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

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Author's Afternoon with Namita

With Cesare Belliere and Namita Gokhale
March 27, 2014: Yesterday afternoon there was another event of our popular Author's Afternoon series at The Taj Bengal. This time the guest author was Namita Gokhale who is also a very good friend of mine and happens to be the co-director of Jaipur Literature Festival along with many other literature festivals and literary bodies.
Signed copies of her new book Travelling In, Travelling Out were distributed to the guests. This book of unexpected journeys is a collection of twenty five stories or rather internal journeys into the mind or in external ones across lands.
With Ipsita Roy Chakraverti
Wiccan high priestess, Ipsita Roy Chakraverti, who herself is an author and an authority on the occult themes, was in conversation with Namita. I had met Ipsita once before for a short time. I am thankful to her for accepting my request to do the honours of engaging Namita in a interesting conversation. She too had contributed in the book Travelling In, Travelling Out which was edited by Namita.
Ipsita Roy Chakraverti runs an organization called The Young Bengal Brigade (YBB) which delves into varied subjects including mythology, history, psychology, psychic, esoteric and the occult, and most of all – the human mind. Ipsita is the chairperson of YBB.
I am also very surprised by the fact that Ipsita and my mother, Late Prabha Khaitan, both of them had a similar kind of incident in life mentioned in their respective biographies, Beloved Witch and A Life Apart, that took place in the United States years ago. While Ipsita mentions how she met singing sensation Elvis Presely in her biography, my mother does the same in her's where she tells us about her encounter with another Hollywood legend, Greta Garbo, when she refused a tip from the legendary actress to the utter surprise and dismay of many. Author's Afternoon is organized by Prabha Khaitan Foundation.
With Prof Malavika Sarkar
At the Author's Afternoon session, Ipsita read out a part of her experience at the Bangarh Fort (built around 1613) in Rajasthan’s Alwar district. According to the local legends and myths, one of Balu Nath and the other of Princess Ratnavati and a tantrik, the Fort is said to be haunted and cursed. Legends say that there are ghosts in Bangarh and that is why entry is prohibited for tourists in the Fort after sunset and before sunrise.
The guests were quite impressed by Ipsita's story. So was I, especially by the way she narrated it. This session of Author's Afternoon was very different from earlier ones in the sense that it had a sort of an eerie aura around it.
With Maiko Morita
Even today afternoon during lunch at home we were still talking about her experience and the Author’s Afternoon session. I had hosted the lunch for Namita and had also invited Ipsita along with Prof Malavika Sarkar, Vice Chancellor of Presidency University, K Mohanchandran, General Manager, Taj Bengal, Ina Puri, Mr Cesare Bieller, Consul General of Italy, Rachel Sunden, Deputy Director, American Centre, Maiko Morita, Vice Consul of Japanese Consulate, Siddharth Pansari, Roopa Ganguly and Ms Bulbul Sharma, who was also in Kolkata and had written a piece in Travelling In, Travelling Out, joined us along with few other guests.
It was a leisure lunch that stretched till almost 4 pm.
ess bee

