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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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

In Nandan for “Shuva and Me”

With Goutam Ghose and Arindam Sil
August 27, 2014: Last weekend turned out to be a somewhat chaotic as we had to call off our Pronam Annual Function of South and South East Divisions at the last minute due to the Election Commission guidelines coming into effect.
With Suvaprasanna
Although we had applied for the permission which was granted by the Election Commission subject to “Felicitation and announcement of schemes/projects/awards were not to be made”. Since Pronam function involves felicitation of police officials who performed their best for Pronam hence we had to cancel the event.
Every event cancellation has its own affects and the process of undoing an event is no less tedious than the amount of effort that goes into its preparations.
I went to Nandan to see a documentary film Shuva and Me – A journey with Shuvaprasanna directed by Shri Goutam Ghose. I was really impressed with the photography and direction of Goutam Ghose especially in the last scene of Shuvaprasanna’s sketch in the midst of trees.
Monday I was in office and on Tuesday I finished about nine long over due meetings with various individuals and institutional representatives. On Friday, August 29, 2014, I shall again leave for overseas trip.
ess bee

Friday, August 22, 2014

First Rani Laxmi Kumari Chundawat Memorial Lecture

Entering the venue with Urvashi Butalia
22 August, Kolkata: I landed in Kolkata today evening from Jaipur. I had reached Jaipur on 19 August for the first Rani Laxmi Kumari Chundawat Memorial Lecture which was held on August 20 afternoon.
After the funeral of Rani Laxmi Kumari Chundawat, I had announced that I will initiate something in her memory and later I announced this lecture series for three years
Thanks to FICCI Ladies Organization (FLO) Jaipur for associating with Prabha Khaitan Foundation on this.
With Balbhadra Singh
The first of this series of Rani Laxmi Kumari Chundawat Annual Lectures was flagged off with feminist writer and publisher Padma Shri Urvashi Butalia speaking on the topic “The Words to Say It - Women Writings in India”.
She shared her experiences and struggle as a woman to set up a publishing house. Though the publishing world is the male's preserve, she felt that much had changed and it was encouraging to see women writers, inspired by the likes of Late Rani Laxmi Kumari Chundawat and others, had, after lots of struggle, come forward to write on various topics. But she also expressed concern that the women who were writing were predominantly from the privileged sections of the society.
Urvashi also talked about decline in reading habits, her Rajasthan connection, the curse of Partition and so on.
With Rajyashree Kumari
Before the lecture I also attended the lunch hosted by art lover Vinnie Kakkar. She hosted the lunch for Urvashi Butalia. Lunch and event both were at ITC Rajputana so was very convenient.
In fact, late at night, I also dropped in for the dinner at the Rajputana banquets only hosted by Saroj Khemka. Yesterday I had various meetings for the future events that I am planning and also to make the Rajasthan Forum back office strong. I also had a meeting with the editorial board of a newspaper for possible future tie-ups for few activities.
I could not manage to go to the kabaddi matches of Jaipur team. Tomorrow there is a Pronam annual programme of South and South West division at the Vidya Mandir.
ess bee

Monday, August 18, 2014

Buno Haansh brunch

With Dev, Mahendra Soni and Toni
18 August, 2014: It was a long weekend. I hosted a brunch on Independence Day to celebrate the release of Buno Haansh and attended Tea at the Raj Bhavan.
With Sreelekha Mitra
I took off for the weekend as there was so much personal work due at home.
On the evening of August 14, I also attended the premier show of Buno Haansh which was a Tollywood star-studded event.
In fact, I could not see the movie as I was busy with Tony receiving the guests and seeing to other events. 
With Toni and Shantanu Moitra
I plan to see the movie only next weekend as I shall once again, from Tuesday till Friday, be out of Kolkata.
ess bee

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Meetings with Sushma ji and Tripathi ji

14 August, 2014: I arrived Kolkata from Delhi last night. I had planned to take the afternoon flight to Jaipur yesterday to attend an event at the Hotel Mariott in which Prabha Khaitan Foundation was associated, stay the night over, and take the morning Jaipur-Kolkata flight today.
But things did not turn out to be that way as I got delayed at the Parliament and since I had an appointment at the Raj Bhawan in Kolkata today noon with the new Governor, I decided to cancel my Delhi-Jaipur flight and instead took the evening flight to Kolkata.
Today afternoon I went to the Raj Bhawan and had a good meeting with the Hon'ble Governor of West Bengal, Shri Keshari Nath Tripathi, who is a very soft spoken poet and was not new to my mother’s work in Hindi literature. He also kindly agreed to attend a couple of the functions proposed by me in September apart from a meal at my residence.
With External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj
Yesterday, in Delhi, I went to the Parliament to meet Sushma Swaraj, the Hon’ble Minister for External Affairs. On being informed that I was already in her office, it was very nice of her to come from the lower House and spent about an hour with me and then she had to leave for the voting of the Deputy Speaker which had started.
I discussed with her various international issues including WFUNA, upcoming meetings in Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) in Cameroon and other international affairs. She asked me to meet her again in September.
Today evening I will go to the South City Mall for the premier of Buno Haansh my friend Tony’s new film.
ess bee

