Sundeep Bhutoria

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Thank you.
ess bee

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Friday, April 29, 2011

At the WFUNA 201st Exec Co in New York

Sha Zukang (UN Under Secretary General), Ambassador Park So Gill (President, WFUNA) and Bonian Gul Mohammadi (Secretary General, WFUNA)
Today I attended the Word Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA) 2011 executive meeting which was held at the Turkish Centre in UN Plaza. In the morning I had breakfast meeting with Jarmo Vinanen, Ambassador and PR of Finland to the United Nations.
During the executive meeting I also met Sha Zukang, Under Secretary General, United Nations Economic and Social Council which is commonly known as Ecosoc. 
WFUNA Executive Meeting in progress
He is in the news and would continue to be in the limelight in the coming months as he has been appointed Secretary General of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (RIO+20). Zukang, who is originally from China, impressed us with his speech and views.
Yesterday, I went to an Indian restaurant
Tulsi on 211 East, 46th Street for lunch. This new restaurant is owned by Chef Hemant Mathur who personally greets and welcomes all guests at the restaurant. The decor, the food and the element of innovation in Indian and modern fusion food has made its mark within the few months it started operations. The taste of chat at Tulsi is good and so are all other offerings.
This evening I went to another Indian restaurant
MINT located on the 50th Street near Lexington Avenue. I was there for an early dinner after the Executive Committee meeting. This is six-year-old Indian food joint but very popular because of its aristocratic decor and ambience.
Tomorrow the executive committee meeting will start at 9 am and I have to be there as India might propose to host the 203rd Executive Committee meeting in New Delhi.

ess bee

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Things Indian in New York

Millennium UN Plaza Hotel, New York: I arrived in New York yesterday. I always stay in this Hotel whenever I visit New York. Only on few occasions I stayed at The Hilton as the conference was held there and arrangements made accordingly.
This Hotel always reminds me of 9/11. I had watched the twin towers come down from the window of this Hotel and got caught up in the mess that ensued. The Hotel's location adds to my convenience. Just across the road is the UN building and the Indian Mission to the UN is a block away from there.
This Hotel was famous for its service, rooms-with-views and of course the location. It, however, needs renovation all over. Net connectivity is very slow, the mini bars and coffee makers in the rooms are no more, the room temperature cannot be controlled by the occupants and the service quality is also a shade down.
The Hotel's year old General Manager, Wanda S Chan, is well aware of all these problems. She admits that unionism in various departments of the Hotel as the main cause of all these problems. She said that plans are on to set things right.
I met Harpreet Singh Puri, permanent representative and ambassador of India to the UN.
President Obama is in New York today and the place is swarming with security personnel and beeping cars. In fact, my meeting with Puri got delayed as he was stuck in a snarl as roads were closed due to the President's security. I thought unionism and traffic jams were typical of India. But it seems few things are same everywhere in the world.
Hotel Piera near Central Park
This afternoon I went to have tea at the tea lounge of Hotel Piera opposite Central Park (picture) that has now been taken over by the Taj Group of Hotels.
In the evening I had a dinner at a restaurant called Vatan on the Third Avenue on 29th Street. It turned out to be an authentic Gujarati vegetarian restaurant. One has to open his or her footwear and sit in a traditional Indian way to have food in a Thali. I was impressed with the quality of food and the decor.
Jeetu Mehta, a native from Jamnagar, who is mainly into jewellery business in the US, opened this restaurant 14 years ago. Earlier, he was also the owner of Zhompari Restaurant in Queens area.
ess bee

