Friday, May 8, 2009

A MERE BAGATELLE…


Actually, I learnt the proper pronunciation and meaning of the word ‘bagatelle’ much later in life, when I was studying literature.

When we were children, we used to call itbagaduli. Which was the ‘Bengalification’ of an old (going back to 1777) and regal (Louis XVI, if I am not wrong) indoor game.

Our ‘bagaduli’ was a small semi-oblong shaped flimsy board of wood with numerous pins stuck on it in intricate circular patterns. There were a few round metal globules which we had to push with sticks along these pinned alleyways in an attempt to get them trapped in the pinned circles, each of which had different points (10, 20, 25, 30, etc). Obviously, the player with the most points won.

I cannot remember ever getting the hang of this game, and cannot recall ever playing it competitively.


Oh, there were many indoor/board games which brought out our fiercest competitive instincts, with improvised tournaments and league-matches played during every vacation – summer, Puja or winter. We cousins would stay up half the night playing card games (hellbent on winning or cheating), and then challenge each other again in the morning across the carom board. Even ludo was competitive, before we graduated to Chinese chequers and then to chess (not for all of us, though).

But the ‘bagaduli’ usually languished in a corner of some be-curtained wooden shelf with the other outgrown stuff. Only to be taken out when I was alone and had nothing better to do. Only to be dusted, toyed with half-heartedly (I still remember the faint ‘ping’ sound of the metal balls hitting each other), and put back into shadowy obscurity.

Only to be remembered, in a half-forgotten way, when I came across the word ‘bagatelle’ in college, when I was struck by the irony of its meaning: ‘a trifle’. Of so many such trifles our past is made, and so many such trifles slip away forever through the memory-sieve. I felt so glad that I could retrieve and reconstruct this particular ‘bagatelle’…

ANY MEMORIES OF GAMES THAT YOU NEVER PLAYED?

11 comments:

The Scatterbrain said...

Interesting! I've never heard of a game like that before!

Indrani said...

I remember having one. :)
What about Ludo? Does it qualify.

Kavi said...

I have never heard of this game. And i dont think i will take a fancy to it ever.

Give me three sticks, a ball and a plank of wood. The bright sun and a clear morning. I am gone !!!

And then, that was replaced by tennis. And then came some running.

Now i am in the corporate world.

The games we play !

:)

seanag said...

One of the games we never played was cribbage, but there seems a similarity in that the cribbage board excited our fascination even as learning the rules of the card game bored us.

As you might expect, Sucharita, that derivation of the word 'bagatelle' or 'trifle' from an old French board game--and its subsequent 'Bengalification'-- is very intriguing to me.

Ranu said...

It is "bagatelle" I had no idea I always called it bagaduli and I thought that it was a bengali game!!! I loved playing with the marbles of bagaduli.

Hey I am an indoor person and give me any board game anytime chinese checkers, scrabble (I am the family champ), monopoly, ofcourse ludo, chess, cards.

I win in all of them and if I start losing which is rare I upturn the board so nobody wins...... hehehehehe :-)

Ankit said...

I never heard of this game, but we used to play a lot of carom and ludo. The nice thing about indoor games was that occasionally mom and dad also joined us for a round of carom. And man that game was way much more tense than India-Pakistan match.

SGD said...

We too had this bagatelle board game....and old wooden structure with those tiny metal balls...but I never ever got the hang of the rules....
Ludo was always a favourite...and my sister, like Ranu, made it a point to overturn the board the moment she started losing. And my Dada was the master cheater!!!!

Aleta said...

I've never heard of a game like that. We didn't play a lot of board games when I was young. We did more climbing of trees and outside fun. Later in life, my parents taught us chess and card games, like Canasta.

Rajesh said...

Never heard of this game before. I had played one on similar shape of board with 2 rows of holes in it. Don't remember the name of the game.

Indyeah said...

Interesting post:))since I have never heard of or about this game before:))it was ludo orcarrom for us when we were kids:))though I am going to pester friends to tell me more about this game:D

the word bagatelle is quite intriguing thanks for sharing:)

Sucharita Sarkar said...

Thanks and am so glad that you liked this trifling memory.