Sundeep Bhutoria

Welcome to my blog. Do share your views and thoughts with me. Request visitors to keep their comments brief and to the point. I shall respond to you to the extent possible.
Thank you.
ess bee

1A Camac Court, 25B Camac Street, Kolkata – 700 016, India.

Phone: 91 33 2281 6934

Fax: 91 33 2280 2930


For Events:
WhatsApp Text: 9836383333

Monday, November 28, 2011

Shuttling between Jaipur and Delhi

On Sunday afternoon I went to Jaipur for a personal meeting and returned to Delhi the same evening. From the Delhi airport I went to the Indian International Centre (IIC) to attend the function at the newly constructed multi-purpose hall of IIC.
Suresh Neotia invited me for a function at 6:30 pm. I told him that I was going to Jaipur for a couple of hours and that I would be late. But I got so late that by the time I reached the function it was 10 pm. The function was almost over and hosts had left the venue. Only Rajeev Shukla and a couple of other guests were there.
Today afternoon I met quite a few people from field of literature and politics at the IIC apart from spending time at the library. I wanted to meet the former Prime Minister of India, Sri I K Gujral, who is not keeping well at present. But his office informed mine that Sri Gujral is unwell and that it would be difficult to meet him for few more days at least (file picture).
With the election fever catching up, Uttar Pradesh is making headlines. 
After becoming the Chief Minister, Mayawati had visited Kolkata and I had had a one to one meeting with her at the Hyatt, Kolkata. At that time she had said that she would again visit Kolkata soon. 
But I don't think she has been to Kolkata after that visit. During that visit, I had presented Mayawati with a piece of handicraft (picture).
Tomorrow I have a couple of meetings scheduled at the
ICCR and National School of Drama
ess bee

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The issue of tissue

I recently hosted a dinner in honour of Ambassador Park Soo-Gil, President, World Federation of the United Nations (WFUNA) and some of the representatives from other United Nations Association (UNA) member countries who were here on my personal invitation to visit the City of Joy.
The dinner was held at The Conclave where I host many of my events. While having tea, some of the diplomats praised the quality of the tea and it caught my attention that The Conclave had started serving Newby teas. It was only about three months back that I saw Newby tea sachets for the first time at Rajputana Sheraton, Jaipur.
A couple of years ago when I visted Moscow on an invitation from the Moscow State University of International Affairs, I found Newby tea sachets were served in many of the cafes. Unlike India, Newby brand was very popular in that part of the world that time and even today.
My association with Newby goes way back to 1994-95 when it so happened that the first few boxes of Newby teas were packed by me in Nitrogen pouches, in tin caddies and then in CFC boxes of 24 each. At that time there was an article about Newby Teas in London’s most prestigious pink daily The Financial Times and it was sold as a premium product by the first tele-callers.
After more than 10 years I saw Newby tea again at the Rajputana Sheraton and then at the The Conclave in Kolkata.
I also noticed The Conclave had changed the paper napkins or tissue paper to that of a far superior quality. Since the 25 Year Celebrations of The Conclave, some sweeping and pleasant changes have been incorporated starting from the crockery and cutlery to the events and even the quality of tissue paper.
I am emphasising on the tissue paper because most readers would agree with me that there is a huge difference in the quality of tissue / paper napkins served to us at the star hotels and those at a shop in the street .
On many occasions I have found that some of the eating joints and snack shops give very poor quality tissue paper and that you actually end up using close to a dozen to dry your hands or to get rid of the oil. The issue here is that the purpose a single good quality tissue paper serves is not possible by using scores of cheap quality variants.
Most of the wash rooms in the airports are full of cheap quality paper towels. The result, everyone grabbing out five to ten papers to wipe off hands.
I don’t understand the business or the economic.  But a common sense approach tells me that it definitely costs less to have a single quality tissue paper to satisfy our need rather than use scores of tissues which does not serve the purpose. It is simply quality over quantity. I think it is high time for us to become a little quality conscious follow it up in action. Why not begin with a tissue paper.
This weekend was an events galore in Kolkata. On Friday there were nine high voltage events including Leslie Lewis' performance at Hyatt, a play at The Park directed by Koushik Sen, a comedy show at The Oberoi Grand and the premiere of Birsa Das Gupta's movie Jani Dekha Hobe featuring Rupa Ganguly. As the date of the premiere coincided with her birthday she was elated. Rupa also did the first day's shoot of Ringo's movie and Srijit's next film Muharrt.
With Home Minister P Chidambaram
I missed all the events as I was in Delhi on Friday afternoon to attend the release of India Inside by P Chidambaram (picture) at the Long Champ Room of Hotel Taj Mansingh. The book is co-authored by Nirmalya Kumar and Phanish Puranam. Later in the evening, I attended the fashion show Ragas by Payal Jain.
On Thursday, I was at the Sarbari Dutta fashion show at ITC Hotel. Every year in Kolkata, this time of the season, the number of events are at its height. The disaster of the week was the Doon Express accident and Tendulkar getting out on 94. The news of elusive Kishan ji's death is also all over the media.
ess bee

