Sundeep Bhutoria

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Thank you.
ess bee

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Friday, June 23, 2017

Ek Mulakaat with Rekha Bhardwaj

With Sourendro, Rekha Bhardwaj, Soumyajit and Usha Uthup at Tolly Club
June 22, 2017: I attended the second edition of Ek Mulakat in Kolkata at the Tollygunge Club. The guest of the session was singer Rekha Bhardwaj who was in conversation with Sourendro and Soumyajit of I & You.
The session started a little late as the guests, who faced bad traffic, took some time to make it to the venue. The Ek Mulakat series started in Kolkata with Swraj Paul but the first event was held at The Taj Bengal. This series is organized by Prabha Khaitan Foundation in association with the Times of India and Tollygunge Club.
With Rekha Bhardwaj at Ek Mulakat
The discussion was very well conducted by the Sourendro and Soumyajit duo who are themselves very creative and from the world of music. Rekha Bhardwaj shared her experiences of being in Taiwan and Turkey and her trysts with sufism and spirituality. She shared with the audience some very interesting facts about whirling, dervishes and how she tries to find her own centre and balance while performing on stage. She said her spiritual and inner experiences have helped her grow into a better person.
With Jaya Ahsan
The session was attended by Usha Uthup, Jaya Ahsan, Toni, Upal, Abhishek Roy, Tollygunge Club President, Indrajit Mookerji and his wife Sushmita.
In the evening I hosted at dinner at the Hyatt Regency and invited few friends.
Today I shall leave for Patna. This trip is long overdue.
ess bee

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

An Authors Afternoon with Prabhudesai; The Bengal meeting

With Guest Author Devendra Pradhudesai and Raja Mukherji
June 21, 2017: Today was a very hectic day with three back-to-back events of my own that kept me busy most of the day. First there was the 45th session of An Authors Afternoon with guest author Devendra Prabhudesai.

With Devendra Prabhudesai
Mr Prabhudesai has written six books and three of which are biographies of Sunil Gavaskar, Rahul Dravid and Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. Mr Raja Mukherji, for cricketer of Bengal engaged Mr Prabhudesai.
This time the venue of An Authors Afternoon the event was shifted to Souk from The Taj Chambers due to some renovation work that was on. The conversation, as anticipated was mostly on cricket, cricketers and cricketing in India.
The Bengal Board Members
With Usha Uthup
Mr Prabhudesai also shared his views on the next book he would like to pen. He said that he has, over the years, observed some amazingly silly scenes from Hindi films which stand out due to their absurdity. He hopes to write a book on this some day.
Immediately after An Authors Afternoon, I had a meeting of The Bengal in the same hotel.
The Bengal board members turned up in full strength and we had discussions taking stock of the progress and setting the agenda for the days to come. 
With Ekavali Khanna
We also discussed about The Bengal’s flagship project Pronam. The meeting was attended by H M Bangur, Nabaneeta Deb Sen, Usha Uthup, Jogen da, Rupa Ganguly, Arindam Sil, Toni, Agnimitra Paul, Nayantara Palchoudhury, Prof Yusuf and others.
Later in the evening, attended a dinner at a banquet in the same hotel which was attended by the members of The Bengal and other guests.
ess bee

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Memorable Montreal

In Montreal
June 15, 2017, Montreal: Yesterday I took a flight from New York to Montreal and checked in at the Hotel Hyatt Regency
Hotel Hyatt Regency, Montreal
I am back in Montreal almost after 19 months but am again staying the same hotel I stayed the last time. The weather in Montreal, the largest city in Canada’s Quebec province, is quite pleasant in June.
At the Hyatt Regency, Montreal
While in Montreal, I prefer to be at the Hyatt Regency in down town area of Montreal which is considered to be the city’s entertainment district close to Palais des Congrès convention centre. The Hotel is not far from the city’s museums, Place des Arts, Chinatown and other places, including the two subway lines and the underground city.
In Montreal
I have some of my life’s most memorable memories of Montreal where, during my earlier days, I had spent weeks and months with my aunt at her home by the lakeside. 
At the Le Taj restaurant
Another place I never fail to visit while in Montreal is Vinod Kapoor’s restaurant Le Taj. Kapoor had left his native village in Mussoorie in 1985 and moved over to Montreal. This three-decade-old restaurant is one of my favourites. Visiting Le Taj is like home coming for me.
Back in New York
I find that not much has changed in Montreal and I like it that way. I returned to New York today and shall leave for India tomorrow.
ess bee

