MARCH 2019
Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida

PROFILE

AT 70, DR. KIRAN C. PATEL OF TAMPA HITS TOP OF HIS GAME

By NITISH S. RELE, editor@khaasbaat.com, Photos by Nima Film

This year promises to be a banner one for businessman, former cardiologist and global philanthropist Dr. Kiran C. Patel of Tampa.

His expected 2019 accomplishments include:

As we recite the list to Patel, he responds with his usual self-effacing modesty despite the numerous accolades and worldwide recognition: “Well, at first, all these are overwhelming, but I am just thankful that I’ve been able to achieve way beyond my dream or imagination.”

As he nears his seventh decade, he considers the thoughts going through his mind about his life, achievements, family. “Two types,” Patel says. “First, time to slow down. But the other says that for the limited time we may have, there is so much to do. So there is a conflict. But I would like to continue.” His wife, Pallavi, has other ideas, though: “She is telling me to stop and smell the roses. Don’t do anything because every venture I take up, every call I take, takes away quality time.”

Asked what fills a typical day for one of the Tampa Bay area’s most prominent residents, that is, when he’s in town, he says “meetings.”

“Usually, I have meetings starting in the morning,” he says. “Twice a week, I go to the gym. I would like to play more golf but fortunately or unfortunately, so many projects are going on that I have full packed days lasting up to 6 or 7 p.m.” On the weekends, he’s usually awake by 6 or 7 a.m., and busy with golf in the morning while evenings are reserved for typical Indian social activities. “Weekends seem to be busier than weekdays and when there are multiple invitations, it is difficult to attend them all.”

So what drives Patel to achieve his successes?

“Most people will not understand or know the purpose of my spending 12 to 16 hours a day pursuing a goal: business,” he says. “And I believe every individual has some gift given by God and you should utilize that gift. And in my case, the ability to operate businesses is a gift I’ve been given and any work/business/whatever I have done is because I enjoy it and for me the pleasure is that work/creativity, creation, growth of a company and I feel money is a byproduct, not my primary goal. Most would interpret my efforts as chasing money.”

Taking that into consideration, does he still “work-work” or do all his day-to-day efforts go into philanthropy? “I am blessed with the ability to multitask,” he says. “Most important, I have colleagues/family members/partners that are very capable.” A great believer in delegating, “that to me is the secret to my success because as an individual, there is only finite time you can do in 24 hours. But by delegating to the right people, you can achieve multiple goals.”

With 2019 shaping up to be an exceptional year in several respects, does he contemplate any big donations? “On most philanthropic efforts, I would have a gift that I would call a legacy gift or a gift that I am passionate about and can get involved in,” says Patel, explaining his charitable-giving process. Such recipients include colleges, universities, arts and other creative endeavors because “these causes are going to be supported and maintained by many generations.” However, he’s personally involved in other gifts such as schools, hospitals in India, Africa and the U.S. and is content when a gift is “under good leadership to manage, maintain and grow.” His considers his most satisfying charitable project to be the school and hospital he built in his father Chhotubhai A. Patel’s village, Mota Fofalia, in Gujarat.

Other projects continue in India such as education and health care in partnership with Akshaya Patra and the Tampa Bay community. “We hope to provide 50,000 kids a midday meal in villages surrounding Mota Fofalia, expanding health care via community health centers and primary care clinics” Patel says. “It’s a unique public/private sector partnership to make an impact through education and producing kids that will become doctors, engineers, scientists.”

When asked “golf or tennis,?” he comes down squarely for the small ball and clubs. “In the past, I was always for tennis and golf was something I criticized,” he says. “But once I began playing, I enjoyed it. Everyone has some vice and my vice is golf!”

Although he is a widely experienced world traveler – for work and pleasure – there’s one place he would still like to visit. Approaching the subject in a roundabout way, Patel acknowledges he has “the disease of plenty. A point comes where you’ve been to so many places, countries. In childhood, even to get a bicycle or a TV was a big deal and now those pleasures have gone because you can get anything you want.” But with prodding, he said he’d like to visit Kashmir. (He said this prior to being informed about the mid February Phulwana bomb blast that had occurred that day just hours before our meeting.)

