JULY 2022
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‘LOVE, MASTI AND HUNGAMA’ IS NO MORE

ALVIDA TO A DEAR FRIEND, MANORANJAN’S VINOD VASUDEVA OF CENTRAL FLORIDA

By NITISH S. RELE

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“Bhau, kasa ahe?” (brother, how are you?) The minute we heard the celestial, mellifluous and mesmerizing voice utter those words in Marathi on the phone (and from a Punjabi!), we knew it was the late Vinod Vasudeva, a dear friend we had known for over three decades. Vasudeva, 74, died on April 26 in Longwood.


For over 30 years, he hosted Manoranjan the radio show out of Central Florida. A native of Mumbai, Vasudeva earned his master’s degree in economics at Delhi University. After a brief visit to the United States, he returned in 1973 with Kusum, whom he had known since 1962. “We’d come on an extended honeymoon to New York, opportunities rose and we stayed back,” Vasudeva told us when sat down for an interview back in 2011 in his Longwood/Orlando area living room, surrounded by family photographs and of course hundreds of audio cassettes and CDs. “I ran my imports company, Vasudeva International, for 4-5 years. Then circumstances pushed us into exports for some more years before we moved to Miami in 1982.”

A year later, the couple headed to Orlando. “The reason is Kusum liked Orlando very much and being the henpecked husband I was, I caved in,” said Vasudeva. “Subsequently, I started my own exports company. In 1990, I was asked by the India Association of Greater Orlando to go on a radio program to announce the winner of their competition. I guess people liked what they heard and quite a few folks asked me to start a radio show.”

And that is how Manoranjan, named by Kusum, kicked off in 1990, first for 30 minutes, then gradually to an hour, hour and a half and two hours. In his Delhi days, Vasudeva had been active in stage and fashion shows, conducting music and party nights. “We also had a group Betaab, which used to sing ghazals, American songs,” he reminisced. “I even did a few stints on All India Radio.”

Manoranjan began primarily as a service to the community. In those days, there was no platform to bring the community made up of different ethnicities together. “But the backbone of the show was Kusum,” Vasudeva told us. “She was the one who would contact advertisers, sponsors, do all the administrative work. And on the day of the show, she would put the program together and I would just go on and babble. What I present in Manoranjan is an environment of love, masti and hungama.”

And his biggest fan and critic was Kusum, who passed away on March 28, 2007.

Vasudeva is survived by sons Varun and Vivek, and daughters Aditi Carman and Anjali Van Drie. “If you ask any of his four kids about who our dad was, I think we would each say how charismatic and full of love and laughter he was,” they said. “Our father was a perfect blend of love, laughter, and positivity along with structure, guidance and advice. When we were younger, he was the one who taught us not to take life too seriously, to not hurt too much when people let you down, and to know your family is your family, always there for you in life.”

As the Vasudeva children grew into adulthood, their father’s lessons persisted and helped each of them become successful, happy, confident adults with a fierce love for their family. “But as we grew, the lessons didn’t end, they changed,” the foursome said. “After mom was gone, dad would say, ‘I don’t know how to do this, I don’t know how to do this like she would.’ Through these words, he showed us that it’s okay not to know and to figure it out together. To want to live up to an expectation that maybe we can’t achieve but would be damned if we didn’t try as hard as we could.

“There’s a time in each of our lives where our parents stop being someone who have all the answers and can do no wrong. Then we see them as adults alongside us. As his kids, we feel incredibly fortunate we got to know our father not just as a hero in every way, but as a man. A man who anyone would be lucky to know. A man who taught us all what it meant to live life to the fullest, to live without fear and to love with all you have.”

RIP, mere dost Vinod.


NOTE FROM THE PUBLISHERS

KHAAS BAAT INTRODUCES REDESIGNED SLEEK FORMAT

By NITISH S. RELE & SHEPHALI J. RELE

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After almost 18 years publishing Khaas Baat as a large 11 X 17 inch page, we are introducing a redesigned and reformatted version. The newspaper is now 10.5 inches across and 12 inches tall. But readers rest assured the new, more convenient size will have the same hyperlocal focus on the Indian American community, news and contentwise. Particularly, the ever-popular events listing, which is growing as celebrations and festivities take a front seat once again.
This change has been almost 15 years in the making, so to speak. In that time period, over a third of the newspapers in the United States have ceased publication. Newsprint mills have shuttered and several existing ones are now making packages for companies like Amazon. Community newspapers such as Khaas Baat are hit the hardest with paper shortages and paper supply issues but we still have managed to carry on monthly since we began printing in August 2004. The pandemic, high inflation and gasoline prices, and raw materials shortage continue to plague newspapers, raising the price of available newsprint to record levels as publishers struggle to operate.

While exploding newsprint costs demand size changes for printing efficiencies, Khaas Baat remains committed to providing news to the Indian-American community throughout Florida. In addition, we inform readers about topics such as health, finance, accounting, book reviews, family matters, entertainment, immigration, motoring and astrology, among other features. Suggestions for new features are always welcome.

The new format allows for additional editorial layout configurations and ad sizes. Additional advertising opportunities are being created and will be made available in the near future.

Once again, we urge readers to support us by subscribing (form on page 2), sponsoring a month, or in any way you can. Checks can be addressed to KHAAS BAAT, 8312 Windsor Bluff Drive, Tampa, FL 33647. Or via zelle to (813) 758-1786.

 

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