Let Us Play!

I realized something as I began writing this.

I can no longer call him a newbie. As they are eager to point out, chronology is just a number anyway. By all other criteria, he is a veteran.

I met Sid Balachandran a few months ago, on a mutual friend’s Facebook wall. Yes child, that’s where you meet new people nowadays. You don’t need to wash your face or comb your hair; you need not get out of your decade old Tee that a dog wouldn’t sniff. You just land on a virtual space looking like something the cat dragged in and knock everyone out with your sparkling wit and pointed rejoinders. Easy as pie!

But I digress, my cardinal sin, of course!

So, there be Sid and there be I as the inimitable Jack Sparrow would say . Both going hammer and tongs at the poor friend whose leg we were pulling with mighty success. The rest, as they say, is history… held together with some very pointed pins (a humble item both of us have a soft corner for).

Curious and piqued by his ready wit, I went hunting for his blog. I landed on I Wrote Those. And man, oh man! Was I in for a treat!

He weaves vivid stories. I haven’t read a single story from him which did not make me feel as if I was in the midst of all the action and drama. When he chooses to don his humor hat, he has me guffawing until I am gasping for breath. When he talks about parenting challenges in his Daddy Journals, he totally makes me fall for his two- year old whom I call Cuteness (Pic submitted at the end of the post as irrefutable evidence).

He is a work- from- home father in India… the land of the hypocritical conformist. In my eyes, that decision is akin to cocking a irreverent snook at the busybodies who, incidentally, wouldn’t know a well turned simile from a mud puddle. This alone puts him miles… MILES… ahead of the ALSO RANs. My admiration, mind you, is not easily won. I horde unabashedly it like a miserly merchant with little button eyes sitting on his soft cushions planning on gypping some miserable peasant of his hard earned. Oh yes, totally!

To have a man like that write for Serenely Rapt makes me feel absolutely and insufferably smug. If you haven’t visited his blog yet, all I can say is, no wonder you look wan and sickly!

Thank you for letting me have the pleasure of hosting you on my Online Abode Sid. As you know well, I am thrilled to have you here. I shouldn’t be surprised if my market value jumped through the roof after this post goes live.

The rest of you will please stand in queue after this. I am sure I will be able to find a few crumbs of time for you sometime in the next decade.

Before the rest of you (Et tu Sid?!) lynch me for going on and on, here is Sid Balachandran in person! Read this post and tell me if you don’t wish you too had a work- from- home dad.

Tighten your seat belt, he is going to take you swooshing down memory lane! Hang on there!

 As a work-from-home father, I’d like to think that I’m more involved in my little one’s day-to-day activities than most other fathers can afford to be. (Did I hear you gasp at the work-from-home father part?)

With the gorgeous (did I add sticky, messy, humid, and sweat-inducing?) Indian summer already here, the little one is home a lot more than he usually is, courtesy of a two and half month long summer holiday for his play school. Of course, this means that a large part of my morning is now dedicated to “reliving my childhood” with him doing fun activities.

Whilst there are days I’m inclined to stick him in front of the TV or the iPad and just let him zone out, I’ve refrained from doing so. At least so far. Truth be told, some days are harder than the others. But I’ve pledged to keep technology-related activities to a minimum and teach him things that I used to do for fun. Yes, they were activities from almost three decades ago, and probably stuff most kids will frown upon and dismiss as silly these days. But at two-years old, fortunately he doesn’t oppose me. Not vehemently enough anyway.

Probably the most fortuitous thing about being a parent is the opportunity to reminisce. About your childhood, about the dreams and most of all, about the fun times. The little things that you did when technology was still in its infancy. The days before the i-gadgets of the X-boxes. The days when your definition of fun was probably a whole lot different to what your son’s or daughter’s will be.

We are never more fully alive, more completely ourselves, or more deeply engrossed in anything, than when we are at play.

