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Indian Americans throughout Florida are preparing to celebrate India's 61st Independence Day. Here's a roundup of the activities in your community:

TAMPA: More than 1,000 people are expected to participate in the activities Saturday, Aug. 16 at the India Cultural Center, 5511 Lynn Road. Putting up the free event is the Federation of Indian Associations of Tampa Bay (made up of 36 different organizations). It will begin with a flag hoisting at 5 p.m. Also on the agenda is a cultural program, dances and songs, live music, cultural exhibits from all regions of India, awards for outstanding citizens and students, Youth Forum finalists' debate and short skits.

"The theme this year is 'Come Celebrate our Culture,' " said event chairman Dr. Ram Ramcharran. "For the first time, we will be discussing the history of India, showing a movie on independence and successes of what India has accomplished since its freedom. We will have family members share personal stories of parents or grandparents who participated in the independence process."

For more information, call Dr. Ram Ramcharran at (727) 460-2460 or FIA President Dr. Krishan K. Batra at (813) 963-9857.

ORLANDO: On Sunday, Aug. 3 at 1:30 p.m., the Hindu Society of Central Florida New Age (Seniors Group) will meet at the HSCF Community Hall, 1994 Lake Drive, Casselberry, for Antakshari, a talk by a senior Indian diplomat Dr. Raj Kapur, study circle, games such cards, carom and chess, plus Indian snacks, hot tea and coffee. Cost is $5 per person. For more information, call Madan Arora at (407) 971-9259 or Dev Sharma at (407) 862-9920, Surinder Kapur at (407) 645-1858 or Jayant Vaidya at (407) 977-1826.

GAINESVILLE: The Youth Group at Indian Cultural Education Center (ICEC) in Gainesville will hold an Independence Day event Aug. 23 at ICEC, 1115 S.W. 13th St. For information, call Youth Group coordinator Neeta Someshwar at (352) 335-1433 or Shaheda Qaiyumi at (352) 378-7112 or visit

TALLAHASSEE: The India Association of Tallahassee (IATH) will be celebrating Independence Day on Saturday, Aug. 16, between 1 and 4 p.m. at Heritage Hall, 500 S Bronough St., Tallahassee. The program will include the flag unfurling and rendering of the Indian and American national anthems followed by patriotic songs. After the Independence Day celebration, there will be a variety non-film entertainment program (Utsav). During the event, winners of the Children's Art Competition held by IATH will be announced. For details, visit or e-mail or

MELBOURNE: The Indian Association of the Space Coast (IASC) will celebrate India's independence from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 16 at Melbourne Stadium. For information, visit

JACKSONVILLE: The India Cultural Society (ICS of Jacksonville) is collaborating with other regional organizations in the city for a grand celebration of Indian Independence day on Aug. 15. The event will be at University of North Florida, Robinson Theater from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The highlight is the Independence Day parade of flags. In this first-time event, a large number of children and adults are expected to walk the parade with Indian flags on Bay Meadows Road in the south side of Jacksonville.

Various other activities have been planned for this event, which includes debate and elocution competitions for all teens - on "Peer pressure on youth living in North America and how to cope up with it," sports for children and adults as well as cultural/musical variety entertainment. For information, call (904) 288-9776.

SOUTH FLORIDA: The Association of Indians in America (AIA) South Florida chapter will celebrate Independence Day from noon to 3 p.m. Aug. 17 at Omni Auditorium BCC, 1000 Coconut Creek Blvd., Coconut Creek. Agenda for the free event includes cultural entertainment, parade and food stalls.

For information, call Hovi at (561) 703-1878, Kitty at (954) 610-9438 or Pradeep at (561) 715-9676, or visit

Dignitaries at the 2006 WAVES conference in Houston.

"Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey," according to a famous quote. That's precisely what we are doing here at Khaas Baat this month as we wrap up our four-year anniversary.

One of our main objectives four years ago was to provide an outlet for people to find out what's happening within the community. Now, four years later, it's really gratifying to meet people who tell us that they rely on Khaas Baat for information about upcoming events and use it to plan their activities. One reader even told us he clips out the events calendar and puts it on the refrigerator for easy reference. We are glad to have accomplished this aim and we hope to continue the journey.

We are indebted to all of our columnists for their volunteer efforts each month. We would especially like to thank Dr. Ravindra Nathan, Francis Vayalumkal, Kiran Bahl, Sushama Kirtikar, Arun Marballi and the folks at, who have been with us the longest as regular contributors.

And of course, the production of Khaas Baat would not have been possible without our advertisers' support.

