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Bringing Connecticut’s Community Together Bringing Connecticut’s Indian Community Together BringingIndian Connecticut’s Bringing IndianConnecticut’s Community Tog Ind

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VOL. 2 No. 3

VOL. 2 No. 3

VOL. 3

March 2007

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FREE Indian Community Newspaper VHP Distributes Blankets at Hartford Shelter

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3 March 2007 VOL. 2 No. FREE 3 Indian Community March Newspaper 2007this issue: FREE www.CTIndianL Indian Com Inside NO. 2VOL. 2 No. MARCH / APRIL 2009 Free Journal www.ctindianlife.com

March 2007

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VHPBlankets Distributes Blankets VHP Distributes Blan VHP Distributes Insid Inside this issue: at Hartford Shelter at Hartford Shelte at Hartford Shelter “Ambassador of India Restaurant Pg 2 Kids Corner blanket donation program. It was Pg 2 sixteenth consecutive year when Pg 3 Calendar/Announcements VHP Seva arranged blankets and other necessities for Mercey Housing Pg 5 Business and Shelter in Hartford. Supporters donation ItKids was Corner Pg 2 program. Sanskrit Lesson blanket and donation It blanket was volunteersprogram. of VHPA donated the Pg 6 sixteenth consecutive year Shiva when Pg 3 items and then VHP Seva donated sixteenth consecutive year when Pg 3 Calendar/Announcements VHP blankets and thosearranged to the Shelter in series of Seva arranged Language Treasures VHP Seva blankets and other necessities for Mercey Housing Pg 5 programs, one of which we attended PgPg 7 in Holi & Gudhi other necessities for Mercey Housing 5 Hartford. Business to know more about this noble and Shelter Supporters initiative. and Shelter in Hartford. Supporters and volunteers of VHPA donated the Pg 6 Pg 8 Where is Shivaji? 6 VHP Seva Sanskrit Lesson "We of have organized these and volunteers VHPA donated the andPgthen items donated donations to set an example in front Pg 9 Editorialof Shiva items and then VHP Seva donated those to the Shelter in series our community so that more and one of which we attended get motivated to programs, give those tomore thepeople Shelter in series of Pg 12 Language Treasures Entertainment Pg 7 out one to theof needy people us",know more about this noble to programs, which wearound attended tells Shri. Remeshbhai Patel, Joint Fever & Gudhi PgPg 13 7Caribbean CricketHoli initiative. to know more about this noble General Secretory of VHPA. organized these Pg 8 VHP wants the children to understand the importance of giving initiative. "While we are doing this"We Pg have 14 Profile: Ved Vyasa Where is Shivaji? donationsPg to 8 set an example in front hope our kids these realize Pg 9 "Weprogram, have weorganized joining hands with shelters, churches Book Review: Pride of India Written by Bhaskar Kende our community so that more and the need of our services to the society serve The Connectiuct chapter of and other organizations who donations to set angoals example in front Pg 15 The CT indian Life and set some for themselves in Pg 9get motivated to giveEditorial more people Vishw Hindu Parishad of America the people in need. Pg 12 our community so that more out andto the needy peoplePhoto Album On a wintry snowy Sunday this regard also. They have to come around us", (VHPA) is serving the needs of up tomorrow and take the Back get motivated to tells give people people society through its seva (service) Morning, around fifty more for 12 CT Prepares Entertainment Shri.PgRemeshbhai Patel, Joint Pg 13 program well known as VHP Seva, including VHP members, supporters responsibility to serve the society in

is now CLOSED at all locations. Thank you for your patronage and support over the last 13 years.” www.ambassadorofindia.com

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and their children had gathered which is well known as a movement ON PAGEJoint 4to understand VHP wants the children to understandtells the importance VHP of giving wants the children the of giving Shri.CONTINUED Remeshbhai Patel, Pg 14 Caribbean Cricket Pg 13 "While weimportance are doing this Fever for the services to the humanity at together at Mercey Housing and General Secretory of VHPA. program, we hope our kids realizechurches participate a with large. It serves Written local community by Shelter hands joining hands with shelters, Bookp by Bhaskar Kendein Hartford to joining Written byshelters, Bhaskarchurches Kende

Morgan Residents Celebrate Holi

Pgour14 Profile: Ved the need and of services to the society "While we are thisof organizations who doing serve other organizations whoVyasa serve t The Connectiuct chapter of and other The Connectiuct chapter and set some goals for themselves in Pg 15 a program, we hope our kids realize the people in need. the people in need. Vishw Hindu Parishad of America Vishw Hindu Parishad of America joining hands with shelters, churches Book Review: Pride of India Written by Bhaskar Kende thisof regard also. have snowy to comeSunday t the need of our services tothe theneeds society a wintry Sunday On aThey wintry serving the needs (VHPA) issnowy serving and otheris organizations who of serve On The Connectiuct chapter of (VHPA) upin tomorrow and take the Written by fifty Bhaskar Kende "It was totally unplanned. My people Pg 15 The CT indian Life u and set some goals for themselves Morning, around people Morning, around fifty society through its seva (service) society through its seva (service) Back Vishw Hindu Parishad of America the people in need. responsibility to serve the society in Weekend and Holi, what a friends knocked on the door while I VHP members, supporters supporters Photo Album r this program regard also. have to come known snowy as VHP Seva, well They known as VHP Seva, including VHP members, On well a wintry Sundayincluding (VHPA) is serving the Written needsbyofJayaprogram combination! And that was the was in bed and it was a pleasant Vijayasekar Raghavan, Kavitha Vijayasekar, and up their children had gathered and their children had gathered which is well known as a movement which is well known as a movement tomorrow and take the CONTINUED ONthe PAGE 4says surprise. group," for Morgan residents in Morning, around fifty peopletogether society through its seva (service) BackI just joined CT Prepares for The Connecticut Tamil Sangam Nambirajan, Sooryaat opportunity Mercey Housing and together at Mercey Housing and for the services to Srinidhi the humanity at and responsibility for the services to the humanity theHoli society celebrate as it in isat Prashant. held its Pongal celebration atVHP James members, Sundaram,supporters CTTS president, Dr. Hartfordtotoserve including program well known as VHP Seva, Shelter in Hartford to participate a Shelter in Hartford to participate a large. It serves local community by large. It serves local community by "There is no option to say no," celebrated back home in India. Hindu New Year Moran Middle School in Wallingford Pazhani Sundaram, welcomed the VHP wants the children to understand the importance of giving

CT Tamil Sangam Celebrates Pongal Shekhar Naik, Owner, Ambassador of India

CURRY WORRY

Morgan Resi CT Tamil Sangam CT Tamil Sangam Celebrate H Morgan Residents Indian restaurants struggle to PongalCelebrates Pongal Celebrates CT Tamil Sangam Celebrate Holi stay open in turbulent times. Written by Bhaskar Kende "It was totally unplanned. My Celebrates Pongal

which is well known as a movement and their children had gathered on Saturday, January 27th, 2007. gathering. for the services to the humanity at together at Mercey Housing and large. It serves local community by Shelter in Hartford to participate a