Monday, March 24, 2014

NGOs and events in Delhi and Kolkata

March 24, 2014: On Thursday I took a flight to Delhi and returned on Saturday noon. I had a number of meetings on Thursday and Friday with different NGOs for various upcoming events lined up. Delhi evenings are still pleasant and you can sit in the verandah of the India International Centre (IIC) comfortably.
On Saturday I missed out on the Royal Calcutta Turf Club (RCTC) invite to a luncheon at the Reserve Stand, Calcutta Race Course.
With Maxmilian Metzer and Ranier Schmiedchen
In the evening I went to the Hyatt Regency Hotel for the opening party of “Excellence on Tour: A road show to illustrate Indo-German cooperation in research and innovation - on the invitation from Rainer Schmiedchen, Consul General, Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany, Kolkata, before having a private dinner at the Hyatt’s Gucci restaurant. Gucci’s Indian food has really improved but somehow Hyatt is more popular for its Italian food as well as The Coffee Shop.
Often it is the case, when one particular restaurant is very popular, the other restaurants do not get the attention they merit, even if the food and service is as good. Similarly, in Delhi Hyatt I like the food in Aanganan Indian restaurant - although their Italian and Chinese outlets are more famous.
At the German party I met Maxmilian Metzger, Deputy Director General, International Cooperation in Education and Research and had a pleasant chat with him.
Yesterday evening I also missed Ina Puri’s invitation to Ahiritola Sutanuti Heritage Trust inaugural programme of heritage talks, music & art at the Jorasanko Thakurbari. Though Ina is a personal friend of mine and I wanted to be there, I could not make it due to my packed itinerary.
I have a very busy current week with events lined up back to back for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
ess bee

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Holi after 15 years

March 19, 2014: Monday was Holi day. In fact Holi, in most parts of India is celebrated over two days. On day one is the Holika Dahan or also locally known as Jalanewali Holi (bonfire holi). The second day is the Rangwali Holi or Dhulandi Holi when people play with colours.
With Gautam Mohan Chakrabarty and Debleena at Arindam Sil's party
On the Dhulandi day I went to Hyatt to attend a Holi party. I heard from people who went there last year that there were no colours used and only gulal and abeer for those who wanted to play Holi.
With Aditya Makharia
However, this year when I entered at around
quarter past noon, the Holi celebrations were in full swing, including colours, water etc., and so I actually played Holi in Kolkata almost after 15 years. 

I must compliment the Hyatt management for organizing such a function with excellent food.
With Deepti Naval
In the evening I went to the Science City for the Hindustan Club’s kavi sammelan. After the event, I dropped in at the Tangerine Banquets for Arindam Sil’s party where he announced his second film Ebar Shabor.
Yesterday evening I was at The Harrington Street Arts Centre for the preview of Juxtapose - a confluence of art and interior design - followed by drinks and hors d’oeuvres
With Deepti Naval, Ajay Arya and Shweta Arya
Although the event was supposed to start at 7 pm, I had told Mr Ajay Arya, who is an interior designer and had invited me, that I would be there at 6.45 pm for half an hour as I had an appointment at 7 pm. Shweta Arya was  also there.
I also met Deepti Naval who had a book reading session before the inaugural function. She mentioned that she will soon be back in Kolkata with her photography-cum-painting exhibition.
The book, her third, is on Tibet titled “The Mad Tibetan”. Tomorrow I shall leave for Delhi.
ess bee

