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Sri Krishna Janmashtami A Conuence of Spirituality, Tradition and Revelry

IIT 2013

Global Conference


A milestone in the cultural calendar of this city


Highlights Energy and Education at 14th Annual Gala

FROM THE PUBLISHER’S DESK It’s been yet another long hot summer, but even warmer climes cannot quell this city’s ecstatic vibrancy. In the Indian community, it’s that time of year when students who’ve spent many years learning the exacting classical dance forms of India ascend the stage for their very first solo performances with the approval of their teachers. Bejeweled and dressed in splendid costumes and ankle bells, they’re yet another generation promulgating the ageold traditional arts that have been hand-delivered to this country by devoted torchbearers from a far off land. Congratulations to the young artistes who had their arangetrams this summer… and to their gurus. Kudos to you. September heralds the advent of that favored word in a parent’s lexicon – routine. The kids are back in school and adhering to routine once again. Life normalizes after the dog days of summer. While we’re grateful for yet another safe season, let us remember those whose lives are constantly under the threat of violence, abuse, and tyranny. Mayor Annise Parker has dedicated the month of September toward creating awareness and helping eradicate the scourge of human trafficking. Join the citywide initiatives and adopt the zero tolerance stance against these crimes against humanity. Warmly,

Kalyani Giri Publisher





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SAMYUKTHA HARI Arangetram Review


September Throws Spotlight on Scourge of


SRI KRISHNA JANMASHTAMI A Confluence of Spirituality, Tradition and Revelry




What I Love About




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At Helm of IIT 2013 Global Conference KALYANI GIRI



The Kallalagar Temple, Alagar Koyil PROFESSOR ANNA DALLAPICCOLA

Sri Krishna Janmashtami A Confluence of Spirituality, Tradition and Revelry

IIT 2013

Global Conference


A milestone in the cultural calendar of this city


Highlights Energy and Education at 14th Annual Gala

HUM Cover August/September 2013


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A Union of All Virtues

SAMYUKTHA HARI Arangetram Review

BY Priya Subramaniam The “union of all virtues” is the symbolic meaning of the Sanskrit word, Samyuktha. And true to this, Houston’s youngest fledgling on the Bharatanatyam horizon, 12-year-old Samyuktha Hari’s arangetram or dance debut, was indeed a magnificent confluence of all dance elements in perfection. It would not be an exaggeration to say that this youngster’s staggering talent held the capacity audience spellbound at the Berry Center on August 10, 2013. Her recital exhibited maturity far beyond her years, and will have fans watching out for the star in the making in future. Samyuktha’s recital bespoke of her natural grace and inborn talent, while the understanding of this deeply traditional classical dance style of South India could only have been possible with the mentorship from her teacher par excellence, Guru Dr. Rathna Kumar, Artistic Director of the Anjali Center of Performing Arts. Dr. Kumar’s rich years of experience and her colossal creativity in choreography came alive in every nuance of her protégé’s presentation. The program began with an invoca-


tory benediction by the senior priest from the Sri Meenakshi Temple in Pearland, Manicka Bhattar. As the little diva made an exhilarating start with the traditional Pushpanjali, she set the momentum for the program. The following piece, Varanamukhava, was a prayer to the god Ganesha, who is worshipped as the remover of all obstacles. Samyuktha’s command over footwork and technique in the next item, the Jathiswaram, was captivating. It was in the next and central piece of the program, the Varnam, Angayarkanni, that Samyuktha’s prodigious aptitude sparkled. A complex composition of Lalgudi Jayaraman, Angayarkanni, comprised several stories about Goddess Meenakshi and Lord Shiva. This Varnam, categorized as Navarasa Varnam depicted the nine moods — valor, love, wonder, anger, fear, disgust, laughter, compassion and peace — and was specially choreographed by Dr. Kumar. One would never imagine how a bubbly preteen could display such capability in understanding the intricacies of human emotions, let alone portray them through faultless abhinaya, (facial expression) on stage. Samyuktha as Angayarkanni, was brilliant, and as it ended on a dramatic note, several eyes in the audience were moist, touched not

August/September 2013

Photos: Navin Mediwala

only by the effervescent and emotional rendition, but also by the power of superhuman forces. So seamless was Samyuktha’s transition from Meenakshi to the Hindu saint/ poetess Andal for the next piece, Andal Pasuram, that the audience once again, was awestruck by her skill. As Yashoda, the doting mother of Lord Krishna, Samyuktha was movingly poignant in her portrayal of motherly love. Gale Bhujanga illustrated the joyous dance of Nataraja, the Lord of Dance. In Adidano Ranga, Samyuktha was the vivacious and mischievous Lord Krishna dancing on a monstrous snake, Kalinga, after conquering him. Dr Kumar’s faith in her disciple’s prowess emerged luminously in the

