For a mother who is often at loss about where to entertain her child, especially when you have no option but to take them along for some chores or shopping, it’s great to see some interesting play centers opening up in Bangalore.
These are stand-alone activity centres with simple props and games that encourage action and provide a safe zone for kids to happily hop, skip and jump – not the noise pollution factories that masquerade as bowling alleys and gaming areas in most malls.
There’s Monkey Maze in Indiranagar that has a huge soft play area for kids upstairs and puzzles and books downstairs and charges Rs 100 for an hour. Some of my friends told me that Gambolla on Infantry Road (behind Safina Plaza) has slides, ball pools, swings and reading nooks for kids to play with as busy parents (especially the moms) finish some shopping on Commercial Street.
One place that I visited recently was Peek-a-boo on Church Street. It’s located on the second floor of building next to Bheema’s and hides a nicely done up indoor play centre for kids. There’s a track for toy cars and bikes, a mini ball pool, a small library and two things that I guess gets all kids going, a sandpit and a climbing wall.
We were charged Rs 200 for an hour’s play as the brat instantly took to climbing wall and promptly forgot all about us. If your child is confident, willing and old enough to play by himself, you can go and indulge yourself in Blossoms across the road or have a peaceful meal somewhere, as there are a group of trained caregivers to look after the children.
Though this is the case in most of the above mentioned play areas, Peek-a-boo owner Roshini Thadani believes that ideally parents too could spend some quality time with their children here or relax with a book or browse the net (they have Wi-Fi) as their children frolics around. Interestingly all these play centers seem to have been started by moms.
Roshini, mother to two daughters, decided to start Peek-a-boo as a safe play environment for children after seeing the lack of such spaces in the city. She grew up in Japan and borrowed some ideas (like the indoor sandpit) from the hygienic play centers there. Like most play centers around the city, Peek-a-boo also conducts several activities throughout the week, for both toddlers as well as children between 3 and 5 years.
One interesting activity scheduled on June 29th is a first-aid-training course for parents and caregivers. The two day course will talk about dealing with cuts and bruises and medical emergencies, administering cardio-pulmonary resuscitation and so on.
At the other end of town in Rustom Bagh near the Airport Road is The Green Pocket, a very different world in itself. It’s located in what used to be an old orchard and everything here is done outdoors. They have swinging tyres and tree houses and even some bunnies running around.
While they run a playgroup in the mornings for toddlers, afternoons are open for all kinds of activities on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 3.30 pm to 6 pm. To me it seems like a great place to introduce your little urbanite to the joy of playing with mud, insects and grass. As Anu Rajagopalan, mother to a toddler says, “If sanitised, enclosed play spaces are important, so are ones that enable kids to be outdoors and around nature.” ⊕