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     Volume 6 Issue 23 | June 15, 2007 |

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The Rules of the Games are a Changing


Many of you must have played this game, especially at picnics. Out there amidst the shady trees it is usually the privilege of the women folk cordially invited; some wearing caps, some with goggles propped just above forehead, others with a dangling bag stuffed with cans of fizzy for the whole family. They sit in a circle on chairs facing away from the centre. That suits them fine because it is that hour of the day by which time a few acerbic remarks have already been made against each other, or have been well composed but remained unsaid for lack of opportunity.

The music starts. The idea is to pass a pillow to the next person as fast as possible, because per chance you are holding it when the melody stops you are out of the game and denied the fabulous opportunity to win an unbelievable prize a bar of soap repacked, such that you don't reject it at first sight. You want to bash the guys who clapped and cheered as you were caught with the pillow, but you make a tingly-ting walk back to nowhere. The gaze had long before moved away from you.

From the time the truly amazing forest-eating man was included in the Gani's Book of World Records for stashing 18 lakh takas in a pillow, all that has changed. It's not easy, if the pillow is small. Ladies have since refused to play the game unless the pillow has been emptied of all feathers and replaced with hard currency. Now the rule and thereby the strategy of the game are different.

The music starts. You cuddle the pillow, and you cuddle it tight for all the right reasons. When the music stops you reluctantly pass it on to the next person, but you don't do it as fast as in the old rules. The passing goes on until the music starts again. Whoever has the pillow then gets to hold on to the pillow and cuddle it. The game stops when some guys acting as the law-enforcing agency arrive on the scene. Those who run away in fear, lose. The one still cuddling the pillow, as she has her eyes shut, is the winner-takes-all fearless yet delirious champion.

In kabaddi, you graze in the opposition's territory uttering without stopping for breath, 'kabaddi, kabaddi…' Everyone you touch is out, if you can return to your base with the same gulp of air. If you can't, you are out. That's what you thought, until the rules were revolutionised to suit the demands of this country.

In the changed version you enter a room full of known people, uttering incessantly, 'taka, taka…' No one looks at you. No one wants to be touched, because they are not sure what you are up to. You are desperate, as you are gasping. Someone is then supposed to ask anonymously from among the crowd, 'Giving or taking?' Without stopping for air, you have the option to say either. That's the catch. If you say, 'giving' they will jump on you and have you arrested. If you say, 'taking' they will also jump on you and have you arrested. The only way you can escape from their clutches is to run, but that is not possible, as the doors are locked as soon as you get in, and moreover your legs have turned to jelly. To be eligible to play though, you have to have undeclared assets worth Taka fifty crore. Otherwise you can be sitting pretty in the room and be one of the jumpers. There is no shortage of that these days.

Unlike in the original form, there are no winners after the change of rules; people with ill-gotten wealth never were. There is some similarity between the two adaptations though. Previously, you opened your shirt at the start of the game and now you will lose your shirt at the end of it.

Even if you've never played Darts, it doesn't really matter, for the changed rules are kind of obvious. The numbers on the circular dart board of the original game are replaced by names of former ministers and MPs, their blood relatives and relatives-in-law, politicians and bureaucrats, and of lackeys and hackies who made the mark. Values are added to each name depending on their respective price in the criminal market. You get three darts to throw from behind a line three metres away, but by new rules you are allowed to go as near as you want to the board, if you were close to any one of them when they reigned supreme. Till date no one has crossed the line. Unstinted loyalty also means most have missed the bull's eye. Those who hit the dead spot have cut their <>jibba<> with their thirty-two (or less) in instant atonement.

'Snakes & Ladders' is another game that has changed so much, that now it is called 'Syndicates & Laddus'. This is also an adaptation of Monopoly; only here you play against each other as owners of SMEs. Each participant tries to get richer by acquiring 'laddus', but along the route to success, fame, MP-giri, ministry, PM-ship and presidency, syndicates of various essentials lie in ambush. If you fall into their khappor, you go down the snake's tummy and become very poor, are threatened to sell your business or harassed by police. There are, however, a few selfish snakes which are helpful in achieving your objective. Be careful of the 'wild card' which could land you in jail or send you for a treat meant for patients in a hospital.
So, who is up for a game?

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