Board Games & the dumb Millennial

Posted: 8 months ago

For a 25-ish millennial in India, a walk down the
memory lane would fetch bits and pieces of memories of non-digital and
non-gadget leisure activities, or for the lack of a better term, interesting
ones. Playing cricket, kabaddi, lagori and what-not on the ground (there used
to be generously long and wide grounds back then, unlike the present-day ones that
are hogged largely by cars and pretentious private parks), running around the
house whilst a frivolous dil-toh-pagal-hai song plays on the transistor – or
the classic Philips “Tape recorder” in case of the middle-class elite –
countless memories define what we could tag as the last era before
globalization messed up our lives.

What could also be a part of this list, or even top
it, is the wide variety of fascinating board games that were an integral part
of our lives and helped us bond with our buddies and family people more
efficiently than candy crush and temple run ever can. Be it the simple rolling
of the dice and counting on luck in snakes and ladders, or the acquired sense
of Einstein-ness that came with chess, or the pseudo-pride of having turned into
an adult by trading houses and dealing with banks in monopoly, or the
all-age-groups’ choice, i.e., carrom, board games have shaped that guileless
and carefree phase of our life. Being way cheaper than even the present-day masala
dosa, the humble board games even made an important part of most of our family
get-togethers, summer vacations and sleepovers with cousins, without the elder
mortals in the family having to worry about us splurging on 3D surround sound
movies, branded underwear or the infamous doormats-cum-doughmats at Dominos.
Not only would a scrabble session save our parents’ money, it also ensured, to
a great extent, that we fared slightly better at our English exams thereafter,
at least owing to a reduced number of typos (writos, actually); jigsaw puzzles
and lego would boost creativity, monopoly would provide a juvenile crash course
in bribing, and snakes & ladders would, well, spare the monopoly set for our
younger cousins who we don’t want playing with us.

Board games have been a source of education, bonding
and the toddler’s first ever experience at teamwork, and can seldom be regarded
as mere pastime.  The modern-day urban couldn’t
possibly find time for board games, what with the advent of smartphones –
considering the features they offer, including games, social media, camera,
music, apps to find cabs, apps to order food, apps to find nemo, apps to find 1080p
porn, and the calling feature which can’t be removed, because boss! – and with
the misled millennials’ idiotic notion about being monthly-six-figure worth
employees which drives them to toil themselves to the point that they
contemplate jumping out of the window of their flat (if they get to come home),
or borrowing a bottle of sleeping pills from the neighbour (who has it because
he’s an MBA), or by watching bhai’s movies (Ek tha employee). In the desperation-stricken
free weekends, most job-doers seek nothing but “Alarm-off”, beer pitchers, couch-potatoism
& often a visit to united 21 as a couples’ drill consisting of nothing but checking
out the price tags and going back home introspecting about aukaat. Amidst
the storm of this shallow quest of mediocrity and social validation, board
games would find a place in the slogging-packed day schedule only if they were company-paid.
Or not even in that case.

An old friend of mine who works in the U.S. was recently
here for a week, with some decent pre-planned honky-tonks for most of the time
of his few numbered days of stay in India. One of the days he was supposed to
be at my place, and that’s when I suggested we play business (The poor man’s
Monopoly) and some card games, even UNO. He loved the idea and we ended up
having a great time reliving the only bearable times of our school life. I felt
glad about having dropped our earlier plan of watching something on Netflix and
going to the mall. The card games reminded us of our friends’ get-togethers with
playing cards, Linkin Park songs and innocent vegan jokes over sabudana
khichdi, back in the days when even an eatout at McDonald’s meant our parents
reacted as though they’re going to have to withdraw half of their PPF
investment to sponsor the same. That day, when we ditched Netflix for draw-four
& draw-two, we travelled back in time. Board games are one of the strongest
triggers of nostalgia – an emotion we need to savor once in a while in our
otherwise stone-dead lives filled with manufactured self-loathing.

Nothing need be said about the bonding that board
games help develop. Playing an actual physical sedentary game also makes us
temporarily stay away from the worst habit our generation has got infected
with: our smartphone. I could Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V quite a few research-resultant
quotes that favour board games and talk about how they help our fluid
intelligence and all, but I’d rather be the lazy layman and simply ask you to
redeem your schoolkid-self by actually trying playing chess, cards and carrom. It’ll
be my joyous recommendation, coming from experience, to try having a time slot
for a board games session once a week. That ought to get us to forget stress
and adulthood, to some extent at least.



-Sanket Joshi
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