~ Charles E. Schaefer

Fun is something very arduous to describe. So I won’t even attempt. But what I’d like to do is share a tiny list of activities that are largely indicative of what constituted fun for my band of merry friends and I, growing up. I also suppose I speak for a large part of my generation when I say, “For us, fun was….”

  • Hiding in a flimsy fort made of pillows and blankets, which could literally be knocked down if someone bothered to increase the speed of the ceiling fan.
  • Watching mischievous Jerry being chased around by crazy Tom. Of course as we grew older, we started to feel sorry for Tom a lot more because we realized what a pain Jerry was.
  • Blowing warm breaths against the car window on the cold, winters night and using your fingers to draw a smiley face.
  • Ascending and descending stairs in hops, skipping a number of steps
  • Switching on the pedestal fan and talking into it just to hear the strange robot voice.
  • Walking between tiles on the floor (or the road), skipping the joints in between each tile. If you missed, you lost. Even if you were just competing with yourself.
  • Ringing the cranky neighborhood aunt’s door bell and running away like you had her dog chasing you
  • Playing card games like UNO and Go Fish, whilst secretly crossing your fingers behind your back hoping for lady luck to be on your side. Also whilst muttering all kinds of magic spells under your breath hoping the others lose.
  • Jumping up and down on the bed like its a trampoline, all the while practicing round-house kicks and vicious punches at imaginary villains
  • Holding your index finger or thumb over a lit up torch light, just to see your skin turn red.
  • Closing the fridge door slowly to see the lights go out.
  • The excitement in hearing the ding-a-ling of the ice-cream van
  • Jumping from sofa to sofa, pretending the floor is made of hot, melting lava
  • Pretending the flimsy 30cm ruler is your invincible sword of destruction.
  • Climbing the neighbor’s mango tree for a clean shot at the juicy aams.
  • Watching multiple drops of rain slide down a closed windowpane as if they were having a race.
  • Board games like Ludo, Snakes & Ladders, Monopoly….the list is pretty endless.
  • Making strange little shadow creatures in front of the fluttering candle during power cuts.
  • Playing hide and seek and trying to find a place that you’d never be discovered in. Sometimes not for hours 😉
  • Pretending grape squash was red wine
  • Scaling the door frame and pretending we were Spiderman
  • Thinking the moon followed your car everywhere
  • Blowing up an empty Frooti carton, only to jump on it to make the loud, “kaboom” pop that shocked people
  • Bursting the plastic bubbles on the bubble wrap
  • Sailing well-constructed paper boats in the muddy puddle when it rained
  • Using wooden cloth clips as make-shift finger nails
  • Reading a scary book (which we totally were not meant to be reading) by a tiny light of the torch under the blanket.
  • Silly car games like iSpy or the Signboard or the Number plate game.
  • Pretending to fall asleep on the sofa or in the car so that you’d be carried to the bed

One of the best childhood lessons that I’ve carried on throughout my life is that the opportunity for fun is everywhere. Location or the number of people is never the challenge. All you need is to look for the chance and unleash your creativity. And now, I must take your leave. For little Ri is impatiently waiting by the pedestal fan for us to begin our “Robot Song”. But I’ll leave you with this parting thought and image of little Ri.

It might help revive some of your “fun” childhood memories.

Evidence Submitted. Isn’t he the Cutest ever? 🙂


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56 thoughts on “Let Us Play!”

  1. Pingback: Let Us Play ... | Guest Post for Dagny Sol -

  2. Loved it!! Absolutely!!
    I was nodding away almost through out the post from Dagny’s introduction to Sid’s list of games!
    Ri looks adorable Sid and here’s me raising a toast to your lucky little boy who has his dads on sticky afternoons to play! 🙂

        1. oh yes! 🙂

          Brought back memories of “elastic” and hopscotch.
          Of afternoons spent playing hide n seek or ” house”
          The kites, the fights, the drama of a friend walking away.
          The evenings spent on the swing in a friend’s place or building castles in the neighborhood sand.