A short trip to New Jersey

At a session on my book My Life My Travels in New Jersey
June 14, 2017, New Jersey: I paid a visit to New Jersey. On 11 June, I had a session on my book My Life My Travels. It was very nice and thrilling experience to meet so many book lovers and enthusiasts away from home and sign away copies of my book.
At the New Jersey station
I have often found that Indians in the USA are more often more Indians in matters of our culture and tradition. I attended a home where a Satyanaran puja was done and had prasad.
With a book lover in New Jersey
On 13 June I met up with a group of authors, poets, scholars and literary enthusiasts over lunch.
In the company of authors, poets and scholars in New Jersey
On Monday (12 June) I visited Brooks Brothers which happens to be one of the oldest men's clothier in USA on Madison Avenue, New York, founded in 1818 as a family business.
At the Brooks Brothers in New York
Owned by the Italian billionaire Claudio Del Vecchio, the shop now also features clothing for women. I strolled through the busy Times Square area.
I shall fly to Montreal, Canada, for an overnight trip today afternoon.
ess bee

Saturday, June 10, 2017

In New York City once again

In New York City
June 9, 2017, New York City: I took Emirates flight EK573 from Kolkata to Dubai on June 4 en route to the United States. The flight provided for wifi services which is very helpful to keep oneself updated while on flight. 
I reached New York City (NYC) on June 5 from Dubai.
I am in New York to attend a World Federation of United Nations Association (WFUNA) session. 
This time I checked in at the Staybridges Hotel – an all-suite hotel of with a different type of service.
With WFUNA colleagues
It was nice to catch up with some of my WFUNA colleagues on June 6, 2017, informally before the scheduled meetings. 
With Mr Syed Akbaruddin, IFS, India's Permanent Representative to the UN
I also took time to meet Mr Syed Akbaruddin, IFS, India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations. Mr Akbaruddin is of the 1985 IAS batch and has wide diplomatic experience with a series of prestigious overseas postings and is considered to be an expert on West Asia.
With Mr Tanmaya Lal, Deputy Permanent Representative of India to the UN Permanent Mission of India
I also met ambassador Mr Tanmaya Lal who is the Deputy Permament Representative of India to UN Permanent Mission of India in New York. Ambassador Lal has worked on multilateral aspects of India’s engagement as the Head of the UN Economic and Social (UNES) division at the headquarters and earlier at the Indian Missions in Vienna, Nairobi and Bangkok.
With Dr Rajiv Mehta at Rahi restaurant, New York
On June 7 it rained in New York City marking the advent of the monsoons. I did visit parts of the city while it was raining. I went to 60 Greenwich Avenue in New York where a three-week old Indian restaurant Rahi is located. It is a modern Indian eatery and bar the offers cocktails and cuisines from different parts of India. I was surprised to find our very own mishti doi and khichdi was a part of the menu.
With Ms Riva Ganguly Das
Rahi promises traditional Indian dishes made from local produce. The ambiance is stylish with murals and paintings. This Indian restaurant in a joint project of chef Chintan Pandya, and restaurateur, Roni Mazumdar.
On June 8, I met Ms Riva Ganguly Das, Consulate General of India in New York. The Consulate Building, located on 3 East 64th Street (between 5th and Madison Avenue) is a part of the Upper East Side Historic District of New York. It was bought by the Government of India in 1950 and came to be known as New India House. This office serves residents of ten states of USA.
I also met with WFUNA Secretary General, Bonian Gulmohammadi, at the Chaiwali Harlem restaurant on 274 Lenox Avenue, Manhattan, New York. 
With Bonian Gulmuhammadi at Chaiwali Harlem restaurant in New York
The restaurant, run by owner-chef Anita Trehan, claims to offer Indian breakfast and brunch. The menu, which offers vegetarian, vegan and non-vegetarian food with gluten-free and dairy-free options. The menu card was full of fancy names. I noticed one of the drinks went by the name Calcutta Spicy Bloody Mary. The restaurant also had samosas, Kashmiri Kahwa, nimbu pani, vindaloo to Turkish raita and so on. The ambience flaunted a stuffed peacock, antelope head and murals of tigers and butterflies.
It is usually always a pleasure to be in an Indian restaurant with Bonian, who loves Indian food. 
But honestly we both were unhappy with what we were served in the name of Indian samosas. It was very greasy and we both could not eat it. Neither were we able to finish off the masala chai which I have no idea how they came to make. However, full marks to the ambience.
Imli Restaurant and Bar, New York
I also visited a new Indian restaurant called Imli Restaurant and Bar on New York’s 1136 First Avenue. It is a modern Indian eatery that opened a week earlier specialising in brunch menus inspired by old-world cafes of Mumbai. It has an open kitchen with an outdoor patio. The service bar offers a range of wines and cocktails. One of the owners of the restaurant is Mr Vincent and the owner is Mr Ram. The restaurant has indulged in its own kind of makeover dishes like non-vegetarian lamb samosas. Being a vegetarian, I am in no position to say how they taste. Mint laccha parantha was another dish.
WFUNA meeting with Lakshmi Puri, Deputy Executive Director, UN Women
I attended the 10 June meeting in which the WFUNA Leadership joined Lakshmi Puri, the Deputy Executive Director of UN Women, in giving a high five to Goal5 at the 216th meeting of the WFUNA Executive Committee (ExCo). 
With Lakshmi Puri, DED, UN Women
Ms Puri is the Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and Deputy Executive Director of UN Women. She had joined the leadership team in 2011 at the inception of UN Women, and has contributed towards building this new and dynamic entity. She is directly responsible for the leadership and management of the Bureau for Intergovernmental Support, UN System Coordination and Strategic Partnerships, and was the Acting Head of UN Women from March to August 2013.
WFUNA meeting in progress
The discussion highlighted the importance of gender equality in the Sustainable Development Agenda (SDA). Let me mention that Goal 5 is the fifth of the 17 Global Goals of United Nations and seeks to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
With Megan
On 1 January 2016, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), aka Global Goals, of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – that was adopted by the world leaders in September 2015 at a UN Summit - officially came into force.
Over the next fifteen years, these new Goals, that universally apply to all, countries will mobilise efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind.
Meeting with Sofia Borges
It was a pleasure to meet Ambassador, Her Excellency Sofia Mesquita Borges, of Timor-Leste to the UN.
ess bee 

