Aashka Goradia, the small screen's Kumud, is livid. And it's not because of the heartaches courtesy Garv (Chetan Hansraj) in the Sony soap Kkusum. This time, her ire is directed at a stage show organiser who takes Bollywood and television stars to the US.
I was left high and dry. I knew no one. It was the most miserable experience of my life
— Aashka Goradia
"It was a nightmare. I really don't know how I made it back to Mumbai," she recounts, of her horror trip to America. "I felt so humiliated; the organiser just left me in the lurch," she alleges.
Goradia, who had been to the US earlier on similar events, says that she was approached by Kamlesh Bhuptani Chaku for the trip. Incidentally, Chaku is well known for taking Bollywood and television stars to the US, especially during Navratri.
A few years ago, he had staged the play Ek Se Bhale Do starring Pooja Batra in the city.
These celebrity events were lined up as part of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association of America (AAOHA) convention in Miami. Along with Goradia, there was also Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty, singer Babul Supriyo and item girl Sanober Kabir.
"I was to be the chief guest on a celebrity cruise which was part of AAOHA events.
The other stars were performing in stage shows in Miami," says Goradia, whose ordeal began as soon as she landed in Miami on March 25. "I had to wait for at least 45 minutes before anyone came to pick me up at the airport.
Later, a driver emerged on Chaku's behalf and I was taken to the hotel. But there was no sign of Chaku. I couldn't reach him on the mobile. I was alone at the hotel throughout the day.
Moreover, there were no arrangements made for vegetarian meals. I had to literally starve, even on the long flight to Miami from Mumbai," says Goradia.
The same evening, just before the cruise, after a great deal of persistence "Chaku gave me 50 per cent of my fees," claims Goradia.
The cruise, which took off from Miami, had mainly Indian families. However, there was another experience awaiting Goradia. Immediately after the show, Chaku did a disappearing act.
"I could not reach him on the phone. I was left high and dry. I knew no one. It was the most miserable experience of my life. I just wanted to go to New York as I had a cousin there. It was through her efforts that I managed to reach New York and later Mumbai."
This bitter experience has made Goradia vow never to go to any such tours. "I've told Tv folk to be very wary about such tours".Despite repeated attempts, Chaku remained unavailable for comment.