Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida


By NITISH S. RELE – [email protected]

Sudhir Shah

32 years is a remarkably long time for an event celebrating Indian culture and dance in the Tampa Bay area. All the credit goes to the Gujarati Samaj of Tampa Bay (GSTB), which will hold the annual daylong India Festival on Saturday, Nov. 2, at the Florida State Fairgrounds. About 12,000 people are expected to attend, according to Chair Sudhir Shah, who is “trying to attract more non-Indian people.” Over three decades, the event has become one of the biggest and largest in the Southeast.

“This year, we are adding a new component called Tampa Wellness program in which our guest speaker Dr. Salila Tiwari will demonstrate how to use foods from your kitchen to become disease free,” said Shah. “Essentially, how to make a plant-based nutrition meal.”

Shriyan Photography
In the Nature Cures session at noon and 3 p.m., Tiwari will teach and answer questions on how meditation and lifestyle changes can alleviate chronic disease and improve fitness. In Wholesome Cooking session at 1:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., she will prepare a vegetarian stew, ‘Khichdi,” which is the remedy and cure for most digestive issues, acidity, diabetes, allergies, constipation and bloating. Register at for the free sessions.

In the Expo Hall, about 135 booths will offer a variety of fashion, jewelry, arts and crafts, and home décor. Just outside the hall, 25 food vendors will offer a variety of Indian delicacies from samosas to chicken tikka to gulab jamon and of course everyone’s favorite chai. In an adjacent Entertainment Hall, performers of all ages will be decked out in traditional attire for four categories of dance competition – garba, raas, folk and bhangra.

Shriyan Photography
Throughout the hall, several closed-circuit TV monitors will be set up so people can shop and eat while watching the dances.

Indian-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 Jane Castor will be in attendance as well as Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister, Commissioner Ken Hagan and other elected officials.

Shriyan Photography

The India Festival will be from 9:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. at the Florida State Fairgrounds, 4800 U.S. 301 N., Tampa. Tickets are $10 for adults; $7 for children 10 and younger.

For information, call Sudhir Shah at (727) 686-7424 or visit



Bollywood playback singers Udit Narayan, Kumar Sanu and Alka Yagnik will perform together on stage Nov. 15 in Orlando for the Throwback 90’s concert. The three have numerous hit songs to their credit.

Attendees can expect to hear some of these gems from yesteryears: ‘Jab koi baat bigad jaaye,’ from the film “Jurm” and ‘Ek ladki ko dekha’ from “1942: A Love Story” by Sanu; “Raja Ko Rani Se’ from “Akele Hum Akele Tum,” ‘Humko sirf tumse’ from “Barsaat,” ‘Mera Dil Bhi Kitna Pagal Hai’ from “Saajan” and ‘Chura ke dil mera’ from “Main Khiladu Tu Anari” by Sanu and Yagnik; ‘Taal se taal’ from “Taal” and ‘Chaand chhupa baadal mein’ from “Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam” by Narayan and Yagnik; ‘Pehla nasha’ from “Jo Jeeta Woh Sikhander” by Narayan; and many more.

Presented by Krish Patel, the 8 p.m. event will be at CFE Arena, 12777 Gemini Blvd. N. Tickets starting at $39 can be purchased at or call (407) 454-3334. 



Maayboli Melawa Tampa Bay (MMTB), a not-for-profit organization for promoting Marathi culture, will celebrate Diwali from 3:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Nov. 2 at Riverview High School Auditorium, 11311 Boyette Road, Riverview. MMTB will present Marathi play, “Punhaa Sahi Re Sahi” starring Bharat Jadhav. Visit for more details or call (765) 337-5899.


FORT LAUDERDALE: The Indian Regional and Cultural Center will hold its Diwali festivities from noon to 10 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 9, at Broward County Convention Center, 1950 Eisenhower Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. The program will include Bollywood, folk dances, Kids Corner and college/high school level dance competitions. Other attractions are food, fashion, jewelry, arts and crafts, and henna. Tickets are $10 (pre-sale online), and $12 (at the gate). For information, call Sanjay Gupta, CPA, at (954) 461-4003, Dr. Durgesh Thaker at (954) 554-8739, or visit


Orlando Marathi Mandal will be celebrating Diwali with cultural programs on Sunday, Nov. 10, at the Hindu Society of Central Florida community hall, 1994 Lake Drive, Casselberry. For details, e-mail [email protected] or visit


Anoopam Mission, 4685 U.S. 98 S., in Lakeland, will celebrate Annakut at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 16. For more information, call (863) 205-5929, email [email protected] or visit


Shirdi Sai Florida Center, 4707 S. Pleasant Grove Road, Inverness, will hold Annakut prasad mahotsav from 6 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 14. For timings and other details, call (352) 860-2181 or visit


Indian Student Association at University of Florida will hold its Diwali show on Friday, Nov. 8, at Curtis M. Phillips Center, 3201 Hull Road, Gainesville. Doors open at 6:30 and the show is from 7 p.m. For information, email [email protected]


The Indian Association of the Space Coast will hold Diwali dinner (paid members only) from 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23, at 5655 Stadium Parkway. For more information, call (321) 271-7072 or visit


India Association of Ocala will celebrate Diwali at 7 p.m. on Nov. 2. For details, email [email protected] or visit


