What We Did For Fun Before The Computer


When I grew up, the video game was not invented yet.  The home video game Pong did not come along until I was nearly in my teens. Shashi Tharoor had not invented the internet either.  So, what did we do back then for fun?  Besides dodging dinosaurs we had a lot of fun games that were played outside with other human beings.  For those under thirty years old – outside is the place where that annoying sun glare on your computer screen comes from.  I tried to remember as many games as I could but I know I have forgotten some since it has been a while…

Below is a list of games that I could remember playing and some of them I can remember the game and some I just vaguely remember the overall concept.

Four square – The playing surface is found in the picture above.  The idea was to bounce a small red ball between the squares without hitting the lines and to force your 3 other opponents to make an error.   I played this a lot in 6thgrade during recess.

TV Tag – This was a game of tag but if you could blurt out a name of a TV Program before you were about to be tagged you were off limits.

Crack the whip – This was a playground game or for a large group of people where you would link arms and then attempt to break the chain (or crack the whip) by running quickly in one direction and then stopping.  Whoever lost contact with the chain of people linked was out of the game.

Red rover – I am a little foggy on this one but I believe this game was played with 2 groups of kids facing each other with arms linked from a distance of maybe 30 feet or so and when the other team called your name you ran over to their side and tried to break though.  It went something like: “Red Rover, Red Rover let Jimmy Come over”

Hide and seek – hopefully this needs no explanation

I spy… – you would state that you see something and then other people in the room had to guess what it was.  You had a limited number of guesses before the person would reveal what they “spied”

Pinch, punch, question or command – Each person would take a turn and elect one of the options.  Great for boring rainy days since it was usually very mindless.

Shadow tag – This was a version of regular tag but you tagged the persons shadow for them to be “it”.  Did not work well on cloudy days or on groundhog days when Phil did not see his shadow.

Kick the can – from what I recall this was like hide and seek but you would return “home” and kick the can before the person who was “it” could catch you

Monkey in the middle – This was played usually by 3 people.   2 people keeping a ball away from another person i.e. the monkey in the middle.

King of the mountain – this is a game where a person would perch atop of small hill and fend off people trying to knock him off of the spot.

You can tell these games are a part of the reason that we did not have such a problem with childhood obesity back then.  Most were physically active and were played outside.  That accomplished two things

1)      You burned calories through the physical activity

2)      You were not stuffing your pie hole with chips, cookies and the like while laying on the couch staring at a TV or computer screen (or a smart phone screen)

Have a great week and share some memories of the good old days and maybe we can bring back the neighborhood games that some of us used to play in the dark ages. (Before the personal computer was invented)


Levels of Happiness

A fresh fruit and vegetable store, just two minutes from our house, sells yummy cherries for as little as Rs 150 a Kg. Despite this, we went on an hour long drive to Solan to experience cherry-picking.

Sonu Nigam, the legendary Bollywood singer performed at Chandigarh last Saturday evening. I love his songs. We could have spent a relaxed evening at home and listened to his wonderful music from our CD/MP3 collection. Instead, we spent quite a bit of money to attend his live concert.

What motivated us to make our decisions in both cases?

Let’s take a closer look:

1. Eating cherries makes us happy. Finding the cherries on the trees and plucking them on our own gives more joy.

2. Listening to recorded music is not a bad idea at all, but listening to live music gives us extra satisfaction.

Perhaps, it’s that extra satisfaction that boosts us to go an extra mile.

Cherries (how satisfied my heart feels for I captured it).

On the same lines, growing a cherry tree in the backyard ourselves, watching the fruits bloom, plucking them when they are ripe, and eating them would give us even higher degree of satisfaction than cherry picking at Solan(HP). Similarly, in performing arts, watching others perform does make us happy. But if we attain a level where we can perform on the stage or create a phenomenal piece of art that we can exhibit, it would be a result of many years of practice, effort and endurance. The amount of happiness we experience then would be immense.

Happiness comes in many levels. In Sanskrit, each level of happiness has its own name – ananda (happy), aatmaananda (very happy), paramaananda (very, very happy), brahmaananda (extremely happy). The general population usually feels contented with just ananda. A few take an extra step for aatmaananda. It’s very rare that people take extra effort to experience paramaananda or brahmaananda. Very few blessed ones perceive them, and persevere to attain them.

25 Years of .com

It was on this day twenty five years ago that symbolics.com was registered as the first registered domain name. Symbolics, Inc. then used to be a computer manufacturer. The domain is now owned by an investment firm.

Check how many domains do you know from this list:

The first fifteen domain names registered (source: itif.org)

As you may notice, HP, IBM, Sun, Intel and others joined the bandwagon a year later. Here is an interesting paper on internet economy that one must read – The Internet Economy 25 Years After .Com. It also talks about the history of .com sites.

When things go wrong as they sometimes will

Sometime; I look back to my old military school days; I come across some very interesting; emotional; and funnier moments. And this poem from our school diary’s back cover, reminds me of some of those moments. A poem, with a few simpler words but meaningful ones, I would read this poem most of my school days. It kept me in the Game. So much adventure and so much fun. Like some long continuous life’s challenge broken into many pieces, Military school days was really so much to learn from. Its was different. I am very thankful to everyone involved. Thank you. Thank you very much.

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit-
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a fellow turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow –
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a faint and faltering man;
Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor’s cup;
And he learned too late when the night came down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out –
The silver tint in the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It might be near when it seems afar;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit –
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.