Sundeep Bhutoria

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Thank you.
ess bee

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Felicitating Vidya Balan


Felicitating Vidya Balan with Uttariya
May 30th 2012: Today evening I went to The Park Hotel for the Prabha Khaitan Puraskar organised by the Calcutta Chamber of Commerce Foundation. The award is given to women achievers who contribute to the society to further the cause of women and girl child. The Calcutta Chamber of Commerce, the oldest in Asia, is the organiser of the Puraskar.
With Governor M K Narayanan, Vidya Balan and Alka Bangur holding the Prabha Khaitan Puraskar 2012
This year's award was awarded to Vidya Balan by the West Bengal Governor Shri M K Narayanan.  
Vidya became the youngest recipient of the Puraskar following in the footsteps of some the leading ladies of India.
I presented an Uttariya (shawl) to Vidya Balan especially designed for the occasion by leading ethnic wear designer Sharbari Dutta. She was also given a citation and cash award.
Vidya Balan delivering her speech at the Award function
Vidya Balan made a very interesting comment about her connection with Kolkata when she said “....there is always Kolkata linked to all the goodness in my life.... I think I must have had some link with Kolkata in my past lives.”
Which means Vidya believes in re-incarnation.
ess bee

At the `Art for Nutrition’


With Vidya Balan
Tuesday, May 29, 2012: I just returned from The Oberoi Grand after attending a dinner reception celebrating ‘Art For Nutrition’ organized by Anandabazar Patrika, The Telegraph and CINI (Child in Need Institute).
At the event, many artists of West Bengal pledged their support to provide the malnourished children access to nutrition through their work of art.
It was a very nice evening at the ‘Art For Nutrition’ and I presented Vidya Balan with a cheque for Child In Need Institute.  I also purchased few of the art works for myself and my friends.  
I will be meeting Vidya again tomorrow as she would be receiving the Prabha Khaitan Purashkar for being the woman achiever of the year 2012. The function would take place at The Park and is being organized by the Calcutta Chamber of Commerce Foundation.
ess bee

Monday, May 28, 2012

Lit Fest chums

With Tisca Chopra
Monday, May 28, 2012: The Mountain Echoes Literary Festival in Bhutan was a very interesting event. Personally, I met and made so many new acquaintances.
I have been in touch with Tisca Chopra and Wendell Rodricks and many others over email after returning to Kolkata.
At the event I also met a number of authors and quite a few senior journalists who were there to cover the event. 
I also met British author and historian Patrick French. They are my Lit Fest chums.
With author Patrick French
I was rather impressed by Nidhi Razdan, Associate Editor-Foreign Affairs, NDTV. 
After the sessions, the locals, especially the students of Bhutan and others, were thronging around her to get pictured.  
Nidhi, who seems to have Jobs patience, complied by posing for pictures with every individual for over an hour and smiling all the while.
With journalist Nidhi Razdan
I have seldom seen such patience in a TV journalist. Although she did attend the dinner hosted by me, I did not get to speak to her as she had left the festival a day in advance and was not in Paro where everyone had time to relax and mingle freely.
ess bee