          The echoes of Amma’s voice telling us to come home and the rustling of dad’s newspapers are we walked indoors to wash up for meals!
          Precious memories.. Thank you Dagny and Sid for this walk down memory lane!

  3. Dagny, I’m blown away by that amazing intro. So much so that I’m going to copy it, paste it on Word, Print it out and keep it above my workstation so that I can see it daily 🙂 Or I could just visit your blog. Jokes aside, Thank you so much for having me here and hopefully your lovely readers will be able to relate to some of the “fun” activities here too. Hugs

    1. Sid, I said nothing that you didn’t deserve ten times of. As for my lovely reader, you KNOW they’ll love it. You know it. 😀

  4. I think I probably forgot to mention (just awful of me!!) that your son is so very cute!! And, you definitely made me relive my childhood memories!!

    1. Thank you Roshni. I will be sure not to tell him about the cuteness fact though. He’s already pretty vain 😉 Glad you were able to jump aboard that slide full of childhood memories

  5. Oh my! We played the same games. I wish we were part of the same gang. Sigh! Well, we are now though! 😉
    Sitting and thinking of all the childhood games I played, and which I can successfully replicate for N.
    PS – Once, on a Bajaj Chetak going for a ride at night, my brother sitting in front of me asked me ‘Why is the Moon following us?’ I told him, because you sister is the most intelligent one around. So it will follow me. He believed me. He was 5. I was smarter. And my dad was under a helmet thank God! So, for a very long time, I was a Star! 😛
    I love this post. I am green-eyed completely at reading what Dagny thinks of you, Sid. Yes yes! I too think somewhat alike. But, I guess you are the Star today. And deservedly so!

      1. Thank you Sakshi for your super-kind words. And yes, I’m ecstatic that we are part of the same gang now. Now if only we could do something about this Dilli-Bengaluru gap. Darn these distances 😉 Yes, I wondered the moon bit for ages too. As for Rishi’s hair, it’s just static on the slide. Remember rubbing the ruler on our hair and trying to attract those pieces of paper? Same thing 😛

  6. Reminded me of many, many things from the past!
    And, by God, the essays of love that you and Dagny have written about each other by way of introductions….you really must save those as blog posts themselves! 😀

  7. The same games. I so want to do same pinch to you Sid 🙂 I guess we all have done the same things and found happiness in that. And how Dagny has introduced you…. wow! A star and the little superstar is shining even brighter.

    1. We’ve all been there right Jas? Glad you liked the post. And of course could relate to it. As for Dagny’s intro – I had to re-read it just to convince myself that she was talking about me 🙂

  8. Yep, didn’t we all play those games. And there are quite a few of those that my sons have played too. That ringing the doorbell of a cranky aunty now most certainly could be applied to me :D. I agree with Rickie, please do take the printouts of your blogposts errr, introductions for each other :D. They are meant to be cherished!

    1. Thank you Racha. I’m super happy that your sons still play some of those games. Haha, I wouldn’t call you the cranky aunty. Plus I’m sure all of us would be now equally pissed if someone rang our doorbell and went missing 😛 The other day I tried to initiate a game with the kids downstairs in the play area. And they just looked at me and said “Mind your own business uncle!” And went back to sharing some pictures on their phones 😛

  9. As Rickie says, your essays of admiration are to die for.
    Reminded me of climbing on a pile of blankets and quilts, playing dacoits along with intermittent shooting sounds ….dishkiyon….and yes thinking that the moon follows your car. The torch thing too!
    Pleasurable nostalgic read.

