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  • Day49

    Inuktitut Bingo

    October 29, 2017 in Canada ⋅ ☀️ 20 °C

    I had heard that there was Bingo playing on the weekends and boy did my ears perk up. I LOVE bingo. I can't take credit for getting into it though. About ten years ago, my friends drove across the Tennessee state line to Kentucky, where gambling is legal, to play in one of their big bingo halls, replete with coach buses outside bringing the senior citizens to play. I made relentless fun of my friends. Then, they won $1000 and I shut my mouth and joined them. It turns out that it is actually pretty fun. I love the action of searching for the numbers and dobbing the cards. Bright, fun colors. After moving from Tennessee, I drove across the state line in Washington to Idaho, where gambling is legal, to play in the Moose Lodge. It even became a little bit of a thing with other friends and colleagues joining me at the lodge to play Bingo. I have some great memories of our group calling out the Moose call and playing bingo.

    So, when I heard Igloolik had bingo, I was over the moon. Then, I was filled in on the details. There is no gathering. No light-up bingo board. No burgers or beer. Nope, you play bingo here, alone, in your house, by listening to the radio...in Inuktitut. !!! When I told my friend this, she just laughed and laughed and then told me in no uncertain terms that I was not allowed to sit at home, alone, with the cat, gambling by myself. I gave that image some thought and decided she was definitely right. Plus, I don't have a radio. Can't play bingo without a radio.

    I innocently asked my new boss if he had a radio. To which he replied, "yes, an old one. Why, you playin bingo?" Bahahaha. I said, "Nope, WE'RE playin bingo". He laughed it off until I showed up at his door with bingo cards.

    You have to buy the bingo cards from the radio station. Which, I of course, had to find first. Because the town is so small, there are no real addresses and no signs on the buildings. So, you just have to know which building is what. I went inside and was, of course, the only non-local in there. Not a bit of English being spoke. But, the good news is that most every adult CAN speak English if they want so I know I can communicate if necessary. I bought a pack, they stamped them all with the date to make sure I wasn't using older cards I guess, and took my name down. There were other little scratch-offs and stuff that you could buy too, but I didn't look into that.

    I gathered my bingo bag, some snacks, and a real sense of bingo excitement! Showed up at boss's door, barged in and told him to GET THE RADIO WE HAVE NO TIME!! How do we know when they start? We can't speak Inuktitut! Can't miss the numbers cause there's no one to ask!! Cmon man, let's go!!! Turns out I was about 15 min early. Oops.

    I pulled out the cards and my boss exclaimed, "Holy shit! Is this for a year of bingo?!!" Having never played before, his reaction was exactly the same as newcomers I'd drug along to bingo in the past. Hilarious. I had to explain the key. It shows the different shapes and games that we were gonna play. Here, for each game, you actually dob not one, but 9 cards simultaneously, which can be a bit overwhelming. He was overwhelmed. And, if you don't understand how the numbers are split exclusively into the specific columns of B I N G and O, it's quite overwhelming thinking you have to search each, entire card, for one little number. I was cracking up because it brought back so many memories of the folks at the Moose Lodge freaking out that they have to make an "M" or "small picture frame" on their bingo cards....x 9.

    So there we were, listening to nothing we could understand when all of a sudden we think we here English spattering of "n g o", "one bingo anyway" but it's interspersed with Inuktitut so we're straining and worried we're gonna miss it. Then we heard it! A definite bingo number. Thankfully, they call the numbers in English. But, everything else is in Inuktitut so you've got your ears perked and listening for that one little snippet of English. My boss becomes mad that he didn't have any of that number. Then, I lean over and gently show him that he had that number on 3 of his 9 cards and we burst out laughing because nothing makes you feel dumber than not being able to read numbers on a game you play as a child. It really takes you down a notch. I know, I've been there.

    Also what throws you off is that people call the radio station throughout the bingo to ask about numbers they might have missed or ask a question. Again, we hear a phone ringing, then indecipherable Inuktitut, back and forth, back and forth, and then, seemingly out of the blue, "N44". And off you go! Gotta stay alert with this Inuktitut bingo. They call fast and, to us, with no warning (since we can't understand...they may be saying, "okay, get ready, here we go", but we don't know that).

    There is incentive to play because the big jackpot is 2 grand! That's basically one ticket to Iqaluit and back. lololol.

    It was fun--at least for me and I definitely have plans to have a bingo party in the future! I think that getting together a few people would be a good time! I have enough dobbers to go around!
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