Saturday, February 19, 2011

Kho-Khoya Khoya Chand

Well, a warning right at the start - this post is not about the film... it is simply a reminiscence of the days gone by... those fancy-free days of fun, frolic, and most importantly - Free Play...

I was on a visit to Bhanpura a miniscule village of about 70 houses in Shajapur, Madhya Pradesh (NOT the Bhanpura on Google maps, which is a town near Mandsaur, also in MP) and had made friends with a bunch of school kids there over math problems and a spontaneously staged skit.

Day 2, lunch time – and they insisted I play with them – first ‘pakdan paath’ and then kho-kho. And I did. Oh boy, I sure played kho-kho. My joints creaked and my breath rasped as my lungs and bones protested and cursed me in unison... but my heart was singing.... and I played on, and on, and on...

And I loved every nano second of it! I can’t even start to describe the sense of elation I felt...Playing in that long-forgotten way - under the blue sky, the slightly over-warm mid-January sun, united in that strangely deep way with that bunch of kids as only children can connect....

No fierce competition and one-upmanship, no pressure to perform... just pure enjoyment of every precious, playful moment.

It set me wondering - do city kids today ever get a chance to play that way? I doubt it – it would be rare, if at all. If some kid actually managed to slip in even 30 minutes of free outdoor play between school, home work, TV, video games, sports coaching and hobby classes – he would not just be a lucky kid, he would HAVE to be Superkid!

And the sad part is, the kids just don’t know what they are missing.

Some of you might feel like retorting to that with ‘What is there to miss – they have so much more in their lives nowadays!’ If that is so, just think back a bit... think of the games you played a child – Sathodi (called pithu in and around Delhi), Stapu (hopscotch), Chain, Paala (Boundary), Vish-amrit, Tippi-tippi-tap (what-colour-do-you-want), I-Spy (ice-spice to us as kids...), Langdi tang and the quirky and quaint ‘Elastic’... the list just goes on. But just stop and think of yourself playing those games.... shut your eyes and bring back the feelings they invoked in you...

Aur ab bolo - are urban kids today missing something or not?

But honestly, Free Play is a thing of the past for us deeply urban beings – as are fountain pens and 5-paise churans in plastic pipes. The only place where it still exists is in our villages – though there too it is an endangered species – threatened by various forms of ‘development’.

The craving for that feeling of pure, undiluted joy still remains, though.   Nowadays, city people try to indulge this craving by paying hefty amounts to go for various kinds of ‘Adventure Sports’. Well, I agree, it serves the purpose to some extent – but really, I do believe that the best things in life come free. They just can’t be bought, sold or rented.

Yes, I am happy I played kho-kho in Bhanpura that day. I am happy I shouted down my lungs and bones and got into the ‘Free Play’ mode.

Suddenly, for no reason, I feel happier. Richer. Freer.


  1. Whole-soul in agreement with u suchi! U reminded me of the breaktime in school ( LIS) when we ran to occupythe empty space near Mrs Ghosh's bengali room to play LangdiTang! Oh what sheer Joy of Breathlessness! much xciting than the prescribed PRANAYAMS! recommended 4 us nowadays! Good read. Keep the letters flowing...

  2. Hey Jayati! Glad the post reminded you of the sheer happiness of those carefree days! I truly wish there was some way we could somehow gift it to the coming generations too - though things don't look that promising...

  3. The answer my friend is blowing in the wind, the answer is blowing in the wind.
    Don't just keep having all the fun alone! You owe it to yourself to try and bring back the free spaces for Ananya at least and so many other kids around us. And by the look of it on the photo you sure had fun - what about getting some fun and games in for all of us biggies too.
    Your musings have given me dieas (by experience you should know that is dangerous)
    am waiting for the next post. As such these are uncertain times - what with rains again in Seoni and Mowgli studyign hard and so many other climate change indicators. We need to do soem thing drastic

  4. That is a beautiful pic Suchi ma'am! And as you said, in today's urban environment, scenes like the one in your photo are very hard to come by..
    Here's to hoping all is not lost for the next generation :)

  5. Some how, I just love this picture - one of the best for a long long time

  6. The art work is the very best! You should actually try honing your skills at that!

  7. I would like to say that this blog really convinced me to do it! Thanks, very good post.
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