Monday Night, My first social event here in Kolkata, everyone for the art community was there. Housed in a grand British Colonial mansion in the center of the city and here is where the ironies abound. Started by a foundation from an Indian businessman who made his money in real estate and the hospitality industry. The exterior looks like a crumbling giant yet when you climb the stairs to the 2nd floor and open the door you enter another world. Situated on the former Harrington Street, which is now called Ho Chi Minh Sarani across from the American Embassy in a Marxist state. The State of West Bengal has elected a Communist government for the past 30 years. These dichotomies could not be invented as proclaimed at a conference the next day by my friend Dr. Paula Sengupta.
A Beth Payne, the Consul General from the US embassy, inaugurated the center. A woman probably not much older than me. We were introduced but as yet I have not been invited for tea at the embassy. The event was quite the swank affair with women in their most luxurious saris. Some were even museum pieces.
Afterwards I was taken to the home of the writer, Kunal Basu, who teaches management at Oxford University but is celebrated here for his fiction, The Opium Clerk to name one. His web site: www.kunalbasu.com
And then on to dinner at the same restaurant (Azad Hind, of North Indian cuisine) I have been eating at since I arrived. Evidently it is the local late night haunt.
Dinner with the director of Khoj and designer Abhijit Gupta and his wife and daughter, Kunal Basu and his wife and daughter and the artist Chhatrapati Dutta, a lively crew.
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