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                                                            By NITISH S. RELE  

The annual Tampa Bay Rath Yatra (The Festival of Chariots) will be held Sunday, July 18, at India Cultural Center, 5511 Lynn Road, in Tampa. The festival will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. On the agenda are bhajans, pooja, Rath Yatra, mahaprasad and a cultural program.

Keynote speaker will be Swami Mukundanandji. Chief guests are community leader Dr. Kiran C. Patel and former Hillsborough County Commissioner Brian Blair.

In India, the holy town of Puri, Orissa, home of the Lord of the Universe, Jagannath, celebrates this festival. The temple of Jagannath, also known as Krishna, in Puri is one of India�s major pilgrimage sites. The Festival of Chariots signifies Lord Jagannath�s journey from the forest into the hearts of people.

Among the co-sponsors are Federation of Indian Associations of Tampa Bay, Hare Krishna Temple in Alachua, Florida Oriya Association, and Gujarati Samaj of Tampa Bay and Khaas Baat.

For puja, sponsorship and more information, call Event Chair Satish Sharma at (813) 877-2192 or Chandrakant Patel at (813) 340-5505.



More than 400 attendees, including several from India, Guyana, Surinam, Fiji and Africa are expected to attend the 20th Arya Maha Sammelan July 22-25 in Orlando.

This year�s convention theme is �The Vedas for Peace and Prosperity� and will discuss Vedic ways to achieve everlasting peace and righteous wealth. It has been organized by the Arya Pratinidhi Sabha America (Congress of Arya Samajs in North America). There will be parallel sessions and activities for adults and youth, spiritual discourses, workshops, group discussions, cultural entertainment and yoga.

Registration fee of $200 for adult ($400 for couple) or $100 for youth (6 to 18 years of age) and college students includes program fees and catered meals.

The Sammelan is hosted by Arya Samaj Organizations of Florida at Renaissance Orlando Airport Hotel, 445 Forbes Place.

To download registration form, visit http://www.aryasamaj.com/conf/conf-home.htm or call Arun Kundra at (850) 322-6600 or e-mail [email protected] or e-mail Devinder Mahajan at (713) 468-4339 or e-mail [email protected]



Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden will hold its 18th annual International Mango Festival July 10-11. This year�s theme is Mangos of India.

Just in time for the mango harvest, the festival will be from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. both days. It will feature everything for the mango lover � mango tree sales, mango-inspired cooking demonstrations, mango tastings and evaluations, mango cuisine samplings from regional chefs, mango smoothies, mango tree sales, mango medics, a display of more than 200 mangos from Fairchild nurseries, children�s program that includes a mango puppet show, mango theater and a mango brunch. New this year is mango-chutney cook-off and bike valet services provided by Green Mobility Network.

Among the noted chefs presenting cooking demos are Madhur Jaffrey and Jay Mariadoss of Indian Palate.

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is at 10901 Old Cutler Road, Coral Gables. Festival attendance is free to Fairchild members and children ages 5 and younger; non-members: $20 for adults, $15 for seniors 65 and up and $10 for children ages 6-17. For information, call (305) 667-1651 or visit http://www.fairchildgarden.org/



Shan Shikarpuri received the 2010 Florida Institute of CPA�s Outstanding Florida CPA in Public Service Award of 2009-2010 on June 11. The Palm Harbor CPA was honored at the FICPA meeting of Members and the Board of Governors in conjunction with the annual convention at the Naples Grande Beach Resort.

The honor is given annually to only one CPA in Florida. FICPA boasts a membership of more than 19,000 certified public accounts. �I am very honored by this award and it was a humbling experience to receive a standing ovation by my peers and the Board of Governors of Florida CPA�s,� said Shikarpuri. 

In 2008, as president of the FICPA Suncoast, Shikarpuri led the chapter to win the �Chapter Champion Award� from the FICPA Educational Foundation.

Shikarpuri immigrated to the United States in 1971 after finishing high school in Kandahar, Afghanistan, and is fluent in eight languages. He received three degrees from Florida State University. He taught at the University of South Florida and the University of Virginia, where he trained auditors at the U.S. Inspector General�s Office. He also was Honorary Mayor of Palm Harbor 1992 and 1993. In 2004, he received the Palm Harbor Citizen of the Year award. Shikarpuri also served on the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Counsel as then-Gov. Jeb Bush�s appointee representing Pinellas County.




Editor�s Note: Readers have brought recent home burglaries to our attention. In an effort to help the community to protect homes from theft, we asked a veteran law enforcement officer to suggest ways to secure your home and valuables.


Houses are built without security in mind. Your sliding-glass door is set in place with one screwdriver. A husky person can lift it off the track and easily come in. Here are a few steps to make your home more secure and give a potential burglar the idea to move on.

1. Get to know your neighbors. Extra eyes in the neighborhood are one of the best ways to keep unwanted guests out. Tell your neighbors when you are going out of town and recommend calling the police if a moving truck is in the driveway.

