“Nope, that’s not a bingo,” he says, as he walks towards the board to remove the dart which I had aimed right at the bull’s eye. He chuckles as he explains how the laymen foolishly think that hitting the arrow at the centre makes one a darting pro.
Venupillai and his friend, Saravan Raj, started Café 180 last December 12th as a place to relax after a heavy schedule of designing and architectural brainstorm. What started as a place to have coffee and a chat is now a “darting lounge with a café attached to it and not the other way round”, as he likes to put it.
“Hold it at the tip, align your elbows straight, stretch your upper body forward and strike,” he says, while demonstrating the right move. Like a coach, he explains the points allotted for each segment. The uppermost circle doubles the points, the middle circle triples it. Drawing an imaginary line vertically down the number 20, he calculates – “Thrice of 20 is 60. If your arrow pins this patch thrice, you get 180.” That’s the highest one can get in a round, which gives Café 180 its name.
While I take a break to have my Café 180 frappe, Venupillai, his son and marketing head, play a round of the game.
I notice that he has aligned the various darts neatly on the table. He shows me the high impact ones, Torpido, Darrel Fitton, Dennis Prisley and Simon whitlock, like an excited kid showing his collection of toys. Acknowledging my confused look, he says, “They travel differently. Aerodynamics you see.” I nod.
“These,” he points at another set of dart accessories, “slim flight, kite, regular. They make the darts fly.” He then carefully fixes the plastic cap to the arrows and hands it over to me to try my shot.
With the new techniques, I realize that my shots seemed to have improved. To my amazement, he invites me to join the championship tournament to be held in April in the very same building. Without giving much time to process the thought, he fetches a membership form, which he hands over to me and says, “Rs 5800 only. You can play in any of the darting clubs all around the world.”
I learn that Café 180 and few other private clubs like Flying Barrels are divisions under Tamil Nadu Darts Association (TANDA), which in turn comes under All India Darts Association.
“The scene in India is still budding,” he says, disappointed. But soon lights up as he points out that theirs was the only club Association in India to represent World Class Darting Championships.
While the Darting club has a decent number of 62 members, and is still filling up, the restaurant wears a gloomy look, probably awaiting an expanse of the kitchen to add Chinese and Italian, apart from its Continental cuisine at present.
“We don’t advertise much. Then it becomes a matter of numbers. We talk about numbers only in the dart, not in terms of customers,” he smiles and continues to aim for his 180.
To watch a collage of pictures of Cafe 180. Go to Cafe 180