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Children's Entertainment

In these days when children have so many entertainment options I’m surprised at how often they seem to get bored. When we were young, there were no TVs or video games but I don’t remember our being bored very much. When I think about it, I believe it’s because we had so many more real interactions with the world we lived in

Of course we had dolls and board games and sometimes we played verbal games like words building. We read a lot and without electronic stimuli we used our imaginations more. Families were also bigger then and most people lived with their extended family, meaning there was always something to do and someone to do it with.

In case you think this all sounds boring, we also had entertainment that came to our houses, though not through cable or the satellite dish. The snake charmer would come with his cobra, or the man with the monkey that could do a variety of tricks. Occasionally the appan kalai would appear with his bull decked out in brightly patterned shawls and vividly colored horns. The man would ask the bull if we were nice people who'd give him clothes and the bull would shake his head yes.

Sometimes it would be the kuratthi or the gypsy woman in her colorful clothes, who'd offer to read our palms for a few pennies. Then there was the juggler with his sack of tricks. Once in a while there would be the tight rope walker and his family at the corner of the street performing acrobatic feats. All these people would come to our neighborhood and perform for a little bit of money. In a sense we didn’t have to go to the circus, as it came to us!

We children enjoyed these performances tremendously and were always amazed by their shows. I remember my brother once asked a juggler to show him how he did his magic and was told firmly that these were family secrets that couldn’t be shared. This added to the mystery of it all and my brother took to wrapping a blanket around himself to imitate the juggler, unsuccessfully performing conjuring tricks to an not-so enthralled audience of me and my sister.

One of the things I seem to miss the most was the excitement of the mobile movie ads of the day, consisting of a man on a bullock cart banging his drum with big cinema posters on both sides.

When I think of it now, the lack of electronic toys and virtual friends allowed us to develop closer real friendships, encouraging our imagination and curiosity about the world and the people who inhabit it.


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