The club or ‘gymkhana’ is an unique phenomenon that emerged from India’s long colonial history. As a shared space for club members, they offer an alternative location for leisure, exercise and socialisation. They are a home ground for curious eccentricities, from dressing rules to improvised foods. Despite being a topic of contention given India’s recent independence and adoption of socialist values, the club has remained a deeply rooted institution in Bombay’s social infrastructure. Praxis collaborated with research project, Play Fare, to deeply understand the idea of exclusion and the creativity by looking closely at the history Bombay’s most iconic clubs, and uncover the weird and wonderful culture that grew from within their walls.
We hosted an in-person eating and thinking experience with the founders of Play Fare, Sneha Mehta and Mallika Chandra, to engage participants in a journey through memory and culture. Key to the event was food— particularly, the unique dishes from colonial-era clubs that have become synonymous with Bombay’s eating culture. From chilli cheese toast to the ever-loved gin and tonic, we learned about the origins of these recipes and connected them to stories of exclusion, privilege and kitchen mishaps during the Raj. Accompanied with a curated menu of club favourite snacks, we conducted an interactive exercise that invited participants to reflect on their own pasts, and convert school time memories into (possibly edible) menu items.
If you’d like us to host Guest Special for your group or event, reach out and we’ll be happy to curate such sessions for you.