Sundeep Bhutoria

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ess bee

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Saturday, June 19, 2010

`Bongs in Bangkok’ controversy

The recent Film Award Bangla (FAB) ’10 in Bangkok or the `Bongs in Bangkok’ controversy rages on. I got many phone calls. While some are expressing their solidarity with Rituparna there are others who feel she has not taken the right step. Thank God I am off mobiles on medical advice otherwise it would have been rather stressful day.
Many questions are being raised about the Award function.
Why the organisers chose Bangkok?
These days domestic travel and 5-star hotels in India are more expensive propositions compared to Kolkata-Bangkok flights and hotel accommodation in Bangkok which is almost 50% cheaper and definitely offers better value-for-money than Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata.
This tourist-friendly country is very peaceful. However, last month’s bomb blast did hurt tourism badly. I took a picture from my hotel room window of the building that was set on fire few weeks ago
(picture). Thailand is reeling under civil unrest in recent weeks with many countries, including India, issuing travel advisories. The much-awaited St Xavier’s alumni function in Bangkok was postponed because of the unrest.
How few bomb blasts can hold a country’s economy to ransom is for all to see. If Thailand does not recover from this soon then tourism, the mainstay of Thailand’s economy, would suffer badly. Tourism and terrorism are opposite points on a pole. Tourists shun places where there is no peace though there are exceptions like myself. I remember when I visited Lebanon with my wife and after returning home I read in the papers that the airstrip from where our Emirates flight took off in Beirut had been bombed into disuse a day later.
In geographical terms, I think Lebanon is one of the most beautiful countries in the world apart from being the birthplace of Nobel Laureate Khalil Gibran whose house I visited (picture). I recall the Indian ambassador in Beirut asking me twice if I had come only to tour Lebanon – a country that was and remains largely out of bounds for most tourists and visitors.
ess bee

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