2 . Keep landscape in order. Go with the 3 and 7 rule. Keep bushes at three feet and trees trimmed at 7 feet. The front door should be clear of obstructions. All windows need to be clear of bushes. Plant bushes that keep people out of your planters. You want holly, cactus and things with thorns in front of your rear windows.

3. Locks. You need front door double-cylinder locks (key needed to open from inside). When you are away from home, remove the key. If intruders do get in, they cannot exit through the front door. Hopefully, neighbors will see your TV being lifted out the side window. 

4. Install deadbolt locks on sliding-glass doors. There are several steps you can take to keep doors from being lifted off  the track. The locks that come with the door in my opinion are worthless.

5. Install good locks on windows (no burglar bars). There are several blocks that can be put on window tracks. 

6. Window film that can prevent breakage. It prevents smash-and-grab and protects from a hurricane. 

7. Secure valuables inside the house. A floor or wall safe is a must. If you have a free- standing safe, secure it to a wall or floor. (Time is a burglar�s worst nightmare). Most burglaries are finished in five minutes. Better still, keep valuable jewelry in a safe deposit box at your bank.

8. Lighting.  The more the better as far as motion detectors are concerned. Burglars hate lights. Now, it has been reported many burglars hit during daylight hours. They will ring the doorbell before they go to the back and break a window or kick in a side door. If you see this happen, call police.

9.  Alarms and dogs are good but not dependable.  The alarm industry has new ideas. Check out what your options are but you do not have to purchase all they have to offer. Motion detectors need to be at entry points. The majority of detection devices should be installed at the rear of the house.

10. This one�s common sense. Do not let people you do not trust into your home (or show off valuables ) you do not trust. In my 25 years of law enforcement, I was not surprised how often people had friends steal their valuables. If you have teenagers, they have friends and unfortunately some will take what not is theirs.

Robert Libengood served as deputy sheriff for the Hillsborough County Sheriff�s Office for nearly 20 years. He also has worked for Homeland Security and was a Florida Crime Prevention Practitioner.



The M45 is history. In its place comes the 2011 M56 sedan with a 5.6-liter V-8 engine that cranks out 420 horsepower (up 95) at 6000 rpm and 417 pounds-feet of torque (up 81) at 4400 rpm. Also, the width has been increased by 1.5 inches, length by 0.6 inches but overall height lowered by 0.3 inches from the previous version. The power train is still mated to a 7-speed automatic transmission.

What you have is a powerful, performance-oriented midsize sports sedan. An independent front double wishbone and a rear multilink suspension keep the stocky body under control at sudden-transition turns. Steering feedback is accurate and direct, thanks to a variable-assist power rack-and-pinion system. The brakes, which feature 12.6-inch front and 12.1-inch rear vented discs, are potent and fade resistant. They operate inside 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels shod with 245/50 tires. Active Noise Control results in a silent ride without much engine or road interference. The rear-wheel-drive car offers four modes: normal, sports, eco and snow so you can take your pick depending on driving conditions or whims.

Ensconced on a steel unibody structure is the familiar Infiniti double-arch but upright chrome grille flanked by crystal-look xenon headlights, sculpted fenders and doors, wave-like trunk, high rear deck, LED tail lamps and dual exhaust with polished tips.

The cabin shows excellent taste and tailoring with a power tilt/telescopic four-wheel steering column, 10-way power driver and front-passenger seats, power sliding moon roof, heated front seats and dual-zone automatic climate control. Upon opening the door, the driver is greeted by stainless-steel sill plates with Infiniti lettering. Eye-catching wood on doors, instrument panel and center console enhances sophistication. Electroluminescent gauges for speedometer, tachometer, fuel and coolant temperature and simple to read.

Luxury sedans there are aplenty on the roads but the solidly built and hefty M56 holds most at bay, mainly because of its amazing agility, and gorgeous styling inside and out.

Wheelbase: 114.2 inches

Length: 194.7 inches

Weight: 4,028 pounds

Fuel capacity: 20 gallons

City: 16 mpg

Highway: 25 mpg

Web site: www.infiniti.com




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When the Panamera debuted at Auto Shanghai in 2009, there was quite a bit of apprehension. And understandably so. A four-door, four-passenger Porsche car? How would a sports car maker with a racing background pull off such a feat? Well, the German auto company has proved the skeptics wrong

Don�t be fooled by the Panamera�s nearly 4,000-pound weight. Step on the throttle in the front-mounted, water-cooled 4.8-liter V-8 engine and you will experience the rush of 400 horsepower at 6500 rpm and 369 pounds-feet of torque at 3500 rpm. Available in rear-wheel or all-wheel drive, the performance car boasts 0 to 60 mph in a mere 5.2 seconds. The PDK Porsche double-clutch 7-speed transmission is basically two clutches without a clutch pedal but can work either automatically, via steering-wheel mounted paddles or a center-mounted lever. The result is a flawless transmission with instantaneous up and down shifts. The car also is equipped with an engine start/stop system, which turns the engine off at a halt so you can eke out fuel savings.

