Mumbai: Celebrations with a sober touch at the Bombay Gymkhana

Updated: Jun 30, 2020, 08:43 IST | Hemal Ashar | Mumbai

Club's 145th Founders Day celebration goes virtual; memories and milestones mix in extraordinary times that call for a deviation from the traditional party

An earlier event at the Bombay Gymkhana
An earlier event at the Bombay Gymkhana

With the COVID-19-caused lockdown, celebrations, milestone events and moments have moved online. The Bombay Gymkhana club in Fort started a virtual celebration June 19 onwards to mark its 145th Founder's Day.

Most members said that it is the first time they remember that the Founder's Day has not been held in the SoBo hub. The online footage begins with a film showing a montage of pictures of the club — members and guests wining and dining, attending events, festivals, talks, and gatherings at the Gymkhana. The pictures take one from the front lawns to the enclosed dining room and hall inside and the children's play area.

In the clip, club president Vijay Rai addressed his online audience, "It is hard to imagine 70 days without going to the club, without going to the field, the tennis court… yet it is time to move on, to celebrate. Here is a virtual party put together for this celebration."

A host of other committee members feature in the club, all wishing the member base. The overarching sentiment is that they cannot, like most, wait to return to the club, their second home. Though the pandemic is a dampener, spirits should not be locked down but remain high. The committee said that the Bombay Gymmers or club community will be back one day but till then, they hoped that all stayed well and safe.

There was a moving tribute to the club's Lockdown Warriors. The clip's commentary had a special salute to the club's staff who have been camping on the club grounds. These staffers, from cleaners and workmen, all in charge of club maintenance have been responsible for upkeep and cleaning, otherwise, a mammoth facility may go to seed.

The club's clip also featured pedicurist Anil Saudekar, who passed away. The Gymkhana celebratory feature had its moment of sobriety, as the narrator said that Saudekar lost his battle against COVID-19. Saudekar had been extensively involved in social work since the lockdown began, distributing food and necessities to the homeless and poor. He is survived by a wife and two sons.

After congratulatory messages from the balloting committee members of the club, the clip then segues into a musical tribute. A duo belted out classic numbers, rounding off with a special message couched in music, telling people not to go out and stay home tonight.

Rai, clubs president, said, "We wanted this to be a celebration and tribute. While observing an important day, which is usually celebrated within the brick and mortar precincts of the club, we cannot forget too, to express our gratitude to all of the Bombay Gym family."

Sanjiv Saran Mehra, vice-president, said, "Since we cannot congregate physically in lockdown, we used this platform to connect. The clip spans the gamut from going down memory lane, with a few vignettes about the club to our own band of warriors. This is not just about celebration, given the times we are in, it is also about honour and respect."

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