2023. As greetings were exchanged the world over for good health, happiness, peace and prosperity, the last hours of the past and the first of the New Year were spent with huge dollops of gaiety, dancing, emotions and cheer at the DI. Members and their guests, dressed in their best, jived to live music, munched on tasty tit-bits, drank in good spirits and greeted each other with lots of warmth and laughter. And everyone held hope... hope that the year ahead would be better than the previous for family, friends, city, country, the world... and our dear Club.
The stage, the arena inside the hall and the premises were set for the occasion by the Entertainment Committee, with a huge shamiana, variety lighting and decor, including balloons and streamers, and an attractively set up 2023 snapshot corner that proved to be quite popular among the revellers. To set in the mood right from the word go, eye masks, hats and trumpets to be blown at the midnight hour were handed over to the partygoers on arrival by the committee members. They even helped one with the choice of colour of hat to match with the suit, saree or dress one was wearing!
The gathering started picking up after 9 pm, welcomed by the much-experienced and ubiquitous Emcee, our very own Leslie D’Gama. The music, played by the refurbished band Enrich, wafted right to the gates, luring members and their guests to the action areas of the covered lawn and the hall. The tunes started with slow numbers, allowing folks to waltz in and settle down. As the evening progressed, so did the tempo, and the five-member band performed a melodious mixed medley that ranged from retro pop, reggae to rock ’n roll. Now, if there’s good music, how can one be restricted to foot-tapping, especially on New Year’s Eve? So couples, and a few singles too, matched their moves to the beats belted by the band.
It is but natural to replace calories lost on the dance floor with calories gained from the catering stables. An array of food, where one could graduate from tit-bits to semi meals, was at hand (and in tummy later) – from Tibet to China through India, from cheese and mushrooms to chicken, fish, pork and beef. A select spread of spirits satiated thirsts and added further shades of warmth to the glow already prevailing. And all this happened with one major difference this NYE: the do-it-yourself mode, where you got what you wanted, when you wanted. All one had to do was a bit of walking and a bit of carrying!
This DIY@DI had apparently caught on. “If you love the Club, you would love to help yourself,” commented a suave Brian Sweeney in his baritone voice. A member since 1968, he missed the activities at DI during the Covid period and till late last year. “I hope the events become fully normal this year,” he added. Also looking forward (and down at me) was the tall Chinoo Mehta, who was happy that the Club had reopened. “This is our Club, and we have to adapt with the circumstances,” he pointed out. “But I’m looking forward to greater normalcy in 2023 – at least people to clear the tables.” Sharing this view was a gracefully-attired Jenny Selwyn, who has spent “25 years of my life here”. Observing that self-help at the moment was progressive, she said “we have to get used to it, though there’s nothing like having bearers around. But the Club has to carry on.” She loved the music, the snacks and, above all, the opportunity to meet fellow members and friends. Thoughts in the same vein were shared by Samrat Mukherji, who attended the gala with his wife and a close friend. “Members should cooperate and continue with self-help till such time as services resume, at least for the sake of ladies and the elderly. Helping ourselves is not a problem if there’s not much rush at the counters,” he said, adding that his attachment to DI and its homely atmosphere drew him to this venue over Saturday Club or CC&FC.
Now back to the dance floor. As the clock ticked to the 22 to 23 transition hour, Leslie D’Gama, who had been entertaining the gathering with some of his own melodious singing, called all to the hall before starting the countdown. The lights dimmed as the numbers called thinned and the members’ chorus brimmed. And exactly at midnight, shouts of Happy New Year, blaring trumpets and gusty cheers rent the air, while hats were tossed and hugs crossed. Our Emcee-singer then rendered a fairly moving version of Auld Lang Syne, descended the dais and, with acumen akin to the legendary Pied Piper, led the gathering to a “grand march” around the dance floor. The revellers tagged along to numbers like Roll out the barrel, Saints go marching in, Coming round the mountains... The effervescent joy, bonhomie and happiness in greeting the New Year were truly infectious!
A word or two about Enrich, whose members made one and all dance to their tunes. Seasoned musician Nigel Gomez, on drums and vocals, led Dominic Saldanha on keyboards, Steve Rebeiro on guitar, Debtanu De on bass guitar, and Mishti as female vocalist to ably sway the dancers. Be it slow or fast or in between, the tranced terpsichoreans tried trebly to tackle tunes totally. “Folks were enthusiastic right from the beginning and, coupled with the smoothly organised event, this gave us fillip to perform well,” recalled Nigel.
After all this, the contentment from the much-awaited annual night could not be limited to members only. Guest Animesh Banerjee loved the chemistry at the Club. “I could have gone to any other rendezvous, but I chose the DI because of its ambience, its heritage,” the chemical engineer from IIT said. Coming from afar, Glen Jackson accompanied by wife Kathy was very happy to be back at the DI after a nearly three-year break. “The Club is very homely and happening, unlike the ones in Melbourne,” said the visitor on board from down under. Hats off to the organisers, the staff, the behind-the-scenes personnel and the members for heralding in New Year in such a manner!