Monday, July 6, 2009

Let's Play

Konda kondi (flip), getah (rubber band), teng-teng (hopscotch), bottle-cap shooting, batu seremban, congkak (pix left); these are but some of the many traditional games I grew up with, back in the boondocks called Bukit Besi in (then) backwaters Terengganu.

Nothing beats being out in the garden or on the pangkin* in the front yard with family and friends, all high-spirited and determined to outdo each other for the glory of gloating. (Pangkin = a raised wooden platform usually placed in front of the house, for the purpose of resting one's weary feet).

Rainy days, however, would be a real damper, for it would keep us confined indoors, thus limiting our play options; never mind the fact that sometimes we blatantly ignored parental orders to happily drench ourselves in Bukit Besi's notorious downpour, the kind that could swell the hill station's placid river fivefold in mere minutes.

Today, technology is able to keep children occupied even when it's all wet and gloomy outside. Yet, I still feel sorry for them, for these kids are deprived of the thrill of playing ingenious games under the hot sun, games that do not require anything more than flipping and balancing tiny bags of seeds, or skipping on a 'rope' made of entwined rubber bands.

These days, 'fun' comes in the form of a hand-held contraption with a screen and tiny buttons on it (what's it called, PSP?), or the "mother of all funs", PlayStation. Of course, not all kids are blessed with such luxuries. Having said that, there is one luxury which has since become a basic household necessity and is currently available to 16 million of us in Malaysia - the Internet.

Now folks, check this out; yesterday I Googled "online games" and the result shook my knees. There are 264 million related searches! This is downright scary!

Let's do some maths here. Even if as little as 1% of the results are links to game sites, that's 2.6 million game sites on the Internet! If a child spends his life visiting just one site per day, he would have reached out to only 29,200 sites by the time he returns to his childhood once again at the ripe old age of 80!

I asked my own kids, nieces and nephews which sites they frequent. Names that popped up with clockword regularity were,, and In fact, they know these web addresses like the back of their hands!

Out of curiosity, I paid a visit to just to see what the fuss was all about. Goodness gracious... there were so many games to choose from! Bearing in mind this old lady isn't exactly a fan, I did try my hand at a couple of games, and before I knew it, two hours had passed.

Frankly, it was so easy to get hooked. In fact I was thinking I could get used to this...... it was kind of fun. All I need now is a grandchild to play these games with!

I may not be so enamoured with online games but I must admit there are many positive aspects in favour of this digital phenomenon, one of which is physical safety. The world outside is becoming more dangerous to children - rising crime rates et al - that even letting the kids out to a playground hardly 500 feet away from one's doorsteps seem unwise.

I am all for keeping them indoors under proper supervision if their safety out in the big bad world cannot be assured. Playing online games is a small price to pay for their physical safety and their parents' mental well-being.

Secondly, letting kids loose outside is exposing them to undue influence, more often of the undesirable kind. To my eternal regret, one of my sons, now 32, picked up smoking at 15, the price of too much lepak freedom. Lepaking exposed him to peer pressure and without Mom within sight or sound to counter temptations, the inevitable happened.

In today's scheme of things, it's convenience over nostalgia when it comes to certain aspects of parenting. From a nostalgic prospective, I was fortunate enough to have had my children at a time when the Internet was not available commercially.

Hence they too had had the opportunity of experiencing the sheer joy of playing in the sun as much as I did, albeit in a concrete jungle as opposed to my kampung childhood.

One thing I didn't do enough, however, was to spend time with them in playing these games. I was too busy eking out a living and managing the household. Of couse, with the benefit of hindsight, I should have made time for them. After all, memories are made of such moments.

Wouldn't it be great if there was a specific website that facilitates playtime between parent and child? I may never have the opportunity to relate to this oncept nor apply it to bond with my own kids since they are already in their 20 and 30s (although I do play online Scrabble with one son and beat him most times!).

I am calling upon all young moms out there to try this 'new age' bonding; play games with your young ones when time permits. If it's online games they fancy, pick it up and join in; who knows you may just find genuine enjoyment in the games even more than they do!

And while you are at it, teach them a thing or two about the traditional games that you know. Let the child long buried in you emerge again and indulge in playing with the pure joy of carefree yesteryears. How's that for a plan?

I'm all for family bonding and instilling moments of togetherness between parents and their children by whatever means necessary. The keyword here is 'togetherness', so it doesn't really matter whether you are indulging in online games or on-ground fun, as long as both parties derive pleasure from them.

In the meantime, my son had just slapped me with a triple-word-score in Facebook's Lexulous. The nerve he has...! Please excuse me for I have to go now, to show him never to trifle with Da Boss....


