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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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

An Author's Afternoon with Mohini Kent

With Mohini Kent Noon at An Author's Afternoon
Yesterday evening I attended another session of the An Author's Afternoon at the Taj Bengal Chambers. This time the guest author was Mohini Kent Noon from UK.
Mohini is an author, filmmaker and social activist with a stint in journalism having written for India Today, The Times of India, The Tablet and BBC Radio. She is also the author of the children’s novel Chief Long Nose and Trader Jim. She has her own NGO called Lily in UK.
Mohini was engaged in a conversation with Sujata Sen and the discussions centred around Mohini's book Black Taj and she read out passages from them. The discussions did cover areas of spiritualism and Buddhism – areas Ms Kent is engaged in.
Most of the guests turned in early and were seated well before time.
With His Grace, Archbishop of Kolkata, Thomas D'Souza
Today morning I went and met the Archbishop of Kolkata, Most Reverence Thomas D'Souza, at the Archbishop House in Park Street. It was a courtesy call as I shall soon leave for Rome to attend the canonization ceremony of Mother Teresa.
ess bee

Monday, August 29, 2016

A busy weekend

It was a busy weekend. I landed from Bhutan on Friday late afternoon and missed out on the Mother Teresa statue unveiling at the Archbishop's House in Park Street. I also missed the reception hosted by P R Agarwala to mark the National Day of Colombia.
At the Hyatt Regency Fancy Dress Party
On Saturday evening I went to Hyatt Regency to attend the farewell party of Britta Leicke Milde. She hosted a party to say good bye to her friends in the city. I went to Hyatt with my friend Anand Sahai who would also would be leaving Kolkata soon.
The theme of the party was dress like in the 70s and I honestly found myself not dressed up for the theme. It was a close gathering of about 50 of Britta's friends. 
Yesterday I organised a brunch for Eagoler Chokh at Hyatt
With Pankaj, Jishu, Nilanjanaa and Pratim D Gupta
The Tollywood crowd turned up in full strength but I regret the absence of Shaswata, Jaya Ahsaan, Payel and Ushoshie as they all had shooting.
With Ranadeb Bose, Agnimitra and Rudranil
It is impossible to predict anything concerning Tollywood. It is not very normal for the cast of the film to be absent in a party celebrating their success despite fixing the date well well in advance.
With Kusum Khemani
In the evening I dropped by at The Conclave for the book release function of Kusum Khemani and from there I went to The Oberoi Grand for a classic get-together hosted by Madhu and Harsh Neotia. 
With Birju Maharaj, Tenjendra Narayan and Saswati
It was a melodious evening and got to witness two Padma Shri awardees Girija Devi and Birju Maharaj performing thumri and kathak respectively.
ess bee

Saturday, August 27, 2016

At the Nehru-Wangchuck Cultural Centre

26 August, 2016: I am in office today and have only one commitment in the evening. Before starting for the airport in Bhutan I dropped by at the Nehru Wangchuck Cultural Centre in Thimpu.
At the Nehru Wangchuk Cultural Centre
This Centre was started in 2010 by His Excellency Karan Singh, President, Indian Council for Cultural Relations and His Excellency Lyonpo Minjur Dorji, Minister for Home and Cultural Affairs, Royal Government of Bhutan.
With Pramode KG, Nina and Sudhir Mathur
My acquaintance from Jaipur, Mr Sudhir Kasliwal, had put up a photo exhibition on Rajasthan curated by my friend Pramode K G as a part of the Mountain Echoes Festival.
Colourful Rajasthan looks so colourful and different in black and white pictures. Mr Sudhir runs a very successful jewellery outfit in Jaipur called Gem Palace which is currently being run by the ninth-generation of Kasliwals.
He is a photographer by passion and has clicked some very rare photographs in his life.
He has an amazing collection of photographs and vintage cars, which is his other passion.
ess bee

