by Shiv Kumar

Year after year while bartenders across Mumbai take a break on October 2, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, tipplers with contacts in the media hit the telephones so as to be treated for some inexpensive booze at the Mumbai Press Club.

On this and other days when sale of liquor is prohibited across the country’s financial capital, the usually sleepy Press Club come alive with every table occupied by members and their guests. Usually, the guests outnumber the members since there is no restriction on the number of guests a member can bring in.

The party gets going by around 10 pm and the place usually begins to rock as the witching hour approaches. That’s when the journalists on the night shift at The Times of India next door come in after work. Though under the rules the bar should be shut by then waiters discreetly slip a drink or two to the regulars.

The decibel level is up a few notches even though the music system has been turned off a long while ago. Closing time is late. Its past 1 AM when the Press Club begins to shut down and the last of the stragglers catch a cab home.

Thanks to the power of the media and specifically journalists from The Times of India who form the biggest contingent at the Mumbai Press Club, no cop would ever dare to venture inside to enforce the rules. So journalists can drink day after day for the rest of their lives without even holding a liquor permit. The handful of journalists who own liquor permits have hundreds of bottles totted up against their names.

After one party at the Press Club, I saw the staff credit a whopping 45 bottles of Signature Whisky against a colleague’s permit number on that just one night!

Yes, anything is possible except the impossible. If TADA accused Sanjay Dutt can successfully peddle Gandhigiri on screen why cannot journos say cheers to the Old Monk on his birthday!

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