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Unless you are ready for a retort, don't ever tell me - What's in a name and a rose etc.'Plenty', that will be my reaction. Otherwise why this club of ours should be called - INTERNATIONAL CLUB.

Anyway let us get on with the first thing first. Those were the days when a fairly large contingent of Swiss National resided in Calcutta. While quite a few came here to work for various European Companies and Swiss Consulate, many had set up their own business as well. Those were in diversified professions. For example there were Tea Rooms like Flury's, Arizona, Ferazini, PAX which served excellent Cakes, Pastries and Chocolates. Then there were some firms dealing in Swiss Watches. Ch. Abrecht was certainly the Premier. some members may still remember Vol Kart Brothers which eventually merged with Tatas and Called themselves Voltas.

In 1924 all these Swiss people decided to start a club of their own. They named it SWISS CLUB. The club took over the entire premises of 42 Theatre Road (now Shakespeare Sarani) on rent. The premises comprised of both the floors of the building and possibly two more Tennis Courts. The property belonged (still belongs) to the famous Law family of Calcutta. Mr. Mihir Law was one of our revered members.

Soon the Swiss community was joined by their continental Cousins - The Germans, French, Dutch and others. Quite understandable since culturally they were more akin to the Swiss. The other Clubs in Calcutta were predominantly English. Moreover the continental foods that were served here attracted people of continent. Swiss club steak was talk of the town and Fondue was a real craze.

After independence however the number of Europeans in Calcutta started dwindling. Many of the business units owned by them either merged, sold or packed off. In the meantime some Indians were inducted in the club as Associate members. Like any other Club, the Swiss Club authorities made sure that the numbers of such members remained a minor percentage of ordinary members.

In spite of gradual diminishing members of members, the club was carrying on. Around October/November 1969, the Ambassador for Switzerland in India, in a letter to Swiss Club management requested them to meet him. A two member delegation was formed. This included the then President of the Club - Mr. H. S. VAN WIJK and another committee member - Mr. J.KEUSCH.

When the delegation met the Ambassador, he told them that he had received a report that Swiss Club in Calcutta was practicing Colour-Bar.

Later in his reporting to the Club Committee the President said that he vehemently opposed the erroneous report and he informed the Ambassador that out of 14 existing Associate members not less than 10 were Indians. The history however is silent as to what extent the Ambassador was convinced with that solemn objection, particularly because no Indian those days had access to ordinary membership. Such a category was open only to the Europeans.

There was a separate exposition from KEUCH. He said that when the Ambassador heard that KEUCH was the only remaining Swiss member of the Club and possibly the only Swiss National living in Calcutta, the Ambassador remarked that embassy would prefer the Club not to continue functioning under the name SWISS CLUB otherwise there might be a political repercussion.

The committee heard both and decided to give the matter a further thought. In the following committee meeting the President persuaded other members to agree that unless further development occurred the matter should be treated as closed. KEUCH did not attend the meeting. He was absent on leave.

So the committee decided to sleep over the issue. The slumber however was not deep enough. On 4th June 1970, there was a reminder from Swiss Ambassador. The committee woke up. The rules had to be gone through in details and amended wherever necessary. Orr. Dignam - the Solicitors were consulted. Thereafter a special General Meeting was arranged in October, 1970.

Whereas the record shows in June 1970 there were Seventy one ordinary members, Seventeen Associate members, Three Lady members and Fourteen outside members; the special General Meeting was attended by Twenty Two members including one Indian Associate member - Dr. K. C. Chatterjee (our late Kironda).

During the meeting the members who attended were asked to submit new names and later vote thereon.

The suggested names and voting results were as follows:

COSMOPOLITAN CLUB Proposal withdrawn since there was already a club by that name

The Chairman declared that the new names of the club would be INTERNATIONAL CLUB since it got the maximum vote, I still wonder as to why the proposer of EIDLWISS CLUB did not vote himself for the name he suggested.

After the following resolution was passed:

"In consideration of the views of the Ambassador for Switzerland, as conveyed in his letter dated the 4th June, 1970 that the name of the club, which is no longer an Association of Swiss Nationals, should be changed. It is hereby resolved that SWISS CLUB be renamed and henceforth be known as INTERNATIONAL CLUB and shall continue to function under its rules and regulations as in force or as may be amended from time to time at the General Meetings of the Club."

Thereafter the meeting had a short break. The members rushed for a quick binge. Did the members present realize that at that moment they entered the history page, for they had the first round of drink INTERNATIONAL CLUB ever served! It was 16th October 1970.

Subsequently, International Club was registered under Companies Act as Calcutta International Club Ltd on 14.11.2011. The old legacy gloriously continues now with this new found identity.

In 1924 all these Swiss people decided to start a club of their own. They named it SWISS CLUB. The club took over the entire premises of 42 Theatre Road (now Shakespeare Sarani) on rent.


42A, Shakespeare Sarani Road,
Kolkata, West Bengal 700017
Phone: +91 33 2283 5347
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Email: office@internationalclub.in