Initially a couple families 4 start CONTINUED ONofPAGE

tells Amol driven out by his friends coloring each other with colors and right from the bathroom. "We have grown up with this soon they are joined by other neighbors with full excitement. The celebration in this way. Nobody can group starts knocking on the doors say no to colors, they like or not," by Shiv Bhaskar Kende "but who "It wW and Ankita, of their friends and they alsoWritten join says doesn't like enjoy?what Hence with initial acting of hesitation. TheWeekend andtoHoli, a friends k everybody joins mob colors the face of the new joiner combination! Andit." that wasVijayasekar, the was in bc Written by group Jaya Vijayasekar Raghavan, Kavitha Vijayasekar, Raghavan, Kavitha and the marches further. CONTINUED ON PAGE 10

Written by Jaya Vijayasekar surprise.o opportunity for Morgan residents in Soorya The Connecticut Tamil Sangam Srinidhi Nambirajan, The Connecticut Tamil Sangam and Soorya Srinidhi Nambirajan, and Hartford to celebrate Holi itdoor is Prashant held its Pongal celebration at James Sundaram, held its Pongal celebration at James CTTS president, Sundaram, CTTS president, Dr. IH knocked on as the while Weekend and Holi,Dr.what a friends "Thec celebrated back home in India. Moran Middle School in Wallingford Pazhani Moran Sundaram, Middlewelcomed School in Wallingford the Pazhani Sundaram, welcomed the in bed and it was a pleasant And that was the was Written by Jaya Vijayasekar Raghavan, Kavitha Vijayasekar, combination! Initiallygathering. a couple of families start tells Amo I on Saturday, January 27th, 2007. gathering. on Saturday, January 27th, 2007. I just joined theand group," in surprise. The Connecticut Tamil Sangam Srinidhi Nambirajan, and Soorya opportunity for Morgan residents rightsays from coloring each other with colors c The play "Ketaalthan Kalyanam" 300 members and nonPrashant. Hartford to celebrate Holi as soon it is they "Wes are joined by other held its Pongal celebrationOver at James Sundaram, CTTS president, Dr. was written and directed by CTTS members were treated to a play in "There is no option to say no,"n celebrated back home in India. celebrati neighbors with full excitement. The Moran Middle School in Wallingford Pazhani Sundaram, welcomed the Committee Member, Dr. Tamil and light music by local Executive tells Amol driven out by his friends Initially a couple of families start say no to group starts knocking on the doors g talents, a home cooked meal from the Panchacharam and featured Mr. & on Saturday, January 27th, 2007. gathering. from bathroom. each other with colorsof and Mrs. theirright friends andthethey also join says Sho New York Temple cafeteria, and a Mrs. Suryanarayanan, coloring Sekhar, they are joined by other chance to shop for the latest fashions Panchacharam, Mrs. Uma soon doesn't with initial acting of hesitation. "We have grown The up with thisw and jewelry. After a rendition of the Mr. Madabusi, Mr. Kuppuraj and everybod mob colors the face of the new joiner celebration in this way. Nobody can m neighbors with full excitement. The Thamizh Thai Vazhthu (song in Mrs. Srimathy Raghavan. The play and the group marches further. not,"a group of starts knocking on the doors say no to colors, they like or CONT praise of the Tamil language) by the explored the traditional concepts

Also inside: Gujarati Association of Connecticut opens a new community center in New Haven for South Asians

Good Samaratan Dr. Prasad Surreddi Saves Student’s Thumb

says Shiv and Ankita, "but who enjoy? Hence mob colors the face of the new joiner everybody joins it." and the group marches further. CONTINUED ON PAGE 10

the friends and they also join adults and the American national arranged marriages and of their anthem by CTTS children, Ajay CONTINUED ON PAGE 4 initial acting of hesitation. The with

Kudos to Bala Krishnamurthy, Dr. Prasad Srinivasan, Aditya Rajagopalan

doesn't to Residents in downtown tower colored each otherlike in a group

The play Kalyanam" The play "Ketaalthan Kalyanam" Over 300 members and nonOver"Ketaalthan 300 members and nonand directed by CTTS members were treated to a play in was written members were treated to a play in was written and directed by CTTS Committee Member, Tamil and light music by local Executive Tamil and light musicDr.by local Executive Committee Member, Dr.


CT INDIAN LIFE CT Indian Life P.O. Box 1042 Glastonbury, CT 06033 PUBLISHER & ADVERTISINGMadhu Reddy madhu@ctindianlife.com marketing@ctindianlife.com (860) 918-2921 EDITOR Sujata Srinivasan editor@ctindianlife.com ART DIRECTOR Ketaki Amit Raorane ketaki@ctindianlife.com WEB MASTER Sandeep Gohad YOUNG MINDS EDITOR Sudha Swaminathan ktankala@sbcglobal.net GENERAL INFORMATION CT Indian Life is published 12 times a year by Indian Life LLC. Copyright 2008 by CT Indian Life. All rights reserved. The opinions of the writers are not necessarily those of CT Indian Life. The editor reserves all rights to edit articles to meet the publication’s standards/requirements.

CT INDIAN LIFE Monthly copies will be mailed to you for just $12 per year (12 issues) Includes postage and handling. Please mail checks payable to CT Indian Life, along with the information requested below, to CT Indian Life P.O. Box 1042 Glastonbury, CT 06033

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FROM THE EDITOR’S DESK Dear reader,

Greetings from all of us at CT Indian Life. The recession is hitting the state hard and newspapers and magazines are no exception. As you might have noticed, starting this year, we halved the frequency of CT Indian Life from a monthly to six issues annually. However, as you can see, our content is in no way diminished. According to the state Department of Labor, 14,300 individuals in Connecticut lost their jobs in February, taking up the total number of jobs axed in the past year to 52,000. Behind these statistics are the familiar faces of friends and acquaintances from the Indian-American community. Our cover story by Susan R.A. Honeyman takes a bird’s eye-view of Indian restaurants in the New Haven area that are struggling for survival, and those that were compelled to down their shutters. Among those that closed is Ambassador of India - a place where many of you reading this would surely have visited. Shekar Naik and his wife Deepa Naik, who were steady fixtures in the restaurant business for more than 25 years, shut down their fourth restaurant, including the original Glastonbury location. The economic climate for small businesses continues to look grim, so strap in tight and weather the ride. Now, some good news. The Gujarati Association of Connecticut has completed its ambitious acquisition of a $1.2 million property in New Haven, which was converted to a community center for South Asians. Pooja Prakash has this story. I had the pleasure of interviewing Roger Buckley, author of ‘I, Hanuman,’ and a professor of history at the University of Connecticut, on the universality and timelessness of Hanuman, a popular Hindu deity whose jayanti (birthday) falls on April 9th. Buckley has a collection of nine Hanuman idols in his home, and turns to the monkey god for the resolution of obstacles. We also feature Ridgefield-based Bala Krishnamurthy, recipient of the Connecticut Technology Council’s ‘Innovation & Leadership Award’ for her contributions in the field of robotics; Dr. Prasad Srinivasan, an immunologist at Glastonbury who was recognized with the ‘Bharat Samman Pravasi’ (Pride of India) award by the NRI Institute of New Delhi, and the ‘Hind Rattan Award’ ( Jewel of India) by the NRI Welfare Society in New Delhi; and Glastonbury-based Aditya Rajagopalan, 17, a finalist at the Intel Science Search Competition. Amishi Shah has an inspiring story about Good Samaritan Dr. Prasad Surredi who operated upon Bhavana Varala, a graduate student from India who cut her thumb while chopping a capsicum. Since Varala did not have insurance coverage, Surredi performed the surgery free of cost and the hospital where he works, Naugatuck Valley Surgical Center, waived all fees and offered physiotherapy, also free of cost. Members from the Telugu Association of Connecticut drove Varala to her physiotherapy sessions. Finally, it’s spring! Hope you enjoy the sunshine and take some time to stop and smell the roses. Warm regards,

