The Childhood Nostalgia

December 22, 2009 Pune, India - Childhood days are the best days of one's lifetime and recollecting them will only make you feel more and more nostalgic. As a child I had a huge troop of friends whom I used to play with. They were my partners in crime - almost in all the little mischief I used to do - chasing the butterflies, scaring the little sparrows, collecting the dragonflies and honey-bees in a glass jar and then watching them fight, spotting and killing the lizards on the trees, building castles of mud and zillions of such activities. We have played numerous games, most of which do not have even names to be referred to. This post is an attempt to relive and recollect some of the most remarkable games that I have played in my teen years.

Bhavra - The classic 'Top' remains one among my all time favorites. I have nearly a zillion memories associated with this little hard toy. There were times when I used to reckon that I could conquer almost anyone in the world by means of a rope and my Bhavra (top). Here goes the game. You need a Bhavra and a rope. Last but not the least; you need at least one partner to play with. The game starts with drawing a small circle on the ground, preferably with a chalk. A stick is placed inside the circle. Each player attempts to bring the stick out of the circle - the fastest one to wind the rope to his Top wins the first chance to do so. The successful player remains out compelling other players to place their Tops inside the circle. Now it is the successful players wish to get the Tops of his wish out from the circle. One collision and here they come out. In this attempt, if any of the Top lies partially out of the circle, the Top owner can try his luck to catch his Top by pulling it up by means of his rope. The last one remaining in the circle has to bear the painful blows of other Tops. The remaining Tops keep on pushing it to a predefined limit marked by a chalk. In this course, if any of the other Tops fail to push the Top on the ground, the positions are replaced; thereby the Top on the ground gets rid of the pain. The ultimate aim is to get one of the Tops outside the marked limit. Just before the Top on the ground is pushed outside the limit by means of a last push, each player must have their ropes worn on their ears. Failing to do so, the player who’s Top is on the ground can touch any of the failing player and can ask him to place his Top in the circle for the next game. If none of the players fails, the same player's Top is placed in the circle or the next game. Once, the Top on the ground is out of the limit, the remaining players shout in chorus 'Kaan Ki Jaali Chuti'. That is fun, believe me. At the end of the day, some time is spent on counting the individual pores being made of each Top. A pore or a hole on your Top is not an accolade - the lesser the better.

Lagori - This game was the most popular games during my pre-teen days. I have seen some kids playing this game in my locality as lately as yesterday. It is one of the most exciting games esp. if you are outdoor game freak. In order to play this game, you need two teams, a minimum of seven on either side. You would further need a small rubber ball, strong but soft - softer the better, you would realize the need for the ball to be soft once you receive your first hit on your bumps. Lastly, you will need around seven stones shaped in the form of chips of different sizes. The broadest one goes at the bottom and the smallest one at the top. Each team stands equidistant from the heap of the stone-chips and aims at it with an attempt to disintegrate the neatly arranged heap of stone-chips. The team at the receiving end catches the ball. Each member of the respective team attempts his/her turn to break the heap open. The teams keep on trying this turn by turn, each time with a new team member. The team that is successful in breaking the heap should now arrange the heap back to its original position. But wait, this ain't that simple. The team at the receiving end tries its best to hit the ball to a member of the opposite team while they try to avoid the blow on their bodies. The breaking team members gain a point if they successfully re-arrange the heap and shout 'Lagorcha' implying that they are done with the rearrangement. On the other hand, if the receiving team is successful in hitting a member from their opponent team, they gain one. The game thus continues and the fun never ceases.

Gotya - A Desi or Marathi name for the age old marble game. Marbles have always fascinated me. And I hardly could remember all the marble games that we used to play when in school. Unfortunately, Gotya or marbles is now being regarded as a game of poor kids. In India these days, this game is well known mostly among the slums. I remember a couple of Goti costing around 5 paisa (a 0.05th part of a Rupee) but, as time passed by the cost has been increased steeply. Nevertheless, the precession loving kids have always been great fans of marbles. I used to have a huge collection of marbles at my home which I remember was donated to smaller kids once I reached standard ten. Being a grown up kid, I now wish to refrain young kids from playing marble games given that it nurtures gambling.

