City landmark – Gurgaon Club, Civil Lines, Gurgaon
The watering hole that was.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Iced beer and bridge tables, pukka sahibs and uniformed butlers. This is the mise-en-scène instantly evoked by the mere thought of colonial-era clubs that sprang up in every district headquarter of British India.
Gurgaon Club in Gurgaon’s Civil Lines too is a souvenir of that long-gone civilization. It was “established since 1930”–according to a rusting notice board. Another similarly-gloomy board warns that “this property belongs to Zila Parishad, Gurgaon. Trespassers will be prosecuted.”
The gate, however, is open. A cabin beside it is crammed with broken chairs. A rutty path tapers away to the club building–a small bungalow perched under a dense tree cover. The walls have gone mossy-green, perhaps a consequence of recent rains. The ground is littered with rotting leaves. A damaged auto-rickshaw with a shattered windshield is parked on one side.
The club’s windows are shuttered close. Perhaps they haven’t been opened for years.
The porch is bare but for a chair. The main door is open giving a view of the empty room inside–a round table at the center, covered with a white cloth.
A young man is loitering outside in what once must have been the front lawns but now is just a wild grassy expanse, though within the club’s boundary walls. Looking utterly lost, he fails to utter a single word.
What has become of the club, one wonders. A newspaper report, published three years ago, mentions illegal occupants and court-ordered evictions.
Frankly speaking, this relic of Gurgaon’s history seems spooky. If you feel hesitant to enter, just gaze upon the club from outside.
In a town where real estate is gold, this sprawling space has been left to nibble on its past. For now.
Playhouse of the past