On an evening walk along the streets of Pondicherry, one is most likely to see people playing with heavy metal balls on a cleared piece of earth. Wonder what it is This is the game of Pétanque. It is all about getting as close to the &ldquopig&rdquo as possible A cochonnet or cochon or jack (a small wooden ball measuring about 3.5m in diameter) is thrown into position and teams battle to land their boules (metal balls measuring 7to8cm in diameter and weighing about 800gms) as close as possible to the &ldquopig&rdquo to win the game.
A team may have three or four players with two balls each. The team that wins the toss draws a circle and throws the cochonnet at distance of 6 to 10mts. With both their feet inside the circle the rest of the pétanquers (players) throw their boules knocking the opponent&rsquos boule away and placing their own closest to the cochonnet. The team earns one point for the closest boule and an additional point for every one of their boule that is closer than any boule that of the opposing team. Every team has pointeurs (pointers good at placing the boule) and tireurs (shooters good at knocking the opponent&rsquos boule off). The game is played for 13 points in France but 15 in Pondicherry. At the outset it may seem very simple to lob, but the game demands a high level of proficiency. A player should be able to calculate the trajectory, the right amount of backspin and choose between the lighter and heavier boule for the intended effect. In Pondicherry the game is often played in the evenings. The relaxed pace of the game favours a greater level of socializing for both players and spectators.