Friday, July 02, 2010

Madras Gymkhana Club

The MGC has been my playground for the past 13 years. To outsiders, it may appear to be an extremely snooty club and truth be told, it is snooty. When Thermal and a Quarter played here, the crowd sniffed and ordered another stiff drink from the waiters. When I played with my little cousins on the gym-lawns after 9pm one night, I was shooed away by one of the waiters and my parents were told 'no children allowed on the lawns post 9pm, please'. I still remember going for a New Year's Eve bash with mum-dad to the club and dad had announced to the reception staff that I was over 16 years old. Not knowing the significance of this white lie, I announced quite loudly, "But daddy, I am only 14".

How a club started by the Brits, maintained it's Brit culture for 126 years, is a wonder. Men are allowed inside only with a collared shirt and shoes, no one is allowed on the club premises with their workout clothes on, the last dinner order is taken at 10.30pm and so on.

The waiters haven't changed in all these years and before I can even sit down to place my dinner order, they have a steaming spicy hot plate of chilli chicken dry, ready for me. The food here is fantastic but a little dull, when you've been a regular for 13 years. Of late they have been making a few changes to the menu with regard to continental food and the drinks, which is a relief!

The pool uncle rings his bell at 7.30pm sharp for the kids to scramble out and even today I am asked to leave. I suppose I never grew up for him, in his eyes I will always be a kid and that is a nice feeling. The pool is brilliant, super huge and really well-maintained, you can see right upto the last tile on the watery floor. Many times, I have this eerie feeling that I am being followed by an invisible being in the deep waters and who knows, maybe I am. A restless Brit, may have decided never to leave the pool and I can't blame him/her, I would probably do the same, if I were in his/her shoes.

I grew up gorging on the warm Naans and Nut and Date tart puddings, playing in the old park next to the pool and reading plenty of Mills and Boons from the library. I will never get tired of this club, it is my second home.