Three generations of Pak family build ties at world bridge meet

CHENNAI: Indo-Pak diplomatic relations are not at their best – the proposed bilateral cricket series in December is all set to be cancelled – but that doesn’t mean there’s no cultural or sporting exchange taking place between the two countries.

Even the 42nd World Bridge Championships that started here on Sunday has a unique Pakistan trio comprising three generations of women from the same family hogging the limelight. Qudsia Dossa is in her 70s, but she is the leader of the pack. And she has daughter Rubina Hai and granddaughter Fatima Raza for company. The trio form the core of the women’s team from Pakistan that is fighting for the Venice Cup, one of the trophies at stake in a tournament that has several formats and players from 35 countries taking part.

For the Karachi trio, it’s not their first visit to India. Qudsia has been here many times while Fatima made her international debut in Ahmedabad a few years back.

Interestingly, Fatima – who was Pakistan’s No 1 ranked tennis player in the U-18 category-started playing bridge at the insistence of her brother.

Qudsia, too, has always been a sports lover and started playing bridge about two decades ago. “Cricket is the most popular sport in Pakistan and brings together the entire nation. For us, bridge was part of our social fabric and we grew up watching our relatives play it,” she said.

There is a perception that women aren’t encouraged to take up sports in Pakistan. Qudsia, being part of a wealthy business family, paints a different picture. “Without our family’s support, I don’t think any of us would’ve come this far in bridge. Bridge is a mind game and these days many women are taking up other sports as well,” she said.

“There’s another added incentive. We were told we could apply for a place in the Guinness Book of Records because we are probably the only family which has three generations in the same event in one tournament in any sport,” she said.

Having won two of their three games on Day 1 of the championship, the trio remain in the reckoning for other honours as well.

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