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




Gita Sandesh painting by Shyama Rangwala

Shyama Rangwala

When she was just 5 years of age, Shyama Rangwala suffered a localized scleroderma, which resulted in an atrophied right arm and leg. At that time, doctors feared her entire body would be affected by the dreaded disease. “It started as a boil and I began getting cramps,” remembers Rangwala. “Within a year, with homoeopathic medicine, my cramps stopped.”

Despite adversity, she stuck to her interest in painting with the affected right arm. Rangwala studied commercial art at the L.S. Raheja College in Mumbai. She also has completed a Foundation Course in commercial art from the Model Institute of Art, a certificate course in commercial art from Ascent Art Academy and a visualizer’s course from Effects Computer Art Academy. “I am a strong believer in Lord Krishna and did plenty of Krishna’s paintings before I began doing traditional arts of India,” she says. “After 30 paintings, I participated in shows such as the Gallerie Leela at Leela Kempinski, Lions Club of Ghatkopar and Edit Computers, all in Mumbai.”

In the United States, Rangwala participated in exhibitions with American artists, including the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts in 2003. “Drs. Saurabh and Sheela Chokshi in the Tampa Bay area have 15 to 20 of my original paintings,” she says with pride. “They have been very helpful and supportive of my efforts.”

Dhenu Gopastami painting
by Shyama Rangwala

Goddess Saraswati painting
by Shyama Rangwala

Rangwala holds creative art classes Saturdays at Srishti Dance Academy in Cross Creek and on other days, at her art gallery and studio in Tampa. Students of all ages can learn different types of traditional Indian and American art, drawing and coloring techniques, memory drawing, fantasy art, basic sketching, charcoal art and acrylic painting. At the classes, which are held for an hour (can also be 2 or 3 hours) once a week, she provides all the supplies.

Also, she is offering a Summer Arts & Crafts Camp from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday to Friday from June to August at her studio. Students can learn warli art (traditional Indian village art), fantasy art, charcoal, nib and dot paintings, henna art, greeting card design, pot decoration, jewelry making, etc. Again, Rangwala will provide all the supplies. Weekly fee is $120.

Shyama’s Art Gallery & Studio is at 10217 N. Woodmere Road, Tampa. For information, call (813) 843-6784 or visit www.shyamshyama.com




By NITISH S. RELE, editor@khaasbaat.com

Rahul Patel

Back in those pre-Uganda days, his mother Tara Patel used to be a playback singer in India. His father, Arvind Patel, was a big distributor of Indian films. With a move to Kampala, where sitar player and singer Rahul was born, his mother still continued her interest in music.

“I was about 3 or 4 when I originally started with the tabla,” recalls Rahul Patel of Tampa. “There would be other instruments lying around and my teacher at that time recommended I pick up playing the sitar.” By 7 years of age, he had entered some competitions before Uganda military dictator Idi Amin expelled Asians. In 1972, his family moved to England. “There was no structure in the new country,” he says. “My parents suggested I listen to Ravi Shankar’s recordings. I knew how to hold the sitar. So, for almost 20 years, my playing was patchy and I needed a guru.”

After earning a pharmacy degree, he went into business. For 10 years, there was yet another vacuum. “Then I was introduced to Pandit Ravi Shankar and used to accompany him. I also met and have been on stage with Zakir Hussain, Kumar Bose, Alla Rakha, George Harrison,” he says.

The family then moved to Tampa in 1997, where Patel’s brother Shodhan was already settled. “It’s only in the last four years or so that I’ve actually had proper structured training,” he admits.

New York-based guru Mahabala Sharma, disciple of Ravi Shankar, visits the Tampa Bay area every month to teach sitar to Patel and eight other students. “Guruji wants to teach dedicated people like myself,” he says. “Recently, I’ve also been blessed to have another guruji, Abhik Mukherjee.”

A pharmacist by profession, Patel does riyaaz every morning for 1½ hours. “I am fairly recognized in the classical music circuit because of family support,” he says. “My parents and my wife Neena have been extremely supportive. Together, our aim is to help and support the current music structure to bring it to new heights. My wish is to dedicate all my time to pursuing music. I’ve been fortunate to achieve the standard I’ve achieved in view of my business commitment.”

Rahul and Neena (who plays the harmonium) have young two sons: Keyur who plays the tabla and Saajan who plays the violin.

The Gujarati Samaj of Tampa Bay has asked Patel to perform, choreograph and organize a musical performance Sunday, June 19, at 5:30 p.m., which is Father’s Day. The show at India Cultural Center, 5511 Lynn Road, Tampa, will consist of popular Bollywood songs and dance. “It will be organized and performed in a professional manner and will involve high-caliber local artists who have reached a certain standard of performance,” says Patel with pride. The show is free for Samaj members; however, there will be a $15 entrance fee for non-members, which includes dinner after the show, or $10 for just the show. For more information, call Samaj President Ashok Modh at (813) 728-4450.

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