BANGALORE: A group of boys run frantically, gathering pieces of flat stones strewn all over the road, trying to build a small tower by placing one stone over the other, till there are seven flat stones forming a conical shaped structure. At the same time, there is another group of boys trying to hit the stone gatherers with a rubber ball, desperate to foil their attempt to build the little tower. And once the top-most stone is placed precariously on the top of the heap, the stone gatherers shout ‘Lagori’, announcing they have won this round.
This essentially is the traditional game of lagori that the boys used to play on streets, fields and vacant sites. All that the game requires is an old rubber ball, some rubble and boys willing to engage in the game.
One the team gets to fling the ball at the seven stones piled over the one another and the same team has to put the stones back in place before the other team hits them with the ball. Boys generally resorted to the game every time their game of cricket is disrupted for want of a bat, which has been snatched by the grumpy neighbour after the ball has smashed his window pane.
There are times when they have no ball too. But that never kept the boys from ‘having a ball’. They’d play ‘Mara Koti’, where one boy is ‘out’ and has to catch the other mates who have scrambled on to trees, which were never in short supply in the city’s neighbourhoods, where spacious gardens boasting huge mango, neem or jackfruit trees were a norm.
Though tops and marbles had to be bought, young boys were adept at making their own kites with old newspapers pasted together with cooked rice. They would then head to the nearest playground to fly them.
Today, the nearest playground is generally a long drive away. And so, such traditional games and the ‘Gilli Danda’, which required unrestricted space, seem to be dying out and the fun seems to be the boys’ hands, gripping the joystick of their video games.