SABurbia: My Experience of an Indian Board Game

by Sharell शारेल on November 25, 2012

in Daily Life in India

Post image for SABurbia: My Experience of an Indian Board Game

Recently, a couple of friends came over to our place, and one of them brought a new board game from work. It wasn’t merely a board game though. It was an “advergame”. Similar to the concept of an “advertorial” (advertising through editorial), this is advertising through a game.

What’s it advertising?

For those who don’t live in India, or who aren’t familiar with TV in India, SAB is an Indian TV channel. “That’s Tarak Mehta,” my husband pointed to the character on the bottom right corner of the game’s box when he saw it. Apparently, his comedy serial Ka Ulta Chashma (Glasses Back to Front) has been running for a very long time and is really popular.

Ah. I could see that the game was going to be totally lost on me. I didn’t recognise anyone! What’s more, I tend to find Indian comedy more ridiculous than amusing. I mean, a guy called Gadha Prasad who resembles a donkey, and is the servant to occupants of the Chidiya Ghar (Bird House) where each family member has the quality of an animal. Oh dear! Bird brain comes to mind along with bird house! Yet, this show is also apparently popular.

For the purpose of the game, all the popular SAB TV characters inhabit a city called SABurbia. The city needs a new mayor and the players compete for the position. They must bond with the characters and gain their goodwill.

Like many games, we had to roll the dice and move around the board, performing tasks, shopping at the mall, and going on detour amongst other things.

The game's board.

Although I didn’t expect too much from the game, parts of it did amuse me and were oh so relevant to life in India.

Extra Goodwill can be earned by gossiping over tea. There are also “checkpoints” for determining if you’re a “good” neighbour.

Gossip Zone.

Extortion of money from co-players, overcharging them, and depleting their Goodwill is encouraged.

Tol Mol Kar Bol - Understand the weight of your words before speaking.

Oh, and of course… no water!

Have to call in expensive tanker water.

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© Copyright 2012 Sharell शारेल, Diary of a White Indian Housewife 2008-2014. All Rights Reserved. Do not copy and reproduce text or images without permission.

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Lyn November 25, 2012 at 6:09 pm

I recently read a post on another Blog concerning some Board Game about American Popculture and how the immigrated husband of the Blogger was at a total loss. With the one you introduced I think East and West can go even now! Love the fact that parts are in Hindi!


Sandhills November 25, 2012 at 9:55 pm

Of all the SabTV shows depicted on the SABurbia board, Taarek Mehta in particular, is a beloved among the locals. Maybe because it addresses the day-to-day issues of the majority of the masses- i.e. the middle class, in a hilarious manner. In stressful times (inflation, corruption etc.), a funny line by Jethalal or Sodhi Paaji(characters from the show) can bring some smiles and repose. Such is the impact of the show on the masses, IMO. Most of the shows on Sab TV are family entertainers, hence the channels’ rising popularity.
As for Taarek Mehta, one can even hear groups of regular travellers in Mumbai local trains ”discussing” the last nights’ episode every single day. That speaks volumes of its popularity among all races,castes or creed.
About the origins of the show, I would like to share that, Taarek Mehta ka oolta chasma is a TV version of a Gujarati Newspapers’ comic segment that went by a similar title many years ago. :D
Am not a TV geek, hence I dont know anything further about it though.
P.S. Like many people I found this page through google, read some of your blogs and found them quite interesting.Am from Mumbai,hence it becomes easy to relate to some of your thoughts/experiences about people/places etc.
Keep up the good work!


Sharell शारेल November 25, 2012 at 10:01 pm

Welcome Sandhills, and thanks for your insights about it! :-)


Sharell शारेल November 25, 2012 at 10:03 pm

But you know what, I’m now becoming a little curious about SAB’s programs, even just to see what it’s all about. Ha! Wouldn’t it be funny if the “advergame” got me to turn on the channel!


Sandhills November 25, 2012 at 11:14 pm

Ty Sharell.
Funny indeed,
Advergames have always been fun. A similar example that comes to mind is of the pokemon cards. It sure got many kids and their parents curious enough to watch the anime show.
Proves that advergames are ever effective marketing gimmicks arent they?


Sharell शारेल November 26, 2012 at 7:38 am

Oh, gosh yes, I remember Pokemon! Piccachu was so cute… I almost started watching the show.


ASG November 26, 2012 at 10:38 am

Hi Sharrel,

“Tarkak Mehta Ka oolta chassma” talks about the inhabitants of a Houseing Society “Gokuldhaam”. It is inhabited by people of all religions and communiies. Each of them is comical in his own way. They celebrated all festivals with equal zeal. It is silly sometimes but the camardaries of the inhabitans is infectious and beautiful. About Indian comedies, do watch the brilliant comic/tragic film “Jaano bee do yaro”. It talks about political corruption.

I remember in the good old days of Doordarshan we had serials like “Ye Jo ha zindagi”- about the problems faced by a man, his wife and his unemployed brother in law in Mumbai- mad cap comely. “Nukkad”- the experiences of the inhabitants of a neighbourhood. Both the serials were exceptional becuase of thier acting and direction and still etched in the memory of people.


