Saturday, December 15, 2012

My Play Time, Our Play Time and Vanishing Spaces

A still from Ideocracy... are heading towards this?

Kaleidoscope doesn't have competitive biceps, triceps or quadriceps, yet Kaleidoscope played throughout his childhood to his early adulthood. Frequency of attending the playground had fallen sharply with age and with changes in his career status. He completely stopped playing when he finished first two years in graduation. This was quite early retirement for many of his playmates and invitation to the ground continued till his playmates got their jobs mostly in IT companies. Kaleidoscope till date often meets his playmates and discuss good old days in the playground, fights, subscription collection for purchase of play items and never ending matches.

Playtime at Urban alleyways:

While making frequent visits at the queen's native place, Kaleidoscope finds children produce the roads and alleyways as their playgrounds.

Gully cricket tournament

Cricket, badminton and even football matches are organised in the alleyways.  Kaleidoscope smiles and his hypocritical self gets a peculiar satisfaction in making judgmental comments "this is urban hangover... children have no space to play." Kaleidoscope is completely unaware about what is happening in a large part of the rural frontiers.

Playtime at not-so-rural places:

Recently, Kaleidoscope makes visits at some of the not-so-rural places in West Bengal, mostly in Bardhaman district. In the afternoon he takes his camera and makes plan to take some shots of the children at play. While he keeps searching for such moments and local heroes, he finds empty lands and only a few places cricket matches are going on. The players are not children, they are about the age of Kaleidoscope himself. Curious enough Kaleidoscope asks a few of his known villagers to get reply "children are at private (tuition) classes." Local school teachers arrange for a couple of batches in the evening session where children of the first batch has to miss the play time. The children of the second batch has to study in the play time as after the coaching class gets over they hardly have energy to continue reading for the next day.

A photograph taken in Bandoan, Purulia. What should be the road-map for these children? Western Education? or should we recommend a coupling of western education and games - their mode of understanding of nature and livelihoods?

Rahul - Kaleidoscope's maternal cousin studying in class - IX like many others of his school has lost any attraction at afternoon play sessions. Rahul and his peers say that a) television cartoons are more attractive than outdoor games, b) computer centers offer attractive video games at cheaper rate, and c) coaching classes make it difficult to play regularly, hence, there is no network among players, and they do not turn up in the afternoon.

The larger picture:

While Kaleidoscope misses the opportunity of taking photos of the playgrounds and players, he is cynical about a few more issues, first, children at not-so-rural places are becoming more alienated from the nature and natural surroundings, second, they are lacking vital lessons like their urban counterparts, like team work, leadership, co-operation, cognitive understanding of speed and distance, etc., third, they are increasingly lacking physical fitness (pardon my generalisation). While the urban jungle makes play space vanish, educational burden is making more play spaces disappear even in places where plenty of open ground awaits.    


  1. aw... is that so? They are fucked up as well... !!

  2. This is a touchy story Kaleidoscopem especially for the generation which had playtime and playground. If this is precisely the case with not-so-rural places then we are going to have batches of dumbo in near future.

  3. Well... well... are we making children dumb? Do they miss childhood fun? Education system... weekly exams... internal assessments... go to hell...

  4. I don't intend any generalisation. It is not that play grounds are empty, there were kids at playground. What stroke me the most is the small number of young adults and considerably high number of young men aged around 30s. While our generation keeps playing there is a significant absence of young stars. It was depressing to see people like Rahul, studying hard even when their annual examination is just over. The private tutors, their regular coaching classes are to be blamed so far I understood, which is of course liked to much larger issues like "getting a job", "competing for better results", "insecurities and anxieties of parents", "people's unfulfilled aspirations" and so on...

  5. Oh dear! This is shameful for teachers who are making profitable business through private tuition. We should be ashamed of seeing our children loosing opportunity to create fun filled memories of childhood. Guardians must see their childhood in retrospect... Its not the marks that we had, it is just the funny days that we had... please let them play