Sujata Srinivasan

editor@ctindianlife.com

Thought for the Month “God writes a lot of comedy... the trouble is, he’s stuck with so many bad actors who don’t know how to play funny.” Garrison Keillor


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Bringing Connecticut’s Bringing IndianConnecticut’s Community TI

VOL. 2 No. 3

March 2007 VOL. 2 No. FREE 3 Indian Community March Newspaper 2007

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VHP Distributes Blankets VHP Distributes BIn at Hartford Shelter at Hartford She

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blanket donation program. It was P sixteenth consecutive year when P VHP Seva arranged blankets and COVER STORY other necessities for Mercey Housing P Curry Worry and Shelter in Hartford. Supporters Indian restaurants struggle to stay open in and volunteers of VHPA donated the P turbulent times items and then VHP Seva donated By Susan R.A. Honeyman those to the Shelter in series of programs, one of which we attended to know more about this noble P FEATURE STORY initiative. The Belvedere "We have organized these P The Gujarati Association of Connecticut opens donations to set an example in front P 19 a new community center for South Asians in our community so that more and New Haven more people get motivated to give P NUTMEGGERS IN THE NEWS By Pooja Prakash out to the needy people around us", • Robotics Scientist Bala Krishnamurthy Bags 4 tells Shri. Remeshbhai Patel, Joint P CTC Innovation & Leadership Award From the Editor’s Desk General Secretory of VHPA. By Susan Honeyman VHP wants the children to understand the importance VHP of R.A. giving wants the children to understand of giving "While the weimportance are doing this P 5 • NRI Dr. Prasad Srinivasan Receives Top Honors program, we hope our kids realize Thought for the Month joining hands with shelters, churches joining hands with shelters, church Written by Bhaskar Kende Written by Bhaskar Kende the of need and of our services to the society inThe India who serve other organizations who ser The Connectiuct chapter of and other organizations Connectiuct chapter and set some goals for themselves in P CT Indian Bureau STATEWIDE Vishw Hindu Parishad of America the people in need. the people in need. Vishw Hindu Life Parishad of America this regard also. They have snowy to comeSund On a wintry snowy Sunday On a wintry serving the needs of (VHPA) is serving the needs of • A Stitch in Time(VHPA) by GoodisSamaritan Doctor up tomorrow and takefifty the peop Morning, around fifty people Morning, around HAPPENINGS society through its seva (service) society through its seva (service) B Prasad Sureddi Saves Student’s Thumb responsibility to serve the society in VHP members, supporters program well known as VHP Seva, includingprogram well known as VHP Seva, including VHP members, support

• ‘Styles of Asia’ Fashion and Cultural Show 7 By Amishi Shah and their children gathered and their ON children had which is well known as a movement which is wellhad known as a movement CONTINUED PAGE 4 gather Fundraiser • Anjaneya’s Allure atCT Mercey Housing and for the services to the humanity at togetherfor the services to Bureau the humanity at together at Mercey Housing a Indian Life An interview with ‘I, Hanuman’ author Roger Hartford to participate a large. It serves local community by Shelter large. It serves local community by Shelter in Hartford to participat 8 in • ‘Beats of Hope’ Variety Show at UConn N. Buckley of UConn CT Indian Life Bureau By Sujata Srinivasan

Written by Jaya Vijayasekar The Connecticut Tamil Sangam held its Pongal celebration at James Moran Middle School in Wallingford on Saturday, January 27th, 2007.

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www.ctindianlife.com MARCH / APRIL 2009

Morgan Re CT Tamil Sangam CT Tamil Sangam Celebrate 9 EVENTS Written by Bhaskar Kende Celebrates Pongal Celebrates Pongal Weekend and Holi, what a frie YOUNG MINDS

And Kavitha that wasVijayasek the wa • Column: This N That combination! 18 Written Raghavan, Kavitha by Jaya Vijayasekar, Vijayasekar Raghavan, sur opportunity for Morgan residents in Soor Srinidhi Nambirajan, The Connecticut and Soorya Tamil Sangam Srinidhi Nambirajan, and Saving our Home PraD Hartford to celebrate Holi as it is Sundaram, held CTTS Pongal president, celebration Dr.at James Sundaram, CTTS president, Byits Sudha Swaminathan celebrated back home in India. Pazhani Sundaram, Middle welcomed School in Wallingford theHigh School Pazhani Sundaram, welcomed 19 Moran • Aditya Rajagopalan, Gets Initiallygathering. a Senior, couple of families start tel gathering. onHigh Saturday, January 27th, 2007. on Energy coloring each other with colors and rig By Sujata Srinivasan soon they are joined by other neighbors with full excitement. The cel group starts knocking on the doors say 22 OPINION of their friends and they also join say Culture Shock Hasn’t Worn Off Yet! with initial acting of hesitation. The do By Mel Ramaswamy mob colors the face of the new joiner eve and the group marches further. C

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STATEWIDE

NUTMEGGERS IN THE NEWS Robotics Scientist Bala Krishnamurthy Bags CTC Innovation & Leadership Award

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By Susan R.A. Honeyman

hen Bala Krishnamurthy stepped up to accept the Connecticut Technology Council’s (CTC) 2009 Woman In Innovation Award for Entrepreneurial Innovation and Leadership recently, she wowed her audience with a speech lasting just two minutes. It wasn’t only her words – she has the knack for reading a situation and saying just the right thing – but her incredible energy. In a group of very accomplished women, she stood out. A pioneer in the robotics industry, the Chennai, India native now applies that energy to her job as founder and CEO of Ridgefield-based Aeolean, Inc., a company that designs and develops software for robotics and automation systems. The company has about a dozen employees.

“I’m honored to get this award…. Just to be a finalist is a huge honor. And I’m impressed to meet so many women who have accomplished so much,” she told her audience as she accepted one of the awards given in 10 distinct categories.

The council was equally impressed with her. “Bala is representative of a group of finalists all of whom were outstanding innovators and entrepreneurs. It is never easy selecting a winner, but Bala stands out as a unique women who excels in her discipline,” said Matthew Nemerson, the council’s president and CEO.

technology slowdown in the private sector or by the stiff requirements to win significant government contracts.

