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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Friday, October 31, 2014

At the 70th UN anniversary in Delhi

With Geeta Chandran
October 31, New Delhi: I arrived in Delhi from Jaipur today. I was supposed to be in the capital by 1 pm, but thanks to Air India the flight keeps getting delayed and I landed two hours late. I had a number of meetings at the The Taj and at the India International Centre (IIC). 
With Rajiv Chandran, National Information Officer, UNIC (India & Bhutan)
In the evening, I attended the launch of the 70th anniversary of the United Nations in India. The programme was organized by the United Nations Information Centre for India (UNIC) and Bhutan and Indian Federation of UN Associations (IFUNA) with focus on Women's Security. 
With K L Malhotra and Sanjana Subramanian of UNIC
The reception was hosted at the UN Lawns in 55 Lodhi Estate. Kiran Bedi spoke and introduced her 6P concept of women's security involving parents, politicians, police, prosecution, prison and press. 
Tomorrow again I have back-to-back meetings lined up before I take the late night flight back to Kolkata. 
I had to undertake this over night trip because a lot of issues have to be discussed and settled with the officials of IFUNA.
ess bee

Monday, October 27, 2014

Rajasthani artistes meet Governor

Rajasthani artistes meeting with His Excellency, Kalyan Singh, Governor of Rajasthan at the Raj Bhawan in Jaipur
October 27, Jaipur: Today morning I took a delegation of artistes representing different fields of art, culture, literature and along with some key people involved in promoting art and culture, including Rajasthan Forum members, in Jaipur, for a courtesy visit-cum-interaction with the newly appointed Governor of Rajasthan, His Excellency Sri Kalyan Singh. 
With Governor Kalyan Singh
The Governor, who met over high tea, was extremely humble as he spoke to the artistes individually. Needless to say, although the preparation for the oath ceremony of Vasundhara Raje cabinet expansion was on at the Raj Bhawan, everybody enjoyed an hour with the Governor thoroughly. 
With Vishwamohan Bhatt in front of the Albert Hall
Among the team members were Haji Saeed Sabri, Shakir Ali, Swapan Guha, Vishwamohan Bhatt, Chiranjilal Tanwar, Ikram Rajasthani, Madhu Bhatt Tailang, Manesha Agarwal, Ustad Ahmed Hussain, Ustad Mohd Hussain, Sudhir Mathur, Dharmendra Kanwar, Manjari Mahajani, Shashi Sankhla, Saleha Ghazi, Arjun Prajapati and others. 
The Sabri brothers, Manesha Agarwal, Vishwamohan Bhatt and Chiranjilal Tanwar also performed at the request of the Governor who assured his patronage to the artistes in the state. 
From the Raj Bhawan we all went to the Albert Hall Museum for a group photo as it is rare to get so many artistes at one go. 
The iconic Albert Hall's foundation stone was laid during the visit of the Prince of Wales, Albert Edward, to Jaipur in 1876. In 1880 Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh II approved a suggestion by resident surgeon Dr Thomas Hobein Hendley to open a museum of Industrial Arts to display products of local craftsmen. A small museum was created in 1881 in a temporary accommodation which proved to be very popular.
With Rajasthani artistes in front of Albert Hall Museum
 ess bee

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Rajasthan Forum felicitates athletes

With Navneet Gautam, Sumitra Sharma, Manju Bala Mann, Bajrang Lal Thakar and Rajat Chauhan
Sunday, Oct 26, Jaipur: Today morning I hosted a function under the banner of Rajasthan Forum to felicitate the recent sports awardees in association with ITC Rajputana Hotel. The function was held at the hotel. 
Six athletes who won medals at the recently concluded 17th Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, were felicitated at the function. The athletes felicitated were Navneet Gautam (member of gold winning men's kabaddi team), Sumitra Sharma (member of gold winning women's kabaddi team), Rajat Chauhan (archery team gold), Manju Bala Mann (silver medal winner hammer throw), Bajrang Lal Takhar (bronze medal winner rowing team). Shagun Chowdhary (bronze in team trap shooting), who was out of city, could not be present.
Another athlete Devendra Jhajaria, who won silver in javelin at the para Asian Games, was represented by his father. I may mention that Manju Bala and Devendra are from Churu district where my hometown is located. 
Grammy Award winner, Vishwamohan Bhatt, who is the chairman of Rajasthan Forum, participated in felicitating the athletes at the event. 
Many eminent citizens of Jaipur were present on the occasion. I feel that the Rajasthan government should come forward with incentives to the athletes to encourage more youngsters to come forward and make India proud by winning medals.
ess bee