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

In Delhi, ideating new events

12 August, 2014, Delhi: On Sunday afternoon I landed in Delhi from Jaipur and went to the India International Centre (IIC) for a luncheon meeting with a former minister & Member of Parliament.
From there, I went to hotel ITC Sheraton at Saket to attend the launch of Dr Kalyan Ray's book No Country that was held there. I met Sharmila Tagore who informed me about her schedule and couple of visits for Kolkata in September.
Yesterday (Monday) I had quite a few meetings during the day and then in the evening had a dinner meeting with Ashok Vajpayee ji and Om Thanvi ji. We discussed the possibilities of a few new initiatives which we may start in Rajasthan or Kolkata. One of these would be on the lines of the Authors' Afternoon series but in Hindi and in collaboration with Jansatta - the Hindi daily newspaper of Indian Express Group and Vatsal Nidhi a very renowned Trust - formed by Agyeya in Kolkata in 1982 when he received the Jnanpith Award. At present Dr Karan Singh is serving as the President of Vatsal Nidhi.
Tomorrow I have a meeting in Parliament and if concludes on time, I will take the afternoon flight to Jaipur.
ess bee

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Rain-sloshed Jaipur

10 August, 2014: Last two days I was in Jaipur immersed in work. I took the morning flight to Jaipur from Kolkata on 8 August and attended a meeting with FICCI Flo regarding an event slated for 20 August which Prabha Khaitan Foundation is presenting in memory of Lakshmi Kumari Chundawat. Post lunch, I had two more meetings regarding Saturday events.
Because of my pre-scheduled meetings I could not attend the oath taking ceremony of Shri Ram Naik, Governor of UP, who assumed additional charge as the Governor of Rajasthan. 
Rajasthan Forum meeting
It was raining cats and dogs in Jaipur and by the time I got up on Saturday I was sure that we'd have to cancel the scheduled Rajasthan Forum meeting. 
But to my utter surprise, all the members who had confirmed came to attend the meeting. 
Felicitating Commonwealth Gold Medalist, Apurvi Chandela
After the meeting there was a felicitation lunch for Apurvi Chandela who won a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games 2014 in Glasgow.
After the lunch got over, around 4pm, the launch of Dr Kalyan Ray's book No Country took place at the ITC Rajputana
With Kalyan Ray and Aparna Sen
In the evening I went to another private dinner which was hosted for Aparna Sen and Dr Kalyan Ray.
On Friday night, I myself also hosted a dinner for Dr Kalyan Ray and Aparna Sen which was very well attended.
After a couple of hours, I shall fly to Delhi. As of now the whole of Jaipur seems to be flooded, but thank God this Air India flight was on time.
ess bee

Friday, August 8, 2014

Wow Taj Bengal !

8 August, 2014, Jaipur: I landed in Jaipur in the morning and checked in at the ITC Rajputana. Today and tomorrow, in all, I shall be involved in five events or get-togethers in my various capacity. 
At the Ladies Study Group event
Also, there is an oath taking ceremony at 4 pm today at the Rajasthan Raj Bhawan for Shri Ram Naik, the Governor of Uttar Pradesh, who will take additional charge as the Governor of Rajasthan as well. 
I spent lot of time in hotels around the world and day before yesterday, during the rapid question and answer round at the Ladies' Study Group event at the ITC Sonar, Kolkata, Ratan Tata was asked - Which is your favourite hotel?
He kept quiet for a moment and then said, “It is unfair for me to answer this question as The Taj has never allowed me to stay in any other group property. However, as far as the different hotels of the Taj Group were concerned, I say The Taj Bengal is my favourite.”
The audience (pic) broke into rapturous applause at Mr Tata's compliment to a hotel based in our city.
I myself have been a regular at The Taj Bengal since its inception. Being a member of The Chambers, I do use it frequently, but my personal use of Taj Group of hotels was much higher in other cities than Kolkata. In fact, for years, Taj was my home in Jaipur.
Since the last three or four years almost 99 per cent of my events, functions and parties etc., in Kolkata have all been held in Taj Bengal. Earlier, there was a time when, for a number of years, ITC Sonar was home to my events and parties. That is from my smallest one-table dinner to the biggest parties and events took place there. I remember one event of mine some five years ago had a footfall of nearly 6000 and was held at the hotel's the then Sunderbans banquet. At that time Ranveer Bhandari was the general manager.
During the past three or four years, there have been instances when I had events in Taj Bengal and few of the guests happened to reach ITC Sonar thinking that since I was the host it had to be the ITC Hotel. Roopa Ganguly was one of them who once, based on such presumption, landed up at the ITC Sonar for a The Bengal event which was actually being held at The Taj.
Now the situation has reversed. I haven't hosted any function or party at the ITC Sonar, except one for Amit Choudhuri and another Agra Chaat event, in the last four years.
I think Mr Ratan Tata’s compliment is well deserved by Taj Bengal. I myself vouch for the food and the high quality of personalised services, something which has consistently moved up the curve in this property. On the other hand, now in Jaipur, ITC Rajputana has been my home for the last three years.
For the last four months I have been observing that the quality of service at the ITC Sonar in Kolkata has improved a lot and so has the quality of food. I am glad that this is creating a healthy competition in the city. 
In fact, it will be interesting to watch the Taj Group as a veteran like Rajesh Sarna has become the chief executive officer (CEO) of Taj Hotels especially at a time when The Taj is incurring a oss in their international properties, USA in particular.
I did meet Mr Sarna at a social get-together and I have deep respect for his talents, his minor observations and eye for the details as far as hotels are concerned, something which the Hyatt has evidently gained from. 
ess bee

