Click with marbles

Taking a shot Photo: Sreejith R. Kumar

Taking a shot Photo: Sreejith R. Kumar   | Photo Credit: Sreejith R. Kumar

There are many people in Thiruvananthapuram and its outskirts who are game for a game of marbles

Come rain or shine, holiday or working day, 22-year-old Arjun Krishna never misses a game.

On a Sunday, he is all set by 6 a.m. Sitting on his haunches, knuckles on the ground, his face is a picture of concentration as he flicks his wrist to set the marbles spinning. His face falls even as the group erupts in joy.

Soon, another takes his place to continue the game that goes on till sunset when it becomes too dark to see the marbles.

These youngsters at Mannammoola go on with the game till 6 or 7 in the evening on most holidays. On week days, they are on the ground from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., after finishing the day’s work or studies.

For 29-year-old Subhash, a plumber, the senior of the group, to Aswin Krishna, the youngest of the group who is in Class eight, the game is a celebration.

Many decades ago, marbles was a game that almost every child played in makeshift holes in the open ground or in dusty classrooms. There is everything nostalgic about playing with marbles or goli kali, goti kali, kachi kali… call it what you may. With mobile phones, computers and technology redefining entertainment, most youngsters have no clue about the excitement in the flick of the finger and the click of glass marbles.

However, the game still has takers, especially on the outskirts of the city. Like this group at Mannammoola. “What we all love about the game is that unlike cricket or football, we don’t have to sweat it out much,” says Arjun with a chuckle.

On a serious note, he adds: “These days, most prefer cricket or football to marbles. But sometimes, these games end in a scuffle. In kachi kali, there is no fighting. Even if we quarrel, we take it out on the marbles!”

It is a game which takes him back to the childhood, says Al Ameen, a scrap dealer at Vallakkadavu. “We used to have a lot of fun playing ‘kuzhi kachi’ [that’s how they call the game] at a park at Vallakkadavu. But we were forced to move out. Now we friends meet up and play whenever we have time at a public ground here. And once we start playing, it can go on for hours, without food or water,” says the 38-year-old. He has a piece of advice as well. “The game is the best exercise for your legs and hands.”

Though the players at Mannammoola say that it is all taken in the right spirit, there are many others who feel that, at times, the game can bring out the worst in you. “At times, you get so involved in the game that you tend to resort to foul play. Nobody wants to give up and at the end there would be a fight. Nevertheless, we never got tired of playing it,” says Manaf, Al Ameen’s friend and an auto driver.

Deepu M. S., who is a painter, becomes nostalgic when he remembers long hours spent playing goli near his home at Peyadu. “Now there are a group of boys in our area who play the game exceptionally well. Once they start playing, it continues for a month or so before they switch over to another game. The problem is that sometimes the police would chase them off,” he says.

Goti goes professional

Goti got a makeover last year when Synergians, an organisation working for the cause of various socially relevant issues, organised the first ever Goti professional tour in Kochi in 2013. The second tournament is slated to be held in Palakkad on August 24. In November, the tournament comes to Thiruvananthapuram. “We are into promoting traditional games. Goti is played across the world in different ways and we are incorporating these methods in our upcoming editions. Of all the styles, raashi kali in Kerala is the best since it can improve engineering skills as it requires the right coordination between eyes, hand and object. It also helps in decision making process since a player has to have the right strategy in choosing the marble in the opposition that should be targetted,” says Sijin B. T., founder of Synergians.

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Printable version | Apr 2, 2020 4:15:35 PM |

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