When we played outside – A Retrospect!

Computers may eventually turn us into machines!

Computers may eventually turn us into machines!

A few days ago I had a conversation with my friend. Season 4 of The Big Bang Theory was out and we just finished watching Episode 4. We exchanged views about how the series had gone down in popularity recently because it seemed the public got a hang of what the characters could do and the jokes have become trite. He asked questions about my new company and its environment and I described it in detail.

Then all of a sudden I said, “I somehow feel that Internet is getting a boring place to be.” He just smiled. I continued, “I think we should go out and play than lock ourselves up in air-conditioned rooms with a machine in front of the eyes.” He smiled again.

The Psychic Vortex

A Scene from the TBBT Episode – The Psychic Vortex

There was something that prompted me to say this. In TBBT, there is an episode called “The Psychic Vortex.” In that Koothrapalli tries to persuade Sheldon by saying, “Come on, Sheldon. I want to go outside, let’s go outside. Outside is good.” to which Sheldon responds, “If outside is so good, why has man spent thousands of years perfecting inside?

Despite the humorous intend of this dialog, there is a deeper meaning in it. I felt like we are losing out on a physical part of ourselves and I wanted to discuss it.

I started first by describing my school days which I miss so much. Many of my current friends think that I hate sports. But I was not always like that. Long back, during school, I used to play football, cricket, kabbadi, volleyball, kho-kho etc. Also I was involved in all sorts of mischiefs that children commit when they are young and hyperactive like fighting, running, jumping, falling etc. We played Kallanum Policum for almost 8 years continuously. My friend agreed that those days are something he too missed because he used to play them as well.

There are a lot of incidents of my school days that I would like to share and I will be posting about all of them subsequently.

School Days

A reminder of the good old days…

When we compare our school days with our present life, most of the time the weltschmerz sets in. It is true that we can’t have that life again. But there are certain parts of it that can still be part of our present life. It is just that we don’t bother to include them. It is one of those that I wanted to discuss with him. The physical aspect.

I started my description of school days with some weird games that we used to play which he was not aware of.

The first game I explained was called “Dhaaba Dhoobi.”  It was introduced by the North Indians in our class. The game starts by creating a ball using paper, plastic and rubber band. It is smaller than a cricket ball. Then we team up. And we will throw this ball at the ass of any of the guys in the other team. And then they will try to throw back. It pains nicely when it hits hard and people run around to avoid being hit. We played this game from about 4th to 8th standard. Four years of exhilarating experience playing the great Dhaaba Dhoobi!

My friend commented that this game was gay. I just laughed because there were more at my disposal awaiting description.

Keeping what he commented in mind, I started with the next game which we called “Ba Ba Ba.” Actually the term originated from my brother and I used it to name this game. It was a fighting game of the wrestling genre. The winner wins by making the loser’s ass touch the ground. So everybody tries to force his opponent to sit on the ground. Initially it was hand on the ground but the rule was later changed and hand was replaced by ass. This was played for about a year or two between 5th and 7th standards.

Wrestling

This is how we used to win in Ba Ba Ba!

Again my friend asked whether I was gay and I told him that we didn’t know that such a thing called gay existed back then.

Anyway, I started with the third game . It was more intricate than the previous ones and only existed for about a year during the 6th standard. It was named again by the North Indians as “Ghoda Gaadi”. As the name suggests, there was a horse involved. But not a real horse. A guy will assume the role of a horse and another guy will assume the role of the soldier who sits on the horseback. Teams are divided and the horse-soldier pair of one team has to fight with the horse-soldier pair of the opposite team.

An example of the Human Horse

The Ghoda Gaadi looks similar to this

Winning or losing was depended upon whether the pair fell down or whether the soldier climbed down his horse before the fight ended. I learned about the power of momentum long before it was taught from this game though I didn’t know that it was called momentum. This game belonged to the hand fighting genre because the legs were held by the horse to prevent the soldier from falling.

My horse was Naveen and I named him Chetak after I got “inspired” by a Vinod Khanna movie. We had comparable sizes but he was stronger than me. We were a very famous pair because we used to win most of the time despite our small size compared to our competitors. The mystery was in the physics involved which we subconsciously exploited. This was particularly true when we fought against Sandeep-Shyamlal pair(yeah, there was another Sandeep). This Sandeep was strong and stout but Shyamlal was thin. Both were taller than me. Sandeep was Shyamlal’s horse.

Initially we used to lose the fights until I found a way around. What I did was, I will grab Shyamlal when he approaches and ask Naveen to rotate. Once we reach a sufficient speed and I start feeling the centripetal force, I simply let Shyamlal go and the pair will move under their own momentum to their inevitable fall.

This game was fun but often ended up being a real fight if the losers don’t admit defeat. I had tried biting my opponents a couple of times but then when the opponents too started doing it, I stopped.

