It has taken us...eh hem...almost 4 years, but we finally experienced the cultural institution of Indian Bingo here in Dar es Salaam. Twice, actually, with two different groups of friends! For the last two Friday nights, we headed into town to the Upanga Club for Friday night Bingo. Dar has a large Indian-Tanzanian population and this is one of the places where many inter-generational families congregate. For us, it was a nice cultural shift from the largely South African restaurants of the peninsula where we (and many other expats) live. We did see some people we knew there (this is Dar, after all) but it wasn't like seeing EVERYONE you know at once, which definitely happens here.
The food was authentic, good, inexpensive (especially compared to the peninsula) Indian food. It is a simple atmosphere outside (plastic tables and chairs) - and because it is insanely hot these days, we appreciated the breeze coming from the very nearby ocean.
The first game cost 2,000 tsh., which is equal to $.92.
Basically, all numbers from 1 - 90 are on your card, and you have to circle them as they are called off randomly. First round, you can get any 5 in the same box. Next round is one line in a box. Third round, two lines in a box. Fourth round, full house (a complete box)! The winnings increase as the night goes on with prizes up to a rough equivalent of $100. Although it starts really late (for us, that's 9:30) and so we haven't stayed longer than 2 rounds (brings us to 11:00 pm) but other people were still going strong when we left. The 5:00 am toddler wake up call just comes too soon.
We haven't won anything yet, but it is a fun thing to do over good food and drinks. In particular, the "caller" calling out the numbers has some great "names" for each number that lead to laughter and funny conversations. For example, when he calls #4 he'll say, "one mini skirt! Number 4, that's one miniskirt!" We have not quite determined the origins of his code, but it is very funny (#4 is my favorite). And I always feel like my Grandma Mueller would be proud of me, as she was quite the Bingo player! So it's in my genes!
Service is fine, people are nice. It's a fun Friday night in Dar. I mean...we aren't going to go every week now...I don't think...but I'm so happy we have finally experienced Indian Bingo! We would highly recommend this to tourists and expats alike.