At the Mountain Echoes Litfest 2016

With Major Gen G Jaishankar (VSM) and Ashi Kendum Dorji
Taj Tashi, Thimpu: I shall leave for Paro to take a afternoon flight to Kolkata but before that I shall drop by at the Nehru Wangchuck Centre to attend a photo exhibition.
With Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji Minister for Agriculture & Forests
and Singye Dorji brother of Prime Minister of Bhutan
I landed in Paro yesterday and drove to Thimpu to check in at this hotel and now I am writing my blog from my favourite Room 103 of this hotel. My compliments to the Siyahi team for making the Fest bigger and better each year. This hotel room has a sit out terrace overlooking the mountains. Of five such rooms, Room 103 is in the middle and gives you a clear view of the lofty mountains. At times you get the feeling that you can reach out and touch the clouds. Bhutan is among my favourite places for relaxing.
With Malvika Singh
But this was just an overnight trip to attend the inaugural function of Mountain Echoes Literature Festival
I am the Honorary Advisor of this Festival which was inaugurated at the India House by Her Majesty Queen Mother Dorji Wangmo.
Rajasthan Tourism is one of the sponsor of the festival and this year a delegation led by Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje Scindia is also attending the festival. For the past two years her plan to visit this literary festival could not happen and some other minister represented her.
With Lyonpo Lekey Dorji, Economic Affairs Minister
This year too I was skeptical about her attending the Fest as the Prime Minister had called in a meeting of BJP state ministers. But she made it this time. Over dinner I met Her Highness Majesty Queen Jetsun Pema and Vasundhara Raje Scindia as well as Rajasthan Minister of Tourism Krishnendra Kaur Deepa.
With Author Amitava Ghosh
En route to Bhutan, met author Amitava Ghosh who was also on the same flight. Prior to the inauguration of the Litfest, I hosted a high tea. Usually I host a farewell dinner at the festival but this year I managed to be there only for a day.
My friend Ashi Kendum Dorji had helped me to organize this in short notice and I opted for high-tea to meet all my friends and acquaintances.
ess bee

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Pronam event at Little Sisters of the Poor home for the aged

At the inauguration of Pronam event Dwitiyo Soishob with Suparna Sengupta, Sister Anne, Rupak Barua and Agnimitra Paul
August 23, 2016: Today I attended a Pronam event at the auditorium of The Little Sisters of the Poor St Joseph's Home for the Aged in Kolkata today. The programme called Dwitiyo Soishab or Second Childhood was for the elderly residents of the home.
The Little Sisters of the Poor home for the aged was one of the first such home for the elderly established in the heart of Kolkata around 1882 - some 28 years before Mother Teresa was born - by a group of four sisters of the Order of Jugan founded by Jeanne Jugan, a French woman, who was accorded sainthood through the Roman Catholic process of canonisation. It is interesting to note that once Mother Teresa herself stayed in this home sometime between 1948 to 1949 when she left the Loreto nunnery and had no place to stay.
It was a small function organized by Pronam that was attended by over 100 elderly residents of the home during which Pronam membership cards were given to all of them. The event was attended by Sister Anne, Agnimitra Paul of The Bengal, representatives of the Kolkata Police, Suparna Sengupta, COO, Woodlands Hospital, Rupak Barua, CEO, AMRI, Kaushik Ganguly of Dreamland Nursing Home and others. The brief function was followed by a special show of the film Barfi.
The Pronam project, a joint venture of The Bengal and Kolkata Police, has witnessed stupendous growth and demand over the years and currently has a membership base of 12,000 senior citizens. Efforts are on to expand the project beyond Kolkata's jurisdiction.
ess bee

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Rani Lakshmi Kumari Chundawat memorial lecture

