Games That Brought People Closer And Enhanced Relationship

People entertained themselves with games like ‘Adupuliattam’, ‘Paramapadham’ etc., those days. Many of these games involved a bit of physical activity and time. While attention was important, the games did not make people hyper. Fellowship was part of the deal. I remember my older relatives playing ‘Pallankuzhi’ with tamarind seeds or cowrie shells at home. My mother’s paternal grandmother Swarnambal used to play Pallankuzhi with effortless ease. The game of dice was much loved. Every household had a set with them. Carrom Board, chess, card games, Chinese checkers etc., came in later. Playing with the top was an interesting process. The rope and the top were important assets for the youngsters. A ‘top’ owner was always sought. The finesse with which they played with the top was amazing. The top used to spin around fast and people used to lift it with their hand and place it on another location too. We should have a top skill championship for it will surely promote dexterity. A thread process with both the hands was a great novelty.
Vaikunta Ekadasi was the time when people stayed up over night. They used to play the game ‘Snakes and Ladders’ which is known as ‘Paramapadham’ in Tamil. The Vaishnavaite population used to be with the game in order to stay up overnight. Of course the game was loved by everyone in the society. ‘Adupuliattam’ involved the goat and the tiger. It was a very Indian game for both, the tiger and the goat are part of India for a long time. The game owes itself to our country.
People played ‘Hide and Seek’ which was known as ‘Kannamoochi’ in Tamil. Kids used to play the game during their holidays. The big joint family residences were the places for playing the game. A number of people got introduced to games from other countries too. Some of the ladies used to play ‘Mahjong’. Its a game of skill, strategy, calculation and involves a degree of chance. The game used to be played with tiles based on Chinese characters. A set of ladies from leading families used to play Mahjong regularly in Coimbatore.
‘Trade’ and ‘Monopoly’ were games played with artificial money. Both had the names of locations connected with metropolitan cities. I used to play Monopoly with my friends Junaid, Manoj, Veerashivakumar, Ganesh, Anand Prasad, Rajesh and Santossh during my school and college days. It used to go on for hours together. We played ‘Scrabble’ too and it used to help us improve our vocabulary. My GRG School classmate Sumeet Roy was good with the cross word. Many were good with ‘The Hindu’ Crossword those days. Prema Dhamodharan of the DPF family has always been an avid ‘Crossword’ expert.
‘Reversi’ or ‘Flipit’ was another game that we played. My aunt Nirmala and uncle Seetharama Guptha had got it from Madras for us and very quickly all of us became experts in it. I remember the members of my maternal family playing carrom and particularly my mother’s uncle K.C.Rajagopal. He used to knock of the coins in rapid succession. Oh, the other popular game was ‘Roman Dominos’. Small tablets were used I remember playing it for a long time. Our family had a number of these games made in silver and it was given to the newly married couple as a gift. These games were meant to defreeze and create an intimacy between the newly married husband and wife. My paternal grand mother Lalitha and grand aunt Indrani had a few games between them.
I am sure people will remember the ice cream parlour Ice – O – Cone founded by Padma Ranganathan of Race Course. It was located on Arts College Road and perhaps the first video game in Coimbatore ‘Space Invaders’ used to be placed there. I remember playing it in the residence of G.D.Naidu too. Missing Link on D.B Road in R.S.Puram was the place for video games. We used to rush there and wait for our turn.
Black coloured one Rupee coins would be given to us and it had been a money spinner for sometime. Prestige Corner on Avinashi Road in the LIC Buildings was known for its video game parlour. It was a venture of the Rajendra Textiles family. A nice multi cuisine restaurant used to serve tasty soups and hot fried rice.
My aunt Nirmala and uncle Seetharama Guptha used to visit Madras often. Daddy was also a frequent visitor. They used to get us small video games from Kasi Chetty Street and Burma Bazaar. I distinctly remember the game ‘Parachute’. My brother Suresh and myself used to smuggle it to school and play with our friends. Dad got us ‘one’ video game wrist watch and we had to shoot the target with the aid of buttons. It involved a bit of dexterity. Both of us used to fight for the watch and therefore mummy made us take turns with it. I remember Ganesh and Santossh excelling with the game. I was quite average with it. Shops like ‘Toyland’ and ‘Fairdeal’ used to sell kits with 10 games in one package.
Most of the games were played in the company of people. Games improved relationships, skills and people chilled out with each other. I could foresee the loneliness which came in with the advent of video games.
Today on line games are a craze with everyone. Shrujan is an NGO founded by a family of industrialists. It has used craft to add interest in traditional games. The Crafts Council of Tamilnadu has several events which promote crafts and Shrujan has been part of its programmes.
The games played by people have really been enriching. Its time that we got back to the old games which promoted crafts, culture, fellowship and most importantly wisdom.
—Rajesh Govindarajulu

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