- By Deepa Krishnan
I was walking along Chor Bazaar when I spotted these carrom coins. Nostalgia grabbed me, and I stopped in my tracks.
I played a lot of carrom as a child. Summer holidays were usually filled with competitive carrom games, and I suddenly remembered how we'd emerge from the games with white and powdery fingers.
I looked around, to see if I could find the carrom board. Ah yes, there it was, stacked up casually against another stall.
I was tempted to take the board home. God, but I used to love this game!
When I was growing up, there was a carrom club in the building where we lived (although "club" is probably too grand a word for it). The game was played in a small garage in our building, mostly by guys, but there were a few women and girls as well.
Each evening, we'd wait for grown ups to push up the garage door, so that we could troop in and set up the heavy carrom board. Four of us would sit at each game, one on each side of the table. Other kids (the poor latecomers!) would gather around, watching the game, waiting for their turn.
There was not much conversation, really, beyond the game itself. In fact, the game was everything. The only things you heard were small little expletives, or frustrated groans. We lived for the pleasure of the perfect shot, and praise from a keen audience. "Great shot!"..."Too good, yaar!" and so on.
As the evening progressed, the older folks, back from the office commute, would come and join the game. Younger kids would get shooed off the game, to make way for the older "dadas". The younger ones wouldn't leave though, they'd just stand around watching the older gang at the game. A single yellow bulb would come on, lighting the board as it grew darker. At seven thirty, the kids would go home, while the older ones played on.
The game was played intensely. Players had reputations to live up to. Mr. X was good at straight shots. This other guy, Mr. Y, his backshot was perfect. Z was a 'thumbing' champ. And so on. Every year, we'd have competitions, and reputations would be made and broken.
When I left Bombay for Calcutta (to get my MBA degree), I discovered to my delight that there was a carrom board at IIM Calcutta. So carrom continued to be part of my life for another two years.
Then I got married, and discovered that carrom was played in my husband's family as well. I remember some long ago afternoons, playing carrom with his cousins. Of late though, there have not been any games, as most of the cousins have dispersed.
I've stopped playing now, more's the pity. The last time I played was five years ago, when we moved into a new apartment in Bombay. There was a carom competition here, and on an impulse, I enrolled my name for it. It was fun, and I even won the darn competition.
I should really start playing again. Game anyone?