20 August, 2016: I landed in Kolkata today around midnight. The frequency of my travels, it seems, has increased a lot and will increase further till the Pujas.
With Usha Uthup at the start of Rani Lakshmi Chundawat Memorial Lecture
I went to Jaipur day before yesterday to attend the lecture in memory of Rani Lakshmi Kumari Chundawat. Usha Uthup was the guest speaker whom I had requested and she spoke on women out of the box.
This lecture series was instituted by me in memory of Rani Lakshmi Kumari Chundawat after her death. I had last met her in April 2012. She was 96-year-old then. She was a very elegant lady and possessed many talents.
I recall during my meeting with her at that time when she had appreciated my efforts and initiatives to promote artistes, writers and theatre personalities from the state and also those living outside Rajasthan. She had autographed a copy of her book From Purdah to the People for me.
That book is an account of her courageous struggle to leave the feudal society she was born into and make a public life for herself in modern India. She had joined the Indian National Congress and also been a member of the Rajasthan Legislative Assembly and the Rajya Sabha. She had won the Padma Shri in 1984 for her contribution to Rajasthani literature.
The first lecture in her memory was delivered by Urvashi Butalia and this time it was Usha di who spoke wonderfully and even sang a song in Rajasthani that everyone liked very much. 
Inaugurating the Dakshin Food Festival
I also hosted a lunch for her and then innagurated the Dakshin Food Festival formally at the ITC Rajputana.
At a lunch meeting with Usha Uthup
Last week was very eventful. India won two medals at the Rio Olympics and sadly Macchli – the most famous tigress of Ranthambore – passed away. During the Independence Day weekend I was in Bangalore and attended a brunch and a dinner party. 
From Bangalore I landed in Kolkata on the night of August 16 and on the 17th evening I was at the ITC Sonar for the dinner showcasing Rajasthani food by Kangan and Atul Bhalla.
Rajasthani Food
It was a selective dinner for few, and even with extremely bad weather and uprooted trees all over the city causing traffic snarls, guests turned up.
At the ITC Sonar dinner hosted by Kangan and Atul Bhalla
I must appreciate the decor of sand and puppets on the table to give a very elegant Rajasthani touch.
ess bee

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Welcoming Gautam Lewis

With Gautam Lewis
August 13, 2016: Today afternoon I attended a luncheon get together to meet and greet Gautam Lewis and also invited few friends to come over and join in. Gautam is based out of UK and his life is an extraordinary story in itself.
With Abhilasha Sethia and Sarah Sandhu
Gautam, afflicted with polio in his early years, was abandoned as a child in Howrah. He was taken under and raised at the Mother Teresa's home for children. Later, he was adopted from Mother Teresa's orphanage by Patricia Lewis, a nuclear physicist from UK who was at that time based out of New Zealand. Gautam went to the famous Hill House School in London where the rich and the famous sent their children.
He graduated from South Hampton University and pursued a successful career in music. But soon quit to set up Freedom in the Air (FITA) flying school for the disabled in UK. Gautam himself is among the few and first disabled commercial pilots of the world. He has also been a Unesco ambassador for the Global Polio Eradication initiative.
With Sujata Sen, Tim Grandage and members of Hope Future
I have known Gautam for many years now and had hosted his exhibition some years ago. It was a gathering of heads of prominent NGOs and few selective invitees at the Hyatt's Presidential Suite. Hyatt did fabulous arrangements for this lunch.
Before lunch, I had dropped in at the ITC Sonar art gallery for the charity art exhibition organised by Doel Sen. I also picked up a painting from the exhibition. Tomorrow I shall leave for south India.
ess bee

Author's Afternoon with living legend Simon Napier-Bell

With Simon Napier Bell at the Author's Afternoon session
August 12, 2016: Today was the 34th session of An Author's Afternoon with Simon Napier-Bell at The Taj Bengal Chambers. Simon, born in 1939, has so far been the senior most guest author at the Author's Afternoon series since its inception. He has been a music manager, journalist and author.
Simon, a living legend, has had an illustrious career building and managing careers of singers, pop stars and groups like Eric Clapton, Yardbirds, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Boney M, Wham, Japan, Marc Bolan, Ultrvox and so on. His long career has taken him to places all over the world. It was a very interesting to get an insight into Simon's never-say-die attitude as he had persevered with the Chinese officials for 13 months before getting Wham to perform in Peking – the first western pop group to perform there.
He wrote a book I am Coming To Take You to Lunch on this subject.
With British Dy High Commissioner, Bruce Bucknell
He has penned some very interesting books on the music industry sharing the inside workings of pop groups. It was a lively session in which Anjan Dutta engaged Simon whose witty takes and hilarious repartees electrified the audience. Simon also talked briefly about gay rights and how the world was getting around to accept it. 
With Swastika at The Park
It was nice to have Bruce Bucknell, the new British Deputy High Commissioner in Kolkata at the Author's Afternoon.
Musician and film director Anjan Dutta was in conversation with Simon and it was nice of him to accept this despite the premiere of his film Hemanta on the same day.
With Joya Ahsan at The Park
One thing Simon said about artistes was that even if they are extremely talented they would still need marketing and promotion to make it big. As an initiator of so many events and series, I fully agree with him. 
With Shrikant Mohta and Narayan Sinha
After the Author's Afternoon session, I had dinner with a friend visiting Kolkata from London and after that I went to The Park for a get together hosted by Sarita and Shrikant Mohta to celebrate the birthday of artist Narayan Sinha.
ess bee

