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Aradhana Bhatt host of Sur-Samvaad Radio

Aradhana Bhatt
Aradhana Bhatt is based in Sydney, Australia and is the driving force behind Sur-Samvaad Gujarati Radio which is a household name in Sydney’s Gujarati community. So far she has interviewed some of the leading Gujaratis such as Gunvant Shah, Tarak Mehta, Suresh Dalal etc. She is a singer, a writer, an active community worker and a broadcaster. She owns multiple educational degrees and in deep love with music and language. In this interview she talks on she manages her family life as well Sur-Samvaad as well as her views on recent attacks on Indian students in Australia.

Interview

Q.: You are the host of Sur-Samvaad Gujarati Radio which is operational from Sydney, Australia. You interview interesting Gujarati celebrities and artists. What really motivated you to initiate this movement?

It is my passion for the two major elements that radio combines, namely language and music, which brought me to radio. From a very early age I was a public speaker, an interest fostered by my parents just like my love for music. While at school, I participated in every public speaking contest that I could possibly enter and won most. This is where the self-confidence stems from. After I came to Sydney, I saw the Gujarati speaking community grow and over the years, realized the need for an independent medium that could entertain as well as provide basic and useful local information to new settlers and also those living here for some time and wanting to connect with happenings back home.

Q.: Because I interview people I know that every interview that I conduct takes great energy and time. How do you manage your time for such activities apart from managing your family life? I would like to know the details about on how you manage to be on Radio?

People ask me this question very often. I like to put every second of my time to use. If I am not reading, writing or researching on the internet for radio, I may be driving, listening to songs in the car, selecting them for my next program. I often do more than one things at a time. That does not mean that I am a workaholic who never relaxes, but I have learnt to multi-task and manage my time effectively. I love spending time with my family and friends, go shopping or watch movies, go for walks or just laze around doing nothing. But I do believe in the old cliché ‘where there is a will there is a way’ and when you like something you do, then finding time is easy. I have observed that very often people who complain about lack of time are the ones who have it in abundance!

Yes, interviewing does take a lot of effort, and I like the challenge. It gives me immense satisfaction when interviewees like Dr Suresh Dalal or Dr Gunvant Shah compliment me on my interviewing skills and my preparation. I interview people from all fields including finance, medicine, technology, law, entertainment and show-biz, music, literature, politics…the list can go no. I find that every interview is different and every radio-program is different just like every day brings new surprises in life. That is what makes broadcasting, like life, so interesting and challenging. Every interview, every program teaches me new things. I do not get time to listen to recordings of every program I broadcast, but every now and then I do go back and listen to some old programs. It is a learning experience.

I am also very lucky to have an extremely supportive family. I am married with two children (who both speak fluent Gujarati), and they all take active interest in my radio and other activities. I have a research assistant, a technical support person, a financial, marketing and legal adviser, and a web-designer…..all in the family! And of course they are my biggest critics too when it comes to quality control! I also acknowledge the assistance of other regular broadcasters on radio. I am quite fortunate to have a loyal and talented broadcasting team who bring with them a wealth of experience from their chosen fields. The website is taken care of by experts in that field who help me update it regularly. It is a team effort and involves people co-ordination as well!

Q.: How do you manage all the expenses to run it? Is it same like SpeakBindas, doing something as a passion and spending money on it?

When I started Sur-Samvaad, I was prepared to partially or fully finance it myself but that was never needed. I am quite grateful to the Gujarati and Indian business community here in Sydney, whose generous support and sponsorship is the financial back-bone of this radio service. The running costs are taken care of through the sponsorship. The radio service has now, after 3 years of broadcasting, gained such a name and popularity that some sponsors now approach me wanting to place their ads. I have a full time job as a medical practice manager and radio is not a full-time occupation, in that sense, for me.

Aradhana Bhatt in studio
Aradhana Bhatt in studio

Q.: You used to lecture in a College in India 25 years ago before you departed for Sydney. You have a multitude of educational qualifications such as M.A in English, M.Phil, Graduate Diploma in Secondary Teaching, Diploma in Journalism and ‘Sangeet Alankar’ – M.A in music degree in Indian Classical Music (Vocal). It seems that all these degrees do talk about your love for language and music. Shed some more light on the combination of these two passions of yours – language and music.

Music, language and literature are not only my passion anymore; they have now become my need. I was born in a family where this was a tradition. I grew up listening to classical music and in my family, visiting the local library was as sacred as going to the temple. As a child I came in contact with some very prominent musicians and singers whom my family hosted during their concert tours and performances in and around town and I got their blessings. I was initiated into classical training at the age of 9 and continued to learn and practice until I migrated to Australia. Indian Classical Music is the best form of Yoga; it is fulfilling, uplifting and transports you to a higher level of being. I also love singing and listening to Gujarati Sugam Sangeet because of the poetic element in it.

I am a life-long learner and I don’t think one can ever stop learning, be it music or anything else. If I was not living here I would have continued to learn from a Guru till now.

It is quite interesting when my interviewees or listeners compliment me on my speaking voice. Some of them are not aware of my musical training, but think that I have a trained voice which they find radio-worthy. So my vocal training has been an asset even with this aspect of broadcasting, something I had never dreamt of when I was learning music.

Q.: You are living in Sydney for 25 years now. What’s your take on the recent attacks on Indian students in Australia?

These have been extremely unfortunate events and it is beyond imagination what the parents of those who lost their lives or were injured must be going through in India. Violence against anyone in a civilized and democratic society is unacceptable. Yet as the old saying goes there seems to be another side of the coin in some cases. The Australian government rushed into commercializing education and paid the price for its short-sighted policies. The Indian media fanned the fire in India by pre-maturely jumping onto the ‘racism’ bandwagon. In the end (and I hope this is the end) common sense prevailed and both sides seem to have realized their misjudgments.