Kak Teh said...

he got you on the triple word score? Oh dear , you are so losing it.
I remember main hopscotch, batu tujuh, getah, tiang empat...semuanya tak payah belanja banyak. Oh there's the cigarette boxes - marlborough could fetch quite a sum!

Zendra said...

Did you guys ever played hantu galah? We adik beradik would play until dusk when mum would scream at us to come into the house before the hantu kopek gets us and smothers us beneath her over-sized bosoms. Off course we believed her then.

With my own kids i remember stumping them at ping-pong with my deadly screwball serves. But they always won at smashes.

Those were the days...

Pi Bani said...

Even playing congkak back then was free! Cari biji getah, and korek lubang kat tanah. Tak payah susah nak beli congkak set and guli...

Typhoon Sue said...

i loved hopscotch, i hated 'toi' (kedah's version of galah panjang), i was lousy at zero-point, i was even lousier at batu 7(bt seremban). So, u see, i didn't care much abt those games then

i played Saidina/Monopoly a lot as a kid though. Never liked Sahibba or Scrabble then, but I cannot live without it now as an adult. Lexulous or previously Scrabulous on FB is a must everytime I'm online. I even had some very nasty quarrels with idiot players from the other side of the world.. blogged about it a coupla times too
It's very addictive, no?

Adirya Kiratas said...

I am curious. Would you have time to briefly explain what is:
Konda kondi (flip), getah (rubber band), teng-teng (hopscotch), bottle-cap shooting, batu seremban, congkak.

They sound interesting.

Naz said...

Kak Puteri,
As much as we love playing congkak (yepp! we took it with us all the way from Msia!)and the cost-nothing outdoor msian games, the kids also enjoy having family tournament on the xbox.
Asked which one they prefer, the free ones win hands down.
I think it says quite a lot-.

Kama said...

adirya - tq for visiting. konda kondi is a game that involves short two sticks and a shallow strip dug in the ground. you place one stick across the hole and try to flip it up with the other stick. I no longer remember the rules of the game though.

getah simply means rubber; in this instance it refers to the ubiquituous rubber bands. you lay a whole stack of rubber bands on the ground and try to 'shoot' the bunch using one singular band. the objective of this game also escapes me now.

teng-teng is similar to the english hopscotch, in which you draw a series of interconnected rectangular diagrams on the ground and try to skip from one bos into another without touching the sides, sometimes while balancing a small stone on your foot.

bottlecap shooting is a game similar to getah.. just substitute rubber bands with bottle caps (the old coke/ f&n caps)

batu seremban is a game involving seven (or nine) small sachets (the size of half teabags) filled with seeds or rice. this is a game that tests the deftness of your movement. one sachet is constantly airborne while the rest are shoved around in many different movements.

congkak is a traditional malay game played by two persons. in the odl days, two rows of small holes were dug in the ground and filled with specific numbers of seeds; these seeds were then shifted from one hole to the next in unison. there was a bigger hole at the end of each strip for each player to accumulate his/her portion. the one who finished last won. these days, congkak is played on a special 'board' often in the shape of a boat.

Phew! I hope I have not confused you further with my slipshod explanation...

Kama said...

kak teh - care to explain tiang empat? this is the first time i'm hearing it.

zendra - i cant recall hantu galah but was good at galah panjang where you try to sneak past a well-guarded line to enter enemy territory. one touch from the 'guard' and you are out.

pi - my friends and i used to play congkak the way you desribed it. holes dug in the ground et al. God knows the dirt we accumulated under our nails!

sue - with the exception of scrabble, i was lousy at board games (esp monopoly.. i think i just didnt hv business acumen, hehe). batu 7 (or batu seremban) i liked very much, even owned a few sets of those special, rice-filled sachets. colour-coordinated ones youuu..!

Naz - glad to know you angkut papan congkak to faraway norway.. it's a surefire winner, thre game. when my kids were growing up, we had a boat-shaped papan congkak and we used to play, using marbles.

Tommy Yew said...

Wow Puteri,

Scattered pictures of the smiles we left behind! Yes, my memories are just as bad but vaguely to further elaborate on your description, konda kondi involved 2 sticks, one about 12 inches long, the other 6 inches long, it got 3 level of play; (I maybe wrong, not 100%)

Level 1: You place the short stick across the dugout hole and try to flip it as far as possible but away from the opponent fielders. You get out if the fielder catches the stick before it lands.

Level 2: You place the short stick half way into the same hole with the other half sticking out pointing up at an angle. Then you hit the sticking out bit with the longer stick and as it flicks up, you whack it as far as possible with the longer stick. Same, u get out if fielders catches the stick before it land.

Level 3: You hold both the sticks together in one hand on a standing position, drop the shorter one and before it lands on the ground, u whack it as hard with the second one. Same, u get out if fielders catches the stick before it land.
It’s sort of like the game of Cricket (as in test matches) too.

