Many years ago, I saw the film Salaam Bombay (1988); the protagonist is 11-year old Krishna, who is sent by his mother to earn money in a travelling circus but soon ends up struggling to survive in the streets of one of Bombay’s (Mumbai’s) poorest neighbourhoods. While trying to earn money delivering tea to people living in a local tenement building, Krishna befriends a drug dealer/addict and a 16-year old girl whose virginity is being sold to the highest bidder. A subplot of the film involves the relationship between Baba, another drug dealer, and his wife, Rekha, who works in the sex trade. It was their young daughter, Manju, and the play world she creates for herself amidst the chaos and cruelty of the streets that captured my attention. She spends her days playing house, unapologetically and matter-of-factly taking on the identity of a sex trade worker and interacting with characters she creates from her everyday life. There is a raw authenticity in how Manju depicts her life that challenged my conceptions of play and its role in culture. (Interestingly, the screenplay emerged out of interviews the filmmakers conducted with Mumbai’s street children about their lives and experiences. Many of these children appeared in the film.) The small scene that offers a glimpse of Manju’s play world is something that piqued my curiosity as an emerging researcher and created a desire to better understand the relationship between play and culture, which took me to Kenya as a master’s student in the mid-1990s.