( This piece is from SAM Club Day ’73. We found no takers for the author’s name. We hope that he does come forward after reading this – Eds)
Formal occasions have always been sort of out-of-place in a place like Gymkhana. We enjoy ourselves most when we are unrestrained and free to do as we like. Lounge sessions, for one, tax our limits of endurance to the ultimate. They have been reduced to a façade in which no one could be more bored than the actors themselves.
The strain begins as the preparations get underway. A more than liberal helping of deodarants is followed by a mental tussle to choose between a host of Sunday-suits to match the occasion; preferably not too flashy because there are always one or two out to have a crack at your expense. If ofcourse, one is quick on the uptake this consideration can be safely overruled.
Suitably decked, we invariably make an early beeline to the Club rule, for the ostensible purpose of awaiting the guests and the bell. Having paraded once or twice around the Billiards table and exchanged a few banalties on the way we are left with one of two choices. If we are still not satisfied that our presence has been sufficiently felt we make for the stereo corner and start tapping out the latest grooviest hits, matching beat for beat and word for word. This, punctuated with loud commentary of play at the Billiards table is bound to make any old conscientous bird sit up and take notice. A quick wink here, a smile there and a superior nod somewhere else and we have driven our point and presence home.
The other alternative is too simply deposit ourselves in a convenient, upholstered chair and turn on that all-knowing brainy look which makes people wilt under your steady gaze.
When the perennial bell finally clangs loud and clear announcing the arrival of the guests, we file into the Lounge with a virtuosity which would shake a priest. The firstees as usual are shoved into the front row for displaying, providing a perfect forum for any aspiring speaker on the look out for an audience. The back-benchers on the contrary, make effective use of their "Smoke screen" to have their own bit of fun. After the customary platitudes have been exchanged, Jamalpur Gymkhana settles down to the process of trying to entertain the guests. The items on the agenda include songs, songs and more songs. And not different ones but the same old beaten melodies by the same old faces over and over again. The ordeal wouldn't be all that trying if our budding vocalists didn't require the gratification of loads of goading to get underway. As it is, however they have got to be cranked up before they will start. Some go to extent of making an ostensible exit with the call for songs is made and then suffer themselves to be dragged in once again.
All this aside, the most trying part is having to wait well beyond one's normal dinner time for the Lounge session to finish and the fare to be served. This induces an uneasiness which craves for expression in the form of gentle tapping with the foot or drumming with the fingers or general grumbling about everything at the same time. That’s another reason the back-benches are the most coveted. They permit a greater degree of freedom of movement and speech. And so the interminable minutes drag on with the members becoming more fidgety and uneasy as time passes while the pampered guests remains blissfully unaware of the tornado of emotions that he is breeding.
When finally dinner is announced one can't help noticing the immense sigh of relief which emanates in unison from our heroes. From that moment, all is forgotten and they may even share in a last minute boisterous joke to show that they harbour no hard feelings. After such a wait the dinner is bound to be regal whatever be the nature of the preparations, and so it is.
With stomachs full and every third persons belching forth sighs of supreme contentment spirits are bound to be high and so the epilogue of the Lounge session goes through with flying colours. Its short and punctuated normally by brief speeches of thanks by the guests. After we have suffered so much we can hardly begrudge them the privilege of making a short speech. In fact, come to think of it we all expect it. It sort of rounds off the day on an optimistic note and a feeling that well perhaps the time wasn't ill spent after all.