Friday, September 28, 2012

Games - innovations

A friend's post on "Nostalgic Games" post made me nostalgic and you know what happens when I become nostalgic – a blog post comes up. Of course, how I can resist, that too after Deepak asking me what all games I played. But, I do not have enough time to explain/translate the numerous games I played. So, I will just list down the small innovations/derivations we (me, my bro and my friends) made to keep us alive and going whenever we felt boring.

1. Loans and pawn broking (hypothecation) in Trade/Monopoly: We started playing Trade/Business/Monopoly as early as at 8. Slowly, we were bored. Then we introduced loan concept. A player can hypothecate his city (or bungalow/godown) with the bank – should pay an interest of 50/100 for every round until he can pay back. And, the loaned amount is used to buy new sites. See, we were good real investors at that time. Of course, genes of a banker father helped. But, I am not a good investor now :-(

2. Share Business: We were bored of Trade by 12. Then, we conceptualized the share business. Instead of cities, the monopoly board would have Company names. Players can own a company or buy a share of the ownership. You get dividend similar to the rents for the sites. Having a type-writer at home meant we printed our own currency and Share certificates. Now, I am trying hard to balance my demat account portfolio.

3. Shooting range: Inspired by watching 1988 Olympics in Doordarsan, at the age of 8, we set up our own shooting competition with plastic bulleted guns bought in local carnival (exhibition).

4. Archery: Most of the kids might have made bow-arrows stealing sticks from broom and then having a war (inspired from DD Ramayan). We did that too, got bored and went a step ahead and conducted archery competition similar to shooting (again inspired by Olympics).

5. Thermocol bats and squash/TT: What would you do with those left-over thermocol (polystyrene) sheets after you were finished with your school projects? We carved small TT-size bats (rackets) out of thermocol and conducted squash tournaments in the drawing room and table-tennis on the dining table.

6. Tennis with exam-pads: Exam-pads are the ubiquitous ready-to-use bats/rackets to play cricket or any ball-game, especially in school. We even played shuttle-badminton with the pads. But, the tennis game with exam-pad and rubber ball tops the list – yeah, we followed proper tennis scoring of games and sets.

7. Golf: Having new cable TV connection and StarSports for the first time meant we watched almost all sports on it, including the boring golf. Inspired by it, we played golf (mainly putting and clubbing) at home - digging holes in the backyard and using sticks as the drives.

8. Basketball with mug as basket: Once, we wanted to play basket-ball inside home. Hang two mugs to opposite-facing windows, use a plastic ball – we were ready to play basket-ball :-)

9. Cricket with duster(wiper)-chacks : In Engineering, none would carry exam-pad. We tried with books, but they were heavy. So, we played cricket with chalks and duster. That too, while classes were going on in the adjacent rooms.

10. Timeless test: Bored of regular 10 or 15-over matches, we started playing 2-innings unlimited over cricket matches with all rules including innings lead and follow-on.

If these innovations were needed after we got bored with the below games, one can understand how much we enjoyed our childhood. Thanks to never pressurising parents (for education), I (and my bro) had a wondeful childhood   Even getting cable TV in my seventh standard did not stop us.

Repeating the games I mentioned as comment on Deepak’s post:- Nela-banda, Udum (Hide&Seek), Veeri-veeri gummadipandu veeri peremi, Help, Current-Shock, Ice-boy, Ice-Press, Color-color, Enimidi-rallu aata, Tokkudu Billa (3-4 varieties), Kundullu, 2 variations of London, Steps game, Mukku-gilludu aata, Show (Played with chits), Ramudu-Seetha, Accham-gillalu, Chinta pikkalata, Edu penkulata, Uru-peru-cinima-vastuvu, Karrata, Bechalu, Goleelu (marbles), Trade/Monopoly, Vaikhuntapali & Snakes&Ladder, Ludo, Ashta Chemma (2-3 varieties), Gudu-gudu gunjam, Cat-ball, Card games like WWF, cricket stats, Archery, Shooting, paper-fans, Donga-police with self-manufactured paper guns, Dadi, Puli-meka, the number games, all kinds of Sand games, playing Kings&Wars.

The above were in addition to the usual Cricket (one-step, two-step, tennis, tape-ball, cork-ball, double wicket, test matches- unlimited overs, ), Chess, Carroms (game,rupees-paise, business, puli-meka), Kabaddi, Shuttle Badminton, kho-kho, flying kites, video games (Mario, tetris) and computer games.