Porsche Active Suspension Management adjusts the suspension system so a fine balance of ride and handling can be maintained, regardless of driving styles. And then there is the Porsche Stability Management, which works in tandem with antilock brakes, to maintain stability and traction in shifty road or weather conditions. Also, keeping the driver and passengers out of harm�s way are standard dual front and side airbags, curtain side airbag, front knee airbag, four-wheel antilock brakes with Electronic Brake Distribution and Brake Assist, rear-obstacle detection system, three-point seatbelts with pretensioners, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights. Braking is handled adeptly by 14.2-inch front and 13-inch rear vented rotors. The 18-inch forged alloy wheels come shod with 245/50 ZR up front and 275/45 ZR at the rear.

Step up to the Panamera and you will notice that the traditional grille is missing. Instead, the car sports a Porsche insignia with a low-air intake and bi-xenon headlights. LED tail lamps, dual exhaust tips made up of brushed stainless steel and an adaptive spoiler deck up the rear.

The interior drips of class, sophistication and splendid craftsmanship that are a Porsche tradition. Lending credence to the rich ambiance the cabin is full leather upholstery on and around the dashboard and instrument panel, on the doors, center console. Gauges on the five-dial instrument cluster are large and clear and so are the controls on the dashboard.

What drew our attention was the vast rear-seat passenger space of 38.2 inches of head, 51.7 inches of shoulder and 33.3 inches of leg room. With the seats down, you can pack in 44.6 cubic feet of space. Six-footers with broad shoulders can sit contentedly in the back with their legs stretched.

Also standard are a three-spoke tilt/telescopic steering column, heated eight-way power front seats, driver information center, power sunroof, navigation system and of course the distinctive left-hand ignition.

Porsche claims the Panamera is a sports car for four. And it indisputably is, not just because of stupendous performance � which is the carmaker�s forte � but also for offering a cavernous cabin. If you can spare $90,000 and change, the Panamera will blow your mind, as it did ours!


Wheelbase: 114.9 inches

Length: 195.6 inches

Steering: Servotric speed-sensitive power

Weight: 3,968 pounds

Fuel capacity: 26.4 gallons

City: 16 mpg

Highway: 24 mpg

Web site: www.porsche.com




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A trip to Atlanta in the offing this summer? Or maybe the Big Easy? And perhaps beyond? Then we suggest you head out to the nearest Ford dealer for testing out the second-generation 2010 Fusion hybrid.

The restyled mid-size sedan can go nearly 570 miles on a tank (17 gallons), thanks to its gas/electric technology. A 2.5-liter DOHC gasoline 16-valve Atkinson cycle, inline-4 cylinder engine is mated to an electric motor, which is powered by a nickel-metal hydride battery. However, the hybrid isn�t a powerhouse by any strength of the imagination. But the engine is adequate enough to put out 191 horsepower at 6000 rpm while paired to a smooth Continuous Variable Transmission. Basically, the Fusion can run on gas, pure electric or a blend of both. Ford claims the car can travel up to 47 mph on solely electric mode, but in our numerous road tests, we were unable to match that number.

The hybrid does offer a regenerative braking system for additional fuel savings. When the car is coasting or the brakes are applied, the electric power functions as a generator, capturing kinetic energy that would normally be lost as heat through the brakes. Instead, it converts the energy into useable electricity for recharging the battery.

Ensconced in a unitized welded steel body is a powerfully domed hood that meets up with a three-bar chrome bill flanked by automatic headlights, and 17-inch, 15-spoke painted aluminum wheels. That this is a hybrid is apparent from the road-and-leaf badge on the front side sills and trunk door.

Undoubtedly, the coolest cabin trait is the reconfigurable SmartGauge cluster with EcoGuide. It�s in essence twin LCD screens on each side of the center-mounted speedometer. You can keep an eye on fuel and battery charge levels, instantaneous MPG, EV mode, accessory power and a consumption gauge. The extremely frugal among you will love EcoGuide, a virtual plant that sprouts leaves. The more heavily you step on the gas pedal, the fewer leaves will develop, making you see anything but green!

Also a sight to behold is ice-blue lighting on the instrument panel. Other standard amenities include eight-way driver and six-way front-passenger power seats, four-spoke tilt/telescopic steering column, dual-zone automatic climate control, fixed rear seat back and, of course, Sync to integrate Bluetooth-enabled cell phones and iPods through voice recognition.

Safety should not be an issue with such standard features as dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, four-wheel antilock brakes, Electronic Stability Control, traction control, safety belt pretensioners, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights.

The Fusion delivers a satisfying mix of respectable power, impressive handling and balance, and certainly outstanding gas mileage. Our average was about 35 mpg in city/highway driving. We only wish that the base price was just under $25,000 so more buyers would have found the car an even better bargain. Regardless, the Fusion hybrid is a practical, fuel-efficient car that should put its competitors on notice.


Tires: P225/50R17

Wheelbase: 107.4 inches

Length: 190.6 inches

Suspension: Independent short and long arm (SLA) stabilizer bar

Steering: Independent multi-link

Weight: 3,285 pounds

Fuel capacity: 17 gallons

City: 41 mpg

Highway: 36 mpg

Web site: www.ford.com



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