Instead, after completing a large defense department project for tracking highvalue assets using radio frequency integrated circuits (RFIC) and biometrics late last year, she turned her attention to identifying growth areas for government projects, and she’s partnering with other firms to enhance Aeolean’s capabilities and meet RFP (requests for proposals) specifications. “That way we can offer the complete solution” that many government agencies want, she said. Actually, she’s glad to have a little extra time on her hands right now. Though she’s been a mentor and role model throughout her career, at 57, she is expanding those activities and working more with young people. She’s just accepted an invitation to talk with students at the Greater Hartford Academy of Math and Science “to help energize the

CT INDIAN LIFE MARCH / APRIL 2009

She was chosen from among 52 finalists, “women who exhibit the extraordinary energy that powers a company or institution,” the nomination form states.

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Like many women who gain success in an all-male field, she’s had to negotiate hard and deliver better work than the men around her. “You have to be a woman to know what it takes to succeed in a man’s world, especially technology,” she said, crediting her father for imbuing her and her two brothers with the same belief that they could succeed at whatever they worked at. She has succeeded on the personal and professional fronts as a wife, a mother of two, and as a technology businesswoman.

Aeolean, named for the Greek regent of the wind, did very well in 2008, but has slowed down a bit this year, so she’s spending more time on business development and on the marketing that is so necessary for success. The woman who helped develop the HelpMate robot programmed to move about a building performing tasks, and many other technology breakthroughs, has refused to be daunted by the

Bala Krishnamurthy, CEO, Aeolean, Inc.


STATEWIDE students and tell them how exciting it is. America needs more scientists,” she said. And she’s accepted an invitation to speak to a gathering of talented students from cities throughout northern and Central Connecticut at the Urban Gifted Showcase at Central Connecticut State University in June. “I can share my experiences with young folks – explain all different aspects of robotics – there’s lots of stuff you can do in that field. I’m hoping to convey my enthusiasm and help those who may not have someone in their lives to encourage them to go into science or technology,” she said.

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In 2007, when she became the first woman and first Indian to win the Engelberger Robotics Award, an Indian woman from Danbury who read about this honor called to tell Krishnamurthy about her son who is interested in robotics. Though Aeolean is too small to have a real intern program, Krishnamurthy met him, gave him tools and worked with him on Lego robots during the summer. Now she’s invited him to accompany her on talks to young people Ask About our Reverse Mortgages! and demonstrate what robots can do.

*****

Susan R.A. Honeyman is a New Haven-based freelance writer and a regular contributor to CT Indian Life. NRI Dr. Prasad Srinivasan Receives Top Honors in India

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Dr. Prasad Srinivasan and his wife Kala Prasad

Dr. Prasad Srinivasan was profiled on the cover of India Today magazine (Tamil edition, Jan. 2009 issue)

www.ctindianlife.com MARCH / APRIL 2009

CT Indian Life Bureau - Glastonbury-based immunologist Dr. Prasad Srinivasan was awarded the ‘Bharat Samman Pravasi (Pride of India) Award 2008’ by the NRI Institute in New Delhi; and the ‘Hind Rattan Award’ ( Jewel of India) by the NRI Welfare Society in New Delhi. He was also recognized for his community services at the The World Economic Summit in Chennai. Srinivasan is chairman of the Health Advisory Committee, Public Health Foundation of Connecticut, and a director on the board of the Hartford County Medical Society.

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 :       

       

CT INDIAN LIFE MARCH / APRIL 2009

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Hours:     


STATEWIDE

HAPPENINGS ‘Styles of Asia’ Fashion and C

Cultural Show Fundraiser

T Indian Life Bureau - The Pan Asian Council of the UConn Asian American Cultural Center (AsACC) on February 13th hosted a cultural and fundraising event showcasing fashions, traditions and food from the Asian continent at its Storrs Campus.

The group hosted ‘Styles of Asia’, a cultural extravaganza consisting of a runway fashion show with more than 100 models showing apparel and music from South Asia, South-East Asia and East Asia; cultural exhibits representing South Asian countries including India; and cuisine featuring food from the region.

The event raised funds for three causes: the D.F. School for Blind Children in India; Sichuan, China Quake Relief – for the rebuilding of the region in the aftermath of a 7.9 magnitude earthquake that devastated the area this past May; and Landmine Relief and related accident prevention in Cambodia. “Fashion shows are typically very popular in university settings,” said Monica Shah, a coordinator of the show. “What makes ‘Styles of Asia’ unique is the size and scope of the fashion show, coupled with the cultural exhibits and cuisine. Very rarely will you find such a cultural display of a significant portion of the world all in one place at the same time.”

The event was organized with assistance from Asha – Hartford Chapter, a non-profit group which is raising funds on behalf of the School for Blind Children in Kolkata (Calcutta), India. “AsACC and our Pan Asian Council are pleased to work with Asha in support of the Blind School in their goal to complete the new girls dormitory, doubling the size of the school to accommodate 250 students, and making it the largest school for blind children in India,” said Ron Liu, another coordinator of the show. “We are also excited about helping to provide support for victims of last spring’s Sichuan, China earthquake,  as well as resources for the people of Cambodia who have been striving to rid their country of landmines for decades.” *****

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  

7 Days a Week – Anytime and Anywhere To learn how to drive is a life time investment Paul Dabrowski, Owner 121 Broad St, New Britain, CT 06053 

www.ctindianlife.com MARCH / APRIL 2009

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STATEWIDE

‘Beats of Hope’ Variety Show at UConn CT Indian Life Bureau - The UConn Student Board of Governors (SUBOG) and Asha for Education – a charitable organization dedicated to the support of the basic education of underprivileged children in India – jointly hosted a special event on March 20th, showcasing a variety of student entertainment acts while raising funds for the D.F. School for Blind Children in Kolkata (Calcutta), India.

CT INDIAN LIFE MARCH / APRIL 2009

‘Beats of Hope’ featured 11 different student acts, ranging from a capella singers to musical bands to comedians to various dance groups. “We are grateful to the performers for giving their talent and time in support of the Blind School in their goal to complete the new girls dormitory,” said Mayuri Patel of Asha for Education – UConn.