Friday, November 25, 2011

At Sharbari’s show

With Sharbari
Yesterday I went to the ITC Sonar for Sharbari Dutta’s show celebrating two decades of designing menswear. I congratulated Sharbari di and some of the early bird guests (pictures)
From ITC, I went to the Hyatt Italian Restaurant for a private dinner.
This weekend there’s plenty of events scheduled in the city. Today there’ll be nine high-voltage events including Calcutta Chamber of Commerce panel discussion on film at The Park.
With Shreya Pandey
Leslie Lewis' performance at Hyatt, a play at The Park directed by Koushik Sen, a comedy show at The Oberoi Grand and the premiere of Birsa Das Gupta's movie Jani Dekha Hobe featuring Rupa Ganguly.
As the date of the premiere coincided with her birthday she is elated. Rupa also has the first day's shoot of Ringo's movie and Srijit's next films Muharrt on Friday.
With Toni, Indrani and Swastika
I will miss all these events as I will be in Delhi this afternoon. Later in the evening, I have plans to attended the fashion show Ragas by Payal Jain at Hyatt
This week I received quite a few other invitations for fashion shows. Suneet Verma on Saturday evening and then Sabyasachi in Delhi at Leela on 30th November.
ess bee

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Qatar Airways function

Yesterday afternoon I took a flight to Jaipur and returned this evening. Thanks to the wedding season, the Kolkata-Jaipur flights, both ways, were full. When it comes to weddings, Udaipur and Jaipur are very hot destinations.
There was a wedding function of a Kolkata-based family and I met quite a few people from Kolkata, not only on the flight but also at the Rajputana Sheraton coffee shop.
I landed in Kolkata at about 9:30 pm and headed straight for Hotel Taj Bengal to attend an event hosted by Qatar Airways. The CEO of Qatar Airways Mr Akbar Al Baker is in Kolkata and about 200 people were invited at the Taj banquet.
I knew that the Indian office of the company has been working very hard for this evening. They had blocked this date months in advance to invite people and were in constant touch to ensure the guests’ presence.
That is why, despite being late, I made it a point to go there and meet Mr Al Baker though the event had started at 7 pm. By the time I reached the Taj the dinner was over and Sunidhi Chauhan was on stage. I shared the table with Bickram and Jaya Ghosh and Usha Uthup. I sat through a couple of songs, met the CEO and returned home.
The CEO was very happy with the response they got in Kolkata and plans are on to introduce a bigger aircraft. Myself being a frequent overseas traveler, this was music to my ears, especially after so many airlines closed down their Kolkata operations in recent times. One thing that caught my attention later was the packet given to the guests at the departure gate. I thought it must be some literature but when I opened the packet at home I found it was a Mont Blanc passport case.
I was very surprised by such an expensive gift given by an airliner to all the invitees. Weddings and some social functions aside, I don't recollect any occasion in India where such an expensive gift was given just for attending the function.
ess bee

