Pegu MyanmarMyanmar Pegu
At the beginning of a new period of confrontation with the outside community, the edifice and others like it are being defended by those who are hoping that it will be recalled so that everyone can fully appreciate it. Myanmar's rising tourism sector will continue to attract investments, depending on how the nation confronts its past - and bright years.
In 1852, when the Brits captured Pegu (now Bago), they did so, according to a rather prejudiced account, "in the so-called fleet fashion, while being subjected to the violent radiation of a blazing sun". Thirteen years later, in Rangoon, soldiers and officers searched for a place to get away from these "heavy rays" and have a sip.
In 1871 the originally waterhole was established and seems to get wasted. The Pegu Club is prominent in the Imperial Gazetteer of India of 1909. Limited by the Prome Road (now Pyay), the Newlyns Road (now Zagawar) and the Budd's Road (now Padonmar) - just off the city's promenade to the northern shore, but just off the cantonal border (or garrison) that defined the outskirts of the advanced town to the northern side of the Shwedagon Pagoda - the site provided simple entry to the military camps, parades, prisons, jails, insane houses and graves that were the hallmarks of Britain's views of Rangoon at the War.
To those charged with seeing the Myanmar civilization bent to its knees with all necessary means, everything beyond seemed to be the end of the earth. Rudyard Kipling remembered after his only trip to Rangoon in 1889 as a young newspaper man that the place was "full of men on their way up or down".
There were only two stations in the city: this "beautiful blinking miracle", the Shwedagon Pagoda and the Pegu Cub. "the only place in Rangoon where you can get mutton. Come on. A travel report warns the women not to look out for queues when leaving the clubs - to live nearby:
Inside, however, the nightclub was the culmination of British efforts to Republic England in other countries. According to the club's statutes, members were "open to all men who are interested in general society," but in reality this means only white people. "Rank, fortune and childbirth had no meaning," writes A Journey in Time, a recollection of families by Robert A. Journey.
" Until 1910, the Pegu Club had 350 members, 25 of whom were local. The Pegu Club even, as I was warned. We' re the last club in Burma to stand up to them. Commenting on 2 March 1916, the Straits Times said that "the Pegu Club in Rangoon can see many men who will tell you that a substantial part of Yunnan would be under the Union Jack if we had not made the normal chaos in terms of the diplomatic and border guards".
Pegu had become the sideline from which the Imperium was led. These predictions were all apparently painstaking work, which explained why the Pegu was inventing its own characteristic beverage, the Pegucl Club Coccktail. It was not very locally made - mostly gingerbread and puracao with oranges - but it was flavoured on top of icecream with some lemon and therefore delicious both fresh and delicious in warm conditions.
The 1930s Harry Craddock Cockpit Book from London's Savoy Hotel said the Pegu Club was " a club that has traveled around the globe and been asked for. Not much comfort that would have been given to the members of the Pegu Club in the dwindling times of the Imperium. Whereas newer edifices on the site still accommodate members of the local administration, the Pegu Club edifice itself, like many Rangoon edifices after the relocation of the main city to Nay Pyi Taw, is now empty.
Bago Club" is still known to the local people as the Bago Club. There is a notice from the Ministry of Defence saying that the house is historic and that the visitor should take goodbye to it. But, according to 30 Heritage Buildings of Yangon, a convincing overview of the city's landmark colonies, the edifice is not on YCDC's landmark protection lists.
2008 saw the opening of a new hot spot in fashionable Soho, New York City, which celebrates the classical gin-based beverages that would otherwise have gone out of fashion with real handcrafted cocktails. In naming her location the Pegu Clubs, Audrey Saunders, the proprietor, re-established interest in the beverage and the initial clubs themselves.
The menus offer a story of the house; critiques and prescriptions published on-line repeatedly refer to the beverage's cold origin. Some few committed hikers even visit the ancient site when they visit Myanmar. Obviously the restoration of the Pegu Club into a luxurious resort, similar to the beach or the governor's residence (both now serving Pegu Club cocktails), would be a gain for many people.
Myanmar differs from Manhattan, however, not least in its relation to the sunset of the realm and the long shade it casts. It also proposes that any further renovations of the Pegu Club should be carried out in a transparent and "sensitive manner to its past". Municipal governments, financiers and benefactors need to think very hard about how best to deal with the Pegu Club's reputation.
Meanwhile, the house remains empty and gets more and more ruined every single night. On a stormy evening I came past the stop of the Bago Club and hit it. I just came from the beach, and before I left, I had a little of my coctail in a tank I had taken with me.
Despite the rains, I thought I'd stop and make a tribute - a Pegu Club at the Pegu Club, probably for the first truly long while - to everything his futures could bring.