Patel stopped his cardiac practice in the late 1990s. Asked whether he misses the routine of patient office visits, he says, “When in transition, it was difficult. In those days, Tampa was small, and you could connect with a patient you were taking care of, I miss that. But once I stopped practicing, I found the only person that controls my life was God and second maybe my wife. But when a patient of mine had a heart attack, I’d go to see that patient and take care of him.” Once he retired, the transition was an initial dilemma. After the change, Patel was happy to carry on with his health-care mission through philanthropic efforts in India, albeit in a different way.

As he approaches 70, the philanthropist considers his next decade. He hopes his children will continue his charitable work. “I will still be involved on the philanthropic side and it is very difficult to answer a question that humanity has always been struggling with: purpose of life. One philosophy is total abandoning attachment and other is if your mind, body and brain are working, you can still continue to work and impact the world in a detached way. For example, in the hospital in India, we know some people are benefiting. So, don’t know if it’s better to meditate or continue doing things globally or locally. These are the dilemmas.”

In sound health, Patel says he has been advised to be more “spiritual” and by that he should follow one group or religion. “My belief has always been that religion, spirituality is personal. It’s your actions, thoughts, deeds that can show who you are. Now to judge somebody else for their action or purpose of their action should not be anyone’s business.”

So after a life of financial success and numerous accolades, does he have any regrets? “Not really,” he answers quickly. “I have been fortunate that my path has been a fairly smooth one. Naturally, ups and downs are there but I have been able to overcome challenges. So, in the big picture, I do not regret anything that I have done so far.”  


INDIA FESTIVALS SET IN MELBOURNE (MARCH 9-10), GAINESVILLE (MARCH 16), FORT MYERS (MARCH 23), NAPLES AND ORLANDO (MARCH 30); PALM BEACH ASIAN TRADE, FOOD FAIR MARCH 16-17

MELBOURNE: Manav Mandir will present its 23rd annual Indiafest 2019 on Saturday, March 9, and Sunday, March 10, at Wickham Park, 2500 Parkway Drive, Melbourne. There will be cultural and fashion shows, henna, arts and crafts, Indian cooking demo, food, raffle drawings, etc. The theme is “Mystic East India” to be highlighted at the Discover India booth. Timings are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $5 for adults, $2 for children ages 12 and under and kids younger than 5 years are free.

This year, the Brevard Schools Foundation is the selected charity because it provides mentoring and support to kids from low-income households and assisted schools affected by Hurricane Michael in the Panhandle area. In the past, beneficiaries have included Haiti earthquake, various Florida hurricane relief efforts, Early Intervention, Daily Bread, Serene Harbor, Crosswinds, Cancer Care Center, Sentinels of Freedom - Veterans Re-Training Program, Children’s Hunger Project, Promise in Brevard and Candlelighters of Brevard.

For information, call Yasmin Majeed at (321) 720-8590, e-mail info@indiafestbrevard.org or visit www.indiafestbrevard.org

GAINESVILLE: The India Cultural & Education Center will hold its annual India Fest & Health Fair on Saturday, March 16, in Gainesville. The health fair will be 9 a.m. to noon and the festival will be 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Bo Diddley Plaza, 111 E. University Ave., Gainesville. There will be Indian food, dance, art, music, jewelry, clothing, henna. For information, visit www.icec-florida.org or e-mail indiafestgainesville@gmail.com

WEST PALM BEACH: Presented by Bangladesh Association of Florida, the 26th Asian Trade, Food Fair and Cultural Show will be on March 16-17. On both days, the event is set from noon to 10 p.m. at South Florida Fairgrounds (Expo Center), 9067 Southern Blvd., West Palm Beach. For information, call (561) 876-2255 or visit www.asianfair.org

FORT MYERS: The India Association of Fort Myers (IAFM) will hold its 32nd annual India Fest on Saturday, March 23, at Estero Recreation Center, 9200 Corkscrew Road, in Estero. The 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. event will feature Indian food, dance, henna, music, handicrafts and clothing. More specifically, there will be live entertainment on the outdoor stage throughout the day, including modern and classical dances, and fashion shows. Attendees will enjoy an unobstructed view of the performances under covered seating. Entry fee is $5 per person; parking is free. For information, call Suresh Bheemanapalli at (937) 270-9596, email suresh.b@iafortmyers.org or visit www.iafortmyers.org

NAPLES/BONITA SPRINGS: Organized by India Association of Naples, the annual India Fest will be held on March 30. At the time of press, the time and venue for the event weren’t unavailable. For details, email naplesindia@gmail.com or visit www.ianaples.org

ORLANDO/CASSELBERRY: The Hindu Society of Central Florida will hold its annual Indiafest on Saturday, March 30, on the temple grounds, and the cultural program in the air-conditioned community hall. Admission is free with a $5 parking fee. The event, featuring a kids fashion show, dances, and booths for clothes, henna, jewelry and plenty of food, will be held from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at HSCF, 1994 Lake Drive, Casselberry. To reserve a stall/booth, call (321) 460-0800.