From left, debutant Samyuktha, Adithya, Rajee & Krishna Hari

From left, B. Muthukumar, Srikanth Gopalakrishnan, Samyuktha & N.K.Kesavan

last piece, Tillana in Gatibedapriya, composed by Dr tion. Scripted and narrated by Samyuktha’s brother Adithya, and Balamurali Krishna. Five stanzas, each set to a different raga edited by Jayanth Kuchana, the video included clips of family (melody) and rhythm, was no minor accomplishment either for and friends who spoke about the dancer and her remarkable the choreographer Dr Kumar, or for the journey in this art. As part of the foyer young lass! decor, flickering lamps, enlarged pho The accomplished orchestra detos of the young dancer, and handlightfully complemented the felicity of crafted dolls dressed in costumes Samyuktha’s dance. Vocalist Srikanth representing the various states of Gopalakrishnan, with his mellifluous voice, India, were showcased. Also disbrought every character and every sentiplayed were dolls descriptively posed ment of the dance to fulfillment. Maestro to relate excerpts from the dance N.K.Kesavan, proficient at over 12 different repertoire. Sreemathy Ranganapercussion instruments, regaled the audithan, and Ranjani Girish from Utsav ence with his boldly imaginative rhythms Decor fashioned the stage and foyer forged with mathematical precision. B. resplendently, providing a glimpse of Muthukumar, the flautist, wove magic and temple towns.  Guests for the event transported everyone to a world of tranquilsportingly dressed according to the ity. Srikar Bellur, on the veena, added soulful color theme for the occasion; pink for strains to the orchestra. women, and green for men.  Samyuktha’s guru Dr. Rathna Kumar,  Dakshin Cuisine catered always so eloquent, could not contain her pre-event snacks and dinner. Phoaffection for her student when presenttographer for the night was Navin ing her with a diploma. While the Haris Mediwala. Venugopal Joysula, on the extended a heart-felt vote of thanks, family dance faculty of the Anjali Center, did friends Nivva Emmi and Yarlini Vipulanana great job with the stage lighting. dan, shared insights into the dancer and  As Samyuktha’s piano teacher Samyuktha with guru Dr. Rathna Kumar teacher’s personalities. HUM Magazine’s Diane Kaldor, Guest of Honor for the publisher, Kalyani Giri, served as Mistress night, proudly applauded her young of Ceremonies for the evening and offered noteworthy introduccharge’s efforts with a “you go girl!” cheer, the audience echoed tions to every item on the richly varied repertoire. the sentiment. Samyuktha also takes Carnatic music lessons  The unison of virtues in Samyuktha’s arangetram, was not and plays volleyball with the same passion that she has for just in her dance, but also in the arrangement of the entire event Bharatanatyam. Her future as a dancer is bright and she seems by her parents, Rajee and Krishna Hari. The evening included the destined to touch hearts and win acclaim screening of a very endearing pre-arangetram video presentawherever she goes. Priya Subramanian is an alumnus of the Asian College of Journalism, Bangalore (subsequently moved to Chennai). She worked as a copy-editor in The Indian Express, Bangalore, before moving to the US. She is currently working as a recruiter with an IT company in Houston, and freelances occasionally. Also a trained Carnatic singer, she enjoys performing with the Govinda Radhe music group in The Woodlands, TX.  


September Throws Spotlight on Scourge of Human Trafficking

Mayor’s Office Kicks Off Awareness Drive Press Release: Terence A. O’Neill On September 24, 2013, Houstonians will gather at City Hall and various community locations to Shine a Light on Human Trafficking. The event will kick off a new awareness campaign to get the community involved in ending human trafficking in Houston. Mayor Annise Parker has made the ending of human trafficking a priority of her administration. The event will give people information about how to prevent human trafficking in their communities, and will also serve to build a coalition of community members who will be able to solve this problem at the community-level. “We want people to know that human trafficking is a serious problem in Houston,” said Mayor Annise Parker. “We also want them to know that they can be proactive in helping solve this problem in their communities.” Shine a Light on Human Trafficking encourages people to become involved by learning the three steps to helping a victim of human trafficking. First, learn what is human trafficking. It does not necessarily imply movement or transportation but also the buying and selling of people. Victims are forced, defrauded and/or coerced to supply services, labor or sex. Realize that human trafficking can and

does happen everywhere. Examples include: The house next door − your neighbor’s maid or nanny; the local nail salon − the nail technician; a local restaurant − the busboy or dishwasher; the construction site down the street − a construction worker; at your front door − the teenager selling magazines house to house. Second, engage by asking someone you suspect as a victim some questions. Ask, “Is anyone forcing you to do anything you do not want to do?”, “Can you leave your job or situation if you want?”, “Have you been threatened if you try to leave?”, “Are you working to pay off a debt or obligation to your employer?” Finally, if you suspect that a human trafficking crime is happening, report it by calling the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline at 1-888-3737-888. Individuals are encouraged to participate and take a stand against human trafficking in Houston by going to the City Hall event, the Galleria, or one of the many events taking place throughout the city during the month of September. Terence A. O’Neill serves as the Division Manager, Office of International Communities, in the Mayor’s office, City of Houston.  

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May 2013

Sri Krishna Janmashtami

Photos: Krishna Giri


A Confluence of Spirituality, Tradition and Revelry Rhapsodized in innumerable poems, songs, dances, books, and theatrical productions, the blue-bodied Lord Krishna is one of the most engaging in the Hindu pantheon of gods. He is the child god, whose curly locks are adorned with a peacock feather. He is the celestial flautist whose music has the power to hypnotize all beings. He is the divine prankster whose mischievous escapades are superseded only by his heroism as the savior of Mankind. The eighth avatar of Lord Vishnu, Krishna is the central figure of the philosophical and theological treatise, the Bhagavad Gita, and Krishna worship can be traced back to the 4th century BC. Every year for the past 23 years, Houston has been privy to the festival of Sri Krishna Janmashtami, the annual celebration of Lord Krishna’s birth anniversary. This year the event with its trademark grandeur, will be held at the George R. Brown Convention Center on September 7, 2013. Arguably the largest of its kind in North America, with wide

