The bygone era of Parsis still alive at SoBo club: Rippon Club


November 21, 2012

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Now you need to know someone at the Ripon Club to pig out on the best Parsi cuisine in town.

By D.K. Bose | Asian Age

After my hints and pleas for months, an acquaintance of an acquaintance finally organised an entry for me at lunch hour — at the hallowed over-century-old club on the third and fourth floors of the old-worldly NM Wadia building in Fort. The structure itself belongs to a bygone era with an ancient elevator and a lift operator who’s as ancient.

Truly, it was like travelling back in time to an era when men wore baggy, pleated corduroy trousers, frayed white shirts and black cotton jackets. And the armchairs are occupied by retired men, lazing over the day’s Gujarati newspapers. Members have to be Parsi, and are mostly over 50, but one of the senior guards drawled, “There has been an infusion of new blood. The club can’t die with us, can it?”

Lawyers from the high court and the nearby legal firms crowd the tables, particularly on Wednesday, along with their guests for the club’s famed dhansak rice to be washed down with raspberry soda. Dessert is mostly lagan nu custard. Lagan? That’s because the sweet mouthful is served infallibly at Parsi weddings. For other weekdays, the menu, set by a popular Parsi caterer, includes sali boti (potato chives on diced mutton), a raisin-freckled pillauf and fluffy mutton cutlets (delectably pronounced as “cutless” for some reason).

To be sure Ripon is an institution, and is perfect material for chronicling. I didn’t ask whether the club would grant permission for such a project though. Last year, I’d wanted to document the great survival power of one of Asia’s oldest newspapers, the wonderful Jam-e-Jamshed, which still comes out with a Sunday edition. The one-word answer to that was, “NO.”

So why set off ripples at the Ripon? The lunch lasted a luxurious two hours, what with the waiters pressing onion-tomato kachoombars and second helpings to the Wednesday dhansak gang. The bill was incredibly low, but then that’s the club, which doesn’t seem to have been devastated by the march of time and inflation. Touch oak.