APRIL 2011
Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida



Story provided by SAHASRA NAMAN

Swaralaya, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion of south Indian classical music in the Tampa Bay area, was started in 2001 by a small group of classical music lovers. Carnatic Sangeet is a system of ancient classical music associated with South India. It is one of two main sub genres of Indian classical music from ancient Hindu traditions, the other being Hindustani music.

During the past decade, Swaralaya has organized more than 40 concerts by top Carnatic music artists from India and North America. The list includes the famous artists in the south Indian music arena, including Sanjay Subramanyam, Unnikrishnan, TM Krishna, Shasahank, Kadri Gopalnath, Ranjini Gayatri and Bombay Jayshree. Swaralaya conducts at least four concerts annually at the University of South Florida Public Health Hall.

The 10th anniversary concerts will be kicked off by Vidwan T.M. Krishna at 4 p.m. on April 24. He will be accompanied by R.K.Sriramkumar on the violin and Arun

Prakash on the mridangam. As a token of appreciation to the community, Swaralaya plans to provide a complimentary dinner after the concert.

The rest of the year’s lineup includes Priya sisters on May 14, Heart Beat an orchestral ensemble on Sept. 24 and Sangeetha Sivakumar on Oct. 22.

For more information, visit www.swaralaya.us


Story provided by SHOBANA DANIELL

An Indian American businesswoman Radha Mehta was invited by Darden Restaurants to speak at its celebration of the Women’s History Month. March 8 was the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day. Darden is one of the largest full-service restaurant companies. Its brands include Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Bahama Breeze, The Capital Grille, among others.

The event was held on March 24 at Darden’s world headquarters in Orlando. The luncheon focused on challenges women face in the business world and how to overcome them. Mehta as the vice president of Mehta Engineering Co. is in charge of operations. In addition to an unusual professional career, she is an accomplished singer and recording artist and has sung with Fleetwood Mac as well as at various national baseball and Orlando Magic games.

Mehta has a degree in Computer Engineering from Duke University and is now enrolled in the Executive MBA program at Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University.

One of the questions asked to Mehta was how does she use her ‘right & left brain’ skills of math and music to her advantage. He reply, “My musical abilities help me see the big symphonic picture” in a profession where the team of engineers are concentrating on the minutiae of complex engineering projects.

She credited parents, Hansa and Vipin Mehta, for encouraging her to be strong, assertive and making her voice heard.


More than 7,000 people attended the 15th annual Indiafest March 12-13 in Melbourne.

The event’s theme was “Cultural Weddings of India.” The many colors of the Indian cultural weddings unfolded as visitors strolled through the Discover India booths where they got a chance to touch, see and taste the diversity of the Indian cultural weddings.

The festival featured about 50 vendors selling everything from tantalizing Indian cuisines, to vibrant attires, jewelry, CDs and DVDs, arts and crafts and much more. Dozens of Indiafest sponsors came out to show their goods and services as the younger crowd indulged in the Youth Activity Booth, which featured a trivia game, chess with a chess master and several hands-on activities.

Grown-ups treated themselves to henna, cooking demonstrations, sari wrapping and most importantly - the shopping. The enticing aroma of various flavors of curries and tandooris was the main course of the day for many attendees.

Entertainment featured local artistes playing tunes on the santoor and tabla as well as all-day stage performances. Groups from across Florida showed off their dances, from classical to the more contemporary Indian dances. Dance performances took up most of both days’ stage events as the audience was treated to dances from the various regions of India. A fashion show also was held.

The event was presented by Manav Mandir.


Performers Manoj Mishra and Nirupama Dey
at the Ekal Tampa fundraiser.

The Tampa Bay chapter of the Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation of USA raised $197,000 on March 5, enough to fund 540 one-teacher schools for needy village populations in rural India. Performers Manoj Mishra and Nirupama Dey drew an audience of more than 1,000 to the India Cultural Center in Tampa. Contributions from attendees flowed throughout the night, as donors pledged to support schools and in some cases even matched the donations of others.

“We are very honored by the generosity of the crowd,” said chapter President Umesh Choudhry. “There were even student volunteers taking out their pocket change to contribute to the cause.”

A charitable trust, Ekal Vidyalaya (www.ekal.org) initiates, supports and runs non-formal one-teacher schools in India. The movement strives to create a network of non-formal schools and health education that will educate and empower children in tribal India.

The fundraiser, which was co-sponsored by the Gujarati Samaj of Tampa Bay and the

Asian-American Convenience Store Association (AACSA), was part of a national fundraising effort by Ekal Vidyalaya. Mishra and Dey are visiting 42 cities over the course of two months to raise funds and awareness for the Ekal cause.

The organizers of the event were the dedicated core of the Tampa Bay chapter, including office bearers Umesh Choudhry, chapter Vice President Malti Pandya, Florida President for Ekal USA, Jawaharlal Taunk, Florida Vice President Ram Jakhotia, Florida Secretary Kaushal Chari and former national president of Ekal USA, Chandresh Saraiya.

“This was a great opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of literacy in tribal and rural India, where social and economic factors are significant barriers to education,” Taunk said.

For more information, visit www.ekal.org


Story provided by SHOBANA DANIELL

Doing business in India is a hot topic and that interest was apparent at an Indian American Chamber of Commerce (IACC) of Central Florida’s event on March 12, where a crowd of almost 100 people attended a panel discussion on the subject at Park Square Homes.

Stuart A. Heaton - international business attorney, Todd Baldwin, CPA - taxation specialist and Kashmira Bhavsar – immigration lawyer gave an overview of the main factors on doing business in India. IACC Director Sanjay Srinivasan was moderator of the panel discussion, which focused on the do’s and don’ts of doing business in India.

The audience had plenty of questions for the panelists. For example, what is the checklist of things needed to do this? What are the pitfalls? Is it better to partner with an India business? What are the requirements to sell products & services? How to set up manufacturing plants? What is the value proposition? The experts answered in great detail, with the laws of both countries in mind and emphasized the need to understand the cultural complexities in doing business in India, double taxation treaties, immigration matters such as business visas, who can invest, purchase property, hiring and human resources matters, adapting products to the needs of the Indian consumer, etc.

IACC will host a Business Expo on April 24. For more information, visit www.iaccorlando.com or call Neal Patel at (407) 616-8872.

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