Ravindran Nair November 26, 2012 at 5:46 am

I was watching a Malayalam movie and one of the female characters said to one of her friends ‘wouldn’t mind tapping that.’

It wasn’t that funny, but I liked the fact that the director was saying to the audience, it’s O.K. you prudes in kerala, Women have sexual appetites too.
Just roll with it guys.

And in the same movie, the female protagonist has this observation, Men in the state preach morality to their women, and then go home and watch porn.

My friend and I watch Malayalam movies on occasion now, because it has become a lot better as of late.

2005-2010 was just godawful for the industry, as it started to copy from the Tamil film industry.


New Delhi Information November 26, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Hi, I am an Indian but still I totally agree that Indian Comedy, especially in such serials, is ridiculous. Even some Indian movies, I would daresay.

P.S Oh my god! Such a board game even exists?!?!


Chelsea November 26, 2012 at 10:37 pm

chidiyaghar also means zoo, so it’s like their household is a zoo!

What mystifies me is how Hindi and English is mixed. I know that’s just how India is, but it seems to me like it would be confusing to someone who doesn’t understand one of the two languages very well.


pranav November 27, 2012 at 4:59 am

Actually, chidiyaghar चिड़ियाघर (one word) translates to zoo.


beslayed November 27, 2012 at 5:26 am

*Chidiya Ghar* is “zoo”, really. (I mean, compositionally, it is “bird house”, true, but it’s used to mean “zoo”.)


Sharell शारेल November 30, 2012 at 9:42 pm

Really, zoo! I never would’ve thought. And thanks to everyone who informed me. I’ve learned something new. :-)


Kay in India November 27, 2012 at 11:05 am

I’m in the same boat as you–even after living here for two years, I haven’t watched a single Hindi channel. Mostly, I just stream American TV shows online as Z Cafe and Star World have ridiculous censorship rules. Recently, I was watching Pineapple Express on Z Studio and the words ‘weed’ ‘drugs’ ‘high’ and ‘marijuana’ were all blanked out. There was no point in even showing the movie!

SABurbia sounds like a fun game to play with shots.


MomWithaDot November 28, 2012 at 2:29 am

Gadha Prasad’s silliness is irritating as are many other sequences from the SAB serials. But heck! its the ONLY channel with fully clothed characters sans obscene dialogues or scenes. Basically family friendly. AND in in easy Hindi AND used to be without subtitles – which forced my kids to learn and speak Hindi. Despite getting irked by the mindlessness, LOVED the channel for being the sole reason for longer conversations in Hindi at home. Two things have changed since – Subtitles have appeared – my issue with this is that translation is never 100%accurate and is often misleading. Kids’ incentive to try and understand Hindi has vanished :( My other peeve is that some serials like FIR and Laapatagunj have lost their innocence and are clearly headed towards sexual innuendos in dialogue – Ugh! just what I wanted to steer clear from :(

Sadly, Hindi entertainment is NOT a case of content being Good. It is a case of AT LEAST BETTER THAN :( :( Sorry state of affairs. SABUrbia seems like a marketing gimmick. Have to play it before I can decide whether I like it or not.


Sharell शारेल December 1, 2012 at 7:14 am

Oh no, I hate it when the subtitles don’t match what is being said. :-( And here I was actually contemplating putting up with Gadha Prasad’s silliness in a bid to improve my Hindi!


ASG December 1, 2012 at 11:15 am

Hi Sharrel,

It is true, that Indian comedy is not always appealing. Indians are emontinal and like whatever pulls at the heart strings. The serials mentioned above may be silly sometimes, but they encourage clean entertainiment and peaceful coexistance in the society.

If you want to see good comedy I suggest the following movie, which till now is classic as far as comedy/satire is concerned. No movie, bollywood or hollywood can compare with its wackiness and humour “Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro (Devnagari: जाने भी दो यारों, English: Just Let It Go, Friends) is a 1983 Hindi film directed by Kundan Shah and produced by NFDC. It is a dark satire on the rampant corruption in Indian politics, bureaucracy, news media and business”.


Ravindran Nair December 1, 2012 at 5:35 pm

I used to enjoy Bollywood humour when I was a little child.

But now, it’s just unsubtle, over the top and crass.


Abhishek December 11, 2012 at 11:38 am

You did not mention how did your husband and your friends find the game (considering they are fans of the channel and the show)? Did they find the game interesting?


Sab December 19, 2012 at 6:48 am

We do not have good writers in entertaintment industry. Creativity is not encouraged or nourished here. People choose to enter engineering,medicine,science / finance instead. That is why we do not have Seinfeld,Family Guy,Curb Your Enthusiasm here. Indian education system need to encourage creative thinkers or India should attracting more jews!!!


Pop Vulture December 13, 2013 at 4:56 pm


Nice to see people on this site keeping board games alive:) You should also try playing pop vulture ( created in Bangalore). It’s a team-based task -led game ALSO centered around Popular culture dating back from the 70s.

It’s been a year and the game’s catching on quick, it’s awesome to see the response it’s got so far. Check out these links:,


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