For questions, call Dr. Srinivas Seela at (407) 276-5407 or visit www.orlandohindutemple.org

 

HoliFLORIDA CELEBRATES HOLI

TAMPA/CLEARWATER/ST. PETERSBURG

MARCH 24: HOLI; organized by Gujarati Samaj of Tampa Bay; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Florida State Fairgrounds, 4800 U.S. 301 N., Tampa; free for members; non-members $20/person; fee includes snacks and lunch; professional DJ; natural colors available for purchase; nominal parking fee; for information, call Keval Brahmbhatt at (813) 494-2700 or Sandip Patel at (865) 771-9190.

MARCH 21: HOLI DAHAN; 6 to 8 p.m.; Sanatan Mandir, 311 E. Palm Ave., Tampa; for information, call (813) 221-4482.

MARCH 30: HOLI CELEBRATION; organized by Maayboli Melawa Tampa Bay (MMTB); for venue and other details, visit www.mmtbusa.org

MARCH 17: RAJASTHANI GROUP HOLI PICNIC; for venue and other details, call Rashmi Jakhotia at (813) 962-4172.

BARTOW/LAKELAND

MARCH 20: HOLI; organized by the Bhartiya Samaj of Central Florida; 6 p.m.; $25; for venue and other details, call Vinoobhai Patel at (863) 293-0942 or visit www.bscfl.com

ORLANDO/CASSELBERRY

MARCH 24: DHULETI CELEBRATIONS; organized by Gujarati Society of Central Florida; 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Turkey Lake Park, 3401 S. Hiawassee Road, Orlando; free for society members; $35 for non-members; for information, call (321) 689-4075, email info@gujaratisocietycfl.com or visit www.gujaratisocietycfl.com

MARCH 20: HOLI FESTIVAL; organized by the Hindu Society of Central Florida; HSCF Hindu Temple, 1994 Lake Drive, Casselberry; for information, call Dr. Srinivas Seela at (407) 276-5407, e-mail info@hindutempleorlando.org or visit www.orlandohindutemple.org

March 23: HOLI 2019; organized by Indian Horizon of Florida and Lotus Insurance Group; Turkey Lake Park, 3401 S. Hiawassee Road, Orlando; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; free; $10 parking; for information, call Hari Singh at (321) 662-1887.

SPACE COAST (COCOA)

MARCH 24: HOLI; organized by the India Association of the Space Coast (IASC); F. Burton Smith Regional Park, 7575 W. Highway 520, Cocoa; noon to 6 p.m.; for cost and other information, call (321) 271-7072, email iascbrevard@gmail.com

NAPLES/BONITA SPRINGS

MARCH 17: HOLI; organized by India Association of Naples; Vineyards Community Park, Pavilion#1, Naples; 2 to 5 p.m.; Holi colors, snacks and drinks will be provided by association; free for members, $10 non-members; for information, email naplesindia@gmail.com

SOUTH FLORIDA (PALM BEACH GARDENS/PEMBROKE PINES/CUTLER BAY)

MARCH 17: HOLI DHAMAAL; organized by Palm Beach India Association; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Amara Shriners, 3650 RCA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens; free for members, $10 non-members; for information, email vicepresident@gopbia.org or visit www.gopbia.org

MARCH 24: HOLI CELEBRATION; organized by Indian Religious and Cultural Center (IRCC); C.B. Smith Park-Shelter No. 19, 900 N. Flamingo Road, Pembroke Pines; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; for details, call Poonam Wadhwa at (954) 543-1539 or visit www.irccflorida.com

MARCH 30: HOLI RANG BARSE 2019; organized by Anaak Events and Productions and South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center; 10950 S.W. 211 St., Cutler Bay; 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; $25 for adult in advance, $30 at gate; $10 in advance for youth, $15 at gate; for information, call (305) 509-4070 or visit www.smdcac.org to purchase tickets.

Disclaimer: Event details are subject to change. Please check with local organizers.

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