I'm a great fan of private clubs, from the traditional Gentleman's clubs of the West End, to more modern drinking establishments in Soho and elsewhere. The advantage is being able to find somewhere where I feel comfortable with the atmosphere and clientele, and know that these things will be enforced.
This, I suppose, is the reason that the British residents of Mirzapur, India, most of whom were associated with the carpet trade and lived in fairly close proximity, created the Mirzapur Club, one of the most unusual and interesting venues I have been lucky enough to visit.
It's small, really just one long room divided into a bar, a billiards room, and a small library and sitting area. However, the Raj atmosphere is tangible, and the whole building oozes history.
Until recently, it remained a functioning (if very selective) club for the members of the carpet trade (Indian and European) still living in the area. Tragically, after the owners fought back against an attempt by the Indian Government to turn the building into an office for a senior local official, and won, the local government decided to have the last laugh by simply withdrawing the clubs liquor license. Until this is won back, the club continues to be carefully maintained by the staff in immaculate condition, but sadly cannot be used as it was intended.
However, lucky visitors such as myself are still shown around.
I return to the UK at the end of the week, when normal service will resume.
Happy New Year!