Club culture has been Gurgaon’s forte for quite a while now, and the credit goes to the socio-economic metamorphosis that Gurgaon has undergone in the last two decades. However, only a handful, and that too only the old, know that Gurgaon is home to the oldest club in the region. A Club that is now gasping for breath. “This is the oldest Club, not only of the city, but of the whole region. Today, Gurgaon has many clubs, but this one belongs to a different era – when Gurgaon was but a small deserted town. It was established by the Englishmen in 1930. Some of the most acclaimed personalities of the State have been members of this Club. Rao Birender Singh, the former Chief Minister of Haryana, is one of those personalities. Apart from him, Mahinder Singh Bedi, and K.C Poswal, who was a Minister in the Haryana government, became members of this Club. The City’s Deputy Commissioner and other notable officers would come here on a daily basis, to play badminton during the thirties and forties. At present, the membership of this Club has been restricted to 45 only,” says Rajkumar Jain, one of the oldest members. He has been a regular member for the last 60 years. “Clubs were never a place for the masses. Today, however, all the clubs of the city are open to all. The only thing required is money. In earlier days, things were different, and money didn’t play that big a role. This Club patronized the lawyers and class one officers of the City. In the thirties, the fee was Rs. 25 per month for every individual,” added Jain.
The Club is situated in the heart of old Gurgaon, in Civil Lines, in the middle of other buildings built by the English. “This land was given to the Club on a non-profit basis, in 1930, on a lease of 90 years. At present, this piece of land, with these two rooms, comes under the Zila Parishad. They have never offered any helping hand for the development or the well being of this property. We members are taking care of it `from our own pockets,” said Rao Sripal, another veteran member of the Club. The few members have come here for their regular round of card games. “This place has become a second home to all of us, and we have spent quality time of our lives here, while knowing each other. Now all the members of this Club are like a family, and we support each other even in the slightest of difficulty,” added Rao. Even the greatest of the legacies have surrendered to the will of time in the absence of an heir; and this club too is getting closer to the inevitable, with each passing day. “In today’s modern life nobody has time, and we old people here are perhaps the last gathering this Club will see. The new crop of humanity, including our children and grandchildren, are not interested in coming and sitting here. The sanctity and class of this place will die with us, and that’s a very unfortunate truth,” added Rao. Bhoop Singh, another senior member, while distributing the cards, tried to refresh old memories, “Now there is nothing left; time has destroyed everything. Earlier there used to be a badminton court here, where the members used to play in the evenings. A tennis court was also there; but in the absence of the administration’s care, everything has succumbed to time – and now there is nothing left to adore.” The English era has long gone, and this club is no more on the throne of glory. It has somehow survived in oblivion.
Some say that this is a golden age for Gurgaon; but for us and this Club, the golden days are long past,” said an emotional Bhoop Singh. They then requested us to spare them, so that they may enjoy each other’s august company to the fullest.