Nepali Times
Bowled over by Kathmandu


Now it's bowling.

The scene: a narrow Kathmandu street, a bunch of" boys are poised to strike a pile of stones stacked one atop the other. A swift, powerful throw of a ball aimed at sends the stones flying in all directions and the game of Seven Stones begins.

Fast forward to the year 2000: fluorescent backdrops, coloured pins, shiny synthetic floors, digital screens flashing instant scores and state-of the art fully automatic equipment -bowling in Nepal has sure come a long way since medieval Kathmandu.

Not since the snooker craze hit Kathmandu Valley some five years ago has there been a fad that is spreading as fast. Bowling has come to Kathmandu, and is giving the city\'s entertainment-starved citizens a new pastime.

The Pharaohs played it. Sir Walter Raleigh waited till he knocked off the last pin before rushing off to battle the Armada. Now, Nepahs have their turn.

I he game is simple: take a round ball, roll it down a long narrow lane and see how many pins you can knock down. 1 hat is the basic rule. Technically, the sizes of the balls vary from 8 pounds to 16 pounds. The lane is 60 feet long and 42 inches wide. And there are 10 pins.

There are 20 balls and 10 frames in a game. Two chances for knocking all the pins down is called one frame. (In Kathmandu, the game costs between Rs 200 and 500 for an hour.) It is not as easy as it looks. The challenge is to use your concentration, dexterity, patience and then hope for the best. "It\'s energetic. The anticipation as the ball hurtles down the lane towards the pins is excruciating," says Pasang Lama, 22, a regular at Super Bowl, the first bowling centre in Kathmandu.

Super Bowl is located in Baudha just to the left before the stupa entrance. There are other bowling alleys in Kathmandu. Walk inside the Fun World at the Soaltee Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza anytime, any day. Or take a short ride to Hotel Shehenshah in Dhapasi.

"Chances are likely that within the next two years, Kathmandu will see more than ten new bowling centres" says Tsering Nepali, manager of Super Bowl.

Financially, Kathmandu\'s bowling revolution is on a higher plane than the snooker fad. While a couple of lakhs would buy you a snooker parlor, a single lane in a bowling alley costs anything up to US$32,000.

Says a staffer at Fun World: "So far the crowd is well-to-do. But anyone able to pay for billiards or pool can easily afford bowling as well." But so far Kathmandu\'s billiard and pool aficionados seem to be oblivious of this alternative pastime.

The newly opened 8-lane bowling alley at the Soaltee has a delightful atmosphere. Indian tourist Sameer Singh is waiting impatiently lor the automatic pin-setters to start."I am very happy that I am not going to miss my bowling while in Kathmandu. It is a very good alternative for those who are tired of visiting the casinos." he says.

Established in 1999, Super Bowl organised Nepal\'s first Open Bowling Tournament in March. It will be hosting another tournament soon, and winners will go to the SAARC Bowling Tournament to be held in Delhi later this year and the 36th International Bowling Tournament to be held in Brussels.

"We want to make bowling public. The response from the people has been very good, the way it has to be," says Nawang Sherpa, supervisor of Super Bowl. \'\'We did introduce bowling in Nepal but then to get it going, we also had to put in a lot of effort in teaching people how to play. It is going to be easier for newer bowling centres."

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)