participation of Hindus and nonHindus alike, it is a much-anticipated spiritual observance replete with tradition and revelry. Sponsored by the Hindus of Greater Houston (HGH), a non-profit organization, the event is multigenerational, with fun activities for all ages. The occasion is also an opportunity for Hindus to share the richness of their cultural heritage; all are welcome to attend the event, which is free of cost to the public. This year, in commemoration of the 150th year anniversary of the revered Hindu monk and philosopher Swami Vivekananda, organizers are hosting a Dharma and Yoga Fest, which will begin at 2.00pm and incorporate all four types of yoga – Bhakti yoga, Raj yoga, Gyan yoga, and Karma yoga. Swami Vivekananda is credited with bringing yoga to the West. Included in the program are speech contests and panel discussions. Guests will get to meet prominent Hindu leaders from the Houston area. The entertainment segment of the evening, beginning at 6.00pm, promises to be spectacular with a children’s costume competition, where attendees will get to see youngsters dressed as their favorite Hindu gods, or as Swami Vivekananda. Area dance schools will present an

array of professionally choreographed classical and folk dances from the various states and regions of India. Among the highlights of the program will be a drama presentation of the life and works of Swami Vivekananda who, long after his passing, continues to inspire legions of followers globally. Guests will get the opportunity to sample a variety of Indian delicacies at the many food stalls at the festival; there will be decorated booths and temple displays, and a visually pleasing rangoli (ephemeral colored sand art) created by noted artist, Sangeeta Bhutada. For after-dinner enjoyment/relaxation, one can join in the Garba Dandiya Raas, the traditional dance of Vrindavan, India. The festival culminates at midnight with the maha-aarti, the benedictory lighting of the sacred lamps. Â The Hindus of Greater Houston serves to bring Hindus together, and delights in the participation of all diverse communities that reside in this city.

Photos of little Krishnas, Radhas, and gopikas from the Janmashtami 2012 costume contest

14 Photos: Krishna Giri


IACF’S SILVER JUBILEE GALA Celebrating 25 years of Giving

Please join us at our 2013 Annual Gala at the

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Aktaa Patel Aktaa

Bharathanatyam Arangetram On August 3, 2013, the Wortham Theater Center reverberated with the jingle of ankle bells when budding young artist Aktaa Patel ascended the stage to present her very first solo dance recital, or Arangetram, in the traditional Bharathanatyam style of South India. The program was inaugurated with a welcome address by Aktaa’s parents Nital Patel and Dr. Dilip Patel. Her brother Romil recognized and honored special invitees that included US Congressman Pete Olson, Texas Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, Harris County Precinct Three Commissioner Steve Radack, Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia, and Nandita Parvathaneni, wife of Consul General of India to Houston, Hon. Harish Parvathaneni.  To the accompaniment of a live orchestra, Aktaa, a student of Guru Dipti Dave of the Nrityam School of Bharathanatyam, began her performance with the Ganesh Vandana, an invocatory offering of flowers to the elephant-headed god Ganesh, the Remover of all Obstacles. She segued gracefully into the Jatisvaram, an abstract pure dance composition of complex hand and foot patterns set to repetitive rhythmic syllables and musical notes. The following piece, the Dashavataram, described the ten avatars of Lord Vishnu, with stories taken from the scriptures. The hallmark item of the Bharathanatyam repertoire, the Varnam, is a challenging and lengthy piece that adds luster to the recital through detailed storytelling and meticulous facial expressions and body movement. Aktaa’s choice of Varnam depicted the poet saint Mirabai’s sringara bhakti, or divine love, for her beloved Lord Krishna, the blue-bodied god; royalty by birth, Mirabai shunned worldliness and overcame great obstacles to immerse herself in the worship of Krishna, and ultimately merged with the god. The theme of Krishna and his life was further explored in the Padam, through episodes that told of his valor as the protector of his devotees. Between items, Aktaa, who started dance lessons at age four, changed into arresting costumes in a


variety of jewel-toned hues. Lord Shiva Nataraja, the eternal Lord of the Dance, shone through with sculpted poses and fast footwork in the Kirthanam, that also paid homage to the gods Brahma and Vishnu. The feminine, lissome beauty of the Goddess Parvati was juxtaposed with her fierceness as the one who vanquished the evil demon Mahishasura to save mankind from destruction. Aktaa’s Arangetram reached its pinnacle with the Tillana, an energetic, exhilarating item replete with melody,

August/September 2013

Collage creation: Manish Patel

Photo: Krishna Giri From left: Lopa Dave, Hemant Dave, Dipti Dave, Omkar Dave & Mauli Dave

Photo: Bijay Dixit From left: Dr. Dilip Patel, danseuse Aktaa Patel, Nital Patel & Romil Patel


quick movements, and staccato phrases of notation. The Tillana culminated in a stanza extolling the various gods in the Hindu pantheon, and was followed by the final item for the evening, the Mangalam, a benediction to Aktaa’s guru, the orchestra, and the audience who in turn gave her a resounding standing ovation. The orchestra was comprised mostly of family of Guru Dipti Dave. At the helm of the talented musical ensemble were the father and daughter duo, Hemant Dave, a classical vocalist, and Mauli Dave, who gained fame with her participation in India’s Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge; she’s also a playback singer who has worked with music directors in the ilk of Bappi Lahiri and Pritam. Dipti’s son Dr. Omkar Dave, an orthopedic surgeon, served dually as a very eloquent Master of Ceremonies and the percussionist for the evening; Omkar’s wife, Lopa Dave, who was the adept stage manager for the program, is also one of Dipti’s senior students. Flautist Sudhir Dave and violinist Biplab Samadder proficiently completed the orchestra. Aktaa Patel is academically accomplished and attends the Space Center Intermediate School in the Omega Program for gifted and talented students. She is actively involved with the school’s orchestra. Aktaa’s father Dr. Dilip Patel is a social and community activist and a generous philanthropist. Mention must also be made of Aktaa’s mother, Nihal, a passionate and accomplished dancer who also performed her arangetram under the able guidance of Dipti Dave a few years ago. Noteworthy is it that Dipti has created awareness and promulgated the beautiful Bharathanatyam style of dance in the local Gujarati community, where the South Indian idiom isn’t well known; she should be commended for her efforts. Following the recital, guests were treated to a delicious dinner catered by Bombay Brasserie and BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha at the ornately decorated foyer at Wortham Center.