Vitti Dandu - The more well known name in Hindi is 'Gilli Danda' which is a game placed using two pieces of dried wooden sticks - one small (Vitti or Gilli) and the larger stick (Dandu or Danda) nearly three times the smaller stick. The smaller stick is bluntly sharpened at both the ends, almost resembling a pencil pointed at both the ends. The Dandu is sharpened at one end which is used to hit the smaller one at its edge such that, the smaller stick or Vitti flips above the ground giving room for the larger stick to place a strong blow at it. The game is usually played using two players but not restricted to it since multiple players would definitely add to the fun. That's all about the technicalities. Here goes the game - A small pit is dug in the ground at the periphery of which the Vitti is horizontally placed. A first player holds the edge of the Dandu perpendicular to the horizontally placed Vitti, ideally at its center so that when pushed, it is thrown at the farthest possible distance. The Dandu is now placed on the pit and the first player waits for the second player to aim the Vitti to strike the Dandu. If the throw of the second player fails to strike the Dandu, the first player gains three free shots to blow the Vitti far away. On the other hand, if the second player succeeds in striking the Dandu, the player positions are swapped. The game is almost endless and only fatigue can compel the players to end it.

Lapa Chapi - The traditional hide-n-seek needs no newer explanation. Lukka Chuppi is what it is precisely referred as in Hindi is one of the most popular games. I am sure that children of today wholeheartedly enjoy this game till date. This game needs nothing special to be used. All that is required is a bunch of playmates to play with - the more the better. The game typically starts with a process called as Sutane (Marathi) or Chutana (Hindi) which is basically performed to elect one player who is going to search the other players. Once the player is elected, his job is to go at an isolated place and count a predefined series of numbers (usually 1 to 100) while the remaining players get busy in hiding themselves. After the player finishes counting the numbers he starts the search. As soon as he identifies a player, he must shout the identified player's name followed by the word 'Stop'. The most important part of the game is that before the searching player calls out a name of the identified player, he must be very confident about his name. If he mistakes, that means he is landing himself in a huge trouble, usually by attracting seven turns to find all the players. That is something really painful and evening times really add to the misery of the searching player. The remaining players who are hiding themselves keep on doing so while they secretly and swiftly attempt to pat the searching player in his back. That is called a 'Dhappa' meaning that the searching player has to start it over again. In the course, all the players who were stopped earlier can now hide themselves again for a fresh game. The game might turn frustrating for the searching player if he is really naive. The hiding players try their best to fool him, sometimes by even exchanging their shirts - that is what we used to do. This was one of the most enjoyable games of my childhood.

Abaa Dubi - The name of the game might resemble a name of some Arabian country but believe me that it has no linkage to it by any means. This is one of the weirdest games we have ever played. At times, it could sound similar to the game Lagori but the only difference is that you really do not need the stone-chips here. A soft ball is all that you need to play this game. Now comes the part that you must be waiting for - the rules. Well, to your dismay let me tell you that this game has no specialized rules. Just grab the ball hit it hard to the one you like. The only constraint is that you must stand at the place where you picked up the ball from. That may really sound awkward for the first timers but believe me as the game progresses; you keep on making friends and foes. Of course the one who hits you the most is your foe. But that again does not imply that friends cannot hit you. You will enjoy the way friends turn out to be foes and the way your enemies turn out to be buddies. Nothing lasts for more than a minute and that is the beauty of this game. But just make sure that you don't hit someone's eyes or gonads lest the game won't remain a game.

Pakada Pakadi - The easiest of all the games. All you need is a bunch of players all scattered around the playground. The player who is going to touch the one random player among the other players is elected. The game commences and the passing starts. The player who is touched must chase and pass the touch to some other player, possibly the nearest player. Failing to pass the touch immediately makes the player to come out of the game. The ultimate player is termed as the winner.

No list of such nostalgic games played by the kids on the Indian soil would ever be exhaustive. Although these games are widely played and enjoyed by the kids, they are not really recognized much. But the gist is that they are an integral part of my childhood. I really wonder how many of the kids dwelling in cities are aware of such games today. Given that most of the kids today are caught behind the joysticks, televisions and PC games, I am sure that the count is not plenty enough.


