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A Call to Mahjong Mavens

The room smelled of freshly baked products, percolated coffee and lovely crustless sandwiches. My Grandma and her friends were dressed up to the nines. There were usually between 4-6 ladies there. They would eat, talk and play. They would take turns rotating in and out of this mysterious, yet intriguing game.

Once the game began, you could feel a sudden change in the air. These mild, friendly women became super excited and extremely competitive. You would hear words like SOAP, Green Dragon and Crak thrown out. As the walls came down, the competition got stronger. It was still very friendly banter but the electricity was definitely in the air. Suddenly you heard "Mahjong". The women quickly verified if that was true or not. Then they would congratulate the winner. The tiles were quickly turned upside down and remixed. The next round began.

So in November 2019, when I joined ESRA and participated in the Knitting Group, Carole Rosenblatt was there promoting ESRA. She asked if anyone had a request. I quickly piped up and said I would love to learn to play Mahjong. And so our group was formed.

Ellen Danino gave us our first lessons. We actually had enough for two tables. Unfortunately, the pandemic hit us and our group got smaller. Our weekly group consists of myself, Carole Rosenblatt, Leah Jaffe, Ruth Freisem and the talented and host and baker, Riki Mannheim. If there are only three of us there, then Wandering Wanda joins us but she is a spoiled brat and seems to disappear once her Wall is set up.

Our group meets weekly on Wednesday mornings at Riki's house. She is also our fantastic baker. I am so glad we must wear masks otherwise I would have gained another 5-10 kilos. For 2 to 2 1/2 hours we forget about the pandemic, have friendly bantering and just fun. We have formed long, lasting friendships despite COVID-19. I constantly go online and learn more rules and tips which I share on our WhatsApp group. I feel we are getting much better and faster.

My hope is once this pandemic is history, we can continue to play and go into tournaments, teach others and maybe even teach guys Mahjong. It isn't just a woman's game! In the meantime, I look forward to Wednesday mornings at Riki's. Just remember, masks are required for now. 



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Wednesday, 19 June 2024

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