A Sindhi guy, in his Prussian blue suit, started his note in English, satisfying all our expectations. But within seconds, he switched over to Bengali in proper accent, much better than a son of the soil in the truest sense of the term. Not just the language! You should’ve heard his voice brimming with confidence and passion, his love for the soil, his portrayal of the Bengali culture, his poise within, all in the form of a staccato. I was literally taken aback.
Ladies and gentleman, I present to you Sumit Vidhani – a fresh, young man in the block of Hospitality with distinct thoughts and discrete tastes. It was 21st Feb, 2020, the evening of the Grand Finale of TFBA 3.0, and also, International Mother Language Day. So, the moment Sumit decided to shift his address in Bengali from English, the famous words of Nelson Mandela probably started playing in his head. “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. But if you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.” And needless to say, this man steals the spotlight in no time.
Once the function was over, I couldn’t resist myself from going to meet him. “How come you speak Bengali so well?”, I asked him. The COO of a 4-star property in Bilaspur, Aananda Imperial (V.N. Inn Pvt Ltd.), turned to me and smiled softly. “I might be born in a Sindhi family, but I’m more a Bengali by heart than a Sindhi”, quips Sumit who had spent his entire student life in Kolkata, studying at St. Xavier’s College. The stint had probably created a deep love and affinity in him for the local Bengalis and their culture. And since then, he gets goosebumps whenever something creative related to Bengal takes place.
The Aananda Imperial’s association, as a proud Trophy partner with TFBA 2020 and simultaneously, introducing The Aananda Imperial trophy for Best Bangla Blog Content in the 3rd edition, undoubtedly speak volumes about his passion for the City of Joy and its culture.
A strong believer in “Dream Big”, being instilled by the group Chairman Mr. Dula Ram Vidhani, Sumit is one of the front-runners to take their 10-year old legacy to the next level. The very next evening, on 22nd, all the finalists were invited at their newly owned Kolkata restaurant, Bongnese, in Salt Lake to celebrate an after-party. As the name suggests, the place is an amalgamation of two words- Bong, which is a colloquial term for Bengalis, and Chinese. Bongnese is a signature house to offer Authentic Bengali dishes from East and West Bengal along with some lost names of the great Colonial era. The restaurant has eighty seats. Traces of both Bengal and China have been infused into the decor. The furniture, the hue, props and lights all suggest the confluence of the two cultures.
The passionate hotelier greeted us along with his GM Confidant Rajib Roy Choudhury in traditional Bengali culture. And our good old friend Rajibda cracked some magic moments by presenting us with a brilliant ginger wine prepared by an Anglo Indian community in Bilaspur, under the initiative of Aananda Imperial. Goes without saying that there were innumerous other imported drinks available. But I decided to stick to the new and uncommon one with a soothing background score of a brilliant violinist, Ramanuj Chatterjee. “I think you like that drink a lot!”, Sumit whispered in my ears with his signature smile. I couldn’t help but nod. It was absolutely fantastic. Amidst all of this, a variety of starters including Haans’er Dim’er Devil & Chorbi’r Bora had created a tremendous amount of enthusiasm among the food bloggers and I was no exception.
A very down to earth, culturally sound Mr Sumit Vidhani, is a Chef by choice and has worked with the Taj Hotels after completing his Degree in Hotel Management from Bengaluru. Believe it or not, he can fluently speak in eight regional languages of Bengal, as surprising as that sounds. Isn’t that enough proof to understand his love for the language? He has been awarded with the coveted Young Hotelier of the Year Award at the recently concluded 5th Annual IMA Awards at Pune. His child, Aananda Imperial, has seen a new dawn in the Hotel & Hospitality industry of Bilaspur in Chattisgarh and has been awarded as the Best Wedding & MICE Hotel in Central India.
The dinner was elaborate with all traditional and extraordinaire Bengali cuisines. But who knew the surprise was still due? Sumit requested us to stay back for some more time as he calmly held our hands much alike in the form of a ‘merry-go-round’ and started singing Pratul Mukhopadhyay’s 26-year old, evergreen iconic number, Ami Banglay Gaan Gai. We all sang along, our eyes tearing up.