A Letter from the BANA 2021 President, Shirish Shetty
The past few months have been quite an interesting time for the BANA team in Atlanta. We know that we are in this for the long haul, and the team is just getting started. I, along with the rest of the Atlanta Executive Committee, would like to take this opportunity to wish all our members a very Happy New Year.
I am excited to present our very first newsletter. A big thank you to Nuthan Shetty and Suchith Hegde, from our Communications team, for putting together the newsletter. As you will see, we have lots of pictures from many different regions. Thanks to the Regional Representatives for your input. Please take some time to click on the links, to view all the photos for each region.
We in Atlanta had our first, ever Diwali event. Wow! What an event it turned out to be. A total of 161 guests attended the Atlanta Diwali event. Thanks to a very talented team from Atlanta for putting on an amazing show. Having seen it in action, I can rest easy that the BANA 2021 entertainment will be in good hands.
Some accomplishments so far:
One of the main points we have been working on is to increase our membership. How do we do this? Many people have been asking us, “What are the benefits of being a BANA member? With that in mind, the EC team worked on a power-point presentation**, where we ended up listing various benefits of being a BANA member. We are hoping that this is a starting point and over time we can work on refining and providing more value to our members. Be on the lookout for some amazing member values shortly.
We also reached out and appointed Regional Representatives. You will see many familiar faces, and some new names among them. We have also communicated to all our members and the Regional Reps how critical it is to increase our membership base. As a reinforcement to increasing the membership, we have introduced a fun contest, where the member with the most new-member referrals will be awarded a complimentary room at the 2021 convention in Atlanta.
Until next time, I wish all of you good health and happiness.
**Benefits of being a BANA member – see link below
Call for Regional Representatives
At the moment, there are several states which are not officially assigned to a BANA representative. If you reside in one of the states listed below and are interested in taking on the role of representative, please write to us (note: the specific states grouped in your region will be determined depending on the locations of other volunteers):
While the regional representative duties have never been officially defined, generally speaking, reps reach out to members in their region for news, and usually help organize about two official events a year (a summer picnic and Diwali party). If they so choose, reps may of course take it upon themselves to organize more events.
Being a rep is a great way to connect with fellow BANA members throughout the year, rather than once every two years at the convention. We hope you'll consider the opportunity!
Profile of a Town: Harady, Karnataka
by Arjun Hegde
My father, Vivekanand Hegde, grew up in the village of Harady, in the Indian state of Karnataka. Harady is a coastal farm and fishing village, only 2 KM from the Arabian Sea and 4 KM from the National Highway, surrounded by a landscape of rivers and mountains. The climate of this region could be characterized as tropical, with three seasons in the year -- summer, monsoon and winter.
During my Dad’s childhood years, the village was quite rural, with no legitimate transportation system or infrastructure. It was filled with mud roads and walkways through the many rice paddies, and had minimal electrical systems. The panchayats, as local village councils were known, governed Harady. The closest major town, Brahmavara, was 4 KM away.
Harady was a very inclusive village. There were three major religions present in the society - Christianity, Hinduism and Islam. The people of these religions lived with no segregation what so ever - for example, my Hindu father attended a Catholic school for a majority of his school life. With these many religions, there were also many temples, churches and mosques. In this village, everyone knew everyone.
In terms of societal roles, the men were generally the ones to fish and work the farms daily. Some women worked the fields as well, but the majority stayed home as housewives. Most of the agriculture and food in this area was homegrown. The crops mainly consisted of items such as coconuts, mangos, bananas, jackfruit, cucumber, chilies, tomatoes, nuts and more. Rice, however, was and is the main crop, evident in the many rice paddies scattered around the entirety of the village. Farming was not the only industry however - small local shops and small restaurants were established, mainly catering to the local farmers and fisherman after long days of work.
Although children in this village helped their parents with their work, they also studied in school. Almost all children in the village went to a Kannada medium school, where English was the second language. The local high school was St. Mary’s High School. The local schools primarily focused on social studies, the sciences and mathematics. The entire 300 student population was taught by a dozen or so teachers and staff.
Get to Know Your Executive Committee
This is a Q&A we will be doing with each of our BANA 2019 EC members. This issue’s Q&A is with Ram Hegde, Vice President.
Where did you grow up?