Monday, March 17, 2014

Events everywhere

March 17, 2014: Saturday and Sunday (March 15 and 16) turned out to super hectic. On March 15 I had about 17 invitations to attend – an impossible task.
The list of invitations were:
· Annual Basant Utsav programme of Dona Ganguly’s school called Disha Manjari
· Hasya Kavi Sammelan by Sanskriti Sagar at Birla Sabhaghar
· Farewell of the Consul General of Japan Mr Mitsuo Kawaguchi and Mrs Masako Kawaguchi over a cocktails and dinner at the Crystal Room, Taj Bengal
· The inauguration of “Aaleya” – an exhibition of designer candles by Bonnya Bose
· Literary event at The Taj Bengal with author and Wiccan high priestess Ipsita Roy Chakraverti, legendary national award winning actress, Sarika, and film maker Anjan Dutta
· British Council organised the launch of A God in Every Stone by Kamila Shamsie who was in conversation with Ruchir Joshi
· Rangleela, a Holi program organized by Madhuwan. An evening of music and dance composed by Bickram Ghosh. Dancing the ghoomar and dandiya while the children enjoyed a Phoolo ki Holi. Sumptuous food from the Malwa and Pali regions with losts of chaat and thandai.
· And then there was a book event of Dayanita Singh and her mother Nony Singh at Max Mueller Bhavan.
I thank God that two of the events scheduled for 15th first, Arindam Sil’s press announcement of his 2nd film Ebar Shabor over a small get together over cocktails & dinner at the Tangerine Banquet at Silver Springs and second one at the Corner Courtyard were shifted.
Apart from these, there was Birju Maharaj's performance at Radhashyam Goenka’s residence; three Holi dinners and four Holi get-togethers organized by Rajasthani organizations. An invitation from Fatehpur Shekhawati Pragati Sangh to celebrate Holi at Bika Banquets, 76/1, Golaghat Main Road (between Ultadanga and Laketown).
Not just me, it was impossible for anyone to to attend so many events. So I just decided to go to Dona and Saurav Ganguly’s house to watch Disha Manjari’s Basant Utsav and I really enjoyed it. And then I went to the Birla Sabhaghar for kavi sammelan and I took a break and went to Taj Bengal where I said hello to the Wiccan high priestess and black magic woman Ipsita Roy.
After the kavi sammelan I went to the newly-opened Smoke House at the Quest Mall with few friends and did not go to that part of the Quest Mall as I thought that if I was not going to any of the other parties, I should be fair and not go to this one.
I really wanted to attend two of the events which I missed. One was Birju Maharaj’s performance and the second one was the farewell of the Consul-General of Japan Mr Mitsuo Kawaguchi and Mrs Masako Kawaguchi.
I was much relieved when Mr Agarwal told me that Birju Maharaj would perform again next month. As for the Consul General of Japan, a good friend of mine, I shall speak to him over phone try meet him before he leaves the city for Japan.
At the Agarwal residence
Sunday (March 16), in the morning I went to P R Agarwal’s house for a Holi get-together over breakfast. Over the last few years I have noticed the gathering at Mr Agarwal’s get-togethers followed by Phoolon Ki Holi is increasing, and at the recent one, the Agarwal family made sure that nobody used colour and they just play Holi with the flowers.
From Mr Agarwal’s residence I went to Hastings Park for the birthday celebrations of Meenu Juneja. It was nice of her husband, Ramesh Juneja, to organize such a gala noon to celebrate is wife’s 50th birthday. 
With Meenu Juneja
There were especially designed T-shirts, colours, separate seating arrangements for those who don’t want to play with colours, full bar and variety of cuisine and tastefully decorated Holi theme.
After wishing Meenu many happy returns of the day, I left early. I still had a busy evening ahead. In the evening I went the Kavi Sammelan at G D Birla Sabhaghar again but this time it was a South Calcutta Shri Jain Swetamber Terapanthi SabhaHashya Kavi Sammelan” and before returning home went to Dilip Jaiswal’s Holi get-together at his residence in Dover Lane.
Today afternoon I will go to the Hyatt Regency as a special Holi party has been organized there.
ess bee

