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Several communities in Florida are celebrating Navratri this month. Here are some:

TAMPA: The Gujarati Samaj of Tampa Bay will celebrate Navratri on Friday, Sept. 18 and Saturday, Sept. 19 at India Cultural Center, 5511 Lynn Road. On Sept. 25-26, the festival of nine nights will be held at the Florida State Fairgrounds, 2506 W. Idlewild Ave. For more information, call Samaj President Dr. C.J. Patel at (813) 960-8450 or Samaj VP Himmatbhai Parekh at (813) 969-1661 or visit

Also, SOIKOT (Bengali Society of Tampa Bay) will hold a Durga Puja on Oct. 3 at the Hindu Temple, 5509 Lynn Road, and on Oct. 4 at the India Cultural Center on Lynn Road. Performing on Oct. 4 are Aloke Roychoudhury and Krosswindz. Donations are $75 per person or $140 for the family. RSVP to or call Jyotirmoy at (727) 643-3691 or Manoj at (813) 685-8441.

ORLANDO: The Gujarati Society of Central Florida will hold Garba from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Sept. 18-19 and Sept. 25-26 at Lyman High School, 865 S. Ronald Reagan Blvd., Longwood. Performing groups at Lakhia Brothers and Raj Pandya. Annual society family membership fees are $100. Daily pass for the garba is $25. Students with ID pay $15; children 5 years of age and younger are free while kids ages 5 to 12 pay $7 per day. For more information, call Nilkanth Kapadia at (407) 832-3835, Sunil Panchal at (386) 479-3055, e-mail or visit

MELBOURNE: The Indian Association of the Space Coast will hold Navratri celebrations at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 19, 26 and Oct. 3. The Sept. 19 garba-raas will be at Kiwanis Gym, Merritt Island. The Sept. 26 garba will be at Eau Gallie Civic Center in Melbourne. The Oct. 3 event will be at Walter Butler Community Center in Cocoa. For more information, visit

OCALA: The India Association Cultural and Educational Center of North Central Florida will celebrate Navratri on Sept. 18-19 and Sept. 25-26. For time, venue and more information, call Samuel Patidar at (352) 401-0322 or e-mail or Pravina Cacodar at (352) 854-1322 or e-mail or visit

LAKELAND: The Shree Swaminarayan Mandir, 2793 New Tampa Highway, Lakeland, will hold Dussera and Maharajshri Janmotsav on Sept. 27. For more information, call (863) 687-4776 or (863) 529-1146.

Swami Mukundananda

Renowned spiritual leader Swami Mukundananda will hold a free week-long program Sept. 13-17 at India Cultural Center in Tampa. He also will present a free discourse on "Science and Spirituality" Sept. 15 at the Hindu University of America, 113 N. Econlockhatchee Trail in Orlando.

A Vedic scholar and senior disciple of Jagadguru Shree Kripaluji, Swami Mukundananda has held discourses throughout the world for devotees dedicated to achieving true, unlimited bliss in all aspects of life.

The program is possible thanks to Jagadguru Kripalu Yog, a non-profit organization dedicated to the spiritual, mental and physical wellness of human beings through yoga and spirituality.

Swami Mukundananda says the "wellness for life reach for the treasure within" program is a lifestyle system that combines yoga, meditation, healthy diet and intellectually stimulating discourses on ancient and modern philosophy. Unlike the increasingly popular practice of "yoga," limited to asans or physical exercises, the Jagadguru Kripalu Yog program emphasizes a comprehensive purification of the body, mind and soul.

Swami Mukundananda received degrees in engineering from the Indian Institute of technology (IIT) and his MBA from the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) before renouncing a corporate career at 23 years of age in search for truth and God. "All of us are searching for something: there is something very dear to us that we appear to have lost," says Swamiji and adds, "The Vedas tell us that what you are looking for is within you."

Offering new ways of understanding and applying the knowledge of the scriptures into our daily lives to ascend toward a heightened spirituality and realization of God, Swamiji covers the teachings of the Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagwad Geeta, Ramayana and other Eastern and Western philosophies in a modern context, The Jagadguru Kripalu Yog's many philanthropic activates are committed to serving those who lack education, healthcare and sustenance throughout India. For more information about the Jagadguru Kripalu Yog, visit For inquiries, e-mail

The Sept. 13-17 Tampa discourses at ICC Lotus Hall, 5511 Lynn Road, will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Sunday and 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Yoga and meditation will be from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. For more information on the Tampa program, call Dr. Ashit Vijapura (813) 966-5646.

