Sundeep Bhutoria

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Thank you.
ess bee

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Friday, May 29, 2015

The Bengal team meeting

May 29, 2015: I arrived in Kolkata on the evening of Wednesday May 27. 
The Bengal Team meeting in progress
Yesterday I was busy with The Bengal team meeting and dinner. The Bengal team meeting happened after almost one year.
A number of important decisions were taken in the meeting including the decision on Sunil Gangopadhyay Memorial Award, which has a cash award of Rupees 2 lacs. It has been decided that the 2014 award would be given to Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay and 2015 award conferred on the poet Joy Goswami.
With the Police Commissioner (left) of Kolkata
After the meeting all The Bengal team members met over dinner and were also joined by officials of Kolkata Police and few other people who were associated with The Bengal earlier. 
After The Bengal meeting and just before the dinner, Jogen da, who is also the Working President of The Bengal, scribbed a nice flower for me. It is indeed a very affectionate gift from him. 
This weekend I shall be in Kolkata. I have not accepted any of the social or public commitments as I would be travelling in the next two weeks. 
This is also the wedding season and I haven't attended any. Given my itinerary over the next few weeks, it seems I will have to skip it all.
ess bee

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Meeting a friend after a lifetime

With Manisha in Copenhagen
May 26, 2015, Delhi: On Sunday evening had early dinner with Ms Manisha Jain whom I met during my first visit to Copenhagen, Denmark, some 17 or 18 years ago (pic)
It could be even 20 years. 
With Manisha in Delhi
After that Manisha got married in Ambala and we kept in touch. It was good to meet and see her after a lifetime.
On Monday May 25 I was busy in meetings as it is always so when I am in Delhi. In the afternoon I met Dr Najma Heptulla, Minister of Minority Affairs, Government of India, at her office in the CGO Complex and in the afternoon I went to meet Smt Sheila Dikshit at her residence.
In addition, I had meetings with IFUNA officials and today morning I went for a meeting with the Ministry of Culture and an editor friend.
ess bee

Saturday, May 23, 2015

In suport of Raksha to release T24

May 23, 2015, Jaipur / Delhi: This weekend I shall be commuting between Jaipur and Delhi having arrived in Jaipur on Thursday evening.
With Mini Sampatram at the Albert Hall for T24
Yesterday late afternoon I went to the Albert Hall where a group of youngsters, under the banner of Raksha, organized a protest to take out Ustad aka T24 from the zoo. I got many calls from people known to me who frequently visit Ranthambore. All of them requested me to to drop by and so I went there.
I also signed the poster petition for the same purpose and gave the following press statement: “I have been keeping track of T24 incident since the day he attacked the forest guard Rampal Saini and have also been in touch with the concerned authorities. 
Signing up for freeing T24
I have also been told that Ustad had not yet been proved to be a man-eater and the reason behind his attack was the violation of the safe distance between man and animal, may be by mistake. 
Facts have to be investigated and in today's world, we have enough means to do so. Just because attacking a human, if tigers are to be sent to zoos then half of the Sunderbans Tigers would have been in zoo today.”
I had also written a book on Ranthambore tigers called The Safari” in which I had written about Ustad. In fact, many of the journalists called up later saying that this Ranthambore incident and its comparison with Sunderbans had never ocurred to them.
From the Albert Hall, I went to the Birla Auditorium to witness Shekhar Sen’s performance on Kabir to mark the 10th anniversary of Raghu Sinha. I have never met Raghu Sinha but had heard a lot about his social and cultural contributions to the city and the society. 
With Shekhar Sen and Sudhir Mathur
After the performance I hosted a dinner that was attended by Shekhar Sen, Dr Sonal Mansingh and few other friends from the cultural fraternity.
Today morning I had a few meetings and tomorrow morning I am flying to Delhi. I am looking forward to tomorrow evening in Delhi as I am meeting a friend over dinner after almost 18 years.
ess bee