Games played (conducted) at school - like lemon&spoon, three-leg race, gunny-bag race, Ram-Ravan, memory game, etc

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Millennium Transformation

Mobile phones, internet, email, LCD TVs, iPods, shopping malls, ATM – Things that generally come to one’s mind if asked about the changes in lifestyle or the development India has made in 21st century or the new millennium. “That’s it!” is what I have been thinking for the last few days. “No, it is not!” has come the reply. The list has grown in size while I wonder how my life has changed (positively) due to those advancements. Note that I am thinking from an average Indian and not as an IT guy or a rich guy (not that I am) or a gadget freak (not that I am).
Cash transfer: ATMs and swipe cards can be rated as the biggest change in our lives. This generation students who simply take their dad’s ATM card or add-on cards while moving into hostels (or boarding schools) do not know the troubles students or children staying away faced in 20th century. You have to wait for your Money Order (by post) to receive your money (the PostMan was always in demand) only to see it vanish in seconds after payments to fees, laundry-man, canteen and other friends only to have a faint smile at one or two currency notes (if left) remaining in your hand. Once I had made 800KM to-fro 24-hour journey to my brother’s University to hand him money he needed to go for a college tour (as Western Union too could not promise to deliver in 10 hours).
Online application filling: When I had to apply for my engineering entrances or later IITs for M.Tech, I had to visit multiple banks on different dates (sometimes traveling to Vijayawada or Hyderabad) with various denominations of DDs (Demand Drafts) to buy the applications; then visit the post-offices, do speed post or registered post as required, pray Gods and wait for the acknowledgement letter to confirm that my application was received; then again wait anxiously for the hall-ticket/interview letter. Now, you simply apply online, sometimes do payments online, download the hall-ticket and appear for the exam. Similarly, businessmen had to carry around big suitcases of cash and check-books to do the transactions. Now, you can roam with a laptop and a swipe card.
Road rollers and laying roads: Laying roads was a multi-day (sometimes multi-week) exercise then. Dig the road, lay stones as the base layer, roll with the big road-rollers, lay sand-stones, roll again, lay mud, roll again, burn tar (in drums), pour tar, roll again and wait for the tar to dry and harden. Now, the modern machines take the tar-mixture and lays the road in less than an hour and you can drive almost immediately on the road. Building CC (cement concrete) roads is also an easier task these days.
Plumbing: My dad bought a house and got it renovated. So, I know in detail each and every step in house-building and the effort needed. Most of those steps have been made easier and quicker due to technical advancements. Then, pipes were made of iron or PVC and the plumbers used to carry big toolkit to create threads to the pipe-ends and use big to join them. Now, the new vinyl pipes can be easily joined with an adhesive paste. Even my dad does it easily now.
Carpentry:Wood-work these days, either making doors or tables or show-cases has been automated a lot. Electric saws and blades are used to cut logs into blocks, designs are made with machinery, screws and nails are fitted with machines and polishing is applied with machines.
Flooring: Tiles were manually cut, sized and polished. Now, you can cut them using a machine.
RCC Slabs: Laying a slab for the roof would need you to use big hammers to cut iron-rods, hire an ox-pulled or tractor-driven concrete machine, fixing wooden molds with bamboo-sticks as support with hundreds of nails, water it and wait for weeks before raising the next floor. Now, you have machine-cutters for iron, ready-mix supplied by truck, fill in the metal sheets supported by pipes and you can start the next floor within days.
Threshers and Excavators:
Tractors replacing ploughs and other tractor add-ons had become a not-rare scenes. I have been to rural areas regularly, and I am surprised with the use of technology in recent years. Threshers are used to thrash grain and excavators (or JCB/proclainer as popular) are used to dug/plough the fields. A lot of middle-sized farmers too prefer this owing to non-availability of laborers because of migration and high-cost.

Milking machines:
Dairy industry too had gone a change with the use of milking machines and grass-cutters getting increased as well as the use of artificial serum. I went to AP Dairy exhibition held by the state goverment recently at Hyderabad and was overwhelmed by the huge response from the farmer community.
SMS tickets: One can travel in bus or train by just showing an SMS on their phone. I never imagined this 5 years ago, leave 15 years ago. It is not only trains, both RTC (public) and private buses in AP allow you to travel by an SMS. IN RTC, it is not even mandatory to show your ID, unless another passenger claims for the same seat. Even the ticket-cases are being replaced by TIMs (Ticket Issuing Machines). Gone were our days when we preserved all our bus-tickets, used rubber-bands to tie them, used punch-holes to play ‘buss-aata’ (driver-conducter-bus) game.
Many of these things have been taken for granted now-a-days.
Please add if you see any such innovations that have transformed our lives in the recent years - only from ‘90s onwards. The specified innovations should be available to a larger community. No references to electronic/computer appliances like MP3 players, DVDs, washing machines, please.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Feast fiesta

When I flip the calendar page to next month, the first thing I look for is the festival dates. While I do that for holidays like others, another important reason is the feast.

Fe(a)stival is all about the feast for me. As a kid, the mind was always on the food than the god. Inquires about the menu would start on the previous night; whilst the body stayed in puja room, nose would be sent onsite to the kitchen to gather prior details on the delicacies, and the eyes switching between the god and the stove. After joining the job and being old enough to proclaim a non-believer, there was no need to sit in puja room. Just wait for Amma (mom) to prepare the lunch and finish the puja, before I (we – dad, me and bro) launch your lunch feast. So, officially the festival is about feasts now. There were instances where I travelled unreserved in buses and trains for 7-9 hours to native, just to relish the festive specials.

