Shot in the dark Other States

Games under Kolkata’s Gariahat flyover


Kolkata’s love of sport is well known. And fuelling this passion are nightly hubs where people gather to play chess, carrom and football. Under the Gariahat flyover, chess tables illuminated by arched lamp posts draw a stream of people: this is the open-air Gariahat Chess Club, whose regulars include government officials, college students and hawkers — all drawn here by their shared love for the game.

To them, the chessboard is a way of unwinding after a hard day’s work. Unmindful of the cacophony at one of the city’s busiest locations, the players spend hours in deep concentration. Anybody can just walk in and play. The only rules that apply are those of the game. And about two years ago, the chess hangout got a makeover with glass walls and bright lights.

A little ahead of the chess club, cheers erupt as a player pockets the red piece on a carrom board. This is the favourite pastime of the shopkeepers of Gariahat, who head straight for a game under the flyover after they down shutters for the day. It is both the love of the game and the camaraderie that draws them.

Kolkata’s night hubs for sports extend, of course, to its all-time favourite, football. Under the starry skies, Southern Avenue Park comes alive with the game. The young men who work at hotels in the vicinity can’t wait to finish work and head to the park. And the games go on, even as the silence of the night envelops the city.

(Text and images by K.R. Deepak)

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