Saturday, October 25, 2014

At the Tal Chappar Wildlife Sanctuary

Wild deer at Tal Chappar
October 25, Jaipur: In the morning, I again went to the Tal Chappar Wildlife Sanctuary.
Migratory birds
I never realized that such a treasure trove was hidden just 10 kms away from my native place. I was quite ashamed of myself that I had visited so many wildlife sanctuaries but never thought of visiting close-to-home Tal Chappar ever.
In fact, I have many childhood memories of this place. 
Deer herd at Tal Chappar
I, however, had never thought or realized that Tal Chappar would one day develop into a Wildlife Sanctuary of India as it is today. 
This Sanctuary is famous today for many endangered species like the black bucks, chinkaras and other wild animals and rare birds.
The Tal Chhapar area was a game reservoir for the erstwhile Maharaja of Bikaner and was declared a reserved area for the protection of wild animals and birds in the year 1962. 
The total area of Tal Chhapar Sanctuary is 719 hectare. If all goes well, Tal Chappar is set to evolve as one of India' latest wildlife sanctuaries.
I have vivid memories of my childhood days when we could see herds of deer running across the roads on which we travelled. 
This time I saw many signposts warning of deer in the area and also cautioning the motorists to drive carefully.
True to its name “Tal”, meaning flat land, Tal Chappar's terrain is flat tract and interspersed by shallow low lying areas. It has open grassland with scattered acacia and prosopis trees which give it an appearance of a typical savanna with tropical forests. It is a flat saline depression with a unique eco-system.
I took the staff of the Tal Chappar rest house by surprise when I booked a room during Diwali. It is a fact that most people spend Diwali at home instead of a sanctuary.
I went there with no expectations. The six-roomed privately run rest house was very spacious with a dining hall and a conference room. I knew about this rest house from late Mr V S Singh when it was under construction. At that time I had wondered if it was at all draw any tourists. I have been to many wildlife sanctuaries, except for Tal Chappar, which is close to my native place and about 35 kms from the famous Salasar Temple.
I met Mr Surat Singh Punia, Assistant Conservator of Forest (ACF), Chhapar Wildlife Sanctuary. He is really the man behind making the place what it is today. He took us on a drive on his own and surprised us many times with his knowledge about the birds.
Among the other wild animals found in the sanctuary are chinkara, fox, jungle cats, rojra along with many resident and migratory birds. Tal Chappar falls in the path of the migratory birds which come to India from as far as Siberia in Russia. It is a bird lovers' paradise. The migratory birds pass this area from around September each year.
The commonly seen birds in the Sanctuary are harriers, eastern imperial eagle, tawny eagle, short-toed eagle, sparrows, peacocks, black ibis, demoiselle cranes which nest till March. Montague's and marsh harrier are more common, while pale harrier and hen harrier are found in lesser numbers.
On the other hand, skylark, crested larks, ring dove, brown dove and blue jay are seen throughout the year. Main grasses found in the area are sewan, doob, dhaman lampla, lana and mothiya etc. 
The area gives a lush green look during rainy season but again dries up during summer season.
As we toured Tal Chappar, we spotted a number of black bucks, deer, lizards and even poisonous cobras just an hour back. It was just an overnight stay which has aroused my interest. 
I shall surely be back soon to this green gateway of Thar.
I have to leave for Jaipur in a couple of hours as I have commitments to meet tomorrow.
ess bee

