18 July, 2011

Priceless Discovery


Lakkinakoppa is a very tiny hamlet - about 10-15 km from Shimoga on the
Shimoga- NR Pura- Koppa road. This deserted, aesthetic building in Lakkinakoppa had always made us wonder - 'Doesn't look like a house...what could it be?'

Forever in a hurry, we had left it at that...until that afternoon 2-3 years ago. That day, we had plenty of time! Slowing down, we realised that the building was a museum called Amulya Shodha.
Amulya means 'valuable'/ 'priceless' & Shodha means 'discovery'.

Built on the boundary of a beautiful arecanut plantation and surrounded by a well maintained garden, Amulya Shodha is a private museum belonging to retired history professor, Mr.H.Khandoba Rao.

We decided to check it out and were taken aback when the caretaker told us that entry was free! What we saw inside was a mind boggling collection by a single individual - of pots, pans, cutlery, utensils, lamps, weapons, musical instruments, indoor games, clothes, coins, jewellery, wine bottles,...... all belonging to a different era, all arranged in an orderly manner and maintained well. Very impressive! Of course, the first thing that impresses is the fact that someone has actually set up a museum in a remote region and is maintaining it well without help from other sources.

It didn't seem okay to experience so much of history without contributing anything to the museum's upkeep. Writing so in the book kept for visitors' remarks, we bought a book - naaNya (Coins) by Mr.Khandoba Rao that was on sale. Mr.Rao is an expert on coins. That explains the huge collection of coins & currencies - belonging to various nations & civilisations!

A brochure that came with the book informed us that the sole purpose of this venture was to preserve the representatives of a bygone era for the younger generation. How noble!

The visit to this museum came back to me when it was featured in the 'Plan your weekend' column of the newspaper. Amulya Shodha was recommended as 'Must see' on the way to the Bhadra Dam at Lakkavalli.

I agree! I agree!

05 July, 2011

ChennemaNe

Soon, the monsoon will turn heavier here & most of us will have nothing much to do outdoors. Time to catch up with our reading/ writing/ art/ needlework...... Time to play indoor games too. Computer games have already phased out board games like chess, scrabble & ludo, carrom, cards,.... And, to think that not so long ago, these games were blamed for phasing out the traditional indoor games like chennemaNe!

ChennemaNe is popularly thought to be a traditional game of the 'rain-rich' Malnad & coastal K'taka. But, it is not so. It is known in the west as Mancala and is believed to have come to coastal K'taka from Egypt (sea trade links) many, many centuries ago..... so long ago that we believe that we invented this game!! Actually, Chenne is the local name for a tiny, red seed (popularly used to play this game) & maNe means plank/ board.
I won't be surprised if this game is known elsewhere in the country, by other names, of course!

To play chennemaNe, you'll need this plank with 14 + 2 pits, 56 tiny seeds (4 in each small pit), and, of course, 2 players (actually, 1 can play for 2 too!).




I know one version of this game. In this, player 1 has to pick up the seeds from any one pit on his side. Starting from the adjacent pit and proceeding anti-clockwise, he has to drop 1 seed into each pit. At the 5th pit, he has to pick up the seeds and carry on. Soon, he'll end at a pit and find the adjacent pit to be empty. He wins the seeds in the pit next to the empty pit (to be placed at the 'home pit' to his right). It's now player 2's turn. He picks up the seeds from any pit on his side and plays and wins seeds like player 1. When all the seeds are won, the player with the most is the winner.

Well, that's only Round 1 ! The game can be continued. The loser plays with lesser seeds & pits and the winner has extra seeds at home. Played this way, it can be a never ending, challenging game!

I know, it sounds like a simple game, but, it's not! Picking the right pit to win the maximum number of seeds requires some mathematical skills... something that you realise and learn as you play the game!

You'll find very artistic planks in museums and in ancient households. The one that I have posted here is the one at dad's - hand-made by my mother. Well...she wanted to play this game, and, back then (during my school days), B'lore did not have sports shops selling traditional games. Hunting for an idle carpenter & explaining this board to him would have been a very tiresome task. My mother made her own board instead, with some available plank! Scale, compass, a sharp knife and emery paper were her only tools.

You know, my mother would have turned 60 this month. We lost her - a few weeks before her 53rd b'day, and, this particular chennemaNe board, to us, is one of the reminders of her skills & spirits.

The Story of a Seed

It was a visiting Sunday - six years ago at the Poorna Prajna School, Sangameshwarpet. As usual, all the hostelers were waiting for their pa...