Monday, May 18, 2015

Of WFUNA Foundation and other events

With Jishu and Nilanjanaa
May 18, 2015: It was good to be in Kolkata last week. With no tours or trips, I was able to finish a lot of desk work. I am thinking of restarting events like the Recipe Rendezvous and Tete-a-Tea series in Kolkata.
With Shoojit Sircar
On Thursday evening I went to see the special show of Piku as Shoojit Sircar was in town and he invited me. In fact, I was supposed to host the special show last Sunday, May 10, but because of Srijit Mukherji’s accident in Delhi Jishu, who had played a role in the film, had flown off to Delhi. Also, Anupam, who has given the music to the film had gone to Mumbai. So I changed the plan of hosting the show on Sunday evening.
On Friday, on behalf of WFUNA Foundation, I organized and hosted an exhibition of the solo paintings by Rucheka Jain who is a student of class X at La Martiniere for Girls.
With Rucheka Jain
She had sold her paintings for Rs 4 lacs and donated the entire amount to the Nepal earthquake victims.
When she spoke to me, I was very overwhelmed. 
I spoke to the Mr Chandra Kumar Ghimire, Consul General, Consulate General of Nepal in Kolkata, and decided to hold this exhibition with them. 
With Rucheka Jain, Chandra Kumar Ghimire, Britta Leick Milde
With Ms Rupkatha Sarkar
Hotel Hyatt Regency also came on board as the venue partner. 
My friend Agnimitra Paul agreed on my request to sing a song at the event which was attended by other consuls and Bickram and Jaya Seal Ghosh along with Ms Rupkatha Sarkar, the Principal, other teachers and some students of La Martiniere for Girls, Kolkata.
This week again I shall travel to Delhi and Jaipur.
ess bee

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

T24 grabs headlines; spurs debate

May 12, 2015: Tiger T24 aka Ustaad is making headlines from last week eversince it killed a forest guard Rampal Saini at Ranthambore National Park and sparking off a debate to shift the tiger to a zoo.
This forest-to-zoo debate has angered many tiger and wildlife experts who feel that the tiger should be left alone in its forest habitat and that attacks were result of growing human interference. However, when I spoke to one of the leading tiger experts of the country she said that she feels that it is dangerous to have a man-eater tiger on the loose in the forest and it should be shifted to a zoo. If not caged, there is also the danger of losing loyalty of the forest guards, she said.
But other argue that a tiger killed a guard and went away and there are no evidence of eating the victim. So how can the tiger be branded as a “man-eater”. They want an independent inquiry as they suspect that it is the hotel lobby which is influencing the decision of the forest department. They fear that the news would scare away tourists and affect their business.
There is another controversy and debates as to who killed Rampal, becase T24's son Sultan, dwelling in the same area, was spotted not far from the scene of attack. Sultan is also very fearless by nature and also very aggressive like T24.
Noor and Sultan at Ranthambore National Park
In fact, I had spotted Sultan in the winter of 2012 when he was a cub and was with his mother Noor. Even as a cub, he would growl and run towards our jeep.
If the forest department is to be believed, this is the fourth killing of a man by T24. 
T24 lazing on the track in 2012
I had also spotted T24 in 2012 in the middle of a track which stopped jeeps on both sides of the road. 
T24 in 2013
Again in the winter of 2013, I saw T24 when he had killed two huge neel gais and we clicked pictures of him feasting on his kill.
According to media reports, petrified villagers have called upon authorities to shift T24 to a zoo arguing that this tiger has a tack record of attacking humans having killed three people so far. The proposal is pending chief minister's approval I am told.
My weekend was quite busy, especially on Friday. In the morning I went to attend the funeral of Suresh Neotia, a man who was an institution by himself.
With Suhel Seth at the 21st Author's Afternoon
At 4 pm there was An Author’s Afternoon with Suhel Seth at Taj Bengal which was organized after a gap of more than three months. 
The last Author’s Afternoon was on January 13 with Wendell Rodricks. 
With K Mohanchandran and H.E., Shri Keshari Nath Tripathi
On Thursday, the Governor of West Bengal, Shri Keshari Nath Tripathi, formally unveiled the Book Rack at the Taj Bengal.
The Taj Group of Hotels have been kind enough to provide the space in Chambers and the Tea Lounge at the lobby for the autographed books of the twenty authors featured in the Author’s Afternoon till now. 
In front of the Author's Afternoon Book Rack at Taj Chambers
Suhel Seth was the twenty first guest for the event held on Friday, May 8.
In the evening, after the Author’s Afternoon event, there was a book release of Suhel Seth in which, again, Prabha Khaitan Foundation was associated with the Taj Bengal
With Suhel Seth, Sanjeev and Priti Goenka
and Sunita Kumar
The book was released by Sanjeev Goenka and followed by a session of conversation with Suhel Seth in which he mentioned how Sanjeev Goenka had dared to take on the state's power utility, CESC, against the wishes of his father and very successfully transformed this power distribution company into a power generating company.
With Konkona Sen
My Friday evening was not yet over as I hosted a dinner from 10:30 pm onwards for the cast and crew of Kadambari at the Taj Bengal.
I am staying put in Kolkata for a long time without travelling for almost a week, although there is an emergency meeting
With Sujoy Ghosh, Aparna Sen, Kalyan Sen and Konkona Sen
of the Members
of the Executive Commitee (ExCo) of the Indian Federation of the United Nations Association (IFUNA) in Delhi today evening.
ess bee

