Sundeep Bhutoria

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ess bee

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Friday, August 28, 2015

At the Istanbul airport


August 28, Istanbul: Istanbul airport is like any of the crowded railway stations of India with endless number of passengers using it as a transit hub. This city airport has developed into the transit point for many of the east European countries and is always abuzz with activity.
With PM Tshering Tobgay
I am at the Emirates lounge waiting to board my flight to Dubai. The last ten days were exceptionally hectic. On Tuesday I had a meeting with the Commissioner of Police and other police officials at the Lal Bazar to finalize the modalities of the programmes for Pronam members for the Pujas.
On Wednesday, August 19 afternoon, I flew to Bhutan which is one of my most favourite destinations. 
My agenda in Bhutan was to attend the the sixth edition of the Mountain Echoes Literary Festival 2015 - an initiative of the India-Bhutan Foundation in association with Jaipur-based Siyahi
The LitFest concluded in Thimphu, Bhutan on August 22 2015.
With Kalki Koechlin
The three-day event drew eminent authors, litterateurs, celebs, guests and dignitaries. Among those spotted at the LitFest were Chetan Bhagat, Ashwin Sanghi, Goutam Ghose, Suhel Seth, Kalki Koechlin, Sudhir Kakar, Mita Kapur, Namita Gokhale, Pramod Kumar KG, Patrick French, Mala Singh and others.
With Indian Ambassador HE Gautam Bambawale
There were dinners held on the evening of August 19 hosted by the Ambassador of India to Bhutan, Shri Gautam Bambawale.
On August 20 evening the dinner was hosted by the Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Smt Vasundhara Raje at Taj Tashi. However, she was not present there nor any of the other ministers from the state government.
With Her Majesty the Royal Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk
The August 21 dinner was hosted by Her Majesty the Royal Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck at the Motithang Palace and on Saturday (August 22) Prabha Khaitan Foundation and Bajoria Charitable Foundation co-hosted a dinner which was the farewell dinner of the LitFest.
With Mayur Sharma & Khendum Dorji
The three-day Mountain Echoes LitFest is drawing more and more Bhutanese authors each year and also the size of the audience is increasing. 
This year I was quite surprised to see intelligent questions asked by the Bhutanese students in excellent English. I
 met quite a number of authors at the Festival apart from my regular acquaintances which included the Indian Ambassador to Bhutan, Shri Gautam Bambawale. 
With Major General Devraj Anbu
I also met Major General Devraj Anbu.
Among the authors I spent some time with were Chetan Bhagat and Ashwin Sanghi. Ashwin Sanghi is scheduled to attend an Authors Afternoon in Kolkata on September 3.
I really liked the session of Rocky and Mayur the famous food show host who appear on the popular NDTV programme - Good Times.
My friend Suhel Seth was in conversation with them and during the whole session and everybody had a hearty laugh. 
I have extended my invitation to Rocky and Mayur to be in Kolkata, let us see if it happens.
On the morning of August 24, I landed from Bhutan to Kolkata and in the evening took the Emirates flight. 
With Malvika Singh
I had an overnight sleep at the Le Meridian Hotel where Emirates normally put up their transit passengers and via Istanbul I reached a former Yugoslavian country. Yugoslavia is divided into different countries namely Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Central Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Kosovo and Vojvodina. I spent three nights in one of these countries on the invitation of the Ambassador to explore the possibilities of literature and cultural exchange with India.
In a few hours, I shall fly to Dubai. 
With Chetan Bhagat
Although it was about nine hours in transit, but thanks to the Turkish Airways for not checking in my baggage to Kolkata. So, I had to come out of the transit area to collect my baggage. While the flight took about one-and-half hour only, it took two hours to get my baggage.
It is always better to have a Visa of country where you are transiting as you never know when you may need it. This is something I have learnt from my extensive overseas travel experience. Just because I had Turkish Visa, I was able to go out and check in again for Kolkata via Dubai.
ess bee

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