The Sept. 15 discourse will be from 11 a.m. to noon at the Hindu University of America in Orlando. For details on the Orlando discourse, call Abhinav Dwivedi or Lynn Vannucci at (407) 275-0013 or Braham Aggarwal at (407) 529-7736.

Statue of Shiva in Haridwar. Photo by Rebecca Pujals-Jones

"India's Light," a photographic exhibit by Rebecca Pujals-Jones, is on display through Sept. 14 in the Citrus County Chronicle gallery in downtown Inverness at 106 W. Main St. The exhibit is presented by the Art Center of Citrus County and the Citrus County Chronicle.

"India's Light" showcases the photographer's journey to Mumbai, Haridwar, Rishikesh, Delhi and Agra. When viewing the images, visitors will experience the colorful cities and villages of India, with the quaint street scenes. The architecture of holy temples, with Sanskrit mantras on the walls invites the traveler to relax and meditate. This India is a blend of the mundane and the transcendental, a must-see.

Along the Ganges River, there are temples and ashrams where yogis practice and teach an ancient culture steeped in spirituality. The Ganges winds through Haridwar to Rishikesh, the images move from sacred traditions to the luminescent monument of love: the wondrous Taj Mahal, in Agra.

Pujals-Jones is a professional photographer based in Hernando. She has a bachelor's degree from Bennington College, Vt., where she studied Photography and Music Composition.

The Citrus County Chronicle gallery is in downtown Inverness across from the Old Courthouse. Gallery hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Admission to the exhibit is free. For more information, call (352) 726-3983 or visit

Story provided by Shobana Daniell

Central Florida's ever popular India Fest will be held on Saturday, Sept. 12, at the Hindu Temple, 1994 Lake Drive, in Casselberry.

The India Fest opens with a free Health Fair from 9 a.m. to noon. The cultural programs and the food stalls are a big draw for the devotees and the local community; last year, more than 2,000 people attended the function.

From 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., the community hall will be packed with audiences enjoying the folk, regional, Bollywood and classical dances performed by the talented young artists. Musical and vocal performances are planned as well to highlight traditional Indian entertainment.

The temple grounds will be transformed into a typical Indian bazaar with a huge tent filled with dazzling arrays of Indian clothes, jewelry, handcrafted furniture, etc. Plenty of food stalls will offer a variety of regional cooking, and a soft drink and Indian ice creams. This spectacular exposition of Indian arts and crafts also is attended by many local school children, who come to visit the temple and magically get transported to India. v For more information, call (407) 699-5277 or visit

Dr. Rao Musunuru, left, Charles Sobel and Emile Laurino, Seven Springs Rotary members.

Dr. Rao Musunuru, a practicing cardiologist at Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point, recently was awarded a Paul Harris Fellow Award. This recognition is the highest honor given by Rotary International. Musunuru received this honor at the installation and awards banquet of the Rotary Club of Seven Springs for his outstanding community service over the years in many areas.

For more information on Rotary International, visit


The term Yoga is buzzing all around us these days, making its way from the foothills of the Himalayans to the mainstream of American lifestyle, replacing ascetic yogis with modern teachers. Most marketed techniques are offered in variety of styles and promise health benefits with relief for most diseases - most packaged in personalized brand names! Almost everywhere we see beautiful bodies in various postures, alluring us to be stress-free and peaceful in the midst of our busy, chaotic world. At times, this can make some of us feel like yoga is "in" and we are being left out! If you are born in India, you may feel, it is your birthright to have known yoga, and yet, you may still feel like a foreigner entering a group yoga class at your favorite health club!

The modernization of yoga in the West today primarily seems to focus on body postures, breathing exercises, relaxation and meditation, which actually only serve as a mere entrance to the vast field of yoga. What's being marketed in today's most popular magazines and health clubs is often a watered-down, tip-of-the-iceberg version of its truest form.