Friday, October 24, 2014

In Sujangarh after many years

Oct 24, 2014, Sujangarh / Chappar : I started from Jaipur on October 23 around 12 noon and reached Sujangarh late in the afternoon. After so many years, I am at my native house for Diwali festivities.
In the evening I went to Chappar just to see the facilities at the rest house and it took me 20 minutes to find somebody to open the gate as it was totally empty. The rooms at the rest house looked better than what I expected. In this six-roomed rest house, two rooms are non AC and four rooms are AC, of which, one room is reserved for Forest Department officials. The moment I entered the room a small rat crossed my feet, you cannot avoid these in the jungles. 
I went back to Sujangarh and late in the evening I walked down to the market area i.e., Gandhi Chowk, the famed Ghanta Ghar, white marble pillar and other places before bursting crackers which I did after so many years. 
In fact I don't recall when I had last walked down this stretch but I remember all the lanes and roads correctly and all the shops from Lakshmi Paan Palace to Gopal ji Stationery were the same as they were 20 years back.
Today afternoon I went to Tal Chappar and took an afternoon ride through the jungle along with Suraj Singh Punia, Assistant Conservator of Forest (ACF) of Chappar Wildlife Sanctuary. I clicked many pictures and experienced some excellent views of the forest. 
While on our way from Sujanghar to Churu, I also got down in front of the railway station (pic) and got a picture clicked.
Tal Chappar Wildlife Sanctuary has a lot to offer and I for sure, will go tomorrow to the Sanctuary before I leave for Jaipur.
ess bee

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Gearing up for home town visit

October 23, Jaipur: It is about 4 am and today is Diwali. After so many years I am in Rajasthan during Diwali and shall be driving down to my native place, Sujangarh, in Churu district, of which I have many childhood memories.
Yesterday night, after dropping by at two different Diwali get-togethers, I went to a doctor friend’s place and just returned when the clock was showing 3.30 am.
I look forward to my visit to Sujangarh as I have many memories of festivals there during my childhood, especially of Holi festivities. I also have faint memories of Diwali but what I certainly remember is the bursting of fire crackers which I have not done anywhere else other than in Sujangarh and Churu.
ess bee

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Ek Mulakat with Shantanu

With Shantanu Moitra and Manesha Agarwal
October 21, Jaipur: The past three days in Jaipur kept me very busy as there were so many Diwali get-togethers and parties were lined up in the evenings. On October 19, I went to Hotel Mariott, Jaipur, to attend the Fitness & Positive Health Programme of Lifestyle Diseases on the invitation of Dr Sudhir Bhandari.
I reached late for the event but was there during the high tea and was not able to meet Padma Shri Mr Milkha Singh ji, who, I heard, gave an excellent talk. After this event I went to four different private Diwali dinners.
With Shantanu at the Step By Step School
On Monday, I had lunch at a friend’s residence with Shantanu Moitra, the famous music composer and a man of many talents, who was in town on my invitation. After that, I attended the Step by Step School’s annual function with him.
Shantanu and myself, together unveiled the new name of the school which would be known as the Jayshree Periwal High School from next year.
Today morning there was another series of Ek Mulakat at the ITC Rajputana organized by Prabha Khaitan Foundation. The guest speaker was Shantanu Moitra. A natural conversationist, he spoke from his heart and all the guests were mesmerized by Shantanu’s multi-talented personality and other talents and interests which is a sort of revelation.
Shantanu, is not only a great music composer but also an avid trekker and has also written a book on his travels. He is also engaged in a project to make Indian folk music a “protected art form” for which he is creating an archive. Rajasthani folk singer Manesha Agarwal was in conversation with Shantanu.
He also shared his amazing anecdote of how he met folk singer Rumpa Bai in one of the roadside tents in Jaisalmer. He wanted her to record a song but she refused and challenged Shantanu to stay in her tent for two days. Shantanu took up the challenge and Rumpa Bai did the recording for Man Manjira. Shantanu did not reveal much about his music in the forthcoming Rajkumar Hirani-directed Bollywood blockbuster PK, he only hinted that there would be elements of Rajasthani folk music. Shantanu has also written a book on travels.
In the evening I took Shantanu to one of my favourite places in the Pink City Tapri’s opposite Central Park. Tapri is a place I don’t mind sitting every evening especially in the winter and I wish I had more time to do so.
ess bee

