When was the last time you saw a kid being babysat by a screen — at home, in a restaurant, or at a store? We’ve found that though most parents despise the idea of tethering their kids to virtual games, they give in to it because it’s the easiest option. Half the time, it’s too hot (or cold or rainy) to go outside and half the time there’s no one to play with so the kid is bored and cranky.
But, in Bangalore, there is a space where kids of all ages (yes, it’s clichéd, but it applies) can get together to play games IRL (that’s In Real Life, as your kids will tell you). And we’re not just talking any games! No, there’s no snakes and ladders or Ludo here, however nostalgic you may be for them. Instead there are traditional folk games like Ganjifa, a card game played with 96 cards making up eight suites; or Alu guli mane, an ancient shell game that mimics the actions of sowing and reaping.
Play is an integral part of humanity and what better way to keep your curiosity and be social than to take part in some friendly competition?
It all started when Sreeranjini, decided to resist the lure of the screen. The mother of two got tired of having her kids play games alone, on devices, and decided to change things around. Nostalgic for the games of her childhood in Karnataka, she started to research and then source traditional board games.
That was 10 years ago. Her efforts have now resulted in not only a store where you can purchase these games but also a lovely space where anyone of any age can come play them. Want to learn them in your own space with … say, colleagues? They can facilitate that, too.
The space, called Kavade — Kannada for cowrie, the shells that are used as game pieces and were once a tender of currency — has what’s called a Toy Hive and a terraced area upstairs called the Attic. The Attic is where community can play, learn, interact, compete, laugh and generally have fun. This is also a spot where locals can book a time to host a workshop, film screening, ecological training as well as book readings and other collaborative activities.
But, worry not, the Kavade folks can also come to corporates and offices to conduct play-time with team building activities.
The Real Deal
In the last 10 years, Sreeranjini has amassed games from all over the world — from Roman to Persian empires and Russian and Native American provenance, there is something new for everyone. And of course there are Indian games, though Alu guli mane and Adu huli aata may be unfamiliar to most of us.
Kavade serves as a repository for keeping these alive. Like languages, games also die off when there’s no one left to use them. So the more we play — and the more of us who play — the more we contribute to reviving a tradition that could easily die.
Do also check out their store – again, stocked entirely with handmade toys made by craftsmen and craftswomen struggling to keep traditional artforms viable. The exquisite spinning tops, little carts, handheld motion toys, and of course, board games, will delight you and yours on all those hot summer afternoons where the most common refrain is “I’m bored!”
Getting to Kavade is easy enough, but it is recommended that you call before going.
Where: #143, CKN Chambers, 1st Main Road, Seshadripuram, Bangalore-560020, Karnataka
Contact: email@example.com or +91 9980022820
Online store: https://www.kavade.org/store
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