Editorial

Winners Never Quit : Uma DeviReddy in conversation with Rashmi Kansupada
Rasshmi Kansupada   Jun-2019   151 Views   0 Comments

Have you ever wondered why minorities are underrepresented in your favorite Game of thrones show? Similarly, have you ever wondered why there is under representation in your work environment or in the world around you? Or have you ever felt like you are being seen but not heard? If any of these questions resonates with you then my thoughts in this article might garner your interest.  

I have been working for 22 years for companies ranging from nimble startups to fortune 500 firms in entry level to middle management roles. My work experience makes me uniquely qualified for penning my thoughts about diversity and inclusion.  In my most recent experience working with a major financial institution service I was fortune enough to have worked in various teams from technology to business giving me the insight into a diverse perspective of different teams. Through my experience I have learnt that it is not just being represented or the not being represented but, the real question is are we  being heard. I have over years felt like I have had to work extra hard and constantly prove my worth to be accepted. I questioned if my challenges and struggles were due to diversity being looked at as a detriment rather than as a strength. 

As I shared my experiences with others, people started sharing their experiences and it seemed evident that it an epidemic concern that still needed to be addressed. Many felt like there still was an invisible limitation that pulled them down from moving up the corporate ladder or being heard. Although there has been a lot of work that has been done towards Diversity and inclusion, it felt like there still is a lot that can be done.  

According to the annual 2018 diversity report, 66.8% of all jobs are held by men while 33.2% are held by women.  Based on Quantum Impact’s diversity report, one out of every five organizations (20 Percent) do not have a single woman serving on their leadership teams. These number are even worse for women of color. Only 4 percent of the top corporate jobs are held by women of color. As interesting as these numbers are, these numbers totally substantiate my experience.  

Studies have shown that diverse workforce not only brings creative thinking and a fresh perspective but also increases company’s bottom line. A recent Clover Pop research study conducted over a 2-year span with 200 business units showed inclusive teams make better business decisions 87% of the time. While these numbers for average teams were 66%. Decision made and executed by diverse teams were successful over 60% of the times.    

Based on my experience, here are a few things I think absolutely needs to be done for us to be able to see some real change. 

1.       Leaders need to go through a training so that they become aware of their subconscious bias

2.       Organizations should consciously make efforts to hire diverse leaders in executive roles

3.       Leaders should consciously make efforts to interact with diverse team members. Leaders should ask themselves, who do they sit next to when they enter a meeting room? If you are looking for someone to go out and eat lunch with, who are you drawn towards?  Make conscious decisions to be inclusive in your choices

These numbers and facts were call to action for me. I felt compelled to do something about Diversity and Inclusion. While there are many organizations that have started to do great work in this phase of diversity and inclusion, I still feel like a lot of work needs to be done. I am influenced to continue this work not only for me and many like me but also for leaders of tomorrow.

To move these efforts forward, I created a forum for us called Inside the Diverse Mind to address this epidemic concern of diversity and inclusion. Inside the Diverse Mind is a talk show featuring successful leaders in 45-minute episodes that will be telecast bi-weekly on YouTube and Facebook.  Our focus at Inside the Diverse Mind is to educate and encourage leaders to be conscious and intentional about Diversity and inclusion in their hiring and leadership decisions. Our goal is to educate our future leaders and our next generation to learn the skills to be more inclusive.  

Leaders from various organizations have come forward to support and participate in our show already making the right strides towards a better and inclusive diverse world. 

Please like our Facebook page @insidethediversemind to stay updated on our upcoming shows.

 

Read More...

PORTUGAL HIGHLIGHTS
Dr Reena Koppala   Jul-2019   19 Views   0 Comments
Portugal, officially Portuguese Republic, is a country lying along the Atlantic coast of the Iberian Peninsula in southwestern Europe.

Day 1:  We got on to a flight from Dallas to Madrid and had a one-day stopover in Spain. At that time my son was an ardent fan of soccer, so this stopover was a surprise for him. We went on a sightseeing tour of Madrid and had breakfast, lunch and early dinner in Madrid. Just before we went on to board the flight to Lisbon we made a stop to shop for footballs and jerseys.

Day 2: We landed in Lisbon, Portugal capital. Lisbon's urban area extends beyond the city's administrative limits with a population of around 2.8 million people, being the 11th-most populous urban area in the European Union. Lisbon lies in the western Iberian Peninsula on the Atlantic Ocean and the River Tagus. The westernmost portions of its metro area form the westernmost point of Continental Europe, which is known as Cabo da Roca, located in the Sintra Mountains. In Lishhboaaaa (that is how they say it) we stayed at a hotel that was a 15th-century Portuguese palace with a sea view. The first thing my son picked was a Hippo tour. It was a minivan that took us around Lisbon and later drives into a sea and becomes a boat.  We could barely keep our eyes open because of the jetlag. On our way back we stumbled across a museum, the Portuguese teachers were explaining about Ramayana and Mahabharata to their field trip students (made a note to read Jaya by Devdutt Pattanaik on Kindle once back).

Later in the evening we traveled by train to downtown Lisbon and had dinner at ' Timeout'. One of the most unique eatery places that I have ever been to. There were around 40 eating places under one roof with a contemporary look and so informal (fell in love with the concept). Strolled on the streets of the historic downtown and had late local coffee, Of course, shopping inclusive.

Day 3: My son's pick for today was Oceanário de Lisboa which is the world's largest saltwater Oceanarium and is a fantastic tourist attraction especially for families. Just to go to that place we took 3 forms of transportation metro, train, cable. One of the main adventures of any travel is “TRAVEL LIKE LOCALS”.  Trying to understand Portuguese and trying to find our way, was the most interesting part of our travel. Next stop was Vasco da Gama Shopping Center. We took a Cable car on the ocean and had lunch at Cais de Sondre. By the time we came back to our hotel, it was 6:00 pm. The hotel always had surprise exotic chocolates for kids. We quickly changed into formal wear and got ready to witness the iconic Fado show in style. Fado is commonly regarded as simply a form of song which can be about anything but must follow a certain traditional structure. In popular belief, fado is a form of music characterized by mournful tunes and lyrics, often about the sea or the life of the poor, and infused with a sentiment of resignation, fatefulness, and melancholia.Awesome Portuguese music mixed with dinner made it a perfect evening. We came back from the show around 12 am. Today we really felt the essence of Portugal. 

Day 4:  Woke up late and had a brunch in the hotel itself. Took the metro, to reach another station. There we went on a city hop off tours castle line and Belem line. Our next stop was Rossio Square or Praça do Rossio, officially called Praça de D. Pedro IV, is Lisbon's nerve center. The square is situated in the city's Baixa neighborhood, on the northern end of Rua Augusta, very close to Restauradores Square. Praça do Rossio is the liveliest area in the capital of Portugal and where many locals and tourists meet up. We had a good walk and browsed all the antique shops on our way. My son Arnav played with water that was hitting the shores for sometime before we moved on. 

Our next stop was Padrão dos Descobrimentos; Monument of the Discoveries, which is a monument on the northern bank of the Tagus River, Lisbon. Located along the river where ships departed to explore and trade with India and the Orient, the monument celebrates the Portuguese Age of Discovery (or Age of Exploration) during the 15th and 16th centuries. From the top of this monument, we had a breathtaking view of Lisboa. It was 6 pm now and we headed back to our Palacio. We walked for over 3 miles to get to our train station. My son said that he may forget this trip but will never forget the walk from the monument to the train station. We reached Hotel and almost collapsed, had a quick dinner and called it a day. It is at this hotel we learned the essence of Peri Peria very hot sauce made with red chili peppers.

Day 5:  We started our day at 6 am. Took a cab to central Lisboa to board the tour bus to the Sintra. Sintra is consistently ranked as one of the wealthiest and most expensive municipalities in both Portugal and the Iberian Peninsula as a whole. Sintra is similarly known for its high standards of living, consistently ranking as one of the best places to live in Portugal. The historic center of the Vila de Sintra is famous for its 19th-century Romanticist architecture, historic estates & villas, gardens, and numerous royal palaces & castles, which resulted in the classification of the town and its historic passage as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Palacios Reais de Sintra was beautiful and calm. We had a wonderful stroll spending our afternoon there on the cobbled streets. Had lunch at a 1945 Portuguese restaurant. Don't miss Paste De Nata the Portuguese official dessert. Later grabbed some coffee and went on a shopping spree. Loved the village ambiance and spending time with the locals. Towards the evening started our way back and drove to Cascais another beautiful town so pure and so rich in history. We stopped briefly at Cabo da Roca or Cape Roca the westernmost point of the Europe Continent. Now we called it a day and headed back to our hotel. 

Woke up early had a quick breakfast and headed to Cristo Rei, took a ferry to the other part of the town Your trip would not be complete without visiting this place.

Day 6: The giant statue in cement was constructed to express gratitude because the Portuguese were spared the effects of World War II. To view Cristo Rei in close proximity was an experience by itself. Later returned to Lisbon and visited the Jerónimos Monastery. The Jerónimos Monastery is one of the most prominent examples of the Portuguese Late Gothic Manueline style of architecture in Lisbon. It was classified a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the nearby Tower of Belém.We later took a tram to Jorge Castle. It was totally uphill ... my son got to play with the peacocks there. He and his dad visited the entire fort and later saw the archaeological sites. The scenic view at night from the castle was spectacular.  By this time it was dark, we quickly wrapped up our shopping and walked back to our station en route to our hotel. I started packing our bags and now my very own husband and son disowned me and they refused to give me any space in their luggage for all my shopping. At last, I did some pushing and pulling and finally got to close my suitcase. We woke up at 3 am in the morning and headed back to home sweet home Dallas on a 16 hr flight.  




Read More...

COLORECTAL CANCER CAB BE SAVED : Dr Narendra Monga
Toppick Media Editor   Jun-2019   65 Views   0 Comments

COLORECTAL CANCER CAB BE SAVED

Colon cancer (commonly referred to as colorectal cancer) is preventable and highly curable if detected in early stages. The colon is the first 4 to 5 feet of the large intestine. Colorectal cancer tumors grow in the colon's inner lining. 

Facts and Stats

- In 2017, nearly $36,000 new cases of  colorectal cancer were expected to be diagnosed in the U.S.

- About 1 in 20 (5%) Americans will develop colorectal cancer during their lifetime.

- Colorectal polyps (benign abnormal growths) affect about 20% to 30% of American adults.

Risk Factors

The exact cause of colorectal cancer is unknown the following factors can increase one's risk of colorectal cancer.

- Age: More than 90% of people are diagnosed with colorectal cancer after age 50.

- Family history of colorectal cancer (especially parents or siblings).

- Personal history of Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis for eight years or longer.

- Colorectal polyps.

- Personal history of breast, uterine or ovarian cancer. 

Prevention 

Colorectal cancer is preventable. Nearly all cases of colorectal cancer develop from polyps. They start in the inner lining of the colon and most often affect the left side of the colon. Detection and removal of polyps through colonoscopy reduces the risk of colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer screenirig recommendations are based on medical and family history. Screening typically starts at age 50 in patients with average risk. Those at higher risk are usually advised to receive their first screening at a younger age. While it is not definitive, there is some evidence that diet may play a significant role in preventing colorectal cancer. A diet high in fiber (whole grains, fruits, vegetables and nuts) and low in fat is the only dietary measure that may help prevent colorectal cancer. 

Colorectal Cancer Symptoms 

Colorectal cancer often causes no symptoms and is detected during routine screenings. Screening and Surveillance for Colorectal Cancer Colorectal cancer symptoms include: 

- A change in bowel habits (e.g. constipation or diarrhea).

- Narrow shaped stools. 

- Bright red or very dark blood in the stool.

- Ongoing pelvic or lower abdominal pain (e.g., gas, bloating or pain).

- Unexplained weight loss. 

- Nausea or vomiting.

- Feeling tired all the time

Abdominal pain and weight loss are typically late symptoms, indicating possible extensive disease. Anyone who experiences any of the above symptoms should see a physician as soon as possible. Colon or rectal cancer, (commonly referred to as colorectal cancer), affects the colon (large intestine) or rectum (bottom 6 inches of the colon). Colo rectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer, excluding skin cancers.

Why Should People Be Screened?

Colorectal cancer rarely causes symptoms in its early stages. It usually starts out as a benign colorectal polyp. These polyps are commonly found during standard screening exams of the colon and rectum. While the majority of polyps will not become cancer, certain types hiay be precancerous. Having polyps removed reduces a person's future risk of colorectal cancer. 

Screening Tests  

Fecal occult blood testing and flexible sigmoidoscopy are often used together to screen for colorectal cancer. However, colonoscopy is considered the “gold standard” screening test and is the preferred method unless medical problems prevent it.

Fecal occult blood testing A simple test that detects invisible amounts of blood in multiple stool samples. If blood is found it may be a sign of a colorectal polyp or cancer. If the test  positive, a colonoscopy is needed.

Colonoscopy

Examination of the entire colon with a long, thin flexible tube with a camera and a light on the end (colonoscope). This allows physicians to see not only the entire colon but also to remove polyps at thev same time.

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

Examination of the rectum and lower colon with a flexible lighted instrument if an abnormality is found, a colonoscopy is needed.

Air-contrast Barium Enema 

During this X-ray test, the colon is filled with air and contrast (dye) to make the lining visible. It is used primarily if a complete colonoscopy cannot be done.

Virtual Colonoscopy

This test uses computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to create a 3-D picture of the inside lining of the colon and rectum. If abnormalities are found. a colonoscopy is needed. It is also useful when a colonoscopy in incomplete. However, most insurance plans and Medicare may not cover this procedure. 

Screening Recommendaons 

As part of a colorectal cancer screening program, colonoscopy is routinely recommended for adults starting at age 50. Having a colonoscopy every 10 years is standard practice. Flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years with annual stool occult blood testing is an acceptable option when colonoscopy cannot be done. 

- People with a close relative (parent or sibling) with colorectal cancer or polyps should start screening at age 40 or 10 years before the youngest age at which a relative was diagnosed. These screenings should be done every five years, even if the 

test was normal.

- Less common types of inherited colon cancer (e.g., hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer and familial adenomatous polyposis) may require far more frequent screening, starting at a much younger age.


Read More...

Say NO to Opioids and Avoid Surgeries : Dr Vivek Mehta
Toppick Media Editor   Jun-2019   67 Views   0 Comments

Say NO to Opioids and Avoid Surgeries.

As a highly renowned pain management specialist, Dr. Vivek Mehta  offers world class minimally invasive treatments. Many patients suffer chronic pain and are looking for healthier ways to address these problems and decrease reliance on pain medication. It's a well-known fact that addiction to pain medication is a problem all over the world. If pain goes untreated, then depression, anxiety, sleep loss, strained family relationships and poor work performance can be the result.  

As CEO and Medical Director of the Global Institute of Spine and Joint Care in Arlington, TX., Dr. Mehta has more than 30 years of experience as a physician and pain management specialist. His ultimate goal is to improve patients' functionality and enable a return to work, school and full participation in day-to-day activities.

An Esteemed Medical Background

Answering Toppick's questions, Dr. Mehta said that he decided in the fourth grade that he wanted to be a doctor.  He attended the Armed Forces Medical College in Pune, Maharashtra, then served in the Indian Army Special Ops, the NSG, which performs anti-high jacking and anti-terrorist operations. He lived in the Middle East for several years and moved to the United States, starting his career at UCLA and USC. That was followed by a fellowship in endocrinology and residency training. He joined the University of Miami as a faculty member then progressed to lead the department for many years. Dr. Mehta is Board-Certified in Anesthesiology and started the Global Institute of Spine & Joint Care in 2011.

International Appeal

In addition to Dr. Mehta's extensive medical experience around the world, he is fluent in Hindi, English, Urdu, Punjabi, Arabic and Spanish. Dr. Mehta's multi-lingual abilities immediately put  his patients at ease when they visit him. The Global Institute of Spine and Joint Care has expanded widely and has patients from the D/FW Metroplex, all over Texas, as well as  internationally. Dr. Mehta has successfully treated numerous elite professionals with non-surgical techniques. He is trained in minimally invasive spinal techniques, reducing damage to surrounding tissues and speeding up patients' recovery.

How is Pain Best Managed?

Although pain is the most common reason to consult a physician, pain is often poorly treated. Chronic pain can affect every aspect of a patient's daily activity and prevent them from enjoying life. The stress of pain affects how people interact with their family and friends. According to Dr. Mehta, “Pain management as a specialty is a very interesting branch of medicine. Typically, pain is a symptom of a disease. For example, if you are having chest or abdominal pain, you may be having a heart attack or appendicitis. You take care of the underlying condition and the pain is gone. Because pain is the main problem the patient is having,  pain management can play a vital role,” says Dr. Mehta. “We take care of pain in a multi-modal manner & pain medication is the smallest part. We do mostly interventional pain management, where we offer various minimally invasive surgical modalities for patients.” Other treatments include psychiatry, physical therapy, and occupational therapy to help patients return to their daily routine. 

Personalized Treatment

As a dedicated physician, Dr. Mehta spends quality time with his patients and takes pride in establishing a one-on-one relationship. He and his team perform a comprehensive evaluation and create a detailed treatment plan to optimize pain control, enhance physical and psychological well-being and restore quality of life. The doctor strongly believes that controlling pain is vital to patients' physical and mental health. At the Global Institute of Spine & Joint Care, the treatment team uses the latest techniques to relieve pain so patients can get back to what they love most. Dr. Vivek Mehta brings years of experience and a passion for  excellence to pain management. His  philosophy is to use precise medicine to get an accurate diagnosis and treat it in the most conservative way possible. Dr. Mehta says, “Our aim is always to minimize medication use and maximize patients' functionality.” Say No to opioids and avoid surgeries by placing your trust in Dr. Vivek Mehta.

Read More...


Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota - Abhimanyu Dassani : in Conversation with Anu Benakatti
Anu Benakatti   Jun-2019   34 Views   0 Comments
The Man Who Does not feel The Pain Abhimanyu Dassani : YES!!!! That’s me :) Young, handsome, goofy, Abhimanyu introduced himself to Toppick with great smile during his interview at the South Asian Film Festival Dallas.

Abhimanyu played the role of a boy named “Surya” who is born with a rare condition called congenital insensitivity to pain. A medical disorder that does not make him feel the pain when gets hurt. The movie got chosen for Dallas SAFF 2019,This film has already pocketed the people’s choice award at international film festival directed by Vasan Bala.

Toppick had an opportunity to meet Abhimanyu and get to know him more during the festival.

Q :Congratulations on the success of your debut film. Being a star child did you always want to be an actor?

Thank you. Having a degree in finance, I was drawn to and interested more in business. But later I realized my passion and interest towards acting and continue to pursue my career of acting. I gained my first experience as an assistant director before my performance in the film.

Q : What was your parents reaction when you told them about your career change? Is your mom your role model?

I am very grateful and proud of my parents. I do not really believe in any role modeling. But principles does matter to me. I have been pretty much an independent person since I was 16.Even though my parents were not very thrilled to hear about my decision in the beginning,but supported completely. With the goal set in my mind it is an achievement for me.

Q : How did you feel to be the winner and recipient of “Best Debut Award” at Macao international film festival?

It was a “WOW” . Yes, I won this award for my performance.It felt amazing.I was not expecting it and all of a sudden when I heard the announcement I was so thrilled and speechless. It is a great feeling of accomplishment.

Q : I believe you have performed all the fight scenes including martial arts one, by yourself. How hard did you have to train for that?

Oh yes! I did perform those. It was my toughest challenging commitment for the movie. I actually had to isolate myself for three months from everything. My friends, social media, my family and the outside world. Got trained for martial arts and practiced.Got hurt many times. I injured my ankle, leg and arm, but made it all the way.I takes lot more perseverance and patience. I was confident that I could do it.

Q : You studied human anatomy for the movie? Was it needed? :)

I did it for myself. I always liked biology and its been my favorite subject to begin with anyway. Also, I think when you get to know your body and its functions well,you can be in better control of your actions and can take better care of yourself. Learning anatomy helped to know myself that way.

Q : This was a great beginning. What next? Any plans of acting in Hollywood movies?

May be in the future. I watched Jackie chan action movies growing up. But I would like to focus on current projects that I have.

Congratulations again Abhimanyu. Thank you for sharing your personal and bollywood experience with us. Looking forward to your next movie. Wish you the best
Read More...

BUILDING COMMUNITY - Nirav Tolia
Karuna Pai   May-2019   321 Views   0 Comments

Nirav Tolia, the Co-Founder and Chairman of Nextdoor.com was the keynote speaker at the USICOC DFW Annual Technology Conference ‘Billion Dollar Exit’ held on April 17th, 2019.

He walked us through his journey to inception of Nextdoor.

Welcome to the Neighborhood | Nirav Tolia

Nextdoor is a private social network for your neighborhood. Nirav elaborated that the genesis of Nextdoor is focused around one of the most important communities, which is the one we live in - our Neighborhood! The mission of Nextdoor is to use technology to strengthen real world neighborhood. 

Friday Night Lights | Odessa, West Texas

The serial entrepreneur is a proud Texan at heart. He claims it is his Texan roots that planted the seed to Nextdoor. The Tolia family moved to Odessa, Texas when Nirav was two years old. Yes, the famed book ‘Friday Nigh Lights’ town where he and his brother were raised. The book is about Odessa Permian High School, also the same high school he attended. Tolia shares that the sense of community & neighborhood in Odessa  & Texas is really powerful. Nirav continues to teach people of the community he experienced in Texas and concludes that  Nextdoor wouldn’t have been created if not  for growing up in Odessa. He went on to secure his undergrad from the prestigious Stanford University! He humbly jokes about being the least educated in his family. Nirav comes from a family of physicians, his parents  immigrated from India and continue to practice medicine in Odessa and his brother is also a physician.  

Startups | Dot.com era

Tolia shares “Silicon Valley encourages you to  take Big Risks but reality is most risks don’t turn into success”. Nirav joined Yahoo in 1996 at its  infancy and witnessed its boom first hand. Simultaneously, he started a non-profit organization Round Zero; the premise was  based around encouraging entrepreneurs who aspired to start their own companies. Round Zero is the stage prior to funding/financing, the brainstorming level. He left Yahoo in 1999  and started ‘Epinions’ – electronic opinions, the power of technology to help people   make better buying decisions, which eventually was acquired by eBay. After achieving success in these ventures, he started his next venture in 2007 with 12 others called ‘Fanbase’, a site for fans of different sports to congregate and share information over a network, unfortunately didn’t take flight and shut it down in 2009. Now with only 7 employees left they decided to pursue another big idea. Every Tuesday morning the team conducted ‘Billion Dollar Idea’ meeting. 100+ ideas were generated and narrowed to a couple of dozen such as 80%off to celebrity stage. Then in the summer of 2010 they zeroed in on a social network geared towards bringing together neighbors, they called it ‘neighborly’, sort of a code name before landing on Nextdoor. Tolia reveals, “Technology had not yet played a role in strengthening our communities although Facebook had played a huge role in making us better friends”. They ultimately built the prototype and showed it to one small neighborhood in Menlo Park, California and almost immediately knew they had created  something special, of course, they had no idea that specialness would translate to over 200,000 or close to 100% of neighborhoods in US!

April fool’s | Not

Never know what you will find on Nextdoor, it’s long since been just for finding lost dogs. An original Picasso painting was sold on Nextdoor.com, which even caught buzz in the ‘Texas Monthly’ and people assumed it was April fool’s! But in reality somebody did advertise Picasso painting on Nextdoor and a neighbor purchased it. The specialness of Nextdoor grows from helping a teenager find a babysitting job to getting a great service and provider recommendation  r the most important of them all, in times of natural disaster to literally save lives. Nirav Tolia admits “This has been the ultimate reward of creating Nextdoor and building stronger communities!” 

Borders | Beyond

Nextdoor at 1.5 billion valuation is expanding internationally and is in seven countries - Netherlands to New Zealand and they are just  getting started! Nextdoor is a local service so not  devoid of challenges as they extend globally since each has its own culture, traditions and customs. At the same time, Nirav explains that the concept of being a good neighbor is not just a US notion, it is age old adage to work together to help each  other create a better community and a better future. So Nextdoor’s vision has always been to be global and every neighbor in every neighborhood around the world would be using Nextdoor.

