Club life will have to wait for Mumbai's seniors and regulars

Updated: Mar 29, 2020, 10:23 IST | Hemal Ashar | Mumbai

The social hubs have shuttered and for many, especially the elderly, their quotidian schedule has gone for a toss, as they no longer have a place for recuperation and regeneration.

A signboard outside Hindu Gymkhana, Marine Line. Pic/Suresh Karkera
A signboard outside Hindu Gymkhana, Marine Line. Pic/Suresh Karkera

It's home sweet home, but no second home for club regulars in Mumbai. The social hubs have shuttered and for many, especially the elderly, their quotidian schedule has gone for a toss, as they no longer have a place for recuperation and regeneration.

That though, is a small price to pay, says Khar Gymkhana regular and snooker ace, 53-year-old Yasin Merchant. Bandra's "baadshah of the green baize" adds, "I am a snooker coach at the Khar Gymkhana. I also use the gym at least thrice a week. I am now lifting weights at home, and I guess, the coaching can wait for a while. I have friends at the club nearly every evening, but all that is temporarily shelved and for good reason."

Yasin Merchant, a snooker coach at Khar Gymkhana, is enjoying the break from coaching. He has been working out at home
Yasin Merchant, a snooker coach at Khar Gymkhana, is enjoying the break from coaching. He has been working out at home

Deepak Kapadia, 70, a Marine Drive local says his daily, "walk inside the Cricket Club of India (CCI) was like a vitamin boost". "It was energising, and so was meeting friends, talking stocks, reading newspapers and magazines in the reading room"—all part of his two-hour evening routine. Kapadia adds, "As secretary of the senior citizens club within CCI, I also planned entertainment and educational programmes for them."

Sixty-year-old Colaba resident Pervez Cooper misses the whiff of mint tea at Parsi Gymkhana and his meetings with business contacts at Churchgate's Garware Club House. "I visit both clubs and then, usually go to Kyani & Co near Metro." The club closure has meant that the usual, nearly daily drill is on hold now, "which is nothing compared to the scale of the problem we are facing, and the sacrifices of our heroes on the frontline," says Cooper.

Deepak Kapadia at the CCI Club lobby
Deepak Kapadia at the CCI Club lobby

Second house and Housie both have a pleasant and slightly nostalgic feel for Nepean Sea Road local Jyoti Dharia. "I attended Housie sessions on Thursday evening and Sunday morning, and swimming in the mornings at the Malabar Hill Club. I also went for every function at the club." The 79-year-old adds, "I miss the club very much, but when you see the larger picture, you realise we have bigger battles to fight."

For many, the club has its unique pull because of the relationship between members and the club. "These clubs put a welcome and much-needed brake on our frantic and frenzied life," says Captain Ashok Batra, 78, who spends his time at the US Club in Colaba and the Bombay Gymkhana at Fort. "One prefers to entertain, invite friends to the club because at a restaurant it is, come in, eat and go. At a club, there is a feeling of leisure and the overall tenor of don't hurry up, you can take your
time, here." Capt. Batra says that club memberships do have snob value, but ironically, "these can be excellent venues for very down to earth, simple pleasures. Chats with friends, washed down with chai." He continued, "I play golf occasionally at the US Club, there is bridge, cards at the club, but most of all, what members miss is the vibe of these places, the warmth and camaraderie they foster."

Captain Ashok Batra plays a round of golf at US Club, Colaba
Captain Ashok Batra plays a round of golf at US Club, Colaba 

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