Monday, April 25, 2011

Fests and elections here and at home

Smt Sarala Birla (right)
I received a letter from Smt Sarala Birla (pic) inviting me to a photo exhibition of pictures taken by two generations of Birlas namely B K Birla (picture) and also her great grandson Aryaman Vikram Birla.
I also received an invitation from the Birla family for a book launch to mark the 69th Marriage Anniversary of B K and Sarala Birla.  
Book releases and exhibitions are a part of daily life in Kolkata. 
Mr B K Birla
In Montreal too there is a Literary Festival where the spotlight is on Indian writings. Let me mention here that 2011 is the Year of India celebrations in Canada. Many prominent writers like Amitava Ghosh, Taslima Nasreen and Bharti Mukherjee would be attending the Festival. Someone mentioned to me that both are from Bengal.
There  is no doubt that Bengal has contributed immensely in the field of literature, arts, films and culture in India and also put India in the world map. Bengal also proudly claims the maximum number of Noble laureates from the region.
Canada is also holding its federal elections on 2nd of May. Elections and the Literary Festival reminded me of the happenings at home. With the last phase of the elections due, I believe that the greatest loss that we have faced in this elections is the divide among the state's intellectuals. The way things have shaped up in the last few years - there is a clear line between `us' and `they'. We all know that Suvaprasanna  and Wasim Kapur are renowned artists. Can any leftist deny that fact that Joy Goswami is the greatest poet currently in Bengal. But then, why the rift today?
Intellectuals can always differ in their opinions and have all the reasons to express their feelings and solidarities. But in this whole political change the biggest loss Bengal has faced is the clear divide in the realm of art, culture and literature. Whether this is good or bad only time will tell.
I shall leave for New York tomorrow. 
ess bee

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Life at its best

Sunday, Easter weekend here has set the holiday mood on. The shops are full of gifts for the children and shopping offers. People shop during weekends and Easter also heralds the time for changing wardrobes marking the advent of spring.
Shops are flowing with new clothes and apparels and there are clearing sales for winter wear. With the exception of some cafes, most of the shops are closed today and would remain so tomorrow as well being Easter Monday.
In Kolkata there is a Jyoti Khaitan fashion show at The Park Hotel based on Neelanjana Chakraborty's numerology. I think this is something new for those who love fashion.
Sometimes I feel how different this part of the world is from ours. Low population and unlimited resources, best quality products in the world - from food to footwear and from cycle to aircraft - are available here. The quality of life and the value of human beings is very important and a matter of top priority. It is life at its best.
It is said that Canada is the best place in the world for senior citizens and the physically disabled persons. There are hardly any queues to be seen and the people are very disciplined while standing in a queue. 
Another common feature is that while crossing the road, cars stop and allow you to cross the road first. There is always a smiling face behind the wheels on the driver's seat.
You have to plan your day as per the weather forecast which is usually 99 per cent accurate with hourly updates.
We may say that globalization is breaking down barriers of disparities between the haves and have nots. But I think there is a big difference not only when it comes to getting privileges or facilities or, for that matter, the issue of standard of living especially in Asia and India.
ess bee

