Sundeep Bhutoria

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ess bee

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

From Canada’s francophone province

West Island in Quebec.
I came back to Canada from Burlington (Vermont) on Sunday evening. I am in Quebec - the French speaking province of Canada. The Canadians in this part are called French Canadians and proudly call themselves Quebecois rather than Canadians.
Area-wise, Canada is the second largest country in the world stretching from the rainforests of Vancouver Island to the pebbled desert of the Arctic, from the Atlantic to the Pacific coast, from the latitude of Northern California to the Arctic Ocean. The vast Canadian expanse from the east coast to the west coast and further to the frigid northwards, while inspiring poets, has been the administrators’ nightmare.
The sheer prosperity, compared to the rest of the world, has saved the careers of many politicians. Canada’s population and prosperity are unevenly distributed with concentration on certain `favourite’ pockets. However, there’s enough prosperity to go around and according to Robert Bothwell, Professor of Canadian History, the sparse population of Canada has saved it from becoming a political impossibility.
Canada is a tad conservative compared to other developed countries. Rights recognising the status of women came about only in the 60s. About 35 years ago there were no facilities to give credit to women. My aunt, who has been a well-established medical practitioner in Canada for the last three-and-half decades, told me that when she went to buy a car with her hard-earned money she was asked to come with her husband and was also told that they could not entertain her alone.
While on my way back to Quebec from Vermont, I learnt from her that whoever used to clear the forests and started farming were allotted that portion of land. And mind you, this was so not in some other but in this very Century of ours.
I will be in this country for a few weeks more and one thing that I would surely like to do is to visit and see the natives of the Indiana community - the original inhabitants of Canada.
Today morning I had a conference call with the New York WFUNA office to finalise and discuss the budget of 2010. As a treasurer of the organisation it is one of my responsibilities. In fact, last year in Ottawa, I was given and took charge as the interim Treasurer of WFUNA (picture). 
From left to right: Mr Pang Sen, Chairperson from China, Ms Kathryn White from Canada (Host UNA), Treasurer, Sundeep Bhutoria from India, Ms Pera Wells  Secretary General WFUNA and Ambassador Sun Joun-Yung from the Republic of South Korea.

I heard that Cuban legend Don Alejandro Robaina, 91, has passed away. Cigar aficionados from across the world know him as “one of the best tobacco farmers” of Cuba. In 1997, the Cuban state-owned company Habanos SA honoured him by launching a new line of cigars bearing the name of his famous farmland Vegas Robaina that produced the best tobacco for the famed Cuban cigars. I have never met Robaina, but have a friend who was close to him. Robaina used to say that he was a millionaire because he had a million friends. I like one of his lines when asked about the secret of his `best crop’ Robaina had said, “You have to love the land and care for it.”
I shall leave for New York tomorrow.
ess bee

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