Sundeep Bhutoria

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Thank you.
ess bee

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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Flying Go Airways

March 30, 2013: I arrived in Jaipur in the evening from Bangalore. I flew Go Airways as that was the only option I had from Bangalore to Jaipur after one early morning Indigo direct flight. 
I flew Go Airways for the first time and was quite impressed with their service in the business class.
In fact, when you are not expecting much you actually feel a lot better when you get a little more. Go business class, which is much cheaper than the business class of other airlines, also offers individual car services from the ground to craft when the aero-bridge is not available.
During the Shree Music Festival Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma told me about this facility after he flew in via Go Airways from Mumbai to Jaipur in business class.
At that time, I had thought that this was so because after all he was “Shiv Kumar Sharma” and the airline staff must have gone out of their way to make him feel comfortable. 
(Left to right): With Bina Kak and Rakesh Srivastav, IAS.
This flight with Mumbai stopover was quite comfortable. The business class concept in Go Airways is that the first two rows middle seat is kept vacant apart from other services like food etc. Although the seats are not as wider as the business class of other airlines, but with the middle seat being vacant, gives you privacy and more space.
From the airport I went to the Jawahar Kala Kendra to participate in the Rajasthan Diwas function hosted by the state government. Each year March 30 is observed as the birthday of the princely state of Rajasthan.
I met Bina Kak, who is the tourism minister. Her passion for wildlife photography is well known and she loves Ranthambore. We discussed about her book on Ranthambore which is due to come out soon. She also mentioned to me that she has around two lakh pictures on wild life. 
With Bina Kak and Ram Pratap Diggi
Bina Kak had a leg injury recently and was still confined to the wheelchair.
Rajasthan Foundation Kolkata Chapter also used to observe Rajasthan Diwas in Kolkata with events and other activities is now closed as the visit of the Chief Minister of Rajasthan to Kolkata has not happened in the past four years now.
ess bee

Friday, March 29, 2013

At the Wellesley Suite

Bangalore, March 29: I arrived in Bangalore yesterday evening and checked into my favourite hotel, Windsor Manor of the ITC Group. This time I am staying at the Lord Wellesly suite as the suites which I prefer here were all occupied. The Lord Wellesly suite doesn’t open into any lawn and neither do the windows provide any sight of the first floor party terrace of the hotel.
In fact, the early morning din of the train engine is so audible that one can do without alarm.
Yesterday I had dinner at the Royal Afghan restaurant of Windsor Manor. I actually prefer the preparation of dal here more than that of Maurya’s Bukhara. I had written earlier that similar food in Peshawari of Rajputana and Royal Afghan in Windsor is better than that of Bukhara. But somehow, Bukhara is more talked about, which, I think, is pure hype.
Today afternoon I went to the Janardhan Hotel Cafe. It is a 40-year-old hotel which is always buzzing and full because of its prime location and moderate price. The Hotel has a restaurant cafe at the ground floor which is very famous for its south Indian dosa and other dishes. If you happen to visit Bangalore and like south Indian filter coffee and don’t mind a modest ambience, this is the place for you.
This evening I am scheduled to dine at the Masala Klub of Taj West End property. I shall leave for Jaipur tomorrow afternoon.
ess bee

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Holi, Kavi Sammelans and Kolkata

March 27, 2013: Today is Holi. This is year the Holi of northern India and the Holi of Bengal i.e., dol are being celebrated on the same day. I am always surprised by the fact how come the same festival is celebrated on different days. As per Hindu mythology, every festival has one story and reason to celebrate.
For example, various sects of the Jain community like the Swetambar, Digambar, 22Tolla, Murti Pujak and so on, celebrate Samatswari on different dates of the year. Also Raksha Bandhan is celebrated in few communities on different days.
On the 25th evening in went to the Birla Sabhaghar to attend the Sanskriti Sagar's Kavi Sammelan after hosting the poets for lunch at home. The star of the evening was Surendra Sharma who was also very kind to recite his poetry on Krishna on my personal request.
Yesterday evening I went to Kalamandir to a kavi sammelan where another group of poets were there. The program was organised by the Hindustan Club. The hall was more than full. Askaran Atal was the only poet who was also at the Birla Sabhaghar on the 25th evening.
I would be be going to the Birla Sabhaghar again today evening where the same poets would recite. The program is organised by Arohi. Very few people know that the tradition of Hasya Kavi Sammelan on Holi started in Kolkata and few of the kavis (poets) like Hari Om Panwar and Surendra Sharma have been coming to Kolkata regularly during Holi for the past 35 years.
It is estimated that there are about 200, big and small, kavi sammelans that take place in Kolkata during Holi.
Tomorrow I'll be in Bangalore.
ess bee