  1. Nice write up on games we used to play. In fact I had posted similar article in short on my blog on 28.10.09 titled "Household games-than & now" but you have very well elaborated each game for the present generation to know those games.

  2. So many games and I havent played most of them! siggh....

  3. I wonder if these would be part of the current generation memmory, we might end up seeing vandi dandu / gilli dandu in the museum. pictures are awesome!

  4. Atya patya, vitti dandu and Gotya were my favourite games!!

    I never forget vitti dandu..while catching vitti my hand was broken...

    Nice post..junya aathavani tajya zalya..

  5. In words of Gibran “The things which the child loves remain in the domain of the heart until old age. The most beautiful thing in life is that our souls remaining over the places where we once enjoyed ourselves”

    These games you mentioned are part of childhood of most of Indians, and memories of those play fields is always happy one. Sad that fields are replaced by computer screen and ball that we used to throw hard is now replaced by a mouse that children click to enjoy fantasy world.

    Well some names you have already translated and let me give you the local names for some as they are called in this part of India i.e Rajasthan.

    Gotya _ kanche
    Bhavra-latoo…………………beyblades as present generation calls it
    Abba dabi-Mardari
    Lapa chapi-chupam chupai……….Hide and seek as my son points out [:)]

    Thanks for this enjoyable trip down memory lane ……

  6. have played all these games..

  7. It took me down nostalgia lane too. btw, there are quite a few games that I was unaware of until now...

    "They were my partners in crime - almost in all the little mischief I used to do - chasing the butterflies, scaring the little sparrows, collecting the dragonflies and honey-bees in a glass jar and then watching them fight, spotting and killing the lizards on the trees, building castles of mud and zillions of such activities."

    Looks like you were quite a brat... when you were little :)

  8. Wow!! Never really knew how much my kids are gonna miss. In today's commercialized times of Playstations and X-b0xes, they will never know the happiness in carving out the gilli from a guava tree branch. Nor will they ever know the joy in applying manjha to the strings and naththi the kite.

  9. Dear Neeraj, Nice article, thankx for voting me in indiblogger. I like this blog

  10. Ludo was my all time favorite ! Such passion and such drama ensued every time the dice came up with a six ! nice Post Neeraj.:-)

  11. A nostalgic trip down the memory lane, when this is all that you had to really think about, great post!!! :-)

  12. nice post!... but I am not completely agree with this general remark - "Childhood days are the best days of one's lifetime and recollecting them will only make you feel more and more nostalgic"...there are certainly exceptions - when you even don't feel like recalling your childhood.

  13. Once one thinks back in date-one realises how much can such lovely games can do.

  14. Your post reminded me of my childhood days. I have played most of the games that your post mentions.
    Logori is called 'pittu';
    gotya is 'goli' or 'marbles' or 'kancha';
    pakda-pakdi is 'chua-chui' in my region.
    Bhavra is something new, i have never played it, wish i could.
    The present day kids are missing out the fun by simply being glued to playstation or video games.

  15. What a brilliant rendition of the times of childhood this is. I'm not sure if kids these days can come any closer to what we did back then, let alone match up! I've been away from your blog for a long time now and truly missed it. Hope you are doing good. Wishing you and folks a merry Christmas and a very happy new year!

  16. hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm bring back memories of punjab and my childhood days ..

    Gully-danda...- Vitty Dandu
    Lallam Lalli..
    Langdi taang...
    Tippy tippy Tap
    Pithu Garam - LAGORI
    ha hahaha

    Jagjit singh Sums it up so nicely in his words

    Yeh daulat bhi le Lo
    Yeh shauharat bhi le lo
    Bhale cheen lo mujhse meri jawani
    Magar mujhko lauta do
    woh kagaz ki kashti woh Barish ka Paani

    EXCELLENT, gives me a idea to write something on the games we played.

  17. Amazing post.... I guess we see a lot less of these games being played nowadays with Bey-blades, Play Stations et al hitting the shelves.

    I remember having spent hours playing Aaba Dubi, Haathi-soond, I-spies and Langdi taang.... phenomenal days