The real term is 'YOG.' The literal meaning in Sanskrit is, to join, to blend, and to unify. It's a self-exploration journey. The original purpose, in the tradition of the ancient yoga practice, is to witness life 'As Is' in its totality; to cultivate the individual, limited consciousness or awareness of the self to unify with its greater potential of unlimited Oneness, to experience its omni presence, omni science and omni potent nature, to free us from living in a reactionary stressful world, to live in communion with all beings in harmony, to act in the flow of life, using our innate wisdom in the compassionate spirit of Oneness, which eventually leads us to the ultimate state of self-realization, in which, living becomes sheer joy, a choice-less act in true freedom!

One may wonder how such blissful living can be possible!

Well, believe it or not, thousands of years back in India, the great yogi Patanjali, in his statements called Yog Sutras, presented the entire essence of Veda - the real knowledge of life science, into a precise methodology which offered a way to attain the highest human potential while living in harmony with the entire existence. He divided these statements into four chapters. The second chapter is called the eight "limbs" or steps known as Ashtanga Yoga to prepare one's body, and quiet the mind and achieve the mastery over mind.

So what are the comprehensive, eight steps of Ashtanga Yoga practice?

In the next issue, we will explore the eight steps, and yoga's specific health benefits. Your comments, suggestions and active participation are most welcome.

This column is dedicated to sharing the joy of exploring the original meaning of yoga, its eight steps system, practice and benefits in our daily life.

Achala Rao of Valrico, a yoga and energy healing practitioner since 2002, can be reached at

Story provided by Lowry Park Zoo

More than 200 people took part in free medical screening at the Hindu Society of North East Florida temple in Jacksonville. The effort was jointly conducted by the temple and the Indo-American Medical Association of North-East Florida.

Services availed by uninsured and underinsured included: Internal Medicine (including diabetes, blood pressure evaluation and advice), Nephrology, Cardiology, Pediatrics, Dentistry, Urology, Women's health, Cancer education, Allergy and Immunology, Chiropractic evaluation and Ophthalmology. Free screening services included: Laboratory testing for Cholesterol, Chemistry, blood sugars, blood counts and urine analysis; Bone Density study; Mammogram and chest x-ray; vision testing, spirometry; and electrocardiogram.

More than 60 physicians and nurses from Indo-American Medical Association of North-East Florida, and about 30 volunteers from Hindu Society of North East Florida, Indo-US Chamber of Commerce and Indian Cultural Society, helped to conduct the four-hour event.


Nandkishor Shah, left, receiving an award from AAPI President Vinod Shah.
Story provided by FAPI

The Florida Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (FAPI) celebrated its 23rd Annual Conference and Gala in Tampa recently. More than 120 physicians attended the CME program with diverse topics and expert speakers, including a rare presenter or two from wealth management seminar as well. There were 27 booths from pharmaceutical companies/ businesses and medical billing companies, jewelry and CDs and DVDs.

An election was held for FAPI officers for 2009-2010 year. Haravu Lokesh is the new treasurer; Chowdappa is the president; Nandkishor Shah became president-elect; Vijay Narasamha is the vice president and Vipul Kabaria who worked exuberantly as treasurer and booth manager both was elevated to the secretary's post.

Among the 380 people in attendance were American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) President Vinod Shah, Center for Disease Control (CDC) Atlanta Deputy Director Vikas Kapil and Sandeep S. Chhatwal, CEO, of Omni Medical, Chandigarh.

Dr. Venkat Rao Emandi and his wife Laxmi Emandi.
Story provided by Chandu Talla

Dr. Venkat Rao Emandi of Tampa (past president of FIA, AAPI) and philanthropist, in association with Vegesna Foundation, raised $10,800 for the poor and disabled children in Andhra Pradesh.

About 200 people gathered at the Hindu Temple in Tampa to watch singer Vijaya Lakshmi and "Apara Ghantasala" Chandra Teja perform on the stage with several Tampa Bay artists.

The event received a tremendous support from the local Telugu community and businesses.

Dr. Raghavendra Vijayanagar with the Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh

His list of firsts is laudable. He performed Florida's first heart transplant at Tampa General Hospital back in 1985. He also inserted Tampa Bay area's first automatic implantable cardioverter defibrillator (AICD) at TGH. In 1996, he carried out the first TMR procedure (laser heart surgery) on Florida's West Coast at Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point. That same year, Dr. Raghavendra Vijayanagar (affectionately called Dr. Vijay), performed the first Batista (reducing an enlarged heart) operations at TGH and Regional Medical Center.