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Be Indian, wear Indian

October 19, Sunday, Jaipur: I landed in Jaipur today. After the Durga Puja, Kolkata is gearing up for Diwali and the get togethers that follow. Yesterday night I was at a private party at the Middleton Street and met members from the city's diplomatic core and other eminent persons.
On Friday, I read in The Telegraph about ace fashion designer Sabyasachi's Friday dressing initiative “Be Indian Wear Indian” in workplace or office. The designer has requested his team, who mostly wear western dress, to wear India dress on Fridays and express a sense of nationalism. I liked this idea of his very much and spoke to Sabyasachi over phone at length. I discussed with him how to carry forward and spread this initiative.
I myself always wear Indian dress and I do so for all events and functions that I attend. Only when I am on tour abroad and where there is a request for formal dressing, I wear a Indian Jodhpuri gala suit. Jacket and ties I rarely wear and when I do, such days can be counted on fingers and wouldn't be more than five times in five years.
In Jaipur, I have quite a few things lined up for today, tomorrow and beyond. This year I shall not be present in Kolkata during Diwali and Kali Puja.
ess bee

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

At the Desert Souls with Satyanarayan ji

With Satyanarayan ji and Krishna Dev Kalpit
October 14, 2014: Today evening I arrived in Kolkata from Jaipur. Besides attending Diwali dinners in the evening at many places in Jaipur, I also attended an event at the Hilton Hotel & Resorts for the launch of Randeep Hooda's polo team and fashion collection of designer Rohit Kamra. I too wear Rohit's designer jackets. 
On Sunday, there was another series of the Desert Souls with writer and columnist Satyanarayan ji organized by Rajasthan Forum. Krishna Dev Kalpit, Deputy Director General of Doordarshan, was in conversation with him. 
At the Hilton Hotel
The writer shared various aspects of his life during the talk show. He also touched upon the salad days of his career and spoke at length of his friends and acquaintances who helped his develop his craft through exchange of ideas and inspiration. 
He shared that his first story `Kandhon par Laash' was published in Sarika in the year 1978 and his first book ‘Fati jeb se ek din’ was published in the year 1986. He was the first person to do his PhD on Nagarjun. He has been inspired by public movements and Marxism. 
I personally liked his one or two line love poems and could not stop myself from asking him for a copy of his poetry book. He very kindly gave me the copy which he was carrying.
Desert Souls is joint initiative of Rajasthan Forum, a non-government organization and the ITC Rajputana Hotel, supported by Shree Cement. Desert Souls series showcases talents from diverse field who represent the true soul and rich heritage of the desert state of Rajasthan. 
ess bee

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Meeting Kalyan Singh ji

With Hon'ble Governor of Rajasthan, Sri Kalyan Singh
11 October, 2014, Jaipur: I arrived in Jaipur last evening. Like most other north Indian cities Jaipur also has an active Diwali season which is on. 
I attended one last night and there is list of events and invites for each day of the coming week. Most of these are Diwali get-togethers.
Today morning I went to the Raj Bhawan to meet Shri Kalyan Singh ji the new Governor of Rajasthan. I had met him a long time ago when he was the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh.
I had a good meeting with him and also extended him an invitation to visit Kolkata. I also requested him to meet the prominent artistes of state over tea to which he had agreed for at a mutually convenient date in the future.
Back in Kolkata, I was at The Taj Bengal hotel for the German Mission reception on 9th October but I missed out on the cocktail reception celebrating the 25th year of Taj Bengal.
For four or five evenings at a stretch, there are invitations lined up for various events at The Taj Bengal.
ess bee

