Once upon a time, tikki, goli, lagori, chinni-daandu

SUNAAD RAGHURAM writes: I was in Bangalore the other day. To attend a get together of old childhood mates, mostly from good old Saraswathipuram, but now mostly from the land of the Empire State Building. How I wish I could say the land of the World Trade Centre. But then, that’s another story.

Needless to underline, the gathering brought out a phantasmagoria of thoughts, emotions, reminiscences, memories, images and feelings of times spent in the sylvan setting of the Tengina Topu near the 4th main road. When all of us were young boys with more than a smearing of innocence on our souls. When life was one long beautiful unhurried dream.

When life played itself out in the confines of our personal world where the smallest things gave us the greatest joy; where even the inane and the ribald mixed in one palatable paste to humour, amuse and cheer us; we who were in our own sweet world anyway.

We spoke so terribly animatedly, not in the less fuelled by some good quality scotch, about the evenings we spent in Hari Hotlu on 1st main road ravenously devouring masale dose (aaaaru massssssale, aaaru masssssaaalaai), and drinking 3 by 6 coffee; eating churumuri (swalpa khara irli battre), playing lagori, focusedly aiming at the opponent and cannoning the tennis ball in his direction as if to flush out some indecipherable teenage angst; chinni dandu (Redaaaaay!?) played with Viv Richards’ like gusto with the chinni sometimes spiralling up and resembling a helicopter rotor with one of the guys underneath it, ostensibly in position to catch it but at the last moment misjudging its flight path!

Tikki as we played it on the roads, rummaging for cigarette packs near municipality dust bins like desperate mongrels in search of a morsel – the value of an empty pack of Passing Show—-even if it was dirtily crumpled, meant something like 5000 ( points was it!?)

Goli too was central to our existence. Doosa goli, the big sized one, the small ones, the regular sized ones, colourful, precious gems in our collection and to our juvenile minds, as valuable.

Some of us were so good in hitting the targeted goli that we ended up with quite a haul at end of day’s play. And as we walked back home in groups in sheer exultation, the bulging pockets of our soiled shorts looked like the cheeks of a desperately greedy monkey that had stuffed itself silly with all the goodies that it could lay its hands on in an unattended kitchen!

And as we guys spoke of the good times we had, the innocent middle class fun we partook of as young boys, I couldn’t help but notice through the window of my friend’s Bangalore apartment that the world is marching inexorably. Times are changing. Priorities are being churned.

Something as simple as clean innocence itself has become endangered; competing with the tiger on life’s Schedule 1 list! And young boys of today seem to have as much understanding of lagori and goli and chinni dandu as we as youngsters had about discotheques and step up brassieres!

What was novel yesterday is junk today. What was relevant yesterday is unrecognizable today. Fashions go out of, well, fashion, even before you’ve tried out your new outfit after rushing home from the glitzy mall on Magrath road.

Men and women, boys and girls; a medley of garishness, not only in their dress but also in the accentuation of the contours that the dresses are seen to celebrate; glitz, glamour, colour; the hubbub of metropolitan life; consumerism that’s evident, numbing and mostly dumbing. Consumerism that seems to be scaling new heights by the day, raising the bar of expectations, heightening desire and want. Of the purely, crassly, ephemerally materialistic.

Men (and women too) are in a hurry. In a rush for ever. Clambering, clamouring and jumping in and out of everything in their wake. Be it relationships or autorickshaws. They invariably know not where they are going. But they imagine they are on their way. Where life’s success is entirely dependent on your ability to climb on to the 7.15 Santa Cruz local, if you’re a Mumbaikar. Or hitting the ring road at the crack of dawn if you happen to live in Bangalore. Where money is the moola(h) mantra and earning it necessitates invoking many a tantra.

The next day, I eased into top gear in my jeep down the flyover beyond the Town Hall off lung choking J.C. Road and hit the road to Mysore.

Until next time, allow me to get back to my beloved Tengina Topu. To my Saraswathipuram. When I had more hair on my pate!