What I Love About


BY DOMINIQuE SACHSE As a journalist, I must remain objective in my storytelling, present all sides and try not to tip my hat. Now, I have this wonderful opportunity to be subjective about something near and dear to my heart, my hometown. I’ve been asked, “What I love about Houston,” and I know right where to start. It’s where everyone starts when asked that question, a universal nod in agreement, the unifier of our mixed backgrounds and walks of life. It’s the kindness of our citizens. Basically said, we have good people, people who care, people who give, people who smile. Houston is the perfect example of neighbor helping neighbor. I see it in our newscasts time and time again when someone is wronged. There’s always a neighbor who steps in to make things right. Or just walk around town. Go to restaurants, shops, run errands, I dare you to find someone who won’t greet you, ask how you are, how can you be helped or just flash a mega-watt smile your way. It’s for this reason that we’re described as a big small town, very down-home and comfy. And if you’re not from here, watch out, it will rub off on you like a Sharpie pen. I’ve seen edgy personalities transformed by living in Houston, even a “ya’ll” dished out from time to time by those who swore they’d never talk Texas. It makes me chuckle,

but I’m not surprised. Houstonians are infectious. Those with deep roots and long drawn-out vowels have an uncanny way of swooning the newest transplant and making them feel like they’ve been handed a warm blanket and a cup of cocoa. It’s just the Texas way, and thankfully Houston, with its sizzling economy, rich blend of cultures, influx of new residents and varied demographics still maintains this down-home sense of values. In all honesty, it’s why I’ve stayed here. The quality of life is good, and frankly it’s our day-to-day interactions with people that will determine how much we feel a city is the right fit. I’ve lived here since I’m 8, grew up in Houston schools and work in the Houston news market. Sure, there have been opportunities to lure me away, but in the end, it was a quality of life decision that kept me here, and I couldn’t be happier about that. I’ve met the most wonderful man, who’s now my husband, we have six great kids combined, delightful friends, good schools for our children, enjoyable co-workers and associates. You see where I’m going with this. People! So, in the end, if you feel like griping about the humidity, high property taxes or long waits in traffic, at least you’ll find someone to chat up about it. Who knows, could be a best friend in the making.

Dominique Sachse is the evening news anchor and a broadcast journalist at the television station KPRC Local 2 since 1993. Her repertoire of major stories that she has covered in her distinguished career include President George W Bush’s inauguration in January 2001 and Pope John Paul II’s visit to Mexico City canonizing Juan Diego in 2002. So were her London trips to cover the Royal Wedding in 2010 and the Olympics in 2012. She has an Emmy and several AWRT awards for on-air personality, the prestigious Edward R. Murrow as show host for “Jennifer’s Story,” as well as accolades from the Houston Press club and the Texas Associated Press.  The University of Houston, her alma mater, named her an “Outstanding Young Communications Alumna” and “Distinguished Alumni.” More than anything in the world, she cherishes her roles as parent, wife, and step-mom.

August/September 2013

Vinod Khosla

Vicente Fox

Gururaj Deshpande

Peter Diamandis

Bharat Desai

Global Conference on


Annise Parker

Renu Khator

Spencer Berthelsen

BY PRADEEP ANAND Local alumni of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) will host the IIT 2013 Global Conference at the Hilton-Americas, December 6 to 8. International, national and local speakers have accepted invitations to this open-to-all conference, whose theme is Inspiring Innovation for Tomorrow. Many luminaries and thought-leaders have confirmed their participation and many more are at various stages of acceptance. Some of the confirmed speakers are: Vinod Khosla (Khosla Ventures, Founder Sun Microsystems), Vicente Fox (Former President of Mexico), Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande (President/Chairman, Sparta LLC), Peter Diamandis (Founder, X-Prize), Bharat Desai (Chairman/Co-founder, Syntel), Annise Parker (Mayor, City of Houston), Renu Khator (Chancellor/President, University of Houston), Spencer Berthelsen (Chairman/Managing Director, Kelsey Seybold Clinic) and David Leebron (President, Rice University). The conference has a thought- and action- provoking main course, sprinkled with opportunities to socialize, reignite old friendships and create new ones, and for lightheartedness and entertainment. By 2045, the world’s population is expected to rise to 9 Billion people, all of whom would

Usha Uthup expect a decent education and a heathy, quality life. To assure a bright future, the world will need 50% more food, 30% more water and 50% more energy. The conference has chosen STEEL threads--Sustainability, Technology, Education, Energy. Life Sciences--to weave a tapestry of innovations. Usha Uthup, the popular Indian pop, jazz and Filmfare Award-winning playback singer, will lead the entertainment lineup. Her electric performances have entertained audiences across the globe. The IIT Global Conference is open to all who wish to attend but registration is required. For more information, please visit

David Leebron Pradeep Anand is president of Seeta Resources,, a consulting firm that helps business leaders cope with change, resulting in accelerated growth. He is the author of An Indian in Cowboy Country: Stories from an Immigrant’s Life.



