METRO PLUS

Club culture catching on

The majestic building of the renovated Waltair club.

The majestic building of the renovated Waltair club.  

Circa 1883. Prim and proper Brit families jostling and socialising around Siripuram junction. Surprising! Well, good old Vizag has seen it all and the venue being talked about is the Waltair Club, which was set up by the officers of the East Coast Railway and the East Coast Battalion stationed in the town. It was only privy to the Britishers and a handful of local affluents who could call the shots.

It started off on a modest scale and expanded by building a club store, which was run until 1920 by the legendary Spencer and Company.

Incidentally, Waltair Club was the first to introduce electricity into Vizag when Crompton Engineering Company had installed two diesel generators for power supply.

The club which maintained horse stables and carriage sheds to house the transport vehicles until 1930s, at present, boasts of an elite membership drawn from all walks of life.

The trees and the greenery on its campus provide a cooling effort as one steps into the majestic club building where the atmosphere is calm and peaceful.

The purpose of going to the club would be to socialise or for a game of shuttle, tennis or snooker, or a dip in the pool, or watch a movie, or have a drink, or do a workout at the health club or probably settle down with a book in the well stacked library.

Even though the stiff neck or upper lip culture of the Britishers may not be prevalent now, decency and decorum are maintained. There is no loud talk or guffawing and any deviation draws an eye.

Waltair Club has an elected body of members and also a sub-committee for women which organises programmes like coffee mornings, cooking contests, children's programmes, etc. Its members also arrange tambola, besides discotheques. They do have plans of inviting the legendary Hariharan.

Club culture catching on

For those who want to enjoy fresh air, lush green lawns have been developed.

The topography of the club has some recreation and entertainment to the surrounding underprivileged who also have a glimpse of the movies being projected at the open-air theatre.

The year 1934 saw the emergence of Century Club, which was started by Izzat Asar Kandukuri Bala Surya Prasada Rao and others in a retaliatory gesture and opened exclusively for Indian localites. Its proximity to the sea is a big draw and the open air bar is jampacked in the evenings.

The club which has a male dominant member attendance, as compared to Waltair Club, also offers similar sport facilities like snooker, table-tennis, etc.

Yet another club, which has sprung up in the city, is the Country Club, located at Sitampeta. This club traces its roots to the famous and much sought after Hyderabad Country Club.

This club, which is to be commissioned next month, has already conducted three spectacular events wherein Ritika and Kashmira Shah enthralled the audience. As part of the talent search, ''Miss Country Club'' was also organised. These clubs also organise special programmes during festivals.

They have affiliations with similar bodies in other cities like the Mumbai Gymkhana, Secunderabad Club, Nizam Club in Hyderabad and Mylapore Club and Cosmopolitan Club (both in Chennai) where members can avail themselves of the club facilities and also stay in the well furnished air conditioned rooms at a nominal tariff.

With partying and socializing in the city on the top gear, these clubs already have a hefty membership fee, coupled with a long waiting period.

To sum up, the club culture in Vizag is vying with its Western counterparts in terms of membership, service and standards.

PUSHPA BHARGAVA

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