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UConn students put up variety show to raise funds for blind children in India


STATEWIDE

Event: Mata Ki Chowki by Hindu Cultural Center Date: Sunday, March 29 Time: 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Location: Unitarian Universalist Church, 96 Chapel St., Stratford Fee: Free, sponsors required Contact: HCC president Meena Gupta at (203) 329-3234 APRIL Event: Gudhi Padwa Celebrations Date: Saturday, April 4 Time: 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Location: Highland Elementary School, 490 Highland Ave., Cheshire Fee: $5 members; $7 non-members; free for kids under 6 years Contact: Send checks by March 30 in favor of CT Maharashtra Mandal, addressed to Nitin Korgaonkar, 138 Trumbull Ln., South Windsor, CT 06074. To set up a food stall, call Radhika & Santosh Parmanand at (860) 871-8777 or Sneha & Nitin Korgaonkar at (860) 648-0744. Event: Ugadi Celebrations by Telugu Association of Connecticut; Music by Indaz Beats Date: Sunday, April 11 Time: 3:00 p.m. . Location: Middletown High School, 370 Hunting Ave., Middletown Fee: TBA Contact: Visit www.tactusa.net for details Event: Raga Club of Connecticut Presents Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi (Violin), Sikkil Mala Chandrasekhar

(Flute), Jayashree Jairaj (Veena), Rajna Swaminathan (Mrdangam), Bhagyalakshmi Muralikrishna (Morching) Date: Saturday, April 11 Time: 4:00 p.m. Location: Connecticut Valley Hindu Temple Society, 11 Training Hill Rd., Middletown Fee: Free for Raga members (plus three), music faculty and students; $25 nonmembers Contact: E-mail ctraga@hotmail.com Event: Goddess, Siren, Monster and Liquid Shakti – Spring Dance Concert Date: Friday & Saturday, April 17 & 18 Time: 8:00 p.m. Location: Center For the Arts (CFA) Theater, Wesleyan University, 283 Washington Terrace, Middletown Fee: $8; $6 Contact: Box office at (860) 685-3355 Event: Vasant Bahaar – Dance and Music from India Date: Saturday, April 25 Time: 6:00 p.m. Location: Plainville Middle School,150 Northwest Dr. (off Rte 177), Plainville Fee: $12; $10; half-rate for individuals aged under 17 Contact: (860) 233-5684, (203) 8780945; vsei@ntplx.net MAY Event: Raga Club of Connecticut Presents Keyboard Sathya, Embar Kannan (Violin), Poongulam Subramaniam (Mrdangam), Krishnababu (Talam) Date: Sunday, May 10 Time: 4:00 p.m. Location: Connecticut Valley Hindu

Temple Society, 11 Training Hill Rd., Middletown Fee: Free for Raga members (plus three), music faculty and students; $25 non-members Contact: E-mail ctraga@hotmail.com Event: The Asian Connection Featuring Korean Komungo, Japanese Koto and Indian Tabla; North Indian Classical Dance Date: Sunday, May 10 Time: 6:30 p.m. Location: Cole Auditorium, Greenwich Fee: $32 adult; $20 children under age 12 Contact: Namaskaar Foundation at (203) 322-9862 Event: Raga Club of Connecticut Presents Neyveli Santanagopalan (Vocal), S.D. Sridhar (Violin), Tanjore Murugabhoopati (Mrdangam) Date: Sunday, May 31 Time: 4:00 p.m. Location: Connecticut Valley Hindu Temple Society, 11 Training Hill Rd., Middletown Fee: Free for Raga members (plus three), music faculty and students; $25 non-members Contact: E-mail ctraga@hotmail.com Event: Ongoing Bhagavad Gita Pravachan, Arati, Krishna Kirtan, and Krishna Prasadam Date: Every Sunday Time: 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Location: Hare Krishna Mandir, 1683 Main St., East Hartford Fee: Free Contact: (860) 289-7252, Web site www.iskconct.org

www.ctindianlife.com MARCH / APRIL 2009

MARCH Event: Chandramana Ugadi Celebrations by Hoysala Kannada Koota Date: Saturday, March 28 Time: 2:30 p.m. Location: Connecticut Valley Hindu Temple Society, 11 Training Hill Rd., Middletown Fee: $10 member; $15 non-member; $5 children over age 5; free for children under 5 Contact: Kannada Koota at (860) 563-9468 or (203) 606-5004

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Cover Story

CURRY WORRY Indian restaurants struggle to stay open in turbulent times. BY SUSAN R.A. HONEYMAN

Though television has made restaurant chef-owners into celebrities, the new glamour hides the stark reality of this business: Restaurants traditionally have one of the highest failure rates among small businesses.

The severe recession has been especially hard on restaurants, with nationwide sales falling 15 percent in the third quarter of 2008, compared with the year before, according to Bob DeZinno, president and CEO of the Connecticut Restaurant Association, a Waterbury-based industry and lobbying group. Profits on those sales also were lower, reflecting a 9 percent jump in wholesale food prices last year accompanied by menu price increase of only 4 percent to avoid losing customers.

Owners Shekhar and Deepa Naik had expanded their successful upscale restaurant to include a cozy vegetarian/kosher West Hartford bistro, an upscale Hartford business restaurant and a New Haven theater restaurant, but their dream wasn’t to be. Despite drastic concept changes and creative marketing – daughter

One Connecticut restaurant group hit very hard by overexpansion and bad timing is the Ambassador of India, which recently closed all four of its restaurants, including its original Glastonbury location.

CT INDIAN LIFE MARCH / APRIL 2009

Deepa and Shekhar Naik, Ambassador of India

10 The Ambassador of India restaurant in New Haven

Paulami posted a message on a University of Hartford EKTA Web site suggesting students hold their Diwali festival fundraisers at the restaurant – the bistro failed to achieve the necessary profit, and Naik closed it at the end of November last year. Their New Haven restaurant a block from the Shubert Theater was open just two weeks this January, despite a two-year lease. The Hartford restaurant served its last meal a week before Valentine’s Day. Restaurants typically are planned months or even years before they open, and the deep recession caught most people off guard. “The main reason (for these closures) is I miscalculated how much credit I could handle,” said Naik, a graduate of Bombay Hotel Management School. “Banks don’t lend money easily to such institutions, so I had to borrow on credit cards


Cover Story and the interest rates zoomed beyond what I could service.”

panies cancelled their December holiday parties or negotiated a three-course instead of a five-course meal.

They had tried to make the Glastonbury restaurant more profitable with a new menu and reduced prices to bring in more clients. But the market did not let up.

But Chirnomula is determined to keep his restaurants busy, support the wait staff who depend on tips for their livelihood, and rotate food. The restaurants offer weekly specials and a $30 three-course prix fixe meal, and he’s introduced a monthly Bollywood night at the New Canaan location to bring in more of Fairfield’s South Asian community.

Connecticut Magazine readers recently selected the Glastonbury Ambassador of India as the best Hartford County restaurant in the Indian/Middle Eastern category. The statewide winner was Thali in New Haven, part of another group that also is feeling the recession, but is better able to weather it.

Chef-owner Prasad Chirnomula said revenue in New Canaan and Ridgefield was down by 20 percent in 2008, primarily because his wealthy Fairfield County customer base “gets its money from Wall Street and has been hurt by the recession. It’s a bit depressing to see a beautiful restaurant with just a few people in it,” he said. Revenues at his New Haven restaurant on Orange Street also are down, though not as much, because he does a lot of corporate business with Yale University and with the pharmaceutical companies nearby that were not as badly hit by the recession. Still, many com-

Beyond the challenges faced by all restaurants, about half the food used by Indian restaurants is imported, which leaves them more susceptible to supply issues. Last year’s Basmati rice scare drove prices up 300 percent to $1.80 per pound, he said.

Business is very different at his latest restaurant, Thali Too. Initially, he turned down an offer from Yale University to use a property next to the Barnes & Noble bookstore on Broadway, because he didn’t want to compete with his original New Haven restaurant. But after leading a culinary tour to India and discovering more foods, he took back his decision and opened another type of Indian restaurant featuring low prices and the vegetarian street food Indians love. “I made a promise to myself that nothing would cost more than $10,” and in fact two people can eat there for $15 to $16. “It’s informal. You can be happy there for $5,” Chirnomula said, recalling his own lean years after arriving in the U.S. in 1985 with a dream and $100. The formula works: Thali Too continues to be busy and about half the customers are Indian.

