The Madras Club#
The Madras Club was founded in 1832. S. Muthiah writes:
The first home of the Madras Club was at the end of Clubhouse Road and is now the property of The New Indian Express, a splendid Georgian building, handsomely pedimented, pillared and verandahed which is still an impressive sight... With membership decreasing after World War II, such a vast property was too much to manage and was thus sold to the Indian Express Newspaper group... Meanwhile across town, by the Adyar River, the Adyar Club at Moubray's Cupola was having similar problems...The Madras Club is so old-fashioned that its (Indian) members can say things like, "Bearer! Bring beer for Master!" According to club lore, mulligatawny soup, its name derived from Tamil meligu (pepper) tani (water) was invented here.
This property by the riverside had been acquired by George Moubray, Government Accountant, sometime between his arrival in 1771 and his departure in 1792. He was granted 105 acres at an annual rent of Rs. 800/- and there he built Moubray's Cupola, still famed throughout Madras for its distinctive cupola and the sky he painted beneath it on the dome, thought to be later echoed in St. Andrew's Kirk ... the two clubs decided to merge. The Madras Club took over the Adyar Club in April 1963... In 1964, the Madras Club opened its doors to Indian members (but got its first Indian President only in 1973)...(more)
While the nostalgia was going on I left the lawn and went into the main building. I saw that the gate blocking the narrow staircase to the roof was open, so I climbed first to the main roof, then up two increasingly rickety staircases to the large cupola. From that height the sea breeze was strong. Because Chennai's skyline is low, the sky was very big - blobby clouds lit by a full moon. Looking down in the darkness I saw a forest of treetops, which tend to become invisible during the daytime, blocked by billboards and the need to pay attention to chaotic traffic. To the south, the remaining water in the Adyar's almost dry bed gleamed silver. I was excited, imagining George Moubray, the English Nabob, taking his ease here in the evening, perhaps even dining here -- there was enough room for a table and chairs, and of course bearers -- escaping for awhile from the heat below.
(Looking around, I found a page of ARMS, CRESTS & MONOGRAMS of FOREIGN CLUBS, which includes the crests of several Indian and other former British colonial clubs -- not Madras Club -- but it's fun anyway.)