Old, indigenous games like tyre ’n’ stick, marbles bring the past alive; wall art mixes fun with philosophy in lesson for Gen Next
A painting of a childhood game
At least 32 panels on the boundary wall of Cooperage football ground, opposite Campion School in Colaba have hit the sweet sport (pun intended). The wall art depicts our games of old, those with salt ’n’ pepper hair, more salt than pepper will recall playing with marbles, tyre ’n’ stick, seven tiles, hopscotch, etc. This is an eye-catching effort to keep those games alive, at least in the mind, even if not played by kids these days, who largely prefer playing with Androids to going outdoors.
Besides showcasing the games of the simpler, good ol’ days where it was gilli-danda instead of gizmos, the wall artists have interspersed the paintings with uplifting messages like, ‘Every champion was once a contender that refused to give up’ and ‘persistence can change failure into extraordinary achievement’.
As SoBo social media chats are buzzing about on this latest artistic addition to the space, former corporator, BJP’s Makarand Narvekar termed this an, “exemplary model of community participation, where the funds allocated by the BMC for beautification were spent by residents. This is by the people, for the people and of the people.”
Jeevan Wankhede, artist and team leader, said, “The panels are like a movie reel. Get them rolling and they will take you back to the days of langdi and hopscotch, when streets were our playgrounds. Our effort was to capture that nostalgia, along with showcasing that you can have fun, make the most of whatever little you have. You do not need the latest, fancy, hi-tech equipment to play with, you need a free spirit, friends, creativity and just let kids be kids.”
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Colaba activist Bella Shah, who lit the spark for the project said, “The idea was to show the evolution of sport, from home grown games to modern sport. We also wanted some memorable messages, for that is the essence of sport, whether at grass-roots level or international – to push your boundaries, never give up, strive to excel. This is a learning canvas for children and youngsters. It is fortuitous that we got this wall near Campion School so that students can look at it. At the same time, adults have takeaways here, too. From reminiscing about the past to words of wisdom that are applicable in life, too, not just in sport.”
Another team leader and artist Sachin Halde said, “Today, kids are hidden behind their mobile phones or computers. The idea here was to create awareness through these water colour paintings about traditional games and juxtapose the contemporary too, so that it resonates with all. The challenge was painting children. In fact, I have painted my three children on the wall in the panel depicting carom.”
Like in team games, one cannot win if collective effort is missing. While Narvekar already highlighted team effort, both artists gave full credit to their squad, which they said have been, “outstanding and understood the concept very well from the word go”. Shah said, “it is team work on the panels and ‘behind’ the panels, too. I had full faith in these artists and their co-workers. I also had locals and activists like Chaitra Lalge and Joanette Remedios helping me. It was a long-drawn effort, from February 5 to March 9. In community initiatives we often see great zest initially, but people sometimes flag or just get too busy to follow up to the end, which was not the case here.” Shah and artists said their rewards are learning that, “people are telling their drivers to slow down, as they pass by this work to look at it. A gent informed me that he took his children specially to look at this wall,” Shah ended, “and that makes us feel this is all so worth it.”