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, 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

Monday, May 22, 2017

En route China after 14 years

At the Hong Kong airport
22 May 2017: I landed in China today afternoon as the Deputy Leader of an Indian Federation of United Nations Association (IFUNA) delegation.
I am visiting the People’s Republic of China after almost 14 years and I am looking forward to have a first hand view of the humongous changes that have taken place over the past decade. I shall be visiting the China Institute of International Studies and participate in their programs.
The Hong Kong airport, which I used as a transit, seems to be a lot more busy than what I thought. But its smooth operations helped me connect to my Beijing flight within just 50 minutes of transit time.
ess bee

Thursday, May 18, 2017

An Authors Afternoon with Anand Neelakantan

With Esha Chatterjee and Anand Neelakantan
18 May, 2017: I attended another edition of An Authors Afternoon at The Taj Bengal today. The guest author was Anand Neelakantan who is a novelist, cartoonist, and writer of short stories and television soaps.
Anand handing over a signed copy of his book
It was a session full of wit and humour at its best as Anand played out to the galleries. Anand’s latest novel The Rise of Shivagami is a prequel to the Bahubali trilogy which sets the background on which the immensely successful Bahubali series of films are based.
Though Anand enjoys writing short stories the most, he finds it the least remunerative on the monetary front. In contrast, the dumbed-down television soaps help him to earn a lot more.
Another very interesting fact about Anand is that his books Asura: Title of the Vanquished, Roll of the Dice and Rise of Kali present a narrative as seen from the eyes of those characters of our mythology and epics, like Ravana and Duryodhan, that happen to be the bad guy.
With Bickram, Sohini and Arindam at the special screening of Durga Sahoy
I attended few other meetings after the event and then dropped by at the special premiere of Arindam Sil-directed movie Durga Sahoy at the Inox at Quest Mall. The cast of Durga Sahoy and other guests attended the screening.
ess bee

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Dinner with diplomats and friends

With Bruce Bucknell and Sein Stein, Acting Dy Asst Secy, South & Central Asian Affairs,
17 May, 2017: I hosted a dinner for diplomats and some of my friends. It was nice to have Mr Sein B Stein, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for South & Central Asian Affairs, US Foreign Affairs department, at the dinner at the Hyatt Regency today.
Mr Sein has previously served as a Consul General in Shenyang China and besides English, he speaks Mandarin Chinese and Indonesian.
With Alexey M Idamkin, Consul General, Russian Federation, in Kolkata
The dinner was attended by the Consul Generals of USA, UK, Russian Federation, Italy, France and other countries.
I had also invited some of my other friends to attend the dinner.
ess bee

Saturday, May 13, 2017

In Delhi for meetings and lunches

May 13, 2017: I came to Delhi from Jaipur and checked in at the ITC Maurya. I stayed over for few days as I had quite a few meetings and a lunch to attend. 
With Home Minister, Rajnath Singh
I met Home Minister, Sri Rajnath Singh. I had a good meeting with the Human Resources Development (HRD) minister, Sri Prakash Javadekar, yesterday.
I also had a brief meeting with Sri Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State with Independent charge of Culture and Tourism Ministry. I have always admired his multi-tasking abilities and the speed at which he carries out his work.
With Mahesh Sharma, Cultural & Tourism Minister
I had a lunch meeting with danseuse Sonal Mansingh ji yesterday as well. It was nice to meet her after a spell.
Today afternoon I went to the Taj Mahal Hotel to attend a lunch for which I was invited by Toni Atanasovski, Ambassador, Republic of Macedonia, to introduce the host, Mr Namit Bajoria, newly-appointed Honorary Consul, Republic of Macedonia in Kolkata, to some of the other ambassadors and guests.
With Toni Atanasovski, Ambassador of Republic of Macedonia and Shazia Ilmi
The Ambassadors of Serbia, Bosnia, Krygztan, and a senior diplomat of the Holy See (Vatican City) and a representative of the only lady minister of UAE were present at the lunch. Shazia Ilmi and Ina Puri also joined in.
I shall leave for Kolkata to night.
ess bee

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Choupal with Rahul Bose

With Rahul Bose at Choupal, Jaipur
May 10, 2017: I took a flight from Kolkata and came to Jaipur on Monday night and landed Delhi this noon. Yesterday was a session of Choupal with actor-director, Rahul Bose, at the ITC Rajputana.
Rahul Bose was very impressed with the set up for the event and said that he had done over five hundred events but had never seen such a nice setting. In keeping with the name of the event, we had kept the setting very simple and introduced charpoys for the guests to sit on, which, perhaps, raised the novelty of the event manifold.
Rahul talked about his latest film Poorna which is inspired by the teenage sensation, Poorna Malavath, who has become the youngest girl to scale Mount Everest.
Yesterday evening I also attended a dinner hosted in my honour at the Periwal House at International School, Mahapura. I am really thankful to the Periwal family for the warmth and love extended to me.
In Delhi it is a busy day for me with quite a few meetings tied up.
ess bee