Diversity | Advocacy

Nirav is huge advocate of diversity and woman  power. He attributes it to his upbringing, he saw equity and equality growing up as both his parents worked, practiced medicine. He gets emotional speaking about his beautiful wife  Megha and mother of their 3 boys. He admires her tenacity for juggling a full time job and raising their sons. He also shares with great pride that the cofounders of Nextdoor are not only diverse but has a female cofounder- Sarah Leary which is rarity for tech startups. In 2018, he hired his replacement for CEO of Nextdoor- Sarah Friar an exceptional female leader. His hope is that one day ultimately will not make it unusual for a woman to be a CEO!

Rising from the Ashes | Phoenix

Tolia repeated several times that Nextdoor is a company created out of Failure! He reminisces that the 7 cofounders were working at a dire time, desperate for results, grasping at straws and finally “an idea that was born out of failure not success and it has been anything but an overnight success”.  Though they launched Nextdoor in summer of 2010, it didn’t grow wings till much later, in fact one neighborhood at a time. Today about 220,000 neighborhoods in the US use Nextdoor and Tolia believes it will be 100% by the end of 2019 in the United States. Nextdoor’s story is truly a powerful testimony of purpose, persistence, and patience.

Read More...

Swati Goyal in conversation with Vikas khanna
Swati Goyal   May-2019   90 Views   0 Comments
As part of the “Chef2Chef” culinary affair hosted by Dallas Indian Arts Collective (DIAC), we got an opportunity to speak to the Michelin star chef, author and filmmaker – Vikas Khanna.
From delivering video tapes to knitting sweaters, Vikas has done it all. Today he is very successful and we want to share with you his story.

Swati: From the golden city of “Amritsar” to the city that never sleeps “New York”, you have come a long way! What have been the highlights of your journey so far?

Vikas: My journey has not been smooth, it has been full of ups and downs and I think this is very normal. I read somewhere, if you have ups and downs it implies life is moving but a straight line implies that your heart stopped beating. So I think, setbacks, failures - they all are a cost of living that we pay for being alive and innovative. I had a pretty comfortable life in Amritsar, I had more than hundred employees working for me; life was good. But I wanted something better so I stepped out of my comfort zone. Honestly, I created the ups and downs in my life and that's what keeps me excited. No one told me what to do, I just followed my heart. I never felt bound by a social norm or let my mind confine my creativity. If I felt like venturing into filmmaking, I did it. Tomorrow, if I feel like doing something even crazier, I'll do it. Worst case is I fail only to start over and leap higher. If you are chef with Michelin star, most people will be content with being just that or you could defy the boundaries and go win an Oscar! So yes, failures are important and even more important is to keep challenging yourself each time you fail. 

Swati: You come from a very simple, modest family and growing up you struggled with language – particularly English. Fast track to today, you are a celebrated author of thirtyfour books! How did that transformation happen?

Vikas: I am a very lazy person by default (Vikas chuckles). I think people pushed me too hard. Often we think, the one who's silent is the weakest. The silent one is bullied the most but in reality he is observing, taking it all in. People challenged me which in turn motivated me to challenge myself, I pushed myself to be the best version of a chef. I want to be the best version of myself as well but that is work in progress (Vikas cajoles).  Important message is, you have to constantly move forward. To anyone who's reading this, if you are experiencing a low in your life or have suffered a major setback, just remember that at times people and circumstances around you will pin you down but you have to keep fighting and keep striving to be a better version of yourself. If it inspires you, I had a series of a failures back in 2008. I had a cooking school in NY – it closed, a catering company – it closed, a restaurant in Times Square – it closed. And all this happened in matter of few months! That's when I channeled my energy into my book “The Holi Kitchen”.  This reinvented me and gave me a new, creative canvas. So remember when one door closes on you, another door opens for you. 

I still experience failures. My new projects are risky and unconventional. For instance, my new film “The Last Color” challenges the social norms and is definitely not for the weak hearted. My new cook book is very different from the conventional food cook books and I am working on another project to raise funds for “Smile Foundation”. Frankly, I am glad I have the energy and drive to try new things and keep exploring. I was just talking to Jitin (co- founder of DIAC) that how I was feeling butterflies in stomach ahead of my movie premier and he said something very apt “It's good that you feel these butterflies, it means you still care. The day you stop caring, you won't feel any excitement anymore.”

Swati: Your directional debut movie “The Last Color” is being premiered. How did you manage to rope in one of the most established, veteran actresses like “Neena Gupta” for your debut project? Did you cook for her?

Vikas: No I did not cook for her (laughing out loud). Actually it was Mr Anupam Kher who arranged for us to meet. I narrated her last scene of the movie and that convinced her to be part of the project. Her exact words were, “I know you are not experienced but your honesty and passion are more powerful. I know this is going to be an honest movie”. I am very thankful to Mr Anupam Kher so much that I thank him in the opening of the movie.

Read More...

Ashwini Patil, Vice President of IOT solutions at Prolim in conversation with Anu Benakatti
Anu Benakatti   May-2019   102 Views   0 Comments
Success is not about what you accomplish in your life. But it is about what you inspire others to do. Like we hear from our mentors “ We must learn to accept that we won’t always make the right decisions, that we mess up greatly sometimes. Failure is not opposite of success but it is a part of success”.I would like to share one of such inspirational journey towards success of an entrepreneur, leader and a mother Ashwini Patil, Vice President of IOT solutions at Prolim. Started in 2005 Prolim PLM services is a leader provider of end to end PLM and IT solutions to global fortune 100 companies Company has pocketed 27+ precious awards and various recognitions providing serves to 400+ global customers from 9 global locations. Prolim focuses on addressing the specific needs of women towards development and grooming the next generation women leaders to fill up the top roles. Recognized as Top 100 fastest growing companies among Dallas for the third consecutive year and 2018 small business supplier of the year award by Siemens USA INC

Intro :
I spent the first 22 years of my life in India. Since I was very young, I always dreamt of being a doctor. I loved to take care of people and help them feel better. While I was in 7th grade, I had decided which Medical institution I wanted to pursue my degree in. I did not have access to internet then and I tried to gather more information on Medical degree and its requirements by talking to people and reading books. As I found out more about Medical field, I realized that was not what I really wanted to do. Computer Science was a new domain and I became curious about Computers and started enjoying it. I then decided to do my Undergrad in Computer Science. After I moved to US, I took this one step further my completing my Master's in Computer Engineering. 

Passion :
Since I was a young child I was interested in Dance. I joined a class when I was in 6th grade but could not continue as the logistics did not work out. I then got busy with Education, Career and family life – working full time and raising two kids I had no time to even think about dance. Now that my kids are grown up and independent I am able to pursue my passion for dance. I found Zumba class was the closest to dance and started with it. 5 years ago I was fortunate to meet a professional choreographer and started learning bollywood dance. We have 2-3 performances in a year and performed at various events in the past 5 years. I am not a born dancer but enjoy learning and performing.

Growing up did you always dream about being an entrepreneur and being your own boss?
No Since school days, my dream was to be a working woman. I dreamt about having a nice job and being financially independent. Soon after my Undergrad, my family wanted me to take a break and relax. It was just two weeks after my final exams and I could not take it anymore. I convinced my parents and they agreed for a part-time job while I was waiting for my results. I started my first job as a teacher at a Computer Institute teaching C programming.

Any inspirations or mentor ship that influenced to initiate the venture
My entrepreneurship journey started after I moved to the US. I was taking a web technology course during my Masters at Wayne State University in Michigan. Within our network of friends we had businessmen and doctors. Casual conversations around web technology and doctors/hospitals provoked the idea of a web-based application for doctors/hospitals which resulted in the Medical company.

Motivation :
Every morning I think of all the customers and employees associated with PROLIM. There is one quote which has motivated me for many years – “No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up!'

Multiple locations globally can get overwhelming. But, having great leaders at every location who are committed makes it a lot easier. We have thought leaders who are very independent and manage day-to-day operations very efficiently. There is no micromanagement, leaders work independently and communicate with the management when needed.

Learnings throughout my journey :
Know your priorities in life! You should what to focus on at a given time, it will be different things at different times. Just follow your dreams. If you are working hard every single day with your heart, mind and soul into it, you are already a winner! 
Read More...

Dr H R Nagendra: The Yoga Teacher of Honorable PM of India Shri Narendra Modi in conversation with Anu Benkatti
Anu Benakatti   May-2019   89 Views   0 Comments
Over the past few years yoga has become tremendously popular throughout the world. Especially in the west it is an alternate way of exercise or workout. June 21st is celebrated as International day of yoga globally which was declared by the honorable prime minister of India Mr. Narendra Modi. 

Recently we had a great privilege and opportunity to meet Padmashri Dr. H.R. Nagendra in Dallas, who is best known to us as Guruji, a guide and a yoga consultant of Mr.Modi. 

Dr. Nagendra is a very well known scholar,yoga therapist, academic writer and the founder and Vice chancellor of S-VYASA university Bangalore, Karnataka India. He shared his knowledge and views about how to stay healthy by making yoga relevant to modern lifestyle during his visit with us. 

Guruji has written 35 books and 100+ research papers on yoga. While answering the meaning of yoga, Guruji said, It is very important to understand the meaning of yoga. It is not just only asanas. Yoga is a way of life. Mastery of mind.Taking into consideration, the very meaning of yoga “Yujyate anena iti Yogah” it is the process of joining. Swami Vivekananda expanded the scope of Yoga to encompass all streams - Jnana, Bhakti, and Karma also to lay the foundation from the four main streams of yoga and the purpose of all yoga is to realize, be in tune,and ultimately merge with reality.

The holistic definition of yoga is most relevant to the modern society where the matter based paradigm has become the truth of the times.Yoga postulates Consciousness based paradigm and emphasizes that we are not robots governed by a set of physical laws driving us as machines.If we are more efficient than a robot sometimes or work haphazardly we do it consciously with intelligence.This power of consciousness is featured by the freedom in all of us to choose - to do, not to do or do it differently “kartum,akartum,or anyatha va kartum”.

Dr. Nagendra advised NRI community to contribute their time towards practicing yoga in order lead stress free and healthy life. He mentioned that “Unfortunately many NRI people are
becoming more prone to diseases like diabetes and hypertension. Yoga is the wonderful solution that will help to prevent many diseases and promote positive health”.

He was very excited to announce that VYASA academy for prerequisites/training will be opening soon in Dallas under his guidance and with the support of local team.
Read More...

Hasya Samelan Padma Shri Surendra Dubey in conversation with Hima Veeravali
Hima Veeravalli   May-2019   66 Views   0 Comments
Surendra Dubey is an Indian poet and writer of comic poems. An ayurvedic physician by profession, Dubey was born on 8 January 1953 at Bemetra, Durg, in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh. He has authored five books. and has appeared on several stage and television shows.

He was honored by the Government of India, in 2010, with the fourth highest Indian civilian award of Padma Shri.[8] He is also a recipient of Hasya Ratna Award from Kaka Hathsri in 2008.

ACHIEVEMENTS
  • President Pratibha Patil of India awarded the Padma Shri by ornate 31/03/2012
  • US State governor, Mr. Bob Tough Ohyo respected by leading Indian Poet
  • Muscat in Oman, the best international talent by honoring Ambassador
  • Kanslvas value in New York. President Barack Obama awarded for poetry
  • In 12 cities in the US poetic text (organized by the International Hindi Society) 1999, Houston, Boston, Providence, New Jersey, Chicago, Oklohama City, Raleigh, National, Austin, Columbus
  • Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, (Arab countries) the poetic text 2004 Indonesia (Jakarta) in poetic text 
  • Poetic text in Muscat Oman 2005
  • 15 cities in the US in 2009, representing Chhattisgarh Houston 'Tulsa' Midland, Dels Washington and others. 
  • Canada in 2009 poetic text 
  • Attahas honor (Lucknow), UP MoEF by Government of India's National Award for poetry and many more


About Padma Shri

Padma Shri (Hindi: पद्म श्री, also Padma Shree) is the fourth highest civilian award in the Republic of India, after the Bharat Ratna, the Padma Vibhushan and the Padma Bhushan. It is awarded by the Government of India, every year on India's Republic Day.

Padma Awards were instituted in 1954 to be awarded to citizens of India in recognition of their distinguished contribution in various spheres of activity including the arts, education, industry, literature, science, sports, medicine, social service and public affairs. It has also been awarded to some distinguished individuals who were not citizens of India but did contribute in various ways to India.

The selection criteria have been criticized in some quarters with the claim that many highly deserving artists have been left out in order to favor certain individuals.India has now created an online nomination platform for the common citizens to recommend the nomination for the annually given civilian "Padma" awards.

On its obverse, the words "Padma", meaning lotus in Sanskrit, and "Shri", a Sanskrit-derived honorific equivalent to 'Mr.' or 'Ms.' (ie., "Noble One in Blossom"), appear in Devanagari above and below a lotus flower. The geometrical pattern on either side is in burnished bronze. All embossing is in white gold.

Read More...

Surinder Massey - Massey & Sons Foundation in conversation with Neetu Rishi
Neetu Rishi   May-2019   60 Views   0 Comments
Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth

Let’s walk you through the inspirational story behind “Massey and sons Foundation”, a nonprofit organization which is serving the community globally. Mr Surinder Massey, the founder and pillar of this organization is a hard working person who started from scratch and believes that, “God helps those who help themselves” and kept moving and reached at a level where he finds contentment in helping the people who are in need. The list of his achievements is long, he gave his commitment to sponsor all the medical camps organized by the Mc. Robert Mission Hospital, Dhariwal. Punjab, India. And in these camps people are offered free medical checkups and medicines. He has been helping the people at “The salvation Army Church” Gurdaspur and The Salvation Army Macrobert hospital.

He has been appreciated for his services and commitment by the Grace Community Church LCMS Plano, First Presbyterian Church Garland, Concordia Church of All Nations Garland, United Christian Church Garland and First International Bible Church, Richardson, Along with him are Dr. Arthur, Pastor Kashmir, Pastor Elias, Pastor Ravi Chari, Rev Dr. Wilson Masih, Rev Parakh Samson, who are actively involved with this.

Q: Tell us something about how you started Massy foundation, what inspired you to start that and what was your vision and mission?

A: When I came to India, I did not have a single penny in pocket, I started by working at a gas station and worked extended hours to earn money so that I could take care of my family. My son was always in love with trucks, so after long years of hard word, we bought our first truck and then opened a repair shop. We faced a lot of challenges but that did not stop us and we started a road side service. And then life offered me this chance to open this organization to help people all over the world.

Q: Dr. Arthur,  what all activities do you cover in this?

A: We do medical camps in remote villages in India a small town in Dhariwal in Punjab. We do it once a year. We also organized a camp this year in central jail in Gurdaspur and it was a very humbling experience.

Q: Medical aids are too expensive; how do you manage providing facilities to the patients in terms of money.

A: Mr Surinder, my brother has been very kind and he does all the funding through his company and makes sure that we could provide the best services to the people.

Q: Pastor Kashmir, how did this concept of starting a radio station come to your mind to spread across the message?

A: The purpose was to help the people and help the community. We help the people on individual levels but bigger way to do is to help them to learn to live a life which is full of happiness. So we do shows on Radio Shaan everyday where we share our knowledge which could help the people.

Q: Pastor Elias , how are you involved with them?

A: Massey and sons is involved in so many activities around many nations, they help the poor people and I am so happy to be able to help them in this cause. I do shows in Arabic language.

Q: How can people reach out to you?

A: We have a Facebook page by the name, “Massey and sons foundation” where we telecast all our shows. People  can also email us at info@radioshaan.com or log on to www.radioshaan.com for more details. 
Read More...

Nobody Gives You India Like We Do by Pabari Brothers
Toppick Media Editor   May-2019   433 Views   0 Comments

Nobody Gives You India Like We Do

Humble Beginnings:

The Pabari family led by Mr. Kishore Pabari with his wife Kashmira Pabari and two sons Anand and Gopal arrived from Gujarat toHouston, TXin 1998. This7th generation Pabari family left their ancestral spice business and arrived hereas immigrants. With a mere $200 in their pocket, out of which relinquished $50 in customs (a story they laugh about), so left with only $150 were on their way to realize 'The American Dream'!

The Pabari Family reminisce that within a day of landing on March 13, 1998, Anand who was 19 years old startedwork at their Uncle's Indian grocery wholesale warehouse the very next day! Gopal was 15 years old and went to school. Having the business lineage in their blood, they now began to learn the American way of doing business at the top well-known brand of the time. Within three months, the entire family moved to Richardson, TXto workand started working at 'India Grocers' across from Hwy 75 and Beltline road.

Blessing in Disguise:

The brothers knew only two English words 'Thank you' & 'Sorry'. Today, they speak fluent English and attribute it to what followed since 1998. They began working during the pre- internet &cell phone era. They recall “it was a very different phase, things moved slower than today”. They were excited when they received their first Pagers!  Boots on the ground, the family toiled very hard for the next 4 to 5 years at India Grocers, gaining hands on experience and learningthe trade first hand.Anand did branch out for a couple of years and ran his own grocery storeDana Bazaar in Arlington, TX in 2002. In the interim, the ownership at India Grocers changed hands putting the Pabari family out of jobs. The Brothers state with pride: “They (Indian Grocers) made the mistake of not keeping us but the biggest blessing was letting us go. We had no choice to but to start India Bazaar”! 

The American Dream | INDIA BAZAAR : Plano 2004 

After working on foreign grounds for 5 years, there was nothing foreign about the Pabari family starting their own business- India Bazaar; after all, Entrepreneurship is in their blood! The brothers joined forces along with their parents and opened their first India Bazaar location in Plano. The family ran it themselves; in fact their mother was the first cashier of India Bazaar. Theyhired the first employee only after 6 months and today they have 200+employees across 8 iconic locations all over the DFW metroplex! 

Their mission has always been to make Indian grocery easily accessible to the South Asian Community. The Pabari family recognized the dire need to serve good quality Indian groceries in the DFW as people were driving from all the various DFW suburbs to Richardson to get their Indian groceries in the 90s. The tremendous success of their Plano location eventually drove 'India Grocers' out of business!

The Landmark: Irving 2009 

When rest of the economy shaky in 2008 -2009, it actually marked the milestone year for the Pabari Brothers. When the demand for Indian groceries was at it's peak, they opened their 2nd location in Valley Ranch in 2009. The Brothers share the story of this opening rather fondly, “There was serpentine lines all the way outside the store for 15 consecutive days. We had to hire cops to man the crowd”! The Irving location put them on the map and there was no stopping the brothers now. India Bazaar since then has opened a new location every couple of years and have a vision for 70 locations across USA to Canada, Australia and beyond.

Giving Back to the Community:

Mr. Gopal, CEO of India Bazaar shares, “We came to The USwith a dream but what we have achieved till now is much bigger than that original dream,enabling us to Dream even Bigger!  We want to pass it on to the next generation plus encourage hard working families moving to The US, there is ample opportunity”. Mr. Anand,who is the President, hopes to inspire other like-minded families, “We have this well packaged model perfected over 20+ years which is open to strategic 

partners who wish to join us in our journey. Our franchisee program is our way of giving that opportunity to other families to start their American dream and we have room for 70 + locations”. 

The Differentiator: 

India Bazaar has become a house hold phenomena in the South Asian community in the DFW area. The vision is to make this a Nationwide brand. It is the fastest growing Indian ethnic grocery chain and what sets them apart from competitors is that India Bazaar is an Upscale and New Generation Indian Grocery store. They offer the largest collection of organic portfolio. One can easily find organic fruits in vegetables in the mainstream market but not organic carbs & grains. India Bazaar by far closes that gap with their wide range of organic grains, lentils, rice and dry fruits. They are focused on serving health conscious millennials and other generations bringing Healthy, Fresh and High Quality organic and plant based selection to their aisles. They partner with suppliers back in India to ensure that strict standards and needs are adhered to.

Their second concept adjoining India Bazaar is 'Rajula's Kitchen' a healthy vegetarian, vegan option. It has an Indian street food take. They are adding this to all the India Bazaar as they plan to open in major cities such as Chicago, Atlanta etc.

The brothers are grateful to their parents for the sacrifices they made during the early days upon landing as immigrants. The family's extraordinary American Dream to revolutionize the Supermarket by reducing drive time and serving the best quality products at best price to the growing suburban population is on their way to their Grand Opening of Store Number 8 in West Frisco/Little Elm. The Pabari brothers attribute their success to their loyal team members, associates, and the people for their tremendous ongoing support. To join their incredible journey check their

website : www.Indiabazaarfranchise.com

 or email : support@indiabazaarfranchise.com

Read More...

IF YOU CAN DREAM IT, YOU CAN WRITE IT
Neetu Rishi   May-2019   122 Views   0 Comments
The writer is by nature a dreamer, a conscious dreamer.

This quote stands true for the life of Neetu Rishi, who after a tenacious journey of accomplishments in the field of entrepreneurship nailing the flags of being a Corporate Coach, a motivational speaker, a personality development coach and a life-transforming mentor decided to script her most important life lessons, how to fight with Monday blues in the form of the book titled. “A Different Monday”

Following ingredients are required for anyone to become an author,
  • Creativity in writing
  • Urge to share the knowledge
  • Storyteller
And when she realized that she had all the three, she just wrote this on the vision board with a deadline and a vision and finally published her book on April 13th, 2019. And presented the first copy of her book to the legend, Sonu Nigam. Every time she came across these lines, 7 out of 10 people saying, “Ohh no Monday again”, “I don’t want to go to school”, “I don’t feel like going to the office”, she realized that she truly needs to share her life mantras how she fought with the monster of Monday blues and won over it.

So get ready to dive deep in the ocean where you will get all the answers to your questions that fence your mind on a Monday morning. A struggle, a battle that starts since we are ready to go to kindergarten to elementary to high school and keeps shadowing us till we are alive. This is an inspiring tale witnessing not only some powerful but wise and practical life amazing secrets which all are aware of but we somehow are not able to implement in our lives. An extraordinary relationship of a mother and a daughter where the mother wants her daughter to learn those life skills which she learned through her experiences. And the daughter experiences a life-changing odyssey while she is ready to board the flight to her dreams in her professional journey.

The following secrets get unfolded while you move on with the story-
  • To take charge of your life
  • To analyze the root cause of the Monday blues
  • To find out the plan of action
  • To activate the subconscious mind
  • To remove the mind blocks
  • To finally always say, “Wow its Monday.”
The book is available on Amazon and the link to that is as follows: -
Read More...

THE DJ OF THE DECADE AWARD FOR 35 YEARS OF MUSIC FROM INCA
Toppick Media Editor   May-2019   69 Views   0 Comments

Akbar started working at a very early age and was inspired by the hard work of his dad who was a film producer in the industry and his mom who was a homemaker. 

Before he got into the music business.  Akbar danced, did television commercials, walked the ramp, acted and became a well-knowndance choreographer. He modeled for top fashion designers in India. As a child artist, in the film industry he worked with some amazing directors and producers namely Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Manmohan Desai. 

To Akbar work was a passion and being multi talented, without much thought he kept doing whatever came his way. While

choreographing dance shows and fashion shows, he was forced into the world of DJing and that's what started his journey as a DJ. At that time he says he had no so called ' God fathers' to help or teach him the skills and the internet was unheard of but his passion for music and the arts was intense.  He soon developed a great interest in the art of mixing music and learnt more and more through experimentation, sleepless nights and sheer hard work.  Before he knew it he was a Disc Jockey, He had developed his own style and people began to fall in love with his music.

Today Akbar in not only popular in India but is known around the world and over the years he has experienced a variety of audiences across the globe. Akbar particularly enjoys playing all around the US, which he says, has been very receptive of him and his music and has had the most amazing experiences in the United States.

Among many, Dubai also happens to be one of his favorite places where he loves to spin his music. He mentions that Dubai is a mix of different audiences in one place and he loves the night club culture there.

Akbaradds that his personal favorite is house music & old school tribal house. He loves it and emphasizes that those genres gives him immense pleasure. Also Bollywood is another category that he says he plays day in day out and he loves the old melodic dance music of the early 90's also him being a professional dancer and choreographer just makes it that much more easier to switch from one genre of music to the next. 

This multi talented deejay doesn't stop there. One of the most important projects to him that he's currently involved with is called 'Excess Life. It's an NGO, which works for children who are fighting cancer.

