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.
© Dryad's Peak
Maira Gall