Witty Bindra

At Helm of IIT 2013 Global Conference BY KALYANI GIRI I’m talking with Witty Bindra, the urbane young CEO of Goldshire Developers, LLC, a leading commercial developer and contractor specializing in office, industrial, public and federal projects. He’s also the President of the Indian Institutes of Technology Alumni of Greater Houston (IITAGH), a mantle of leadership that he assumed in March 2012. Serendipitously, and during his tenure, Houston has been selected as the host city for the IIT 2013 Global Conference to be held December 6 – 8, at the Hilton Americas, a circumstance of great prestige for Witty and IITAGH. It’s an exciting challenge that he and his team are dedicating long hours to facilitate to the best of their abilities. It is the very first time that the IIT conference will be held in a southern state in the US; previous host cities included Chicago, New York City, and San Jose. About 1,500 – 2,000 are expected to attend the event. “I’m blessed and honored to have the conference here and get to showcase Houston and southern hospitality,” says Witty. “My goal is to deliver a stunning event, and I’m delighted to give people a glimpse into how exceptionally well Indians are doing professionally, especially in the US. IIT has given them the platform to portray their talents,” adds Witty. Photo: Krishna Giri There are over 150,000 IIT graduates worldwide. About 1000 reside in Houston. IIT alumni hold a proven track record as strong innovators, successful executives and technologists in the corporate world, entrepreneurial ventures, academia, and in almost every walk of life. Confirmed speakers at the event include visionaries in the exalted ilk of Vinod Khosla (Khosla Ventures, Founder Sun Microsystems), Bharat Desai (Chairman/Co-founder, Syntel), Gururaj Deshpande (President/Chairman, Sparta LLC), to name a few. “We’re bringing together the best and the brightest minds to brainstorm and help solve the world’s biggest challenges,” says Witty. The conference will provide opportunities for alumni to reunite and rekindle friendships, exchange ideas, create coalitions, listen to world-class thinkers, and enjoy light entertainment in a convivial environment. Headlining the entertainment will be Indian pop singer Usha Uthup; there will be performances by the local rock band Fab 5, and by stand-up comic Dan Nainan.


Guests could also avail of an excursion to NASA and Kemah Boardwalk. A veritable globetrotter who has lived and worked in Singapore, the UK, Australia, Germany, New Zealand and in cities within the US, Witty, 43, put down roots in Texas in 2004, the year he married his wife, Lubeena. They are proud parents to sons Tegh and Harekas. In 2009, Witty founded Goldshire Developers and hasn’t looked back. “We love Texas. It’s a friendly state and very conducive to raising a family,” says Witty. “I’d like my boys to study and possibly work here as there are many opportunities here,” he adds. He is very proud of his cultural heritage. When he lived in New Zealand, he became the first turbaned Sikh to be accepted as a commissioned officer into the Royal New Zealand Navy Volunteer Reserve. “If you are proud of, respect and value your traditions, people have no choice but to respect you,” says Witty reflectively. Growing up, his family sometimes moved from their native New Delhi to locations where his father’s job with the International Airport Authority of India would take them. Witty’s parents are now retired and live in New Zealand. An accomplished student, Witty earned a Bachelors degree in Civil Engineering and a Diploma in Construction Management in India. He has a Masters Degree in Geotechnical Engineering from IIT in Delhi, and a MBA in Project Management and International Business from Massey University, New Zealand. In 1995, he was the recipient of the Confederation of British Industry Scholarship to train in the UK. While there, he gained experience in the use, design and practical applications of geosynthetic products in the construction industry, which was valuable when he joined the Airports Authority of India as an Assistant Executive Engineer from 1993 to 1997. After several years of working and gaining experience in his field around the world, Witty’s odyssey brought him to the US. He sits on the editorial advisory committee of the trade magazine, Geosynthetics. Witty is determined to make the IIT 2013 Global Conference a resounding success. Armed with his brand of enthusiasm, confidence, sense of humor, and the capacity to juggle a truckload of mind-boggling logistics, it’s tough to envision a better person for the job. Witty’s definitely the man.

Witty Bindra was the first turbaned Sikh to be accepted as a commissioned officer into the Royal New Zealand Navy Volunteer Reserve

August/September 2013

Admire the Mughal’s love of architecture Admire a Mughal’s love for his wife

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Alagar Koyil, Kallalagar temple, Kalyana mandapa, interior (Courtesy of John and Fausta Eskenazi, photo C. Ganesan)

e g a m i r Pilg l i y o K r a ag l A , e l p m e T r a g a l a l l The Ka BY PROFESSOR ANNA DALLAPICCOLA Alagar Koyil, one of the 108 Vaishnava divya deshams, is situated in the remote and picturesquely wooded Alagar Hills some 20 kilometers to the northeast of Madurai (South India). The temple, probably a twelfth-century Pandya foundation, is dedicated to a form of Vishnu, Sundararaja Perumal. The deity, however, is generally known as Alagar ‘the beautiful’ or Kallalagar ‘the beautiful Lord of the Kallars’. The latter name refers to the Kallars, formerly a warrior community, settled in that area. According to the local tradition, Alagar, eventually, conquered them, and they became his bodyguards. Alagar is thought to be the brother of Meenakshi and plays an important role in the yearly Chittirai (April-May) festival-celebrating the wedding of Meenakshi to Sundaresvara — which takes place in Madurai. As the brother of


the goddess Meenakshi, Alagar is invited to participate in the celebrations of her wedding. The exact time of the wedding is not made clear to him. When after some days of travel he and his entourage reach the Vaigai River, he meets Kudalalagar (another aspect of Vishnu worshipped in Madurai) who tells him that the wedding has already taken place. Alagar, feeling insulted that the ceremony has been celebrated without him, hands the presents for the bride over to Kudalalagar, but refuses to enter the city. He then turns around, and proceeds along the north bank of the Vaigai, spends the night in Vandiyur, and on the next day he returns to the Alagar Hills. In the past, the two festivals were unconnected and took place at different times. In the sixteenth, and particularly in the seventeenth century, during the reign of

