Sundeep Bhutoria

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ess bee

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Amid desi food in New York City

September 16, 2015: I landed in New York on Sunday (September 13) morning and plunged myself into a series of meetings and work. This time I checked in at the One UN Hotel of the Millennium Group located just opposite the United Nations.
This time of the year is the busiest time for this neighbourhood. Today onward till the United Nations General Assembly ends, this area is a high security zone with cops, sniffer dogs and entry allowed only with IDs etc. From First to the Third Avenue and between 40th and 47th Street, the whole area becomes the busiest zone ever.
After landing on Sunday, I put up at the hotel and prepared agendas for the meetings and went out for a walk. I met many of the known shop owners in and around that area. I was quite surprised to see that even shops that make duplicate keys and sell stuff like umbrellas, plugs, pad locks and so on had also put up a board outside the shop saying, “We are ready for the United Nations General Assembly.
Board outside New York Shop
In the evening, I ordered food to my hotel room through the delivery service of an Indian restaurant called Darbar. The food was not so great but I did not want to order from my all time favourite Chef Hemant Mathur’s Tulsi since I already have a luncheon meet scheduled there on Monday.
On Monday morning I went to the WFUNA office. The day began with a series of meetings and during the lunch time I went to Tulsi. I found that the food tasted different this time and I asked for one of the restaurant manager Mr Prakash. I was informed that Prakash was on leave and that Hemant is no longer associated with Tulsi and that he had left Tulsi for some other venture. I understood why the food tasted different.From Tulsi I had a meeting at the New York University for a quick recce of the library which would be the venue for my scheduled presentation on “Tourism and Conservation in Tiger Land”.
In the evening, one of the United Nations Association (UNA) officials invited me to an Indian outlet with a fancy name - Malai Marke. All my friends and acquaintances know of my love for Indian food and that is why they decided to invite me here. The restaurant is located on 318 E 6 Street. On my way to it I noticed that many other Indian outlets have sprung up on this Street and almost all of them had only a few table occupied on a Monday evening. But Mali Marke was fully occupied.
After having food there I realized that the restaurant also fully caters to the western palate. The food was very basic in taste, especially the vegetarian dishes. I came to know from my host that this is due to the excellent non-vegetarian cuisines and I have reason to believe that because of this the restaurant was fully occupied with non Indians on a Monday evening.
From Malai Marke I walked back to my Hotel on the 44 Street between First and Second Avenue which is about 38 blocks. I really enjoyed that long walk.
On Tuesday, the whole day again passed off in meetings at the WFUNA office. I had missed the last two Executive Committee (ExCo) of WFUNA and that is why I am in New York to catch up with the developments and work of the organization.
WFUNA has initiated quite a few projects, including in India. I had few meetings lined up with the office staff in the WFUNA office only. Before lunch, I had a meeting with two project officers and the Digital Media Executive who has joined recently. This is one subject that is beyond my league.
With the WFUNA team
I also had lunch with the WFUNA colleagues at an Italian restaurant called Ristorante Il Postino on 337 East 49th Street. It was quite a decent restaurant which I had visited earlier.
Post lunch, we had some informal discussions. I met Mr Ramu Damodaran, Deputy Director, United Nations, New York, I had a meeting with him and after that there was one more meeting regarding WFUNA finance.
In the evening, one my acquaintances in New York picked me up and I went to the Lexington Main Hill area. 
The Lexington 28th Street area is known as theCurry Hill” instead of Murray Hill because so many Indian and Pakistani restaurants have come up in this area over the last decade.
After parking the car, we were walking on the footpath towards Lucky Paan Shop when all of a sudden I saw the board of a restaurant called Haldi. I recalled that during my meeting with Ramu, he had mentioned to me that Chef Hemant Mathur is associated with Haldi now. The moment I saw this restaurant I thought of Hemant Mathur and soon found him looking at me from behing the glass.
He came out running to meet me. I told him that I had gone to Tulsi. Hemant said that he had left Tulsi to venture into something new. From early 2015 he became the Executive Chef and the co-owner of six Indian restaurants in New York City – Chola, Kokam, Chote Nawab, Dhaba, Malai Marke and Haldi. He is now in charge of overseeing the kitchen and menus, creating signature dishes and special cuisines inspired by the regional focus of each venue.
Hemant treated us at Haldi and got us an amazing dal prepared from the nearby restaurant called Dhaba. It was a mix of five lentils. Before having dinner at Haldi I had golgappas at Kailash Parbat located bang opposite Haldi. This place is famous for chaats and has points of presence not only in New York but also in the UK and India. In fact, Kolkata will also have a Kailash Parbat at the upcoming Acropolis Mall.
Today morning I again had meetings regarding finance and accounts at the WFUNA office. The WFUNA plenary is scheduled in November at Vancouver and I, as the Treasurer of WFUNA, am entrusted with the responsibility to present the reports.
Today evening, after a while, I shall fly to Ottawa.
ess bee

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