    1. Essays of love. Essays of admiration 🙂 Thank you Alka. I have a very similar essay of admiration to write for you too. Someday 🙂 Playing dacoits – yes, I knew I missed a few. That dishkiyon sound is something I still use with Rishi. He giggles uncontrollably when he hears that though. Not quite the effect, but nevertheless I hope repeated use will imbibe it into this vocabulary. Glad you liked it Alka

  10. Oh how I want to do all of those things again 🙂 Yes, they are any day more fun and more beneficial than zoning out with technology. Btw my 5 year old nephew already doesn’t like Jerry. He says Tom is nice while Jerry is very masti 😛

      1. Your 5 year old nephew is very observant Seeta. He recognises things that took us ages to figure out 😉 I know you just recently came back from a technology free holiday. So I bet you know the feeling I’m talking about. As for the intros, what can I say? We have a mutual appreciation society thingy going on 😉

  11. First we have the most wonderful, playful intro of the star-writer. Which is followed by an even more wonderful and playful post by the star-writer. But the real star is kept hidden till the end, the Mr. Cuteness himself striking a most superstar like pose.

    Great job, you two. I am a bit older (ok, a lot older than the 30’s crowd), but most of my “old” generation too played some of the same games. Funny how the really cool things don’t really go out of style!

    A thoroughly enjoyable read. Thank you!

    1. Beloo, Thank you for your kind words. But yes, I won’t deny the fact that Rishi (my son)’s photo was added there to ensure that most readers left with a smile 😛
      Cool things dont ever go out of style. Sometimes they are just re-defined as “retro”. Never out of style though 🙂 Thank you once again. Glad you liked the post

  12. Loved reading this Sid…I was a lazy , lazy kid! And lazy I’m still even though not a kid… We used to live in a complex with 10 cottages in Shillong and we had a group of 5 permanent members …sometimes we would play cricket, sometimes hide and seek, sometimes we would puncture the tyres of a neighborhood uncle’s scooter while at other times we would tease the youngest in the pack…Diwali or Holi we always celebrated it together going from one home to another for special dishes during festivals.. And for some weird reason we called our group ‘Danger Journey’! Now we are all scattered but still have fun talking silly stuffs on watsapp ofcourse! Your post makes me want to write about my pack now!

    1. See Naba, I knew we had something more than a love for writing in common. It’s being lazy 😀 Would love to hear about the escapades of the “Danger Journey” gang 🙂 Write away. I’ll be reading for sure

  13. Try and beat that lovely introduction that Dagny has given you Sid, I dare you 🙂

    This post was just such a lovely walk down memory lane for me and I have to say that you seem to have enjoyed most of the games that I did in my summer holidays. Guess the decade we grew up in shows up, doesn’t it 🙂

    1. Are you for real? There’s no way anyone could “beat” that introduction Dagny has given me. Yes, it certainly shows the decade we grew up in. I’m glad lot of us have been able to relate to the post. Thanks Jai 🙂

  14. My neighbor’s kids are already into that TV and Computer so much, that I feel sad. Think the influence is too much. Good thing you are keeping your son to a minimum.

    I loved the post, Sid. Esp. that flimsy 30cm sword one. One of my friends got a steel ruler though. When we battled, he made a nice cut near my eye. And I still remember reading goosebumps like that when the power was off. And skipping stairs (though that came to a stop when I missed the stair and ended up rolling down it).

    Memories 🙂 Your post gets so many out. No wonder am nostalgic for childhood days.

    1. We can only try Leo. Rishi already has an attraction to the iPad. But we time it so he only gets very minimum time with it. Even I’ve had cuts and bruises inflicted by the famous steel ruler. There used to also be a wooden one with a slight golden blade like thing on the side. Not sure if you remember those. Glad the post made you smile and recollect happy days. Thanks Leo 🙂

  15. Made me nostalgic…apart from all that you have mentioned, we played the age old regional indoor games like chauka-baara, alagulimane (I can’t even explain what they are) but even today they are total fun. My grown up kids love to play them. Then we used to make up our own superhero games with invincible power. And we have gully cricket where even our moms joined us. The gilli- danda, lagori…hide and seek that would have the entire block as our territory. We used to go trekking too.
    Sigh…the kids know only a fraction of the fun we had.