We are printing 10,000 copies every month, half of which are direct mailed free to our subscribers all over Florida. The other half are distributed at stores and restaurants throughout the Sunshine State. If you would like to receive Khaas Baat, please send your mailing address to



Between 1,000 to 2,000 people are expected to drop in Aug. 23 at India Cultural Center (5511 Lynn Road) in Tampa to celebrate Trinidad and Tobago’s 46th Independence Day organized by the West Indian Networking Society.

The event features two parts: A free 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. “Business Expo & Networking Experience,” with participation by banks, restaurants, local chambers as well as shopping and franchise opportunities.

The formal event in the evening from 6:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. will feature keynote speakers, Gerard Green, consul general of Trinidad and Tobago in Miami; and Nneka Luke of Trinidad and Tobago.

Cost is $75 per person and $125 for couple. Entertainment will be provided by Tony Wyle, island dances by Baby Susan, Amritha Sastry, Angeli Maharaj and others. Music will be by DJ Dean and Mikey of Unique Soundz.

The event has been spearheaded by Karen Sriram and her husband Tony Alli. For more information, call (813) 374-0189, (813) 334-7034 or (727) 520-5943.


Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev

Q: Sadhguru, much of the anxiety I experience comes through my relationships. Isn't it reasonable to expect some understanding from other people?

A: When you live in this world, there are various types of complex interactions happening. As your field-of-play increases, the complexity of interaction also goes on increasing. If you're just sitting in a cubicle, working on your computer with only one other person, you need only a little understanding; but if you're managing a 1,000 people, you need a vast understanding of everybody. Now, suppose you're managing a 1,000 people and you want all these people to understand you, then you're not going to manage anything. You need to understand the limitations and the capabilities of these 1,000 people and do what you can; only then will you have the power to move the situation the way you want it to go. If you're waiting for these 1,000 people to understand you and act, it is only a pipe dream; it is never going to happen.

The closer the relationship is, the more effort you should make to understand them. Somebody becomes closer and dearer to you only as you understand them better. If they understand you, they enjoy the closeness of the relationship. If you understand them better, then you enjoy the closeness. It is not that the other person is totally bereft of understanding. With your understanding you can create situations where the other person would be able to understand you better. If you're expecting the other to understand and comply with you all the time while you don't understand the limitations, the possibilities, the needs and the capabilities of that person, then conflict is all that will happen; it is bound to happen. Unfortunately, the closest relationships in the world have more conflict going on than between enemies.

In your relationships, you have fought many more battles than this and are still fighting; isn't it so? This is because your line of understanding and theirs is different. If you cross this LOC, this Line of Control, they will get mad. If they cross it, you will get mad. If you move your understanding beyond theirs, their understanding also becomes a part of your understanding. You will be able to embrace their limitations and capabilities. In everyone, there are some positive and negative aspects. If you embrace all this in your understanding, you can make the relationship the way you want it. If you leave it to their understanding, it will become accidental. If they are magnanimous, things will happen well for you; if not, the relationship will break up.

All I am asking is: do you want to be the one who decides what happens to your life? Whether they are intimate relationships, professional, political, global or whatever, don't you want to be the person who decides what happens in your life? If you do, you better include everything and everybody into your understanding. You should enhance your understanding to such a point that you can look beyond people's madness also. There are wonderful people around you, but once in a while they like to go crazy for a few minutes. If you don't understand that, you will lose them. If you don't understand their madness you will definitely lose them. If you do, then you know how to handle them. Life is not always a straight line; you have to do many things to keep it going. If you forsake your understanding, your capability will be lost. Whether it's a question of personal relationships or professional management, in both places you need understanding; otherwise, you won't have fruitful relationships.

The way you are right now, the very quality of your life is decided by the type of relationships you hold. You should make the needed effort to understand the people around you.

Sadhguru, founder of Isha Foundation and one of the foremost authorities on the ancient science of yoga, has expounded inner well-being through the yogic technique of Inner Engineering to millions of people across the world. Sadhguru will be giving a free public talk at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug 3 at Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay, 2900 Bayport Drive, Tampa. Visit for more information.

Dr. Subramanian Swamy and Braham Aggarwal light the lamp with the help of Abhinav Dwivedi, as Dr. Donald Lyons, Anil Deshpande and Subhas Gupta look on.
Story provided by WAVES

More than 200 delegates attended a recent three-day international conference on Vedic Heritage for the Global Welfare of the Next Generation, organized by the non-profit World Association of Vedic Studies (WAVES) at the University of Central Florida. Attendees called for strong education and training of Hindu youth with many eternal values so that they can confront global problems and provide comprehensive solutions.

A unique feature of the conference was participation of Hindu youth in daylong workshops jointly organized with Hindu American Foundation (HAF) and Hindu Student Council (HSC). While the discussion was mostly for Indian American youth, young students who were born and raised in India pointed out that issues are similar for many youth growing up in cities or even otherwise, as there is no information available in the education system.

