Sundeep Bhutoria

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ess bee

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Friday, November 13, 2015

At the City College in New York; Le Taj in Montreal

At the City University in New York
November 13, 2015 (NYC): New York is getting little colder. Yesterday I went to the City College of New York City University (CUNY) to deliver a presentation on tigers. Dr Susham Bedi, who is in charge of the Hindi language program at the College invited me after hearing about my presentation on tigers at the New York University.
It was my first visit to the City College and it was good to meet Dr Susham Bedi, herself is an author. From City College, I went straight to the airport and took a flight to Montreal.
In front of Hotel Hyatt in Montreal
In Montreal, I checked into Hotel Hyatt which is located in the main down town. I never thought that I'd check into a hotel in Montreal where I spent weeks and months twice a year at my Aunt's beautiful house near to the lake. I have spent my life's most favourite times in Montreal.
On Thursday (Nov 12) morning I had a personal appointment and from there I went to the airport. The Wednesday dinner and Thursday lunch I had at Le Taj Restaurant of Montreal which is actually not famous for Indian food in Montreal but is one of the finest Indian restaurants in North America.
Le Taj Restaurant in Montreal
Le Taj is highly praised by local food-critic and is located in downtown Montreal for over three decades. Staffed by a caring people especially trained to treat every guest like a celebrity. The hotel is decorated with complex figures embedded in simple modern lines.
Le Taj has a very visible tandoor (clay oven) around which you can see the chef prepare delights such as lamb chops, kebabs, garlic shrimps, chicken tikka and, of course, nan bread. They also offer an inexpensive buffet at lunch, a veritable symphony of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. The food is very popular and it is always busy.
At the hotel Le Taj Montreal I met the owner Vinod Kapoor who had left his native village in Mussoorie and came here in 1985. He told me that they were celebrating 30 years of the hotel and had hung up a memorabilia of pictures of celebrities and important events of the past three decades that happened in Le Taj in downtown Montreal.
At Le Taj, the rear section of the restaurant adorns a mud-wall which was part of the India Pavilion at Expo 67 Montreal. At Le Taj one has a feeling of dining in a museum-like place with the display of Indian and Tibetan arts and crafts. Three huge intricately fashioned panels that were part of the Indian pavilion at Expo 67 are at the entrance. There is a huge mural which Kapoor saved from the India Pavilion 67. The decor is elegant and spare with intricate Hindu wood and plaster carvings adorning the high terracotta-coloured walls. The guests are impressed by the ambiance which is Indian without being ethnic.
While reaching the airport for my flight to New York, I realized that the flight was late because of the weather, which is very common in this part of the world due to extreme weather conditions.
One more thing I noticed was that the Sky Checkers in these North American flights are getting more and more popular. Sky Checkers are baggage personnel who collect your hand baggage at the entrance of the aircraft and deliver it to you at your destination at the exit of the aircraft. It saves a lot hassles of checking in and waiting to collect the baggage. 
On the other hand, the airline and passengers are at ease to have less baggage in the craft cabins especially when the small airplanes fly in these sectors. I reached two hours late than the scheduled arrival time in New York.
My family friend, Ashish Khanna was at the airport to receive me as I had promised him for a dinner evening at his residence. It was indeed nice of him to not only have waited for me but also to take me to his residence and drop me all the way back to my Manhattan hotel. Such courtesies are rare in this part of the world because of the extremely busy schedule people have. Ashish's wife, Parul, cooked some amazing food and the dinner evening lasted until midnight.
ess bee

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