Monday, November 21, 2011

A session with Railway minister

On the 19th evening I went to Queen’s Park for an interactive session with Mr Dinesh Trivedi, Hon’ble Minister of Railways. Mr Trivedi spoke about his vision for the Railways and I was quite impressed by his idea of initiating the possibility of travelling Kolkata-Delhi in 6 hours by train.
I met quite a number of known people besides the hosts Madhu and Harsh Neotia (pictures).
Yesterday I went to the Bodyguard Lines auditorium of Kolkata Police for attending the lecture on Sir Wauchope, His Excellency, Shri M K Narayanan, Governor of West Bengal, emphasised on many issues relating to security and also the challenges in front of Kolkata Police. 
Regarding the topic, who else is better than M K Narayanan to speak on the matter as he has served as the Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of India.
Today evening a couple of weddings are lined up. A meeting is also scheduled with Reba Som, Director, Indian Council for Cultural Relation.
I shall leave for Jaipur tomorrow.
ess bee

Sunday, November 20, 2011

An eventful week

Last week I was in Delhi. I arrived there on Friday afternoon, a day late as I had stayed back to attend the inaugural function of Kolkata Film Festival 2011.
There is a Bengali food festival going on at The Cafe – the coffee shop at Hotel Hyatt where I was staying.
The Hotel has tied up with famous restaurant chain of Kolkata Bhojohari Manna. This morning Somnath Dey, the food & beverages assistant director of the Hotel, told me that the Bengali food festival was a grand success. I too realised this when I saw the long queues of guests at the tables at the The Cafe.
Danseuse Sonal Mansingh has invited me for dinner on Sunday evening. I had a word with her regarding her new series of lectures and work on Krishna. Yesterday, I was at the India International Centre (IIC) and attended the book launch function Indira Gandhi Revolution in Restraint (Volume 1). The Book is authored by Uma Vasudev whom I meet her prior to the launch over tea. The book was released by the Chief Minister of Delhi Smt Sheila Dikshit.
During the past two years, I attended five such functions where Sheila ji's name was there in the invite and she either did not turn up at all or did so only at the closing hours of the function. I don't know whether she makes too many of commitments to people or whether the organisers just use her name?
This latest Book launch function, scheduled for 7 pm, started at around 7:10 pm. The Chief Minister came in at around 8 pm and released the book. There was an excellent panel of speakers – former Governor and Union Minister Bhishmnarayan Singh, member of Planning Commission Smt Syeda Hamid, Chairperson IGNCA and Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan Shri Chinmaya R Gharekhan and Secretary (Ministry of Culture) Jawahar Sircar.
Bhishmnarayan Singh shared his experiences with Indira Gandhi and Gharekhan also spoke about his personal experience with Indira Gandhi. He has served her about three years at the Prime Minister's Office besides being India's Permanent Representative to the United Nations. He recalled many incidents of his overseas trip with Indira Gandhi.
I also meet and had a brief chat with Jawahar Sircar just before the inaugural function which was chaired by Prof M G K Menon of IIC.
After the book launch, I went to Hotel Meridian to attend the dinner to mark the conclusion of Delhi International Arts Festival. This Festival, the brain child of Bharatnatyam exponent Prathibha Prahlad, is in its fifth year. The Festival was held from October 31 to November 15th 2011. Hindustan Times was the media partner.
There were many eminent artistes from Delhi at the dinner - Sonal Mansingh, Ranjana Gauhar, Rekha Surya, Kushwant Singh's son Rahul, Mr L Rao of ICCR and others. Also meet Shalini Dewan after a long time. Shalini was serving as the director of UNIC in Delhi till last year.
I was amazed to see the organising skill of Prathibha as she roped in British Council, American Centre, Alliance Francaise, Max Mueller BhAwan, Japan Foundation, Korea Foundation, Russian Centre of Art and Culture, Sangeet Natak Academy, Doordarshan, ITDC, ICCR and several other embassies and cultural centres under one roof. Being as a organiser myself, I know it is quite a task. Congratulations Prathibha!
Back to Kolkata, I attended the dinner hosted by Shree Venkatesh Films to mark the film festival. I met many friends from the film fraternity including Shantanu Moitra. The first thing he said on seeing me was “ALL IZ WELL!”
Yes Shantanu. In 17th Kolkata Film Festival All IZ WELL.
ess bee

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Raising Day of Kolkata Police and other events

