On Saturday night, I was invited to the Friends of the Banyan fund raiser in West Windsor, New Jersey.

Though I am quite familiar with Banyan, we went there not knowing what to expect as we have never been to a fund raiser in our life before. This was held at a church in West Windsor and it took us quite some time to find the place.

There was a formal introduction by Anil, who gave a very simple but good introduction about the event and why we are there for the evening.

Right after that there was a wonderful karaoke music performance by Chenthil, one of the most popular Indian music singers in NJ area. I have heard him sing about six years ago and I heard him again on Saturday – I can say for sure, he sings amazingly well even today – exactly the way he impressed us all that night many years ago.

Chenthil is an ardent Ilayaraja fan and his song selection was wonderful. Not only did he sing from 70s, 80s, 90s and recent ones, he also sang in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Hindi (not sure if he sang in Malayalam). My most favourite one is the Mandram Vantha Thendral from Mouna Raagam and his rendering of the song was just fabulous.

Then came Renu Weiss, who is a medical expert at the Banyan. She was the pick of the night. Her simple explanations on what is Banyan, where it is today, her role, the plan and the mission were just one of the clearest explanations about any cause I have heard in recent times. My wife was extremely impressed with her approach and it is very rare that she mentions the way she spoke highly of Renu.

Renu’s two young boys also were present during the event and it was just amazing to hear their version of their experiences at the Banyan. All kudos to the kids and their parents for this great service they are doing.

Then there was this amazing dance performance by a young girl, Tharini. It is nice to see these young kids who perform so well to Bollywood numbers.

The entire fund raiser was single handedly managed by a friend of mine (proud to say that) who prefers her name not to be mentioned on the blog. (I understand and respect her thoughts about the same.) She made sure the event went flawless from end to end. She was very humble throughout the event – and credited the success to everyone’s participation/contribution – though I feel she deserves the full credit for the success of this event.

In any case, it was one of the best evenings we have had in the US and will cherish this one for a long time. I really hope my son learns the joy of giving, which many such wonderful people have experienced already in their life.

If any one is interested in this, please feel free to visit the website of Friends of The Banyan

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