Ahimsa, on New Haven’s Chapel Street, is in an enclave of long established neighborhood Indian restaurants, across the street from Tandoor – The Clay Oven (13 years) and around the corner from the more established India Palace (more than 25 years) and Royal India (18 years). As a vegan restaurant serving raw and cooked food, eclectic and kosher, the twoyear-old Ahimsa does not compete directly with any of them. As members of the Jain sect, the Shah family eats this way and was responsive when son, Nirav, saw a need for a restaurant to serve those who eat a vegan diet. His mother, Anita, took over when Nirav left for college.

Prasad Chirnomula, Thali

www.ctindianlife.com MARCH / APRIL 2009

Another issue is that he had positioned Ambassador of India at the higher end of the Indian food market. “We had targeted to an American cliental, but with job losses, people are eating more pizza and sandwiches than going out and dining,” Naik said.

Anita Shah said her restaurant is less affected by the recession than many others because her “fresh, organic food tends to draw a steady flow of people concerned about their health and the environment.” Most 11


Cover Story of her customers are not vegan but vegetarian or kosher, and some are even meat-eaters, so the taste of the food has to stand up against food made with real cheese, milk or eggs. That requires substituting creativity for ingredients, a challenge she enjoys.

Because of the recession, she does advertise more and changes her menu several times a year, but prices – lunch buffet at $10 and dinner appetizers at $4 and entrees generally $13 – remain fairly constant, she said. Catering also is a large part of her business. During the recession, small restaurants with low overhead primarily serving South Asians seem to enjoy an advantage.

More than two years ago, Mohan Hossin closed Mom’s Indian Kitchen and Grocery, a small operation on Crown Street in downtown New Haven, because of a “landlord problem.” Now he has reopened at the end of February at a more downscale address at 1348 State Street in the Fair Haven section of the city, serving the same Northern Indian food and selling groceries.

CT INDIAN LIFE MARCH / APRIL 2009

While the number of Indian restaurants in Connecticut has grown along with the Indian population, the patronage of the state’s other populations has helped them flourish. “Americans are a lot more curious, our

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palates are more open,” said Dr. Juline E Mills, associate professor and program manager at the University of New Haven Department of Hospitality. “While people still go to an upscale restaurant when they are celebrating, the reasonable prices of Indian and other ethnic restaurants give them better value and good experience.” American diners are more discerning, and the new breed of ethnic restaurant has raised the bar for all ethnic cuisines. “We used to broad brush these ethnic restaurants, but now many of them are striking out and getting real recognition,” said DeZinno.

Regardless of the restaurant quality and its size, though, these are trying times. DeZinno’s advice: “Watch your expenses. Cherish every customer that walks in the door. Look at every item on your menu and ask from the customer’s point of view, ‘Is this a value?’” He also suggests more advertising to attract customers, and better use of media to create an online community that turns customers into regulars.

No matter what the economy, restaurants need an effective Web strategy, added Dr. Mills. Few restaurants offer a Web site where the customer “can taste the food and the ambiance” before ever setting foot in the restaurant. Despite the economy, the overall number of Connecticut restaurants has been growing, as measured by the active restaurant liquor permits, which rose to its current 2,430 level.

“Restaurant owners are an optimistic bunch,” said DeZinno. *****

Susan R.A. Honeyman is a New Haven-based freelance writer and vice president of The Word Hive Communications LLC.

“Serving ALL Your Grocery Needs” Pankaj & Asha Patel

Open 7 days a week! 10 a.m. - 8 p.m. Indian, Asian & American Groceries

171 Spencer Street Manchester, CT 06040

(860) 645-6100

www.patelfoods.net


STATEWIDE

THE BELVEDERE

Gujarati Association of Connecticut opens a new community center in New Haven for South Asians.

GAOCT is a non-profit, nonpolitical, non-religious organization endowed by private contributions, membership dues, fees and grants and run by a team of 35 professionals and supported by close to 300 members. “The plan and the need for having this community center was conceived some 10 years ago, by the leaders of the GAOCT,” said the

Shaku Patel, Gujarati Association

association’s public relations officer Rajeev Desai. “Everyone who has been involved has shared something – time, money, skills, ideas, and connections – and that something is what made (us achieve) this beautiful dream,” he added.

The Belvedere, as it is called, is a beautiful red and white brick structure, which reflects the surrounding scenery. The building provides over 20,000 square feet of space over two floors, and each floor consists of a large banquet hall and a kitchen, ideal for hosting receptions, parties and social events of the burgeoning Indian-American community in the area. The banquet hall on the first floor can accommodate around 400 people and has a ‘performance’ stage and an adjoining medium-sized auditorium, which can be used for cultural events. There are also two large rooms and a lobby area suitable for hosting smaller events and functions, such as get-togethers for senior citizens and graduation parties. The building has a large parking lot to accommodate over 400 cars. The association has the potential to attract people from diverse cultures and communities in and around the state, and this community center will be instrumental in facilitating this aspiration. Moving forward, the facility will be used for hosting programs for senior citi-

zens, yoga classes, and dance classes for children and adults. The centre will also be used to conduct social gatherings such as marriage ceremonies, birthday celebrations, corporate parties and various cultural and festive activities. “I have had the privilege of interacting with members and associates continually and I am excited to note the magnitude of interest of every individual in the activities of the association. It will be my goal in coming years to bring the various communities and individuals together, by way of this association and through this community center,” said Desai.

The association plans on maintaining the center through donor dollars. GAOCT fundraising coordinator and former president, Shaku Patel said, “It was never about the dreams of a few people, it was about the dreams of a number of people, and without any one of them this facility would not have been possible at all.” She further added, “We need the continued support of the community via donor dollars and center memberships to be able to continue this good work.” *****

Pooja Prakash is a Connecticutbased media professional.

www.ctindianlife.com MARCH / APRIL 2009

A

decade-long dream of the founder members of the Gujarati Association of Connecticut (GAOCT) was finally realized when the association acquired 70 Pond Lily Ave., a $1.2 million property in the heart of New Haven. This former Jewish Community Center will now become a Community Center for Americans of South Asian descent.

BY POOJA PRAKASH

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STATEWIDE

A STITCH IN TIME BY GOOD SAMARITAN DOCTOR PRASAD SUREDDI SAVES STUDENT’S THUMB

B

BY AMISHI SHAH

havana Varala came to Waterbury from Hyderabad, India, in August 2008 with her bags packed with winter clothes, photographs of family members and friends and excitement at starting a new phase of her life as a student in Connecticut.