Tirumala Nayaka (1623-1659), this remote temple became very important. Tirumala, the most distinguished of the Madurai Nayakas, a shrewd statesman and a great patron of the arts and architecture had an interest in keeping the Kallar territory under his control and this, among other reasons, prompted him not only to lavishly patronize the Alagar temple, but also to join the two festivals for political and devotional reasons. Since then, the Alagar Koyil Chittirai festival overlaps the last four days of the Madurai festival. Under Tirumala Nayaka’s patronage substantial additions were made to the original temple. The most notable are: the Kalyana mandapa, to the east of the entrance to main shrine, and the Vasanta mandapa, to the south, near the unfinished south gopuram. The exterior of the Kalyana mandapa is rather plain. Its majestic interior, however, cannot fail to impress the visitor. The most striking feature of this imposing hall is the figural sculpture on the twenty columns on the side of the spacious

central aisle. Large, three-dimensional figures of Vaishnava deities alternating with rearing fabulous beasts, yalis, leap, as it were, towards the visitor proceeding towards the enthroned deities. Flanking the east-end of the marriage hall are two lifesize images of kings, their hands in anjali mudra, forever paying homage to the god. During the five-day marriage festival, which takes place in Panguni (March-April), the sumptuously dressed and bejewelled metal images of gods Perumal, Bhu Devi, and Sri Andal are placed on the stone platform at the western end of the Kalyana mandapa, where they receive the homage of the devotees. Vasanta mandapas are among the architectural innovations of the Nayaka period; they were created for the exclusive purpose of the Vasantotsava celebrations, and left unused during the rest of the year. The Vasanta mandapa at Alagar Koyil is an unassuming structure, which can be easily overlooked. In its interior is a square island surrounded by a deep trench, on which is a throne platform with four columns. During the

Alagar Koyil, Kallalagar temple complex, Kalyana mandapa, royal portraits at the east entrance. (Courtesy of John and Fausta Eskenazi, photo C. Ganesan)

August/ September 2013

Alagar Koyil, Vasanta mandapa, moat and central island (Courtesy of John and Fausta Eskenazi, photo C. Ganesan)

Alagar Koyil, Vasanta mandapa, central tableau (ceiling, central island): Alagar anked by Sri Devi, Kalyana Sundaravalli Nacchiyar and other deities as seen in the main sanctuary (Courtesy of John and Fausta Eskenazi, photo C. Ganesan) ten-days of the Vasantotsava in Vaikaci (May-June), Kallalagar and his consorts are taken each evening to this mandapa for a couple of hours, the trench is filled with water, and the whole structure decorated with flowers. The main attraction of this modest structure, however, is an extensive, albeit damaged series, of early eighteenth century murals illustrating the Ramayana from the beginning until the awakening of Kumbhakarna (Fig. 7). At this point, the series comes then to an abrupt end; it is unclear whether it was ever completed. This is, probably, the only Vasanta mandapa in which the paintings are still extant, and one of the most complete painted Ramayana sets in southern Tamil Nadu. The vast majority of the surviving painting in Tamil Nadu dates from the Nayaka period, late sixteenth to early eighteenth period. Typical of such paintings are the bright colours, often dominated by red backgrounds, and the sharply defined line work. There is no uniform Nayaka style, as each region developed its own particular idiom. Like the majority of Nayaka


Alagar Koyil, Vasanta mandapa, (ceiling, central island): the arrival of Rishyashringa in Ayodhya and the celebration of the putrakameshti yajna (photo A.L. Dallapiccola) murals, those in the Vasanta mandapa were executed on walls and ceiling which had been prepared by applying two coats of lime plaster, the topmost of which was finely finished. Once the plaster had dried, the painters commenced their work. The colours were obtained from plants and minerals which were mixed with vegetable gum for binding. The paintings are two-dimensional, and the emotions of the characters are vividly expressed by their gestures and body-language. Buildings, cityscapes and landscapes are schematically but effectively rendered. The paintings are laid out on the ceiling of the central island (Balakanda), on the walls of the mandapa (part of the Balakanda, and Ayodha-, Aranya-, Kishkindhakanda) — on two registers immediately beneath the ceiling — and the Sundaraand Yuddha-kandas on the ceiling of its east corridor. The emphasis on the Balakanda narrative is not surprising: it is most varied and gave the painters ample scope to show their virtuosity depicting courtly life, ceremonial, and pageant, and to dwell on the details of costumes, jewellery, headgear and other

appurtenances. There has been a progressive decay in the state of the murals since my first visit there in 1988. Water infiltration has damaged parts of the east and west walls, and a substantial portion of the ceiling of the east corridor. Sections of the narrative have disappeared on the east, south, west, and north walls. The best preserved murals, however, are to be found on the ceiling of the central island. At its centre is a large tableau depicting Sri Kallalagar — with consorts and attendant deities as seen in the garbhagriha of the temple (Fig. 5). Part of the Balakanda narrative laid out in narrow strips in pradakshina sense is arranged around the central tableau (Fig. 6). Each strip must be read in opposite directions: the first has to be read from left to right, the second from right to left, and so on. The paintings are provided with Tamil explanatory captions written on a black background. Unfortunately the labels do not mention the patron’s or the painter’s names, and, more crucially, there is nothing which may hint at the date when this set of paintings was prepared. An interesting feature observed in these murals is the rendering of numerous customs, typical of this part of the country e.g. in the depictions of births, marriages, funerals, and domestic

life, which would have appealed to the viewer. Particularly fascinating in this retelling of the Ramayana is the variety of sources which inspired the painters. Although by and large the artists have followed Kamban’s Iramavataram (twelfth century) there are a number of episodes which have been drawn from the Telugu tradition, in particular from Ranganatha Ramayana (fourteenth century). The episode of Rama shooting pellets of mud at Manthara, initiating thus a fatal animosity between them, appears both in Kamban’s Iramavataram and in the Ranganatha Ramayana, albeit at different places and with some variations. Rama and Sita falling in love at the mere sight of one another is found only in Kamban’s version of the story. Again, the painters drew on Kamban’s elaborate description when illustrating Dasharatha’s journey to Mithila. It is possible that the painters followed an oral tradition which had freely borrowed from Valmiki, Kamban and the Ranganatha Ramayana and, perhaps, from other popular versions of the story. Finally, one must always remember that the story of Rama and Sita offers endless scope for variations.

