(I’m on a quest to track down somebody I played Street Fighter Alpha 3 with almost a decade ago, half-way up a mountain in the Himalayas. The reason for this madness? To deliver a Dreamcast and a box of games to his makeshift arcade, a place I visited in my youth while travelling around India. The original story is documented here, the full details of my task, here. This is an update on my progress.)
The internet is an amazing thing. Just minutes after accepting my mission impossible I had tracked down the hotel we stayed at in 1999. Perhaps the management at the Snow Lion could help.
A quick email later and I was informed that this Snow Lion only opened in 2003, 4 years after I visited. I can’t have stayed there. Another hotel called the Snow Lion was open at the time, but closed it’s doors a few years ago.
Regardless, I asked if they remembered an ‘arcade’ in Darjeeling back in 1999. Unfortunately, according to The Snow Lion’s manager Mr Gailly, there are many what they call “game parlours” in Darjeeling, too many to list. Really!? I don’t remember there being many of them, in fact I only remember the one.
Despite the thousands of miles separating us, it isn’t geography holding me back from completing my task, but my memory. Other than the details disclosed in the original story, I don’t remember a thing. How am I supposed to single out Arcade Boy’s parlour?
My quest looked like being over before it had begun. But I had one more trick up my sleeve.
As a last throw of the dice, I attempted to get in touch with Barun Roy, respected journalist, author, creator of the Himalayan Beacon and resident of Darjeeling. Surely he remembered the videogame parlour in the clouds?
Reaching out to Barun through his ‘contact me’ comments section at the Beacon, I appealed for help. As a resident of the area, does he remember the game parlours in Darjeeling at the turn of the century? Would he be able to put me in touch with the owners? I sat and waited for a reply.
Assistance was to come, but not from Barun. Instead, a helpful member of the Himalayan Beacon community stepped up to lend a hand. Noticing my plea for help, Darjeeling resident and nostalgic gamer ‘Mr. Nepali’ replied:
“1999, a decade ago… A great era for games…
According to my personal knowledge and experience, there was a game parlour in ‘Orient Ko Ukallo’. That shop had couple of PlayStations and also a pool/snooker board.
If thats not the one then, there was one more at Fancy Market… again that’s ‘Orient Ko Ukallo’.
If the above two are not the ones then, definitely it has to be my fave haunt, the game parlour in J.P Sharma Road (Faspan Hatta).
After 2004, a number of game parlour opened. But back in 1999 – only 3 were there…”
Perfect. What a helpful man! Though I remember very little, there definitely wasn’t a pool table in Arcade Boy’s parlour. So we’ve now narrowed it down to two. Who would have thought when I started this that I would have to ‘narrow down’ the selection? I’m still amazed that so many exist.
As I write I am currently awaiting another reply from Mr. Nepali. Worryingly, this final hurdle may yet be prove to be the biggest obstacle. I have asked him if he would go to those two parlours and take some pictures to send to me. If one of those pictures is of the parlour that lingers so strongly, yet so clouded, in my mind, if one of those pictures is of Arcade Boy, then we will be able to send him the Dreamcast and the games.
I wonder if Arcade Boy remembers beating the cocky British boy at Street Fighter so long ago? Perhaps – and this has just occurred to me – perhaps he’s now on Xbox LIVE! Is that so unreasonable to think? If he is, then a rematch is definitely in order. I intend to ask.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Before any of this can happen I am utterly reliant on the generosity of Mr. Nepali. Will he be willing to do this for me? Does he even have a digital camera? When he replies, if he replies, then all will be revealed.
Now we just have to wait.
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