Akbar is working on two very interesting festival films, which comes from his very own home production called 'Running Water Films', along with his partner Adnan Ali.  He is currently in the United States of America doing his annual musical 12 City tour called the ROAR TOUR 2019 which is a riot. He is also simultaneously recording music, and dubbing for three singles out of which two are original compositions and one a cover version.

In short we have a lot to look forward to from this exceptional DJ in the months to follow and wish him only the best ! 


Read More...

RENDEZVOUS WITH RASSHMI: Age is just a number Arti Akila Saran
Rasshmi Kansupada   May-2019   119 Views   0 Comments
Welcome to RENDEZVOUS WITH RASSHMI . A page dedicated to ordinary people of our community…yes ordinary, but with that Xtra ordinary talent, achievement and that inspiring Xfactor!!

Enjoying retired life means different things to different people. Perhaps you’re looking forward to taking up new hobbies or traveling more – or maybe for you this is the perfect time to dive head first into a new startup venture. My guest Arti Akila Saran came to the US, 45 years ago, along with her husband with a ton of youthful obtuseness which helped them see only the possibilities of America and none of the challenges of making it in a new country where they had no family and friends. Her achievements make success stories which are worth reading and sharing.

Born and brought up in Nagpur Maharashtra, Akilaji came to America at a time when India was widely regarded as the very epitome of what the term “Third World” meant – decrepit, destitute and pitiable. Americans were inclined to the view that India was pretty jammed with poor people and cows wandering around streets, witch doctors and people sitting on hot coals and bathing in the Ganges. She joined Nursing School in Palo Alto California, and after training for 4 years she became a registered Nurse. Her nursing experience was extremely good and rewarding. She also completed her surgical technology course and assisted her husband in his practice as an eye specialist.

Akilaji always wanted to work independently. Being an entrepreneur can be an exciting and liberating endeavor. Many people have ideas for a business or product, but only a few take the leap and open a new business. She bought her friend’s shop in Trader’s village and began her business of selling jewellery, toys and general merchandise. She stayed there for a couple of years and then decided to start her own wholesale business in 1982 in Arlington Texas. She used to sell various items including leather products and knives and tools. She dared to migrate to entrepreneurship at a time when global exposure was scarce and the understanding of consumer behaviour in the US was limited. Women of color faced additional and unique obstacles in almost every area of society, including business. Women from minority backgrounds who wanted to start their own businesses were up against more hurdles. These entrepreneurs typically didn’t have a network of professional mentors to support them. They had more family responsibilities to balance and they had a much more difficult time accessing money, which is obviously key to a business’s future success.

Most of the goods were not available locally and had to be imported which involved a lot of struggle but Akilaji was determined to become a very successful business woman. She used to have customers asking for different tools and hardware. Her enterprising outlook motivated her to expand her horizon and she attended shows in Las Vegas, Los Angeles and various other cities in the US. She was receptive to new ideas, did her research and bought goods from as far as China and India. She then moved to Harry Hines in Dallas, TX in 2005. She has been doing her business successfully from past two decades.

She believes that one should embrace the failures and the mistakes as they all serve as an opportunity to learn. We should be courageous and chase our dreams through perseverance. Persistence really pays off, and everything takes time. That is why it’s so important for one to believe in and feel passionately about what one is creating or offering.

Running a business isn’t easy -- it takes hard work and discipline to reach success. Being an entrepreneur is the ultimate test of independence. You are the only person responsible for your successes or failures. Akilaji has used the power of business to make a positive change to society. She has taught us not to count ourself out, no matter what our age. Success can come to anyone at any time. She really believes that age is just a number. If one is healthy physically and mentally, your age should not be a barrier to starting anything new or pursuing your passion.

"Entrepreneurship has no age or time limits...it thrives on hope and inspiration. Those who choose to participate can only make the world a better place."
Read More...

Javed Akhtar Special
Toppick Media Editor   Jan-2019   137 Views   0 Comments
Read More...

4th Annual Indie Meme Film Festival Reveals Complete Line Up
Toppick Media Editor   Apr-2019   159 Views   0 Comments

AUSTIN – The Indie Meme Film Festival (IMFF) joins the Austin community for the fourth year in a row. Over a period of four days, the festival will showcase carefully curated, critically acclaimed, socially relevant bold & inspiring features, documentaries, and shorts from South Asia.

 

The event will include youth films and have local, international, and US based filmmakers in attendance. Complete with red carpet, opening & closing night galas, audience discussions and networking events, the 4th Indie Meme Film Festival promises to be a spectacular community event.  


IMFF kicks off Sunday, April 14, and continues April 26-28. The opening night includes The Last Color, a directorial debut by Michelin star chef, renowned restaurateur, celebrity TV host & author Chef Vikas Khanna. The film, featuring Neena Gupta and set in Banaras, India is on restoring the life of dignity for widows expected to be forgotten in a colorless existence. Vikas Khanna will be in attendance at the screening.


“With 25 films over 4 days, including 11 features, 9 shorts, and 5 youth films spanning across 7 countries in 9 languages with over 6 filmmakers in attendance, IMFF will be an exceptional world cinema event to resonate with global audiences,” shared Tripti Bhatnagar, Co-Founder, Indie Meme Org & IMFF Austin. “We will have amongst us a Celebrity Chef who is a first time filmmaker.” she continued, “Everyone, including the children will have something new to experience at the Indie Meme festival. We urge you to gather your community to celebrate the South Asian culture through films with us.”

 

The kick off event on April 14th includes the family film Chuskit which is the story of a feisty paraplegic girl who locks horns with her tra­dition-bound grandfather - to chase her dream of going to school!

 

The Centerpiece, Her. Him. The Other (Sri Lanka/Fiction/Drama/1hr56min/Sinhala & Tamil) is from Three Sri Lankan filmmakers renowned for their internationally acclaimed films based on the Sri Lankan civil war, join in to make one film to express their views on post-war reality.

 

The Closing night film is, Kaamyaab (India/Fiction/Comedy-Drama/1hr 53min/Hindi). On being made to go through his own IMDB page, Sudheer, a washed up side actor from the heydays of Bollywood, realizes that he ‘retired’ on the verge of a rare milestone - he had featured in 499 Hindi films! Now at 63, against the wishes of his daughter, he decides to come out of retirement to complete the round figure of 500 and get that one substantial role for which he will be remembered forever. 

 

Half Widow (India/ Fiction/Drama/ 1hr 31 min/ Kashmiri & Urdu) is a featured film. Amid the backdrop of the Kashmiri conflict, a young woman must come to grips with the disappearance of her doting husband and embark on harrowing journey of self-discovery. 

 

Mangesh Desai, The Sound Man, (India/Documentary/1hr53min/Hindi) is featured amongst top 10 sound mixing engineers of the world by New York Times, Mangesh Desai was a genius and regarded so by the Indian film community. With unparalleled understanding of the craft & technique of sound, Desai's dynamic range of work goes from the artistic extremes of Satyajit Ray and Shyam Benegal’s art films to the blockbusters by the likes of Manmohan Desai, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Gulshan Rai, Yash Chopra with films including Deewar, Kabhi Kabhi, Sholay - the list goes on! A true tribute to a true hero. 

 

Badges, bands, and individual tickets are available now and can be found along with the full line-up and schedule of films at https://www.indiememe.org/imff-2019. 


Read More...

Journey of Ruby Bhandari - Silk Thread
Rasshmi Kansupada   Mar-2019   206 Views   0 Comments
Silk Threads, Inc. began 28 years ago as the answer to an unmet need among second- generation Indians in America who were growing up without access to the designs of their homeland. Ruby Bhandari (voted as D Magazine’s 10 Most Beautiful Women in Dallas in 2013), founded this Company out of her personal desire (and need) for fashionable ethnic wear that not only reflected her Indian heritage, but also spoke about her Western sensibilities.

In 1989, as Ruby prepared to go to The University of Texas at Austin, her father asked what she planned to do for a living. She initially said social work. However her father had other plans; he said she could study engineering, law, pre-med or business. They compromised on a degree in finance and accounting.

“I’ve always wanted to help other people,” Ruby says, “and I’ve always had a passion for fashion.”

Her love of fashion took root early and never let go. She began cutting and stitching fabric as a teenager, and in college, she enjoyed designing so much that she couldn't wait to graduate from the UTA to start a business. Silk Threads was born while she was a sophomore at UTA in 1991.Ruby met her husband, Raj Bhandari, when she was a  freshman. At that time, there were very few Indian clothing companies in the U.S., so when they travelled to India to meet Raj’s family, Ruby designed some clothes of her own. She assembled them with the available materials that her future mother-in-law had showed her in a tour of New Delhi, brought the finished garments back home to the States and began selling them. She would operate her business out of the trunk of her white Lexus Sports Coupe, all while finishing school. It looked so much prettier in presentation, and everyone would think that she was really doing well for herself being in the business for barely two years. Her trunk would be empty at the end of every week. Later, however, when sales dwindled, she realized she needed new customers. So she went to a tiny local Indian grocery store with a rack of clothing. She was very disheartened and dejected as she had all her clothes smelling of Indian masalas and she managed to sell only three outfits in the first week. Raj, her knight in shining armour, motivated her and accompanied her the next week wherein they sold five outfits. Sales slowly grew and finally they exploded.

On one of the couple’s later visits to India, Ruby started working with her sister-in-law to open a fabric company and manufacturing units in India. They knew there would be a lot of trade involved, however, they underestimated the amount of effort they needed to do. Every garment imported to the U.S. needed a label classifying the material and where it was from. In 1991, when Ruby sent her first shipment of clothing back to the U.S. It was halted at customs in DFW as none of her 240 garments had the required tags. She was devastated as her stuff was going to be stuck at the airport for 10 days and paying a storage fees of $50 per day meant a humongous amount of expense. A sympathetic customs officer gave Ruby the idea to buy her own labels and write on them with a permanent parker. It is truly said that God helps in various ways, her wonderful friend Gauri helped her and in 25-degree temperature [inside the warehouse]!, with their gloves on and their needles and markers in hand, they hand-wrote 240 tags: “100% silk, Made in India, Dry Clean only”. They would take off their gloves, stitch a few tags, wear the gloves back on so they could feel their fingers again and then stitch some more. She fondly remembers these teething hardships which helped her emerge a winner in any situation.

Over the years, with a lot of struggle and with the courage to continually step into new and challenging areas, Bhandari moved the business from her Irving home to a nearby apartment and then to a studio in Dallas. Her showrooms are awash in color and sparkles. Now, almost three decades later, Silk Threads has full dress, tunic and bridal lines (all of which have their tags!) and serves a wide variety of clients across the country. Ruby does not just want to create garments – she is obsessed on taking the timeless elements of Indian culture – the vibrant colors, the opulent weaves, the regal fabrics, the graceful motifs and the exquisite styles of embroideries – and bring them to a wider audience. Decades before Hollywood discovered Indian artisanal weaves and embellishments, Ruby had started innovating, using a mix of traditional and modern design elements to bring to her clients one of a kind pieces – each of which could tell a different story. She travels extensively throughout the year, and her products can be found in various stores. They even have a show room at the Dallas World Trade Center. The Silk Threads brand includes custom dresses, exclusive ethnic wear, Bridal trousseaus, and Men’s custom wear, all complemented with elegant accessories, with three primary lines:

Silk Threads by Ruby Bhandari, dealing primarily with bespoke ethnic wear – Salwar Kameez, designer Sarees (or saris), bridal Lehenga Cholis, as well as formal ethnic menswear. Silk Threads is recognized as one of the leading designers of ethnic Bridalwear in the country – helping brides nationwide bring their trousseau dreams to fruition.

Ruby B Collections provides high-end tunics and custom dresses, including mainstream Bridal trousseaus. The tunic line is available at over 400 high-end boutiques around the world.

Silk Threads Menswear by Ruby Bhandari is the fusion menswear line, providing custom ethnic Sherwanis to fusion Partywear to discerning gentlemen around the globe. "Color makes me happy," says Ruby, "My clothes are very vibrant and what mainstream America would like to wear."

Ruby’s work has received glowing reviews in ethnic as well as mainstream press, including CBS, ABC, FOX, Women’s Wear Daily, Home Decor, Dallas Morning News, D Magazine, India Today, etc. She is also a frequent guest on radio and TV shows, giving her input on current fashion trends and celebrity dressing and helps produce major Fashion Shows. Ruby’s designs are worn and appreciated by several Bollywood celebrities as well.

She believes in the importance of “designing your own life” despite what those around you might say. This required Ruby to have a positive mindset when she was facing her biggest challenges. This entrepreneurial mindset not only helped Ruby succeed in her own business, it has also inspired her to give back through several charities—just like she had always wanted. Along with creating, the Bhandaris believe in giving back to the community. They host an annual fashion show to benefit a local charity.In 2017, they were able to set up a UT Dallas scholarship for the arts to support enterprising young artists from the proceeds of their Annual Gala. In September 2018, they raised funds to benefit Mosaic Family Services, a nonprofit that helps victims of human rights abuse. They have also worked with local and national charities like Children’s Advocacy of Collin County, American Cancer Society and Indo-American Cancer Association. “If you have passion for something, you can probably go for it. But having the correct knowledge, the correct management and a plan are so important,” Ruby says. “There’s so much unhappiness out there. The way to create happiness is to follow your passion.”
Read More...

Heena Sampat in Conversation with Karuna Pai
Karuna Pai   Mar-2019   363 Views   0 Comments
“Travel makes one modest. You can see what a tiny place you occupy in the world”
- Gustav Flaubert

Karuna Pai: You have grown Horizon Travel from a Start Up to a Successful business today; however, did you take any training before starting your career as Travel Consultant?

Heena Sampat: My Journey started when I got an opportunity to work as a travel consultant. In my first interview the hiring manager asked about my work experience, I told him “I don't have experience but if you give me a chance, I will prove myself.” I think it was my first step towards creating world of my choice.

Karuna Pai: When did you decide to go into business for yourself and launch Horizon Travel? 

Heena Sampat: In 2001 the tragic attack of 9/11 shook the nation. One of the aftermaths was travel took a setback and businesses were closing down including the travel company I worked for. I realized that travel business and customer service is my passion and I started Horizon Travel LLC in 2001. As I always believe, "business plans can be written on paper but not life plans".

Karuna Pai: During the course of growing your business what were some of the challenges you had to overcome?

Heena Sampat: My biggest challenge was devising online and social media marketing strategy. Today online marketing is the most effective tool to promote any business including travel. We are not only reaching out to baby boomers but also focusing on Millennials and Gen Z. We are trying to explain the difference between online travel agencies and the ones who We grew our business while adding the latest technology including an online portal www.horizontrip.com where we sell best airfares, beating any online price. Online may get you the cheapest deals but not necessarily the best deals. Our consultation will get you both. we serve as travel concierges who plan your dream vacations, customizing and ensuring your trip is perfect. All of your travel plans are always specially designed as per your budget, interest, time. We differentiate by providing best quality of hotels & tours spending less amount of money. As the CEO of Horizon Travel LLC, I can assure our service starts at your first call & we are committed to providing the best service all the way till your return. We have a Dedicated Team to cater to you 24/7 for all your travel needs. For example, our travel expertise helps clients to decide between selecting Kruger National Park or Serengeti National Park or knowing the difference between an Ocean View vs. Ocean Front room in a beach resort.

Karuna Pai: You have won several awards and in 2018 you were the winner of the ‘Enterprising Woman of the Year’ award. What advise do you have for anyone starting a new profession?

Heena Sampat: First, before starting any career think twice. Pursue the career where your passion lies, because you will give your 100% and will be the best at it. Secondly, check market data. Even if you have the best product but there is no demand for that product you may not be successful. Thirdly, make your plans for the next 2 to 3 years and take tiny steps. I never say think big but take a tiny step with perfection, honesty and most importantly transparency with your Clients.This will bring success in business. And lastly, never get greedy to make a quick buck. Entrepreneurship comes automatically. For any Entrepreneur the path is never designed the way they would ideally want it, but it is in their nature to overcome the difficulties in their way and this makes them successful.

Karuna Pai: What are some less known spots that will gain popularity in 2019?

Heena Sampat: Havana Cuba and Andaman Islands, India. These are two destinations that will gain more popularity. Cuba government is doing a lot to promote tourism and the same with Andaman. All of us have heard of Maldives, going to Maldives on a smaller jet is an exciting experience. While talking to one of Maldives resident, who shared “our islands are so tiny that if I stand on one end and shout, you can hear on the other end” (laughs). For me Capri Island, lake Com,o Amalfi coast was my dream destination which I visited last year.

In my various presentations; blogs about different ways to explore Alaska. I mentioned that Alaska can be toured via rail, road or cruise. So, if clients want to visit Denali Tundra Wilderness Tour or Gold Dredge Tour in Fairbanks we can guide them accordingly. Horizon Travel is a travel store where we offer all travel related services. Our team has updated knowledge of latest hotels, resorts, cruises etc. and we keep giving updates to clients of the new features.For instance this year there are 6 new cruise ships coming out - Viking Jupiter, Sky Princess, Carnival Panorama to list a few.

Karuna Pai: What do you love most about your work and what’s one accomplishment you are proud of?

Heena Sampat: A smile on my client & face, comments/compliments shared by them, often I receive flowers and gifts thanking me for a vacation they enjoyed. At the same time, when I receive a phone call from a client who tells me I helped them see their loved one, one last time before their demise, which brings tears to your eyes but I feel lucky that I am able to help people.

Karuna Pai: What is one Give Back initiative you are passionate about and involved within the community

Heena Sampat: Creating Bone Marrow Registry awareness in South Asian Community in US & India.  Cancer is a disease which is very serious problem of the community and Bone marrow registry awareness is one thing we are spreading, especially in Asian and Indian community which is large in America, India and other parts of the world. 52% of Americans  do bone marrow registry while only 20% of Asians and Indians are registered. So, when looking for a match it becomes really tough due to lack of people registering. We sincerely urge the youth especially within the age range of 18-30 years to register. It will help save someone's life. Bone marrow is not related to bone, the doctor just draws blood, saves your record and will call you if needed. You have the capability to save someone's life without any risk to you.

Karuna Pai: You have grown Horizon Travel from a Start Up to a Thriving Business, what is the secret of your success?

Heena Sampat: Secret of my success lies in steady and continuous growth, understanding niche market and giving best customer service. We approach small businesses that really need travel services and we are successfully increasing in numbers. International business is increasing day by day. Companies are realizing the value of personalized meetings and interviews. I am really thankful to my coworkers & entire Horizon Travel team for making my company successful and I also want to thank my clients who spread the word about our services, giving us repeated business & sharing through social media.

Message for the Toppick viewers

“Path of success does not have short cuts. Find a good mentor from whom you can learn. Take smart decisions in your business and life and you will create a world of your choice”.
Read More...


Stephen Baldwin in conversation with Karuna Pai
Karuna Pai   Mar-2019   86 Views   0 Comments
Candid Conversation with Stephen Baldwin – The Least of These

The film, The Least of These is based on the remarkable true story of the Life and Work of Australian missionary Dr. Graham Staines. This is the debut film by Dallas-based Skypass Entertainment. The movie was released on February 1, 2019 coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the tragic event that shocked the world.

Actor, Producer and Author Stephen Baldwin plays the role of Dr. Graham Staines in this heartfelt movie. Stephen Baldwin is no stranger to Hollywood and the entertainment industry. His claim to fame came from the double Academy Award-winning film THE USUAL SUSPECTS (1995). Additionally, his more than 100 film roles include BIO-DOME (1996) and Barney Rubble in THE FLINSTONES IN VIVA ROCK VEGAS (2000).

TopPick Media caught up with Stephen Baldwin in this exclusive interview, where he shares more about his role in this film, his experience and working with costars- actress Shari Rigby (October Baby), and Bollywood star Sharman Joshi (3 Idiots) .

Karuna Pai: So, Stephen, in this movie you play the role of Dr. Graham Staines. Can you share some insight into Dr. Staines and what went through your mind when you were approached for this role?

Stephen Baldwin: Dr. Graham Staines is a missionary who felt quite humbly, a very simple calling to India, to be of service to those suffering from the physical disorder of leprosy. He also did that with the understanding that, there was the reality of those people being healed. Simultaneously, he was a Christian, so in India at that time, to openly preach that to others is illegal. It is okay if you are working a medical clinic and to share your faith with those, if somebody asks you to do so. Unfortunately in 1999, there were some radical individuals that determined in their own judgment that Graham Staines was really using the medical reality just as a reason or an excuse to try and convert people to Christianity. Those radicals took it upon themselves to murder Dr. Staines along with his two young sons in 1999. It was a global tragedy, unfortunate obviously. This incident sent shock waves throughout India and around the world. And, interestingly enough no matter who you are, if you are a mother or a father or a sister or brother and when you hear about something like this, the horror of how these people lost their lives, in my understanding, it really is something that kind of connects us all! Yes, this is a very powerful, very dramatic and telling of the testimony of the life of Dr. Graham Staines and the ultimate sacrifice he made.

The movie stars Sherman Joshi who in my opinion, quite possibly will win many awards for hisperformance in this film, I mean that! He really was of the skill set as an artist, to carry this film with great boldness. It was a pleasure to work with him. This film, now titled ‘The Least of These’ -you can go to www.leastofthese.movie to watch the trailer and find theaters near you playing the movie.

Karuna Pai: In what ways did playing this powerful and transformational role of Staines impact you personally?

Stephen Baldwin: Graham Staines was one of these born again Christians who walked the quiet walk.You know, there are all different types of individuals and functions in ministry. But, this guy chose to just go over and very simply, humbly and quietly serve the way he did. It's depicted in the film; it really does come across almost mysterious, to a sense. He must have been odd to some people in India, he wasn't afraid to deal with lepers and such issues.

But, that being said I think what was interesting for me was I am quite the opposite of Graham (laughs). I am a skydiver and I do adrenaline junkie kind of things. I don't think Dr. Graham Staines was as much of an extreme sports enthusiast. But, that really was most interesting for me as an actor and a performer. It was kind of cool for me to watch films of him, see pictures, hear stories and research. I never met his family because I got enough of a sense to portray him with this ensemble cast. Shari Rigby is so wonderful as ‘Gladys Staines’ and for me it was understanding playing Dr. Staines within this story and this ensemble, subtly as I did. I just felt that was the most important thing to share about who Graham was- he was a very serving-hearted person, it wasn't about him; he didn't want it to be about him etc. 

Karuna Pai: This movie was shot on location in India. Can you share any memorable incident that took place in India?

Stephen Baldwin: Interesting question (pauses), I think other than what I share with people when they ask me of my experience during the film, and I am not just saying this, I am a people-person! When I get in certain environments, I like to study the people. I think being 70 miles outside of Hyderabad and the countryside, it was definitely the people for me; the people were the most charming and meaningful for me.

But, there were a couple of incidents where a ‘high ranking official’ of the production (that’s the quote), “so no one can be identified and stays anonymous”. A ‘high ranking official’ within the production had an experience driving to location at night, you know how the traffic is when you get in certain areas, and this person relieves themselves of their lunch. I don't know what the Indian expression for that is, but that was rather memorable (chuckles).

Karuna Pai: How did you have to prepare for the role? Did you have to do anything differently?

Stephen Baldwin: Actually yes, if you think about it “Let’s say you have a friend, however, they are a little more hyper than you, so they move more like a hyper person”, that would be similar to describing me. I wouldn't say I am completely hyper, though my wife would say, “Are you kidding me? You are out of your mind” (he states -kudos to her)!

But, if you think about playing a person who's kind of quieter, then subconsciously this would be something to consider in your movement and in your behavior, “Do you move fast or do you move slow?” So, yes there was a little bit of a choice and deliberateness to how I chose to play him “he moved a little slower and listened a little longer, he was just a little bit calmer”.

Karuna Pai: In closing, can you share your wishes with TopPick Media audience and why this is a must see movie.
Stephen Baldwin: This film is motivated to honor the legacy of this man who unfortunately lost his life. It was a random act of unnecessary judgment, but it doesn't mean that people shouldn't know the story and it doesn't mean that we shouldn't honor the lives of those lost, is really how I feel about it. Those two young boys, who lost their lives, hearing their story 20 years later, would mean something to anybody who's a parent or a brother or sister or anyone. It's a wonderful film, it is beautifully made and it is in a beautiful place. It is very compelling, because after all that happened, the wife of Graham Staines-Gladys Staines came out of her house where they lived and while all the media of India stood in front of her, one of the first things she said was, “We just want the world to know we forgive the people who have done this”.

