Sundeep Bhutoria

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ess bee

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Friday, March 19, 2010

My England memoirs

London, as I had said, is the city I love the most. For the past 10 years, whenever in London, I stay at the St James Crowne Plaza Hotel  on 51 Buckingham Gate. The Hotel is owned by the Taj Group of Hotels and for the past few years being managed by Crowne Plaza.
I feel very comfortable and at home here since I am quite familiar with many of the hotel staff and as well as the area in and around the Hotel. The Hotel is a 10-minute walk from the Victoria Station and about 3 minutes from St James Park tube station. I don’t know whether it is due to the hotel’s Indian ownership or strategic location that the Indian embassy puts up its guests there. I once saw Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his entire delegation staying in here in this Hotel. One of the best things about this Hotel is that they give you Indian breakfast. This means a lot especially if you are an Indian and a vegetarian.
I have countless memories of England and one of them was attending a mock Parliament in Manchester in 2000 (picture). It was one of the most interesting International functions that I have attended so far. I remember for three days we behaved, acted and learnt about the Parliament. There is a replica of the British Parliament in Manchester. It was there that the Commonwealth Parliament Association (CPA) had held the mock sessions and attended by delegates from across the world, including two other Indians Raghavendra Mirdha and Nivedit Alva. 
I was elected Home Minister in the cabinet of the `Parliament’. I recall that during the farewell dinner hosted by the Mayor of Manchester, the Mayor said that many of us would meet each other again after five to ten years when we would be in the real Parliaments of our respective nations and meet in CPA’s meetings. He said this because the composition of the members who attended the Mock Parliament was based on strong political and international diplomatic relations. I had laughed off the matter by saying to Nivedit and Raghavendra that I had no idea about myself and perhaps they two would meet the others in the future as the Mayor had opined. I said this because both of them came from seasoned political families of India. Raghavendra is the grandson of Ramnivas Mirdha and Nivedit is the son of Margaret Alva (picture).
Recently, when Raghavendra was elected the Congress president in his district, I called him up and reminded him of that `Parliament’.
Well, coming back to the present, while I was checking in at the Kolkata airport for my Mumbai flight en route to London a lady at the counter smiled and asked me,  “Sir, are you going for the Bengali Festival.” I believe this event has been well publicised and, given my activities, it was quite an innocuous query on her part. Usha Uthup and Anjan Dutta were there on the flight for the same destination and I chatted up with them about their performances in London and promised them I would be there to watch it.
ess bee 

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