What is it that is so appealing in matters of the heart? I asked the Tampa resident we sat in the world-renowned cardiac surgeon's consulting practice on Westshore Boulevard. "For some time, I was considering neurosurgery," he admits. "But I felt open heart surgery was more challenging, satisfying (to the patient) and glamorous." Indeed, it could be termed alluring. After all, how many surgeons do we know who have boarded a helicopter twice a week to fly from the airport to a hospital to perform heart surgeries?

A native of Hospet, Karnataka, the 69-year-old was the 10th of 12 children. He attended high school in Hospet before moving to Mumbai, where he earned an M.B.B.S. from G. S. Medical College in Mumbai. It was a newspaper ad touting "$200 room and board in the USA for cardiac surgery training" that drew his attention to the West. Before he knew it, he landed in New Jersey, then on to New York for residency. By 1971, he was trained as a heart surgeon. "Nobody encouraged me to go back to India," he remembers. "The late cardiac surgeon Dr. P.K. Sen advised me to stay in America. Back then in the early 1970s, cardiac surgery wasn't addressed in India."

Dr. Raghavendra Vijayanagar

After receiving his immigrant visa in 1972, Dr. Vijay practiced six months in Atlantic City. "Which is where I met a nurse, Kathleen, who would then be my wife," he recalls.

In 1973, New Jersey's loss turned out to be Florida's gain when the good doctor moved to Tampa as a cardiac and thoracic surgeon. That same year, he performed his first heart surgery at TGH while initiating new cardiac procedures. No wonder, he holds TGH in high esteem. "It is a wonderful hospital," he raves. "The medical staff are residents.

They have an excellent cardiac unit and the leading center for transplantation. By the time I had retired, we had performed over 400 heart transplants. This year, the heart transplant program at TGH is the fourth busiest in the nation."

And thanks to Dr. Vijay, his second transplant patient (from 1985) is still alive, after 24 years. There is a 60 to 65 percent chance that a normal heart transplant patient can live 10 years or more.

Since his retirement in 2007, he hasn't stopped to take a breath. He runs a consulting practice and also is part-time associate medical director at Dr. Akshay Desai's Universal Health Care. And then there is the chairmanship of the Physicians Indemnity, a medical malpractice company "for, of and by the physicians," as he puts it. Of course, the research in all matters of the heart continues for the doc.

Ask him about charity and Dr. Vijay shies away from taking credit. But I insist and he gives in reluctantly. "I was always interested in charity," he says. As founder and president of the Florida Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (formerly AAPSA) from 1987 to 1989, he started the annual Thanksgiving and Christmas toy distribution, which is carried on today. As chairman of the AAPI Charitable Foundation, he established an equipment donation scheme from the U.S. to the needy hospitals in India. The foundation, which has revenues of $250,000, runs 16 charitable clinics in India and 12 in the United States.

Dr. Raghavendra Vijayanagar with his family
It would be impossible for me to list all of the Tampa surgeon's awards, honors, fellowships. Among his prestigious achievements was receiving the Ellis Islands Medal of Honor in 2004. Why just the U.S. government? Even the Indian government honored him for taking the lead in helping to change the definition of death to "brain death" for tissue and organ donations.

An ardent Republican, Dr. Vijay established the Indian American Republican Council in 2002, and in 2009, was made its Chairman Emeritus. He was involved in ensuring passage of the Indo-U.S. civilian nuclear agreement and present at the signing of the bill by President George W. Bush in October 2008.

I asked him about the health care plan proposed by the Democrats and President Obama, which awaits passage in the U.S. House. "We have the best medical care in the world," he says. "But there is no free lunch. The public has some right to health care. However, medical education is expensive and physicians undergo extensive training. Unfortunately, they have to practice defensive medicine. So, fix what is not right and leave alone what works. At the end of the day, physicians have to take care of patients and the government should not interfere between the two."

Dr. Vijay has been married to Kathleen, a nurse volunteer at TGH, for 33 years. They have two daughters: Caitlin; and Amy, who lives in Thailand with her husband, Andrew, and their daughter, Mia.


