I visited this little charming capitol city in the northeast of India few years ago when my sister lived there. They call it 'an Abode in the clouds' and it lived up to the title - lots of beautiful clumps of clouds put up a dazzling display in the crystal blue sky when I was in air.
I had heard about this quaint archery gambling in Shillong before my trip. I was eager to see it. So I asked my brother in law to take me to the club. It turned out to be something very similar to racing courses albeit in a small campus. The atmosphere was very much like a pub with a dart competition. Little huts sporting charming little ladies with bright red as lips and tongues due to betel-leaves chewing, selling local alcohol to the punters.
Unlike the rest of Indian cities here there was evening life - thats mainly due to the fact that there is no arranged marriages in Shillong. Men and woman can meet and fall in love in social gatherings such as this one. It was refreshing to be in a relaxed gathering. In rest of India - due to arranged
marriages, no woman could be seen anywhere in town after 6 !!!. Absolutely no night life expect for some drunken lads doing it secret.
The campus had a small open ground about the size of a tennis court where in the one corner was the target - a pine arrow stand to grip the arrows when hit. All around the court arranged in semicircle, were these little open huts with just the tops on for rain shelter - they faced the pine stand in the corner.
Each little archer hut represents a team. There were about 10 huts all around. Each team consisted of a small group of archers - mainly young lads very similar to the horse jockeys. However, there were one or two older archers too sporting tobacco pipes and smoke billowing out of them, looking rather pensive and proud of their skill. And there was this old chap who looked like the Godfather of the clan - he wore a chequered pink hat and light blue blazer. He carried himself self assured wise guy in the town - sure enough it turned out, he was the judge of the final count. He was in charge
of the counting of the arrows and announcing the result.
We waited for half hour before the young team members started to get ready. They cleaned their arrows and polished them with care and fondness. When the time came they took position and waited for the signal to shoot. I took my position behind them to shoot my camera. Clicked few shots and wondered how long the shoot out will last.
Rather disappointingly it only lasted few minutes - perhaps 5 minutes ! Thats it - they all emptied their quiver full of arrows. Each one of the team would have shot about 25 shots. The shoot out was fast and frantic with all those arrows buzzing in the air. The whole action was complete as quick as it started but nevertheless it was fun. The round would have started in another one hour.
When the action was over they all went to collect the arrows from the target for counting. They added up the total and in this case the final count was 564. The betting will be for numbers 1 to 9. The winner in this case will be no.5. Only the first number counts
and the rest are discarded.
Interesting and unique sport to Shillong. Worth paying a visiting if you ever pass thru this little city.
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