It doesn't matter who you are, where you are from or what your belief is, it’s just a compelling story of great faith that honored a very humble man. So, we hope all of India will come out and see the film. In my opinion, equally as important is we honor the legacy of Graham Staines. Also, Sharman Joshi is unequivocally one of the greatest talents in all of India and people should come see him too.

Conclusion: “The Least of These” beautifully illustrates the power of love, hope and forgiveness to
overcome hate. For more information or to purchase tickets to a showing near you, visit
In conjunction with the film, and based on the inspiration of Gladys Staines’ forgiveness, Skypass
Entertainment has created iForgive.com. iForgive is built around a simple premise: that one act of
forgiveness can spark a worldwide movement.
Read More...

The Least Of These Red Carpet Premier with Anu Benakatti
Anu Benakatti   Mar-2019   123 Views   0 Comments
Watch the Red Carper Premier of The Least Of These with Anu Benakatti
Read More...

Arya Dance Academy’s 4th Annual Gala 2019 - MUSICAL MAYHEM!! Guest of Honor was Manushi Chillar-Miss World 2017 and all proceeds were donated to UNICEF-Project Lion
Gargi Duggal   Mar-2019   173 Views   0 Comments
Arya Dance Academy’s 4th Annual Gala 2019 - MUSICAL MAYHEM!!
Guest of Honor was Manushi Chillar-Miss World 2017 and all proceeds were donated to UNICEF-Project Lion!

Arya Dance Academy
Arya International is a charitable dance and entertainment organization, dedicated to teaching South Asian dance techniques to students of all ages. Their goal is to encourage current and future South Asian generations to learn, respect, and admire our rich culture in the performing arts.

Gala Vision
Each year the gala is organized not only to raise money for charity but also to :
  • Bring Arya students and families together to promote diverse Indian cultural values through dance and entertainment
  • Show students the importance of giving back by dancing with a purpose
  • Promote South Asian culture and the arts and provide exposure to talented young performers who may wish to pursue professional careers in the arts
  • Bring our diverse communities together and share our heritage with friends and family
  • Provide a forum for South Asian professionals to network, connect and keep the community united

Gala Mission Statement

Each year a charity is selected based on many factors to ensure the money raised has a maximum impact. Donations from generous sponsors further help minimize expenses in hosting the Gala.

UNICEF-Project Lion
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works in more than 190 countries and territories to put children first. UNICEF has helped save more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization by providing health care and immunizations, safe water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. Since 1990, UNICEF has helped save the lives of 122 million children.

Arya Dance Academy website: http://www.aryaintl.com

Arya Dance Academy Texas Director: Rupal Desai Dev
Media Coverage by: Gargi Duggal
Video Coverage by: Vaibhav Rege

Read More...

DFW Temple President Unveils 2019 Plans
Arun sharma   Mar-2019   169 Views   0 Comments
“Om Asato Maa Sad-Gamaya , Tamaso Maa Jyotir-Gamaya, Mrtyor-Maa Amrtam Gamaya”, meaning “Lead us from the unreal to the real, from darkness to light, and from death to immortality”. These are the prayers and affirmations we say to the one and only one, who have given us this life to experience and at the same time guide us to the path of spiritual upliftment and enlightenment.

Temples are not just the places to worship and pay our homage to the Almighty, but also are the spiritual hub of the community. One such place is DFW Temple Society, Ekta Mandir. Located in the heart of Irving, TX, DFW temple society, Ekta Mandir is one of the oldest temples in the DFW metroplex area, since early 1990s. All year round, many spiritual, cultural and community based events happen here. Toppick media is fortunate to speak to currently serving president of the DFW temple society, Ekta Mandir, Mrs Kusum.

Arun: Kusum ji, lets talk about your association with the temple.
Kusum: I volunteered as a teacher in the temple almost about 20 years ago. I joined the executive committee eight years ago serving in different roles of treasures, vice president and currently as a president of the temple.

Arun: Please tell us about the activities in the temple.
Kusum: Temple has many events and celebrations all around the year. Starting with the new year celebration, which goes nonstop on the new year eve and new year day. We have many other regular festivals, such as Holi, Diwali, Mahashivaratri, Navdurga puja happen throughout the year. We also have special events, which are published on our temple website regularly such as we are doing the Navagraha Puja for the first time in Feb. We are also doing Pran Prathstha of Shri Hanumaan Ji and Satyanaran ji idols in Feb.

Arun: One of the events that I along with my family and friends look for is Holi Celebration. This is that time of year, where we love to come here with our friends to play with colors.
Kusum: Yes, this is the major festival celebrated in temple with Holika Dahan a day before the actual Holi event. This year Holika Dahan will be on 23 rd March and Anand Bazaar which is the grand celebration with colors, food, festivities will happen on Sunday 24 th March.

Arun: The environment in the temple is highly spiritual and divine all the time.
Kusum: We have 8 priests from different part of India, representing different part of India, and they keep doing Pujas, mantra recitals throughout the day, which keeps a very peaceful atmosphere. I believe in faith and coming to temple always keep my faith up. I urge to everyone to come to temple, participate in our events and also serve as volunteers if you can.

Arun: Please let us know about other activities that happen in the temple. 
Kusum: More than 500 students as part of Vidya Vikas School learn ten different languages, traditional dances, Indian classical music, scripture classes etc. We have meditation hall, Yagna Shala and many other facilities.

Ekta Mandir has the blessings of Maha Lakhsmi Devi, which has blessed our community. I always say three things – “Seva, Sadhana and Sankirtan” which you can do when you visit the temple.

For more details about the DFW Hindu temple and activities here; visit the temple website https://www.dfwhindutemple.org/
Read More...

Karuna Pai in Conversation with Neetu Sethi at US India Chamber of Commerce Women's Conference
Karuna Pai   Mar-2019   104 Views   0 Comments
The USICOC hosted their 3rd Annual Women's Conference at George W Bush Presidential Library on February 22nd 2019.
This event brought women entrepreneurs and professionals together in fellowship to network, learn from successful women and from each other, and grow through inspiration and support. The conference featured some amazing women entrepreneurs and professional leaders who shared key leadership insights, their trials and tribulations and individual journey leading them there.

Neetu Sethi, CIO, Reddy Ice – Neetu is an award-winning SVP and CIO. She is responsible for IT strategies and operational management of IT applications and infrastructure to support 1.8 million tons of ice distribution and over 82,000 customers.

Read More...

Karuna Pai in converation with Jyothi Lynch at US India Chamber of Commerce Women's Conference
Karuna Pai   Mar-2019   102 Views   0 Comments
The USICOC hosted their 3rd Annual Women's Conference at George W Bush Presidential Library on February 22nd 2019.
This event brought women entrepreneurs and professionals together in fellowship to network, learn from successful women and from each other, and grow through inspiration and support. The conference featured some amazing women entrepreneurs and professional leaders who shared key leadership insights, their trials and tribulations and individual journey leading them there.

Jyothi Lynch, CIO, Jamba Juice - Jyothi serves as Senior Vice President and CIO of Jamba Juice where she led the successful $200M acquisition of Jamba Juice by Focus Foods from a technology strategy standpoint. Currently she is leading the technology consolidation plan between the two companies.
Read More...

Karuna Pai with Madhuri Andrews at US India Chamber of Commerce Women's Conference
Karuna Pai   Mar-2019   116 Views   0 Comments
The USICOC hosted their 3rd Annual Women's Conference at George W Bush Presidential Library on February 22nd 2019.
This event brought women entrepreneurs and professionals together in fellowship to network, learn from successful women and from each other, and grow through inspiration and support. The conference featured some amazing women entrepreneurs and professional leaders who shared key leadership insights, their trials and tribulations and individual journey leading them there.

Women Talk Technology: A Conversation with the C-Suite featuring

Madhuri Andrews, CIO, Jacobs: Madhuri has 20+ years of experience with companies, including DynCorp and Trinity Industries and has brought this experience to Jacobs where she is leading the development of the company’s IT organization and systems.

Read More...

Karuna Pai In converstion with Anna Lee Fisher at US India Chamber of Commerce Women's Conference
Karuna Pai   Mar-2019   116 Views   0 Comments
The USICOC hosted their 3rd Annual Women's Conference at George W Bush Presidential Library on February 22nd 2019.
This event brought women entrepreneurs and professionals together in fellowship to network, learn from successful women and from each other, and grow through inspiration and support. The conference featured some amazing women entrepreneurs and professional leaders who shared key leadership insights, their trials and tribulations and individual journey leading them there.

"Women Amongst the Stars: " The Keynote Speaker Dr. Anna Lee Fisher
Dr. Fisher is retired Astronaut NASA, Medical doctor, Chemist, and known as ‘First Mother in Space’. She was selected as an astronaut in January of 1978 and completed her training and evaluation period by August 1979. During her time at NASA she worked on three major programs including the Space Shuttle Program, the International Space Station and the Orion Project. She also served on the Astronaut Selection Board for the 1987 Class of Astronauts. Later in her career, she served as Chief of the Space Station Branch of the Astronaut office with oversight responsibility for 40-50 astronauts and support engineers. She took a leave of absence from 1988 to 1996 to raise her two daughters. She retired from NASA in April 2017.
Read More...

Wonder Women Of INDIA Dr. Seema Rao : Interview by Khush Rawlley
Khusboo Rawlley   Mar-2019   253 Views   0 Comments
  • She is powerhouse of beauty, elegance, kindness, with strength of iron and heart of gold. 
  • A 7th-degree black belt holder in military martial arts, Seema Rao is India’s only female commando trainer. A prominent expert in close quarter battle (CQB), Seema has been giving commando training to various armed forces in India for 20 years (trained 20,000 soldiers so far), without taking any monetary compensation in return.
  • There are just 10 ladies on the planet who are ensured in a military artistic expression Jeet Kune Do which was established by Bruce Lee in the 60’s and Seema Rao is one of them.
  • She is only external combat training resource appointed by Indian govt. till date. She has provided training to almost every elite unit of Indian forces: national police academy, army officers training academy, policy quick response teams of almost every major city in India.
  • Seema is also a combat shooting instructor, a firefighter, a scuba diver, an HMI medalist in rock climbing, and a Mrs. India World pageant finalist.
  • She has done MBA in crisis management and has bagged “World peace award, Malaysia”, “US Precedence volunteer service award”.

How did your Journey begin?
I have earning to be powerful as I was bullied as a kid. So I learn Tai kwan do, got black belt. Learnt Boxing and wrestling. Craving to change what I basically was. Situation where I could control instead of someone controlling me.

You did MBA in crisis management. You could have gotten into corporate job, but instead you chose this field that too completely voluntarily. How did that happen?
My father was a freedom fighter. As a kid he would tell bed time stories (e.g. “He swam across theMandavi river”). We 3 sisters would listen the stories of freedom struggle. After some time they would goto sleep and I was the only one listening with amazement. That’s when I thought I could do something for my country. Despite educational career I has urge to contribute to country.

How did you excel in all things in which boys dominate?
Scuba diving, mountaineering, my urge to face new challenges did not stop hence I keep going. A lot of times I could not control the situation. Fire burning in mind keeps you going. I got to know Bruce Lee. I was truly impressed by him and read his books and decided to pursue that art. I was his personal student. I am one of the senior lady instructors in the world.

You were a lead in movie Hathapi as a protagonist. Please let
It is first MMA movie made in India, which is based on Mahabharata highlighting women empowerment. It’s about Drupadi who is humiliated, how she restores her dignity. I teach her the art to restore her dignity. It is movie made by 10 ppl depicting mixed martial arts. It very nice action movie with mashup of emotions entangles in situational tangles. We were looking for female singers for certain fight songs. We since we weren’t getting anybody, I just ended up singing it.

You have trained Elite Commandoes of Indian forces (National police academy etc.) How was your experience going at all places and training new people who were most boys.
There was always respect and I always enjoyed. This is physical field. If you can do something, you lead by personal example. Once I prove it, rest follows. Male ego could be subtle, but I was never bothered by it and just focused straight at my work.

You went fast ahead but we know you had your challenges vertebral fracture, memory loss. How did you cope up with physical side effects of this field?
I lost my memory after a fall. I could remember my husband at least. After that I had vertebral injury. It made me re think do I have to go through these life threatening injures but my inner answer was “I couldn’t do anything else but this” I got wisdom with time to teach safely. Person who gets afraid and stops had reached end of road. Fear needs to be instead channeled well to benefit from its raw strength and grow in the right direction.

You have sacrificed in the process. You could not be with you family during your father’s funeral. Also you adopted a girl instead of having your own child.
I personally felt it’s not important to have your own child. When we were thinking, we were facing many challenges. My husband deserves all the credit in all that decision making process. Work was so satisfying and selfless that I was addicted to it. Then we adopted a girl whom we love to the core. She has learnt martial arts as well.

I was on training assignment during my father’s death. I met family later. Do I regret not going back, but I know for sure even my father would have said “Go work for the country and do your duty”.

I also questions “Was I a good daughter? ”. My heart gives answer “Yes” since I spent good quality time when I was in his company. Those memories shall keep us connected for ever.

What motivated you to work without any compensation?
Money is important, but then it’s not the most important one. I think I do this because I want to do this. Weather I get anything back or not wasn’t my concern. I loved it so much, I couldn’t have done anything else.

You teach a technique called DARE. Defense against Rape and Eve Teasing. Would you like to talk about that?
This is workshop where I teach girls to deal with different situations. Equips women to intercept any kind
of trouble. It teaches you to stop it right in the beginning.

What are your future plans?
I wrote a book called “King Sperm” on my life. Some books are also in Interpol library. As of now I want to distribute my movie and book. Rest I shall leave on fate.

Times of weakness are over and women has to come out and be strong. Times goes so fast. In a blink 10 years are gone. So I realize you wake up and live your dreams and do it now. Explore your hidden talent and go grab it. Don’t wait for things, make things happen. We live only once.

Practice Cautious Boldness: Being bold but with caution. It is about running at a pace where you know it is
happening, looking around carefully what your next step is and still taking it carefully. WORLD IS WAITING FOR YOU.
Read More...

Smart Home Locks
Toppick Media Editor   Jul-2018   373 Views   0 Comments

It is not science fiction anymore, Smart Homes have arrived and are evolving at a fast pace. Smart Home is a current buzzword and mostly used to boost sales. Our series of articles will cover the technology with respect to each device or appliance. A Smart Home by definition uses devices or appliances that are connected and controlled easily, mostly through apps. Smart devices and appliances vary from simple easy control, status updates to intelligent decision-making algorithms. 

A lock secures our home. Traditional Lock & Key have been the norm for centuries and it is time for us to update to the latest technologies. There are several options available with many advanced features.

KEYPADS: Most simple upgrade is a lock with a numeric keypad. It is simple to setup and use. Most models allow anywhere from two to ten codes other than a master code. A master code is required to change all the other codes. Codes are usually 4 to 8 digits. The keypad can be buttons or touch screen. Some locks require you to touch random numbers before entering the code to prevent fingerprint marks only on the buttons used for code.

CONNECTED: Next level of upgrade would be lock with connectivity like NFC (Near Field Communication), Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. The connectivity adds several features and much easier control via Apps. The phone can unlock the door by taping the lock or by proximity. An additional step may be added for safety. Connected devices can be controlled from anywhere in the world as long as you are connected to the internet. Digital keys can be assigned to friends or a house cleaner's phone which will only work for the specified times and days. Independent codes allow for notifications of entry and exit for kids or help. Gone are the days when you drive back to check if you forgot to lock the door.

INTEGRATION: The most common integration is through voice control. Apple HomeKit, Alexa, and Google Home are the currently available controls, which allow locks to be locked or unlocked by voice commands. Emerging and evolving integration is mostly through collaboration of different manufacturers. Examples would be the ability to unlock or lock the door through a doorbell device app, surveillance camera device app, etc.

Another level of integration is through Z-wave and ZigBee. Both are competing wireless communications protocol used primarily for Home Automation and will require professional help.

 Some models do not require changing the lock; they simply latch on the deadbolt lever and give you all the features. Some models have eliminated the key. They provide external posts to which you can connect a 9-volt battery, giving you enough juice to get the door open. Some smart locks have built in alarm that sounds in case of tampering.

Smart locks are an incredible upgrade to traditional Lock & Key. Digital locks allow easy configuration, recordings of entry and exit, and setting specific entry times, (Airbnb application).

Forgot your key, no problem. No one has to wake up to open the door. Open the door remotely for friends or deliveries. 

Do you need any more reasons to upgrade to Smart Locks?

Tip: Deadbolt must align properly to the strike plate. Smart lock batteries run out of juice very quickly if the deadbolt movement is tight.

Read More...

REENA BANA - Founder Love & Justics 4 Humanity
Toppick Media Editor   Jul-2018   378 Views   0 Comments

Worked on passing Sherin's Law, Providing a safer outlet for children with or without voices.   

I am a huge people person. I have spent the last decade fighting for women and children who do not have a voice or the strength to do it alone. This advocacy landed me in the arms of a Criminology field where I obtained Certifications in Criminology Profiling and Forensic Science. I am also certified in Human Trafficking and the Dark web through U.S. Attorney General.  

“My interest in this field took on a much serious course during the Sherin Mathews Murder Case.”

This case changed lives all around the world. This shook the foundation from my feet when my partner Shanna Poteet and I discovered that only 3 states have a law that punishes people for leaving children at home alone. We authored the law and named it after Sherin; “Sherin’s Law”. This law has grabbed international attention and captured the interest of government officials worldwide. We certainly did not anticipate so much attention, but it was warranted given the face of how important this law is thus the need for it to be passed. We are in the process of ironing out the law with various Representatives. We eventually want to make a push to make this law Federal. Going through my decade long journey and finally teaming with someone who shares the same passion and has the same drive, servants heart and self-motivated it was a natural step to unit under one banner which gave rise to our (Shana and My) non-profit.  Love & Justice for Humanity.

When I am not fighting the world for Justice, I am your everyday South Asian woman raising 2 children who have been the highlight of my life and a Husband who is ever so supportive. Many have asked me about my career choice and I always tell them if it wasn’t because of my husband, I would have never been able to come this far. Today, with God’s blessing and my husband’s support, I can fight for those beautiful children and women who have no one and no voice to seek justice. In my free time, which is very minimal, I love to watch documentaries, read, do research, play with my children, workout and travel. I also love to cook and feed my husband who is on an everlasting diet. Now we all know that desi diet don’t we. 

My goal in life is to raise the bar on awareness of Abuse and Neglect. Abuse happens in many forms, it happens all around us it happens to people of all sexes and all ages. I want to enable others starting from my community and then around the globe. I feel I have an innate ability to understand people not by just listening to them but reading between the lines. I am trained and experienced in identifying types/levels of Abuse and Neglect that I want to share and help others understand with withstand. Everyone I meet and everywhere I go I always say, “if you see something, say something”. Don’t be afraid, or feel alone, don’t leave it to someone else, voice your concern, make a statement you don’t know if or when you will be changing someone’s life for the better, it could be your own. 

Finally, I love meeting new people and learning new things. Please say hello and share a story with me if you ever see me around.

With lots of love, 

Reena Bana - Founder

www.lovejusticehumanity.org

Read More...

Green Rhino: Story of Passion, Perseverance
Toppick Media Editor   May-2018   828 Views   0 Comments

As two California natives who sold everything to start their dream and bring Green Rhino to life. We quickly found ourselves in a situation that almost broke us back to nothing. After creating a safe, green cleaning product for my wife who suffers with eczema, and asthma. As she had suffered from using harsh bleaches to care for her Father before he passed. Jennifer realized the product had the potential to help others with similar allergies by offering a way to clean hard areas, as well as daily things without irritating their skin. After searching for a lab, it looked like they had finally found their answer. Excitedly, they sold everything even their car, and moved to Texas.

It began to look promising as Jennifer began to form her corporation, and the lab we became affiliated with delivered the first sample of the formula they provided. However, after a few short weeks their partner refused to complete the obligation of his half, and with all their money spent. The partner then refused to pay them the money they had earned under his company and suddenly the Hale's, and their American Bulldog “Billie Girl” became homeless in a new and now very scary city.

Beyond any imaginary thought process, with no home for their son to come out to and their dreams looking like they were destroyed. They could only find strength in one place, and they sank to their knees in prayer. Asking for the strength to praise Him in this mess and saying we trust you no matter what. Somehow, without reason, people they had never spoken too called them via Facebook and set a meeting for a chemist who shared similar beliefs, and they thought it might be a good fit. 

With only $102 dollars in their pockets, with everything they owned on the streets; Chris & Jennifer marched in together right after praying for favor. We still aren't sure how this little company has sold well over a  half-million dollars and become vendors for Region 7 Co-Op and Canyon ISD, or Sunbelt Rentals and how Bonvera has picked the product up for retail in less than 3 years. Never forgetting their experiences, they started “Project: My Backyard” as a way to reach back out to those who need us the most.

In the beginning all they could afford were a few bags of food, now giving away hygiene bags that have everything from socks to toothpaste and deodorant and razors and so much more. Every quarter, or close to it, Green Rhino becomes Project: My Backyard and they help out like for instance last January giving away over 250 jackets and helping almost a dozen people find jobs. They have personally reached out and helped over a thousand people, with dreams of building a shelter that will offer free job/vocational training and help with finding employment so we can help people on the streets get back on their feet. We believe by others purchasing Green Rhino, a better product on many levels we can not only improve your home or office, but we can also create the change and help our neighborhoods become safer. Someone hungry can become desperate and by helping people when they feel they are worthless, helping them to care about themselves, getting them to try again. It is the most powerful feeling in the world because you aren't talking about it, you are doing it. 

As a young company who is on a mission to grow into a sustainable way to fund a charity without donation. We would humbly request that if you are able to give us a like, and a share on Facebook, it would mean a lot to us as we continue to offer a great product, and “supply hygiene & hope to those who need us the most™. “ Thank you.

www.Facebook.com/GreenRhinoSuperCleaner 


Read More...

Namaste.........Surya Namaskar
Toppick Media Editor   Feb-2019   179 Views   0 Comments
If there is single most effective way to enhance your wellness, hands down I’d say that will be Surya Namaskar. Adding Surya Namaskar to your daily routine can be the best health decision you going to be making, even better it works for those, “I have no time for exercise” people, because it’s so simple and effective and uses just 10-15 mins of your time. And for those, “gym is far and expensive” kind of people, you don’t need to drive to the gym, neither get in and out of those power hold compression pants( oh boy to get in and out of those by itself is a workout) you know what I mean, or neither do you need to wear those fancy sneakers and keep updating them out of pure peer pressure.

All you need to do Surya Namaskar is a 6/4 ft space( well I’m not talking about the ultimate space where we Rest In Peace), I’m just simply referring to the small carpet area you would need to perform you Surya Namaskar, comfortable clothing and a yoga mat.

So what is this Surya Namaskar, in Sanskrit language Surya means Sun and Namaskar means greetings or giving respect, so it is like giving our salutations to the Sun (best done facing east in the mornings), trying to energize our bodies from the all empowering Sun.

Start your day with the set of 5-7 rounds of Surya Namaskar and the rest of the day will be as active and energetic as the mind wants the body to be. It’s a sequence of 12 asanas (poses), flowing beautifully from one to another with the breath naturally following in and out pattern as it synchronizes with the body. Each asana has a counter asana as it balances up the sequence letting the body to find its peace while performing a vigorous sequence all at the same time. Starting with 12 asanas from the right side of the body and finishing up with the same 12 on the left side to call it a full one round of 24 asanas, so ultimately doing almost 168 asanas if you are doing 7 rounds and which only take 10-15 mins of your day, is there any more excuses not to do it, because if you have one, I sure have an answer with Surya Namaskar.
- Jayanthi Murahari(Jay)
Read More...

Startup Grind Frisco: by Sandhya Madduri
Sandhya   Feb-2019   167 Views   0 Comments
With over 22 years in various leadership roles Prabhu has extensively contributed to the success of Siemens PLM, UGS/EDS, SDRC and IBM PLM. Prabhu has experience in successfully defining, executing and stabilizing complex global programs spread across multiple Continents, Countries, Programs and Technologies in the area of CAD/CAM/CAE simulation and PLM solutions. Prabhu excels in defining & executing strategic PLM direction for global corporations and finding solutions for ever emerging technology challenges due to multiple products, platforms and technologies accumulation as a result of growth, global mergers and acquisitions.

