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Jul 18

Conquering Cannonball

Posted on Saturday, July 18, 2009 in Wanderlust & Wonder

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Every afternoon or evening we would reach our stopping point for the night and stay at tea houses. These tea houses seemed quite similar to hostels most of the time. The rooms were pretty basic with just some beds and some bedding and perhaps the occasional middle-of-the-night rodent visitor. But after hours and hours of trekking, any bed would be welcomed into my life so we loved rolling up into the tea houses at the end of the day to shower and relax our weary muscles.

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Some of the tea houses were set up like big ski lodges almost. The one we stayed at in Ghorepani on the night before heading up to Poon Hill pre-dawn the next day was lovely with a huge fireplace in the dining hall that had benches set up around it where one could hang the clothes they washed and warm up their toes.

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The little town of Ghorepani also had a small museum of traditional artifacts of the people of this region. Unfortunately when we first stopped by the museum, the doors were locked so Noganrai went through the town asking around and finally was directed to this lovely woman who was in charge of the museum.

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The museum doesn’t seem to get a lot of visitors these days so this it normally spends most of its days locked shut so this was a special treat for us. It was one small room full of dusky old items including old kitchen utensils, baskets, costumes, jewelry, pots and pans. On one shelf to the side sat these adorable hand-made flip-flops. The size of the coin I put next to them to show their proportion is around the size of a quarter.

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One of our favorite evenings coming in from a full day of trekking to the tea house was when there was a cannonball table set up outside. Yes! Cannonball is a game that in the same family as checkers mixed with pool, perhaps. The nuns from Arya Tara had already showed me the ropes of how to play Cannonball since they have an old beat-up board in their library, but when we gathered around the Cannonball table with Surya, Noganrai and a few of the other porters, the competition got fierce.

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Basically, you are assigned to either white or black and then you have to use a special clear chip (functions like the cue ball) to flick in one of your chips in one of the holes that are in each of the four corners. It takes a considerable amount of finesse and control to be a solid Cannonball player.

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It turns out that bashful, unassuming Noganrai was a bit of a hustler. He claimed at first that he used to be pretty good back when he was younger. And then he proceeded to school everyone at the table. One by one he picked them off like it was nothing. Luckily, at one point I got to be on the same team as him, so I didn’t mind that he was a bit of a hustler in the end.

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Unfortunately, I was not at all skilled at the game of Cannonball, and to be quite honest, my performance suggested that my aptitude for the game would probably not improve too much even after many hours spent practicing. Nonetheless, I had a blast playing this game and would love to own a Cannonball board some day.