Thursday, April 21, 2011

With Sri Sri Ravi Shankar


Maurice Forest region: Today afternoon I went to a small village on a hillock called Saint-Mathieu-du-Parc. There is a centre of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's Art of Living more popular as Ashram. There is no mobile or local area network connectivity at the Ashram.
I came to this village from Montreal on road via Louisvilla and St Paulin to meet guru ji. I had never met him before nor heard him or his teachings. In fact, in recent times I did have the opportunity to meet him on a couple of occasions in Kolkata when had stayed over at the Emami group's residence but somehow I never met him.
I am not much of a religious or spiritual person but when I heard that the he would be in the area I decided to come over and see him in person. First to see the overseas Ashram and second to see the remote countryside in this part of the world.
There was a snowstorm and it snowed last night. 
I had a tough time reaching the Ashram gate (picture) as the car in which I was travelling did not have snow tyres. It is common practice here to change over to the normal tyres in the first week of April.
I crossed villages located in the Maurice forest region that abounds in lakes and natural beauty. 
The lakes were frozen with snowdrops on tree leaves. It was all shrouded in a white cover, no brown or green, except for the cattle and birds. I have seen these snow-filled regions during winters. 
I don't know for sure, but I heard that it was the French-speaking Canadians in particular who helped spread Art of Living with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji when he got stared to set up centres across the world.
At present there are Art of Living centres spread across 151 countries in the world Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji personally told me. 
I had a light chitchat with him and presented him with a lily plant (picture).
While entering the Ashram I saw about 150 cars lined up. No wonder the news of his arrival attracted many of his followers. 
This Ashram, located halfway between Montreal and Quebec city 40 minutes drive north of Trois Rivieres, houses nine organic gardens.  
As I was preparing to return, guru ji gifted me various kinds of chocolates, goodies and laddos - all organic and produced in the Ashram. There is a meditation centre, ayurveda therapy, kitchen, cabins for staying, yoga rooms and many other things linked to the ashram life and Art of Living.
I discussed various issues with him. On learning about my UN activities, he told me that he recently had lunch with Ban ki Moon. He firmly believes that it is good that people in the Gulf region have stood up against the dictatorial regimes.
I asked him for his views on how far is it right for spiritual gurus to interfere in politics. Guru ji said that because of the high level of corruption, the spiritual leaders have to make efforts to clean the political system of the country. He said he believed that the society can be developed only with the joint efforts of the ruler and the social reformer.
During my half-an-hour meeting with him, he said that he was a firm believer in the principles of Swami Vivekananda and felt all gods are one. When I asked him that he is the supreme guru of the Art of Living but whom did he personally idolise or look up to. He mentioned about Sudhakar Chaturvedi his 113-year-old guru who lives in Bangalore.
While driving back I was thinking that whether it is Rajneesh, Ravi Shankar or Ramdev, there is no doubt that these spiritual gurus have played an important role in spreading Indian culture, yoga and ayurveda all over the world. It has connected many foreigners with India in ways like Bollywood music and films have connected the non-resident Indians to India for the past three decades.
ess bee

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Fetish for new gadgets


West Island, Montreal: There is no let up in the chilly weather due to snow flurries for the last couple of days. BlackBerry has launched its tablet PlayBook and media reports say that the shops would open at 7 am to avoid rush and long queues. It would also be convenient to pick one up en route to the office.
I think whatever electronic gadgets launched in this part of the world sparks off a craze among Indians in India who vie with each other to get hold of one so that they can flaunt it in public.
I remember last year I was in New York around the same time when Apple iPad was launched. I got numerous calls from India inquiring about it. The same week I returned to India and saw a friend of mine in Delhi toying with it in public.
Thanks to the excellent network and procurement skills, many Indians make it a point to own one as soon as it hits the market. Whether they will make real use of the gadget is questionable.
I feel people who really need the product and those who know how to use it are a deprived lot in India. And those who just want to carry it as a fashion statement have easy access to it.
Here in Canada, the dailies have also reported that the shops did not get the number of people they were expecting. The fact that one would need a BlackBerry mobile connection for optimal use of the PlayBook could be a deterrent.
Tomorrow I shall drive three hours down to the north of Montreal to meet Sri Sri Ravi Shankar where he has set up his ashram. He is arriving there today evening.
In Kolkata, I'll miss Madhu Neotia's invitation for an event with Shashi Tharoor and his wife Sunanda at The Conclave tomorrow and also The Telegraph-CNN debate on battle of Bengal at the Town Hall.
ess bee