Shirdi Sai Florida Center, 4707 S. Pleasant Grove Road, Inverness, will hold Annakut prasad mahotsav from 6 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 14. For timings and other details, call (352) 860-2181 or visit


Hindu Society of Central Florida (1994 Lake Drive) in Casselberry will celebrate Diwali from 2 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 2, with rangoli and Diwali greeting card competitions, cultural entertainment, Diwali Pooja/aarti, fireworks and mahaprasad. For information, call temple President Srinivas Seela at (407) 276-5407 or visit

Gujarati Society of Central Florida will celebrate the Festival of Lights from 5 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 2, at Hyatt Regency, 1 Grand Cypress Blvd. Festivities include variety of foods, open bar, concert-style live band and fireworks. Cost: members, $85, non-members, $100. For tickets/reservations, call (407) 468-0716 or visit


Bhartiya Samaj of Central Florida will celebrate Diwali/annual dinner at 7 p.m. on Nov. 3 at Bartow Civic Center, 2250 S. Floral Ave., Bartow Tickets are $35 per person. For more information, call Subhash S. Patel at (863) 648-0294 or visit

Shree Swaminarayan Hindu Temple (ISSO), 2793 New Tampa Highway, Lakeland, will hold a Diwali Funday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 3. For information, call (863) 687-4776 or visit


India Association of Naples will celebrate Diwali from 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 2, at Parish Hall, St. Agnes Church, 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road. Tickets are $20 and $30 per adult. For information, visit


Indian Cultural Society of Jacksonville will hold its Diwali party on Nov. 2 at Morocco Shine Center Auditorium, 3800 St. Johns Bluff Road S. Social hour begins at 4 p.m. followed by performances at 4:30 p.m. There will be food, dance and music. For tickets and more information, email [email protected] or visit  


Former naval flier Saravana Pat Bhava pilots many business ventures

By NITISH S. RELE – [email protected]

Saravana Pat Bhava has a restless mind. It has taken him from India to St. Petersburg and a series of successful businesses, including Indian fast food and his current venture born of a simple school pick-up mistake.

Bhava’s journey began in the Indian navy as a fighter pilot, deep-sea combat diver and maritime reconnaissance officer. During his 12 years in the military he earned several medals for contributing to multiple theaters of operation before seeking premature retirement while a Lieutenant Commander.

“Next up was an office job, and no way,” the 47-year-old entrepreneur says. “That’s when I quit and moved to St. Petersburg from Connecticut in 2006 where I earned my commercial pilot license.”

Soon, several major airlines competed to put Bhava in their cockpits but he “wanted to do something of my own.”

His search for that “something” began while learning bartending at the Grand Hyatt in Tampa. As he learned to mix elaborate drinks, he soaked up a more valuable lesson: how to run a large-scale hotel kitchen. Within a few months, he took his new food-service industry knowhow and opened a food truck called “Tun-du-ree.” His enterprise prospered into five locations within six years and Bhava franchised the concept. Then, looking for a new challenge, he sold the Tun-du-ree organization in 2012.

Then fighter pilot Pat Bhava in the Indian Navy

Simultaneously, he founded Spice Line Logistics Inc., a cuisine (flavor) changing business and partnered with clients such as Aramark and Bay Care Hospitals. It’s a food-service management company that specializes in Indian cuisine with office cafeterias for enterprises with more than 5,000 employees. He has since sold it.

Next, he started Sachi Ventures LLC, a real estate holding company that he still owns. However, he wanted his next business to have a global reach.

His epiphany came in 2013. On one day much like any other he drove to pick up his daughter, Shrisha, from school. After waiting in line his car door popped open and who got into the car? Someone else’s little boy! After the staff quickly realized the mistake, they gave him his daughter – plus his next big idea. Ruminating about the incident, Bhava turned the mishap into his current venture: PikMyKid.

“Teachers are not trained in traffic,” he says. “That’s where technology can help so that every child can be safer. There are 55 million children who attend K-12 grades, which means 50 million parents make the drive to pick up their kids from school.

“Using the Naval aviation-differential GPS as example, why can’t we position cars in pickup a line so we can know the exact sequence of the carline?” After raising $250,000 and hiring a team, the PikMyKid app was born. “Fundraising can be a humbling experience,” he says. But “if you cannot have the market back you with their money, it’s not worth it.”

Pat Bhava with wife Chitra

It’s been four years since then and he raised $3 million to get the PikMyKid project going. The business now has 12 to 15 employees. To wrangle the after-school pick-up rodeo the schools themselves buy the software solution, then parents get the program’s free cell-phone app. That enables each child to be matched with the correct waiting vehicle.

Reducing traffic congestion while ensuring student safety, PikMyKid is now available at 500 schools worldwide in seven countries outside the U.S., 100 schools in Florida and Texas each, and 300 in other major states.

“Next year, we hope to reach 1,000 schools,” Bhava says. “We don’t need any more money to survive but a strategic partnership to accelerate our growth.” For information, visit

The serial entrepreneur’s restless mind is already working on his next move. “I have something else in the pipeline,” he says mysteriously.

Bhava lives in Tampa with his wife, Chitra, and his PikMyKid inspiration, Shrisha.

CALL 813-758-1786.
or write to

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