Sundeep Bhutoria

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Thank you.
ess bee

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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Hindi hearts of New York

Outside New York University
April 30, New York: True to the weather forecast, it has been raining incessantly since morning. I am at the WFUNA office. I had a luncheon meeting with Ramu Damodaran who is the Deputy Director, Department of Public Information in UNO.
Speaking at the New York University
Monday and Tuesday there was dinner with UN and UNA officials. From today my official business work in New York is almost finished and I can have time for my self.
The experience at the New York University and the International Hindi Conference, American (Regional) 2014, was very good. 
I was surprised to hear Prof Gabriela Nik Ilieva of NYU speak in flawless Hindi. 
Receiving a certificate of appreciation from Prof Gabriela Nik Ilieva of New York University, also present Dnyaneshwar M Mulay, Indian Consul General
I remembered my visit to the Moscow State University of International Affairs in May 2010 where I was, similarly, surprised to hear the Russian students and their command over the Hindi language.
I also met Richard S Delacy who is from Australia and teaches Hindi at the Harvard University.
I was also quite impressed with the thoughts of few of the speakers at the Hindi Conference whose views and statistics, if correct, was an eye opener, especially of Dr Ved P Chaudhry who is the president of Educators Society for Heritage of India. I have requested him to send me the text of his speech.
It was good to meet many scholars of North American universities during conference.
ess bee

Sunday, April 27, 2014

In New York's Benares

Yesterday evening I went to Benares Midtown, another Indian restaurant in New York city. This resturant has nothing to do with the Benaras resturant of London as people very often wrongly presume.
WFUNA ExCo meeting, which had started at 9 am, concluded by late afternoon. We informally disscused about the views of another guest on Friday, Mr Ivan Simonovic, from UN who is and serving as the Assistant Secretary General for the office of High Commissioner for Human Rights in New York.
At the WFUNA ExCo meeting
He said that he had served as the president of his country's UNA in Croatia before joining the United Nations. 
In fact, he said, in a lighter mood, that he remembered those days when he used to write to WFUNA to consider their UNA membership and on other issues and topics.
With Ivan Simonovic, Assistant Secretary General, UCHR, New York
In the meeting, discussions on the issue of Ukraine, took much of the time. 
With Ivan Simonovic
Many countries had so many question for our Russian friend, Alex Borisov, who is also serving as the Vice Chairman of WFUNA.
Today, I am going to speak at a convention on popularising Hindi at the New York University in the afternoon. I am looking forward to it.
ess bee

Saturday, April 26, 2014

First day at WFUNA ExCo

With Amina J Mohammed and WFUNA ExCo members
April 26, New York: Yesterday was the first day of the two-day WFUNA Executive Committee (ExCo) meeting. The Financial Committee meeting went on well. Amina J Mohammed joined in to share her thoughts and interact with WFUNA ExCo members.
Amina J Mohammed is the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon's, Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning.
After the ExCo there was a formal dinner for WFUNA ExCo members and officials. I skipped the dinner and went to the Indian Consulate in New York to attend the formal reception of the delegates of world regional Hindi Conference.
With Dnyaneshwar M Mulay
I met Shri Dnyaneshwar M Mulay, Consul General of India in New York, and other Hindi scholars and speakers who had come from various Universities of North America.
Before dinner, there was a Hindi play written by Sharad Joshi.
ess bee

Friday, April 25, 2014

At the 208th WFUNA ExCo in New York

April 25, New York: From today noon the World Federation of United Nation Association's (WFUNA) 208th Executive Committee meeting will begin at the UNA-USA's office. I am in New York to primarily attend this meeting. The executive committee (ExCo) meeting will be preceded by a finance commitee meeting. This meeting is important for me since I am the current treasurer of WFUNA and also because I had missed out on the last meeting.
On Wednesday, I was in the UN building. I met a few people including Mr Harman Preet Singh, an IPS officer from Kolkata, who is at present working as the Integrated Operations Team for Africa Department of Peacekeeping Operations UNHQ, New York, and is responsible for Sudan, Syria and Africa. I had a long chat with him regarding the present situation over there and also about his last trip.
On Wednesday, I dropped in at the Indigo restaurant near UN office for lunch. The restaurant's lunch buffet had nothing great to offer for a vegetarian like myself and I was quite disappointed. So I decided to go to another restaurant called Utsav in the evening at the Times Square where food and the service was good.
On Thursday, I had a luncheon meeting with United Nation Association (UNA) colleagues at Tulsi - my all-time favourite Indian restaurant in New York city. Chef Hemant Mathur was there in action to delight us with his lasooni panner tikka.
Besides three other meetings, I also met Ambassador Asoke Kumar Mukerji, the present Permanent Representative of India to the UN, at the Indian Mission at 43rd Street. Mr Mukerji was full of warmth and we had a good meeting and discussed few issues pertaining to the activities and role of WFUNA. Mr Prakash Gupta, First Secretary of the Mission, was also there in the meeting.
I will leave for United Nations Foundations office where WFUNA ExCo will take place from noon.
ess bee