Sunday, May 27, 2012

A piece of heaven


There was a King who had four queens, many princes and princesses. He ruled a kingdom that was nestled amid green hills and forests of unearthly beauty and splendour. The King was very kind and generous towards the people.
One fine day the King decided to abdicate his throne and bring in a young blood to take run the kingdom. He made his eldest son the King.
The people of the kingdom were very happy under the King’s rule and they loved and respected him. The King decided that it was high time the people should elect a ruler. His Majesty travelled for five years to each and every nook and corner of his kingdom in order to make his people mentally prepared to have someone, other than him and his dynasty, as their ruler.
Sounds like a bedtime story or one of those good old grandma’s tales that we have heard in our childhood. Several such stories that we have heard of at one point of time in our life. In fact, our history is replete with such kind of stories, there have been several dynasties and rulers who have ruled throughout the history in lands far and near. The symbols of their regal past have found a place in our modern day museums and the palaces that still survive.
But what I am alluding to here is not just history. It is a real place I happened to visit last week. A mountain kingdom is set amid splendid green hills of amazing beauty and peace. The people are simple, honest and proud of their culture and customs. From the king to the commoner, everyone wears the same costume.
This mountain kingdom still remains largely untouched by crime and pollution and other things that rile our modern world. I couldn’t help wondering if it was so because only a single airliner links this kingdom with the outer world and the ubiquitous television and the internet was allowed only in 1999.
The King, who was concerned with the well being of his subjects and their happiness, introduced a new concept to the world called GNH or “gross national happiness” in 1972 and later a sophisticated survey instrument to measure the population's general well-being and happiness was developed. All proposed policies in the Kingdom have to pass this GNH review quite on the lines of our environmental impact.
I was at the cultural social Centre which was founded by the senior Queen Mother herself for nurturing the villages and the society. Leading authors and celebs and members of the Royal family mingled to celebrate four days of literary festival. 
This centre founded by the Queen Mother has numerous programmes to improve the lives or thehappiness quotientof the people, especially in the rural areas.
I said good bye to this Kingdom on Friday morning with the promise to be back soon for sure. So many locations in this Kingdom you just stand and hear the voice of silence. It so easy to differentiate the noise of the winds, forests and the mountain over there.
At the Mountain Echoes Literary Festival
For the benefit of all those who are still trying to guess where this piece of heaven is located on earthI was in Bhutan for the third edition of Mountain Echoes Literary Festival. I think it is a must-visit country and that also just about 75 minutes by air from the City of Joy.
ess bee

Saturday, May 26, 2012

At Saharasri’s dinner event

Saturday, May 26, 2012: Yesterday I returned to Kolkata’s sultry weather from Bhutan. What a contrast!
With Saharasri Subrata Roy
This evening I went to Hyatt to attend Sahara Shaher - a dinner function - hosted by Saharasri Subrata Roy to felicitate the Bengali cine legend Shri Soumitra Chatterjee. The event was to commemorate his achievements and on being conferred the much coveted and prestigious Dada Saheb Phalke Award.  
The last time I met Saharasri Subrata Roy was about a couple of years back in Kolkata, again at a dinner party hosted by him. Actually, Subrata is a very close friend of Arpita and Prosenjit Chatterjee who are my close friends as well and that is reason enough for me to attend the dinner.
ess bee

Thursday, May 24, 2012

In the lap of mother nature


At the Zhiwa Ling property in Paro, Bhutan
Thursday, May 24, 2012: It is about 5 pm and I am sitting in the tea lounge of Hotel Zhiwa Ling property at Paro which is about an hour’s drive from Taj Tashi, Thimphu, and about 20 minutes from Paro International airport. 
It is indeed a different world out here. Sitting in Kolkata one can hardly imagine that just in an hour’s flight one can find himself in the lap of mother nature with mountains, mists and greenery.
This property looks like an antique wooden palace (picture). By the look of the traditional carvings in the pillars, the craft and designs, it is very difficult to believe that it was constructed about 15 to 16 years back. 
Right in front of my suite (pic), I can see the whole valley of mountains and the lush green trees stretching into the horizon.
I arrived here with other authors and guests for the Mountain Echoes Literary Festival. While traveling from Thimphu to Paro, I saw a number of cars lined up. I saw Pavan Varma, Gulzar Sahib, Vishal Bhardwaj, Sukrita Paul Kumar and few others.  
All of a sudden, I realized that all their cars had stopped. Gulzar Sahib and Pavan Varma were out of their vehicles at a particular on the hilly road.  I too stopped and stepped out of my car. The Indian ambassador to Bhutan, Pavan Varma, had stopped to show Gulzar Sahib a spot where an Institute would be set up.
At Paro, after lunch while we were on a walk, I told Sukrita Paul and Gulzar Sahib that it was so beautiful and silent here that one could clearly hear the sounds of the trees and the winds. They both smiled at me and said, “If you live here for a few days in our company, we are sure you’d become a poet.”
I think it was a fantastic idea to have this Writer’s Retreat after the Mountain Echoes Literary Festival, thanks to the organizers and the host.  
I would also like to mention that among the whole group, Arshad Warsi and his wife were the bravest. They decided to go on a trek. I was perhaps the most laid back among the lot and I did not venture out of the property as I simply wanted to be in and enjoy the surroundings.
ess bee