The Games We Play – A Trip Down Memory Lane!

Reviewed by Jasmine Kaur

Sikhs Read: Book Reviews

 

The Games We Play- A Trip Down Memory laneGames We Play – Cover.
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In 2007, Sikh Foundation published the “Games We Play” calendar, with beautiful images sketched by Sukhpreet Singh of those timeless games that have been played in Panjab for generations. When my husband and I received the calendar, we soon decided that when we were ready to set up our children’s room we would frame the images and make them part of the décor. We still have the calendar and as soon as we are done moving from rental house to rental house, we will frame them and put them up.

In 2013, Sikh Foundation launched an accompaniment to the calendar, the book Games We Play by Pushpinder Kaur, a children’s author and longtime educator. In the book, Kaur goes back into her childhood to bring alive her memories of all these games she would play or partake in.

The Games We Play- A Trip Down Memory laneGames We Play – pg 6

For grown-ups or for young adults or young children who can read, this is a fun book to look at and read and smile with. This book can definitely be used in Khalsa/Panjabi schools as a resource when talking about Panjab. The teachers or students can use the rules to try out some of the games for the fun of all. I wish the book used a heavy-set paper and was hardbound so that it could stick around for a while. I fear that the book will easily get torn or lost. The games and stories are so fun that these stories and images are sure to become etched in the readers’ minds.

The book cover, full of images of boys and girls participating in games or playing with toys, begs you to open up and read what it’s all about. The very first game –Hopscotch or Shtapoo, is not only a childhood favorite of children in Panjab, but even I as a young girl would play it in Delhi with my school friends. Fast-forward 20-some years and this same game was played in Lexington, MA, where I taught elementary school children. Pushpinder Kaur very kindly reminds us that this game is about “social responsibility of not trespassing and not crossing lines of reason.” The only difference, perhaps, between back in the day and today is that both boys and girls play this game happily as opposed to it particularly being for girls.

While some games like Kabaddi, marbles and gullidanda sounded familiar, new ones to me were Pahnda Pahndaariya and Shakkar Pihjji. ShakkarPihjji, a game of “balance, endurance, and pride for teenage boys,” seemed quite complicated to me. You need to be skillful and yet it works on the male pride of not giving up, even though the pain of the “horse rider” on the boys’ backs may be too rough. Each image depicts its own story and brings Kaur’s words to life.

The Games We Play- A Trip Down Memory laneGames We Play – pg 27

What’s nice is that this is a bilingual book. Grandparents and older aunts and uncles, who may need brushing up on bringing their memories from their time in Panjab, can easily read the Panjabi version of Kaur’s stories. I wish ‘rules of the games’ at the end of the book were also given in Panjabi. It would be nice for young children to pick up new vocabulary.

Some non-games, yet important cultural tidbits, get dedicated pages at the end. The first one, titled “Toys,” talks about and reminds us of how much we now have available, where many many years ago, a simple wooden toy created by the local carpenter would provide hours of entertainment to the little ones. The next is“Punishment!” Though perhaps a significant part of the culture, I wish it wasn’t part of this book. It just doesn’t seem to fit in. I’d rather we just think of the fun! But the reality is that it tells of the hard life of young boys who work in the fields and also attend school. This page must be read to all, not to show what punishment was given, but to see what “hardworking” means.

The Games We Play- A Trip Down Memory laneGames We Play – pg 28

The last one in these three is the Turban-Pagri-Dastaar. The image says it all. A young boy sitting on the ground in front of a small mirror with his dastaar half-tied is completely focused on making sure that his beautiful crown comes out perfectly. Once he is done, he will admire it from all angles, of course, and quickly start feeling grown-up.

For grown-ups or for young adults or young children who can read, this is a fun book to look at and read and smile with. This book can definitely be used in Khalsa/Panjabi schools as a resource when talking about Panjab. The teachers or students can use the rules to try out some of the games for the fun of all. I wish the book used a heavy-set paper and was hardbound so that it could stick around for a while. I fear that the book will easily get torn or lost. The games and stories are so fun that these stories and images are sure to become etched in the readers’ minds.

The Games We Play- A Trip Down Memory laneJasmine Kaur

Jasmine Kaur, a mother of 2-year-old twins, has worked in the education field for over 18 years. Jasmine has designed and coordinated Sikh curriculums and teacher trainings using the curriculum to increase classroom confidence and maximize the resources in content areas of Boli and Virsa, as well as classroom management and teaching techniques, personally training over 750 teachers and administrators. Her passion is developing creative and interactive activities for all ages, especially young children.

 

 

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