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

In a new hotel in New York

April 22, 2014: I landed in New York today afternoon. The weather seems colder than what I was expecting in the month of April. This time, the United States has had one of the severest winters in recent memory as widely reported in the media.
Perhaps for the first time during my US visit I am not staying in an around United Nations office area or, to be more specific, in the Millenium Hotel. This time I opted for 310-room hotel called, Staybridge Suites, which is on the 340 West 40th Street, between 8th and 9th Avenue, at the Times Square, and is managed by an intercontinental group of hotels.
I am not an apartment person who needs kitchen, dish washer, etc. The reason I opted for this studio apartment suite is because it belongs to the Mehta family who had shown me this property during my last visit to New York and also because it is located in Times Square, which, with its streets and avenues, gives a different feel of New York. 
With Vikram Sampath
Also, I love to going out on these streets and avenues.
In the evening, after settling in at the hotel, I went to Belanita - an Italian outlet - for a quick dinner.
Before leaving Kolkata on April 21st evening, in the afternoon, I attended another session of Author's Afternoon with Vikram Sampath.
With Harsh Neotia
On the way from Kolkata to Dubai, met Madhu and Harsh Neotia, who were also on the same flight to the US. 
With Madhu Neotia
In fact, when I had met them at Suvaprasanna's Arts Acre Foundation, they had mentioned that they would also be flying in the same flight.
ess bee

Monday, April 21, 2014

In the company of artistes

April 21, 2014: I came back to Kolkata from Jaipur yesterday and would be leaving for New York today.
With Hari Ram Meena
From Delhi, I went to Jaipur on April 18 evening and the next day was the Desert Soul event. This time the guest was Hari Ram Meena whose main contribution is in the area of tribal literature. Hari Ram Meena is a retired IPS. He was born in Sawai Madhopur district in Rajasthan and himself belongs to the meena tribal community. He joined Rajasthan Police service in 1979 and retired as IG in 2012.
He had a literary bent of mind from an early age and made his mark in the field. He was conferred Meera Award the Rajasthan Sahitya Academy's high honour in 2003. More awards followed, the prestigious Mahapandit Rahul Sankratyayan Award in 2009 the famous Bihari Award 2012 by K K Birla Foundation, New Delhi, for his well known novel Duni Tape Teer covering a very signi´Čücant historical indicent i.e., the Adivasi Jaliyanwala which took place at the Mangarh Hills of Banswara district of Rajasthan.
So far, Mr Meena has written eight books including two collections of poems, one long poem, two travelogues, one novel, one book on Tribal Discourse, and one edited book of compilation of tribal poems. He did lot of research work on tribal issues after travelling to various areas, including pockets of interior tribal areas. Now a days, he is residing in Jaipur.
With Shivani Sethia
It was an extremely well attended function.
In the evening went to Jawahar Kala Kendra to attend the kathak performance title “Ananya” presented by my friend Shivani Sethia who lives in London. For the past one-and-half months I had been trying to persuade her to perform in Jaipur. Shivani learnt kathak in Jaipur and then, after her marriage, shifted to London. I was impressed when I learnt that she was teaching kathak in London but had never performed in her own city - Jaipur. 
With Chiranjib Chakraborty
Her yesterday's performance was much appreciated by the guests and Chiranjib, the classical singer from London, also performed with her.
Shivani took to learning kathak at the tender age of seven in Jaipur under the tutelage of classical danseuse Geeta Raghuvir. Shivani first mastered the Jaipur gharana style of kathak and then moved on to master the Lucknow gharana under the guidance of Pali Chandra and later under Gauri Sharma in London. She runs a cultural organisation called Gurukul in London.
On Sunday, early morning, I drove down to my native place Sujangarh, which is about 200 kms from Jaipur, and returned the same evening to take a flight back to Kolkata at 6:55 pm.
ess bee

