It was a Friday night and raining when we got to the steps leading up to the India club on the Strand. We took some time to admire the vacancy sign on the door.
The paint on the staircase and walls was peeling. There was a reception on the first floor, across the bar. In India, this is where you would be signed into the club and there would inevitably be a sign banning t-shirts and ‘half-pants’.
The bar was full and so was the restaurant. We were reluctantly allowed a 1-hour slot between 8:00 and 9:00pm, with strict instructions to leave when the clock struck nine. I loved the strictness. It reminded me of club rules in India and oddly, convent school! The food was wholesome – the first thing we ordered was chilli bajjis, and this made me think of Malleshwaram in Bangalore at 6:00pm on a rainy day.
The service was quick, and Sourav our ‘strict’ bearer told us we couldnt have certain things because they would take too long to prepare. Clearly outside the boundaries of our 1 hour time slot. So we made do quite happily with Mughlai chicken, chapatti’s and some keema mattar.
The club has been run by a Mr. Marker since 1997. His son Rustom helps with the bar downstairs. I asked him about the Husain prints he has on the walls, and he asked me – quite politely – if I was thinking of taking one on my way out. Husain saheb did come here quite often, he said