Sunday, March 16, 2014

In the thick of events in city

With Urvashi Butalia
March 15, 2014: This weekend seems to be one of the busiest in Kolkata’s social calendar that I can recall. Today afternoon, I hosted a lunch for few of my friends who are in town for different reasons. Padmashree Urvashi Butalia, who was in Kolkata for a lecture, Dayanita Singh and her mother, Nony Singh, who were in Kolkata for a book release in Maxmueller Bhavan and Sailesh Lodha for participating in kavi sammelans.
Urvashi is a well known feminist publisher who runs a publishing house Zubaan
With Dayanita Singh
Dayanita Singh is a bookmaker and her mass-produced artist's books are at the heart of an artistic practice using photography as a medium for storytelling. She has published ten books on different themes and concepts. She was also my co-speaker at one of the sessions in the recently concluded Patna Literature Festival 2014.
With Sailesh Lodha
Sailesh Lodha, an old friend of mine, is currently one of the top most television anchors for kavi sammelans in India. He played a role as Tarak Mehta in Sab TV Channel which saw him scale new heights of popularity. Along with these three friends, I also invited a few other friends like Bickram Ghosh, Nandita Pal Choudhuri, Agnimitra Paul, Nabaneeta Dev Sen and so on.
I think this lunch mark the advent of the upcoming busy weekend with its flurry of events and the extended holiday on Monday for Holi. In fact, the morning lunch wasn't the only commitment of the day.
In the evening I went to The Oberoi Grand for the celebrations of St Patrick’s Day hosted by Mahendra Kumar Jalan, the Honorary Consul of Ireland. After spending about half an hour there, I went to the Bengal Club to attend the dinner hosted by Sumita and Rupak Barua.
After half an hour I went to the dining room of the Bengal Club to attend a dinner with a doctor friend of mine who recently got the membership of the Bengal Club. After having soup with them I excused myself and took their leave and went to a private residence in Ballygunge as a part of my prior commitment for dinner and left around quarter past midnight.
From there I went to The Park Hotel to drop in at Tantra for the launch of a vodka brand. Although the event was over, I had committed to The Park and to Ratul Sood. Ratul’s wife, Komal’s designs were showcased in the fashion show.
Tantra is a place not of my taste and I normally do not like visiting it. I went there after many years and may have to go there again on March 27 for Raima Sen’s party.
ess bee

Monday, March 10, 2014

Eventful Saturdays

With Swarup Mitra, Madan Mitra and Swati Mitra at the reception
March 10, 2014: The Saturday before last I attended the Gulab Bari event and on last Saturday (March 8) I was at Madhulika and Hemant Kanoria's Alipore residence for a similar kind of evening.
Ustad Rashid Khan sang a number of songs on Holi. It was the first time I heard Rashid bhai singing so many songs on Holi. Rashid has many fans of his voice in Kolkata, I myself being one among them. I had no idea of his repertoire of such excellent Holi songs and enjoyed it immensely.
With Dwijen Mukhopadhyay
On Sunday just dropped by at Mr Madan Mitra's son's wedding reception to congratulate the family. I went there early and met the minister who introduced me to the newly wedded couple. I also met Dwijen Mukhopadhyay.
Every evening in the coming weeks I have several events lined up for Holi, kavi sammelans, dhap & chang utsavs, milan samaroh etc. I have also committed to attend few functions including couple of kavi sammelans which I love to attend.
But next weekend (Saturday, March 15) would be some day in the city’s calendar. I have 14 invites for Saturday, mostly Holi functions, and am wondering how to make the most of it.
ess bee

Friday, March 7, 2014

At the glam-packed Bioscope Quiz show at RCGC

With Dr Mohua Chatterjee and Neelanjanaa
March 7, 2013: Yesterday, before having dinner at Jhaal Farezi, I went to the Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC) to attend the Bioscope Quiz organized by Camelia-Ananda Plus. It was a full house with the whole of Tollywood in toe. Many of the actors, actresses, film directors and sports persons participated in the film quiz which was very different from the conventional quiz shows we get to see around.
The show was attended by the who's who of Kolkata cine stars, film directors, singers, socialites, industrialists, politicians, journalists, sportspersons and others. While many of the celebs participated in the glam-packed quiz show, others were there to cheer up their favourite teams. I was sharing the table with Jishu and his charming wife Neelanjanaa and Shaswata and his wife.In fact, one of the nine teams was that of Shaswata and Jishu.
The Quiz on films was anchored by Srijit as the Quiz Master and nine celeb-teams participating in what turned out to be an evening of fun, leg pulling and laughter. 
With Gargi
I left around 9:30 PM when the team of Raima and Kaushik Gangopadhyay, much to the surprise of many, was leading 50 points. Later, I came to know that they had won the quiz and were felicitated by Mr Aveek Sarkar.
The Quiz Show was followed by a round table dinner party in which all the participants and other guests met. The whole of Tollywood turned out in strength. This annual Quiz was held for the fourth time this year and I have never missed any of the show. Srijit did a fantastic job as the quiz master.
ess bee