Prabhu has successfully led and built a Offshore Delivery Center for IT Infrastructure services company from scratch including setting up business entity, STPI, infrastructure, hiring and retaining best talent and successfully executed 24 x 7 operations center. As a President of PROLIM, Prabhu is responsible for P & L, Strategic Planning, Business Development, Client Management, and overseeing Global Operations.

Prabhu has been recognized with several awards like Siemens Americas Consulting Award, Ford Mustang C3PNG Award, EDS Achievement Award, SDRC Product Manager Award, Rookie of Year 1997 Award, PTC Award of Excellence, Best Scientist Indian Defense R&D Award.

Prabhu holds an MBA with high distinction from Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Prabhu was a Topper in Master of Engineering and Topper Bachelor of Engineering from India. Prabhu lives at Farmington Hills(suburb of Detroit), MI, USA.


Startup Grind Frisco:
 
Startup Grind launched its Frisco, Dallas Chapter in January 2019. Startup Grind is the largest independent startup community, actively educating, inspiring, and connecting more than 2,000,000 entrepreneurs in over 500+ chapters and 125+ Countries.
 
Startup Grind is a monthly events series that highlights the success and failure of startups featuring successful local founders, innovators, educators and investors who share lessons learned on the road to building great companies. No membership needed, and open to anyone from skilled entrepreneur, through to those that are in corporate and wanting to know more.

For more information visit Startup Grind Frisco, https://twitter.com/SGFrisco  or follow on twitter @SGFrisco

Here is the upcoming event you all can attend.
Tech Startups, Blockchain & IoT Security with Avesta Hojjati, Head of R&D @ DigiCert, Entrepreneur.
Read More...

Bringing Nature Back To Beauty!!
Rasshmi Kansupada   Feb-2019   208 Views   1 Comments
Welcome to RENDEZVOUS WITH RASSHMI . A page dedicated to ordinary people of our community…yes ordinary, but with that Xtra ordinary talent, achievement and that inspiring Xfactor!!

If you were the kind of kid who sat in the yard mixing potions with water, flowers, plants and fruits(what we now call naturally-sourced materials) and imagining all of the uses for your concoctions, then you would be able to relate to my guest Mukta Ghoshal, the founder of No.1 Natural Beauty.

Did you know you can absorb more toxins from personal, skincare and hair-care products than from food? Your skin is the largest organ in your body — and also the thinnest. Less than one-tenth of an inch separates your body from potential toxins. Worse yet, your skin is highly permeable. Just about anything you put on your skin will end up in your bloodstream and will be distributed throughout your body. There are so many key phrases we’re told to look for when shopping for our makeup and skincare: natural, organic, chemical-free, cruelty-free, and eco-friendly. If only all of them were easier to decipher, skincare shopping would be a lot easier. 

Well, lets meet Mukta our green environment crusader who firmly believes in the very old tradition, proven over years, of treating skin and hair with fresh and natural formulations. Right from childhood she was always interested in taking care of her skin and hair and was known in her family for always digging into natural ingredients and mixing and applying them day and night. Her curiosity & creativity in fashion, particularly in skin and hair kept growing and led her to try out freshly formulated facial masks and henna applications on family members and friends in the neighborhood eventually earning her some pocket money which surely meant a lot to her at that time. She would be showered by compliments in parties for her lustrous hair and even had incidents when people would actually come and pull her hair to make sure it was really thick and shiny. This made her feel more confident to stand out in the crowd and slowly started participating in local fashion shows and college events where she earned few titles like & Ms Crown & Glory”, Ms. Gorgeous Hair and was even offered modelling assignments.

She moved to Dallas TX in 2013 from Shenzhen where she was an English language teacher and had proved her mettle and also earned the title of one of the topmost English Corporate Trainer in the daily newspaper. She also acquired fluency in the Chinese language. The move was not easy for her especially to accept a career breakdown from being an independent woman to having to start afresh. She soon realized that each situation comes with a challenge and with a smile she began to recollect her childhood passion of love for nature and she decided to do something different with a combination of passion and her knowledge of being a Botanist(Bachelors in Plant Study). She did online research, some self learning courses and educated herself on natural formulations. She soon began processing in her small kitchen, turning it into a mini lab, making face masks, serums and hair oil and tested on herself and also invited friends to try them. Initially it wasn’t that easy to convince anyone to try it out but she always keep it transparent to all and took them to her kitchen and formulated right there after testing their skin and hair type.

In 2016, she began her Green customised beauty line No.1 Natural Beauty Organic Skin and Hair after many word of mouth recommendations. She printed simple flyers, knocked every store and attended events to reach out and bring about awareness about her products and services. Managing an all-natural skincare line involves a lot of hard work and creative thinking. All her products are customized as per skin and hair type. They are freshly made of pure botanical extracts and world exotic herbs in fresh or dried form, are free from any preservatives, artificial fragrance or additives and are completely chemical free. With regular use of No.1 Natural Beauty products, one is assured of high purity but over time would be benefited with overall wellness as her products focus towards holistic approach by which not only one gets the freshness but overall more focus and feels more energetic and relaxed. She works in hand with each client with regular follow ups. Her focus is not to generate revenue rather count on each clients benefited result which is an achievable target. With no frill and fancy packaging, she tries to minimize her cost and provide quality service and product to fit into every budget. She has a well equipped mobile vehicle and offers her services in the comfort of one’s home and within flexible hours. She is a perfect model for her products as her skin surely defies her age. She aims to create a brand that involves discovery, learning and sharing.

We are all born with great skin and gorgeous hair but as we age we start loosing elasticity or rather say cell degeneration. Hence avoiding any harsh chemicals would be the first step to go Natural. The call of the hour is to be environmentally responsible. Nature has abundance in the most purest form, so there should not be any room for any chemically processed products. Natural beauty is the best make up one can have. Accepting the fact that we all are aging each day, in Mukta’s words “Lets age gracefully with fine lines on a radiant skin and gorgeous grey lustrous hair”.
Read More...

Fall in Love with .... By meenakshi
RJ Meenakshi   Feb-2019   138 Views   0 Comments

Fall in love with taking care of yourself.
Fall in love with the path of deep healing.
Fall in love with becoming the best version of yourself but with patience,
with compassion and respect to your own journey.
- Sylvester McNutt

There are always messages around you which universe is constantly sending, we have to be open to receive it. Every morning after my daily routine, I always read inspirational quotes as I feel I get message to follow for rest of my day.

Today I came up this beautiful quote by Sylvester McNutt, and it made complete sense to me. Many of us are constantly be taking care of others. We are programmed to put everyone and everything else first – our spouse, the kids, the house, the dog or our career.

By the end of the day we are exhausted, and there is no time or energy left for self-care or self-love. We say we have no time to concentrate on ourselves or we are too busy to even think that this is even important. It’s taken me so many years to understand that falling in love with yourself is the first priority and when I started loving myself, everything else just fell in place.

When we constantly focus on what we do not have, we start carrying extra weight on our shoulders. We stay stuck in the energy of deficiency rather than creation, manifestation and abundance. It blocks progressing forward and we get distracted from the path of healing ourselves. Rather then judging and criticizing ourselves, accept everything about life, be present in the moment. Today, right now you are wonderful. Feeling good in the present moment creates the energy to change for the better.

“We are like magnets: like attracts like. You become and attract what you think. Embrace and love all the aspects of yourself. We often concentrate on the upper layer of life which is easy to be seen and heal and we always ignore the unseen layer that is the hidden deep down in our subconscious mind. Embrace and love all the repressed parts of yourself even those you may be scared of, the inner child of you who needs light and healing.

By forgiving yourself and others we heal ourselves. Self-healing is a continuous process which takes time and patience. Fall madly and deeply in love with yourself during this process and practice to forgive, love and show up for yourself daily over and over again.

Surrender and trust the divine planning of your healing path. There are thousands of reasons to give up and give in. There are infinite scenarios in which we don’t do or finish something. Instead, follow it to completion. If we have a sense of purpose and meaning in what we do, if we find it fulfilling, it does not matter what it ultimately leads to. What matters is that we refuse to give up.

Practice gratitude and humility. There’s always a more productive way to talk about criticism for ourselves and for others. If we always remember to stay thankful and humble, it will make our path easier. Focus on giving and taking positivity, and reap the benefits of it which are untold and innumerable. There is a very clear difference between self-love or being selfish. Taking care of ourselves and putting our needs first will actually make us better people, because when we are happy inside, we transmit that happiness on the outside and by default we make other people happy too.

Nurture your most important relationship, the one we share with ourselves! Self-love is imperative to looking and feeling like the best version of yourself. Always take care of yourself first before taking care of others. Ultimately, though we spend the most time of our life with ourselves.

Respect your journey of your life. We are born for the reason and our own lessons to be learned during this lifetime. It was our choice, our decision, and just as we respect the ground we step on, that ground will respect our feet. Always do what’s best to conserve and keep your journey, and it will do the same for you. The universe has given everyone equal abundance according to our own karma. No one is behind or forward. Everyone is there where they have to be. Sometimes the same tasks have to be repeated until we learn our life lesson, it’s part of our journey. Even though we are tired, even though certain tasks are repeated so often, be patient. Make your path a mirror of yourself. We have our own soul to listen to. Love your path. Without this, nothing makes any sense.

Everyone has their own path. Walk yours with integrity and wish others peace on their journey.
When your paths merge, rejoice for their presence in your life.
When the paths are separate, return to the wholeness of yourself,
Give thanks for the footprints left on your soul, and embrace the time to journey on your own.
- Unknown Author.

I practice meditation, which has been helping me quiet my mind and center myself. I find that I practice self-love the most through giving myself and my time to my loved ones. I feel my best when I am gentle with myself, then I am able to give myself more fully to those who need my love the most. I became mindful and started to act on what I need rather that what I wanted. I started practicing good self-care like good nutrition, exercise, yoga, proper sleep, intimacy and healthy social interactions. I started setting boundaries and protecting myself by saying NO, to things which were not serving me or helping me. When I became mindful, I started forgiving myself and others. Then the right people and circumstances that supported me started getting attracted towards me. 

You are a piece of GOD, you are a living, breathing creation that emanated from the universal mind of all creating source. You and God are the same thing. A wonderful gift to this planet earth is YOU!!
Read More...

Gargi’s experience with Chroreographer (Slumdog Millionaire) Longinus Fernandez Captured by Rasshmi Kansupada
Rasshmi Kansupada   Jan-2019   230 Views   0 Comments
Gargi’s experience with Chroreographer (Slumdog Millionaire) Longinus Fernandez Captured by Rasshmi Kansupada

I caught up with our Toppick team member Gargi Duggal, and talked to her about her journey into winning the Texas Runner-up Indian Icon trophy for International Indian Icon (3iii) Season II and especially her interaction with Longinus Fernandez,  choreographer for the Oscar winning film Slumdog Millionaire renowned judge for the Semi final and Finals dance category.

RASSHMI:  How was it attending the workshop with Longinus Fernandez, did you find a difference between the other workshop you have attended in the past?
GARGI:  Mentorship and workshop with such a legendary choreographer who received his fame through Oscar winning movie Slumdog Millionaire was a privilege by itself. He has deep knowledge in modern hip hop dance, locking and popping and Indian classical dance styles as well. The dance he choreographed during the workshop is the one he has on his website www.longinusworld.com. Within a 2 hour workshop he completed the whole choreography. The biggest difference with his mentorship versus others I have attended in the past is that he literally worked with all of us 1:1 to furnish out steps and poses.

RASSHMI: What are the tips that Longinus Fernandez gave you that you will always cherish?
GARGI: The best tip ever I received was that a dancer can best present themselves if they dance like no one is watching them, full heartedly and with full expressions.

RASSHMI: Was Longinus Fernandez very forthcoming as a choreographer, a teacher or was he restricted?
GARGI: He was not restricted at all but more of a perfectionist. He wanted us to learn each step in the right manner and in the right way. If the step demanded having hands above the waistline and if we were not doing it right after showing us 3-4 times, he would get that out of us with no further directions. All dancers who had made it to the  semi-finals did not need more guidance. Quick learning was expected from him, which was quite valid coming from a legend.

RASSHMI: How was your overall experience in interacting with a choreographer of international fame, did you have informal chat with him and got to know the real person he is? 
GARGI: All the participants, judges and the 3iii team were in the same resort spending formal-informal time together for 5 days production sponsored by Zee TV. Hence I not only got a chance to interact with him formally during the competition when I performed but also interacted informally where I got to know his career journey and his personal side of life. Legends are not born, they are selfmade, the dedication, diligence and perseverance lead them to the path of success. The legendary choreographer made his fame with Oscar winning film Slumdog Millionaire and has never looked back, currently working on his childhood dream project and other films. The US audience relate a movie with silver screen stars but there are people like Longi Sir who make the song hit with signature dance steps and behind the scene preparations. These names do not fade but are written in history of film industry… be it Bollywood or Hollywood

Following is the excerpt from the tete a tete that Gargi had with Longinus Fernandez
GARGI: How did you decide to become a choreographer? was it something you always wanted to do or is it something that happened suddenly?
LONGI SIR: It all happened accidentally, I wanted to pursue engineering since I had done my draughtsmanship but was unable to do so as my father could not afford the fees. The least I could do was  complete my graduation to ensure that my parents be happy.To my good luck I got noticed in a talent contest in college & was chosen for a dance show. I managed to entertain the audience with my showmanship. From there on the journey began. I just followed my heart & did whatever i could to the best of my ability. I began as a dancer ended up as a dance champion winner in India for three consecutive years in 1989 , 1990, 1991...After that I got the opportunity to work alongside with Javed Jafri & mind you I did that only for the joy of dancing & travelling all around the world. It was he who recommended me to various profound personalities to choreograph their esteemed shows & music videos like Adnan Sami, Jassi, Mikka Singh, Daler Mehendi, Gurdas Maan,  Baba Saigal, Shweta Shetty etc. From stage & music videos I managed to move one notch higher by being associated with Farah Khan who has been very instrumental in shaping my career in the world of films (bollywood).She gave me my first break in the film industry...From there on I decided this is what I want to do for the rest of my life...

GARGI: Was there any person that had a great impact on your decision to become a choreographer? 
LONGI SIR: I personally feel that I am blessed to be surrounded with good people who are always encouraging. To start off with, my parents for sure have been very supportive. Farah Khan has played the role of a mentor to me. She has influenced me without coercion or force. She has also driven me to achieve my goal for which I will always be thankful to her. Now when I look back I feel glad that I took the right decision at the right time to forge ahead as a choreographer .

GARGI: How hard is to find a way to express yourself according to what you have on your mind? 
LONGI SIR: It is never ever difficult to express yourself. What in your mind should come through your heart , thats when the message is sent loud & clear. One has to remember that actions speak louder than words. If you can manage to emote through your actions & connect with the audience then you are certainly expressive by all means. All you need to do basically is shed your inhibitions & let it all out ...

GARGI: What kind of body is able to dance? Do you believe that the type of body can be one obstacle for someone who wants to dance?
LONGI SIR: On the personal front... Anybody & Everybody Can Dance ...which means Any Body & Every Body. You should never dance to impress, In fact you should dance to express and to do that  you dont need a great body. Everyone needs to remember the good  old saying " Dance Like Nobodys Watching " If this is followed to the tee, then there Is No Stopping Any Body From Dancing...

GARGI: Which is your work which you are extremely proud of?
LONGI SIR: I am always proud of whatever work i do because no work is small. What is extremely close to my heart are the songs from the movie "Dil Vil Pyaar Vyaar" It had 14 songs & I choreographed all of them. What made it all the more special was that it had all R D Burman Songs which I grew up listening to. It was a dream come true conceptualizing & picturing those iconic songs which I cherish. 

GARGI: Your experience with Slum Dog Millionaire movie as a whole, how did you get this break?
LONGI SIR: The turning point of my life not only as a choreographer but also as a human being was when one evening I got a call from the producers office saying that Danny Boyle wants to meet me. I met him while he was having breakfast, and all he said was that Longinus you seem to be a punctual person therefore I will not waste our time. Those words swept me off my feet coming from a man of that stature. He just saw a glimpse of my work & said very good. I was enthralled from within when he said, we are working together. We kept meeting for weeks & in the bargain he took me through the full film & told me to be prepared to do all the songs.He kept guiding me & at the same time gave me the liberty to do whatever i wanted keeping the characters in mind. At the wrap up party he said, that I had not only done a good job but also did justice with all the songs be it Ringa Ringa , O Saya & of course Jai Ho ... The film released to an astounding response all over the world . It premiered in India for which I was invited. My heart sank when my name was not mentioned in the credits. At the after party, I congratulated Danny Boyle who greeted me with a warm hug. I did not feel like being around so I left.The next day I got a call saying Danny Boyle was inquiring about me & thats when I voiced my concern about being left out from the credits...The next day I was told that my message has been passed on to Danny Boyle & he would make up for it ....In a couple of weeks, it was raining awards, be it the Golden Globe or the Oscars ... That was a night to remember 22nd Feb 2009 ... Danny Boyle made up in abundance ... Suddenly out of nowhere I was everywhere,I messaged him & he replied back promptly...He is not only an illustrious film maker but also an illustrious human being as well ... All I can say is that Danny Boyle is Class Personified for having made an ordinary person like me extra ordinary...months later I received the prestigious Fred Astaire Award for best film choreography in 2009 & mind you it gives me immense pleasure & pride to say that I am the first Indian to receive this honor ... His office had put me on to an agent in America (Xcel Talent Agency) & through them I managed to do various international projects such as So You Think You Can Dance Canada for 3 years in succession , Orange Bowl Games (Twice), Eat Pray Love , Will To Live & 2nd Best Marigold Exotic Resort...Will Always Be Grateful To Danny Boyle...
 
GARGI: What are your future projects?
LONGI SIR: As of now I am working on my childhood dream A Bollywood Musical "Chota Bheem "(Theatrical) & a couple of bollywood films such "Kolahpur Diary", "Ishq Fittur" & "Bombariya". 

Our take home message, in the words of Longi Sir, as he is fondly called by his students the world over “One needs to shed Sweat, Blood & Sacrifice to make it big. You got to work extremely hard to be where you want to be. For that all you need to do is believe in yourself with a lot of Courage, Conviction & Confidence!!”

Congratulations Gargi from Toppick Team for your achievement in 3iii 2018 (Season 1) as 1st Runner up Dancing of International Indian Icon
Read More...

The Big, Wide, Open - Interview by Arun Sharma
Arun sharma   Jan-2019   179 Views   0 Comments
In the words of American photographer and environmentalist Ansel Adams “A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed in the deepest sense, and is, thereby, a true expression of what one feels about life in its entirety. Photography, as a powerful medium, offers an infinite variety of perception, interpretation and execution.”

When you visit the exhibition titled “The Big, Wide, Open” at the “Gallery at North Haven Gardens” in Dallas, you would agree to the fact that it is an illusion that photos are made with the camera, they are made with the eye, heart and head.

We had the pleasure of talking to Rajesh Jyothiswaran, the man behind the powerful images on display. Rajesh is based in Dallas and he is a self-taught photographer. The seeds of his landscape and astro photography journey were sown through his love of horticulture and landscaping with Texas Native plants. Photography has taken him on a path of self-discovery, learning, and meaningful friendships across the world. His images have been displayed at several exhibitions overseas. He has also won several awards for his work including the 2017 International Landscape Photographer of the Year Top 101 award and a Top 10 finalist in the Smithsonian 15th Annual Photo Contest. He is also the Grand Winner of the DCP Travel Photographer of the Year 2018 which he received recently in Mumbai.

Arun: Let’s begin by talking about your journey into this amazing world of photography.

Rajesh: It all begin quite by accident a few years ago with my passion for gardening, totally unrelated to what I am doing now. It all started when I converted part of my lawn into a native plant garden. I have a passion for growing native plants, adaptive plants that our Dallas area needs as we do not get much rain and soil is hard to grow anything. A picture taken in 2015 of my native plant garden went viral on social media. And it occurred to me that I have eyes and a talent for photography.

Arun: That’s the best part of being creative as one form of creativity opens the door for unlimited opportunities. As we can see from your pictures that your quest for capturing the amazing places of the world has taken you to long journey away from home.

Rajesh: That’s true. Thanks to my interest into photography as I can travel to different places to take photos and it is also other way around, as I am able to take pictures while I am travelling, so it is like ‘buy one get one free’. Some of my favorite photos happened by accident and some involved lot of pre-planning and execution. But I haven’t scratched the surface as there is still a lot more beauty to be explored. But whatever little I can see, I am glad that I come back with something that I can go back, look and be happy that I have been to those places.

Arun: What kind of photography you do?

Rajesh: I do both landscape and astro photography, they kind of both go together. For night astro photography, you want a clear sky however on the other side, you need to have some clouds to add interest to the photograph. So it’s like again the best of both the worlds.

The night photography for me is more of a meditative, more spiritual experience for me. To be out by myself in the elements and to be able to see the things that we do not usually see and take for granted, like you cannot see the milky way living in a metroplex area such as Dallas. There are very few and hard to find places, where there is minimal or no light pollution. This (my photography) gives me an opportunity to visit some amazing places.

Arun: It is said that a picture is equivalent to thousand words, but there is always a story behind every picture. We do not spend enough time either writing about an image or do not spend time reading about it. But each of your image truly has a story behind it.

Rajesh: As you have rightly said that a picture is worth a thousand words, but sometimes even thousand words are not enough to tell a story, that’s why I always tend to tell a story with my images otherwise it is just an image, there are no emotions attached to it. That’s why I add a story about what happens around that day when the photo was taken. And there is always a title to my images, which reflects the emotions and story in a nut shell. Like this image was shot in the Alabama hills. I was looking for something which is very specific to that location and I found the barrel cactus growing there. I had to visualize how different element of this photo should look like so I was in a kind of meditative state, focused on how can I bring this amazing picture into one frame. So, I had to take three shots to have my composition right.

Arun: There is an entire journey to be taken between a photo to be taken and photo that can be presented to the world.

Rajesh: Post processing is an aspect you need to think even before you take a picture and not after when you come back home. When you are in the field, you want to visualize the experience you would like to give to your viewers. Despite the best of camera, sensors and equipment one may have, it sometimes fails to capture what you see. Your eyes do a better job than any expensive equipment you may have, so rely on your instinct and the view that immediately vowed you. The Purple Mountain Majesty is a great example of the same, as generally a great scenery is taken in landscape mode, but to bring the elements of foreground and background, I had shot it in portrait mode that is able to reflect the true essence of the scene.

Arun: Your work reminded me of my childhood when I could see milky way from the roof of my house.Alas I cannot see it any more of milky ways living in a metroplex. How do you find such amazing places?

Rajesh: Your mentioning of not seeing milky way easily also reminded me of the time when I just started taking astro photographs and one of my friends invited me to his farm as he could see thousands of stars. That was the first time when I shot and saw the milky way on my camera screen and it was a moment I can never forget. My dad was with me and he said that he had not seen so many stars since he was a child, and he is in his late seventies. Imagine how much light pollution has taken over in our lives. It is very important to conserve the dark places that we have. This is one of the topics that is close to my heart as it requires lots of effort and education to change people’s perspective about type of lights, we should use that will still enable us to see nature’s wonders.

As far as finding the places, there are great resources available on the web that can tell you the places with least light pollution, there are many apps that can tell you the position of the milky way, sunrise, sunsets.

Arun: Anything that you want to talk to upcoming photographers?

Rajesh: First believe that you can do it. Like I tell, three-four years ago, I did not know much about the photography, even two years ago I was shooting in auto or aperture mode. There are so many great blog sites available, youtube has great contents. Your goal is to do lots of shooting, go shoot every day, take atleast one picture every day and study your own compositions. More you work with your images, more you will understand your own style of taking photographs and that will become your unique style.

Arun: From the entire family of Toppick media, we wish you all the very best in your photography journey – may you explore the unexplored and bring back to us the amazing stories.
Read More...

Kanan Shah : Women of many hats
Rasshmi Kansupada   Jan-2019   931 Views   0 Comments

Welcome to RENDEZVOUS WITH RASSHMI

A page dedicated to ordinary people of our community… yes ordinary, but with that Xtra ordinary talent, achievement and that inspiring Xfactor!!

