Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida


Ali Basha

Ali Basha

About 1,800 to 2,000 people are expected to attend Diwali 2017 organized by Telugu Association of Florida, Tampa Bay (TAF) on Saturday, Nov 11, at Florida State Fairgrounds Special Events Hall, 4800 U.S. 301, according to its President Bhanu Dhulipalla. TAF, Tampa Bay was the first Telugu organization formed in Florida in 1997. Its goal is to promote the Telugu culture, traditions, and language to pass onto future generations. This year, TAF completed 20 years in Tampa. Ace comedian and movie actor Ali will perform along with popular anchor Sandhya Madduri at the celebrations, which will begin at 4:30 p.m. For tickets and more information, call Bhanu Dhulipalla at (813) 362-4925, Prakash Madabhushi at (813) 928-8736, or visit

Maayboli Melawa Tampa Bay (MMTB), a not-for-profit organization for promoting Marathi culture, will celebrate Diwali from 3:30 to 8:30 p.m. Nov. 11 at HCC Brandon, 10414 E. Columbus Drive, Tampa. The event is free for MMTB members and $20 for non-member adults and $10 for children above 10 years. For information, call Rajan Pednekar at (813) 546-1330, Aishwarya Pednekar at (813) 546-1331 or visit


FORT LAUDERDALE: The Indian Regional and Cultural Center will hold its Diwali festivities from noon to 10 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 11, at Broward County Convention Center, 1950 Eisenhower Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. The program will include Bollywood, folk, classical music and dance, IRCC Children Show, and dance competitions. Other attractions are food, fashion, jewelry, arts and crafts, henna, yoga, kids’ zone and raffle prizes. For information, call Sanjay Gupta, CPA, at (954) 461-4003, Dr. Durgesh Thaker at (954) 554-8739, e-mail [email protected] or visit

Khaas Baat Business Beat
A partnership with Indo-US Chamber of Commerce, Tampa



By NITISH S. RELE [email protected]

Dr. Ram Ramcharran, left, Reggie Johnson and Raj Patel

He is not just a serial entrepreneur, author and co-founder/chairman of Georgetown Wesleyan University of the Americas, a nonprofit online global educational institution, which has so far provided scholarships over $2 million to needy students. As VP of Business Development for American Primary Care, a company founded by his physician wife, Sadhana, he also jumpstarted it from one physician to 26 before exiting. Many in the community know him as founder and architect of the hugely successful Tampa Bay International Curry Festival.

Touch VodkaOf course, pursuing his passion in the business world is not yet done for Dr. Ram Ramcharran of Palm Harbor. And it probably never will be. “I like to find businesses that are struggling and help them succeed,” he says turning to another new endeavor, Fat Dog Spirits, a struggling business which he took over two years ago. It was only one of 17 vodkas to have earned a Gold Medal at the prestigious San Francisco Spirits competition some years back. “We at Touch Vodka have launched another 5,000-square-foot warehousing and manufacturing facility in Ybor City,” he says. “All the ingredients, fruit, honey, etc., are locally sourced here in Florida. As we build the brand, we are zooming in on the Tampa Bay beaches and the I-4 corridor. And then eventually to Miami. We believe in drink, eat, live local.”

“We” in this case refers to his wife Sadhana, who is chairman of the board who encouraged him to purchase the company along with business partners Florida State University alumni and Seminole football standout and first round NFL pick Reggie Johnson (who worked at Southern Wine and Spirits for 12 years), and Raj Patel, owner of several liquor stores and an online retail wine company. Ranging from $26.99 to $29.99, the 750-ml bottle Touch Vodka, which is all-natural, gluten-free and organic, comes in five varietals: Touch One, Artisan (made from honey), key lime, orange and grapefruit. Employing 8 full-time and four part-time workers in the Ybor City facility, the craft spirit is available at 350 locations throughout the Bay area, including Total Wine, Sam’s Club, BJ’s, Texas Roadhouse, among others. And if you visit high-end restaurants such as Malio’s, Donatello, Aqua, Café Ponte and Whiskey Joe’s in the Tampa Bay area, you can ask for Touch.


Sadhana Ramcharran

Next year, the company expects to have $2 to $2.5 million in revenues and sell 8,000 cases. As the parent company Fat Dog Spirits continues to grow, Ramcharran and his partners are looking for investment from local venture capitalists.

Touch has sponsored many local and national charities such as the Ryan Nece Foundation Charity Polo event, Bob Basham Charity Golf Tournament, and the Ramcharran Golfer vs. Brain Cancer event. “Also, we will be donating 2 percent of all Fat Dogs Spirits revenues to children’s charities,” says Ramcharran. “And Touch Artisan is non-filtered 80-proof vodka, only distilled twice.”

For more information, visit or email [email protected]



By NITISH S. RELE – [email protected]

erThirty straight years celebrating Indian culture and dance in the Tampa Bay area? You bet. Credit goes to the Gujarati Samaj of Tampa Bay (GSTB), which will hold the annual daylong India Festival on Saturday, Nov. 4, at the Florida State Fairgrounds. Between 10,000 to 12,000 people are expected to attend, according to chair Smita Patel. “We are donating money to three charities: Puerto Rico Relief; Pinellas Community Foundation’s Childhood Hunger Relief Fund; and Bridging Freedom, which is working to combat minor-sex trafficking,” she said. “Also new for the 30th year is a BMW test-drive available being offered by Reeves BMW.”

er“We have about 48 sponsors and our team has worked really hard,” said Patel. “I would like to thank fest Vice Chair Mina C.J. Patel, C.J. Patel, Sudhir Shah, Rupesh Shah, Dr. Ashok Modh, Aditi Patidar and Mona Patel. They have done a tremendous job for India Fest.”

In the Expo Hall, more than 120 booths will offer a variety of fashion, jewelry, arts and crafts, photo studio and home décor, and of course plenty of food. In an adjacent Entertainment Hall, performers will be decked out in traditional attire for four categories of dance competition – garba, raas, folk and bhangra. This year, there are 76 entries. Throughout the hall, several closed-circuit TV monitors will be set up so people can shop and eat while watching the dances. “Our children are the special entertainment for us,” said Patel noting the contributions made by kids.

erIndian-American communities from Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Melbourne, Daytona Beach, Jacksonville, Gainesville and Ocala among others will be participating in dozens of competitions. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn will be in attendance.

The India Festival will be from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. at the Florida State Fairgrounds, 4800 U.S. 301 N., Tampa. Tickets are $9 for adults; $7 for children 10 and younger.

For information, call Smita Patel at (813) 385-8544, Vice Chair Mina C.J. Patel at (813) 842-1647 or visit

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