Saturday, June 11, 2011

Building a New World... on Sand & Frond

How great were the summer vacations of yesteryears. All the children would retreat to their grandparents' place. Kids of the colony would get together and play the entire day regardless of the scorching heat. The children playing ‘mane aata,’ setting up homes and, in it, kitchens with miniature kitchen sets. Those games would be like dramas without scripts. The street was their stage and the story would weave itself with each passing minute. Kids would imitate their parents, uncles and aunts, grandparents and drown in their own magical world where anything was possible and they could be anybody they admire.
Now we just look back at those days and wonder where they have disappeared. With TV entering not just halls but also bedrooms and computers & video games becoming a part and parcel of daily life, children barely know of these games. Also, a variety of summer camps, coaching classes, tuitions etc., have started mushrooming to keep kids busy even during their vacations. Parents look out for those camps which will keep their wards most occupied. And the most shocking feature of the camps is that they even give children homework! Though there is nothing wrong with the camps, it is depriving the children of those innocent games which is by itself a learning process and creates a whole new world for them.
However, while walking down the streets of Saraswathipuram, we came across a bunch of kids who were spending their vacations in a different way. Cousins Dinakar Nandakishore and K.R. Madhukeshwar, 5th std. students of Amrita Vidyalayam, build a different kind of ‘house’ every day using whatever little items they may find, but with a whole lot of imagination and creativity. The foundation and flooring for these houses is the sand pit located in front of their house. If one day it looks like a tent, the other day the house goes ‘green’ with coconut fronds and the next day it looks like a temple.
The Foursome.
"During PE class in school, instead of playing football we would make teams and build houses at a sand heap located near our school. Whoever would complete before the class got over or who ever built the biggest structure would be the winner. That is when we got the idea to do the same here," say the cousins.
The duo are occasionally joined by cousins Tejas, 7th std. and Adithi, 2nd std. of Bangalore and Mumbai respectively, who have come down to their grandparents home in the same area.
Their first construction was using coconut fronds put up in the form of a tent. It started with just one frond and then they started collecting some more to make their tent better. Later on they started using wooden slabs and plastic sheets. Once the kids even went to the extent of buying chocolates from a nearby shop and started selling the same to passersby at their tent. However, on their parents advice, these little ‘entrepreneurs’ had to stop their ‘business.’
When asked if they prefer summer camps or what they were doing now, Madhu-keshwar said "In camps we have to do whatever they ask us to. But here we do what we like. That is why I did not join any camp. I don’t like restrictions. Here we can spend the entire day making different kinds of tents."
It is surprising to see that such a culture still exists among the children of this generation. At a time when parents scold kids for even playing in sand and soiling their clothes, these little 'architects-cum-builders' are attracting other children like them to join hands and just have some fun.
Children are by nature innocent. Let us not take away this innocence by introducing them to more of computer, TV, video games and other such distractions. This age once lost will never come back. So do allow kids to be kids.

(Published in Star of Mysore dated May 28, 2011)


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