The Asian American Store Owners Association (AASOA) held its Expo and Banquet on Aug. 22 in Titusville. The first annual AASOA Expo united hundreds of store owners and those who supply them with products and services. The newly formed AASOA had a vision four months ago to bring together those who do business with stores in a relaxed atmosphere where they could see new products and learn through educational opportunities. More than 100 vendors packed the Expo at the Brevard Community College to show off their products to 500 store owners. Learning Symposiums featured information on Human Resources, Wealth Management, Crime Prevention and Labor Laws. Tino Patel, Neil Kapadia, Dr. Balani, Vipul Patel, Summit Shah and Hitesh Patel, Board of directors of AASOA, said, "We are very proud to be a part of such a great team. Their willingness to sacrifice countless hours helped make this event spectacular. We all look forward to working together on the 2010 Expo and encourage all store owners to join AASOA and become a part of a growing group of business men and women who can make a difference not only in their lives but in the community." Visit or call (321) 735-6492 to learn more about the Asian American Store Owners Association.


Classical vocalist Rahul Deshpande will present a concert Sept. 26 at Carrollwood Cultural Center, 13345 Casey Road in Tampa. The singer represents the next generation of Indian classical musicians who will take art to newer heights and is a name that will remind us of his grandfather, late Pandit Vasantrao Deshpande. Deshpande is a disciple of Pandit Gangadharbuva Pimpalkhare, Dr. Madhusudhan Patwardhan, Usha tai Chipalkatti and Mukul Shivputra, the son of Pandit Kumar Gandharva. His repertoire includes renditions from classical ragas to khayal, thumri, dadra, natya geet, bhajan, ghazal and bhaav geet. He will be accompanied by Aditya Oke on the harmonium and Shripad Jail on the tabla. Tickets for the 6 p.m. concert are $25 at the door or $20 in advance. It is free for children ages 18 years of age and younger. Sponsorship is $100. Donations are welcome. For more information, call Avinash Deshpande at (727) 742-6680 or e-mail


Back in 2001, Lexus launched the SC430, its first convertible. It took the luxury car division nearly 10 years to come back, this time with two convertibles: the IS 250C and IS 350C.

The rear-wheel-drive versions are available as a 2.5-liter V-6 engine that develops 204 horsepower at 6400 rpm or the 3.5-liter V-6 engine that pumps out 306 hp at 6400 rpm. The IS 250C is mated to a standard 6-speed manual while the IS 350C is offered as a 6-speed automatic transmission.

Both the IS models sport a handsome and elegant look with standard projector-beam headlights and elliptical fog lamps surrounding a color-coordinated air dam with low grille. The influence of the IS sedan is evident in the cabin with a similar gauge cluster of speedometer, tachometer, coolant and fuel temperature readings. But Lexus engineers tweaked the display screen illumination so there is no question of glare with the three-panel folding hardtop down. Oh yes, you can open or close the top in 20 seconds.

Open-air motoring enthusiasts who seek comfort, luxury and power will find the convertibles to their liking. That there is a choice in the power trains is even better.

IS 250C

Wheelbase: 107.5 inches
Length: 182.5 inches
Weight: 3,840 pounds
Suspension: Double wishbone in front, multilink in rear
Steering: Electric Power Steering
Fuel capacity: 17.2 gallons
City: 18 mpg (MT)
Highway: 26 mpg (MT)
Base price: $34,200
Web site:


2010 Mazda3
THE RIDE: Four-door, five-passenger 2010 Mazda3 i touring compact sedan.

DOWN THE ROAD: All redesigned for 2010, the economical front-wheel-drive Mazda3 is an entertaining car to drive, thanks to a peppy engine. It displays amazing agility and response regardless of road and inclement weather conditions.

TECH & PERFORMANCE: Power comes from a 2.0-liter Variable Value Timing inline-4 cylinder engine. It develops 148 horsepower at 6500 rpm and 135 pounds-feet of torque at 4500 rpm. Our Mazda3 was mated to a slick 5-speed manual transmission, which was quick and smooth with its shifts. The variable-assist, power steering is sharp and accurate. Front suspension is handled by an independent MacPherson strut and a rear multilink; both ends get coil springs.

