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25 Dec 2016

Musical tribute paid to iconic pub in Darjeeling

Amitava Banerjee, HT, 25 Dec 2016, DARJEELING: What could be a better tribute than a musical one to commemorate 25 years of the iconic Joey’s Pub of Darjeeling? Musicians, cutting across age and genre, got together to commemorate 25 years of the pub in Darjeeling on Friday.
From the Red Sky Pirates, a popular hill band, belting out music of the 60 and 70s; jazz session by saxophonist Satyajit Roychowdury and Ujjwal Sewa; guitar pieces by Deepen Rizal to Bob Dylan numbers by Passang Bhutia, Joey’s witnessed it all on Friday evening. “It is a tribute to Joey’s Pub, a pub that stands for what Darjeeling truly is, the Mecca of music,” said Deven Gurung, musician.
Located on SM Das Road in the heart of the town the pub is a favourite haunt of locals and tourists from all across the globe. Lonely Planet, the largest travel guide book publisher in the world, describes Joey’s Pub as “If your preferred beverage comes in a pint not a pot, this long-standing British-style pub near the post office is a great place to strike conversations with other travellers. It has sports on TV, cold beer and hot toddys in the winter.”
“Joey’s Pub is a landmark of Darjeeling. It might be 25 years old but it is much older historically and culturally. It carries the old world British legacy. The music and attitude gives it iconic status. It is a must-visit in Darjeeling. It is as important to me as my school dormitory and the Kachenjunga because of my close connections with Puran,” said Anjan Dutta, film director, actor and singer-songwriter.
The pub initially started as “Dilkhusha Hotel” in 1948. “In 1991, I got married to Puran and we decided to redo the bar to give it an atmosphere like that of a pub. We dismantled the two rooms of the hotel located on the ground floor and together with the existing bar rechristened it Joey’s Pub,” said Sashi Gongba, proprietor.
Puran Gongba, popular as “Joey’s Uncle,” passed away on February 22, 2016. Puran had done a stint in a London Hotel in the 70s. This experience came in handy. The crisp British etiquette and sense of humour of the ever-smiling Puran with his Elvis sideburns; music of the 60s and 70s played in the pub along with the menu soon became a hot favourite, especially among foreign tourists.
The menu included Full Monty (toast, eggs, chips, sausages, baked beans in tomato sauce), roast beef, french fries, bangers and mash, cheese omelette. The later addition was the momos. However, the kitchen was closed down after a fire in March 2005.
“For the travellers it was like a home-coming. They used to always say that the pub was like something back home. Many travellers even met here and later got married. The pub is famous for its impromptu music too,” recollected Shashi. There are hundreds of anecdotes she fondly remembers.
“Once there was a loud knock on the door. When we opened, there was Eddie, a tourist from Cambridge on a horse. He had ridden to the pub on a horse. Then there were the “Gappers,” students from England who used to visit Darjeeling in groups during the one-year gap between school and university. They were the noisy, adventurous and unpredictable lot,” said Sashi.
“One can make friends from all over the globe here. I met a traveller and we became close friends. Later when I visited Canada, he took out time from his busy schedule, met me and even insisted I stay in his flat. One really feels good to meet someone known in foreign shores,” said Dr Devendra Pradhan, a medical practitioner from Darjeeling.

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