Sandeep said that it was a very weird game. I told him that out of the three, I liked “Ba Ba Ba” and “Ghoda Gaadi”.  He commented again saying that I liked the gay ones because they were all about ass. Anyway I didn’t care what he said because those games were the best we ever played in school.

Then there were general fights in the class, in the ground, in the bus stops and practically anywhere we found “fightable”. There were two main teams in our class. The Hindi Team and Malayalee Team. And the Malayalee team had two factions viz Rijith Team and Binil Team. From 5th Standard Harilal took over Binil Team. All these teams fight for every other reason they have. There were occasional jumps that people did from one team to another following a dispute. Often these kind of disputes were settled in “the ancient way”. A one-on-one fighting tournament takes place with the team members standing around encouraging the fight.

An example of a School Fight

An example of a School Fight

There was a competence to fight and win when we were in teams. We used to send spies in order to find out the strategy of the other team before the PT period so that we can have an edge over them in football or cricket.

Football disputes were sometimes settled by the cane of Paulose sir if it reached him. Since cricket was played after the school timings, disputes were settled by ourselves.

The reason I wanted to talk about all this violence is because there is something we lack now a days. The fighting spirit. We lock ourselves in air-conditioned rooms in front of computers trying to make a living. It is not that we shouldn’t do that. But we hardly go outside and play. We don’t engage ourselves in combat. The reason I took over martial arts training at 16 was because I wanted to get that fighting spirit back. I still go to my instructor’s place and get some practice whenever I have time.

The fighting spirit is something we need to have throughout our lives. It is a fundamental nature of us. In the olden days people got involved in physical activities throughout their lives. But now it is different and it is that aspect that one should nurture. We need to regain that spirit which has been lost in the ravages of time!

End of Friendship?

The Wikipedia article on Friendship quotes the following statement by Patricia M Sias and Heidi Bartoo: “Friendship network is a behavioral vaccine that protects health and mental health”. They say that good friends encourage their friends to lead more healthy lifestyles, to seek help and access services, when needed, to enhance their friend’s coping skills in dealing with illness and other health problems and/or actually affect physiological pathways that are protective of health.

However, recently I noticed that the number of people I can call as close friends or soul mates have decreased. To check whether my observation is true, I asked some people I know about how they feel about it and not surprisingly they came up with the same answer. It was an indication that friendship was on the decline. I needed data to corroborate this and went through the Internet reading many articles some of which I have quoted at the end of this post.

Based on those links, the following could be reasons for this decline:

  • Dependence on family as a safety net
  • Dependence on a partner or spouse
  • Psychological and physiological regression
  • Attitude towards sexuality; especially homosexuality
  • Advent of the digital age which increased the hours spent on computers and internet
  • Patterns in the corporate work culture which increased the time spent at the workplace
  • Path dependency causing behavior to follow paths of countless decisions
  • Attitude towards atheism?
  • Intolerance and misunderstandings
  • Other miscellaneous reasons

These are not my opinions but I think my own views would fall into any of these. Friendship in my opinion has come down to the state of people being just acquaintances. And in the years to come, it is going to get worse. As Prof. Dawkins said: “People are remarkably intolerant”. And this remarkable intolerance is the byproduct of a rat race for which we ourselves are responsible. I don’t think social networking is doing anything other than being a medium of keeping people “in-touch”. And this “in-touch” which I define as “Internet-Touch” is not going to build any strong relation beyond casual acquaintances.

I do have a huge network of friends but how many will ever bother to come and see me if I am bedridden leaving all the others things aside? How many will I visit if I know that they are bedridden? The answer is close to zero! Recently I attended a marriage of one my college mates and I could feel the discomfort among my old friends who gathered there. None of them seemed to be happy that they got a chance for a get together and I did not have a clue why. May be they left their minds in their offices and came just for the heck of it.

According to C S Lewis, historically, friendship seemed to be the the happiest and most fully human of all loves; the crown of life and the school of virtue. The modern world, in comparison, ignores it. We admit of course that besides a wife and family a man needs a few ‘friends’. But the very tone of the admission, and the sort of acquaintanceship which those who make it would describe as  ‘friendships’, show clearly that what they are talking about has very little to do with that ‘Philía’ which Aristotle classified among the virtues or that ‘Amicitia’ on which Cicero wrote a book.

As I mentioned before, one of the reasons why we stay healthy is our relationships with others. If we tend to become loners  because we belong to a “modern society” where “individuality” is more important or “cool”, well I am afraid my friends, we are doomed. I cannot help thinking that we are heading towards creating a society where nobody would bother to use the word friend since it would have lost its meaning by then.

Any positive and negative comments are welcome.

Sources:

Wikipedia on Friendship
Article by
Dr. Henning Bech
Depression and
friendship

Article by
Janet Kornblum

Article by
Sebastian Mallaby

Friendship on
decline

Friendship under threat
Social networking
and friendship