Beneath the Neon Light


Louis Lim

It seems that ‘rutting’ is a universal characteristic of all adolescent males. The youth of Bangladesh are no different. Life for most is structured around work, leisure and the family home. Clubs, movie theatres, art galleries, music festivals, etc. belong to the youth of the minority world. One exception is the local pool hall in Sylhet. In here young men ‘strut their stuff’ in competitive rituals where the prize is simply the glory of being the top dog.

I came across a gang of pool-hall-rutters in Dargah Gate, Sylhet. Every night the men gather at the club for the night’s main event – the snooker match. Girls are nowhere to be seen, but the conversations are always about them. Not one professes to being a virgin and all present as streetwise womanisers, yet the hall is devoid of girlfriends. Our relationship was built on the attention and popularity they gained by having me around. To these youth, snooker club is a sanctuary for young men to kill time. Through the pool hall I come to understand the male rituals of Sylhet.