Friday, June 2, 2017

Meeting Dr Padmesh Gupta

With Aditi and Arun Maheshwari of Vani Prakashan
June 2, 2017: I came back from Delhi yesterday evening. I attended Vani Foundation’s “Hindi Sevi Samman Samaroh” award function held at the India International Centre, New Delhi, on May 31, 2017. It was nice to meet awardee Dr Padmesh Gupta from London.
With Sonal Mansingh and Anant Vijay
I also met Arun Maheshwari and his daughter Aditi Maheshwari of Vani Prakashan, and danseuse Sonal Mansingh and other eminent litterateurs.
With Prof Pushpita Awasthi and Titikssha Shah
Today afternoon I accompanied Dr Padmesh Gupta and Arun Maheshwari to the Raj Bhawan to meet the Governor, Shri Keshari Nath Tripathi. Dr Gupta presented his lastest book to the Governor.
Padmesh Gupta is a poet and director of Oxford Business College, London, and is the recipient of many awards. 
With Professor Gabriella of New York University
He was awarded the Padmabhushan Moturi Satyanarayan Award for his poems written in Hindi and was felicitated with the Hindi Sevi Samman Awards in 2015 by President Pranab Mukherjee for promoting Hindi in UK.
With Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi and Padmesh Gupta at the Raj Bhawan, Kolkata
Dr Gupta also owns Eurobar Hotel on George Street and has lived in Oxford since 2006. He has been writing poetry for more than 30 years, and has published and edited the Hindi magazine Purvai for 18 years.
While in Delhi, I also had a good meeting with director of British council.
ess bee

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

At the Pronam South Division annual event

30 May, 2017: Yesterday evening I attended the annual Pronam divisional programme organized by the Kolkata Police, South Division, at the Kalamandir. The program was attended by over 500 senior citizen members of Pronam.
The programme was flagged off with the lighting of the lamp and an opening song by the Pronam members. After which, the senior citizens were treated to a performance by eminent singers Lopamudra Mitra and Pramita Mallick, followed by a dance performance by ‘NRITYAJA’. 
The Kolkata Police Orchestra also performed at the function.
Shri Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay, Hon’ble Minister in Charge, Power & Non Conventional Energy Sources, Government of West Bengal, graced the programme as the Chief Guest along with Subroto Bakshi, MP, and Mala Roy-Chairperson Kolkata Municipal Corporation.
With senior citizen members of Pronam
Joint convener of Pronam project, Agnimitra Paul, along with Kolkata police officials Hari Kishore Kusumakar, IPS- Addl CP (IV), Sujay Kumar Chanda, IPS – Jt CP (E), Praveen Kumar Tripathi, IPS-DC SD, were also present at the event.
I took this opportunity to interact with with different groups of senior citizens sought their feedback after the programme. Currently, Pronam has a membership base of close to 13,000 senior citizens.
I am flying to Delhi today evening.
ess bee


