Sundeep Bhutoria

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Sunday, November 4, 2012

“Bhalo theko Sundeep”


“Bhalo theko Sundeep.” He always used to hang up on that note but who could imagine it would be his last. That's life. Those last words of his would echo in my ears for a long long time. I had called him up around 3 pm on asthami and we talked at length, even planned our next meeting of The Bengal exactly a month later.  
He was the President of our NGO The Bengal and sounded just as lively and enthusiastic as always. We decided to meet the next day at 5:30 pm. The next day (navami), I was there at his home placing flowers on his photograph. For the first time in years he had failed to keep an appointment with me.
He and I interacted frequently over phone and in person. I being an organiser of cultural events and he, a gifted litterateur, our paths were bound to cross. Our association revolved around cultural events and activities but it was mutual admiration and respect that brought us close.
He was also the very heart of the popular adda sessions that we had from time to time at home and at The Conclave. Friends would call up in advance to inquire and ensure that he would be there. His presence used to liven up these sessions as he would recount many interesting anecdotes from his illustrious life.
He also had an odd way of expressing his views. At the Agyeya Centenary Celebrations in February this year, and in the presence of the Vice President of India, Governor and countless other dignitaries, he congratulated and thanked me as the “….man behind the scene who makes such wonderful events possible.” That pat on the back will continue to inspire me forever.
Another lesser known fact that came to light at that very function was that he confessed that he could not speak Hindi at all and chose to address the audience in Bengali. He also said in his speech that when he had met Agyeya ji in person he was surprised to find that Agyeya could speak Bengali fluently. But again, surprisingly, and unknown to most people, he himself could read Hindi. He, in fact, even wrote a Bengali foreword for my translated book. He was at ease reading that book in Hindi. In fact he was the one who introduced me to Budh Sandhya and Krittibas but also associated me with their activities.
I also recollect many years ago, I was hosting a visit of a Latin American Ambassador who had on his wishlist a desire to meet up with one “Mr Sunil Ganguly”.
This weekend also three of the Latin American countries Ambassadors are in town for the Latin American Food Festival at Hotel Hyatt Regency and I too am also leaving for Latin America.
As I come to terms with the suddenness of Sunil da’s demise, I feel those words “Bhalo theko..”, which I had heard so many times and hardly given much thought to, seem like a final good bye.
ess bee

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