As a woman, do you wear a lot of hats? Sometimes these hats are stacked so high that trying to balance them all on our competent-but-anxious-and-exhausted heads sends us toppling over completely!

Let’s meet Kanan Shah, from Coppell TX, who dons many hats and yet maintains such an amiable   disposition. She is a teacher and runs her own customized tutoring academy called Ottimmo, is a true Mumbaikar at heart who loves to host great parties, make new friends, always ready to help others. ….and if that is not all she is a passionate cook and also runs a catering business!!

She spent her formative years in a joint family in Mumbai which inculcated the habit of sharing and caring right from childhood. It made her understand that living with aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents did not restrict her education to academics and school only but it had a much wider horizon. She considers these years as her best as they were full of growing up fun with friends, most of whom she has still maintained contacts with, inspite of the distances.

She had her stint with Corporate America and worked with Deutsche Bank and Chase in New Jersey and then moved to Dallas in 2003, due to her job at Lockheed Martin. When her son, Kavi Shah started high school in Coppell, he expressed his desire to join KD classes for SAT preparation.  Since Kanan had earlier worked in Kumon and had evaluated the different coaching classes, she decided to hire private tutors under her own company and have her son tutored at home. Thus was born Ottimmo, meaning “Excellence” in Italian, reinstating the proverb that Necessity is the Mother of Invention!!

Kavi Shah scored a perfect 2400 on his SAT, completed his graduation with 3 majors and 2 degrees from UT Austin and is currently working with McKinsey, the #1 consulting company in the world with global acceptance rate of 1%-lower than admission rate of Harvard!!

Kanan did not want Ottimmo to be a run-of-the mill academy. She focuses on strategy based learning, has been an advocate for her students, and customizes tutoring as per their needs. She not only teaches the child but also educates the parent and has also taken some to task for imposing their dreams on their child. She firmly believes that each child is different and their uniqueness is what sets them apart. Children learn in different ways depending on their developmental stages. They love to learn new things by exploring and discovering.

Her observation of kids brings a sad truth to light. Some parents are unaware of the needs of their child. Some knowingly ignore their child’s needs, due to social stigma, perceptions, culture etc. Some are unaware of the amazing education system of this country. This is the tragedy of a mega proportion. It is really unfortunate that, with the unhealthy life style and diet, unlimited social media exposure, stress etc. there are more children with special/extra needs than ever before.

On several occasions, Kanan has accompanied parents to school and talked to the authorities about the child’s needs, either special needs or the extra care and attention that is required in certain areas. She does the same when tutoring her children. She also understands the importance of self-initiative, down time and developing skills inherently rather than just memorizing. This has worked wonders for so many of her students. They have gone from failing students to star students, skipping grades and being admitted in the Gifted and Talented programs.

Where others see impenetrable barriers, Kanan sees challenges to embrace and obstacles to overcome. She has always taken the hurdles along her journey as opportunities to grow. Teaching the kids for long hours not only brings her joy but she also derives her energy from them. She has a child-like inquisitiveness and is ever willing to learning new skills and avail new opportunities. She plans to take her passion to cook to another level and diversify into health food catering. Her mantra is “Don’t depend on others to write your destiny. We have to create our own destiny”. The pen that writes your life story must be held in your own hand. She has a very inspiring message to share with us and that is not to underestimate the power of our own strength and to focus on what we can do to help others. Gaining success for yourself, celebrating the achievement in others and feeling and giving empowerment through every little action is going to make you happier, others happier. Everyone is thus more likely to push a little bit harder, or have that little bit more confidence in themselves, the next time!!

Read More...

“Adhik Kadam providing much needed humane touch to border areas of India “ by Khush Rawlley
Khusboo Rawlley   Jan-2019   267 Views   0 Comments
Marne se nahin vo darte jo jete hain Jeevan dene ke liye,
Kya rokega tufaan unhen jo ladte hain, aadhiyoonn ko daaman dene ke liye,
Bohot tanha hoti hai nafrat bheetar se, Kuch chirag dete hain mohabbat har kone ko,
Jo bhar de mohbaat dararon main, fir daraarein darti hain unhen khone ko.
Aisi hi ek shakhsiyat hain Adhik Kadam, His name says it all, one extra step that most might not take but he does it with utter fearlessness and pure love. And strength of his love creates a shield around him which apparently no terrorist can break. Perhaps because everyone there wants to secretly fill in the emptiness of their hearts with the love which he brings and thrives for. Perhaps because everyone has a humane-kind-immortal heart inside their human-mortal body.

Adhik Kadam, Pol Science Master Student came to Jammu and Kashmir for a research project. In 1997, founders Bharti Mamani and Adhik Kadam, surveyed most of the 369 villages in the district of Kupwara. They found that there were close to fifteen thousand orphans in the district alone, most of whom were girl children. There were shelters for orphan boys, but there were none for girls. Adhik got so involved and deeply impacted by the plight of the people and especially orphan girl children who had no clue of their surroundings. Made motto of his life to work for little souls in need Hence came in origin his foundation - Borderless World foundation. He was defamed multiple times as infidel and un-Islamic but his only response was hard work and obstinate simplicity which won the trust of locals and even enemies. Now terrorists and soldiers in the area know that their kids have Adhik in case something happens to them. And that’s how a hero was born out of sheer strength of will power and kind giving heart.

Borderless World Foundation was registered in Pune Maharashtra in March 2002. It’s aim is to provide “Humane Touch” to border areas of India and beyond.

They realized that border areas function as “Shock Absorbers” of the country and that the life of people in these areas is far from normal. Loss of lives, violence, fear and chaos are the order of the day. Socio- economic stagnancy, corruption and civil administrative breakdown affect all walks of life. His NGO runs four orphanage homes for girls in four districts of Jammu and Kashmir. Adhik’s social work today covers the healthcare, education, empowerment of women, women hygiene, art and culture, and poverty alienation at the grassroots levels.

An estimated 400,000 Kashmiri Pandits – about 95 per cent of the original population in the valley, became ‘internal refugees’ when they left their homes as a result of disturbances in valley. About 200,000 Pandits still live in abysmal conditions in Jammu with families of five to six people, huddled into a small room – 10×12 sq feet in size. Children are growing up in an environment which tends to teach them A for AK47, B for Blast, C for Crackdown. At its shelter homes, BWF (Borderless World Foundation) aims to provide the children a normal and healthy environment and a real chance for overall development and a positive future. The major areas of focus are rehabilitation & education of the girl child, with particular emphasis on their overall development.

Khush: Why did you choose Kashmir and not any other place to do social work ?

Adhik Kadam: Life is unpredictable. We are not aware of what is coming to us. This is not social work, this is spiritual journey. When work becomes sadhna you are just a devotee and put all your devotion. It’s no more work. I was a Pol science student and have studied Indian Constitution which mentions lots of things about J and K). We used to have lots of discussions with Kashmiri pundit students. In 1 yr. of graduation a research study tour to J&K for 15-20 days become endless for me and I ended up staying there for 3. 3.5 months and now since 22 yrs I am here only. I have worked at forefront during Kargil war with migrants. I saw women and children being soft targets living in dangerously hostile environment. Kids of age 15-20 are ready to kill and be killed. But his is NOT the purpose of life. Yes we will die one day but blasting our bodies is no death. There is no experience of death here at all. This was not the way of life at all. I could not turn a blind eye to all that I saw. Someone had to make those kids experience childhood, experience life.

Khush: How did you develop trust of locals? Were you not scared?
Adhik Kadam: Wood cutter is cutting tree and standing in front of tree, what will tree do? Tree will do nothing. Similarly – I do nothing. If militants come and take me hurt me. I don’t have to do anything. They have to do everything. They figured I am not harmful to anyone and they leave me. Person who is holding axe has to decide if he has to cut tree or not. I am ready for anything. Trees are continuously giving. This is what we have to learn from nature. Nature is best guru. We have to learn this from nature. Himalaya is spiritual land. Spending time for children and settling them gives me purpose and that’s all I do. Silence is not peace. We have to work for it. One day humans will have that peace at their disposal. That needs lot of understanding and churning within. I never earned a single rupee, but was fed by locals in Muslim majority area. Abducted multiple times by terrorists but still protected as ever. Yes I was scared earlier but beyond fearlessness now.

Khush: What do you have to say about government authorities there and what kind of help would you expect for your NGO from gov / non – gov organizations and civilians of the area?
Adhik Kadam : – National issue of 3 nations – India, Pakistan China. United Nations is also continuously watching what is happening here. It is having its own stand in national / international level. 1cr 40 lakh people are staying in J&K State. It’s our responsibility to serve them. After all administration of that region is under government of India. Yes they are fighting with Indian government and establishment. I do not want to get into political discussion. As an establishment of J and K, they are not working properly for the locals. Almost every area needs improvement.

E.g. In Maharashtra – has emergency ICU service 108 to get ambulance. This type of system is absolutely missing in this state. J&K has only 2 ambulances – 1 for CM of J&K and one is government convoy. Nothing for people. If central govt. is sending money then where is it? Why is it not used for people? All medical facilities are like sea. May be there are lots of loop holes. This is responsibility for govt. to give people get right kind of services. Because this not done right people like me have to be here or else I have no role here.

Khush: You being a Hindu how do you feel? Not that it really matters being a person you really are. 

Adhik Kadam: When there is mob mentality carrying some grudges, it can turn into anything. Kashmiri and its were thrown out of the valley. Conflict between Kashmiri Muslims and Kashmiri Pundits exists now but earlier they lived like a family. Few people bring politics and created this fight or else they were together since years. Now they are 60 +. Few years they will be nowhere in or outside Kashmir. People who live here are Muslims and their children are Muslims. Kids of Kashmiri Pundits growing up outside Kashmir don’t have any emotional bond with Kashmir. They just know they were thrown out. So people who are connected with heart are not there. Hence its matter of concern. I am working with both communities. Initially they asked me to get out. They did not trust a non-Muslim. Still many helped me. Last 22 yrs. I never purchased food. This 100% Muslim community gave me food. Same in Jammu I am working for Hindu community. Developing that trust I had to go through all the fire (Fatwas, religious fatwas, etc. don’t give food / space to sleep because he is non-Muslim). But now they know my work has nothing to do with religion. I am here to help them irrespective. Now they have seen me work every single day. Now bond is based on trust and hence love is automatically flourishing. That’s why I can work for kids and girls. I am a Hindu staying with Muslim girls taking care of them. This is something very different. For Kashmiris I am Indian. Now I feel like I am on spiritual journey.

Khush : Would you like to share one bad and one good experience:

Adhik Kadam: In 1997 we worked with lot of NON Profit organizations. 4-5 districts. It was intensive research program. Me and my sister we were here. We did survey for UNICF funded research. We were in Kargil war for 6 months working. 26,000 families were migrated. School s were setup in camps for 5-6 months. All voluntarily. Same thing done for UNICEF. Met anti- Hindu leaders 20-30 times a day. We understood that we are in the areas where these things are bound to happen. One day we worked till 6:45 pm and we decided to come back to town. It was kind of getting dark. Some people came close and we realized they were holding AK 47. We were scared. Bharati was with me on bike. I told today is our last day. I was numb. They understood I am not stopping. 4 in front and 4 in back held my bike. Vehicle stopped without break even when accelerator was completely on. One Militant hit AK -47 in my knee. I was in complete shock. Bharati was afraid. “Bhai sahib we are from Bombay and we are here only for children.” Someone came and started talking in English. He asked everyone to get calm. He asked where from Bombay. She said we are actually from Pune but mentioned Bombay thinking you would not know about Pune. Militant got livid and asked why did you lie? He then asked about few places in Pune. Then we came to know that he had been to Pune by train in 1997 to take admission in MBBS. He got information that his brother got killed in cross firing that’s why he came back to Kupfara. Then he went for training and became militant. “I understand why you are here”, said the militant “We know what you are doing we are just doing this to protect ourselves. No Muslim will hurt you here ever. App Khuda ka kaam kar rahe ho.” Then they then helped me start the bike and let us go!! “This was my 1st encounter with 13 militants. After that moment my fear crossed fearlessness. And later even fearlessness wasn’t there.

Khush: So you are still a Hindu though?

Ahik Kadam: I am still not with any religion. I am Hindu. Working for all non-Hindu girls. I am not converted. Now you can’t say I am one or other. In Himalaya I am connected to Buddhism, Islam, Hindus, and Christians. I am well connected with them who are coming and meditating there. One of the masters told me – When a drop of water coming from cloud reached earth, it’s basically ultimate journey is ocean. Since we are going to ocean why not give some water to others on the way. This is what we all have to do. I am going towards my God/ my ocean and I am giving / doing whatever I can. This water is for all for humans / animas/ nature (no Hindu or Muslim here). Mother Nature come in you and you keep giving on spiritual path. Religion is just a tool to understand one part of life. I’m so lucky I am working in this area.

Now we are building homes or all kids. We have to go beyond our own borders. If I think Hindu/ Muslim we can’t do anything. We experience marriage function and death at LOC. Pakistani village and Indian village both celebrate happy and painful moments together till now. So I figured there is no border actually. In Poona I thought different, but here people are connected with land/ language/ functions. I don’t feel there is any Pakistan or India. Hearts of people are completely borderless. Though there is a border still they celebrate everything without crossing borders and across River “Kishanganga ” in (also called “Neelam in Pakistan”). 

Khush: Future personal plans and future plans for NGO?

Adhik Kadam: I have no personal plans. We are building permanent homes in Jammu and Kashmir. Even if I am not alive the structure shall be there for next 50 or more years to benefit future generations. We also run ambulances for critical care service. Currently 9 ambulances are working. We are looking for more such ambulances for community and so we can save more people. We need all kinds of financial support. Lots of times volunteer support is needed as well. If nothing prayers are needed. They have been instrumental in protecting us all in all dire situations.
Read More...

Change Is Always Beautiful
RJ Meenakshi   Jan-2019   281 Views   2 Comments
When life is giving you challenges always se beauty in that . Changes are never easy . Recently the love for books has developed in me and I was going through a quotation "when you are getting uncomfortable in every situation then think something is going to change" and believe me it will be Beautiful. I was driving and saw this beautiful Tree which is also going through a change and its looking so beautiful and this beautiful tree with orange color reminded me to this beautiful quote. Change is always beautiful we have to change the perception for looking at things. All the leaves of this tree will be gone .. dont you think spring will come and this tree will all be green again .. right now this tree is going through a change and is still looking beautiful. Our lives is also like this. We often get frustrated when change is happening and nothing is under control and we always ignore that change is continous process , It is a evolving process if we fall we will rise again and thats the law of nature .. thats the law of life and thats the law of universe. You fall you will rise again.. Have patience. Slow down and enjoy every change of your life..

See the beauty in every change .
Read More...

TOPPICK TRENDZ - By the Mother-Daughter Duo, Gargi and Pranika Duggal
Gargi Duggal   Nov-2018   320 Views   0 Comments
The fashion industry recently saw New York, Milan and Paris Fashion Weeks rightly followed by Lakme Fashion Week. Millennialswere struck with jaw-dropping looks. May it be western, Indian or fusionstyles we've got you covered for the upcoming festive season. We are bringing the latest color trends from the runway to your closet

It's about time for you all to stroll around the boutiques and start filling your wardrobe with the most essential looks for the upcoming festive season!!

Hot Red – *PANTONE 19-1664 TPX: a sizzlingbright red, natural red chili color.
Emblem of sensuality, perfect for any occasion. May it be wedding, religious event or just a clubbing night out with friends, red is the color to wear if you want to look sexy and stylish. Red is exuberant if worn from head to toe, or as a creative detail. Always wear light jewelry so you are emphasizing the dress more than the jewelry. Accessories should not over power you. No need to wear contrast jackets or scarfs, try and wear same color to pop out red even more.

Fuchsia Pink – *PANTONE 17-2031 TPX: a purple side of pink, natural fuchsia plantflower color.
Sophisticated color that invokes female charm.One can look festive in fuchsia pink outfits, may it be pant suits or formal dresses, may it be chiffon gowns or trendy jackets, fuchsia is the color to wear during festive occasions. No over powering jewelry or accessories, go light on accessories when you wear fuchsia pink outfits. Contrast jackets, shoes, and hand bags will enhance your look even more.

Spicy Mustard – *PANTONE 14-0952 TCX: a spicy shade of yellow, natural crushed mustard color.
Fall's symbolic hue perfect for any occasion. Wear this color to a party, a casualouting or simply at work, you will be noticed by all around you. Create an earthen look by pairing it up with browns. Tasseled jewelry will spice up your look. Contrast shoes or sandals will compliment this color. Follow the same rules while choosing jackets, scarfs and hand bags.

Mellow Rose – *PANTONE 15-1515 TPX: a gentle pink tone, natural rose color.
Pastel tone that can add character to a statement or an intricate outfit. Accessorize it with serpentine or crocodile print boots or just wear solid browns. Furry Coats or scarfs will enhance your look even more. Chunky metal jewelry will make the look dressier. Wear chiffons/ crepes dresses with pleats or ruffles. Long and short dresses will both look trendy.

Deep Blue – *PANTONE 19-3847 TPX: a subdued tint, natural deep-sea color.
The color that never screams out loud, deep blue will make you look charming and gorgeous anytime of the year. Depending on the occasion wear chunky or light jewelry. Wear silver jewelry if planning to wear metal. You can wear different shades of shoes or sandals or wear the matching color shoes based on your preference. Carry metallic color bags if you want to create a bold statement.

Burgundy – *PANTONE 19-1617 TCX: a deep,omni present huejust like the famous wine.
Royal is the synonym for this color, ideal to enhance velvet, tulle and satin. Wear it to any festive occasion you surely will be the talk of the party. Chunky jewelry with stones or metal will make you look fancy and rich. Accessorize with plaid or solid colored boots and carry a bag of your choice based on the occasion. Carry a clutch for formal or festive parties and wear sling bags for casual outings. Do not forget to wrap a fancy contrast colored scarf and jacket to add more life to your look.
Read More...

Treasure House Of Talent Jahanvi Sangha
Rasshmi Kansupada   Nov-2018   570 Views   1 Comments

A page dedicated to ordinary people of our community… yes ordinary, but with that Xtra ordinary talent, achievement and that inspiring Xfactor!! 

Throughout the history of modern music, the world has seen a plethora of child stars – but some really stick out for their brilliance in either vocal talent, or stage talent.

I had the privilege of talking to this treasure house of talent Jahnvi Sangha, who merely at 19 years of age is making her own way to prove the world that she can cast a spell through her voice. She recently moved to the US and is currently residing in Irving, TX. It is said that music runs in the veins of certain lucky individuals. That seems to be the case with Jhanvi as well. She made her singing debut when she was 2.5 years of age by rendering a song from the musical movie “Teesri Manzil” alongside with her father, Shashi Sangha a fine singer himself. An age at which toddlers are only babbling, she sowed the seeds of a budding career.

According to her mother Nisha Sangha, Jhanvi is a quick learner. At 5 years of age she sang the extremely difficult and captivating Kailash Kher’s “Teri Deewani” and represented her school at a competition. She is a genetically blessed singer with both her maternal grandparents being great musicians. Her Nani (maternal gradmother) Smt. Ranjana Bhatti was a renowned Punjabi singer and her Nana (maternal grandfather) Shri. Mevi Bhatti was an extremely talented accordion and keyboard player of his times.

Her parents always thought that she had taken to singing as a hobby. It was only her Nana who sensed her potential and insisted that if her talent is honed correctly and guided in the right direction, then she had the capability to soar to unimaginable heights. He believed that she should receive training in classical music as he strongly felt that the importance of learning classical music is to understand the language of music. Each note or “sur” has its own emotion. Once you understand that language of emotion then you can present any emotion to its fullest form. Without learning classical music, you will be able to sing the song but without the deep understanding of that language. This will not help you to be a confident musician.

Jhanvi began her training in classical music under the reputed Shri Dharmendra Kathakji from the Jaipur Gharana from the time she was 9 years of age. Her Guruji encouraged her to participate in the Harivallabh Sangeet Sammelan whilst she was pursuing her training. This Sammelan is the oldest festival of Indian Classical Music in the world. All prominent artists of Hindustani Classical Music from India and Pakistan have come and performed at the Harballabh Sangeet Sammelan at one time or the other during the last 130 years. This was Jhanvi’s first time participating in a Classical Music competition and she not only excelled in it but it also was a great learning and enriching experience for her.

This was the official start of her singing career. She then bagged the first prize in the Nation Classical Music Kurukshetra India and made not only her folks proud but also became known in her hometown. In 2011, for the first time she participated in Zee Tv’s Sa Re Ga Ma Pa L’il Champs show and fulfilled her Nana’s dream of exposing her talent on an International platform.

It was as if there was no looking back. She was chosen for Sony TV’s popular reality show “Indian Idol Junior” in 2013 and made it to the top 24 list. Her performances at PTC Punjabi’s “Voice of Punjab Chotta Champ garnered her a lot of appreciation. She was the winner of Big FM 9.27’s show Benadryl BIG Golden Voice. Her most recent achievement was participation in the program Voice of India in 2016 and had the good fortune of being mentored by the wonderfui singer Neeti Mohan.

She loves to listen to different genres of music right from Punjabi folk to Western melodies. She has received immense support from stalwarts of music like Ustad Puran Shah Koti, Late Shri Saber Kotiji, Master Saleem, Lakhwinder Wadaliji and Hans Raj Hans. She would be releasing her album very soon and we would be able to hear her voice in a Punjabi animated film based on the life of Shri Banda Bahadurji.

Jhanvi Sangha, truly represents that fortune doesn’t matter when you are filled with talent because you don’t need to wait for an opportunity to showcase your skills. She is definitely here to stay!!

Read More...

EDUCATION IS A GREAT EQUALIZER
Anu Benakatti   Jan-2019   221 Views   0 Comments

Our very well known beloved leader Mr. Nelson Mandela said,  “Education is a very powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. A very true statement indeed!

A well structured education is a fundamental tool and a requirement for every child that deserves to have a successful life and a promising future.

I would like to introduce a very humble person who is already known in the community for his volunteer work and for making a difference in student’s lives to benefit their future. He is none other than Mr. Gopal Ponangi.


Education is a great equalizer and a very important part of one’s life!  

With this statement Mr. Gopal Ponangi - an accomplished community leader, dedicated father, and a committed volunteer - announced his candidacy running for the Frisco ISD Board of Trustees for the upcoming year of May 2019. I had an opportunity to meet him to learn about his thoughts, ideas, and future plans for FISD and his message for the Frisco community.


Mr. Ponangi was born and brought up in Hyderabad, India. He holds an undergraduate degree in Chemical Technology and completed his MBA from Kakatiya Uni. in Warangal India. Coming from a family of five siblings he always had a strong connection to education and a great passion for music.


He moved to Frisco in 2003 with his wife, who is currently a teacher, and two daughters, one pursuing her undergraduate degree in computer science at UTD and the younger one a 6th grade student. He then started his journey towards giving back to the community.


As a founder and president of Shubham foundation, a non profit org. which strongly supports education and healthcare areas, he continued his services to the community for more than a decade. He also served the community as co-chair of IAC (Indian Affairs Committee), on the Ad-hoc committee of Mayor of Frisco, and was director of the Sanatana Dharma foundation.

He led many fundraising events and successfully raised and donated $400K to organizations to support education at the grassroots level. He was also part of the FISD Programs and Facilities Evaluation Committee.


He was very excited to answer few of my questions about his interest in being part of FISD.


What is your view about education. Mission statement?

Education is a great equalizer and a very important part of anyone's life. A high quality of education is needed to ensure that kids get all around development with the skills needed for a rapidly changing work space and global economy. We definitely need students to be future ready and to confidently enter college or real life once they are out of high school. Well-educated citizens are needed so that the country has access to a well-trained, skilled workforce for the businesses that make the US shine. This needs to be done with a keen eye on budgets to ensure that the taxpayers are not burdened unnecessarily. A decent balance is the key.

As an elected BOT of FISD what would you like to focus primarily on?

I have been fortunate enough to serve the community in a number of roles over the past several years.  Education is my passion and my service has been directed primarily towards education. Playing the role of Frisco ISD Board of Trustees, I can harness my passion and experience to ensure Frisco ISD continues to serve its students, teachers, parents, and the community well.

I have served FISD and the community by being a part of the “Programs and Facilities Evaluation Committee” and made recommendations to the Board on the recent bond package which was overwhelmingly approved by voters. I am currently a part of the the “Long Range Planning Committee”.

