Play @ Khirkee

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, it is often thought of as unwanted behavior by adults. The contrary is that play 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 on their own terms. Ordinarily children can and do provide for their own play, however in the context of a mega city such as Delhi, play is not so easily exercised in day to day life.

Parental licenses for playing outdoors are hard to come by based on fears of traffic and ‘stranger-danger.’ Children however 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 globalised real estate of the Saket Malls, do children still engage in traditional games? How do they use 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 field study will seek to answer.

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