RH: I am a New Jersey guy through-and-through! I was born and raised in Edison, NJ and spent most of life there until going to college in Washington D.C.
What are you studying and doing for work?
RH: I finished my undergraduate studies at George Washington University with a dual concentration in Finance and Marketing. After getting some real-world experience with several big banks in the D.C. area, I decided to move back to New Jersey and I began to learn how to manage and grow our family business. We currently own and operate thirteen Dunkin’ Donut and six Baskin Robbins locations, and growing. Specifically, I’m responsible for the day-to-day operations of the business including overseeing approximately 200 employees, a central kitchen producing over 60,000 donuts per week and dealing with the development/construction/remodeling of retail locations.
Looking back, I owe a lot to my father for his knowledge, experience and patience in teaching both my brother and I the ins and outs of the business. We are very fortunate to have him as a resource, and I look forward to sharing that knowledge with anyone in our community who's interested in starting their own small business.
What do you think of when you think of BANA?
RH: When I think of BANA, I think about the countless number of great memories I had as a kid growing up with our family and friends. The connection amongst Bunt families made it feel like we were not just going over a friend’s place to have dinner and talk, it was a feeling of being part of a larger family. In that sense, each of these get-togethers was like a small family reunion, where we could catch up and enjoy time together.
After going to many of the BANA conventions all over the country (and to Mexico), I was able to meet a lot of other people my age who shared similar experiences trying to explain our culture and roots to our peers. For me, growing up in New Jersey, it was not a common occurrence to meet someone with roots in Mangalore at school, so it was nice to finally be in a room full of people who understood some of the nuances of the Bunt culture.
What is your favorite BANA memory?
RH: My favorite BANA memory would have to be going to the first annual BANA Youth Retreat in Pennsylvania over twenty years ago. I remember it being such as amazing experience meeting people from all over the country, and something different that I had not been a part of up until then. Special thanks to Dr. Dinker Rai for being the first to push that initiative, and to Suresh Shetty of New Jersey for being an organized, patient and gracious host to all the kids who attended.
Why did you want to be involved in the EC?
RH: During previous BANA conventions, I remember having conversations with friends along the lines of having the next generation of Bunts who grew up in the U.S. stepping up to the challenge of running the organization. I may not have had all the tools, knowledge, or frankly, the motivation as a kid in my early twenties to take on such a responsibility. However, over the years I have grown to appreciate what the past leaders in our community have created for us, and I became more interested in being a bigger part of BANA’s success.
Going back to BANA New Jersey in 2009, I was lucky enough to be part of the amazing team that worked hard to bring everyone together for the convention. Though I will not say I contributed to its success compared to those who put countless hours into the planning and execution of the event, I was able to see how much work was involved behind the scenes and what it took to actually make the convention a great experience.
When Ashish asked me to be a part of the EC team, I thought that it would be a great opportunity to learn about how BANA runs as an organization, and a challenge to improve upon BANA in ways future generations can enjoy.
What are your hopes for BANA as it moves forward?
RH: My hopes for BANA are based on the premise that young people need to have a vested interest in the future of the organization. By that I mean, as an EC team of all first generation Bunts born and raised in the U.S., we hope to set an example for other young leaders to step up and take an active role in bringing BANA into the future.
Specifically, I hope this next generation doesn’t just think of BANA as a group of their parents' friends, but rather as a place to meet new people, to make a difference in the Bunt community, and to make a difference in their respective communities overall. I hope that we can leverage our community’s culture, knowledge, and talent to grow BANA and make it a stronger organization.
Sohil Adyanthaya, a D.C. born musician, released his first album on all digital platforms recently. The five song album is titled, "Storytime," and features a blend of pop, hip-hop and alternative vibes.
He wrote, composed, and produced all the songs, as well as co-designed the album cover. Give it a listen while we wait for another track in the coming months!
*Sohil is the son of Dwarak & Shweta Adyanthaya.
The Houston Bunts held a Diwali party last year; below is a group photo.
Jay Shetty served as associate producer on The Last Color, a documentary by Michelin star chef Vikas Khanna. Dr. Heera Shetty and Shyam Shetty hosted a Diwali dinner and special screening at their house in Westchester.
The documentary also premiered at the Palm Springs International Film Festival earlier this year. You can read more about the film on IMDb.
Below are photos of Jay, Vikas and the Shetty family.