Saturday, May 27, 2017

Being in China

At the Jianguo Hotel in Beijing
May 27, 2017: I am back in Kolkata from a visit to the People’s Republic of China. I reached Beijing last Sunday (May 23) for a week-long stay and checked in at the Jianguo Hotel, one of the first five-star hotels of Beijing. 
This hotel is located in the central business district of Beijing and is about five kilometres from Forbidden City Palace and the National Museum of China.
This is my first stay in this hotel and the room is elegant with free wi-fi, satellite TV and a mini bar. The hotel has three restaurants with one serving French cuisine.
I visited China as the deputy leader of a delegation from Indian Federation of United Nations Associations (IFUNA).
After checking into the hotel, I went visited the food court on Silk Street, also known as the Silk Market, and it was great experience to have samosas at the Mirch Masala restaurant located on the top floor of the market offering Indian and Pakistani dishes.
I also attended a welcome dinner in Beijing hosted by the Ambassador Lu Shumin, Executive President, Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs (CPIFA) which was founded in December 1949 on the initiative of the late Premier Zhou Enlai, the first-of-its-kind, devoted to people-to-people diplomacy after the founding of New China.
At the China Institute of Social Sciences
It was a great experience meeting up with scholars at the China Institute of International Studies (CIIS)
With Ms Tang Qifang, Mr Lan Xianxue and Mrs Dikkanchi D Shira of China Institute of Social Sciences
Wherever I met Chinese diplomats I found that they were in full of praises for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and lauded the reforms he has introduced in India.
With Geeta and Bharat
One of the highpoint of my China visit was my meeting with the Indian brother and sister duo, Bharat and Geeta, who were kind enough to spare time for me and introduced me to some of the great artistes of China. 
With Shi Jianmin, one of the top contemporary artists of China
I got an opportunity to meet Shi Jianmin, one of the most respected contemporary artists of China. His work encompasses fine art, design, sculpting, architecture and landscape design. He tries to connect the tradition with modernity through his work of art. 
Shi presented to me a signed book with my name calligraphed on it. Shi Jianmin graduated from the Xi’an Art School.
Xi’an is the capital city of Shaanxi Province in central China. Once known as Chang’an (Eternal Peace), it marks the Silk Road’s eastern end and was home to the Zhou, Qin, Han and Tang dynasties. 
With the famous Terracotta Warriors at Bingmayong, a World Heritage site
At archaeological sites in Xi’an’s surrounding plains are the famed Bingmayong (terracotta army), thousands of life-size, hand-moulded figures buried with China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang.
In front of Grand New Century Hotel, Beijing
In Xi’an, which is about 1200 kms from Beijing, I checked in at the Grand New Century Hotel. I took some time out to visit this famous archaeological site which is a World Heritage site of Unesco.
With Mr Du Jianhua and his wife
I also met Mr Du Jianhua, the director of China Art Research Centre while in Beijing. He was very kind to gift me his artwork.
At the Beijing Planning Exhibition Hall
Among some of the other places I visited were the Beijing Planning Exhibition Hall, the magnificent site of the The Great Wall of China and some Indian restaurants. 
With Mrs Meenakshi Verma, Mr Vinayak Srivastava, Mrs Dikkanchi D Shira, Ms Rakchira D Shira, Mr Chander P Mahajan and Ms Li Nan
While in Xi’an, I got to know about an Indian restaurant called Delhi Darbar
With the Great Wall of China in the Backdrop
The restaurant manager was very kind send nice Indian food, in line with my veggie options, at 11:30 pm to my hotel.
At the Indian Pavilion
The other Indian eating joint called Redfort Restaurant & Club at the beautifully-decorated Indian Pavilion in Xi'an. 
At the Redfort Restaurant in Indian Pavilion
I had delicious Indian cuisine at the Redfort. The restaurant also flaunts its name in Hindi and the style of the building is also Indian. The restaurant's whole staff, from chef to the waiters, are Indians who greet you with a namaste
A typical Indian serving at the Redfort
The restaurant also has professional Bollywood dancers. I am told the restaurant is also popular with the foreigners who visit the region.
With Deputy Director General, Gong, Guijun in Shaanxi Province
While in Xi’an, I attended a dinner hosted by the Foreign Affairs Office of Shaanxi Province.
With Mr M H Pastakia of Taj Pavilion
Another memorable meeting was with Mr M H Pastakia, the current president of the informally constituted Indian Community of Beijing, and the owner of Taj Pavilion Restaurant chain. Mr Pastakia is married to a Chinese lady, Zheng Xiao Wen, and together run their restaurant business serving spicy Indian dishes to the growing expatriate population. Taj Pavilion specialises in serving a range of south Indian dishes in the land of chow mein.
I must say the changes over the past decades in China can only be described as humongous. Be it infrastructure, social life and scientific advancement. The week long visit to China was an eye-opener and I feel there is much Indian and Indians can learn from China.
ess bee