At the Intergeneration dialogue session, contemporary issues of the Hindus in America identified were: 1. Is there at all a need to establish one's Hindu identity? While defining Hindu identity, measures have to be identified on how to deal with those who do not understand or appreciate the world-view of dharma, the global, eternal ethic.

Another major topic of discussion included portrayal of Hinduism in the Western world. At the inauguration, Prof. Francis Clooney of Harvard University presented a keynote address outlining a series of values, including intellectual tradition of Hindus that can benefit the religious life in America.

Dr. Subramanian Swamy expounded in his valedictory address on the framework of Hindu religious thought and philosophy that has evolved as Sanatana Dharma.

For information, call Dr. Bal Ram Singh at (508) 999-8588 or e-mail

West Pasco Chamber of Commerce Chairman Tom Kehoe, left, presents Dr. Rao Musunuru with the "2008 Outstanding Citizen Award."

Dr. Rao Musunuru, a cardiologist practicing at Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point, was recently honored with the "2008 Outstanding Citizen Award" by West Pasco Chamber of Commerce, for his outstanding service to the public in areas of cardiology, community education, charity and advocacy. Musunuru received the award from Tom Kehoe, the chamber's Chairman of the Board, at their annual banquet.

Musunuru received three national awards from the American Heart Association for his quality service in the past five years - 2003 National Chairman's award, 2005 National Physician of the Year and 2007 National Volunteer Advocate of the Year. He has been serving as a member of Board of Trustees for PHCC (Pasco-Hernando Community College) since 1999, He volunteers for the "CARES' Organization , among others. He also is a current member of Advisory Council for NHLBI (National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute) at NIH.


You say you want a ride with SUV performance, capability, comfort, utility and fuel efficiency? Well, your wait just got shorter with the soon-to-debut of the 2009 Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango full-size hybrid SUVs.

Both the vehicles feature a 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 engine, which blasts off 385 horsepower at 5400 rpm and 380 pounds-feet of torque at 4200 rpm. Chrysler claims there is a 40 percent improvement in fuel efficiency in city driving and 25 percent overall. This can be attributed to the Multi-Displacement System (MDS), which shuts down four cylinders while cruising, thereby saving fuel.

The two-mode hybrid system in the vehicles, which gets assist from the electric motors, is shared by GM, Mercedes and BMW. In first mode, the vehicle operates in electric or engine power only or a combination of both. In electric-only operation, the engine is shut off with the vehicle moving under electric-only power at about 25 mph. The second mode, used primarily at highway speed, provides power when necessary from the HEMI V-8 engine as conditions demand.

Chrysler folks justify the reason for building the two vehicles. "Both offer performance like any other gasoline-powered vehicles," they say. "Why a full-size SUV as a hybrid? Because there is a market for such vehicles with 1.5 million SUVs being sold annually. Buyers need the space for hauling cargo and passengers and for tow purposes while simultaneously earning good fuel efficiency.

The Durango hybrid is base-priced at $45,340, the Aspen hybrid is base-priced at $44,570 with EPA estimated fuel economy figures of 19 mpg in city and 20 mpg on the highway (fuel capacity: 27 gallons). Plus, you get a tax credit of $1,800 for purchase. "We've the right vehicles, the right technology, the right package," say the folks at Chrysler. We couldn't agree more.

For more information, visit or



Opening a new store or restaurant? Expanding or relocating? Has your business won an award or a mention in your local newspaper? We want to hear from you to meet the rising needs of businesses and our readers. Call Nitish S. Rele at (813) 758-1786 or e-mail us at

COMMUNITY NEWSPAPERS HIGHLIGHT TAMPA BUSINESSES Vegetarian restaurant/stores, NS Food and Gifts and Ganesh Market and Chaat Café, both were featured separately but prominently in recent community publications of The Tampa Tribune.

A veteran cook who has catered for Indian families for about 15 years, Sushma Patel took over NS Food and Gifts last year. "Seven days a week, from 11:30 a.m. to about 3:30 p.m., large stockpots simmer on tables, emitting the spicy scent of soups and sauces," writes correspondent Elaine Markowitz in the Carrollwood News & Tribune. . "From the tiny kitchen comes the aroma of frying dosas and idlis, potato and onion rings, and other Indian delicacies."

NS Food at 5522 Hanley Road is open from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily with lunch buffet from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily. For information, call (813) 243-1522.

Achyut and Sonal Mashruwala have owned Ganesh Market & Chaat Café on Armenia Avenue since 1996. An all-vegetarian buffet is served seven days a week. Jose Patino Girona writes in the South Tampa/Central Tampa News & Tribune: "Recently, the buffet menu included: cauliflower subji with green peas, green bell pepper, cilantro, cumin and cashew; dum aloo made with baby potatoes and curry; mung bean soup with garlic, green onions, cilantro and cumin; basmati white rice with peas and carrots; stuffed eggplant with bell pepper, tomatoes and sweet onions; and buttermilk served with yogurt, ice, salt and cumin."