Q.: You are based in Australia and you have interviewed some of the leading Gujaratis such as Tarak Mehta, Morari Bapu, Narendra Modi etc. How do you make it happen sitting oceans away?

I never feel that I am far from India! I talk to someone or the other in India everyday. Distance is relative, and now with technology it seems easier than ever before. Internet has made a world of difference as far as communication is concerned. News and information are lot more accessible now because of India’s advances in technology. I keep abreast with the current events by subscribing to and reading good periodicals and books. Often the time-gap of 5 hours between the two countries becomes a slight problem in recording telephone interviews, but I am prepared to record even late at night, especially if I am getting an ‘exclusive’ or a ‘scoop’! Most interviewees, even the most prominent personalities, are very co-operative and encouraging as soon as they hear about Sur-Samvaad. They appreciate what we are trying to do here and readily spare time for me.

Q.: You are an avid viewer of SpeakBindas. What you have to say about it candidly?

We are both sailing in the same boat, in some ways. I came across your website quite some time ago and I admire your zeal. Interviewing in English is a novel idea and in some ways you are reaching a wider audience. I think the interviewer in me will have to interview the interviewer in you some day! You ought to be congratulated for your efforts in bringing the younger readers closer to personalities who may inspire them and who we all have a lot to learn from.

Q.: Before you get back on Sur-Samvaad Gujarati Radio, one last question. What goes as your special message to today’s youth?

I don’t think I am old enough and wise enough to give anyone a message, but I feel that youth in India today is being bombarded with complaints about them becoming polluted by the Western culture. After living here for 25 years I have come to the realization that both the East and the West have a lot of common values and norms. Everything from the West is not worth shunning, in the same way as everything Eastern is not worth adopting. Western influence in itself should not be so worrying. It is our own ‘vivek-buddhi’ – our own ability to differentiate that can be our salvation. It is best to keep an open mind and allow winds to blow from all directions so that we can inhale the sweetest scents that they bring with them.

I think that today’s youth is bubbling with potential. The amount of creative talent of various types that this generation exhibits is simply awe-inspiring. I have faith in the youth of today; I do not think that they will lose touch entirely with our language or culture. Their interest in all these matters is manifest in different ways than what we are used to. Technology plays an important part in their lives and there is nothing untoward about that. We need to accept the change which we have brought about and provide opportunities for the younger generation to express themselves in their own unique ways.

About

Devang Vibhakar is the Founder and Editor of www.SpeakBindas.com. He has interviewed more than 350 people. His effort was recognized by Limca Book of Records, twice. He has been to Scotland as well as Germany as part of vocational & cultural exchange programs and has compiled five books so far. He's passionate about bringing forth interesting stories & interviews of entrepreneurs to avid readers of SpeakBindas. He can be reached here.

One thought on “Aradhana Bhatt host of Sur-Samvaad Radio

  1. Previous comments:

    #
    deepak doshi March 29, 2010 at 11:06 am

    Really interesting interview. Doing this work as passion is almost SEVA of a refined kind.
    My hearty congratulation to both of you.

    [Reply]
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    Manisha Manish March 29, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    Dear Aradhnaben,

    Very interesting work. Such versetile work! I particularly liked the message for today’s youth. You are actually showing what is true ‘Indianess’ to people in Australia. Congratulations

    Manisha Manish

    [Reply]
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    Suresh Jani March 30, 2010 at 12:36 am

    Very impressive indeed.
    પરદેશમાં રહીને ગુજરાતી ભાષા અને સંસ્કારોની રક્ષાની એમની લગન કાબિલે દાદ છે.
    Suresh Jani´s last blog ..પરિવર્તન – ભાગ 11 : નૈરોબિયન ગુજરાતી My ComLuv Profile

    [Reply]
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    chetu March 30, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    Nice to know abt You Aradhanaji..! …congrats ..!!

    [Reply]
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    Capt. Narendra March 30, 2010 at 11:30 pm

    It is indeed inspiring to see Aradhnaben’s interview. She is one of the few Indians who has made a great impact on the lives of Indian community – especially people from Gujarat by taking Sur Samvad to our community in Sydney, Australia. It is easy to get something from one’s adopted country, but to give is difficult. You have given not only your time and money, but also spread the beauty of our culture, our music and a fresh breeze of fragrance from home. I hope your effort becomes nationwide in the Antipodes.

    [Reply]
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    Do I have a chance of getting into UCLA, Berkeley, Stanford, or UCSD? :The Longtail Music Catalog April 2, 2010 at 7:38 pm

    dilip n mehta, vadodara. April 4, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    dear aradhanaben
    its indeed a wonderful and the most meaningful experience reading yr interview.u r so far from us, and yet so close! intimacy requires no meeting , no chatting and not even an encounter! yr works and words r enough to know u at large as a woman of substance in true sense! salutations again and again to yr passions and perseverance! we r not only proud of u but feel privileged to be with u in the silent process of an iconic journalism!!wishing u all the success in yr endeavor.lovingly yrs, dilipbhai mehta, vadodara.

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About

Devang Vibhakar
Devang Vibhakar
(Editor, www.SpeakBindas.com)
SpeakBindas is a Limca Book of Awards winning blog. It's a PR3 blog with 1000+ articles & Interviews. Devang Vibhakar - Founder - has interviewed more than 350+ people and has been to Scotland, London & Germany. He's a writer, speaker, traveler & movie-goer !! He has also written four books. He's passionate about bringing forth interesting stories & interviews of people from various sectors of life to avid readers of SpeakBindas. You can reach him here .