Professor Anna L. Dallapiccola has a Ph.D in Indian Art History, a Habilitation (D.Litt.) from University of Heidelberg, Germany. A former Professor of Indian Art at the South Asia Institute of Heidelberg University from 1971 to 1995, she was appointed Honorary Professor at Edinburgh University in 1991, and has regularly lectured at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London. From 2000 to 2004 she was Visiting Professor at De Montfort University, Leicester. She, along with Drs. Michell and Fritz, participated in the Vijayanagara Research Project from 1984 to 2001 writing mainly on sculpture and iconography. Her Catalogue of South Indian Paintings in the collection of the British Museum has been published in May 2010 and the monograph The Great Platform at Vijayanagara in August 2010. Her Indian Painting: The Lesser Known Traditions, proceedings of an international conference held in Houston in 2008, was published in April 2011. She resides in Edinburgh, Scotland.


IFFH A milestone in the cultural calendar of this city An elegant soiree that raised the curtain on the upcoming 5th Annual Indian Film Festival of Houston (IFFH) Inc., was hosted by the Consul General of India to Houston Honorable Parvathaneni Harish and his wife Nandita at their Memorial area home on August 22, 2013. The cocktails and dinner event, fêted India’s epoch-making 100 Years of Indian Cinema, and proffered a select group of benefactors, IFFH board of directors and advisors, and media, a preview of the non-profit organization’s schedule which will include screenings of acclaimed and award winning films, symposia, and educational forums October 4 through October 6, 2013. The IFFH’s Founder/Director Sutapa Ghosh told guests that she initiated the non-profit organization in this vastly international city to encourage a greater appreciation of Indian cinema and culture by showcasing high caliber films that honor entertainment industry performers and filmmakers, while promoting the panoramic perspectives of the Indian Diaspora through an annual event. “IFFH is host to a broad mix of consumers that cover the entire economic spectrum, which provides us, and our sponsors a unique opportunity to widen name recognition in several different demographics,” said Kolkata-born Ghosh, an avid filmmaker who has produced two Bengali movies, Utsab and Titli, both directed

Photo: Krishna Giri

From left, Consul General of India to Houston Honorable Parvathaneni Harish, his wife Nandita, IFFH’s Founder/Director Sutapa Ghosh and IFFH Director Atul Badwal by the storied (late) Rituparno Ghosh. She added that the volunteer-driven IFFH has partnered with the Asia Society Texas Center (ASTC), and screenings, programs, and the awards evening will take place at ASTC’s stateof-the-art Brown Foundation Performing Arts Theater on Southmore. This year, IFFH received 92 film submissions, all well made and funded; twelve will be shown at the Festival, said Ghosh. Some highlights of the festival are: Gaynor Baksho (The Jewelry Box), Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay’s famous tale of three generations of women and their changing position in society seen in relation to a box of jewels, directed by Aparna Sen; Celluloid, the story of J.C. Daniel, who made the first ever Malayalam film Vigathakumaran in 1928, resulting in his exile and eventual downfall; Beyond Bollywood, directed by Adam Dow and Ruchika Mucchala, which over a period of four years, follows four artists working in the world’s fastest growing film industry; and The Golden Hour, directed by Jessica MacGaugh and Roma Sur, and tells of a 29 year old man who leaves behind a corporate job and takes on the convoluted political and social systems of India. The IFFH offers Jury awards for Best Feature, Best Documentary, Best Short and Special Recognition Awards for Industry Leaders. The IFFH is an official event on the International Film Festival circuit and some previous winners have been recognized on the international film circuit as winners and nominees. The documentary Smile Pinky that won the award for Best Documentary at IFFH in 2009 won an Oscar for Best Documentary. The feature film Udaan, winner of Best Picture at IFFH in 2010, went on to win seven National Awards at the Filmfare awards, the Indian-equivalent of the Oscars. In his comments at the kick-off dinner party, Consul General Harish lauded Ghosh for being a visionary. “What Sutapa started has evolved into an important milestone in the cultural calendar of this city. For us Indians, movies are in our blood, we hail from a very diverse and dynamic country where more films are made in regional languages other than Hindi,” said Hon. Harish. “Sutapa has taken the initiative, got some of the best films, and put Houston on the film circuit,” he added.