Sunday, April 17, 2011

End of a Royal era

Quebec province, Canada: I arrived here last Tuesday. This morning I went to Masena border of US for a day trip. It was a little over an hour's drive from Montreal. On entering the US border there is an Indian reserve represented by the flags of five nations including the US and Canada.
After coming back from Masena amid chilly weather I heard the news of the demise of Shri Bhawani Singh ji, Maharaja of Jaipur and a war hero. My association with him wasn't very old. I had first met him formally in 2000 at the City Palace with a request to associate with Education For All project.
At that time I had just started the project. On some earlier occasions we had exchanged pleasantries when our paths crossed in a conference or some function. He he was serving as the High Commissioner to India in Brunei.
I remember, he had asked me various questions and after carefully going through the papers and about 40 minutes into our meeting he said "Yes." He agreed to become member of the advisory board of the project.
Shyly I gathered the courage and said that it would be better if he gave me his consent in writing. He handed over a sealed envelope to me saying it was ready. I was surprised to find that he had prepared his consent in advance.
Later, I realised that his office has already gathered the information about the Project and also about others who had joined the Project as members of the advisory board. This kind of planning and organizing skill were not known to me till that time.
I recall one more incident. Once during his birthday the Maharaja invited school children to the City Palace and spent time with them showering gifts and goodies. I have also heard similar things about Diya Kumari this year on her birthday. It is good that she is following her father's footsteps.
After that, I met the Maharaja on various social occasions and at the Jaipur Polo matches last year. He was at the final match last year but this year he was conspicuous by his absence. In fact at the City Palace party, which he usually attended, he was not there this year. Maharani Padmini did inform me that he was not keeping well. With the pasing of Bhawani Singh, an era of Jaipur Raj Pariwar has come to an end. Among the Indian royalty, his was a towering presence. The history of Jaipur, Rajasthan and the Indian Royal families would never be complete without him.
ess bee

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Same time same town same place

I arrived in Montreal on Thursday (April 14th) - a day ahead at the same town same house where I had put up last year.
Nothing seems to have changed in the past one year. Courteous and friendly people, leafless bushes and trees, snow piled up on the sidetracks that look brownish with a blend of dust and mud, same coffee shops and bakeries at the corners, lake in the park, fair view mall and the same old different counters. Even the sales girls and men in shops who are known to me are the same.
The only difference this year is that the weather is chillier than last year. Till I actually saw the calendar, I never realized how one year passed away in a jiffy. It seems my life is on a fast track compared to the life outside. I had no inkling about how fast one year has passed.
Last year when I left Montreal I had plans to come back in two months but I could manage it only after one year and that too after cancelling many plans. It was again a spur of the moment decision to fly in here.
Life doesn't work out always as planned. At least not with me. I am involved in many things that I do not want to and things that are not high on my list of priorities but I often end up doing many things at the cost of what I enjoy doing, like, for example, spending more time in this corner of the world.
ess bee

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Candidate or the Party!

Frankfurt airport Lufthansa lounge: I arrived here from Kolkata en route to Canada. Gautam Ghosh was also with me on the same flight on his way to Philadelphia.
We were both in transit and had few hours to ourselves. We discussed about Kolkata not being connected by many International flights leaving people with no other option but to make a detour via Delhi or Mumbai.
I think this situation prevails because Kolkata has failed to assert itself and exert adequate pressure to ensure that all important airlines of the world touch base. 

How many of us or our government have put in an effort like Sanjay Budhia (picture), Honorary Consul for Malaysia in Kolkata, to persuade and prevail upon Air Asia CEO Mr Tony Fernandes from withdrawing the direct Kolkata-Kuala Lumpur flight.
While entering the lounge I picked up The Global Mail that is published from Canada. The front page carried a report on the pre-election debate between Jack Layton, Michael Ignatieff, Gills Duceppe and prime minister Stephen Harper. This set me thinking about the Bengal elections that would be over by middle of next month.
I wonder why we always vote for the party and not for the candidates. The argument "because of ideology" is passe. If everyone voted like ideologues there would be no change in the government - local or federal. Many parties change their ideology from time to time like the Marxists who became little pro-industrial since the last decade.
I always feel absence of good people has made politics bad. Why not vote for an individual and his qualities instead of the party? Hasn't India reached a stage where personal qualifications, abilities and skills are important for running the nation?
Well, if there can be coalition of parties why not a coalition of individuals. I have always had excellent relations with many individuals who belong to different political parties and hosted them on various occasions at home or organised functions with them. My so called well-wishers have often branded me as being with the RSS, sometimes with the Maxists, several times with the Congress and recently with the Trinamul.
I do not understand why one must be labelled with a particular political party if he or she stands in for a good individual, irrespective of his political affiliations.
In this forthcoming elections some of my personal friends, a leading Tollywood actress, a theatre personality and a family friend are contesting. I have always been impressed with my family friend's social work skills and his passion to work for the poor an needy.  I also think that there should be a voice in the Legislative Assembly to represent and articulate Kolkata's culture, films and fine arts.
These all three  friends of mine belong to different political parties but I still support them for I know they would deliver. Can’t we see beyond the political parties and support individual candidates who, on their own merit, would do good to the society, state and the nation. Whoever it is, we all must go out and vote if we want a healthy democratic system.
ess bee

