This conversation started because I was telling my mom she has a really mobile patella ( knee cap). I was explaining it’s probably due to how active she was as a kid. I asked her if she would go climb trees with me at the park and she started telling me an epic story so I had to get me phone out to record it. The astounding thing is how much movement is built into play, whether it is running, climbing, holding your breath and running. The cleaning and cooking birds as a kid part really made me think what an incredible childhood she had. This is one of my favorite stories. As usual, a translated transcription follows below.
Me: start from the beginning of the story
Mom: I used to make a bridge using bamboo poles between the mango tree and the “jaam” tree ( a small plum). I’d lay down 2-3 bamboo poles , to make it wide enough to walk on. If you have 3 poles, it’s really wide and then put another pole between the two trees on a higher branch so you could walk across between the two trees holding the top pole- like a bridge.
Mom: So I would cross over to the jaam tree that way and shake the tree branches. There would be people at the bottom, kids who would hold a big bedsheet on four corners, 4-5 people on each corner and the jaam fruit would fall there.
Me: *laughs in amusement* What would you do with the fruits?
Mom: We would eat it obviously
Me: *more lolz* no, I know you’d eat them, but how?
Mom: Well we’d just them just plain, and sometimes we’d shake them ( in a bowl to mash them). That is really tasty.
Me: Ya, I remember.
Mom: I haven’t had jaam in so many years. Black berries or even cherries kind of similar, not in taste, but reminds of it a little
Me: How else did you play? Like, different kinds of movement type things you’d do. Talk about those
Mom: Couldn’t really play much in Dhaka ( the capitol city of Bangladesh). When my family moved to Dhaka, I was in what grade? When your grandfather ( her dad) died, that’s when we had to move to Dhaka. At that time, maybe you didn’t see later but there used to be a empty field behind the house. Did you see that field?
Me: *unsure* yes. never mind
Mom: That field was completely vacant, no buildings at that time. In that field we used to play. And you know who I used to play with? Sheuli and Hely auntie ( friends of the family). I was 4 years old at the time and they were in college ( 9th or 10th grade). Other girls from the neighborhood too. We’d play “bouchi” and “danguti“
Me: What is “danguti”?
Mom: A game where you put a small stick upright on top of piled bricks. Then you hit the small stick with a bigger stick to see how far you can hit it. Kind of like cricket. There would be people trying to catch the small stick you hit and if they caught it, you’re out.
Me: Ahhh, and what is “bouchi”
Mom : *annoyed* you don’t know what “bouchi” is?
Me: *more lolz* I know but please just explain it
Mom : *laughter, she amused* We played “bouchi” a lot. The same way you played
Me: I don’t remember it, I know you have to make a sound.
Mom explains it, but before you read the translation, it may be helpful to watch this short 4 min. video so you can follow along! I also condensed what she says to make it easier to write!
Mom: There’s 2 teams and each team has a “bou” ( bride) in a drawn square. Each teams objective is to “hit” everyone on the other team so the “bou” can escape. So, team members leave their area one at a time while they are making a ” chiii” sound ( hence the name) or holding their breath to tag a member of the opposite team. And the other team tries not to get “caught” while also running around until the person runs out of breath. If a person gets tagged or if the pursuer runs out of breath, they are both out for the round.
Mom: We also played “shaat chaara” . That’s when you take a broken clay pot, make 7 pieces, line them up and use a small tennis ball to knock them out. The person who could knock out the most pieces, wins.
Ma: Did adults ever say anything to you guys? You know how now-a-days people yell at kids for playing outside
Mom: Why would they yell at us? When we visited my grandfather’s village, all we had was time because we were on vacation mode. We’d play in the afternoon anyway. During the day, I’d take kids in the village to go foraging for edible greens. I’d take rice and lentils from the house to cook it ourselves so we can have a picnic. A few times, one of the boys in the village would catch, kill and butcher birds for us to eat, “babui” birds…
Me: how many birds would he kill at once?
Mom: how many? There wasn’t like a shortage of birds. The “jaam” tree was huge and it had maybe 300-400 birds, it looked so beautiful. And the nests these birds made…have you ever seen one?
Me: only in pictures
Mom: It’s so beautiful, these nests they make, God gave these tiny birds the brains to make them…how do they do such a thing? It looked stupendous, hundreds of these birds nests hanging all from this tree.
Mom: So that boy would catch the birds for us
Ma: Did you guys clean and dress the birds yourselves after?
Mom: Of course, who else would do that for us? Most of the time, we didn’t use any eggs because if I was with the kids in the village I never asked them to bring anything. So it would be some kind of greens that we’d forage, along with “daal” made with lentils from grandfather’s house.
Ma: How did you know which greens to forage? Like this is edible or not
Mom: We watched people eat foraged greens since a kid. People would pick green along the ponds and rivers. Back then in Bangladesh there weren’t a lot of cats and dogs by the water ( there’s a lot more stray animals now, hence her statement). So we’d pick from the areas that looked safe, that we knew people normally foraged from. Now a day, there isn’t really the abundance of wild edible things anymore. I’ve shown you 2 things we used to forage that I’ve seen here ( see the 2 picture below). So that’s what we’d do, collect various greens, cook them, make daal and have a picnic.
Learn more about Jaam fruit in Bangladesh http://weloveourbangladesh.blogspot.com/2011/03/mission-impossible.html
Some other popular games in Bangladesh https://shallets.blogspot.com/2012/12/village-game-of-bangladesh.html