Thursday, May 7, 2015

May Day in Delhi

May 7, 2015, Kolkata: I had a trip to Delhi and Jaipur in the last four or five days. On May 1 I went to Delhi and after having a meeting at the Ministry of External Affairs, South Block, went to the Rashtrapati Bhavan to witness the special screening of Suman Ghosh's film Kadambari. 
With Babul Supriyo and Suman Ghosh
The Union Minister of State, Babul Supriyo, who had sung a song in the film, was also present. The Hon'ble President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, his wife, the cast and crew of the film, Mr Jawhar Sircar, CEO, Prasar Bharati, and few other selected guests watched the film. It was a gathering of 35 people.
After the screening, I hosted a dinner at India International Centre, Annexe Court, for the guests. The weather was kind enough and by the time dinner started after the screening it wasn't too hot.
With Konkona Sen
The Konkona Sen Sharma-starrer Kadambari is slated for release in Kolkata tomorrow. Prambrata Chatterjee plays Tagore in the film. I again plan to host a dinner at The Taj Bengal. 
Kadambari is a film that touches upon the sensitive and once much talked about relationship between Rabindranath Tagore and Kadambari Devi, his sister-in-law, who had committed suicide four months after Tagore married her sister Bhabatarini. This is the first time the topic is the subject of a Bengali film.
Director Suman Ghosh said in his speech at the Rashtrapati Bhavan that he wasn't scared to take up the sensitive topic shrouded in several myths and simplistic explanations, but felt a huge sense of responsibility to present it in a dignified manner. The film's narrative, he said, is an amalgamation of myth and reality.
With Konkona, Jawhar Sircar and Suman
On the evening of May 2, I went to Jaipur, did a series of meetings, and came back to Delhi on May 5 evening. I landed in Kolkata on that very night.
In fact, after quite a long spell there will be three events of Prabha Khaitan Foundation on the same day and for the first time at the same venue. On May 8 there is the twenty first edition of the Author’s Afternoon” at 4 pm with Suhel Seth, followed by a book release at 7 pm and at 9:30 pm I shall be hosting a dinner – all of it at the Taj Bengal.
My thanks to Taj Bengal’s outgoing General Manager, K Mohanchandran. It is because of his efficiency that these events are so well-planned and successfully executed by The Taj.
ess bee

Friday, May 1, 2015

Calling off US trip midway

April 30, 2015: I am in office today although there is a call for a 12-hour dawn-to-dusk `bandh' in Kolkata by the opposition parties in protest against the alleged rigging during Kolkata Municipal Corporation elections.
I had to return mid-way from New York because of certain emergency as a result of which I had to cancel many of my pre-scheduled meetings. I was on rest almost the whole of last weekend.
Today I am hosting a small dinner at The Conclave and tomorrow I shall be off to Delhi.
Next week, again would be a busy week with trips to Delhi and Jaipur. Many programmes are on the anvil. Unveiling of a Book Rack at The Taj Bengal by Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi on May 7 and An Author’s Afternoon with Suhel Seth on May 8.
ess bee