LOOK & FEEL: The sedan retains its five-sided grille but with just one opening instead of the traditional two. A black grille insert and trim with chrome accent, clear-lens halogen headlights and tail lights, body-colored bumpers and door handles, and 16-inch alloy wheels are among the other exterior standouts. Step inside and take your place on spacious driver's seat behind a three-spoke tilt-and-telescopic steering column with audio, cruise and Bluetooth telephone controls. Indeed, the cabin is inviting, trendy and well laid out. We liked the glow emitted by ambient lights on the dash, especially the temperature display. Just under the analog tachometer and speedometer gauges is a fuel temperature reading and a driver information center. For a small car, the trunk area touts a laudable 11.8 cubic feet of space.

SAFETY FIRST: Standard features include dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag for both rows, four-wheel antilock brakes with Electronic Brake Distribution and Brake Assist, Dynamic Stability Control, traction control, active front headrests, front and rear stabilizer bars, crashable brake pedal, front safety-belt pretensioners with force limiters and tire pressure monitoring system.

OUT THE DOOR: $17,500, plus tax, tag, delivery and destination charges.

BY THE NUMBERS: Tires, P205/55R16 all season; wheelbase, 103.9 inches; length, 180.7 inches; weight, 2,868 pounds; fuel capacity, 14.5 gallons; city, 25 mpg; highway, 33 mpg; Web site,

WHY DIG IT: Mazda points out that 44 percent of its North America sales volume comes from the Mazda3. This shouldn't surprise anyone. After all, the compact sedan is thrift, reliable, practical and fuel-efficient. Best of all, the compact sedan boasts bold and attractive styling that is a must for the youth who are ardent buyers and lovers of the Zoom-Zoom spirit.

Check out for more vehicle reviews.

2009 Nissan Cube Krom

THE RIDE: Four-door, five-passenger 2009 Nissan Cube Krom small SUV.

DOWN THE ROAD: A box on wheels for a ride? You kidding me? No way, says Nissan. It's as squarish as a square can be but the all-new front-wheel-drive Cube offers a graceful ride and handling. Sure, the stylish vehicle is an attention-grabber, stopping everyone in their tracks, but it also is easier on the wallet, well-balanced and practical.

TECH & PERFORMANCE: The 1.8-liter inline-4 cylinder engine puts out 122 horsepower at 5200 rpm and 127 pounds-feet of torque at 4800 rpm. OK, we get the picture. That's by no means an impressive power train but just adequate to take the driver and passengers to their destination in comfort and safety. The Cube is equipped with a slick-shifting Continuous Variable Transmission. An independent front MacPherson strut and a torsion beam rear keep the SUV stable and smooth. Stabilizer bars are located at both ends. Braking is handled by a power-assisted front disc and a rear drum.

LOOK & FEEL: Sitting on 16-inch aluminum alloy wheels is a three-bar chrome grille that is flanked by wide halogen headlights. Right underneath is another two-bar chrome grille. Also visible are integrated and body-colored front and rear bumpers, bar-type tail lamps and a huge rear roof spoiler. That this is an upscale trim of the Cube is evident from the Krom rear emblem. Titanium is sprinkled quite generously on the a/c bezels, shifter bezel and gear lever treatments. You get a choice of 20 colors to personalize the lighting in the cabin to your liking. The circular a/c vents, door pulls and climate controls are eye-catching. There are at least 11 cup and bottle holders. We liked the one-hand refrigerator-style door handles. Also standard are aluminum-trimmed pedals, automatic temperature control and a three-spoke leather steering wheel with audio and cruise controls.

SAFETY FIRST: Dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag for both rows, four-wheel antilock brakes with Electronic Brake Distribution and Brake Assist, Vehicle Dynamic Control, traction control, front seat active-head restraints, front seat belts with pretensioners, three-point seatbelts for all, front and rear crumple zones and remote keyless entry.

OUT THE DOOR: $19,370, plus tax, tag, delivery and destination charges. Go for the $230 interior design package, which will fetch you a two-tone shag dash topper, front door bungees (essentially rubber bands to hold maps or photos), carpeted floor and cargo area mats.

