. You all should aim for a ‘delhi-waali girlfriend’. “

Now, this was more than plain english. The overtones, the attitude, the out-of-place humour, the food habits, the body language. Delhi-waali girlfriend seemed like a golden-bicycle toy I cribbed for, my parents could never afford. Only way that came in my mind was old adage, “beta! Padhoge to sabb kuchh milega”. So, I studied hard and kept doing well in exams. Efforts were underpaid, when all I could get was a ‘patna-waali girlfriend’ (PWG).

I wasn’t ready to accept any fault in my DNA, instead something was wrong with the country. I moved to US, lost my PWG, and gave up any dream of DWG. This had suddenly brought me to end of road, with no further girlfriends to aim. I made many more friends, with no delhi-waali, no tags, no premonitions. In that country, all India-waallahs carried the same tag as a Bihari in India. The underdeveloped underprivileged unsophisticated accented people, all of them in dream of better opportunities.

Back to India, tilism was broken. I was in Delhi, a city of ogling, groping, teasing men and bold, energetic and lively girls, who would be afraid, self-conscious and listless at times. Delhi-waali-girlfriend would be equally praised and scorned for.

I finally did have an ephemeral delhi-waali girlfriend and a delhi-waali wife, yet the DNA didn’t haunt me ever again.

Courtesy: google images