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

There is a first time for everything

I had never had any interest in cricket, let alone going to the Eden Gardens, I have never ever watched a cricket match in any stadium or even on the television. I don't understand cricket and whatever fleeting glimpses I have seen of the game on television is because of my wife - a cricket buff.
The idea of going to the famed Eden Gardens was mooted by my childhood friend Aditya Makharia. He told me two weeks ago that all my friends oblige me whenever I request them to accompany me to events and places. So now, as a quid pro quo, it was my turn to accompany them to the Eden Gardens.
I tried my best to wriggle out of it in vain as my wife's desire to visit Eden Gardens left me with no choice. I never say no to her, and for the first time I said yes to cricket.
I discussed the idea of going over to the Eden Gardens with my die-hard cricket buff pal Tony (Anirudh Roy Chowdhury) and with his help we managed to book one of the newly-made luxury boxes at the refurbished stadium.
What I have gathered from the media reports in the last few years is that IPL is more of a glamorous exercise - wining dining and celebrity affair - rather than actual cricket or cricketing. I thought why not take all my celebrity friends from Kolkata to watch the cricket match. I rang up T2 and shared my idea with them. They were bowled over by the idea I guess and fell in. Then, I called up my friends Bickram and Jaya Ghosh, Roopa Ganguly, Dev and Subhasree, Usha Uthup, Jishu and Nilanjana, Paoli Dam, Arjun Chakraborty, Sujata Sen, Agnimitra Paul, Indranil and Barkha among others.
Indranil was shooting in the Andamans and Barkha was in Delhi, Arjun and Agni had prior commitments and Paoli could not make it at the last minute. Sujata also has meetings lined up and Nilanjana wanted to give it a miss. The rest of us decided to meet at The Taj Bengal so that all of us could go together. I had set 6 pm as the time. The idea was to have a cup of tea and snacks and leave by 6:30 pm.
Before starting for the The Taj Bengal from ITC SPA at around 5 pm, I saw SRK entering from the SPA gate of ITC. By the time we started from The Taj Bengal after having "Riders puchka" and "Deccan Aloo Tikki" it was almost 7 pm and Usha di was getting impatient in her KKR-coloured purple sari. She had turned up sharp at 6 pm and she did not want to miss the toss. We had to leave without Parno Mitra as she was late.
In the coach, everybody was singing and instantly Usha di made a song on cricket - Darrrrrlingg!!!! chaukka mar chhakka maar wicket le!! - on Arindam's request.
We arrived at the Eden around 7:30 pm and en route to the box met Mahendra Jalan in the lift. 

When I went to the balcony I was stunned and surprised to find how majestic Eden actually looks. Although half empty, I got a feel of what is the world famous Eden Gardens roar is.
My friend Aditya was egging me to get up from my chair and dance, sing and cheer for KKR. He did not succeed but rejoiced in the fact that he was instrumental in bringing me to the stadium for the first time. 

