Karachi: She was apprehensive about making the trip to Pakistan but India's top woman cueist Chitra Magimairaj said ignoring the worries and deciding to come for the World Eight Reds Snooker team and individual championships here has turned out to be a good experience for her.
A large Indian contingent, including cueists, officials and referees are here to participate in the World event after much persuasion by the Pakistan and Indian Billiards and Snooker Federations.
"Honestly speaking I was very worried about coming to Pakistan and Karachi having heard so many things about it and also because of the relations between the two countries," Chitra said in an interview.
"But once we arrived here we were happy to see the hospitality shown towards us and other teams and the excellent arrangements made in this five-star hotel. My one complaint now is that I and other players want to go out and do some shopping, sightseeing and eat out but due to the security surrounding us we are not allowed to do that until now," she added.
Cueists from around 17 countries have come to Karachi for the world event being held at a five-star hotel where the participating players and officials have been provided boarding and lodging as well.
Alamgir Sheikh, who heads the Pakistan federation, told PTI the participation of the Indian contingent had lifted their spirits and the image of Pakistan.
"They have come in full force and we wanted them to come because Chitra and Pankaj Advani are defending the eight red ball world titles in individual categories," he said.
Sheikh said since the championship will run till August 15 shopping, sightseeing and other tours are being planned for the delegates but for the time being security officials have restricted them to the hotel.
"In a way it is okay with us because we feel safe in such a secure environment and it allows us to focus totally on our game," Chitra said.
In the first big upset of the world event, Advani lost to a player from Bahrain but bounced back in the very next match to confirm his status as the world's top cueist.
Advani told reporters at the opening ceremony he was delighted to be in Karachi as the appreciation Indian players got in Pakistan was astounding.
"Pakistan has also become quite a force in world snooker so it is great competing with their top players as well," he said.
Chitra is a professional player of snooker, English billiards, and pool and a two-time World Ladies Billiards and Snooker Association World Champion (2006, 2007), a two-time national pool champion, and more recently the World Women's Senior Snooker Championship (2014).
"I am happy at what I have achieved for my country so far but I would like to visit and play more often in Pakistan."
"I just feel sometimes that if relations improve between Pakistan and India we can have more sporting ties. Because we have lot in common," she said.