A taste of carrom and strike


Group from Iowa varsity takes on local ‘experts’

A carrom board is placed in the shade of a small tree, and cheers go up as Jason Mielke manages to pocket the red. Briefly, silence reigns as the tall youngster sets his eyes on the black coin near the bottom right-hand corner. He misses, and a collective sigh arises from the autorickshaw drivers, trade union workers and young Americans crowding around the square wooden board.

For a group of visiting American students from the University of Iowa, the general strike called by trade unions on Wednesday provided a taste of what a nation-wide shutdown looks like in India. It also left them with time to hone their skills in the popular Indian table-top game which they had discovered by chance at Panavila Junction.

That the general strike has affected daily life is “very noticeable,” Liam Kelly said from the sidelines, watching Jason and another American take on local “experts” across the board.

“Rest of the time, all the roads are packed. Today (Wednesday) the streets are empty and all the shops are closed. Is the entire country closed down?” the 22-year-old from Illinois wanted to know.

Three-week visit

Liam and Jason are part of a 20-member group specialising in sustainable development studies which is on a three-week visit to India.

Members of the group, put up at a hotel near Panavila, had serendipitously discovered carrom during a stroll and were instantly hooked.

“I have not played it before last Sunday. It is a lot like pool, ‘finger-pool’,” remarked Jason, who is from Iowa.

The group will move on to Kochi after spending two more days here. The recent converts to carrom are also toying with the idea of taking back a board to the U.S.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2020 2:20:00 PM |

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