Ganesh Market & Chaat Café at 6204 N. Armenia Ave. is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; and 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. A vegetarian buffet is served from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays and noon to 5 p.m. weekends. For more information, call (813) 873-8708. And during this wedding season if you have a need for pooja supplies, Indian tapestry, jewelry (wholesale only) and clothing, murtis, dance outfits, religious DVDs and CDs, incense and religious books, check out House of Ganesh at 11612 Nebraska Ave., Suite D, in Tampa. For information, call (813) 579-8205.


Scott Joseph of the Orlando Sentinel recently reviewed Singh's Roti Shop in that city.

"There are several different types of rotis," writes Scott Joseph. "The one I had at Singh's was made with flour and rolled to a thin round shape and cooked on a flat skillet. The roti can be eaten plain or, more often, with stuff inside. I had the channa roti, which was a simple filling of dried, crumbled chickpeas. A bit of ghee, or butter, added some moisture as well as flavor … The folks there were real friendly, too. Singh's is a good place for adventurous diners."

Singh's Roti Shop is at 5244 Old Winter Garden Road. For information, call (407) 447-3447.


Thank you, Linda Bladholm, Fork on the Road columnist for Miami Herald, for that recent informative piece on downtown Asian restaurants, which cater heavily to cruise workers who dock at the Port of Miami.

The author of "The Indian Grocery Store Demystified" takes a look at four Indian eateries:

* Taste of Bombay, 111 N.E. Third Ave.; (305) 244-5080.

* Raja's, 33 N.E. Second Ave.; (305) 539-9551.

* Chithra's, 48 E. Flagler St., (305) 789-2842.

* Indian Prem, 255 E. Flagler St., (305) 371-7736.



EDITOR’S NOTE: We start a new column by Sri Nithya Medhananda Swami on meditation.

Q: What is meditation?

A: Meditation is a way to rest the mind consciously. If we observe, thoughts are happening continuously. During a waking state, we have thoughts and, in the night, we have dreams. The mind is always on the run. Giving rest to this process of thinking is called meditation.

If you observe carefully, we keep thinking about the past or the future. Jumping between these two zones, from past to future and future to past, is the origin of stress. Stress is the root cause of most of the diseases around the world. When thoughts are jumping from past to future and from future to past, they go past a neutral zone where no thoughts exists.

Since this happens so quickly, we do not take note of this neutral zone, where there are no thoughts. It is like driving a stick shift car. Whenever we change the gear, from first gear to second or from second to third, we go past a neutral gear. This neutral space is where our mind rests.

The purpose of meditation is to drop us in this neutral zone where our mind rests. A technique comes into the picture now. Since we do not experience this neutral zone, thoughtless space, we need a technique to take us and drop us there. The purpose of any technique is to take us and drop in this zone and after sometime we may not need a technique, just close the eyes and thoughts comes to rest.

Whenever you want to think, you use your mind; when you don’t want to, just give rest to your mind. It’s just like how we use our body. When we want to walk, we walk and when we don’t want to then we rest but we do not have such ability with our mind. When we don’t want to have thoughts that is the time we are bombarded with thoughts.

Q: I have been meditating for 20 years. When I meditate, I am in bliss but when I come out of the meditation I am back to square one, as of my emotions are concerned. When is this?

A: A lot of people ask me this question. When you are meditating, you are in pure bliss because that is the time thoughts are rested and bliss happens. When you come out of meditation, the suppressed emotions come back. The suppressed emotions are called engraved memories or Samskaras. These Samskaras determine your life when you are not meditating.

Suppose you went to the beach and someone insulted you there and this becomes a deep injury in your unconscious. Every time you go past the same beach, the memory brings back the same emotion, even though the person who insulted you is not there and the incident took place few years back. This is exactly what we call by a Samskara which is not a dead memory. These Samskaras make you do the same thing again and again. The path to a blissful life is twofold:

1. Meditation, which helps to clear Samskaras in the unconscious and,

2. Knowledge, which helps us to come back into life again and again. That is why all the enlightened masters gave so much of knowledge to make us experience the truth so that we can come out of the influence of Samskaras. This is exactly what Lord Krishna was helping Arjuna in Bhagavat Geeta.

Meditation and knowledge will make your 24-hour life a true experience of bliss.

To be continued.

Sri Nithya Medhananda Swami is a direct disciple of Paramahamsa Nithyananda. Medhananda conducts meditation programs all over the world and currently he is the vice-president of International Vedic Hindu University at Orlando. He can be reached at
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