BY THE NUMBERS: Tires, 195/55R16; wheelbase, 99.6 inches; length, 157.5 inches; weight, 2,864 pounds; fuel capacity, 13.2 gallons; city, 28 mpg; highway, 30 mpg; Web site:

WHY DIG IT: It's a given that the Cube isn't everyone's cup of tea or rather idea of a daily commute. But those who like a little boxy vehicle with numerous comfort and safety features will take to the new Nissan offering. Plus, there are endless possibilities of customizing the Cube to make you stand out from the rest of the crowd of bland sedans, SUVs, minivans and pickups.



Human experiences are commonly a cacophony of voices, thoughts and emotions. Most of us are in this state of confusion, where the mind is captivated by wrong perceptions of reality. This is why pain and suffering are integral to our lives, in spite of material conveniences and facilities that science and technology have provided us with. The noise that human beings make in the form of negative thoughts and emotions is evidence of the absolute mess they have made of themselves and their lives.

Part of this confusion arises from the fact that most people go through their lives without understanding what they want. Even if they do know, they neither have the will nor the vision to create lives of their choice and so settle for whatever is easily attainable and within reach. At any given moment in life, if you go by past experience, or if you trust your mind to decide what is possible and what is not, then you will end up settling for mediocrity. v We are always trying to create our life based on the reality that exists around us at that particular moment. Where we want to go tomorrow need not be connected with where we are right now. Our highest goal in life need not have anything to do with our present situation.

If we enslave our vision to the current situation, then we are once again settling for what is attainable, what is easy, what we think is possible. What is possible and what is not is not bound to our thinking. But we do need to have a vision with which to seek the highest aim. If man has a vision of what he wishes to do with himself and the world around him, it is not beyond man's capacity to create it.

It may happen in this lifetime, or it may take a couple of lifetimes, but what is wished for will definitely happen. This is because we will seek our vision every moment of our life. Then the highest things in life will fall at our feet. It is only because man is a bundle of confusions and spends most of his time seeking what he doesn't want that things he really wants never come to him. This lack of vision and will is fundamentally because of a distorted understanding of reality.

You must seek constantly that which you know to be the highest. It doesn't matter whether it is going to happen or not, simply living with the vision is an elevating experience and a joyous process in itself. Whether your vision is going to materialize tomorrow or in 100 years is not the point. You have a vision to which you give your life. This is one of the easiest ways to attain the highest goal of human life. The entire Bhagavad Gita is about this -- to simply give yourself to what you want without caring about the outcome.

Vision is an important way of transcending limitations that exist within and without. If one wants to live without a vision, or without being burdened by will, then one must be absolutely egoless. Only such a person can live simply. Only he need not have a vision. He does not have to have a will for anything, that is, if he is absolutely childlike. If it is not so, then it is important that man lives with a vision.

There are many examples of the importance of vision in Indian culture. We have all heard stories of how, if certain sages and saints willed something, the gods had to do their bidding. It is said if a devotee sits with complete will and vision and entreats Shiva [Shiva represents the all-encompassing formless divine in Indian spirituality] to come to him, the lord has no choice but to obey. This shows that if you have clear vision of what you want, and if you are set on it, what seems impossible today may manifest on its own in your life tomorrow.

It falls at your feet without much ado. But if you constantly question and think in terms of whether what you want is attainable or not, then the confusion that you create in your mind and in the world around you is compounded. It is time to create a vision within ourselves as to what we really care for and want in our lives. And if you look deep enough, your vision will be universal vision. Think what is the highest that you can seek and simply create your vision. Whether anything else happens or doesn't happen is not the point. Simply seeking what you understand as the highest with undivided attention is a way of knowing life here and beyond. Let us resolve to make this a millennium of meditativeness.

Sadhguru, founder of Isha Foundation and one of the foremost authorities on the ancient science of yoga, has expounded inner well-being through the yogic technique of Inner Engineering to millions of people across the world. For more information, click on

An Isha Yoga program will be held Sept. 23-29 at Pinellas Park Performing Arts Center in Pinellas Park. There will be a free introductory talk at 7 p.m. on Sept. 23. For more information, e-mail, call (813) 413-1661 or visit

** Participants in this program also will be able to participate in a Sathsang conducted by Sadhguru on Sunday, Sept. 27, at the same venue from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.