Thursday, April 17, 2014

At the Arts Acre Foundation

With Basant and Sarala Birla
April 17, 2014: I arrive in Delhi today afternoon to attend a private function in the evening.Yesterday in Kolkata, I went to Arts Acre Foundation for the inauguration of Sarala-Basant Birla Auditorium. His Excellency Shri M K Narayanan, Governor of West Bengal, formally inaugurated the Auditorium in the presence to Sarala and Basant Birla. I met Sarala and Basant Birla almost after six months, at this age, the couple is still as gracious as ever.
Arts Acre Foundation is a dream project of my artist friend Suvaprasanna and inspite of my best intentions and continuous follow-ups from Suva da, I could not make it to visit the Arts Acre Foundation earlier. I was totally amazed to see the Foundation. Late Pandit Ravi Shankar had laid the foundation stone of the initial Arts Acre 1 project way back in 1984. This one is the Arts Acre 2 which is much bigger and grander in scale.
With Manoj Mitra and Subodh Sarkar
In fact, I postponed my Delhi trip by a day for this event and it was worth it. Harsh Neotia, who is one of the Trustees of the Foundation, told me that Suvaprasanna had put in about Rs 17 crores from his personal fund for this Foundation. Hats off to Suva da, I have not seen such an instance of an artist giving this kind of money for the cause of art and culture.
There were a large number of diplomats and cultural personalities from all walks of life present during the inauguration. In fact, the Governor, also spoke in a very light mood.
I am sure Arts Acre Foundation will be a great leap as far as Bengali modern art is concerned and will soon develop as the new art and cultural hub in the city. 
ess bee

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Poila Baisakh for a cause

At the `Donate Clothes for a Cause' event at Hyatt Kolkata
April 15, 2014: Mid April is a very auspicious time of the year according to the Hindu calendar in India. It is the new year with the Poila Baishakh celebrations in Bengal and Vishu in Kerala, Bihu festival time for the Assamese, Puthandu for the Tamils, Baisakhi or springtime harvest festival in Punjab, Hanuman Jayanti and also on April 13 was Mahavir Jayanti for the Jain community.
Being in Kolkata, I personally observed the Bengali New Year (1421) day Poila Baisakh today. To celebrate the occasion, Prabha Khaitan Foundation joined hands with Hotel Hyatt Regency for a project “Donate Clothes for a Cause” to collect and distribute old clothes to the needy. Hyatt Regency Kolkata has been kind enough to make arrangements for collecting as well as dry cleaning and mending the old clothes.
With Roopa Ganguly and Hyatt Kolkata, GM, Britta Leicke Milde
The target of collecting 4000 clothes was met much earlier and till yesterday 7000 clothes were collected. It was a wonderful initiative and Hyatt collected the clothes from April 1 till 10, 2014. Prabha Khaitan Foundation, as an NGO partner, will distribute the clothes to the needy through their various associate NGOs.
With Britta Leicke Milde
In a formal function yesterday, representative of Chhaya - an NGO of actress Roopa Ganguly – were given clothes, boxes and bags to start the distribution process. I must thank Hyatt Regency and their initiative Hyatt Thrive for the initiative.
Today I am hosting a small dinner party at home. Tomorrow I have to attend two events and maybe a dinner again at home and on April 17, 2014, I shall leave for Delhi.
ess bee

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Wind in the sails of Pronam project