Saturday, March 23, 2013

At the Author's Afternoon with Sanjay Chopra

With Sanjay Chopra and Tisca Chopra at Taj Bengal
Saturday, 23 March, 2013: Yesterday another of the series of Author's Afternoon, infact the seventh in the series, was held at the Taj Bengal. This time our guest was Sanjay Chopra, the author of Talespin - a collection of short stories.
Sanjay is a pilot with an international airline and has been flying for the past eighteen years. This had given him the opportunity to explore his interest in the history of various cultures and lands.
He spent much of his childhood with his grandfather who was an avid reader and a brilliant storyteller, the qualities that Sanjay inherited and developed from his formative years of life.
What particularly caught his fancy were thegapsor missing links in history, the unknown or lesser known details, that became the source of his fiction and the collection of short stories the he has penned over the years and kept his readers' interest piqued. A course at the London School of Journalism helped him to hone his craft.
Sanjay signing a copy of his Book `Talespin'
Of the stories that feature in this collection, Turache won the Invisibe Ink and the Sunpenny publishing contests in the UK. A Fate Worse Than was on the winners' lists of the Creative Writers competition and Southport WritersCircle. Men of the Horse was on the highly recommended list of The Millennium Writers and Fish Publishing awards. The Contractor was awarded a prize at the Blood Ink Crime Writing Competition and the entire collection of short stories was in the top five of the Alexander Patterson Cappon Prize for fiction.
Tisca, his actress wife, was in conversation with him. I had met Tisca for the first time during Mountain Echoes Literary Festival in Bhutan.
Yesterdays Author's Afternoon had two new features, it is the first time we had an author whose book was based on short stories and also the first time a husband and wife were on the dais in conversation.
In the evening hosted a dinner for Sanjay and Tisca Chopra with a few friends at my home.
ess bee

Friday, March 22, 2013

At the Kavi Sammelan inauguration

Friday, March 22, 2013: Yesterday evening after a meeting at the Lal Bazar, the police headquarters of Kolkata, I went to Kala Mandir for the inauguration of a Hasya Kavi Sammelan hosted by the prominent Hindi daily Prabhat Khabar.
In the last few years, Prabhat Khabar has established itself quite well and the national articles carried in the newspaper doesn't make Kolkata readers feel the presence of a national Hindi daily. 
Although Dainik Jagran, the largest selling newspaper in India, also has a Kolkata edition, but as far as my knowledge goes, it isn't printed in Kolkata.
With Harsh Neotia, H M Bangur, Vishambar Newar
The Kavi Sammelan was a full hall and I, along with Harsh Neotia, H M Bangur, Sajjan Saraf, Wasim Kapoor, Vishambar Newar inaugurated the Kavi Sammelan. I think yesterdays Kavi Sammelan marks the onset of a Holi Sammelan galore in Kolkata which is an annual feature. In fact, I myself will be hosting Kavis at my residence on Monday.
This afternoon the seventh Author's Afternoon is scheduled at the Taj Bengal.
ess bee

Thursday, March 21, 2013

My Ranthambore diary

March 21, 2013: I arrived in city after an overnight trip from Delhi. It was very hectic. All meetings and meetings. My Ranthambore diary titled The Safari is almost complete and, as of now, just the final touch up work remains before it goes for printing.
I heard about the death of T37 tigress in Ranthambore and have plans to add details of her as well in the book.
Today, in the afternoon, I will go to the Lal Bazar - Kolkata Police headquarters - for a meeting on Pronam project with the present Commissioner of Police (Kolkata) Mr Surajit Kar Purkayastha, IPS. There are quite a few Pronam project issues pending that has to be addressed.
ess bee