SRINAGAR: Curfew and shutdown having brought life to a standstill, activity in Kashmir has come to revolve around a board of carom. Otherwise obsessed with cricket, Kashmiri youngsters have struck a new relationship with carom, the board game that is as much about skill as about strategy. Open fields and sports grounds having become out of bounds, the all-season carom has provided a safe, simple pastime that can be indulged in at leisure, inside the home or out in the neighbourhood.
Showkat Ahmad, a resident of Narwara, said that the game not only engages the four players who compete with one another, but also draws spectators who usually chip in with their suggestions on how to strike targets at better angles.
“During curfew we are not allowed to move around and play at our main venue Eidgah. The only option left with us are games that can be played in our neighbourhood street,” he said. In normal times, some of the local sports clubs would have been organising games of football in the evening, Ahmad said.
Even jogging in the nearby Eidgah park is not being allowed at this time, for a CRPF camp exists nearby and the troopers do not allow early morning joggers entry into the park, Ahmad said.
Ahmad’s friend Basharat Ahmad Sofi said that the game of carom is also suitable as it can be closed in quick time in case some untoward incident occurs.
Carom players say that despite there being video games on computers and mobiles, the passion that carom generates among players and watchers alike makes it the best pastime.
“I was lucky enough to find my old carom board in the attic. I only had to arrange the coins and the striker. With a splash of talcum powder, it is functional again,” Basharat gleefully said.
Such is the demand for this indoor game that suppliers say that all the stock they had has vanished from their stores.
“All our stock is gone,” said an employee with Global Sports, a major sport equipment dealer here. He said that even some of the damaged carom boards that were to be dispatched back to manufactures have found customers. He said that the demand was from all areas of the city and even the set of coins and strikers have seen an unusual spurt in sales.