‘After a few hours I fell madly in love with this country’ Boris declared in a contemporary interview. ‘This is where we wanted to live.’ Inger, his beautiful Danish Scottish wife, 23 years junior, agreed. They never left.
An ebullient White Russian ballet dancer and big-game hunter born in Odessa of Ukraine, Boris was a larger than life character, born into a wealthy military Tsarist family amidst the hardships of the 1905 Russian revolution. A cadet heading for a career in the Tsar’s navy, instead Boris had to flee to France, escaping Bolshevik persecution.
Boris’ exotic career included performing with Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes in Paris and dancing with Massine throughout Europe, South America and Asia. In 1936, finding himself stranded in India, he started the exclusive 300 Club in Calcutta, the first establishment to accept Indian members and to remain open 24 hours a day. Patronised by India’s princely elite, leading businessmen, world war pilots, diplomats and itinerant adventurers, Boris had the opportunity to meet and charm royalty and influential politicians from the region, especially Nepal.
In addition to King Tribhuvan, his close friends and frequent guests during his ten years at the 300 Club included the Maharaja of Cooch Behar and exiled Nepali Rana militants, Mahavir and Subarna Shamsher. Supposedly B P Koirala, Nepal’s democracy activist, and King Tribhuvan held secret negotiations in the men’s room. Not all the abundant stories about Boris’ exploits are true, but they are usually dramatic and always amusing – he was a collector of people and tall tales.