Have you opened a new store or restaurant in the last six months? Expanding or relocating? Has your business won an award or a mention in your local newspaper? We want to hear from you. Call Nitish S. Rele at (813) 758-1786 or e-mail us at


PEMBROKE PONES: The Indian Religious and Cultural Center (IRCC) will hold Navratri Garba/Raas from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Sept. 19, 25 and 26 at Silver Trail Middle School, 18300 Sheridan St., Pembroke Pines. Tickets are $20 entrance fee for three days (advance purchase by Aug. 31); $30 for three days (after Aug. 31 and at gate); $10 for Sept. 19 at the gate only; $20 for Sept. 25 or Sept. 26 each day at the gate only; $30 for Sept. 25 and Sept. 26 a two-day pass at the gate only; senior citizens ages 65 and older and children ages 3 and younger are free. For more information, e-mail or visit

SOUTHWEST RANCHES: The Shiva Vishnu Temple of South Florida, 5661 Dykes Road, Southwest Ranches will celebrate Navratri Sept. 19-28. Special poojas will be held for goddesses Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswathi. Sponsorship for all day is $101 or Abhishekham each day for $25. For more information, call the mandir at (954) 689-0471 or visit

Also, in Southwest Ranches, the South Florida Hindu Temple, 13010 W. Griffin Road, will celebrate Navratri Sept. 19. Durga Ashtami Havan will be on Sept. 26 with Saraswati Puja on Sept. 27 and Dasheri, Vijya Dashami on Sept. 28. For more information, call the temple at (954) 252-8802 or visit

FORT LAUDERDALE: The Shiva Mandir, 3000 N.W. 29th Ave., Oakland Park Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale, will begin Navratri 10 Nights Yagna from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Sept. 19 through Sept. 28. For more information, call (954) 735-3560 or visit

SUNRISE: The Bengali Association of South Florida is holding Durga Puja celebrations from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sept. 26 at Westpine Middle School, 9393 N.W. 50th St., Sunrise. Puja will be from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thereafter, there will be lunch followed by a cultural program from 5 to 8:30 p.m. and then dinner and dance; for more information, call (954) 895-4270 or (786) 351-1180 or e-mail or visit


SEPT. 12: YOUTH CLUB ELECTION FOR INDIAN RELIGIOUS AND CULTURAL CENTER (IRCC); 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Sophia's, 3842 N. University Drive, Sunrise; nomination forms should be emailed to by Sept. 4; for nomination form, visit

SEPT. 19: "GITA IN ACTION" CHAPTER 6 (WORKSHOPS ON SHRIMAD BHAGAVAD GITA): presented by Chinmaya Mission Miami; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; "Senate Chambers" in the Student Union, Florida Atlantic University, 777 Glades Road, Boca Raton; conducted by Brahmacharini Aparna Chaitanya; $15 pre-registration or $20 at the door; register at; for more information, call (561) 632-4611 or e-mail If you would like to list your upcoming South Florida event in Khaas Baat, please e-mail the information by the 20th of each month.


"Dosais are just one of the authentic dishes drawing Indian families, vegetarians and adventurous diners to Udipe," wrote Rochelle Koff during a recent Miami Herald review of the Sunrise restaurant. "The extensive menu covers a lot of territory with Indian-style Chinese and Indian-American ''pizza'' - but these are not your nonna's tomato pies. The thick pancakes or uthappam are topped with chiles and tofu plus sambar - a lentil vegetable soup - and chutney on the side."

Udipe Café owner Santosh Shetty has operated restaurants in such disparate spots as Nairobi and Kansas City, notes Koff.

Udipe Café is at 2100 N. University Drive in Sunrise. For more information, call (954) 748-5660.


If you would like to expand your Indian palate, Linda Bladholm of "Miami Herald" suggests you visit the restaurant by that name. Indian Palate in Coral Gables represents all of India's 21 major regions, she points out.

"For a taste of northern India, there's tandoori quail, dal makhani (black lentils stewed with butter and cream) and fragrant biryani (basmati rice steamed with spices and bone-in pieces of chicken)," writes Bladholm. "South Indian vegetarian dishes include vadas (savory lentil doughnuts), avail (veggies in coconut milk), and uttaapam (lentil pancakes). There's also Goan fish curry with kokum (a sour dried plum) and Chettinad chicken from Tamil Nadu with lots black pepper."

Indian Palate is at 2120 Salzedo St., Coral Gables. For more information, call (786) 360-3664.

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