November 19th Saturday: This weekend was events galore in Kolkata. On the evening of 17th I missed the closing ceremony of the Kolkata Film Festival 2011 and yesterday I again missed a programme organized by Priya Entertainment Pvt Ltd to commemorate the successful completion of their five year association with the iconic Star Theatre at the Star Theatre Auditorium at 6.30 PM.
I had lunch with Tony and Shantanu Moitra (file picture) at ITC Peshawari and discussed with them about an event in Kolkata in which Shantanu Moitra would render his musical journey from Parineeta to Aparajita.
Today evening I am scheduled to attend a private function with a senior politician and then a dinner with few close friends.
Tomorrow will attend the Sir Wauchope Memorial Lecture on Challenges for the Police which will be delivered by His Excellency, Shri M K Narayanan, Governor of West Bengal, at the Bodyguard Lines on the occasion of the Raising Day of Kolkata Police. As far as I can remember Kolkata Police is organizing this lecture for the first time.
In 1856 the Governor-General promulgated an Act treating Calcutta Police as a separate organization and S Wauchope, who was then the chief magistrate of Calcutta, was appointed as the first Commissioner of Police in India. He had to face difficult days because of the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, the first upsurge against British rule.
He handled the situation ably and was knighted for his achievement. The Wauchope Memorial Lecture is dedicated to his name.
ess bee

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Kolkata Film Festival party

With Kaustav Roy and Haranath Chakraborty
November 17, 2011: Late afternoon yesterday I returned to Kolkata from from Delhi and went to attend a party hosted by Shree Venkatesh Films at Hotel Hindustan International to mark the 17th Kolkata Film Festival.
I caught up with a lot of friends from the film fraternity. Aparna Sen introduced me to Ketan Mehta (picture).
The 17th Kolkata Film Festival turned out to be what a really good Film Festival should be. No doubt Shree Venkatesh Films invitation attracted almost everybody who matters in Tollywood.
Yesterday evening I missed the dance concert titled Passion of Green Blood and Rabiranga presented by Kolkata Film and Television Institute (KFTI). Indrani Halder invited me but I could not make it as I was on a flight en route to Kolkata from Delhi.
ess bee

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Kolkata Film Fest – the spirit is back

The 17th Kolkata Film Festival 2011 inaugural function was a positive break from the past in many ways and not just because India's super star Shah Rukh Khan happened to inaugurate it. It was like unshackling the festival from the bureaucratic straitjacket. For once I felt that this was a real Film Festival inauguration and not a routine government function.
Compared to the inaugural programs of the past, the difference was evident right from the design and quality of the invitation card to the venue, decor, ambience, steering the programme to even the vote of thanks speech by Nandini Chakraborty.
I have served on the Film Festival as a committee member for many years and also hosted the farewell dinners in succession for several years. I have witnessed the inaugurations by Mani Ratnam, Mrinal Sen, Gopal Krishna Gandhi and of course Buddhadev Bhattacharya, but there is simply no comparison to what I saw and felt today as the 17th Kolkata Film Festival 2011 unfolded before me at the Netaji Indoor Stadium.
There was very tight security at the entrance, the card requested guests “to be seated by 3:30 PM”. I reached the venue at 3:30 PM sharp and found that many of the guests had arrived before me. I greeted Chuni Goswami, Sanjay Budhia, Prabhat Roy and got a seat for myself. About 10 minutes later Mahendra K Jalan and Ravi Poddar joined the same row. I saw my friend Anandi Ghose and I left my seat and sat next to her.
The Festival inauguration witnessed a gathering of people from all segments of society as the Chief Minister rightly said “That we have a galaxy of every one from society”. Besides film directors, actors and actresses, there were litterateurs Shishendu, Sankha Ghosh and Sunil Gangopadhyay, singers Usha Uthup and Nachiketa, danseuse Ajanta Banerjee and Alokananda Roy. Suvaprasanna and other artists along with others from the world of theatre, sports etc., were also present.
The show started about 20 minutes late and seeing the crowd I wondered if it was the right crowd for Kolkata which is the cultural capital of the country. During the earlier Film Festivals at Nandan, I had noticed over the years how many of the invitees would turn up to ensure that their faces were seen by the right persons in power and then they would quickly leave the venue. It was more like a roll call.
But the 17th Kolkata Film Festival has changed it all. I could easily make out that the crowd wanted to be there at the event, enjoying every moment of it. They weren't there just to give their attendance. This is a welcome change.
I know for a fact that for many years there used to be a scarcity of film personalities not only at the inaugural function but also during the Festival itself.
If one thinks seriously, it was a pitiable situation doing Film Festival inaugurations without the presence of film stars.
But this year, where ever your eyes went you could see either Prosenjit, Dev, Jeet, Jishu, Koel, June, Aparna and other veteran film stars who have immortalised the screens with their sterling performances over the years. The top brass of Tollywood was there in full strength.
But one thing I could not help wondering - Would it have been the same without Shah Rukh.
It could be so, because apart from Shah Rukh there was a lot of element and soul in the inauguration that digressed from the past. I, however, missed, Mrinal Sen and Soumitra Chatterjee.
If you have to pick up a fault in the organization of the function there is absolutely nothing apart from a few guests on the dais sitting in the wrong chairs marked for them.
I was scheduled to leave for Delhi this afternoon but decided to attend the inauguration and then leave and I think I made the right decision. Before the film started, I came out with Debasree Roy and Mr and Mrs Sandip Ray. I felt proud that after 16 years we have finally learnt how to inaugurate a Film Festival with style and panache, and above all, getting the spirit back.
ess bee