ITC Sonar banquet manager Gaurang was also there and he really made our day by catering to our endless demands of popcorn, black coffee, soft drinks, patties and tea.
The moment the news spread to the other boxes that The Telegraph (T2) team was accompanying us, tinsel town folks including Koneenica, Ushasi and others, who were present in the other boxes, came to our box to say hello. Among others who dropped in were Rahul Todi and Pradeep Sureka.
While going towards Shah Rukhs’s box, I met Ujjwal Upadhayay quietly and calmly seated on a sofa in his box and in his usual style. 

Tony and Indrani too were sitting in our box balcony with their friends, a couple, from Dubai. Thanks to Usha di, I spent some time in the SRK box and saw him chating with Jagmohan Dalmia with Suhel Seth with Juhi Chawla by his side.
A TV channel interviewed Usha Uthup and telecast it live on screen. This electrified the crowd sitting around our box as they realized the presence of celebrities in my box which was the last one and surrounded by crowds on either sides. 

Instead of watching the match, the crowds turned towards the box balcony to have a glimpse of Kolkata celebs and seek autographs of Usha Uthup, Roopa Ganguly, Bickram and others. At that moment Jishu also joined us.
For the crowds on this end of Eden, Dev (picture) was the Shah Rukh Khan. Dev obliged hundreds of autograph seekers giving Kolkata Police personnel a tough time in crowd management. 

Honestly, I still do not understand cricket. I fail to see the logic of batsman having to bat from a different side after an over is completed. But the overall ambience and experience was unforgettable.
I host parties, functions and get-togethers almost every week. But I must say that hosting this box at the Eden Gardens was one of the most exhilarating experiences.
ess bee

Monday, April 11, 2011

Poet and the Prophet

Last weekend I was relaxed, I took it easy and gave Shankar Mahadevan's concert at the Science City and another party at the ITC Sonar a miss. 
Saturday evening The Bengal hosted a play Prophet and the Poet in association with Hotel Taj Bengal.The General Manager, Mr Mohanchandran and I were looking forward to this play for more than two months now because although this play has completed 40 shows but none had been staged yet in Kolkata. 
This play has much relevance not only to Kolkata but throughout the state of West Bengal because of Rabindranath Tagore.
The Prophet and the Poet is based on a compendium of letters and articles that were exchanged between Mahatma Gandhi and Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore over a period of about 25 years on the backdrop of India's freedom movement. The exchange, from actual correspondence, is interspersed with imaginary dialogues but based on historical facts.
The play was not only very good but also very informative and enlightening. The Gurudev-Gandhi letters of correspondence did inform the audience about lot of interesting things that they had no idea of when they walked in to see the play.
Before the play started there were cocktails, which, in turn, was preceded by a The Bengal board meeting. Commissioner of Police, Mr R K Pachnanda along with Mr Supratim Sarkar, Deputy Commissioner of Police, South and Mr Debashish Roy, Additional Commissioner of Police III, also attended the meeting as special invitee. 
The Bengal board members discussed various issues. Mr Pachnanda presented a gift to all the members of The Bengal as a token of appreciation.
For me, it was after a long time that I got to see a play that was neither a comedy nor a social drama. The play was based on research and packed with historical information involving the two legends of India - how they respected each other even through their differences on many topics.
ess bee

Friday, April 8, 2011

India stands up for a cause

Friday afternoon I went for the sit-in (picture)in front of Mother Teresa's statue at the Park Street-Camac Street crossing to express my solidarity with the 73-year-old Gandhian Anna Hazare who is on a hunger strike against corruption in Delhi.
I was there for a couple of hours and saw that people of all ages, castes, creed, students to business men, senior citizens to college girls singing in one voice, lending their active support to the cause for which Anna Hazare has gone on a hunger strike in Delhi.
Cutting across barriers and social status, people have come forward in support of the stand taken by Hazare against corruption. What was most encouraging was the spontaneous response of younger generation.
The fact that the entire country can unite, even if it is for some time, in celebration and suffering, for cricket or against corruption, is a matter of great mental relief for me. I see it as a true example of Unity in Diversity.
ess bee

