December 31, 2006

Mysore Officers Club

Listening to Karnataka folksongs may not be everyone’s idea of spending New Year's eve. Members of the Mysore Officers Club celebrated the occasion with folksongs, followed by a traditional feast, including bissi bela bath, vada, ubbhitoo, served on plantain leaves. My wife and I, and our six-year-old house guest from Coonoor, Ashika, attended the club celebrations, courtesy Mr Raghottam Rao, friend, relation and a club committee member.

Mr Rao said the idea was to make the occasion truly family-friendly. The booze-and-buffet NY bash held in most other clubs is not the kind of party to which everyone feels comfortable taking their wife and children. Ashika might not have fancied the folk music at the club. But she enjoyed the dinner, thoroughly.

You know, the officers club does not even have a liquor licence? The deputy commissioner is its ex-officio president. Mr Rao, who has been an active club member since it was founded nearly 25 years ago, recalled that the Mysore officers club was the idea of the then city police chief, Mr K R Srinivasan (who, incidentally, took over as the state DGP on New Year eve) and a few other officers. The founder members used to have their club meets at the police chief’s residence.

Those with a flair for local history would be interested in knowing that the Mysore Officers Club, functioned for 14 years from a rented house, at Lakshmipuram. The house belonged to the R K Narayan family. The monthly rent was Rs. 850, said Mr Rao, adding that they shifted to the current premises, close to the University oval grounds, ten years ago, when the then divisional commissioner, Mr Negi, allotted an acre for the club, for Rs. 3.5 lakhs – ‘we mobilized loan from the Canara Bank’.

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