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Missing many events

November 9, 2011: After returning from my trip abroad, I have missed out on so many events in the city starting from Kalarpana - an evening of classical Bharatnatyam - by Padmashri Shobhana and her troupe at Hyatt Regency to a series of other events till date.
I wasn't keeping well and could not attend Rituparna Sengupta’s birthday. The only event I really regret having missed was the invitation from Dona Ganguly to attend Chitrangada performed by Diksha Manjuri’s troupe. Dona had requested me four months back to block my date and I too was very keen to attend the programme but the Kolkata viral forced me to stay home.
Tomorrow I shall fly to Delhi.
It seems I will also miss the November 11 Ambassador of Peru’s dinner at Hyatt Regency, Umesh Chowdhury's dinner at The Oberoi Grand on the same day and two other programmes on November 12th and the 2nd edition of Chandrakosh (Sri Hariharan) at the Club Verde Vista and the get together of members at the Agri Horticulture Society of India apart from the Film Festival films and evening dinners.
ess bee

Monday, November 7, 2011

Dinner in honour of WFUNA president

November 7, 2011: Yesterday evening I hosted a dinner for WFUNA President, Park Soo-Gil, at The Conclave. I invited the career diplomats and a couple of personal friends on the occasion.
The US Consul General, Dean R. Thompson, dropped in only for cocktails. 
The Russian Consul General, Vladimir V Lazarev and his wife and also the Consul from the People’s Republic of China in Kolkata, Mr Liu Zhijie, attended the dinner.
The Consul General of Germany, Rainer Schmiedchen, who has been posted in Kolkata very recently, and his wife also made up the guest list for the dinner. 
I met them for the first time today. Also present were a few others like the Consular Corps, Ambassador Chang Beom Cho, UNA, Republic of Korea, and Ms Zhang Xiaoan, UNA China. 
I had lots of time to interact with the diplomatic core and the guests thoroughly enjoyed the spread of Bengali cuisine.
For Ambassador Park Soo-Gil, who visited Kolkata for the first time, it was a very different kind of experience with the food.
Today evening I have invited them to my home for dinner.
ess bee