Thursday, April 7, 2011

WFUNA meet

Yesterday I had a long conference call with the World Federation of United Nations Association (WFUNA) head office in New York as the Executive Committee is scheduled to meet in New York on the 29th and 30th April 2011 which I would be attending.
This evening I went to The Conclave, my favourite non-5 star hotel joint for hosting parties. Yesterday's celebrations was to mark the completion of the 25th year of The Conclave and I congratulated Harshvardhan Neotia on the occasion.
A selective crowd of eminent Kolkatans including Sanjeev Goenka, Usha Uthup, Shamlu Dudeja, Sanjay Budhia, Tollywood stars and others were welcome by the perfect hosts Harsh and Madhu Neotia.
The Mediterranean cuisine, prepared by Chef Vicky Ratnani, was very different from the regular spread at The Conclave.
Harsh also announced plans to set up five more The Conclave brand of lounges and clubs in the city.
ess bee

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Cricket frenzy grips city

I took Saturday afternoon flight to Jaipur and returned to Kolkata by evening flight the same day. I was in the Pink City for about three hours. I spent an hour in a meeting at the Civil Lines.
There weren't many passengers on the Jaipur flight due to the Cricket World Cup Final match. The Jaipur-Kolkata return flight was again a low load flight with hardly 20 passengers on board, confirming Rajasthan too is a cricket crazy state. At the time of boarding the plane India had lost the wickets of Sehwag and Sachin with few runs on the board.
After some time when the plane had taken off, the pilot announced that India had scored 125 runs for the third wicket partnership. The passengers spontaneously clapped in relief. The next score announced on flight the passengers again clapped in elation with the air crew staff joining in this time.
Later, when the flight captain announced that India needed 80 runs in 80 balls to win the match there were requests from the passengers to put the commentary on the public address system. The pilot did try to oblige couple of times but the sound wasn't very clear.
After the flight touched the Kolkata runway, the pilot announced that India was well poised for a win and soon there after he gave the good news of Dhoni hitting a six to win the cup. The plane was still on the runway when five or six passengers threw caution to the winds and started dancing. The warning by air crew members to stay seated with safety belts on fell on deaf ears.
As soon as the gate opened all the air staff members standing to receive the passengers were euphoric and said "We have won". I think the whole country was singing a same tune. But what I saw on the flight was nothing compared to what I witnessed while on my back home from the Dum Dum airport.
It took me about two hours to reach home and I saw a group of young men burning a Ravan like the ones during Dussehra. People were shouting from their cars while others thronged the thorough fares in groups singing, dancing and carrying colourful banners and posters in boisterous celebrations.
Others in groups were carrying the Indian Flag and replica of the World Cup made of bamboos. Even at the Rajarhat crossing my car was stopped and a group of boys applied abir tika. People on bikes were shouting Jai Ho and what not.
It seemed India had won a war.
ess bee

Friday, April 1, 2011

Meetings and movies

Yesterday evening I attended a meeting at the CMRI Hospital on Pronam Project.  
The meeting was attended by Kolkata Police officials, members of Hospital Association and other representatives from about 50 city-based hospitals (picture).
I missed the music release of Vaishali Dalmiya movie at The Taj Bengal as I hosted a dinner at home for Rekha Surya and Sangeeta Datta. 
Rekha Surya is singer from Delhi and Sangeeta Datta (picture) is the Director of the film Life Goes On who stays in London. Both of them are currently in city and I met them both.
Nandita Pal Choudhury (picture) also joined us.
Prior to the hospital meeting in the afternoon I went to Queens Park and watched the film Life Goes On at a private home theatre.
Tomorrow I have my Jaipur trip on schedule.
ess bee