Sundeep is one of those friends with whom you can pick up from where you left off
In September 2016, I was invited to Vatican City for the canonisation of Mother Teresa. It was there that I probably had my most memorable time with Sundeep Bhutoria. We were staying in the same hotel, and to meet someone from my country — that too someone that I knew so well — so far away from home, was wonderfully reassuring. Sundeep, as usual, had organised a sumptuous dinner with the who’s who of Rome and Vatican City in attendance. It was another example of how whatever Sundeep does, he does it shaan se!
I have known Sundeep for 25 years now, during which time we have developed a seamless professional relationship as well as a deep personal bond. Sundeep is one of those friends with whom you can pick up from where you left off. Impeccably dressed, incurably passionate about his projects, and possessing that unteachable touch of class, he is a thorough gentleman. He keeps a beautiful home, loves his food and travel, and is always keen to do something or the other that enhances culture for the benefit of his native Kolkata.
Sundeep’s writings encapsulate his best qualities — cultural consciousness, curiosity for and acceptance of diversity, and above all, an unbreakable connection to his roots. These are also the qualities that make him a quintessential “global desi”.
Having made Kolkata my karma bhoomi, I have seen how the city has grown and evolved over the decades. For me, Kolkata is, and will forever remain, magical — a mesmerising city that knows how to share and get the best out of its inhabitants. The presence of people like Sundeep have ensured that Kolkata carries on with its rich legacy of cultural cosmopolitanism, as a place that never fails to open its heart for those eager to experience its charms.
At the same time, it devastates me when I see the levels of poverty and deprivation on the streets of Kolkata. I am glad that as a cultural commentator, these sordid aspects of our civilisation do not escape the notice of Sundeep, who has never shied away from addressing issues of social relevance in his work.
During my travels around the world, I have seen the architecture of Kolkata reflected in several corners of London; I have seen Italians live life with the same verve and enthusiasm as so many Calcuttans do; I have seen people of Indian origin in Kenya and South Africa celebrate our cultural norms with as much dedication as the people back home. My journeys across the globe have reiterated my faith and my love for Indianness, and it gives me great pleasure to encounter that same faith and love in this beautifully crafted book by Sundeep.
The past year has been extremely tough on all of us. The Covid-19 pandemic has shown us that every industry is vulnerable, not least my industry of entertainment. It is my sincere hope that, alongside the stellar endeavours he is already engaged in, Sundeep also spearheads the integration of technology and culture in the times to come, so that more virtual events can be organised, unaffected by the problems posed by Covid-19.
The sky is the limit for Sundeep, and given his vision, adaptability, and perseverance, I am certain that he has a whole lot more left to achieve. The Global Desi: Reflections on Home and Away is not just a compelling account of what Sundeep stands for; it is also a celebration of the values that make our culture one of the oldest and most glorious cultures known to humankind.
I am sure you will thoroughly enjoy this book, just as I have, and dwell on the multifarious insights that underline the very best that the world has to offer through a uniquely Indian lens.