Sunday, November 6, 2011

When smart phones make fools out of us

Recently, on a flight from Frankfurt to Kolkata, I saw a child playing with his BlackBerry. This is a very common sight on flights. The moment an international flight hits the runway, people are ready, with thumbs on the switch on buttons, waiting for the air hostess to announce that they can switch on their mobiles. I especially mention international flights because on domestic flights nobody bothers to wait for the announcement.
The cell phone continues to expand its hold over our lives. This small device, which ushered in a communication revolution and became a fashion statement, is now a cause of concern thanks to a series of lifestyle and health disorders the world over.
At a time when countries across the world are struggling to come to terms with drug addiction, our society is faced with yet another menace — cell phone addiction. We all know that 9/11 ushered in a “surveillance era” that has irreversibly affected our social lives. One can only guess what cell phone addiction holds in store. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to find “cell phone de-addiction” or “cell-coholic rehab” centres coming up to combat the menace.
For those addicted to texting and chatting, the cell phone has actually become a life-threatening device. There are almost daily reports in the newspapers about pedestrians on cell phones being run over by trains and cars or falling into pits or banging into poles. That is what cell phone addiction does to you. In fact, the smart phones are making fools out of us. Can a cell phone be worth one’s life?
No wonder researchers are trying to find out what it is that drives people to prioritise the virtual world of gadgetry over the real world. We have just begun to get a hang of the severity of the issue of cell phone addiction. The fact that new generation smart phones now make our handsets the gateway to a host of networking (Facebook, Twitter etc.,) and chat sites has exacerbated the issue.
Last week while in America, I read in the papers about a very common lifestyle disorder — the BlackBerry Thumb. The thumb is most used while texting and is often placed in awkward positions since the keypad on the device is very small. Over a period of time, the user of the phone feels increasing pain in the wrist or thumb, which can impede the normal functioning of his hands. Imagine writing an exam paper with a BlackBerry Thumb. Am I wrong to say that these smart phones often make a fool out of us?
I dont use Black Berry and as far as my cell phone is concerned I am on voice mail. It is better to avoid than to invite any medical problems that goes with excessive use of cellphones. Let's see how things work out, as none of us are in the habit of calling up landlines.
ess bee

Saturday, November 5, 2011

On a low key

Yesterday evening I dropped in at the Bengal Club reception to welcome Dean R Thompson, the US Consul General. The reception was hosted by my friend Heena Gorsia.
The moment I entered everybody started enquiring as to where I had disappeared so suddenly. Today evening and tomorrow there is an engagement and wedding function in the family of Rajendra Bacchawat and Harsh Patodia besides the regular weekend happenings in the city.
I am a person who has always given priority to public commitments first and then to personal and family affairs. I strongly believe that public commitment is a commitment one must keep. What a hard decision it had been for me when I was at the Sindoor Khela while my brother-like friend counting his  last breaths in the hospital.
I think amid so many ups and downs in my life, this has been the longest phase for me to remain out of touch or maintain a low key as far as contact with the socio-cultural and the art world is concerned.
It is true that death is a fact of life but is it is not always so easy to accept!
ess bee

Friday, November 4, 2011

From Asian Encounters Conference

I arrived from Delhi late last night after attending the Representations of Asian Art in Asian Museums session of the Asian Encounters Conference.
The speakers at the conference were:
The Chairperson: Gauri Krishnan, ‘Asian Civilizations Museum, Singapore’s experiences of setting up the museum and its related challenges’ (Indian Heritage Centre, National Heritage Board, Singapore)
Kenson Kwok, ‘Singapore’s Perakanan Museum – making the case, conceptualising and presenting a unique regional cultures’ (Asian Civilization Museum, Singapore).
Janet tee Siew Mooi, ‘Museum as a custodian of National culture: Its role in preserving the Malaysian heritage (National Textile Museum, Kuala Lumpur)
Carol Cains, ‘Uses of enchantment: Cultural discovery through the exhibition experience and beyond’ (National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne)
I was rather impressed to see the similarity between Asian arts and Asian museums in various countries of the world.
Before attending the session, I had lunch with WFUNA Secretary General, Bonian
Golmohammadi, Finance and Administration Officer, Allen Abi-Yaghi, Programme Officer, Ann McKittrick and Irene Martinetti who is taking care of WFUNA Geneva office. Also present at the lunch was Jay Jethwa and Mr N Krishnamani, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India. In the evening, I had a private dinner with a family member.
On November 3, I attended the Finance Committee meeting and also took part in the first day of WFUNA 202nd Executive Committee Meeting. I had already informed New York Secretariat that I wouldn't be participating in the November 4th EXCO meeting as there are two to three days in a year on which I prefer to be on my own and November 4 happens to be one of those days.
ess bee

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

In Delhi for WFUNA meet

Hotel Hyatt, Delhi, November 1: I reached Hyatt in the evening. I am visiting Delhi after quite a long gap and have put up at the same hotel same room which has been my home away from home in Delhi for the past one year now.
I have got to read up a lot of documents i.e., the Finance Committee documents as the Finance Committee meeting of the World Federation of the United Nations Association is scheduled on November 3 at the Claridges hotel.
ess bee