FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

India, Gilli-danda

Mar 1, 2012
2012 / March 2012

Boys will be boys. Put an idle bunch together — any place in the world, any time in history — and chances are they will either get up to no good or start playing an improvised game. Sometimes they will do both at the same time.

Dial back to a school corridor on a Monday afternoon in 1984. Three 17-year-old boys were leaning against a wall, bored senseless. One of them was ricocheting a tennis ball off the opposite wall. Another was playing one-handed catch with a bottle of Zippo lighter fluid. The third (me) was staring into space.

What we did next involved no planning or conversation. Seventeen-year-old boys are blessed with a kind of telepathy that tacitly prompts them into unified action. What did we have at our disposal? A ball, lighter fluid and a corridor. We soused the ball with the fluid, lit it and converted the corridor into a field of play. Fireball was born.

Imagine a similar trio of boys in the plains of rural India on a Monday afternoon centuries ago. They are leaning against a banyan tree in a dusty clearing, bored senseless. One is swishing a two-foot-long rounded stick. Another is absently whittling a three-inch-long stick so that it is slightly tapered at each end. The third — by far the best looking of the trio — is staring into space.

Two sticks and a dusty clearing. They draw a circle on the ground, roughly four feet in diameter. The small stick (call it a gilli) is placed in the circle. The first boy hits one end of the gilli with his bat-like stick (call it a danda), propelling the smaller stick into the air. He then thwacks the spinning gilli as far as he can. The other two boys try to catch it. Gilli-danda is born.

It is equally possible that the story was played out in the foothills of the Himalayas or in a village in Cambodia or beside a Venetian canal in the time of Marco Polo. Boys are boys, and sticks are easy to find. Variations of the stick-on-stick game have emerged throughout the world, including the United States, where it is known as pee-wee.

But the modern heartland of the sport is India. In some places it is played interchangeably with cricket, and at first glimpse from a distance it is often difficult to work out if the game in progress is cricket or gilli-danda.

Some Indian nationalists have asserted that gilli-danda is the forerunner of cricket, though it is more likely that the widespread passion for the bat-and-ball game on the subcontinent altered the game play of the traditional pastime, which in turn fed back into cricket.

Indian cricketers are renowned for the wristy way they wield the bat to strike the ball. When you watch a boy using the danda to strike a gilli, you can see the prototype for that distinctive action. Similarly, the catchers in gilli-danda develop unique hand-eye coordination that they take onto the cricket field, leading to success and adulation.

A quarter of a century after my participation in the invention of fireball, I was walking along a street in the Spanish city of Valencia when a firecracker landed in front of me, spewing angry sparks. Instinctively I drew on my experience of kicking a tennis ball wrapped in flames. With a deft flick of my foot, I volleyed the firecracker into the empty road, where it exploded harmlessly.

The games an idle boy plays make the man.

Introducing

FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Explore Excursions

#globility

Insta Feed
Daily
Jun 24, 2024

Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat on French Riviera Completes Redesign of 2 Villas and Penthouse

Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, A Four Seasons Hotel is a 5-star luxury resort located in the former fishing village of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat on the French Riviera. Welcoming guests for more than 100 years, the property is set on 17 lush acres with stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea and 74 spacious guestrooms and suites. This year, noted Parisian designer Sybille de Margerie redesigned two of the hotel’s three villas on the property, Villa Beauchamp and Villa Clair Soleil, as well as the Penthouse.

Reconnecting the World: GBTA Convention 2023 Spotlights the Vital Role of Business Travel and In-Person Connection

In an increasingly digital and interconnected world, the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) Convention remains an indispensable platform for business travel industry professionals seeking to make the most of the power of face-to-face connections. Taking place August 13–15 in Dallas, the 2023 GBTA Convention provides the unique opportunity for professionals and companies to join visionaries, thought leaders and industry experts for meaningful networking, cutting-edge insights and inspiring innovation.

June 2024
Jun 24, 2024

Plan Your Summit in Savannah, the Hostess City of the South

In Savannah, taking care of business comes with an array of fringe benefits: fireflies and magnolia trees, warm breezes and Southern hospitality, live oaks garlanded in Spanish moss, and plenty of perfect addresses for meetings and gatherings. One of the most anticipated developments in the meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions space is the enlargement of the existing Savannah Convention Center. Amplifications to the site include an additional 40,000 square feet of ballrooms space; 13 new meeting rooms; and a further 100,000 square feet of exhibit space. Positioned on Hutchinson Island, the convention complex sits an easy 20 minutes from Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport and is easily accessible from other East Coast destinations via the I-95 and I-16 highways.

Daily
Jun 24, 2024

5 Beach Hotels to Celebrate Fourth of July

Plan your Fourth of July escape to one of these five beachside pools.

Fill Your Heart with Ireland

Whether it's the people, the craic (fun) or the coasts, travelers always find something to love about the island of Ireland. What fills your heart?

Daily
Jun 24, 2024

A Banyan Group-Branded Hotel Opens in Sokcho, South Korea

Banyan Group announced the newest addition to its growing portfolio with the opening of Cassia Sokcho, marking the debut of the Cassia brand in South Korea. This 674-room hotel, located between the East Sea and Mount Seorak, also features suites and penthouse apartments equipped with kitchen facilities, private balconies and bathtubs.

June 2024
Jun 20, 2024

Bask in the Warmth and Cultural Fusion of Cabo Verde’s Islands

Césaria Évora, Cabo Verde’s “Barefoot Diva,” often sang about her home, the stunning island of São Vicente, one of the 10 inhabited islands comprising the nation of Cabo Verde. When Évora died in 2011 at the age of 70, all of Cabo Verde mourned.

Welcome to Wyndham Monterrey Ambassador Centro

Wyndham Monterrey Ambassador Centro, operated by Aimbridge LATAM, opened its doors, welcoming guests to one of the most iconic and traditional properties in Monterrey, Nuevo León. Boasting 229 rooms and suites, the hotel, part of Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, is ready for discerning travelers. Wyndham Hotels & Resorts is the largest hotel franchise company in the world with approximately 9,100 hotels in more than 95 countries.

Daily
Jun 20, 2024

4 Destinations Inspired by Great Summer Reads

Calling all literary lovers! Pick up one of these books and set out to explore the destination inspired by the pages.