Save Bombay Gym
Bombay Gymkhana is an iconic institution. It has a rich history and heritage. For many, it has been a second home, or a home away from home. A place where one can play a sport, dress casually, sit anywhere, meet friends or just be oneself! It is essentially a sports club and its ambience and décor reflects a kind of understated, rustic yet sophisticated chic, which we have all grown to love and cherish. There is no comparison with other clubs of repute in South Mumbai that have lost their charm in the name of modernizing and upgrading the facilities. All this is set to change now. Unless we wake up to the reality of what is proposed and voice our opinion, the club you knew shall no longer be recognizable. There was an open house held on Thursday the 19th April, where a presentation was given by Mrs. Abha Narain Lambah, for the proposed renovation of Bombay Gym. It was attended by 150 members approximately and the house voted for the change. Subsequently the 3-D drawings were put up on the notice board. Many members are shocked by these drawings as they clearly show that the Architect has not understood the essence of Bombay Gym. The subtle sensibilities are completely missing. If we go ahead with this proposal we will get a renovated club, but not something one will feel proud of or comfortable in. One will have to think twice before sitting on the fully upholstered sofas in ones sweaty shorts and t-shirt, or plonking ones gym bag, or for that matter walking with ones muddy shoes of the ground onto the white vitreous floor! The architecture of Bombay Gym from the wooden columns, the beautifully laid Kota stone hallway, the rough flooring on the veranda, the wooden reception, the wooden flooring, to the cane furniture, tells a story. Do we need to change the story now? Why? The gym has never had a complete overhaul. It has always been renovated as and when an area was worse for wear. Does it really need complete overhauling? And if so, does it have to be so drastic? Can we not find an architect in all of Bombay who can work with the existing esthetics while adding value? The estimated cost for the repairs is a staggering 16 Cr. This is likely to go up as the work progresses. Even if we have the funds, do we need to spend them in such a manner? Notwithstanding the fact, that the club will be like a construction site for a period two years or more, even if the work is carried out in phases. Regular maintenance and upkeep should be the primary concern in the choice of materials. We need to consider the recurring costs as well as the fixed cost while making a decision. The plans displayed on the board look impractical and high maintenance. Hence factors such as the climate, usage, wear and tear, functionality, maintenance along with aesthetics must be taken into account. On the face of it what the club needs is a coat of paint and polish, perhaps some new upholstery and furniture and some repairs wherever necessary. We don’t need it to look like a hotel. However, if the club requires a face lift, or an addition of some facilities, surely we can use an herbal face pack rather than reconstructive surgery! Since, we already have a conservation architect Ms. Sheetal Gandhi, on board who is currently supervising the fixing our roof, perhaps one proposal could be to ask her to work in conjunction with a good interior designer to come up with a plan that is in keeping with the ethos and character of the club. For your information no advertisement was given in the newspapers to invite tenders. A project of this magnitude should have been discussed and deliberated upon. It seems that proper procedure was not followed. Tenders and Plans should have been invited, the plans of all the architects should have been put on the notice board weeks before, so that the members would have had time to reflect upon them, adequate notice should have been given, an EGM should have been called and then it should be passed. How can such an important matter be passed at an open house? We are certain that the members who have approved this at the open house have done so without deep consideration. We are sure that they shall reconsider their decision on further thought. Some concerned members have gotten together to protest the proposed plans for renovation. If you feel the same as us we urge you to write in your individual capacity to the President Mr. Raj Bajaj expressing your views. We hope you can join us on our signature campaign to oppose the proposed plans and propose the calling of another open house/ EGM shortly to come up with a considered, viable option.
Write up in TOI 2nd July 2012
- For those of you who missed seeing the proposed photos, here they are!
P. S. If you feel passionate about this cause, please forward it to your member friends. As we need a lot of signatures. And don't forget to add your membership no in the comments! Thanks.