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The Queen's Club

The Queen's Club
It is the time for forest fires in the lower Himalayas. The masses of dry pine needles, a careless cigarette or lit match thrown on the ground, and hundreds of acres of forest can go up in smoke in a matter of hours. You can see the glowing fires at night on the hillsides, a sad sight. There are no fire-fighting efforts to speak of. The fires die out on their own. But it was not a forest fire that destroyed the venerable 120-year-old Kasauli Club. It was probably a short-circuit, along ancient electric wires, in the dead of night in winter, when nobody was around. The single-storey edifice, made mainly of wood with rudimentary fire-safety measures, was burnt to the ground. The library, the billiards, cards, dining and reading rooms, along with the huge ballroom, went up in smoke. But it rose again this year, phoenix-like, retaining much the same charming exterior. The interior, however, is quite different from the old one: airy, with lots of light coming in. Take a bow, Namita Singh, architect of the new club, who did the job gratis. She is also the award-winning architect of the Naval Academy at Kochi. The Chahil family, long-time residents of Kasauli, donated Rs 10 lakh to set up the two state-of-the-art Shyam Minotra-designed tennis courts. With benefactors like that, Kasauli has a great future. The 'Kasauli Week', which ended June 25, has been a smashing success, with Australian jazz singer Kirstey Jeffrey belting it out and the lively Babush Santana band bringing more couples to the club's dance floor than any time since the British days. Shimla is called the 'Queen of hill stations'. The title now belongs to Kasauli.
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