Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Magical Evening in India

Today we were holed up for most of the afternoon at the Dusit Thani Manila going over all the minute details for Travelife India Night at the Dusit Thani Manila on February 25. It promises to be a most wonderful evening of excellent Indian cuisine and truly world-class music by some of India's best sitar and sarod musicians. And the Dusit Thani is sparing no resource to ensure that the evening will be a great success.

Travelife India Night, was planned in cooperation with Indian Ambassador Yogendra Kumar and the Indian embassy in Manila, as well as with the Indian Council on Cultural Relations and the Dusit Thani, of course. Like most other Travelife Magazine events so far, it began as a minute of inspiration and I still remember exactly when this was. I was having dinner at Ambassador Kumar's lovely home in North Forbes and we were discussing all things Indian, including my trip to South India last March, when it suddenly dawned on me that Travelife should plan an event that would bring Indian culture to more Filipinos.


"Let's plan a cultural event to introduce Indian culture in Manila," I said to Ambassador Kumar. "There's too little cultural activity here, and I would really like to give more Filipinos -- especially the ones who can't really visit India now or in the near future -- a real taste of India."

I've said this before in television and newspaper interviews. It's very important to me that Travelife is not just another travel magazine. Travelife is an encompassing experience that will include a magazine, tour opportunities, cultural opportunities, and -- later in the year -- a television show. We're not a company publishing another magazine. We're a group of people who really love to travel, who are creating ways and means for other people to do so as well. And it's personally very important to me that as many of our readers as possible get an honest-to-goodness feel for travel. Real travel.

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India has among the greatest cultures in the world but, frankly, so few Filipinos have been and not very many know much about it either. This is a big shame as there is so much that we can learn from our very large neighbor in the East. It's also a most fascinating country for tourism and an incredible destination for food and shopping.


Fortunately, Ambassador Kumar and his charming wife Indira, and First Secretary Gyan Singh, are all generous and tireless promoters of India. Ambassador Kumar and Mr Singh worked it out so that we were able to get some of the most talented sitar and sarod players in India to play for the Travelife India Night on their one free evening in Manila. Then, we were also able to get various Indian wine companies to provide us with top-quality Indian wines to complement the meal. Madame Kumar, on the other hand, very generously opened her home to Travelife Magazine once again and allowed us to choose among her personal collection of beautiful Indian artifacts, and to borrow these for Travelife India Night. Each of our 15 tables will be adorned with one of these antiques from India, and the rest will be displayed in the cocktail area.


On the Dusit side, Dusit general manager Prateek Kumar hails from India, and one of the hotel chefs is also Indian. Together they've come up with a gourmet meal worthy of an Indian ambassador and a whole phalanx of Indian dignitaries. This will probably be the first truly Indian evening Manila has ever seen.

The entire embassy will be in attendance, along with the most prominent members of the Indian community here -- many of them CEOs of top corporations. Not a few of them have been incredibly supportive of this Travelife Magazine venture to promote India to Manilans. One Indian lady provided us with over a dozen Indian saris for the Travelife staff to wear, while another lady -- an expert classical dancer -- has generously agreed to perform especially for Travelife Magazine. So this is an extra in the program.

Both Ambassador Kumar and myself have invited our personal friends among the diplomatic community to Travelife India Night, and so we have a very impressive roster of ambassadors and their spouses in attendance; along with readers and friends of Travelife Magazine, and valued associates from the airline and hotel industries.

Many companies have also weighed in to ensure that Travelife India Night will be a big success. Premier Wines is also providing wines, so between their wonderful Chilean wines and the Indian wines that have been especially flown in and provided for the event, I can guarantee that it will be a very liquid evening.

Philippine Airlines, which is opening a route to India in March, and Air Mauritius are also donating airline tickets for our raffle, along with other travel providers.

And finally, Eastern Telecoms is providing LCD entertainment with images of India for the evening; and also iPads for guests to surf more about India and about Travelife Magazine.

Manila has never had such an authentic Indian evening before, and I doubt if it will see one evening like this again in a very long time. The event is completely sold out as of 654 PM today, February 17. But we're still hoping to get a bigger venue within the hotel -- if another scheduled event doesn't push through -- to enable us to bring in more guests from our waitlist. But as of now, we have 150 guests attending this truly special evening -- a true labor of love from Travelife Magazine, the Dusit Thani Manila and our friends at the Indian Embassy.

Embassy of India in the Philippines

Indian Council for Cultural Relations

To reserve a limited seat,
please call Rachel at 813-8400
or email
Tickets for the dinner and concert
cost PhP 1499 per person.


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