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For Jaideep Singh,

Strong, steady, twinkly-eyed,

We’re still dealing with the loss.

Who always told the Ajays he met—

‘You are a Jai, but I,’

(pause, deep chuckle)

‘I am THE Jai, boss.’


1. Tambola Sunday

2. Rasputin

3. Jai Bhavani

4. Pinko Hathni

5. Very, Very Over-Smart

6. Cheeky Peaches

7. A Snake in the Garden

8. Selective Hearing

9. An Eye in the Wall

10. The Hottie-Culture Committee

11. A Gun in the Mud

12. The Ghia-Lauki Gang

13. The Khuranas Receive Visitors

14. Flames & Flowers

15. Killer on a Hat-Trick

16. The A to my B

17. Icky Slime


About the Book

About the Author

Praise for Club You to Death



Tambola Sunday

‘I feel like a hooker, I say!’

Brig. Balbir Dogra is slumped low in the passenger seat of his old Maruti Swift, staring down at his phone in complete exasperation.

His daughter Natasha lifts her hand off the gear stick to pat his knee placatingly. ‘That sounds so wrong, Daddy. But I think you mean you feel like you’re available? Up for grabs? For sale to the highest bidder?’

‘Exactly!’ Brig. Dogra’s chin juts forward, his face purpling with rage. ‘My family’s been members of the DTC for decades, and I’ve never seen such vulgar canvassing for votes during any presidential election! It’s all so bloody crass!’

Natasha swings the old car onto Shantipath. It’s a beautiful Sunday morning in February, and all the roundabouts are ablaze with flowers in Lutyens’ Delhi.

‘Did you get another WhatsApp message?’ she asks.

The brigadier waggles his phone about agitatedly. ‘Yes! Mehra keeps on messaging me! Even though it’s clearly against the club by-laws! Inviting me to bawdy cocktail parties and whatnot! Practically offering bribes and kickbacks!’

The election for the post of president of the Delhi Turf Club, the capital’s oldest and finest, is slated to happen the next evening between Lt General Mehra (retd) PVSM AVSM Yudh Sewa Medal and Mrs Urvashi Khurana, Padma Shri, homemaker and founder, lifestyle brand ‘Chrysanthemum’. About two thousand permanent members residing in Delhi will be casting their vote, including Brig. Dogra.

‘Why don’t you just enjoy all the wining and dining and then vote for whoever you want?’ His wife, Mrs Mala Dogra, suggests practically from the back seat.

The brigadier’s eyes bug out. ‘I’m not going a mile near these parties, I say! That poor sucker Suri went, and Behra Mehra cunningly recorded a video of him idiotically babbling “Jiggy Jiggy” as he jiggled a half-naked Russian belly dancer in his lap, and now he’s blackmailing Suri into voting for him!’

‘Your grandson’s in the car,’ Mrs Mala Dogra murmurs.

The brigadier’s voice drops to a peeved mutter. ‘And that wretched woman is no better! Bombarding us with gift hampers! Full of stinking cheese and candlesticks!’

‘Ooh, I love Urvashi auntie’s cheeses!’ Natasha says at once. ‘So much better than tacky Russian belly-dancers! She has my vote for sure!’

‘You don’t have a vote, madam!’ her father says dampeningly. ‘Not till you become a permanent member, at any rate! And neither does your brother!’

Cuddled against his grandmother’s bosom, five-year-old Dhan takes his fingers out of his mouth long enough to volunteer, ‘Kashi mama don’t wants DTC memmershi. He says it’s full of sobs.’

‘Snobs,’ his mother corrects him automatically, then wishes she hadn’t. The brigadier rises again with a roar.

‘My son is a duffer, I say! My father got me green card-holder status at the DTC when I came of age, and I did the same for you and Akash! Now the fool’s twenty-five – and eligible to apply for full membership – and he wants to let it lapse! He’s just cutting off his nose to spite his face!’

‘Good,’ Natasha replies soothingly. ‘Kashi’s nose is way too big anyway.’

This doesn’t have the desired effect. ‘Don’t joke, Nattu!’ her father growls. ‘We’re talking about the Delhi Turf Club! The most exclusive club in the country! Regular people have to wait thirty-seven years and pay a seven-and-a-half-lakh waiting fee to get what I’ve got you and your younger brother for just one lakh!’

She glances at him affectionately. ‘I know, Daddy, and I’m properly grateful for it. I took the full membership at twenty-five, didn’t I?’

‘But Kashi won’t!’ The brigadier sketches agitated quote marks in the air. ‘“The DTC is a symbol of privilege”, if you please! “Of elitism and ossified class stratification!”’ He drops back, disheartened. ‘He wants to give up the membership.’

‘He’s kidding, Daddy, don’t take him seriously.’

‘He thinks he’s the Prince of England,’ Mrs Mala Dogra chimes in from the backseat. ‘Abdicating his birthright. And that JNU ki Bangalan is his Meghan Markle.’

‘Which makes you the queen of England, Mummy. Isn’t that nice?’

Her mother looks appalled at this display of ignorance. ‘It makes me a divorced, dead princess, Nattu. Don’t you know any history?’

‘Some would argue that the lives of the British royalty are more tabloid tattle than genuine history,’ the brigadier puts his oar in.

His wife ignores this irrelevant remark. ‘The point is that she’s the one egging him on to do all this.’

Natasha wags an admonitory finger at her mother.

‘Not nice, Ma! To imply that your phool-sa-boy can do no wrong, and it must all be the fault of the girl he’s with! You should be happy Kuhu isn’t status-conscious or money-minded.’

‘Kuhu.’ Mrs Mala Dogra rolls her eyes. ‘Ridiculous name!’

‘Money, status, where?’ the brigadier broods. ‘Arrey, the Turf is not a symbol of elitism! Look at us – four generations and a wheelchair stuffed into a rattling, eight-year-old Maruti Swift – how are we elite?! Elite people go to five-stars and seven-stars and whatnot! All the DTC membership gives you is cheap facilities and recognition that you – and your family – are old, established Dilliwallas! It helps in networking, and closing deals, and getting your children settled. Why, your rishtaa came through the club only!’

‘Yes, Dad,’ Natasha says patiently. ‘But that is what privilege and ossification is all about.’

‘He’ll regret it,’ Mrs Mala Dogra declares. ‘He’s only twenty-five now – so he thinks he’s

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