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High on a different ball game

Bhubaneswar, July 25: Youngsters holding the cue, their attention focussed on the ball, has become a common sight in pool clubs in the twin cities. From fascination to obsession, the pool table is drawing more and more youngsters to clubs in Cuttack and Bhubaneswar.

The rules of the game change from hall-to-hall in the cities, but the craze doesn’t. Mostly self-taught, many students are found busy taking aim at the cue balls in the evenings.

“My friends and I started coming at the pool club when we were in Class X. Initially we just tried it out and found it fascinating. We did a lot of research and then got a hold on all the varieties of pool games,” said Chirag Patel, an engineering student and a pool regular.

“We love contesting games like six-ball, eight-ball and nine-ball. I find it similar to carrom and even more exciting,” said Sidhharth Mohapatra, an undergraduate.

Few years ago, the game was mostly played by only the crème-da-la-crème in the pool halls at the Cuttack Club and Bhubaneswar Club and a parlour Xcuse in Buxi Bazar in Cuttack. Though, Xcuse has already been shut down, more parlours have cropped up in the twin cities.

In Cuttack, the parlours are at Baropathar Road and College Square. “By 7pm there’s a huge queue. Our pool tables are always occupied,” said Chittabhai, the proprietor of a parlour in Cuttack.

“I run an institute and allow only the students and their friends to come down for a pool game,” said Anand Tiwari who runs a coaching institute at College Square which also has a pool hall attached to it.

“I actually picked up the game from one of my students in the 90s. I became so passionate about the game that I opened up a parlour,” Tiwari added.

“Of course, boys are crazy about the game. But now girls are also picking it up,” he said. The fee in Cuttack is as low as Rs 20 per board. But Bhubaneswar has a different set of rules.

Parlour Nine-ball in Cuttack Road is a hotspot for the young engineering students. Cue n Cue is another pool hall. The fee at the parlours here is Rs 100 per hour. Some pubs like 10 Downing Street also have the facility available. “Apart from youngsters, middle-aged businessmen and corporate employees come down here for a game ,” said an attendant at 10 Downing Street.

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