The place one should not miss this summer vacation, in Mysore, is Pratima Gallery which is in front of Mysore Zoo. As one enters the beautifully carved old wooden door of this gallery, a flight of stairs leads down to the gallery. There inside, lots and lots of beautifully created game boards give a colourful welcome. There are games boards created in as many as 30 craft forms and also tastefully created artworks that are specially commissioned for this exhibition.
It is not just an exhibition but a time machine, indeed. A look at those gorgeous game boards is a sure-fire ticket to one’s childhood. As I was engrossed looking at the displayed games, I heard a familiar sound. It was the hollow sound of shells, a group of children were playing Chaukabara with cowries in the game parlour at the gallery; umm! I am dragged back in time and suddenly I was a school kid again. During summer and Dasara vacations, we kids were holding our entire road to ransom by playing hide-and-seek, marbles, shuttle-badminton, cycling, etc. When our cousins came calling, we played board games with them indoors.
The heap of tamarind seeds - for us kids it was a veritable treasure with which we played umpteen games, all of it is flooding back to me. The game of ‘Sari-Besa’ in which one has to take a fist-full of seeds from the heap and the opponent had to guess whether the fist contained ‘sari’ (even) or ‘besa’ (odd). The seeds are then counted and if the opponent had guessed correct, the seeds are his, if not, nothing. Unwittingly, we were learning the concept of ‘even’ and ‘odd’ much before being taught at school.
As kids we had learnt basic concepts of mathematics even before joining school all because of board games. We were so obsessed with games that, we created games out of pretty well anything which we could lay our hands on. For few special things we had to go looking for them; many a times, our gang surreptitiously lurked around bangle stores and hunt for broken pieces of glass bangles. One might ask why, and the answer is – to play.
Kids are very creative with things. They can devise games out of anything, everything, and play. The converse of this is also true. That is, kids who play a lot will become creative. It is a wrong notion that creativity is required only for artists, actors and writers, but the fact is, creativity is useful for everyone – politicians, engineers, tailors, pujaris, farmers, home-makers, teachers, etc., etc., etc. Creativity inculcates the ability to think out of box, which helps a person to devise solutions for problems in any situation.
So if you want your kids to learn while having fun and also if you want to keep those dreaded diseases like Dementia and Alzheimer’s at bay (it has been proven that playing board games regularly helps avoiding such diseases in old-age), then drop in at Pratima Gallery. A whole new world of traditional board games opens up in front of you. Ramsons Kala Pratishtana has organised its third annual game exhibition ‘Kreedaa Kaushalya’ which will go on till 19 April 2009.
Here, play a game of Pagade (Pachisi), marvel at the beautiful pawns of Adu Huli Ata (Goats and Tigers), learn the rules of playing ‘Navakankari’ (Nine Men’s Morris), get surprised looking at the gold painted chessmen and silver board of ‘Chaduranga’, ogle at beautiful boards of Aligulimane (Pallanguli), go up and down the game of ‘Paramapada’ (Snakes and Ladders) and if you are still not satisfied, you can also buy gorgeous game boards and their equally attractive accessories.
What are you waiting for, fold the newspaper, get up and get going. Have a healthy dose of pure unadulterated Indian entertainment with your family. Don’t worry it is for entire family; kids, especially, will love it.
PS: Please carry an extra hand-kerchief or two, if your octogenarian parents are accompanying you. The exhibition is notorious for triggering nostalgic tears in senior citizens.