The story of UP Press Club as unfolded by Ram Kumar, the peon
The UP Press Club was established in 1956 and Ram Kumar had been associated with its since its inception. He grew up here and had been a witness to all the good and bad days of the club during the course of more that five decades. Several journalists visited the club during their days of struggle in the profession. Some succeeded, some others opted for other profession. Ask anything about the club, he would turn philosophical and after initial reluctance begin “ Bhaiyya , yeh tau bhutha building thhi” Excerpts :-
:This was a haunted building. People usually passed through the side of the club around 10 in the morning and 6 in the evening. They were mostly office-goers. My father was an employee of LIC and we used to live in the vicinity of Hazratganj. There was an old house adjacent to the gateway ruins where now stands the Gemini Continental hotel.. In that house an old officer, Mr Sen used to live along with his sister who was a teacher in the Mahila College. Both were unmarried and on their request my father agreed to stay in the servants’ quarter of the old building near which accross the street was a Stable for keeping horses. My mother often instructed me not to go near the horses’ place where freely roamed a headless Gora aadmi.
Mr Sampurnanand was the chief minister who inaugurated the Press Club at a simple ceremony. A takhat and some chairs were brought to its premises . Mostly journalists used to come here during the evening. In those days there were no shops near the club and journalists were fond of paan, cigarette and there was none to arrange it for them. So , we children usually playing ice-pais in the arches and cavity of the gateway, used to serve their purpose and, in return nominal tips, a paisa or adhanna we used to get. Later, I used to bring liquor also for journalists and gradually I also developed a liking for it and started consuming it often in the company of some journalists.
After a few years my father purchased a piece of land near the District Jail and built a house there. Even after the shifting of my parents to the new house at jail road I continued to live in the servants’ quarter of Mr. Sen. By now the attendance at the Press Club began increasing and there was need also to have a couple of peons to serve journalists. The Mohan and Moti joined the club as peons and I worked as the care-taker. After sometime another tall man Chhotelal joined as peon. He had not disclosed his background to all of us. But, his commanding tone and readiness to serve, besides being an effective chowkidar endeared him to all. After the death of Chhotelal, two persons, Puttilal and Mata Prasad became peons and I , as senior, often supervised their work. Due to the demise of Puttilal his son, Ranglal was appointed in his place.
Ram Kumar recalled a few journalists , whom he liked for doles, including a peg or two of Indian made foreign liquor, and said they were no more now. Among them were L.K. Tiwari, Surendra Chaturvedi, A.N.Sapru, Hamdi Bey , Tarun Bhaduri, Prakash Shukla , Suresh Joshi, Dhruv Malaviya, S.P.Nigam, Osama Talha, Javed Ansari Shaukat Umar . He made a special mention of Mr Surendra Chaturvedi of Nav Bharat Time, who always had a ready humor out of nothing and a variety of jokes and Mr Ramesh Chandra Srivastava, whom the staff members and also several junior journqalists feared for he used to enforce discipline while playing TT, chess, badminton and at card table.