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Losing a friend

October 9, 2014: The Pujas are over and after the holidays Kolkata is slowly getting back to its normal routine again. Our work, however, continues during the Pujas with various commitments and targets to meet during the festive season.During the Pujas, I received a message that Mr William Shija, Secretary General, Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) is no more. During my last trip to London I met him three times and I have known him for a long time. 
During my meeting with him in London, he told me that he had plans to visit Delhi in the first week ofOctober. Last week when I spoke to him over phone he told me he wasn't keeping well. 
I was supposed to attend the 60th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in Yaounde, Cameroon, between 2 to 10th October, 2014. But because of my other commitments in puja festival and as William Shija himself deciding not to attend the conference due to ill health, I had called off my trip although in my last meeting with Ms Sushma Swaraj, Minister of External Affairs, Government of India, I had confirmed to her that I was going to Cameroon. 
As his mobile phone was switched off, I phoned Mr Shija's office to find out if he was in Delhi, I was told that he was on leave as he was unwell. I asked his office whether he was coming to India and I was asked to call up the next day. Before, I could call up his office, I got a call from a common friend that he had expired about an hour back. I lost a friend and I pray his soul rests in peace. 
During the Pujas, I also received a text from my cartoonist friend Sudhir Tailang that he had been diagnosed with a brain tumour and had a brain surgery scheduled for tomorrow. He also joked with me that if he comes out safely, the first cartoon he would draw would be mine. The news of his brain surgery really got me worried. 
Today morning I called his cellphone and spoke to his daughter Aditi while he was in surgery. A couple of hours later when I spoke to her again she told me that the surgery was over but they still waiting to meet him. 
Life is so full of uncertainties and can, in a moment, swing from happiness to sadness or the other way round. But life, good or bad, goes on. I am leaving tomorrow for Rajasthan for the weekend.
ess bee

Monday, October 6, 2014

At the Vodafone Sindoor Khela

With June Maliah, Usha Uthup and Chaiti Ghosal
October 6, 2014: Today was a very busy and colourful day. One of the popular events of Chaltabagan Durga Puja the Sindoor Khela concluded with great pomp. It was a starry affair with many eminent ladies of Kolkata participating in the event – Vodafone Sindoor Khela – and playfully smeared each other with vermillion in front of Maa Durga's pratima (idol). 
This time the Sindoor Khela did not have any chief guest since the First Lady Governor, Sudha Tripathi, was out of Kolkata. 
Film actresses, educationists, danseuse, fashion designer, wives of foreign consular corps, women executives and industrialists, cutting across different professions participated in the event that is highlighted by the media in a big way. 
With Roopa Ganguly
Sindoor Khela marks the end of the Pujas and everyone gets ready to bid goodbye to Maa Durga till next year. 
The presence of cultural troupes and chau dancers added to the pageantry. Top officials of sponsors Vodafone also visited the pandal and the event. 
Another interesting feature was the display of a series of colourful kettles by Taj Bengal – the official caterers for the event. 
With Rachana Banerjee
The Sindoor Khela event involves lot of back office work and the planning of logistics. No other pujas in Kolkata draws so much of celebs and other women of substance in one place. 
This has become an iconic event in Kolkata's calendar. 
ess bee

Friday, October 3, 2014

Governor visits Chaltabagan puja with family

With Governor Keshri Nath Tripathi and his family at Chaltabagan puja pandal which was decked up by discarded tins turned into art work
October 3, 2014: Today is Nabami and Dashami as well which means Bijoya Dashami is on. 
On Saptami evening the Governor of West Bengal, His Excellency, Shri Keshri Nath Tripathi along with his wife, Smt Sudha Tripathi and other family members visited the Maniktalla Chaltabagan Puja around 6 pm. 
With Ashok Jaiswal, Sanjay Budia and Rajesh Biyani
Among others, industrialist Sanjay Budhia and Rajesh Biyani were also present along with Ashok Jaiswal of Chaltabagan Puja Committee.
Thank goodness, the rains had stopped at that time.
The puja crowd at Chaltabagan has been on the increase since Sashti on September 30 and yesterday night it was so crowded that even the VIP entrance door had to be opened for the public on Saptami after showing the Governor and his family the pandal which is made up of empty tin boxes of vanaspati ghee.
With the Governor and First Lady at dandiya inauguration
I went to Indoor Stadium auditorium for the inauguration of dandia hosted by Taaza TV. I met the Governor and his wife again and spent some time with them at the green room there.
ess bee