  16. Did I declare that I am a self claimed fan of Sid? Dude u brought back several childhood memories, ice cream van, jumping tiles, moon following u..btw I still observe moon that follows me and play Sid fridge..hehe..Sirjee! What a post n so glad Rishi will not just be just a net whizz kid n deprived of pure joy..the bundle of joy that he is deserved unlimited happiness..kash mein Rishi ke umar ka Hota..koi lautade mere biti hue din..lakdi ke kaati kaati pe ghoda….AWESOME:)
    Dangly, the man is a veteran in blogging:)

  17. Ahh Sid, blessed you indeed are to find a place on Dagny’s virtual abode and I resonate your mutual feelings about each other. Lovely lovely ‘Little’post this was that took me back to my childhood. And yes, I loved the Robot song equally. I am do glad that instead of choosing to keep Rishi busy with the gadgets you’re choosing to spend quality time with him engaging him in fun activities that I’m sure he’ll reminisce for agesto come. And as for those who gasp at the work-from-home-father, I have always and always told you just one thing: Ask them to go to hell. Enjoy your time with Rishi! Pretty soon he’ll be out with his friends. 🙂

  18. Ok, so this was mesmerizing!! I have played most of the games out of the list. We are the 80s and 90s kids after all!! My lil V, who is 5, plays a few of them as well – skipping the tiles, hands on the torch, shadow figures.. 🙂
    I also used to catch worms in bottles from my grandpa’s garden and play a lot of “ghar ghar” (under the cots) and “scooter scooter” (sitting atop the horizontally pulled up cots. I am sure a lot of you know what I mean.

    1. I know exactly what you mean Arpita. The biggest revelation for me has been that a lot of us seem to be thinking more practically than what others give us credit for. Yes, we played a lot of ghar ghar and scooter scooter too. Glad that this post took your down memory lane and thank you for your kind words 🙂

  19. Watching Tom and Jerry, skipping steps, hopping tiles, loving toys like swords and guns, and trying to make them, breathing on the cold glass to scribble something like my name or a smiley, watching the droplets race down and cheering one up, I still do them all, and I still like them. It makes me wonder, as Sid rightly noted, there is no place where we cannot have fun.

    A good read.

    Blasphemous Aesthete

  20. Oh what a down the memory lane post ! I can relate to each and every activity that you mentioned ! Some how I think that because we had less technology then, our childhood was much better !

    1. I think so too Ruchira. I mean technology is everywhere nowadays and it is kind of imperative that you adopt technology very soon or else get left behind. But at least we can try and keep it to a minimum, as much as we can. Thank you, and glad you liked it

  21. So many lovely memories came back to me! Extra protective parents who prefer indoors and internet to roads and random neighbours are depriving their kids from making such beautiful memories. Lovely post. 🙂

  22. Sid, This was pure nostalgia. Did we really have so much fun? I am so happy to be able to be a child with my daughter and re-live so many of these moments. (Secretly I fear. She might grow up but, what about me?) 🙂 We do many of those things mentioned above and enjoy many more non-sensical fun moments which make perfect sense ONLY to us 🙂 I read Dagny explosive intro of THE SID and loved her command (Err.. I meant usage!) of her language. 🙂 and I read your intro of Dagny and totally agree about, never letting her go!

    1. You bet we did Poornima 🙂 Glad you are able to relive all those memories. They always grow up. We grow down 😉
      Explosive intro ..haha 🙂 Thanks Poornima.

  23. hahaha that’s such a sweet post by Sid. It reminded me of my childhood. I used to stamp on fruity boxes , trying to scare passer bys 😛 And the robot voice, oh I still do it… wooo aaaaa woooo aaaaa 😛

    1. You too huh Rajlakshmi. Join the club. I still do the box thingy. Love it. My little one gets a bit scared though 😛 Robot voice is the thing 🙂 Glad you liked it and could relate to it.

  24. Pingback: Farewell 2014 | Serenely Rapt

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