Sundeep Bhutoria

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ess bee

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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

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