Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida




Sanatan Mandir in Tampa will hold Dhanteras on Nov. 2 and Deepawali Laxmi Puja from 6.30 p.m. on Nov. 4. Annakut puja will be the next day from 6 to 8.30 p.m. The mandir is at 311 E. Palm Ave. For information, call (813) 221-4482 or visit

Hindu Temple of Florida in Tampa will hold Deepavali on Nov. 4. For information on other Diwali-related activities, call (813) 962-6890 or visit

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir will celebrate Chopda Pujan at 7 p.m. on Nov. 4. The next day will be Annakut Darshan from 1 to 7 p.m. Kids Diwali celebrations will be virtual 10:30 a.m. to noon Nov. 13. BAPS is at 9556 E. Fowler Ave. in Thonotosassa. For details, call (813) 986-5473.

Sri Ayyappa temple of Tampa, 6829 Maple Lane, will celebrate Diwali with fireworks and dinner on Friday, Nov. 5, from 6:30 p.m. onward. For information, visit


BOYNTON BEACH/MIAMI: BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, 541 S.E. 18th Ave., Boynton Beach will hold Diwali and Chopda Pujan from 7 p.m. on Nov. 4. Annakut Darshan will be from noon to 8 p.m. the next day. For information, call (561) 740 2898.

SOUTHWEST RANCHES: South Florida Hindu Temple, 13010 W. Griffin Road, Southwest Ranches, will celebrate Diwali on Nov. 3 with puja starting at 6 p.m. On Nov. 7, the mandir will have Annakoot with puja/bhajans from 10 a.m. To participate, call (954) 252-8802.


The Hindu Society of North East Florida, 1968 Greenland Road, Jacksonville, will celebrate Dhan Teras on Nov. 2 and Annakoot on Nov. 4. For information, visit

Indian Cultural Society of Jacksonville will hold its Diwali Dhamaka on Saturday, Dec. 4, at World Golf Village Renaissance St. Augustine Resort, 500 S. Legacy Trail, St. Augustine. Social hour begins at 3 p.m. followed by performances at 4 p.m. There will be food, dance and music. Entry is free for 2022 members. For tickets/info, email [email protected] or visit


Hindu Society of Central Florida (1994 Lake Drive) in Casselberry will celebrate Diwali from 2 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 6, with rangoli and diya competitions, cultural entertainment, Diwali Pooja/aarti, fireworks and mahaprasad. For information, call Balaji Kottapak at (407) 417-4585 or visit

Orlando Marathi Mandal will be celebrating Diwali with cultural programs on Sunday, Nov. 14, at Eastmonte Civic Center, 830 Magnolia Drive, Altamonte Springs from 4 to 9 p.m. For details, e-mail [email protected] or call (407) 712-5992.

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, 1325 W. Oakridge Road, Orlando, will have Diwali and Chopda Pujan from 5:45 p.m. on Nov. 4. The next day will be Annakut Darshan from 12.30 to 8 p.m. Kids Diwali celebrations will be virtual 10:30 a.m. to noon Nov. 13. For information, call (407) 857-0091.


Shree Swaminarayan Hindu Temple (ISSO), 2793 New Tampa Highway, Lakeland, will hold

Diwali Annakut celebration from 5 to 7 p.m. on Nov. 6. For information, call (863) 687-4776 or visit


Shirdi Sai Florida Center, 4707 S. Pleasant Grove Road, Inverness, will celebrate Dhanteras on Nov. 2 and Deepawali, Dhanalakshmi Puja on Nov. 3. For timings and other details, call (352) 860-2181 or visit


Manav Mandir will hold Diwali celebrations (Laxmi Puja) at 6 p.m. on Nov. 4 and Gowardhan Puja the next day. The temple is at 7400 Waelti Drive, Melbourne. For information, (321) 426-0668, email [email protected] or visit

Admissions “Interviews” in the Digital World

By Robert LeVine

For years, many of America’s top colleges conducted interviews of applicants as part of the admissions process. Having served in this capacity for Harvard for over 29 years, I cannot tell you how many times I sat down with bright young people at a Starbucks for an hour-long chat that turned into an Interview Report, which proved to be highly influential in determining who got in and who did not.

Then Covid-19 hit and put a stop to most everything.

Yet now that the world is transforming into another “new normal.” Things change, but things also remain the same: the admissions interview is BACK.

Well, not necessarily an “interview” in the classic sense ….

Some schools have returned to performing interviews, usually by alumni, only now many of those interviews are being conducted over zoom or some other form of digital video chat. However, new formats – which were becoming more popular even before the pandemic – are being utilized by many schools. One or two-minute prerecorded videos often take the place of live interviews. Even in an Instagram world, these are hard for anyone to master.

First, with a prerecorded video, there is nobody with whom to interact. That may seem like a benefit to some, but for most people, the inability to have meaningful conversations can change the human dynamic for the worse. It is very hard to demonstrate that you will be a beneficial part of a campus community in a format with zero give-and-take.

Second, these videos are short. Whereas an interview provides time and opportunity to communicate memorable stuff, a prerecorded video just … doesn’t.

So, how do you create a video that helps you become part of a school’s next class?

Let’s start with discussing what not to do. Don’t try to be perfect. Psychologically, although humans are impressed by perfection, we tend to like imperfection. In art, we usually prefer asymmetry over symmetry; off-center is more interesting. When you mirror an attractive face through Photoshop, the model or movie star somehow doesn’t look as attractive. My funniest stories are about what went wrong, not about what I did right.

Translating this into the world of admissions, please do not create an overworked, overproduced movie. Admissions officers are looking for genuine people, not immaculate editing. This is not a portfolio for a competitive film major. This is a quick meet-and-greet.

Perhaps the most important advice is: relax. Just be you. Don’t worry so much about making mistakes (bloopers, by the way, can be endearing). In fact, the chance that you’ll get a great video in just one take is practically zero. Assume that you’re going to make many attempts before achieving even a palatable result. Remove the pressure from yourself.

But what to say, or do? Please, do not recite your resume, achievements or qualifications. They already know about those things from your application. The video is meant to add information – about your human side – not “prove” yourself.

Definitely give your name, where you’re from, and … then what?

Here lies the brilliance of a short take. You can say and do pretty much anything you want (within the boundaries of decency, of course). If you look at YouTube, you will see dozens and dozens of short admissions videos, but remember: they are usually posted by students (as something the kids enjoyed), not by admissions offices (as something that proved effective). Use the internet, but only for giving yourself comfort that anything goes.

Discuss what you are looking forward to doing in college. Chat about how your friends make you laugh. Describe a quirk or idiosyncrasy. Tell them about a question which vexes you. If you’re unsure about what to say, try a bunch of different ideas, then ask your friends or parents what they like. Remember: it’s all about what the audience wants.

Ultimately, admissions officers just want to get to know you, not some perfect presentation. As one admissions dean told me:

“Trying to be someone you’re not because you think that’s what I want? It’s not good. I’m going to be intrigued by an interesting person who probably is not perfect. In fact, I’d be very skeptical of the perfect 17 or 18-year old. I’ve never met that person.”

Robert LeVine is the founder and CEO of University Consultants of America, an independent educational consultancy assisting students around the world with applications to colleges, universities and graduate schools. For more information, call University Consultants of America, Inc. at 1-800-465-5890 or visit


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