At the Pronam meeting in Bell Vue Nursing Home
April 13, 2014: Last two evenings on Friday and and Saturday (April 11 and 12) I was occupied with matters related to The Bengal. On Friday I had a meeting with the CEOs and heads of prominent hospitals along with Mr Surajit Kar Purkayastha, Commissioner of Police, Kolkata, and other senior police officials, at the BelleVue Nursing Home to discuss the Pronam Project.
Meeting with the Commissioner of Police
It was a very important meeting in which heads or senior representatives of twenty private hospitals of the city came forward to pledge their support for Pronam members – who are all senior citizens. Already fifteen hospitals are on board with Pronam but given the growing membership base of Pronam – 10,000 plus registered elderly members – there's a compelling need to rope in more hospitals to be involved in the project to expand medical care.
The meeting was important because some decisive strides were taken as the hospitals not only pledged their support but decided to work out the contours of a medical agenda or action plan to streamline treatment, medical care and awareness for the Pronam members.
With Goutam Ghose
There has been numerous inquiries from the elderly citizens of Kolkata and other cities seeking to become Pronam members. Efforts are on to expand the reach of Pronam in terms of infrastructure, manpower, resources and funding in order to cater to more elderly citizens who are often lonely and in need of social support, security and medical care. Two more offices would be equipped with adequate infrastructure to handle Pronam's expansion plans.
The project Pronam, which had Jyoti Basu and Suchitra Sen as its members, is one of the most successful and an exemplary joint ventures of The Bengal and the Kolkata Police. The new efforts, I am sure, will put wind in the sails of the Pronam project.
On Saturday evening there was a meeting of The Bengal team members at The Taj Bengal to conduct some serious planning and action. 
The Commissioner of Police, Surajit Kar Purkayastha (IPS), Additional Commissioner of Police (III), Debasish Roy (IPS), Deputy Commissioner of Police, South Division, Murli Dhar, were also invited as special invitees to the meeting to discuss the Pronam project.
At The Bengal meeting at Taj Bengal
The meeting was chaired by the Chairman of The Bengal, industrialist, H M Bangur, who discussed the two new sub-offices of the Pronam project. Goutam Ghose emphasized that the organization should take up a project of banning plastic bags in the city while Roopa Ganguly offered to personally visit the Pronam members in her area.
The meeting decided that a three-member committee of Roopa Ganguly, Usha Uthup and Anniruddha Roy Chowdhury, shall prepare a project plan on campaign against the use of plastic bags in the city for consideration of the Committee. Working President, Jogen Chowdhury, would drawing a sketch for the cover page of the upcoming magazine of Pronam.
With The Bengal team members Bickram, Gargi, Jogen da, Roopa and Harimohan Bangur
Anandi Ghosh, Joint Convenor of the Pronam project, briefed the committee about the meeting with the CEOs of prominent hospitals.
The President, Nabaneeta Dev Sen, discussed womens' issues in the meeting and Bickram Ghosh offered an entertainment programme for the South and South East division members of the senior citizens project.
Before the meeting, the members and guests enjoyed jhaal muri, puchka, fish cutlets with cutting chai and, of course, there was a chaanch to beat the summer heat.
ess bee

Friday, April 11, 2014

At the Debasree Roy Foundation award function

With Debasree Roy and Aditya Mukherjee
April 11, 2014: Yesterday evening I had dinner at the West View, ITC Sonar, with few friends of mine. Before dinner, I went to the Birla Academy of Fine Arts in Southern Avenue to a function organized by Debasree Roy Foundation which is fully committed and devoted to animal welfare.
Prabha Khaitan Foundation had also initiated a project called Karunawith Debasree Foundation a couple of years back. Since last year, Debasree Roy Foundation started giving an award to a particular animal lover for his or her contribution in the field of animal welfare. 
With Debasree Roy
The award is named after Tutal Roy Sinha who was an ardent animal lover from Shantiniketan. The award for the last year was given to Smt Bani Sinha from Suri. She used to teach at Viswabharati University and has been spending half of her pension on animal welfare.
This year Biswajit Sarkar, a van-rickshaw puller by profession, was given the award. He takes care of around 25 street dogs in his locality and Debasree Roy Foundation supports him for this noble cause. It was nice of Debasree, who is devoted to animal welfare, to have initiated such a project that looks at animals with compassion and care.
ess bee

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Delicious perfumes at the Souk

With Nicolas
April 8, 2014: Yesterday evening I went to The Taj Bengal for a sit down dinner at the Souk
It was a dinner with unusual food pairings of various food fragrances. It was the first time I had such a dinner and an exotic experience where the fine dining menu was inspired by various delicious food fragrances and flavourants. 
This was also my initiation into the enchanted world of delicious perfumes which come from various edible sources like caramels, vegetables, herbs, leaves, woods, fruits, nuts, wine, breads, edible oils and many other intriguing raw materials from the animal and mineral world. 
It is a world within the world of fine dining, an elevated art form that never ceases to mesmerize.
The concept was brought by Master Perfumer, Nicolas De Barry, Chevalier des Arts et Lettres, Paris. He has blended the food with various frangrances like bergamot, sandal, and jasmine, while pairing them with a four-course menu featuring a host of aromatic delicacies and subtle wines to set up a culinary experience that I had never had before. 
At the Souk
A former diplomat, Nicolas earned a reputation in the past ten years creating personal fragrances for the royal families and celebrities throughout Europe, Asia, United States and the Middle East.
In the afternoon, Mita Kapur gave a live demo of two salads (spinach salad and Persian melon salad) and murg irani which impressed the guests at Jhaal Farezi where Mita’s cooking skills were displayed at the Recipe Rendezvous series of events which I am organising.
Today evening I have back to back appointments and the nikah of my colleague’s daughter to attend.
ess bee