 

Through fundraising I have provided support to the Frisco Education Foundation to provide scholarships for Frisco ISD students.

What would be your future plan of accomplishments towards FISD?

I would like to focus on providing the appropriate and optimal use of technology for our students and teachers. Gone are those days where a book, pen, pencil, blackboard and chalk are used as primary tools. There is an abundant use of technology both in teaching and the learning space. Students learn from the teacher, watch a youtube video, do their homework online and submit online. This will continue to change as technology continues to play a key role in teaching and learning. FISD is doing an awesome job in embracing the new technologies. With my strong knowledge in Information and Technology and experience the last two decades, I would like to extend my help to ensure the appropriate and optimal usage of technology is available both for teachers and students.

Another area of interest to me is ensuring the future readiness of the students. This world is dynamic and things change on a daily basis. Some of the things relevant and important in the past are obsolete today. The same is going to happen to what we have today. There is a decent chance that it will become obsolete tomorrow. In this continually changing world, we need to ensure that the students are Future Ready. Elementary students will need to be ready for the change of ways of learning in middle school. Same with Middle schoolers; they need to get ready for the changing ways of learning in High School. And high schoolers should be ready to embrace life and be ready for a college education and their future. Frisco ISD offers programs like Independent Study & Mentorship (ISM) designed for high-achieving juniors and seniors. The district also provides another program called Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) in collaboration with the Chamber. YEA Program guides middle and high school students through the process of launching and running their own businesses through hands-on projects and activities

Both ISM and YEA are amazing programs. I would like to focus my efforts on ensuring more students get the best of these programs. This needs some collaborated work with the District, City, Chamber, Community and Industry.  I can confidently say that I will be able to positively contribute to make the changes happen.

You are a very accomplished, dedicated, hard working community leader and served 11 + years. What is your message asking the community for support so that you can have this great opportunity to give back?

I strongly believe in giving back.The community has witnessed my work and supported me for more than 15 years.  I will continue to do this while I take up the responsibilities as Board of Trustee. It will be a great privilege and opportunity for me, so that I can exploit my experiences and passions to ensure that Frisco ISD continues to excel in serving its students, teachers, and parents in an exemplary manner.  I would need the support of every parent in order to represent the entire community and be their voice in every important decision making process in the District.


Read More...

Swati Goyal having a candid conversation with the comedy kings Kunal Kamra & Rahul Subramanian
Swati Goyal   Jan-2019   423 Views   0 Comments

I had the pleasure of having a candid conversation with the comedy kings Kunal Kamra & Rahul Subramanian who were here in Dallas for a standup comedy show. Here's their story Dallas, sit back and enjoy!

Swati: How did you enjoy performing in Dallas?

Rahul, Kunal: We had a great time, the audience was so responsive and so full of life. It was almost like performing in Mumbai with the exuberant crowds that motivate you to do better!

Swati: We’ve had so many comedians come to Dallas this year – Amit Tandon, Atul Khatri and they all had an IT background; clearly there is a strong correlation between IT and comedy. What are your thoughts on this? 

Rahul: That’s a fair question because in India most people end up doing IT. From the same batch of people, you will see other careers evolve like pilots, journalism and comedy. So that explains why most comedians have an IT background. Kunal actually is unique in that he’s not from IT (Kunal chuckles).

Kunal: Yeah, I am a BCOM drop out. I actually saw that poster where all fish are going in one direction and that one fish is going in opposite direction; I chose to be that fish. But if I become a PM someday, I’ll fake my degree, Kunal quips. 

Swati: How has life changed for you guys after being famous in comedy scene?

Kunal: On a personal level, it hasn’t changed much. To us, our content/ delivery is same just that now we have more people coming in to listen to our show and now we are  expanding geographically. From performing in Nagpur, Nasik, Ahmedabad, we have evolved to performing internationally and are glad to be here in Dallas!

Rahul: To add to this, comedy platform is still very grounded and connected to the audience. It’s not like Bollywood where with one movie you shoot to fame. End of the day we are normal people who still travel by Uber and still use discount coupons!

Swati: Rahul, on one of your shows we heard how your breakup inspired MBA. Is that true? 

Rahul: Wow, that’s a tricky one! Well, I’d say my breakup didn’t inspire MBA but breakup was the reason I did MBA, basically to get away from it. Before the MBA entrance exam results are announced, you have to buy the admission forms for colleges. I didn’t get admission in any of the colleges I had bought the forms for. But there was this one college giving out forms even after results came out and that’s the college I ended up joining and here we are! So yes, sometimes something good can come out a little bad in life.

Swati: Tell us about your most embarrassing moment on stage so far.

Rahul: For me it was performing at a standup comedy show where only fifteen people were present in audience, none of whom were really listening. In the middle of the act,  these five girls right in the middle stand up and request me to take a picture of them. And guess what, I did! Those five girls were 33% of my audience so I couldn’t have disappointed them. So that was me, taking a picture in middle of my act!

Kunal: During one of my shows, an elderly uncle eating pasta got so offended by my comedy that he got up in the middle of the show shouting “This is not comedy, this is anything!”. That was the most discouraging/ embarrassing remark I received till date, comparing my comedy to “chicken tikka” would have felt a little better (Kunal giggles).

So this was our inside scoop from the comedy kings Kunal Kamra and Rahul Subramanian. Hope you enjoyed reading their story. Stay tuned for more!

Read More...

RENDEVOUS WITH RASSHMI
Rasshmi Kansupada   Sep-2018   471 Views   0 Comments

SHAMA RAJANI, the hidden face behind the brand India Bazaar.

A page dedicated to ordinary people of our community… yes ordinary, but with that Xtra ordinary talent, achievement and that inspiring Xfactor!!

My first interview in these series is with a woman who true to her Company's tag line gives us India here in the US, like nobody does. A woman who started at the grass root level as a cashier and in less than a decade has risen to become the Franchise and Marketing Director of her Company. SHAMA RAJANI, the hidden face behind the brand India Bazaar. Ms. Rajani is originally from Hyderabad in Southern India and moved to the United States nearly eight years ago. She currently resides in Plano, TX with her loving husband who according to her is no less than a child .

She holds 2 Bachelor degrees from India, one in Commerce and the other in Education. Her thirst for knowledge led her to obtain her Masters in Education from SMU, Dallas TX whilst pursuing her full time job. Her family also consists of her father whom she considers her guiding force and her two siblings. Quite contrary to the saying that behind every successful man there is a woman, she proudly proclaims that her father is her support pillar. According to her, it doesn't matter what jobyou're doing, having someone believe in you can make all the difference between success and failure. Her hobbies include reading and travelling along with exploring new avenues.

Because she has been with the Company from the time they were two stores old, and served from the front desk all the way to the executive table, she is able to relate with her employees, no matter what their position. Getting to where she is today wasn't an easy feat, but Shama, proved with hard work and dedication that no goal is out of reach as long as you're willing to work towards it consistently. As she has grown with the organization, or better still in her words, as the organization grown with her, she has transitioned from building a performance brand to building a performance culture. She inspires and motivates others to be the best they can be. One of the biggest traits that has gotten her to where she is today is having the kind of passion and drive that is contagious with other employees and helps them see the business as their own. She is proud of her journey that started off more than six years ago and has now grown into displaying multi-folds of her leadership capabilities including but not limited to opening different locations of India Bazaar and marketing for overall brand existence of Rajula's Kitchen, Grain Market etc. Together with the owners, Shama, has the experience from opening a location, all the way to managing all aspects of it. She was awarded the Employee of the Year in 2014 and Executive of the Year award in 2017.

She thinks of herself as a Go-Getter, a person who doesn't believe in giving up. She believes in making impossible possible for its worth. She tries to achieve excellence in everything she does, as life is a survival of fittest and she means to be fit for a long time! To quote her, "In a male dominated society, women have a really stronger role to play and I leverage on my strength that no one can be ‘ME’. Shama Rajani is a true example that there's opportunity everywhere-even at the bottom of the totem pole & recognizing those opportunities and not being afraid to work hard and take on unfamiliar duties can lead to amazing things!!



Read More...

SIGNIFICANCE OF 108
RJ Meenakshi   Nov-2018   315 Views   0 Comments

"You are never alone. You are always eternally connected with universe”

Ever wondered why we see a same number again and again? What is the meaning behind this? Since I started believing in cosmic energy, I saw number 9 everywhere on the clock, or in addresses or there were times I used to get amazed when the total of my apt. number used to be 9 or the number on my licence plate of my car was again 9 . I was getting signals and slowly it became my favorite number and it is still now. Repeating numbers are a reminder from universe about your soul path . It gave me immense peace as I felt like I was getting validation from universe, from GOD.

If this number was giving me immense peace and validation of my answers what is the meaning of this number? With this curiosity I started looking and searching for the meaning behind it. There is definitely a meaning behind it! Those who walk a life path with Number 9 gift the world with sage wisdom and incredible kindness. 9 reminds us that by allowing our own divine light to shine, we can change to world. Its energy is that of The Greater GOOD”

With this clarity I know now about the purpose of my life and I am working on it. Recently I added 108 . Some numbers carry a universal meaning across different cultures and religions. Invoking such numbers or even by just viewing the number activates a deep subconscious urge for unity one such number is 108. It is a cosmic and Universal number and again is a product of 9. I feel everything is connected. The numeral 108,as per Vedic cosmology, is the basis of creation and it represents our universe and our existence. Number 1 indicates God consciousness, 0 implies void and 8 indicates infinity. The Yin yang theory, Even in Indian culture, the numeral 108 has immense significance. The Sanskrit language alphabets has 54 letters and each has a masculine (Shiva) and feminine (shakti) form .

When we multiply the letters with the two genders; 54 x 2 gives us the result of 108. The same rule is observed in the Sri yantra a “sacred instrument” which is a symbolic representation of aspects of divinity, the creative force of the Universe. 

The number 108 took me deeper in to the study and when we feel connected to universe, we explores new understanding that reveal a bigger picture of interconnection than we have ever imagined. Some interesting facts about this number fascinated me.

1= Supreme Truth 0= void 8= infinity. 108 represents the universe. The whole of our existence.

108 sacred points in the body

 Average distance of the Sun and the Moon to Earth is 108xtheir diameters 

Vedic sages used terms shri 108 in reference to yogis.

108 beads in a mala, to aid in chants repeated 108x per day.

There are many more interesting facts associated with this number. The number carries significance in Jainism (there are believed to be 108 virtues), Buddhism (talks about108 earthly desires)and in different countries and cultures the numeral 108 is considered sacred as it is used to refer GOD. Those who believe in God claim that 108 paths lead us to God.

In mathematics, it is said that the measure of an interior angle of a regular pentagon is 108 degrees. There is yet another belief as per the Ayurvedic therapy, a person has 108 feelings: 36 belong to his past, 36 of the present and future. Also, there are 108 pressure points on a human body. Additionally, 108 is associated with Stonehenge ( United Kingdom), monument of historic times. Stonehenge’s diameter has been measured to be 108 feet in diameter.

when I started spreading my wings in the unlimted sky of spirituality I found my joy in Yoga and meditation and felt more connected to universe. The number 108 is a Harshad number which means ‘Joy Giver’. It is believed that there are 108 types of meditation. Malas or garlands prayer beads, come as a string of 108 beads (plus one for the “Guru bead”, around which the other 108 beads turn like the planets around the Sun). A mala is used for counting as you repeat a mantra-much like the catholic Rosary beads. And, Yes, we can offer 108 sun salutations in Yoga. 108 is the maximum number of repetitions in kriya yoga and 108 breaths in a day reaches enlightenment in meditation. Furthermore, there are 108 energy
lines converging to form the heart chakra.

Astronomically, there are 27 constellations in our galaxy and each has 4 directions. 27x4=108. In other words, the number 108 covers the whole galaxy.

The average distance from the earth to the Moon is about 108 times the moons diameter. The diameter of the sun is about 108 times that of the diameter of the earth, the average distance between the Earth and the Sun is 108 times the sun’s diameter. 108 signifies the wholeness of the divinity, perfect totality.

The journey of exploration of the connection of all the things in universe is fascinating. Through religion and science man has been on a quest to find answers. Above all one thing is common it is connected to Humanity.

“universe is always speaking to us. Sending us little messages, causing
coincidences and serendipities, reminding us to stop , look around, to believe in something else, something more”. – Nancy Thayer

We are not separate from each other, we reflect each other, we are not separate from the universe, we are universe. Everything is connected, Be Aware.
Read More...

Significance of Buying Gold Jewelry on Dhanteras
TP4U Editor   Nov-2018   169 Views   0 Comments

Dhanteras is a festival that marks the beginning of the Diwali which falls on second day from Dhanteras. Dhanteras is also called as a Dhana Trayodashi, it is considered as the most auspicious day to buy gold and silver in the name of deities of wealth Lord Kubera & Goddess Lakshmi and Dhanvantari who is an originator of Ayurveda. Hence it became a tradition to buy gold jewellery as mark of prosperity and for good health. May this Dhanteras & Diwali brings you a world full of Happiness, Love, Health and Wealth to you and your family. Celebrate with Tanmai World Class Gold and Diamond Jewelry.

Festival of giving and receiving Gift 
The Sparkling Christmas Trees, Peaceful Snow fall, Twinkling Stars and Devotional Prayers brings the Christmas charm everywhere. Christmas is the resemblance of the Birth of Jesus Christ and it is the most awaiting festival for Christians, but still it is celebrated by all religions across the globe. It is considered as a festival of giving and receiving as a part of celebrating the raise of lord Jesus. It is the tradition that Santa Claus distributes the gifts to everyone in the family during Christmas night. It’s time for you to choose the best gifts for your loved ones and cherish the blessings and memories this Christmas. Make Tanmai Gold and Diamond Jewelry as a part of your Christmas Cheers.

Read More...

Speaking Engagements
TP4U Editor   Nov-2018   152 Views   0 Comments
Please allow me to introduce myself as a freshman at St. Mark's school of Texas. 

Never has our country been more divided than on the issue of immigration. The debate over construction of a wall to secure the border with Mexico tops the headlines. The border passes through mountains, hills, desert, plains, rivers, canals, sand dunes, cities, and oceans. Every day, US Border Patrol agents risk their lives to serve us, spending their days in isolation, treacherous terrain, and extreme weather. This photography project chronicles the fence, the culture, and the people as I encountered them while on an eleven-day journey with my family along most of the 1,900 miles of the US-Mexican land border. Agents were kind to share their views on border security and the everyday challenges they face. Residents provided insight into their daily routines and their perspective on the border. As they shared inspiring and heartbreaking stories, I got a sense of the drug situation firsthand, hearing it from the people whose lives have been affected the most. As I listened, the impact the border has on citizens, residents, immigrants, and federal agents began to unfold.

In December of 2017, I explored the border between North and South Korea with my dad and visited the DMZ, the Joint Security Area, the tunnel that North Korea dug to invade the South, and had a first hand view of the areas hit by the Korean War near the DMZ. The North Korean settlements just across the border gave me a sense of North Korean culture and people. The DMZ train and my discussions with the South Korean people led me to believe that peace is what's most important to Korean people.

Summer of 2018, Ashna and I traveled the borders of Israel with Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Gaza. Amazing stories were told by residents of West Bank and Israel. To see the rockets fired by Gaza militants was nerve wracking. The humanitarian crisis along the borders seemed overwhelming.  Hatred and tension between some Israeli and Palestines could be felt during Hebron visit.
Summer of 2018, Ashna and I traveled the borders of Israel with Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Gaza. Amazing stories were told by residents of West Bank and Israel. To see the rockets fired by Gaza militants was nerve wracking. The humanitarian crisis along the borders seemed overwhelming.  Hatred and tension between some Israeli and Palestines could be felt during Hebron visit.

I reside in Dallas with my parents, younger sister (Ashna), and dog (Ricky). I love reading, traveling, meeting new people, playing ping pong with my sister, and competing in local tennis tournaments. Science is my favorite subject and I am intrigued by dominance and recessiveness in genetics. I love photography and have a collection of over 8000 photos shot along the various borders I've visited, thanks to the mentoring and assistance from my parents and sister, respectively. These days, I have been actively engaged in public speaking at parks, cafe's, teen leadership programs, doctor offices, etc., educating citizens on how our border looks and taking questions surrounding this topic of national interest. I would love the opportunity to meet your staff and present my work. Some of my work is on the sites below and past/future speaking engagements attached in word document along with some of my sample speech. Looking forward to your response and thanks in advance. 
Read More...

Community Leader - RK Panditi
TP4U Editor   Nov-2018   175 Views   0 Comments

RK Panditi who is a true service oriented individual and has made a difference in the community services. CEO and President of Felix Technologies USA, Inc. was involved with Diwali Mela from day one and was instrumental in many ways to make the Mela successful with the team of people who were volunteering in the Mela.

a. Background and connections in various projects of RK Panditi for over three decades are as follows

b. As President and Chairman Board of Trustees in TANTEX (Telugu Association of North Texas) has started the Life Membership and became the first Life Member of the organization. As President of TANTEX, RK Panditi has done a lot of Projects and events with the help of his team of executive members.

c. In DFW Hindu Temple he was instrumental as President of the Temple in many Community projects.

d. NATA (North American Telugu Association) has awarded him as National Excellence Community Leader Award for his dedication to the Society zation where he was instrumental in helping to organize lot of events locally.

e. As a community leader, he has gone out of the way to help make many organizations n getting lot of booth sponsorships.

f. Telugu Entrepreneurs Association where he has involved in various projects, with his Advice, support and co-ordination every project was very successful. His concept of phrase was used in the organization “Networking is better than not Working”.

g. RK Panditi has coordinated in bringing Srinivasa Kalyanam from Tirupathi to Dallas and was attended by the largest crowd ever attended in DFW for a religious event like that. 

RK Panditi believed in a well quoted phrase by his father “Have a selfish interest to serve selflessly”. His desire of travelling around the world with an aim of 29 countries was fulfilled many years ago. He has coordinated more than 125 Arengatrams, Rangapravesams, and more classical dances. Man with a mission of making a difference in the society. 

Read More...

PUNJAB DRUG EPIDEMIC-DARK DAYS AHEAD FOR PUNJAB
TP4U Editor   Nov-2018   146 Views   0 Comments
Not too long ago, Punjab, one of the wealthiest states in Indian Union at the time, was heralded as the crown Jewel of India. In as early as 2004, Punjab was ranked as the "Second Richest" in India with per capita income of Rs. 25,652. But unfortunately, as is widely believed, some greedy Punjab Politicians have brought this fastest growing state to the slowest in the country. During year 2011-12. Punjab's growth rate slowed to 5.79 pcrcent-the lowest in the last five years of Badal Government. The inherent edge of skilled manpower and entrepreneurial skills the Punjab had been praised for having 10 years ago when there was much excitement over its vast potential in the manufacturing & service sector, no longer exists. According to recent surveys about 70% of Punjabi youth in the age group of 15 to 25 years have fallen prey to the drug menace. Roughly 60 per cent of all illicit Drugs confiscated in India are seized in Punjab. Surprisingly some prominent Punjab politicians are accused of nexuses with Pakistan in trafficking drugs. This unholy Drug Cartel has successfully carried out Pakistan's mission of making Punjabis, well known warriors, addict of this poison & ruining the life of "Gabru jawans of Punjab". Pakistani Guns could not shatter the courage of Border area Punjabis known as "India's first line of Defense", but it successfully did with the continuous supply of drugs with the suspected connivance of Punjab Politicians.

When I left Punjab for foreign land in 1972, as I mentioned earlier, Punjab was the most prosperous State in India and now it has become virtually a bankrupt state, thanks to the corrupt politicians who have looted Punjab's wealth with both hands. It was shocking to hear about some streets in Amritsar are called "Street of widows" where all the male members have died of drug consumption. Present Government, instead of taking some concrete steps to stop the flow of drugs & punishing the traffickers, shamelessly busy in hiding their involvement & defending themselves. Amazingly as per available figures, Punjab Government have issued more liquor licenses than opening public schools for the children.

Heroin is the drug that is causing most concern in the region. There authorities take a tough stance on borderline security, but despite this the drug continues to flood into the area. The profits to be made are high and corruption is believed to be rife. Most of the heroin going through Punjab ends up in the rest of the continent, but the fact there is such a high appetite for the drug locally means that smugglers have an easy market to exploit this.

Recently I had the privilege to meet and address the Sarpanches from more than 10 villages in "Nanoke" in Tehsil Ajnala on August 30, Sunday, who promised all kind of help in making people aware of perils of Drugs. They also promised help to stop distribution of Drugs. One Sarpanch even offered reward money of Rs. 10,000. if any one catch any body between the ages of 15 to 25 consuming drugs in his village. The response from the villagers was very encouraging because there is no dearth of Punjabis who love Punjab and want to see this Drug menace which has defamed Punjab and ruined very high percentage ol families.


Read More...

Meet Highest Award Winner SHAWKAT MOHAMMED
TP4U Editor   Nov-2018   164 Views   0 Comments
Shawkat Mohammed with 13 yrs of experience choose his career to make a positive impact in the community. He believes successful advisors are not only interested in gaining a deep understanding  of their clients’ lives, they’re prepared to ask for help in bringing a solution to a client. Born in Hyderabad, Shawkat Mohammed has always been over achiever. Following his trend he has been awarded a prestigious Million Dollar Round Table recognition.

“ Million Dollar Round Table” an international organization recognizes the members that are committed to providing exemplary client service while displaying high standard for ethics and professional knowledge. There are only top 5% of the successful professionals from around the world who are in this list, Shawkat Mohammed is among the list of Top of the Table member of the organization. 

He has been the recipient of numerous industry awards including Top of the Table  (T.O.T). He has qualified for Executive Council member for making an impact in the community each year.  

Shawkat Mohammed achieved the highest satisfaction rating from the National Association of insurance and financial advisor(NAIFA). 

Shawkat Mohammed being humble and caring in nature his natural drive to selflessly help towards the betterment of the community. He is a man with big heart, very much involve with any kind of charity. He gained his respect by pure hard work and integrity
Read More...

SCARY REALITY OF THE NEAR FUTURE
TP4U Editor   Nov-2018   140 Views   0 Comments
AI Automation and the massive disruption of human life. Will there be any meaningful jobs for the next generation?  

Just 17 years ago, Kodak had 170,000 employees and sold 85% of all photo paper worldwide.  Within just a few years, their business model disappeared and they were bankrupt.  This will happen in a lot of industries in the next 10 years - and most people in those industries don't see it coming.

It will happen with Artificial Intelligence, health, autonomous and electric cars, education, 3D printing, agriculture and jobs.  Software disrupting 90% of traditional industries within 5-10 years.  It is amazing to think that Uber is just a software tool, they don't own any cars, and are now the biggest taxi company in the world.  Airbnb is now the biggest hotel company in the world, although they don't own any properties.In the US, young lawyers can’t get jobs.  Because of IBM Watson, you can get legal advice within seconds, with 90% accuracy compared with 70% accuracy when done by humans.  Watson already helps nurses diagnose cancer, 4 time more accurate than human nurses.  Facebook has a pattern recognition software that can recognize faces better than humans.  In 2030, computers will become more intelligent than humans.

In 2019 the first self-driving cars will appear.  By 2022 most of us won’t own a car anymore.  You will call a car with your phone, it will show up and drive you to your destination.  Our kids will never get a driver's licence and will never own a car. 

Cities will have 90-95% less cars, parking space can become parks.  We now have one car accident every 60,000 miles, autonomous driving will drop that to 6 million miles and save a million lives each year.  Many car companies could become bankrupt.  Without accidents, insurance will become 10 times cheaper, the car insurance business model will disappear.  Real estate will change,   because working while you commute will enable people to live better further away.

Cities will be less noisy because cars will be electric.  Electricity will be incredibly cheap and clean: Last year, more solar energy was installed worldwide than new fossil installations.  The price for solar will drop so much that coal companies will be out of business by 2025.

With cheap electricity comes cheap and abundant water.   Desalination now only needs 2kWh per cubic meter.  Imagine what will be possible if anyone can have as much clean water as they need, for nearly no cost.

One of the major beneficiaries will be health: There will be companies who will build a medical device called the "Tricorder", that works with your phone, taking your retina scan, your blood sample and when you breathe into it. it analyses 54 biomarkers that will identify nearly any disease.  It will be cheap, so in a few years everyone on this planet will have access to world class medicine, nearly for free. 

