De coninckplein, one of those shabby squares in Antwerpen where every week at least one bar gets sealed because of a drug raid. Although things are better than they used to be, still most of the bars don’t give you that welcoming feeling. Most of them have their windows covered so you don’t have a clue of what’s going on inside. I always get these images of mobsters doing some shady business deals behind the curtains. But sometimes you are horribly wrong and Snooker Point is one of those places, which you’ll leave surprised.
It was Friday night when some friends and I entered the place, instead of mafia business men drinking whiskeys on the rocks, there were people were drinking butter tea, playing carom, an Indian air hockey-like game and enjoying Asian video clips on a big flat screen. We were wondering what kind of place we entered until we saw the Dalai Lama against the wall.
Snooker Point is one of the three Tibetan bars at De Coninckplein. Zomsa Café, Tibetan Art Café and Snooker Point are sort of a gathering point for the Tibetan community in Antwerpen. People help each other out, especially if it comes to Belgian paperwork says Pemma, owns the bar with her husband. She has been in the same situation as many other Tibetans and that’s why she wants to help out. She had fled from Tibet herself when she was sixteen and came to Belgium to get a better education. She knows how hard it can be for newcomers.
When you’re at Snooker Point you really get the feeling entering a hidden community. Beers are exchanged for butter tea and instead of a croque monsieur you can get Shabale, a samosa like snack, or a Tibetan stew. But be prepared to make a long toilet visit if you’re not used to the spices!
If you are tired of all those brown Belgian bars and want to try something else, this one’s for you. Grab yourself a beer, or even better a butter tea, talk with the regulars and before you know it, you’ll be dancin’ on a Tibetan wedding hand in hand with the bride.