Play @ Khirkee

30/04/2011 00:00
This project seeks to explore the patterns and affordances of play for children and young people
Khirkee Extension, New Delhi
Saturday, 30 April 2011
Sudeshna Chatterjee

This project seeks to explore the patterns and affordances of play for children and young people in Khirkee. Play comes naturally to children. However play, which is vital to children’s health and well-being, is often thought of as unwanted behavior by adults. On the contrary it represents a unique behavior that allows children to appropriate time and space for their own needs and desires. Play and the many different interactions with everyday places allow children to make sense of the world in their own terms.

Ordinarily ,children can and do provide for their own play. However in the context of a mega city such as Delhi this right is not so obviously exercised by children anymore. Parental licenses for playing outdoors are hard to come based on fears of traffic and 'stranger-danger'. Children still manage to negotiate licenses against all odds as one young Muslim girl in Nizamuddin Basti once told me, “I like playing too much!”Khirkee represents a unique urban location being on the margins of shiny new mega malls and corporate hospitals. These developments have enhanced the real estate potential of Khirkee and its extensions even though Khirkee continues to survive on informal systems.What do the children of Khirkee play? When do they play? Where do they play? How do they play? What are some of the constraints to playing outdoors for boys and girls? How do children negotiate with parents, other adults and different interest groups that simultaneously lay claim over urban space to play outdoors? Growing up in the shadows of globalized real estate of the Saket Malls, do children still engage in traditional games? How do they use the affordances of the physical environment of Khirkee and its surroundings through play? Do children have access to internet and computer games in this community? How do adults perceive children and children’s play in this community? What are the inter-generational opportunities for play and recreation in this community? These are some of the questions among others that this ethnographic filed study will seek to answer.

Excerpts from report


" First Impressions

The research team which included myself, Padma and sometimes Yukti visited Khirkee several times during the first week. These visits were always in the evening to coincide with the evening playtimes of children in the area.

On our first day we went for a walk through the village with Andy from KHOJ, who gave a running commentary about past projects, the local politics, the issues and the general dynamics of this village and even pointed out the various hot spots of play and initiated conversations with children some of whom had participated in various workshops and other activities organized by Khoj over the years. This was a very interesting and immensely helpful introduction to this complex urban space that will be our focus for the next two months.

We first headed to the Khirkee Mosque which is a “protected” monument. We walked through lanes so narrow that it felt as if we were encroaching onto a corridor space within people’s homes. The Khirkee Mosque suddenly appeared right in front of us, larger than life. It turned out to be WAY larger and more majestic than we first time visitors had expected it to be. Since I had checked out Khirkee on Google Earth before coming, I knew that the mosque was indeed very close to the Press Enclave Road. There was however no way of knowing as one sped past Khirkee on so many occasions that such a grand structure lay hidden inside this village with ...(continues...)Download PDF for full Report