Getah (rubber bands); You make a small goalpost, with a rubber band tied/ stretched cross them. This act as a tight rope (with 2 lines). Each player places their ante of say 10 rubber bands each. Let say there are 3 players, you would have 30 rubber bands sitting on that tightrope. The idea is that each player (6 feet away?) will takes turns to ‘shoot’ these ‘prizes’ down with another rubber band. Those bunch that got shot & fell to the ground, the player get to ‘win’ them.

Hey, I can play the other ‘girlie’ games u mentioned too (blushing) but I prefer to go fly a kite..heheh. Whilst indoor, I get to build brick walls & practise my mental maths! (Playing Mahjong tiles lah).


Kama said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ann said...

Maaaa....go buy that Deluxe Scrabble already! :D

─╣aptop™ said...

Used to play the scrabble with classmates (secondary school time).
Whenever the girls joined in they tend to come out with lotsa foods and recipes. Did you do the same?

_deli said...

Salam Kak Puteri,
To elaborate from where Tommy Yew left it; where the fun/competitiveness if the score is not included?

As I recall it, level 2 and 3 is switched due to its difficulties (at least in my neighborhood). BTW it is always a game btwn two teams consists of as many boys and girls from the hood; usually 5 vs 5.

In all levels, before the 6” (15cm) stick landed on ground and stopped, the fielder may kick, flick, bounce, etc (anything physical) the stick to the hole as close as possible. Should the 6” stick landed in the hole or as Tommy Yew pointed out – fielder catches the airborne stick – the player is out.

Level 1: Once the 6” stick stopped, the fielder (anyone from the team, usually the one closest to it) will throw the stick back to the hole whilst the player will rest the 12” stick across the hole. If the 6” landed in the hole or touches the 12”, the player is out. If the fielder fails, the player got his/her license to move to the next level.

Level 2 (Tommy’s 3): Once the routine whack, flick, airborne, kick, bounce, etc (wfakbe) and the 6” rest; the fielder shall now throw the 6” back to the hole while the player guarded the hole by swinging back and forth the 12”. If the player hit the ‘home-coming’ 6”, the routine (wfakbe) applies until it comes to rest. The point is now ready to be measured. An imaginary straight line is drawn from the resting 6” to the hole. The 6” is used to gauge the distance, hence the point accumulated; 1 point every 6” length. Alternatively, the fielder may throw or slide the 6” as close as possible to the hole to permit the player minimal points.

Level 3 (Tommy’s 2): Once the (wfakbe) is done, the distance is once again measured: only this time it’s multiple by 5. Honestly this is how I learned my multiplication, my 100s & my 1000s – I was 4 may be 5 yrs old then.

Repeat the cycle with the next player until one of the player is “killed” by the ever-wanting-to-hit 6” stick landed into the sacred hole. (Focus! I’m talking about konda kondi here!). Then it’s the fielder’s turn.

No limits to the inning and points. As I recall it is always until the sun goes down or the Maghrib prayer’s call or the top-of-lung call from my mom (usually “…balik mandi!!!”) – whichever comes first.

There you have it. Let’s have a round of konda kondi.

Sorry Kak Puteri, this comment has taken a life on its own…

Kama said...

Oh wow! Deli, tq so much for such an interesting response! this is why i like blogging.. you hv just made my day with something as mundane as konda

Tommy Yew said...

Excuse me, Puteri,

I like to thank Deli, for his detailed ‘flashback’ reminder. Old man like me tends to be forgetful nowadays. The important memory for me was that I had fun as a child, winning & losing was immaterial, participation & getting involved was good enough for me. Forgot to tell u guys that konda kondi gave me an added advantage when I started playing Cricket, the gentleman game, no? Well the ‘Ashes’ starts today.

Now, kite flying, that’s the sport I really used to like, as a kid. From making my very own personalised kite itself to the treatment / reinforcement of the strings with ‘powdered glass’ dipped with some sort of a gluey molasses. Yeah, the sadistic thrill of cutting the other blokes kite string in kite fighting, hmmm I’m actually feeling a bit guilty now for those dastardly act.

Oopsy my apology to Puteri, I tend to get carried away sometimes not realising I’m at somebody else’s home. Old people tend to be a wee bit ‘cheong hei’ (Long winded).

Jangan marah je.


Kama said...

eh, i love it when you folks get carried away in my home... no worries there..

Pak Zawi said...

Pak Zawi lived through it all. Unfortunately all of Pak Zawi's children missed it all.
The lucky ones were the French youth who came on a two week trip to Malaysia during my days with a travel company. Pak Zawi tried to expose some of the games and fun that Pak Zawi experienced in his youth. These foreign youth seems to enjoy them better.