Lately, I have been making a round of the clubs in Bombay, for a assignment, and I have been wondering that if I had the money, and, more important, if they would have me as a member, which club would I join.
I do not think. I would ever join the CCI. It is a dead club and it would depress me sitting there in the club every evening and watching the Brabourne Stadium dying around me. The best thing that could happen to it would be for the government to buy it as one more immovable property.
And I would not join the BCA's Garware Club. For one thing, it has a very puri-bhaji atmosphere. It is the kind of club that should be in Kolhapur, not Bombay.
The gymkhana clubs along Marine Drive, with the possible exception of the Catholic Gymkhana, have a more cricketing atmosphere about them. Low-slung, almost touching the ground, acres of well-used ground around them, it would be rather nice to make use of them as a member.
Each one has its charm. You could sit I cane chairs on the maidan of the Parsi Gymkhana in the night, with a Black Label and the faint hum of the traffic along Marine Drive. The Islam Gymkhana is reputed to make the best food among these gymkhanas, but no drinks. The Hindu Gymkhana, of course, is the most active, nursery of so many cricketers of merit. The Catholic Gymkhana is fine if you would like to meet Dr. Leon D'Souza and attend East Indian Night galas.
I would like to be a member of the Bombay Gymkhana. The point is whether the Bombay Gymkhana would like to have me as a members. It is ideally situated, the members are posh but not too posh, it does not have a particularly imposing record in sports, unless you include the achievements of one Mr. Michael Ferreira, so you will not feel intimidated.
The Willingdon is more burra sahib, though it does seem odd, since it was started solely because the burra sahibs would not have Indians in the Byculla Club and the Bombay Gym. But it is elegantly located in acres of golfing greens, birds in trees, flowers in hedges. It also has a very imposing list of members. They would blackball me every time I apply.
There is also the US Club, which incidentally has got nothing to do with the United States. It is an armed services club with civilians, mostly Punjabis.
The Royal Bombay Yacht Club has more class. It also has members who wear sailor-suits and admiral's caps and spend most of their time sailing in the harbour. I perfer a club which is more on land.
Which finally leaves me with my own club-The Press Club of Bombay. It may not be very elitist, but nor am i. And where else but at the press club can you meet the veteran political correspondent and, commentator!