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

At the special screening of Bhalobashar Sohor

With Lamia Rahman Ahad and Jaya Ahsan
May 9, 2017: I, on behalf of Prabha Khaitan Foundation, organized a special screening of a short film Bhalobashar Sohor at the Nandan–III yesterday evening. 
With Tonushree
The 30-minute film is directed by Indronil Roy Chowdhury with Bangladeshi actress Jaya Ahsan as the main cast. Sohini Sarkar, Ritwick Chakraborty, who have acted in the film, were there at the special screening.
With Priyanka
Lamia Rahman Ahad, wife of Bangladesh High Commissioner in Kolkata, Zokey Ahad, was the chief guest and she was welcomed by Jaya Ahsan with an uttoriyo.
Among others who attended the special screening were actress Tonushree and Priyanka. Also present were directors Arindam Sil, Anik Dutta, Kaushik Ganguly, Srijato, singers Srikanta Acharya, Anindyaa, Titas Sen and others who mingled over tea and light snacks before the actual screening.
After the event, I went to the airport to catch a flight for Jaipur to attend the first session of Choupal with Rahul Bose tomorrow.
ess bee

Friday, May 5, 2017

At the IMUN in Agra

Train journey from Jaipur to Agra after many years
May 5, 2017: After many years, I undertook a train journey from Jaipur to Agra on May 2 to attend the Agra International Model United Nations (A-IMUN) that was being held from April 29 to May 3, 2017.
In my childhood, while travelling by train, I used to carry my own food. I realised that this childhood habit is still strong and I took some food with me. But I was surprised by the fresh and hygienic food served in the train. I must say things have definitely improved a lot.
At the closing session of WIMUN in Agra
In Agra, I checked in at the ITC Mughal which is set amid 14 hectares of landscaped gardens and two-and-half kilometres away from the iconic Taj Mahal. This was my first stay in this hotel and I must say that the hotel has taken care of the smallest details to create a luxurious ambiance.
I must say UP looks a lot peaceful and better ever since Yogi Adityanath took over at the helm. In the evening, I visited the locally famous chaat gali in Agra sadar. I think, after Taj Mahal, this is a must-visit place in Agra.
At the dinner hosted by We Care for me
In the evening, before attending the dinner hosted by We Care for me, I spoke at the closing ceremony of WFUNA International Model United Nations (WIMUN) held at the Jaypee Palace Hotel & Convention Centre. I met Mr Gary Fowlie, Head of ITU, and few others.
At the Taj Mahal
On May 3 early morning, I also visited the Taj Mahal and reached Delhi in the evening via Gatiman - the fastest train in India - which covered the distance between Agra and Delhi in one hour forty minutes.
With Derk Segaar of UNIC, Delhi
On May 4, I met the director of United Nations Information Centre (UNIC), Delhi, Derk Segaar. 
With Girija Devi
I also met Girija Devi at a private dinner and was blessed to have spent some time with the living legend.
With Sir Dominic Asquith, British Deputy High Commissioner in India
Today morning, I met the British High Commissioner in India, Sir Dominic Asquith at his residence. He is the great-grandson of former UK Prime Minister (1908-16) Herbert Henry Asquith.
ess bee

Monday, May 1, 2017

Kalam in Jaipur with Anant Vijay

At the Marriott Jaipur for Kalam event
April 30, 2017: I landed in Jaipur on Saturday and went straight to the Marriott Hotel Jaipur to attend another series of Kalam in Jaipur with author Anant Vijay.
The guest author for Kalam, Anant Vijay, is a senior journalist, columnist and author. Anant has written eight books on different genres, and today, at the Kalam event, I was in conversation with him. In fact I had to fill in at the last moment for the Dainik Bhaskar editor who had to leave the city due to an emergency.
During the conversation, Anant pointed out some facts that he felt strongly about. He said that Hindi literature is losing its eminence in India as more and more people prefer to send their children to the English schools. He also expressed his views against the trend of using “Hinglish” that is the use of English words in Hindi newspapers to connect with the youth.
At the Birla Auditorium, Jaipur ,for Annual Ballet Expose
After the Kalam event, later in the evening, I went to the Birla Auditorium to see the third Annual Ballet Expose. It was a fusion ballet in which kalbelia and bhawai dancers performed along with ballet dancers based on the theme “Get addicted to Happiness”.
Before the ballet show, I had tea at the Tapri Ashram, which happens to be the third Tapri outlet in Pink City, just outside the gate of Marriott Hotel. This joint was inaugurated yesterday only and I am sure its close proximity to the Marriott will affect the business of the hotel’s coffee shop.
Tomorrow I shall leave for Agra for the International Model United Nations (IMUN) being hosted by the World Federation of United Nations Association (WFUNA). I shall be addressing the closing ceremony on Tuesday May 2, 2017.
ess bee