Latest UpdatesArt & Craft'Calcuttascape' delivers cakes to ‘roti’-wallas

‘Calcuttascape’ delivers cakes to ‘roti’-wallas

Dedicated to The Lockdown & ITC Royal Bengal 

A liveried bearer from the ITC Rajputana Sheraton delivers packs of ‘chaat’-cum-soft drinks and then a khaki envelope. Calcuttascape! A paper-back in hard-cover, the  book by Sundeep Bhutoria! Innuendo from the one hardly known to me? Impressed by the innovative way of presentation I glance at the cover: a Hindustan Ambassador racing at you with an age-old building in background. The City of Joy is ideally personified to lure you to journey some 250 pages. He calls Kolkata as “India’s Cultural Mecca.” In fact, it happens to be his fifth book: The Safari, Aap Biti Jag Biti (in Hindi), My Life My Travels, and China Diary being the earlier works. So here comes a sojourn to know more about this writer and his book…

By Harsh Vardhan

Sundeep Bhutoria, the author of  Calcuttascape was born in an Oswal family in a town called Churu, however, destiny took him to Calcutta.

Bhutoria garnered enormous fame being a gentle author, speaker, columnist, blogger, art collector and a wild life enthusiast. He has also been taking up many social welfare activities while promoting the Indian folk art, literature and culture. Since then, he has been narrating many interesting tales in his regular column, The Hindustan Times, Kolkata edition.

Those all collections have now become the book as he shares his experiences over different continents. His staying at posh hotels, eating vegetarian at haute couture restaurants, meeting mostly big-wigs, all this to re-establish the sub-continental supremacy in its literary forms, art, culture, etc, he appears to be his best while arranging cultural soirees, inviting who’s-who and according honour to artists, writer, etc., who, in his view, could not receive a coveted opportunity so far. Assemblage of dilettante getting informally graduated through his events? Much to delight of a horde of connoisseurs turning up in choicest sartorial elegance. 

'Calcuttascape' delivers cakes to ‘roti’-wallas
Sundeep Bhutoria with His Holiness Dalai Lama in New Delhi (photo-courtesy essbee)

The text, despite coming in with fly-by-night approach, is horizontal and is intimately woven around social milieu, originating from Kolkata, nay Calcutta as he dares to call it! A cross-section of elite and wealthy receive due mention. Like Sujoy Ghosh, Director of Kahaani, a movie starring a noted femme fatale. He justifies worth of organising Literary Festivals, now spreading like an epidemic. But does not spare: the Jaipur Lit-Fest is all about big names….common persons are lost in the crowd? 

Calling a spade a spade

Capable to call a spade a spade, Sundeep nurses a strong traditional fervour to lament over “loss of childhood” within past three decades across India.  He cribs for people getting “distanced from Mother Nature.” Ardently advocates, “Faith is the common thread to move millions.” Argues for women to “receive equal rights in society.” Ironically he himself condemns hypocrisy citing “award events being how much frivolous and how much real.”

An impeccable organiser

He is perceived as an impeccable organiser yet had to face mayhem at an event to question: “Can’t we see beyond the political parties and support individual candidates….the fact that people tend to look on the darker, rather than the bright side….” Finally acknowledges, “God exists!” He always dons a traditional costume (kurta-pyjama) all the time and every where willing to oppose imperialistic dress-code at certain clubs.

His “Gastronomical pilgrimages”

Sundeep appears having strong weakness for food and does not forget names of chefs eg Prasad Metrani at Taj Bengal. He paints Bukhara with a soft culinary-brush. He narrates own “gastronomical pilgrimages” and also questions cost of a cup of tea at Rs 80 on way to Ranthambhore. The critic inside him often lurks out: why had Gulshan and Javed Akhtar to speak in English at a festival…..Princess Diya Kumari “technically becomes the Rajmata of Sirmaur….”  

All through well-paced narrations, he wants, “India to stand up!” Decries, “Chalta hai mode…”

Credit to Kolkata editors that his column had ran for years. I am reminded of the column Frank Moraes used to do each Monday (The Indian Express), “Men, Matters and memories” to selflessly outline meeting Moshe Dayan on 3rd floor balcony of an Istanbul hotel and President Sukarono’s oratory in SE Asia. Need I recall the column done by Khushwant Singh (The Hindustan Times) which seldom missed mention of buxom breasts and voluminous buttocks, ending with drops of Scotch. 

'Calcuttascape' delivers cakes to ‘roti’-wallas

A humble note to a doting mother

While folding up, Sundeep inscribes a personal note…“my mother, the late Dr. Prabha Khaitan, was one of the first Marwari women to step out of the confines of the house and became a successful entrepreneur….” To elaborate the proud legacy she left, he cites a list of names of successful females emerging out as business skippers: Ridhi Agarwal, Indira Nooyi, Naina Lal Kidwai, Jyoti Naik, Dr. Kiran Majumdar-Shaw. “I am sure more Marwari women will soon burst into the scene….a very positive and encouraging development.” 

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