Though every festival (and thanks to Hindu gods, we have so many) menu includes a hot item (usually Pulihora – tamarind rice/puliyogare), a sweet item (generally paramannam (rice kheer)/semiya payasam (kheer) and optionally (for major festivals) second hot item (bajjis) and sweet items (gulab jamoon/bobbattu), some festivals have their trademark food items. The recipe will signify the festival. Based on the recipes, I rank those ‘feast’ivities.

1. Varalaxmi vratam (or Gowri puja) :- That falls on Sravan (Shravan) Fridays and Tuesdays with primary festival on second Friday. Though the festival is for women, I (and my Dad) wait for the vayinams, the polythene bags with Bengal gram, sprouts, nut-powder, pan-leaves. On a rainy monsoon evening in August, return from school and eat roasted nuts/sprouts that are delicious and nutritious – beat that! And on the main day, Amma prepares poornalu (poornam burelu) – I can (could) eat 10-20 of them on a day with 3-4 in lunch :-)

2. Vinayaka Chaviti/Ganesha Chaturdhi: Ganesha is a big food lover and we could pray him well only by offering good food (and later consume it). Undrallu (Modak), Kudumulu (fried modak), Burelu (fried jaggery-rice cakes), Garelu (like wada), Bobbatlu (Obbattu/Puran poli), the list goes on. No wonder, he is praised “O bojja ganapayya” – he fills my bojja (belly).

3. Dasara (Dussehera/Navratri) – A festival of 9 nights and 10 days with a variety of prasadam everyday (and every temple) culminating in feasts on last 3 days coupled with Dasara holidays to school after first trimester exams. What else can I ask? No, we don’t do Navratri fasting. In AP, on each Navratri day, the goddess is in decorated in one avatar (E.g.: Kali, Saraswati, Rajarajeswari, Balatripurasundari, etc.) and a variety of prasadam is distributed – pulihora, daddhojanam (curd-rice type), kesari, sprouts, etc. We kids, used to tag along with the moms’ batch to temples to savor different prasadams.

4. Sankranthi (Pongal) coming in January starts with preparation of Ariselu (rice-jaggery cake) with new rice (rice from that year’s harvest). Sankranthi holidays (after second trimester exams) are enjoyed with a tin full of Ariselu and another tin full of Karappusa(chakralu/murukulu/jantikalu – baap of Kurkure). The final two days - Paramannam and chakra pongali (sweet pongal) with new rice on Bhogi is followed with katte-pongali (pongal) and kalagapulagam curry (curry made with vegetables with condition that knife should not be used – so, generally beans and cucumber are used) on Sankranthi.

5. Ugadi (Telugu new year) falls in March/April makes me look for Ugadi Pachadi (chutney/pickle) – which is a mixture of 6 tastes – salt, sour (tamarind), bitter (neem buds), hot (new red chillies), sweet (jaggery) and vagaru, something between bitter-sour (raw mango). Some fear this pickle, but I am a big fan. Everyone at home takes one or two spoons and the rest is left for me to relish throughout the day. I visit temples and friends’ homes to have different kinds of this pickle. Amma used to scare me about possible dysentery but I never faced it.

6. Sri Ram Navami (the day Rama returned from Ayodhya) falls in April – he is offered Panakam (Jaggary-pepper juice) as prasadam in AP. While everyone limits to one glassful, the rest is for me and my Dad. The rest are warned to be aware of dysentery for excess consumption of this.

7. Deepavali (Diwali) is not a big festival food-wise, but for sweets. Special sweets like gulab-jamoon, kajjikayalu are dedicate for Diwali – fire a bomb, come inside, have a sweet and go out – A cycle to be followed for 2-3 days.

8. Kartika vanabhojanalu, the Kartika lunar month starting next day on Diwali involves group outings (colony/college/school/office, etc.) to a nearby garden/beach with everyone bring some food special – enjoy the trip and share the special recipes in the afternoon group lunch. Kartika Pournami (full moon) and Kartika Somavaram (Monday) bring a fasting for the whole day and a feast in the late evening.

Living in a secular country and having friends from other regions and religions brings chances – like semiya through Ramzan, cakes through Christmas and New Year, Onam, Pongal, etc. But, being a vegetarian cuts down the options like haleem, bakreed, etc. Ok, these are the major festivals, though occasions like marriages and funerals bring in extra opportunities along with usual pujas and vratams by moms and wives. 

However, I should not forget to salute my Amma – who, all these years never found it hard to wake up early on the mornings of the festival and go extra mile to bring all these items to the table while doing pujas and visiting, when I (and my bro) treat it as a holiday and look for an extra hour of sleep. Thank God (no I don’t believe, it’s just a usage), I got a wife who knows cooking :-)