Varala is working on her master’s degree in computer science at the Sacred Heart University in Waterbury. Little did she know then that she would need courage in plenty in the first few months of her arrival in the country. “While chopping a green bell pepper, I accidentally cut my thumb on the left hand,” said Varala. It was not a routine cut that could be healed with a band-aid. Her problem was temporarily solved when a doctor at the Emergency Room in a local hospital put in place four stitches on her wound and tied-up her thumb with bandages for support. The doctor insisted that she undergo micro-surgery because of the deep cut, which would have cost her $10,000. “My classes were yet to begin and so I didn’t have any health insurance yet,” said Varala.

CT INDIAN LIFE MARCH / APRIL 2009

She had intense pain even several days after the incident. At the suggestion of a friend, Varala, a Telugu, contacted Ayyavaru Sivalenka, secretary of the Telugu Association of Connecticut and a software engineer by profession. He understood the gravity of the situation and got in touch with Dr. Prasad Sureddi, a plastic surgeon at the Waterbury Hospital.

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Sureddi gave her an appointment the very next day. “I didn’t know the seriousness of the situation until I saw her. I was hoping that she would not have cut the palm-side of her thumb as that part is more sensitive,” he explained. When he saw the cut, he knew it was serious. Besides, Varala was still in excruciating pain and was anxious to be in a new country and a new environment.

“The thought of no insurance and the cost of a surgery had not entered my mind at all when I saw the wound,” said Sureddi. That very week, Varala was in the operating room at the Naugatuck Valley Surgical Center, one of the hospitals where Sureddi works. Varala didn’t have to pay a

Dr. Prasad Sureddi and Bhavana Varala


STATEWIDE dime for the procedure, which was assisted by Dr. Raj Mangla, an anesthesiologist and Dr. Bill Turly, chief of anesthesia.

“We were able to write off all the costs for the surgery. The hospital didn’t charge a penny,” said Sureddi. During the operation, the doctors saw that Varala had cut two nerves and an artery while chopping vegetables. Despite the extent of the damage, Varala responded well to the surgery and was released from the hospital that very day.

Varala is all praise for Sureddi, Sivalenka and his wife Madhavi. “At one point, I thought of going back to India even though I have told nothing to my parents about this till date. Sivalenka, his wife and others from the Telugu Association (Shantisri Vutukuru and Haritha Machineni) were really helpful as they drove me everyday for physical therapy and got me back home also,” said Varala. Another member, Sreekanth Nelakudeti, was at the hospital during the surgery. Sureddi said that growing up, his family lived in various places across India. “I remember that our home was always open to anyone who was from our hometown,” recalled Sureddi. Surely, kindness runs in the family. *****

Amishi Shah is a frequent contributor to CT Indian Life.

www.ctindianlife.com MARCH / APRIL 2009

Bhavana with staff of the Naugatuck Valley Surgical Center

Sureddi’s generosity didn’t end with the operation. He arranged for Varala’s rehabilitation and physiotherapy as well. She was not charged for that either. “Waterbury’s physical therapy rehab center ACCESS provided free care. It was not entirely unusual to have not charged Bhavana as we do provide services to local people also who are unable to pay,” said Sureddi.

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STATEWIDE

Anjaneya’s Allure BY SUJATA SRINIVASAN

Why do you find Hanuman so fascinating?

First of all, everyone loves monkeys. They are naughty and resourceful. And Hanuman’s qualities are magical – devotion, loyalty, resourcefulness, relentlessness, invincibility and courage as depicted in the Ramayana. I was struck by the extraordinary story of how he once had to bring a healing herb from a mountain and he could

not recognize it, so he carried the whole mountain. Who cannot admire these qualities?

‘I, Hanuman’, based on the real life story of Bedasee Singh in the 19th century, is a fascinating narrative about an Indian patriot who dresses up as Hanuman and attacks the British on horseback. What qualities of the Hindu god does your protagonist represent? ‘I, Hanuman’ is a retelling of the Ramayana in the context of 1857. I have read letters, which are eyewitness accounts of what Bedasee Singh did in the battle. There are four eyewitnesses who saw his exploits. Singh’s whole body was encased head to toe as Hanuman. He had taken on the persona of Hanuman – loyalty and devotion to India, resourcefulness, and of course self-sacrifice.

Bajrang Dal, the youth wing of the Hindu political party Vishwa Hindu Parishad in India, is named after Bajrang, another name for Hanuman. The right-wing Shri Ram Sena (lord Ram’s army, which consists of Hanuman) adopts this deity as its symbol. Why is Hanuman so fascinating to people who rebel against, (in their opinion), the negative influence of foreigners and foreign culture on Hindu society?

In the Ramayana, Hanuman seeks to protect and bring back Sita to lord Rama. Sita is India, and Hanuman is rescuing her from a foreign demon, Ravana. And in the execution of protecting Sita, who is Mother India, he is loyal, undaunted, creative, and powerful. Who wouldn’t want to adopt him as their symbol? That is why he is so appealing to these groups – he is the proctor of the motherland. Roger N. Buckley, UConn

In what way would you say Ha-

numan is both universal and timeless?

Good versus evil, the known versus the unknown, the known versus aliens. In the Ramayana, Hanuman overcomes obstacles such as great distances and so forth. There comes a time in everyone’s life when they need the qualities of lord Hanuman. When we have obstacles to overcome, we draw upon this idea of Hanuman. And when we overcome these obstacles, aren’t we like Hanuman? Can you think of a similar figure in Western mythology, whose influence is as strong in contemporary society?

I think in some ways Hanuman is like Super Man but with much more depth. Sometimes when we get down and pessimistic we need someone to come and be our defender. Hanuman may even be like King Arthur – this nobleman of high ideals who protects his people from foreign invasion. Arthur protected England from the invasion of the Saxons. All cultures need a super hero they can draw upon from their community or from themselves when they try to overcome obstacles. We are not by ourselves Super Man, but we need at times to make a super human effort. This is what Hanuman embodies. On a personal front, how do you relate to Hanuman as a popular Hindu god?

www.ctindianlife.com MARCH / APRIL 2009

Roger N. Buckley is a professor of history at the University of Connecticut and the author of ‘I, Hanuman,’ a historic novel based on the real life story of an Indian soldier who rebelled against British occupation in 1857. Buckley learned of Hanuman early on from his mother, who is of Indian origin, and later through his own research. Here in a freewheeling interview with Sujata Srinivasan, he talks about his fascination with the popular Hindu God and why he believes Hanuman, whose jayanti (birthday) falls on April 9th, is both universal and timeless.