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Meeting with the Japanese Consul

Aug 7, 2014: I worked past midnight and got up rather late today an straight headed for the lunch at the Taj Bengal. I had invited the new Consul General of Japan, Kazumi Endo, and his wife over lunch. 
After he joined in as the Consul General in Kolkata, I had missed out on a couple of invitations and hadn't met him formally till today. It was nice meeting him and his wife. 
In fact, it was news to me that he was in Kolkata 30 years ago in the Consulate. He shared quite a few memories with me including his visit to Sky Room and Amber restaurant. 
He told me that after coming to Kolkata it was the first time he was visiting any restaurant and having a meal. The only other place he had been to was Kwality at Park Street, where he was a regular 30 years ago. He told me there was no way he could go to Amber again because of acute car parking problem and I told him that now there is a home delivery outlet of Amber near Park Street as well. 
He also shared his memories with me about his visit to the Pink City to where I am flying tomorrow morning. 
Today evening I shall attend the Somerfest” concert at the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany hosted by Rainer Schmiedchen, Consul General and Dr Annette Schmiedchen. 
ess bee

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

At the LSG session with Ratan Tata

6 August, 2014: Today evening I attended an interactive session with India's leading entrepreneur and Chairman emeritus of Tata Group, Ratan Tata, which was organized by the Ladies' Study Group (LSG) of Kolkata at the ITC Sonar. The session was preceded by tea around 5:15 pm and the actual session started at 6 pm.
It was a very illuminating experience to hear from one of India's iconic businessman about his views and experiences. No one could have missed Ratan Tata's views about West Bengal when he said that he saw some real estate or commercial buildings in Rajarhat while on his way from the airport, but no industries or projects.
Mr Tata was in Kolkata after two years to address a forum. Mr Tata praised the work of Narendra Modi responding to various queries.
I thank the Ladies Study Group for inviting me and especially, Mallika Verma, the ex President who ensured a good seat for me.
After saying hello to Mr Tata I went to hotel Hyatt Regency where there was another book related event on motivating others, followed by dinner. Thank god my car was at rear gate of ITC Sonar and that saved me from the traffic jam that ensued after all 500 guests took off to leave the hotel at the same time.
Late at night, I concluded a private meeting at Alipore and returned home just a while back.
ess bee

Monday, August 4, 2014

At the Authors' Afternoon with Prof Sugata Bose

With Soumitra Chatterjee, Dr Sugata Bose and poet Subodh Sarkar
August 4, 2014: This weekend wasn't that busy since I did not accept any invites for Sunday. On Saturday (August 2) was another edition of Author’s Afternoon with historian Prof. Dr Sugata Bose in conversation with Suman Ghosh. 
Prof Dr Sugata Bose signing his book
Prof. Dr Bose is also a Member of Parliament and represents Trinamool Congress from Jadavpur constituency. He is the Gardiner Professor of History at Harvard University and has served as Director of Graduate Studies in History at Harvard and as the Founding Director of Harvard’s South Asia Institute. He passed out from Presidency College, Calcutta, and got his doctorate from the University of Cambridge. 
This was perhaps the most serious Authors' Afternoon with maximum of audience that we have had so far. Also, Bengal's veteran thespian and actor, Soumitra Chatterjee, attended the Author’s Afternoon for the first time. 
At the Swiss National Day Party
On Friday evening I was in Taj Bengal as well to attend the celebration of Switzerland National Day hosted by the Honorary Consul of Switzerland, Mr Umesh Chowdhary and his wife Rashmi Chowdhary. 
With George Kuruvilla and wife Ritu

This week also there are quite a few programmes like the unveiling of the French Book List at the Oxford Bookstore, the Ladies Study Group - LSG in conversation with Ratan Tata at the ITC Sonar and a concert “Somerfest” followed by cocktails & dinner at the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany, that would be hosted by Rainer Schmiedchen, Consul General and Dr Annette Schmiedchen. 
All these events are lined up before I leave for Jaipur on Saturday morning. Out of these programmes mentioned, I have only decided and accepted to attend “Somerfest” on the evening of August 7, 2014.
ess bee