January 25, 2010

Project 2: Lac-Luck!

I grew up listening to tales of the Mahabharata, and even as a child, I always used to feel that it was one of the most wonderfully real stories I had ever heard. Full of human frailties, problems, treachery- it depicted a very real picture of the world to me. Although I recognized this to a very minimal extent back then, as a child; I only realize how relevant the Mahabharata continues till date.

B.R.Chopra’s televised serial Mahabharata was part of my weekend diet of TV programmes. With its wonderful cast and some riveting performances, it had me glued. I found the Lac palace incident one of the most interesting parts of the Mahabharata and this game was inspired from the same.

The idea of trapping the Pandavas unawares and burning them alive along with the lac palace was brutally brilliant. The counter plan devised by the Pandavas, to build the tunnel of escape due to Vidura’s timely warning was also a life-saving idea.

These concepts of device, conceive, trap, counter device and escape seemed interesting to work on, when asked to devise a game based on a story. I’ve tried to use these concepts in my design of the game too. The route is devised; the game with its open floorboards is devised. The traps can be opened and counter-closed to escape.

The game went through many peaks and lows and was revised many a time. What has emerged is the most feasible idea of the lot.

The board, inspired by the Manipuri and Meghalaya bamboo dance and the foosball, could be used to play other interesting games that could be devised.

For the story of The House of Lac, click here

Sandhya Ramachandran

January 23, 2010

Project One: Ollikuchchi Octopus by Sandhya Ramachandran

It is with a sense of secret hope of getting back to playing with toys and games that I took up the elective of Toys from Tales. Wanting to reconnect with all those hours of unadulterated fun, stitching little doll dresses and playing innumerable board games, I was hoping for two weeks of absolute fun.

Although life is meant to make you regret hoping for things, for once, it
didn't disappoint me at all! In fact, this elective has turned out to be even more fun than I had imagined.

Classes with Rutti and Sajith and a whole bunch of similarly excited classmates are extremely interesting and enjoyable.

The very first day, we were asked to make a toy that best described an incident from childhood or ourselves. It was such a delightful experience-and also nice and self-absorbed- to sit and think about oneself and recreate the flashes of childhood memories that sifted though our mind.

Everyone came up with a toy by the next morning. The toy I made was called the 'Ollikuchchi Octopus'(Eng:
Stick-Thin Octopus); a dig at the stick figures my sister used to draw as a kid.

The Octopus represented the extreme anxiety I had in me from childhood(it continues, till date) of trying to do many things at the same time. A juggler of activities, I needed 4 pairs of hands to finish whatever I had undertaken. Also, as per Animal Symbolism, the Octopus is a sign of creativity and insatiability. What better a way to represent it than using the Octopus?!

As a child, I was too full of myself and in all arrogance, I used to boss around the people in my class. Later, this 'higher than thou' attitude lead to a fall and a whole reanalysis and reformation began!
Stick-Thin Octopus); a dig at the stick figures my sister used to draw as a kid.

I shaped the OO out of a thin bamboo branch over which a cloth octopus was strung. The bamboo branch resembled stilts and was signaling at the fact that I never had my foot on the ground. To represent my flighty attitude, I made four rotor blades by crossing two ice-cream sticks in the centre and keeping them in place with a board tack. These blades, I stuck to the bamboo branch octopus with adhesive. I strung little ghungroos(bells) at the tips of the rotor blades to provide some sound every once used- a dig at my talkative nature.

I used bright primary colours to paint OO, to attract kids. The stick , tack and ghungroos were painted bright blue, the rotor blades were poster red in colour and had some intricate hatching patterns on their top side. The head of the Octopus was a moss green with white polka dots and had a happy expression painted. The hands were made of multi-coloured cut cloth. A small white band held the head and the body together.

In all enthusiasm, I decided I'd develop the merchandising also for the OO. Hence emerged the pamphlets that go with it, and the poem that it has.

As my original doodling brought forth a gingerbread woman, I decided to explain my toy in the form of an act. I covered my toy with another piece of cloth and as sense strikes the OO, it sheds its cloth skin and emerges to fly off into the sky.

OO can be used for two things- one as a rattle for babies, and another as a fly-away toy. You need to spin the bamboo stick between your palms- almost in a churning movement- and then let it go. It spins in flight and then crashes down, unless you catch hold of it in a while.

However, OO was a parody toy- meant for me to laugh at the person I was and be thankful for the improvements that have happened, and hopefully get working on the parts that still remain.

The Poem that went with the toy is as follows:

A gingerbread woman

feeling fragile

acting all snooty

hiding all the while

Stilts shoot out

like horns on head

high and mighty

ego well-fed!

A constant quest

and arrogance too!

Little kid happy

goody two shoes

Pretty little frocks

bunch of bangles

a mop of curls

always in tangles.

Life eats her up

slowly chews her ego

with no choice left

she must let go.

shedding her skin

once sense did hit

a power hungry pair dies

where eight hands fit.

