Khushwant Singh, the famous Indian writer who was the topic of my last blog, was eleven months short of becoming a centenarian, but another Sikh man I heard about over the long weekend in Kasauli, made it. Dr. Dharambir Singh Jolly, who was a keen Bridge player, lived 100 years, one month and twenty days; he died on 5th April last year. A few months later his son, Rana, held the inaugural Annual Dr. Dharambir Singh Jolly Memorial Bridge Tournament at his resort in Kasauli. Like a chip off the old block, Rana is no slouch when it comes to playing Bridge. His team won the inaugural trophy and successfully defended the title again this year.
The Baikunth Resort, six kilometres from the town, is a lovely place to stay; the pretty hillside setting and Rana’s friendly staff make it so. Unlike his father who founded and ran a very successful public transport company, Rana started his working life importing alcohol before switching to the resort industry, which he thought would be a healthier business for his children to inherit. Rana’s resort in Kasauli opened fourteen years ago. Since then, the family has added two more: one each in Kinnaur and Manali. All three properties are in the north Indian state of Himachal Pradesh in the western Himalayas. By all accounts, Rana’s son and Baikunth CEO, Karan, is doing a fine job managing them too. In addition to having the pleasure of staying in the hills around Kasauli, Kuldip and I also made some new Bridge playing friends such as Davinder and Asha Sharma and Micky and Suman Khanna, who we hope to bump into again at Rana’s tournament next year, if not beforehand. Asha is in the running for India’s all women’s bridge team – we wish her well for selection. Note: If you’re wondering how Kuldip’s team performed in Rana’s tournament, my report is unchanged; the less said about it, the better!