Famous snooker café where world champion MMJ Laffir trained
Bola Mese Gedara
Hidden behind a halal restaurant is ‘The CUÊ’, a family-run billiard snooker cafe that has been operating since the early 1940’s; passed on from father to son to grandson. The Passela’s wear the club like an heirloom to preserve the passion and memories that come with being one of the earliest, still-standing Billiard Clubs in Sri Lanka. A wall of honour shows names of champions all the way back to 1948. “Sri Lanka’s first world champion Mohammed Lafir often played here with my father. If you ask for ‘Bola Mese Gedara’ (in Sinhala) or ‘House with the Ball Table’, anyone in Slave Island will tell you where we live,” Zulsky Passela (54) who runs the club, says with a chuckle.
“Billiard is very different from pool. It’s a gentleman’s game. The table is different and there are many tricky shots. The game has a history of over 70 years. At my table, I train my boys to maintain strict discipline because without it, you cannot master this sport,” says Zulsky. When you’re here, why not play ball? (Rs 500/ per hour, Rs 600 after 8 pm) or join a traditional card game: daang (checkers) or pancha keliya (a game of chance involving seashells). “Our grandfather collected shark spine bones and painted them white or black to use as checker pieces!” says Zulsky Passela fondly remembering his past.