Thursday, August 11, 2016

At the premiere of Eagolerchokh

With Saswata, Parambrata and Arindam Sil
August 11, 2016: After a long time I saw a Bengali film today evening at the South City Mall. It was the premiere of Eagolerchokh directed by my friend Arindam Sil. I liked the movie and also met up with few friends from Tollywood.
With June Maliah at the music album release
On Tuesday August 9, I had attended the music release of this film at The Park. It was a music album release with difference as all the cast and crew of the film walked the ramp to the music of the film. Arindam has marketed this film very well.
With Shrikant Mohta and Mahendra Soni
I am sure this film will do well and I wish all the best to Arindam and his team as mentioned by Arindam himself in the film's titles. I also attended a dinner in North Kolkata after the music release function on Tuesday.
ess bee

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Teej Mela in Jaipur

Teej procession in Jaipur
August 6, 2016: I came back to Kolkata from Jaipur. Yesterday evening I went to see the Teej procession in Jaipur. 
At the Birla Auditorium
It was my first time which reminds me of Teej Mela I used to visit in my childhood days. Teej, celebrated to welcome monsoons, is widely celebrated in Nepal, northern and north-western India. Teej is one of the most widely celebrated festivals of Rajasthan and is full of cultural and religious pageanty with swings, traditional songs and dance. 
Women, dressed in colourful clothes, perform traditional folk dance and sing beautiful Teej songs on swings bedecked with flowers. Teej is celebrated with much fanfare in Jaipur.

At the Birla Auditorium
Today, in the afternoon, I went to the Birla auditorium as the Guest of Honour to attend Jayshree Periwal's International School's Shaimak Davar students' summer show. 
Before boarding for Kolkata, I attended a Write Circle session with
With Mohini Kent Noon
Lady Mohini Kent Noon. Apra Kuchal was in conversation with her about her new book The Black Taj which is yet to publish in India. Lady Noon will be in Kolkata for the Author's Afternoon as well.
ess bee

Thursday, August 4, 2016

First time with Sadguru

At the AGM of Flower Grower's Association
August 4, 2016: Today I shall be in office the whole day and tomorrow leave for Jaipur for a one-night stay. 
Yesterday I attended the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of Flower Grower's Association at the West Bengal State Assembly Committee Room and was once again elected Vice President unopposed.
There was a discussion on the December flower show in the Assembly which is quite a gala annual affair. From the Assembly I wanted to drop by at the ICCR to attend the Kuchina Foundation's annual function but I could not since these meetings in the Assembly got prolonged.
I went to the residence of Madhulika and Hemant Kanoria for a small and cosy spiritual get-together with the none other than Sadguru, a yogi, mystic, poet, spiritualist and humanitarian from Coimbatore and the founder of Isha Foundation. He delivered a talk and also got all of us to meditate.
I had missed Sadguru's talk the last time he was in Kolkata and in a conversation with Sanjiv Goenka. I also missed his talk in Jaipur so I really wanted to meet him and listen to him.
It was interesting to hear him speak in a very lucid way. He gave us a feeling of being someone from among us only.
ess bee

Monday, August 1, 2016

With Shatrughan Sinha at the Ladies' Study Group

With members of Ladies' Study Group, Kolkata
August 1, 2016: After a long time I had a quite Sunday yesterday. 
With Shatrughan Sinha and Abhilasha Sethia
On Saturday I attended the Ladies' Study Group event with Shatrughan Sinha. He was at his usual best. I have been missing LSG events from quite a while now and I am glad that this time I was able to attend it.
In fact, I am in talks with LSG to have a collaboration to initiate Kalam in Kolkata. In the evening I missed a dinner at Jhaal Farezi hosted by Madhu and Harsh Neotia as I had a prior commitment for a dinner with Daniella and Ranvir Bhandari who was in Kolkata for one night. 
Chinoiserie at The Taj Bengal is always one of the best places to have Chinese in Kolkata.
In fact, it was a second dinner of mine in Chinoiserie in a span of three days as I had hosted an Ambassador of a Baltic country in Chinoiserie as well on July 27 evening.
ess bee