Octopus woman

grinning wide

flying off to the sky

a purpose beside.

Setting off instantly

the world to conquer

exploring searching seeking

with enthusiastic fervour

New one emerged

trying to be good

genuine to people

helping as much as she could

Trying flying

sometimes falling flat

feeling good, feeling bad

feeling pretty, feeling fat

A swirl of emotions

continue to haunt

as the world applauds

also while it taunts

Little Octopus toy

reflecting little me

growing up still

trying to BE

The flight continues

and so does the fall

But good and bad

make life afterall!

Sandhya Ramachandran


January 18, 2010


I know you were suffering. I know you went through things I don't even want to recount. But I miss you so. I think of you so often. You are no more a call away, a trip away, a letter away. Where do I reach you? How do I reach you? Thoughts sometimes are so insufficient.

I want to hear your voice, Cumbum thatha. I want you to call out to me in that endearing voice. I want to hear that voice I so admired saying a deep 'Hello' at the other end of the phone call.

Why can't it ever happen again? It is worse to think that sooner or later, everyone around me will reach your side and so shall I too.

Sometimes everything seems purposeless.

I miss you dearly, especially today. I hope you are smiling in the heavens.

I shall always hold you close to my heart Cumbum thatha, for you were and are and always will be a wonderful person.

January 15, 2010


There was a sense of concrete satisfaction when you snip away with the scissors, its incisive blades working its way with steely precision on the fragile paper. Inch by inch, a plane getting divided into two halves- some perverse gladness welled up to see the destruction.

He picked the two halves and folded one of them in a pattern, making the sheets work for him. "Bend here and stay right there, slave," he commanded them from inside. He cruelly snubbed at the folded part and sharpened it with his nails. "Stick your head to your toe and stay there forever," he chanted and poured out adhesive between the papers. White viscous liquid that looked like some kind of a condensed milk flowed on his command. He thwacked the paper on its back, and with a sound, one could almost hear its imaginary ribs break in obedience.

He took some sticks and bent them near breaking point. The sticks squealed out of pain; the brutal force was making its body bend in servility. He hooped those bent sticks and crossed them, sticking them on to the paper and stitching them to it with finality.

He took the form and tied it to a string, enslaving it further more. He smiled...

He ran outdoors, clutching on to the string and making his created monster slave almost collide headlong on the ground, but missing it in a hair's breath. Dodging crowds, things, buildings, he ran out near the river. There was a whole mass of people assembled there. As the first rays of the sun rose, as if that was like a gunshot command fired to begin, a million big and small kites rose in the air. He threw his monster kite out into the limitless skies and smiled again feeling their freedom within him...


Happy Uttaraayan! Being in Ahmedabad during this time must be one of the luckiest things; but unfortunately, I went to the International Kite flying area in the evening, hoping for something similar to what I described above. Much to my disappointment, there were hardly 20 kites ruling the skies; whereas the old city(according to what my friends gushed), had a brilliant canopy of kites!

This is my account of what could-have-been had I been there.

January 08, 2010


She sat there...wondering where it was all going. She saw time slipping away from her fingers in wispy smokiness; volatile as ever and combining with some worldly whole where minutes and seconds and years gathered.

Changes had visited her- some taking permanent residence in the little triangle she had drawn around herself and called her life. Yes, it had always been a triangle. A circle meant repeated events and viciousness or happiness taking turns to play host. A square was way too balanced to be called her own. A triangle it was- sharp and pointy- sometimes balancing a plane, sometimes poking at everything with intense curiosity and at others-just way to confused and stretching everywhere.

So much had happened from then till now, and yet, so little. Outwardly and inwardly, she had grown. But some bits of her older self, she had retained-obstinately rebutting all attempts that life made to shift her stand.

And today, something was missing inside. There was that deep gnawing ache of purposelessness; rather, the state of existence where you've not quite figured the meaning of anything.

She fell afloat and not in that giddy euphoric weightlessness, but like a boat lolling about within a viscous liquid, trying to cleave its way across. There was no arrow-straight precision path that she could take nor a murky resignation she could adopt. Till some giant oar once more paves its way to upturn the boat and set it on sail, nothing she did would make a difference.

She was not depressed, but neither was she particularly happy. This was that median point where one could not chalk out physical boundaries of separation.

She drifted... with a little sliver of hope as armament.

January 03, 2010

In the air...

There definitely is something in the air. Of something nice just around the corner! It is some kind of promise the wind made me today.

A short gust of cold wind gently stroked my face and in passing, in barely audible whispers, spoke to me of something to come.

I felt it in my bones then...an untraceable happiness. Of knowing what it is deep inside, but unable to word it in mortal tongues. An inner trepidation...a short racing of the heart. Of something good and interesting about to happen.

P.S.: Happy New Year!
© Dryad's Peak
Maira Gall