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Guest Author No. 2 – Pankaj Mandalia on Diwali Fiasco

OK Friends! Whenever there is a change, two things (amongst many others) are bound to happen. First, change is resisted as is its nature. Second mistakes will be made but that does not mean that changes should not be brought about.

This and every other preceding committee of FOILV (or for that matter any voluntary organization) has invested countless hours of service that they could have otherwise spent doing other activities that they may indulge in. So regardless of anyone’s personal feelings of what they did or what they did not do, they all deserve lots of KUDOS and ‘Thanks’ for the work they performed.

I have seen Alok Saxena running around like crazy last year and this year to get advertisements, I have seen Bharti / Monisha / Savita (pardon my calling them short first names – I respect all three of them very much) invest countless hours until the last day and even on the day of the performance. Imagine this, you are so busy making sure that the program is a success that you are all the time lining up performers, meeting their last minute wardrobe malfunctions, their makeup, their accessories etc. etc. to the point, that you NEVER got a chance to see the program! How would you like that? I bet you would not! I know, Mrs. Smita Choudhury who did not get to watch a single performance because she was in the background prepping the performers! So did the other volunteers! So who ever did not get a chance to sing or perform, please stop complaining and start investing some time! Agreed that Yatin has made mistakes but I am sure he has also learned from them of how foolishly he has behaved. He should have had better sense than to let his wife sing the National Anthem where she clearly missed and screwed up the high notes on both occasions Independence Day and Diwali…. Do you think any other committee would have chosen Dipa Daulat to sing the National Anthem if Yatin was not the president? Absolutely no. This is where NEPOTISM has reached its climax. And the bad part is that people just do not know when to quit!


Pankaj Mandalia

This was a perfect example of a mutual admiration society on the stage. Each one in the committee was patting the other’s back! If you really wanted to acknowledge Alok Saxena’s efforts, what was preventing you from offering him a Plaque after calling him on the stage? Either this was an afterthought where they decided at the last moment thinking, “Oh crap… we completely forgot Alok’s recognition” and just announced his name to pacify someone! OR this was intentional where they called him on the stage and did not offer a plaque. If it was the former – where it was an afterthought, they could have at least taken someone else’s plaque and offered him or said that the plaque will be ordered and offered with due respect. Everyone makes mistakes but only genuine people with lot of dignity and courage admit them… others will just look for excuses that are lame! If it was the latter – where they just wanted to announce his name, it was mean, ruthless and a perfect recipe to earn ill-will from Alok, his family, his friends and his admirers!!! Yatin, here is your chance to come out in the open and respond to some of these issues or at least apologize for your folly!!! Are you up to do that? 

The food left a lot to be desired and I think enough has been said on that so Chris Parikh I am sure made notes and the committee also must have learned a few things on what is more plausible on a large scale. That I consider is a forgivable error and we should offer them a chance to fix it. 

Now a word of caution, it’s not only this committee that has made mistakes. Every committee in the past has made mistakes and the one with the next years will also do the same! If they learn something out of this, it’s great otherwise we will be back again here rehashing the same issues!

There is a concentrated effort I see where many are trying to make look Purbasha bad about what she is doing. My take is different on that. When you have about 30 items being presented, someone will have to be first and someone will have to be last! So who ever has an issue with that, suck it up please and smile! Purbasha, you are doing a wonderful job and just keep your head down and keep working on it. The results are very very obvious!

Swadeep, I respect you very much for bringing ‘neutral’ news to the community. So I am not sure where your reporter got the number of 500 or so, attendees because according to the ticket sales that included the over the ticket window counter sale, the number exceeded 700 which are consistent with previous years. You may want to please rectify that in your reporting so your authenticity is not challenged.

Being a singer myself, I will refrain from making suggestions on non-inclusion of songs, for two reasons, first and foremost is that I do not want this rejoinder/review w to reflect any of my personal gains or losses and second I have plenty of fans that invite me to sing in their events in Vegas and outside that this so called “home singer” is very happy with his fanfare and achievements. Not looking for any “bought” or “staged” or “begged by making friends feel guilty” publicity! 

What remains to be seen is what the ensuing Mirchandani led committee is going to learn and change after so much has been said about mistakes of the existing committee!! A word of advice to Supriya Mirchandani is that remember, you are going to be under a very high definition microscope for your actions…..

And I cannot end this article without bringing up one specific incident that was mean and unethical. The Daulat sisters (Yes, Yatin’s twin daughters) had earlier chosen a different song number to dance on. When someone else chose that song, they were told that that song had been already taken. Then the Daulat sisters chose to dance on another number. When the time for rehearsal came, the party that had wanted the original number, observed that they were dancing on a different number. So they asked why where they prevented from dancing on the original number and told that this was already chosen. The reply they got was that “OK, you can take that number now if you like!!!!” How inconsiderate of ALL the people who were in knowledge of this! Do you think that was an appropriate answer where the other party would waste all their effort on the current number and go back to the old number because Yatin or whoever informed them that that number was taken, did not have the courtesy to call them and let them know that “Hey we are not using this song so feel free to work on it if you like”. But that would have been too much to ask from people who only want to rise up by making others deprived of what talent they have to present!!! Yatin, you should be ashamed of yourself for doing this or allowing this to happen. You and your family should come last rather than pushing them in the forefront and making nepotism the mainstay of FOILV.

Now let us talk about some good things that inadvertently got bad perception. The bye-laws of the organization said they can collect membership fees but nowhere it says that non-collecting membership fees means losing the right to vote. So Swadeep, your perception here is wrong. This was a kind gesture by the committee that was making it more enjoyable for everyone to enjoy the program without being burdened with membership fees. I am not a committee member but I am sure this was not their idea. Because if that is what they wanted most people will walk away from this. There were no membership fees because possibly they had enough reserves to permit the functioning of the organization in the ensuing year. It could also be reinstated next year… 

There were packets of sweets being distributed every year which was not done this year because the price of the entry was $40 and no membership fees? Well two bad things came out of this. First, something that was expected by the members was not done. Second, because of no membership fees people also perceived this as not being a part of the organization. Friends and family always exchange sweets and calling yourselves Friends of India, the distribution of sweets to each one that attended should not have been discontinued. Hopefully they will reinstate the membership fees and distribute sweets next year. These are areas where the current and elect committee members will need to learn and make changes! Otherwise, even the likes of Bharti / Monisha / Savita / Alok and so many volunteers are going to leave and the Mirchandani committee will have inherited more problems than they can handle!!!!! 

My goal is not to hurt anyone and yes I have used some harsh words for Yatin, but in the past 2 years I believe he has progressively been asking for it so hope he learns something from this! Truth is always bitter and it hurts but no one forced you to take a position in the FOILV so if you take the position and mess up things, you will be held accountable.

This organization has offered a lot to people and many committees have come and gone so the doings – good or bad – of Daulat, or Mirchandani or other past committee members will be forgotten but the noteworthy things will remain!!!

Cheers to the Pinot Noir..!!!!!

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