I have a small puja area in my house; all my friends who visit India bring me a statue of Hanuman – I have eight of these statues. I turn to this shrine over my fireplace when I need inspiration, or when I have to deal with illnesses and the death of a loved one. ***** 17


YOUNG MINDS

THIS N THAT

Saving our Home BY SUDHA SWAMINATHAN

Each year, as Spring starts warming up the ground, we start to see more flowers and birds. We lay out fresh vegetable and flower gardens. We also clean out our yards and homes, throwing out old stuff that we no longer need, in an effort called Spring Cleaning. More and more these days, it is also very important that all of us start thinking about protecting and cleaning our bigger home, our planet Earth. Scientists, including astronomers and environmental earth researchers, warn us that the Earth is quickly running out of several of its natural resources such as clean water, air and fertile soil to grow our food. Imagine what would happen to us without a clean cup of water to drink? We, as citizens of this beautiful blue-green planet, need to start preserving our resources, recylcing what we use and speaking up for our planet to friends and families. Here are five simple facts and ideas for saving our planet: 1. After charging your DS and cell phones, do you leave your charger on the wall? It is certainly a save place to keep it. But not for our planet. Every charger left plugged into the wall uses up a small amount of energy and emits a small amount of carbon (a gas that is not very good for our planet). Over time, these small amounts build up, just like the pennies in your piggy bank. So, remember to take those chargers out. 2. More and more young people are using computers every day for home work and for leisure. Turning off the computer monitor after each use rather than running a screen saver (however amazing that may be) actually conserves energy. So do tell your parents to switch off those monitors (or do it for them). 3. Check every window and door in your home for drafts. If you place your palm by the edge of a window and you can feel the outside air, then your window has a small gap. These gaps are escape holes for the precious heat from your home. By sealing these gaps (check out your local home construction store for handy ways to do this), we not only keep our homes warmer but also save energy. 4. Another very simple clean habit is to switch off lights when you leave a room. Additionally, you could organize a light patrol at your home and school. Switching off saves so much wasted energy. 5. Lastly, try to use re-useable containers for your school lunches. And recycle every glass and aluminum container. It is also said that each recycled can saves enough energy to run your TV for three full hours. This year, on April 22, as we celebrate Earth day, try to adopt one of these or other clean habit resolutions. Remember our Earth is the only planet we have. It’s our only home. ***** Sudha Swaminathan, a professor of early childhood education at Eastern Connecticut State University, is a contributing editor to Young Minds. She can be reached at ktankala@sbcglobal.net.

CT INDIAN LIFE MARCH / APRIL 2009

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YOUNG MINDS

Aditya Rajagopalan, High School Senior, Gets High on Energy BY SUJATA SRINIVASAN

which can then be fermented into ethanol. Though cellulosic ethanol is highly environmentally friendly, it is currently too expensive to make, because that sugar extraction process is just too expensive. So, my work focused on reducing the cost of this step by developing a systematic way for developing mathematical models of a phenomenon known as enzyme synergy,” he explained. “Because of my methodology, I found a way to reduce enzyme use by 50 percent while doubling sugar yields from biomass to nearly the theoretical maximum. This thus could really potentially reduce inputs while increasing outputs, which could reduce the cost of making cellulosic ethanol.”

Rajagopalan won Sanofi-aventis’ Northeast BioGENEius Challenge (he submitted the same project that he entered at the Intel contest) and is one of two students who will be advancing to the Sanofi-aventis International BioGENEius Challenge in May, where he’ll have a chance to compete for $7,500. Aditya Rajagopalan, a senior at Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, had a ‘wow’ moment when he got to shake hands with President Barack Obama. Twice.

“For one, we were meeting the president on the White House steps. Add to that, it was President Obama, who was as charismatic and grand in person as he always seems to appear on TV,” gushed Rajagopalan, who was in Washington, D.C., last month as one of 40 finalists in the national Intel Science Search competition. “I remember quite well how he walked out of the White House, and immediately addressed us all on the importance of science to economic prosperity. And then we all got to shake Obama’s hand—and I even got a second handshake in after I answered a quick question of his about what we had planned for the remainder of the Intel Science Talent Search,” he added

Rajagopalan spent a week at the St. Regis Hotel in the nation’s capital engaged in poster sessions, public viewings, and meeting politicians such as Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, as well as Nobel laureates in science. Rajagopalan’s entry was a project on cellulosic ethanol, an alternative, clean-burning energy made from biomass.

“When you make cellulosic ethanol, you first need to extract sugars from plants,

It all began when Rajagopalan participated in a debate on alternative energy (he’s his school’s debate captain), during which he discovered his love for this field. During his sophomore spring break, he worked as a research associate at the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center at the Michigan State University for two summers, researching on reducing the cost of making cellulosic ethanol.

“I came up with the idea when I realized that though my field often employed experimental methods to optimize, they could better use statistical approaches to build mathematical models,” he said.

When he’s not at the lab, you can find Rajagopalan on the volleyball court (he’s Choate’s team captain), debating, working at his school’s judicial committee, writing opeds for the school newspaper, and managing a student-run company that makes school apparel (he is CFO). “I generally just like to spend time with friends, play pickup sports, listen to Coldplay, The Dave Matthews Band, Jack Johnson, and similar music,” he said. Where does he see himself five years from now?

“After I graduate from college – I’ll find out where I’ll be going in a week; I got into Yale early but am waiting on two other schools – I hope to be an entrepreneur in the alternative energy business,” he said, enthused. “I feel like this would be the best way to combine my passion for economics and business with my interest in mathematics and science.”

The kid’s “quite simply breathtaking”, don’t you think? ***** Sujata Srinivasan is the editor of CT Indian Life.

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OPINION

Culture Shock Hasn’t Worn Off Yet!

W

BY MEL RAMASWAMY

hen I first arrived in America more than 30 years ago, I was shocked to see women in shorts and smoking cigarettes. This was perhaps a normal and natural reaction of anyone coming from India, a land of a totally different culture. I must confess even today I haven’t been able to reconcile myself to these things. Men working topless, in their yards and even driving cars, continues to intrigue me.

I am embarrassed to venture out even in a T-shirt. In spite of my children’s persistence, I am not tempted to try jeans even once. The same with wearing shorts - it took a long time and many walking races to switch to athletic shorts. I am overwhelmed and inhibited by an invisible and invincible cultural barrier.

In a sanitary, health-conscious America, it amazes me to see people taking a bite out of an apple and then offering it to another. In the kitchen, the practice of sampling a dish as it is being cooked intrigues me. To me this is outright contamination. Being used to living (reading and entertaining) on the front lawn in India, I cannot understand the practice of using the backyard here instead (many people build a deck just for entertaining). Very rarely have I seen folks

barbecuing in front of their garages.

It took some time for me to getting used to drinking cold milk. During my early years in America, I would insist on milk being heated up. I not only got a strange look from the waitress but was charged extra in addition!

Two things about the automobile have persisted over the years in my mind: even a wealthy person drives his own car and fills up on gas at the pump. These, however, are simply components of a selfservice culture - a hallmark of America. Further, I cannot reconcile myself to the “help yourself ” culture that is so widely prevalent. Some cultural pleasantries are still fresh in my mind. It is such a refreshing feeling to hear even today echoes of “you are welcome.” To me this is in keeping with America’s liberal immigrant philosophy. *****

Dr. Mel Ramaswamy, a physicist who holds a Ph.D in physics from Johns Hopkins University, is author of “An Immigrant Celebrates America,” from where the above essay is published with the author’s permission.

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 

 1990 built, 2 BD, 3.1 Baths with Fin. Basem Southwest Village  



   

Penny, Botticello & O'Brien, P.C.

 ATTORNEY AT LAW             Barry W. Botticello Kevin M. O’Brien William P. O’Brien Thomas A. Robinson   

CT Indian Life Magazine, March-April 2009  

Connecticut India Life Magazine issue for March-April 2009.

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