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For India's swish set, the ideal mate has an Ivy League education, a successful career, a six-figure salary, and an exclusive club membership.
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The Ace of clubs in Chennai has a unique problem. Its status as the most exclusive club in the city brings it more attention - and corresponding solicitations for membership - than it desires, with the upshot that it practically bolts away from publicity. Madras Club (1832) is the second oldest surviving club in India after the Bengal Club in Calcutta (1827). It moved house twice before it settled down at Mowbrays Cupola, an elegant colonnaded mansion by the river Adyar in the south of the city.
Madras Club has had the privilege of entertaining members of the British monarchy, including the Duke of Edinburgh in 1870, the Prince of Wales, (who later became King Edward VI) in 1875, the Prince of Wales (later King George V) in 1905, the Duke of Connaught in 1921 and the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII) in 1922.
It is today home to modern aristocrats across politics, films, literature, law, medicine and other professions. "We consider the merits of the individual and look for a certain quality called 'clubbability', " says Vijay Narayan, lawyer and committee member, going on to qualify this quality thus: "Can other members get along with this new member;would they be comfortable having him/her at their table?" Affordability is never the issue - the asking price of Rs 8 lakh for full membership is hardly a problem for most applicants - but eligibility is. Interestingly, women have full and equal rights as men at this club.
The club's USP is that its membership, though technically always open, is, for all intents and purposes not for sale. Although they can admit up to 350 members (with full rights), the present tally is only 300 and they'd like to keep it that way.
ENTRY FEE |
Rs 8 lakh
FAMOUS MEMBERS |
Actor Arvind Swamy, cinematographer Rajiv Menon, Union Minister of State for Environment, Jayanti Natarajan, Kalanithi and Dayanidhi Maran
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