The future is already here. 


Read More...

6 Myths About Senior Living Debunked With Real Truths!
TP4U Editor   Nov-2018   223 Views   0 Comments

What exactly does the word 'senior living' mean to you? For most of the people in India 'senior living' is an old age home. A senior living space is so much more than just an old age home. It's a community for older people where they can live their life independently on their own terms. Unfortunately, it's not just the word the people are mistaken about; there are so many misconceptions about senior living that people still believe. We are here to clear away all those misconceptions and introduce to the reality of senior living. Let's see the truth behind those myths .

Myth 1: Senior living is for people who do not get along with children

Truth: This is one of the biggest misconceptions out there about Old age homes. People are quick to assume that such a place is only for parents who do not have a good relationship with their kids while that is far from the reality. People residing in these communities actually share a better relationship with their kids as they get to live their independent life and spend quality time with their kids simultaneously as opposed to living in the same house and barely spending any time together. Most of these communities have a very homely environment and are facilitated enough to allow the children and grandchildren of the residents to stay for extended period of time during holidays.

Myth 2:  Senior living is for really old people who need a lot of assistance

Truth: Most of the people who stay in these communities are physically fit enough to go about their daily lives without any assistance. As a matter of fact, people are healthier in these communities as they have activities to keep their mind and body fit. Every senior living community consists of a dedicated medical/ physiotherapy team who notice early signs of any issues and attend to it before it becomes a major medical condition. In addition to this, residents are surrounded by like-minded people and people of their age which encourages activities and engagements throughout the day.

Myth 3: People living in senior living communities lack independence and lose privacy

Truth:  For years, senior living homes have been portrayed in such a way that people actually believe that there is no provision for privacy and independence in these places. Well, we are more than happy to tell you that's far from the truth. While that might have been the case decades ago, that is not the reality of the current situation. Most of these places offer a complete home including a bedroom, living room, and bathroom to their residents. The residents can turn the place into their home by decorating it with family pictures and their favourite decoratives.

Myth 4:  Seniors are lonely in such communities, it's dull and depressing.

Truth: Independent senior living communities offer the opportunity for seniors to engage in their hobbies and interests, make new friends, build relationships that last for life. These places give the residents a chance to indulge in yoga, swimming, movies, and other activities that keep them occupied. Some of the homes even have classes and competitions for the residents.

Myth 5:  Moving Away from Family means no one will be around to help

Truth: It is absurd to think that a place like a senior living home lack when it comes to security and help. Pretty much every senior living home has stringent security measures including cctv cameras in and around the property, 24 hour security guards and staff. They will have a dedicated team for everything from healthcare professionals who offer medical aid to concierges who will run all errands, from booking tickets to paying bills.

Myth 6: The Meals provided are not healthy & Tasty

Truth: If you are one of those people who believe in this myth, a meal at a senior living home might change your mind. These places try their best to ensure that the residents are happy at their place and one of the best ways to do that is through good food. These communities provide nutritional meals based on a senior's 


Read More...

Bharat Raghavan
TP4U Editor   Nov-2018   146 Views   0 Comments
Bharat Raghavan is a Dallas resident who manufactures and makes Navratri “Golu” dolls, for the South Indian doll festival, and eco-friendly Ganesh idols, among other things. But that is not what makes him special. What sets him apart is that he entered this line of work only to benefit the poor community in India. He has an interesting backstory. 

Making “Golu” dolls wasn’t always Bharat’s profession. He was an IT professional who had come to the States in search of a better standard of living. The 9-5 work life did bring him stability and comfort, but not inner satisfaction. He felt that something was missing. A desire for service was always deeply ingrained in him. Born into a family of priests, Bharat had seen his elders do “seva” all his life. His ailing grandfather still goes to the temple to serve others. Bharat decided that it was time that he also followed the path of service. He gave up his IT job and, with the full support of his wife, pursued his dream. He launched his company - “Amaasing Imports”, in 2013, which is now known as “Srishti”, and became a wholesale exporter of South Asian products.

It was always Bharat’s intention to launch this company as a means of service. So, he employed people who needed support - the physically disabled, mentally challenged, those who had suffered the loss of someone in their family, those who couldn’t feed themselves and were struggling to survive, etc. His employees were low on survival skills, but high on talent and had a drive to prove themselves. Today, these people are his extended family.
“Srishti ” grew from strength to strength. Finally, in 2016, they reached a stage where the entire profit earned from the sale of his products went towards the welfare and enrichment of his employees, and others who needed him. 

Bharat doesn’t stop with helping his employees. He identifies others in need. If someone has a musical talent, but lacks the money to spend towards training, he pays for that training. 

Not content with the mark that he has made in the States, and the help he has provided, Bharat is starting a second business in India, with an eCommerce website, which will be a completely non-profit venture. Through this business, he wants to support and encourage entrepreneurs in India, by sharing his skills and know-how. He wants to enable them to higher their stations in life and become more prosperous.

For those who go to him locally to admire or purchase his “Golu” dolls, and other items, visiting his workplace is an experience in itself. He regards it as his temple. And it feels like one. He doesn’t specifically ask you to, but you automatically leave your footwear at the entrance. Just like you would at a temple. The moment you step in, the fragrance of “sambrani” envelops you. Everywhere you look, there is a piece of sculpture that he has lovingly crafted with his own hands. He doesn’t delegate everything to his workers. He continues to work on many pieces himself so that his talent and skill are continuously honed. There is a huge 6 foot statue of Hanuman in a corner. Bharat regards him as a buddy and hugs him every day. There is a beautiful lingam in another corner, decorated with rudraksha beads. He also makes ornaments, and body adornments, for the gods and goddesses in the temples, and they are exquisite. You will find it hard to come across such delicately crafted work even in India. Not everyone comes to buy. Some stop by just to meet him and spend time at his serene store. Many end up playing “Dayakattai”, a Tamil dice game.

For Bharat, his work is his worship. He doesn’t want to commercialize it. So, he doesn’t sell or display his products in stores. Nor does he publicize his work. All his orders come by word of mouth. He also doesn’t charge a penny more than needed. When people contact him and ask for things to be shipped out, he promptly pulls out a list that gives them the exact amount that shipping would charge, and asks them to compare all rates. He doesn’t want customers to feel that they have been gypped. There have been occasions when a customer really liked a piece, but couldn’t pay the price, and he automatically slashed the price to something that they could afford. 

Bharat is a simple man, with simple needs. He feels he has met and exceeded his own expectations, and needs nothing else now. He has a house. A wonderful, supportive wife. Two able kids, who are well educated and will soon be independent and earning for themselves. His parents are well looked after and lack nothing. He is at peace

A true inspiration, he shines as a beacon of hope, and service continues to be his motto. May his ribe increase. 
Read More...

WHAT'S YOUR STORY WITH SWATI GOYAL
Swati Goyal   Sep-2018   443 Views   2 Comments

What's Your Story with Swati Goyal

I was neither born lucky nor born genius, nor born talented. When I peep behind the shut doors of the past, immense complacency overwhelms me, marveling at my own resurrection to what I am today. I was born in a small, obscure town of India. Of the few memories I can conjure, I recall the wide drains bordering the narrow brick lanes, the rowdy railway station, the hustle bustle of a typical Indian grain market, the squealing hawkers and the jubilant temple bells.

My life was to follow the same suit had my dad not decided to migrate to Chandigarh (an urban city of India) in pursuit of an alternative business. The imminent target after that was to get me into a good school. My mother enrolled me into one of the leading schools of Chandigarh-Sacred Heart Convent school. While the school boasted of it's highly polished and multi faceted students, the admission criteria was grossly formidable. As I raced through my 2 hour admission exam, my mother's heart raced and pounded with each passing tick of the clock. I exited the hall in oblivion of the fact that what I penned inside was not an exam but my destiny. To everyone's surprise I was taken in the school- the most coveted and celebrated school of Chandigarh.

Like I said I was 'not born lucky'- 'my mom' made me one

As I staggered into the relatively alien turf, I realized it was rather an opening of 'Pandora's box of troubles'. Being a convent school, it was mandated that each student converse in English. Hailing from a small Indian town, my base language was Hindi. While the weighty English words poured out of my peer's mouths glibly I struggled to put together the same hostile words to form coherent sentences. I would be too shy to raise my hand to answer a question, fearing the mockery my ugly stutter would  result in. Whenever I was asked a question, I stood frozen, humiliated and drained out of life. Our school conducted monthly parent teacher meetings to evaluate student's performance and give necessary feedback to parents. I so dreaded this demon that resurfaced every month. My palms would drench in sweat, and fingers wrestle nervously as my mother fidgeted on her seat uncomfortably, bruised by an interminable tirade of complaints from my teacher. While other mothers walked out smug and exhilarated, my mother walked out low head, her hopes thwarted.

Brimmed with guilt and remorse I finally decided to rather face my fears. The mirror became my best friend as we spent hours together talking and rehearsing in English. I would deliberately broach controversial discussions with my friends to challenge my English proficiency. I started reading vocabulary books, newspapers, editorials and rummaged the dictionary for new words. I would jot them down and review them rhythmically until I became comfortable with their usage. Gradually, I gained a command on English and along with that came a better understanding of my academic subjects and that of the classroom sessions. I still remember the massive leap I made in my scores startling the teachers as well as the toppers of my class. All it took was a focus reinforced by the desire to excel.

Like I said I was not born genius, I found in me one

My initial success in academics triggered success in other domains as well. My earnest efforts and avid interest helped me refine my literary and oratory skills. I participated and excelled in several events like press conference, extempore and debates. I even contributed articles for the famous 'Hindustan Times', an achievement I cherish till date. In recognition of my supreme communication skills I was appointed the 'Marketing committee head' in college. On similar grounds, working in Infosys on a cross-cultural, Indo-Chinese project I was given the task of mediating any conflicts arising due to cultural disparities. My persistence and hard work helped me not only surmount my initial obstacles but also channelize them in the right direction to unleash the talent in me.

Like I said I was not born talented, I chose to be one

Behind every success, lies a motivation and my motivation was and is, my mother who exemplifies tremendous strength of character, worth emulating. Also insults can do to you what laurels can't. The humiliation I faced at the hands of my teachers and peers ignited in me the desire to excel in every domain I floundered in. I believe that criticism, if taken in a positive stride can actually help us transform our weaknesses to strengths. Success like learning is a cumulative process, one success laying the foundation of yet another and for me my first success was the motivation for each success that followed thereafter.

 

Read More...

SOUL TALK
RJ Meenakshi   Sep-2018   378 Views   0 Comments

"Attract What You Expect, Reflect What You Desire, Become What You Respect, Mirror What You Admire".

A quote that I always keep in my mind when I am having a rough day. I am getting what I am seeking.

LIFE IS REALLY VERY SIMPLE. WHAT WE GIVE OUT WE GET BACK.

The universe totally supports us in every thought we choose to think and believe including our hopes and doubts. Every thought we think is creating our present and future. I clearly remember the time when I wondered why things were not working and I was witnessing difficult and low times. I was confused and I had no clue of what I was going to do. We humans have tendency to get stuck in past and forget how we can change our sufferings into blessings. We can turn it around towards the other way. We have all the power to change and this change starts from you.

We always ignore that we create the situations and then we give away the power by blaming the circumstances for our frustration. Our subconscious mind accepts whatever we choose to believe. What you choose to think about yourself and about life becomes true for you. So, if we are focusing on positive situations, positive habits and positive life experiences then you will not draw as much negative in your life. our body will be healthier and more productive. We will get attracted to your own tribe. "Be the change you want to see in the world”

We have all the power to change and this change starts from you. Be the person you want to attract in your life. Many times, we want to attract certain people and situations in our life however our personality and our habits are not attracting that. Be what you desire to have.

Anytime I see how people have become successful and how they are influencing many lives, I study them, I study their books and their biography. I research them that how they are able to influence mass of people in a positive way and I try to develop those traits which will make me a better person and be able to give back like them. That is how we become what we respect.

"Life is a mirror and will reflect back to the thinker what he thinks into it." If we look at our reflection in the water, we see the outer surface of us, looking back at you. But if you put your hand through the refection, you can see what lies beneath. This is a great time to reflect back on what transpired for the past few months or years of our life. What happened to the goals or resolutions? Did we achieve them? It is always good to look back and develop the skills and traits which we are lacking in achieving our goals. If someone tells it cannot be done, It is more reflection of their limitations, not us.

Life is a constant learning and there is always room for improvement. The Wheel of life is always moving and it is on us how we take it. I am working on being a better person, and that includes my body, mind and soul. For whatever reason, the body fights back. So, the reflection that I see right now, is showing me who I was. I am reflecting back to it, who I want to be.

Be Yourself and YES we Can!!! Be Yourself and YES we Can!!! 

Read More...

Hindi is Core of Indian Culture
TP4U Editor   Jul-2018   683 Views   0 Comments

!! हिंदी आवश्यकता है !! विकल्प नहीं !!

While Vedic Hindi School is an initiative of dedicated community members who wish to see the younger generation experience rich and diverse Indian culture. We believe that learning about language and culture can be fun for all children when taught under its structured guidelines. Over course of year we also learned from our community some of the reasons why not to learn Hindi. !! Yes !! you heard it correct …..WHY NOT TO LEARN HINDI ? 

To explore the matter at a more oundational level, all development begins with education, and education, of course, stems from language. Yet, language is much more than a means of communication; it determines the books one reads, the television programs one watches, the ideas one is exposed to, the values one holds, one's personal interests, and one's career opportunities. In essence, it defines our identities.

It seems evident that in the case of India and elsewhere, multiple languages ought to be taught and be taught well to allow individuals not only to operate in a globalized world but to also bring together local communities that have been fractured and segregated by the economics of language.

Some of the official reasons not to learn Hindi….....

- We speak in our House .. Our kids will learn slowly.

- He goes to temple so he will learn culture and language.

- We wanted to make our kids global citizen.

- We will get them to India every year.

- Kids should be cultured and that is enough.  They don’t need to learn Hindi.

- We are Hindi speaking family. Our kids will learn “Hindi” anyways. No need to specifically focus.

- Our kid knows English and know our regional language …. why any other language?

- He/She will learn by talking to grandparents every week.

- They don’t have time from English, Math,  Science tuition.

- Most of the children take French and Spanish as second language.

- No one is our house speaks Hindi.

- In our house, we talk in Hindi language only.

- Why kids need to learn Hindi?

- I am not interested in watching Bollywood movies.

- We don’t want our kids to be strongly religion opinionated.

- These kids are growing here in abroad …….  They will not go to India for settlement?

And the list is never ending. It doesn't matter how far you live from your country and where your children are going to be settled? We need to fulfill our duty of ensuring our children will able to retain cultural heritage.

"A nation's culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people." - Mahatma Gandhi

- Vedic Hindi School (www.vedichindischool.com)

Read More...

Appreciate Every Opportunity to Serve the Divine
TP4U Editor   Jul-2018   213 Views   0 Comments
Every opportunity to serve the divine is precious, no matter how big or small or where it comes from. We can use our body, wealth, and mind to serve God and the Guru. If for some reason we are unable to directly serve the Guru with our body, we can surrender our wealth in his service. If we are unable to serve with our wealth, we can perform mental service. Shree Maharajji even says that service with the mind is the highest form of service. 

Service is an expression of love. It also increases the feeling of humility, since we practice putting God and Guru before ourselves. God is not concerned as much with our capacity to serve as He is with the love imbued in our service.

There is a beautiful story in this regard. When the bridge of stones was being built for Lord Ram to cross over to Lanka, many monkeys joined the effort. It was hard work to build the bridge – the monkeys brought down heavy stones from the mountain and carried them into the ocean. Seeing the monkeys, a little squirrel also decided to join the effort. It did not have the strength of the monkeys, so it contributed sand and tiny pebbles. One day a monkey carrying a large rock found the squirrel in his way. He bellowed, “What are you doing? Get out of my way!”

The poor squirrel looked up at the monkey frightfully and replied, “I am helping build the bridge. I am sorry to be in your way!”

Hearing this all the monkeys laughed loudly and exclaimed, “Can't you see that the bridge requires large rocks? How can you help? Stay out of the way!” The squirrel tearfully pleaded, “I want to help build the bridge with larger stones but I have no strength, only love for Lord Ram. Therefore, I am carrying pebbles.” Saying so, it continued carrying pebbles. The monkeys angrily flung the poor squirrel out of the way, directly onto Lord Ram's lap.

Lord Ram picked up the tiny squirrel tenderly and explained to the monkeys, “The sand and pebbles brought by this little squirrel are filling the gaps in between the large stones and making the bridge stronger. Your strength or what you do is not important, only the love with which you serve matters. This squirrel has love.” Saying so he stroked the squirrel lovingly with three fingers. Legend has it that this is the reason squirrels have three stripes on their backs.

We must not be disappointed when we don't have as much of an opportunity to serve the divine as others.  Such thoughts are a reflection of the ego and demonstrate lack of humility. No service is big or small when it comes to God. So no matter what our role is, we must perform it with love and dedication. It is a matter of great fortune to be able to do even a tiny thing to please God and Guru.

In the words of Swami Mukundananda, “Opportunities that come our way to accomplish something for the pleasure of the Lord, are a very special blessing”.

Contributed by:
Radha Krishna Temple of Dallas
1450 N. Watters Road, Allen, TX 75013
Phone: (469)795-9130

Read More...

Text Art by 14 yrs old Aashka Limbasia
TP4U Editor   Jul-2018   270 Views   0 Comments
My name is Aashka Limbasia and I am 14 years old. As an artist I try to let my art speak to me and others in different ways, the emotions and feelings are viewed differently for others. My artwork is inspired by people and places that surround me. The colors used are part of what each art is supposed to make the viewer feel.

The 6 chapters that I wrote from the book represent me in 
a way such as what I like reading. Portraiture is something that requires drawing the tiniest details and that’s what makes an artwork, some think that spending a lot of time doing these details is annoying, but I enjoy doing this type of art.

The second artwork is made out of just paper. They are simply thin strips of paper that can be rolled and made into whatever you can imagine. What I made is a 3D flower which I was thought how to do by my teacher. This shows 7 flowers in different shades of blue. The flowers are growing from the smallest size and becoming more beautiful as it grows.
Read More...

Flowers in our culture
TP4U Editor   May-2018   237 Views   0 Comments

The context of flowers transports every Indian to the time and memories filled with festivities and special occasions. For one, it is very hard to imagine any cultural affair without the presence of these colorful and fragrant blooms.

Be it the "Gendaphoolkiladi” or“marigolds” in the Northern part of India to the colorful “Pookalam”or “flower rangoli” in the southern tip of Kerala, flowers have been always spreading happiness and smiles ever since the history of India is known. Also, it is extensive than one could ever imagine.From the ancient architecture to the tinsel town musical lyrics, here are the snippets for the flowers from the history of time in 'Bharat'.

How can someone forget the humble beauty for floral 'Dabru' prints to the Majestically weaved 'Tamarai' Motifs on the rich Kanjeevarams.The Benares motifs of gardens or the Kutch work of Gujarat. It's all blooms and Blossoms. It is weaved into Indian ethnics with much love and Passion.

Indian Architecture is as diversified as India itself. If the epitome of Mughal Architecture was Taj Mahal, the beauty of it lies in the detailed floral vines on the walls on the white Marble. No less is the beautiful lotus intricately framing the sculptures on the South Indian temple Gopurams.

While this legacy is something which aged gracefully over time on heritage structures and temples. Worshipping with flowers however hasn't changed a bit, sometimes even with exotic flowers. Instances as devotees at Badrinadh temple worshipping Lord Shiva with Bramhakamala, a rather rare to find and hard to procure flora is a shining example of our bonding with flowers

Lotus, the national flower of India is even considered as Goddess Lakshmi according to Hindu Mythology. What greater significance would one have other than being treated synonymous to the almighty.

While all this is one side of the story, Indian weddings take this amazing flora to a whole new level.A combination of marigolds, jasmines and tassels of lilies and roses is traditional sight at any Wedding décor or Mandap. Every event as a part of Indian Wedding ceremony has a generous usage of flowers for decor, prayer and scientific/medical reasons. Welcoming the Bride and Groom with a shower of flowers or under the shade of 'phoolonkichadar' or 'Floral Canopy' is always a lovely sight to behold. Apart from that the 'Varamala' or exchanging the garlands by the bride and groom irrespective of the culture, faith and tradition is followed by every Indian during their Wedding. Who denies the beauty of the sweetly fragrant Jasmine Garlands or 'Gaajra' in the thick Plaits or Buns of Indian women. Floral plait and Floral Jewelry for various ceremonies such as Mehendi and GodhaBharai is every women's love.

While this article is parallel with the arrival of spring this year, may it be Warm, Colorful and Prosperous.


 

Read More...

What is FENGSHUI ?
Vijay Warman   May-2018   268 Views   0 Comments

Hello Readers, my name is Vijay Warman and I work for my company – Mystic Mandala, located in Plano at 3131 Custer Road (Ste 265) where I guide people on mindfulness practices and many eastern concepts of creating a vibrant energy in the homes of my clients. Along with my team, we also offer Yoga Classes, Sound Healing and many other ancient modalities of healing. Although the advancements in science, technology and communication have made life very comfortable and connected for us, however we as a generation have never been so “disconnected” to ourselves – Life is moving at a frantic pace with no time to sit back and enjoy ourselves, our families and our homes – isn't it so? Our services, our workshops help people reconnect to their true, essential selves. We work on the mind body connection to guide our clients to a happier healthier self. With that intention, we do the bi annual free admission event called the Holistic Festival of life and wellness, or our next big event at the Plano center on 22nd April The Plano Health Fair (www.PlanoHealthfair.com)

What is FENGSHUI?

Feng shui literally means wind water. It is a system, a traditional chinese concept linking the destiny of man to his environment it is a process, a belief system of universal laws considered to govern spatial arrangement and orientation in relation to the flow of energy called chi or life force, and whose favorable or unfavorable effects are taken into account when designing buildings and decorating homes.

Why is feng shui important in a home?

Your home is a place where you come back to rest, to rejuvenate and to relax. It is your safe haven. The quality of your work in the outside world always depends deeply on the quality of your rest. If you are well rested, more energized, then you can do a lot, isn't it? So good Feng Shui in the house will help remove negativity and create a peaceful yet empowering environment. A good feng shui house has to be nourished by fresh, clear and freely flowing energy. There can be no stagnant, old or blocked energy anywhere in the house. Everything around us in life is in constant flow, in constant change and the same energy dynamics apply to our house as well. Stuck, stagnant energy in a specific area of your house will sooner or later express itself in stuck, or completely blocked energy in a specific area of your life.

How does the position of furniture, colors used, and balance impact one's home through the philosophy of fengshui? 

Life has a flow, and the philosophy of Feng Shui believes in making sure that one's home has an easy flow. The three major concepts of Feng Shui are the flow of energy, the balance of yin and yang and the interaction of the five elements in the universe namely - fire, earth, metal, water and wood.Each element has its own unique characteristics as to how it is expressed in the world. Each element also plays a vital role in the cycle of life. The placement and design of furniture isn't just a physical matter; it also helps to maintain the balance of yin and yang within the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual realms leading to a healthier life. We lay a lot of importance on not having obstructions in the flow of energy in a house. Hence placement of furniture in the home is of tremendous importance. Just like we have traffic congestion on the roads similarly sometimes we get energy congestion in the home. A good DIY is to make sure that there is room to move around the house. De-cluttering is an importance concept – In Feng Shui we want the entire house to be clutter free and obstruction free.

And once we have worked with the elements and the physical objects in the house, we consider colors carefully as in Feng Shui we divide the house into 9 equal parts called the Bagua. Here, each Bagua or area is designated a certain color. Now, colors are of equal importance in Feng Shui. Imagine the associated feelings with a bright red rose or a beautiful white lily. While the Red rose fills your heart with love, a white lily fills your mind with peace and serenity. There are Yin colors in Feng Shui which induce a gentleness and Yang colors represent the elements of Fire and Wood elements and provide enthusiasm and positive energy required to be motivated and energetically charged.



Read More...

Anu T2
Anu Benakatti   Mar-2019   79 Views   0 Comments
Coming Soon
Read More...

Anu T3
Anu Benakatti   Mar-2019   76 Views   0 Comments
Coming Soon
Read More...