AS Celluloid


the abandoned, aged schoolmistress Miss She has the face of the Bengali godStoneham, a relict of the British in postcodess, its classic lines giving way to the shy lonial India, resuscitated briefly into livelislant of Jamini Roy breathing life into her ness by the prospect of “adoption” by her as the girl/woman next door. She has the ivory delicacy of a young girl combined with young Bengali ex-pupil and her canny lover, only to plunge back into a life of resigned the serene grace and charm of the salonyet heroic loneliness by the recognition of niere. She is understated, yet mod. She is always hip, yet timeless. She is Aparna Sen, having been used by them as an unwitting hotelier for their pre-marital passion. How the first lady of Bengali cinema, and one of stirring it was to watch the incomparable India’s best and most celebrated directors. Jennifer Kapoor wandering the cruel ChristSen was born to a man eminent for mas Eve gaieties of Calcutta’s posh areas, his take on films, especially well known for chanting to a stray dog the lines of Shakehis distaste of “popular cinema,” the kind speare’s Lear: that India is best known for. Her father, Chidananda Dasgupta, was not only a n: film lover, a connoisseur of art and away to priso Come, let’s e: ! g o n ca , o e avant garde film, but a critic and con , th o i’ n “No, like birds g n si wn, ill o w d l e n founder of the Calcutta Film Society , I’ll knee We two alo me blessing we’ll live, k as st o with none other than Satyajit Ray. d u s: so When tho ee forgivenes laugh Well, she certainly did right by her And ask of th , and tell old tales, and g n es u si g d ro father’s values. Brought up under r an ear poo And pray, too, erflies, and h tt em u b th such auspices and breathing the rareh ed it w ild g At we’ll talk d an s; ew n rt fied cinematic atmosphere created ...” Talk of cou d who wins; by masters of world cinema such as Who loses an Kurosawa, Eisenstein, Bergman and of course Ray himself, it is no wonder that when Aparna Sen began making Of course, the film was allegorical, films, they had the flavor of stark realism one of the very first poeses, now all too combined with the mellifluous sensibilcommon in India, about the detritus of ity of Bengali literature and culture. Her empire: the Anglo-Indians and their placedirectorial debut – 36 Chowringhee Lane, lessness in Indian society. Earlier, in Ma1981 – took the flickering world of Indian hanagar (The Great City, 1963) by Satyajit avant garde cinema by storm, and won the Ray, a glimpse of this world had been seen. Golden Eagle for Best Film at the Manila But Sen lavished this poor, frail, wasted International Film Festival, besides Best and noble life of the elderly Anglo-Indian Direction and Best Cinematography at the woman with all the aura and grandeur of National Awards. pathos morphing into ageless tragic narraShe is that rare Indian woman who tives of the human condition. has succeeded as a director in the world She is also the woman’s filmmaker. of Indian cinema, and the wonder of this Since 36 Chowringhee Lane, her films have point cannot be stressed enough. I still included Parama, Paromitar Ek Din, and the remember viewing 36 Chowringhee Lane incomparable Mr. & Mrs. Iyer. Each film is for the first time some time after its initial a focused and intense vignette of what the release. I marveled at the tender nuance of individual, caught up in world affairs and the portrayal of the banal everyday life of

social struggles, is capable of in the midst of despair, treachery and betrayal. In each film, this talented director brings to life on the screen the small tragedies and the intimate triumphs of the human spirit, its everyday victories against cruelty, violence, injustice, oppression, sheer stupidity, and grunting cupidity. Fed intellectually and creatively by the world’s richest treasure trove of literary imagination and reflection upon the human condition by South Asian and world writers — Bankim Chandra Chatopadhyay, Rabindranath Tagore, Tarasankar Bandopadhyay, Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay, Mahashweta Devi, Arundhati Roy and Mohsin Hamid as well as Milan Kundera, Naguib Mahfouz, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Garcia Marquez, Isaac Bashevis Singer and J. M. Coetzee are her favorite authors — Sen is clearly the product of a rich cross-fertilization of manners, mores and moods. And it shows richly and uniquely in her cinema. Her acting career is by no means stagnant or a thing of the past, however. Even in 2009, she acted in Antaheen – a film about the contemporary nexus of corporate and political interests in today’s “Shining India” – and took it to win four National Film Awards. We all look for women to look up to in a world where their strength and their creativity often goes unnoticed. Yes, Sen was born into a manner which lent fillip to her creativity and her endurance as actor, artist and director. Yet, without considerable savoir faire and savoir vivre, the vision for the modern Indian woman that she has traced into being would be impossible. We owe her deep thanks for a world she has created out of the resonance and ruminations of worlds before hers, beyond hers, and indeed by her.

Nandini Bhattacharya is Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in English at Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas. She has written scholarly books and essays on colonial and postcolonial writing, and is recently the author of a book on Indian cinema (Hindi Cinema: Repeating the Subject [Routledge, 2012]). Being a lover of contemporary Indian English literature by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Amitav Ghosh, Arvind Adiga and Jhumpa Lahiri, she is turning her energies also to repeating her passion for writing in the creative genre.



Organizes Eid Milan for the Community


Photo: Quaid Tinwala

The fourth annual Eid Milan celebrations hosted by the Indian Mayor Parker greeted the members on the occasion and Muslim Association of Greater Houston (IMAGH) captured the true spoke of the diversity of Houston. spirit of the festival Ramadan bringing together people of Indian “I have a challenge to run, market and love this city. And all origin, their friends and families. Over 500 guests gathered on of those things are easy when you have a city like Houston with so Sunday, August 18, 2013, at the Chateau Crystale in Houston where many communities and cultures that come together. IMAGH is a the celebrations were held. Distinguished guests included Chief perfect example of that kind of synergy, people of good intentions, Guest, Hon. Annise Parker, Mayor of Houston; Grand Patron Hon. who work together to make continuous progress,” she said. Charles Foster; Hon. P. Harish, Consul General of India, Houston; Grand patron Hon. Charles Foster conveying his Eid greetTexas State Representative Gene Wu; Sugar Land Councilman Harings on the occasion said, “Indian Muslims are the second largest ish Jajoo; presidents of leading Indian-American organizations and in number in the world. The IMAGH promotes a positive image of community leaders. India in the United States as the progressive, diverse and tolerant “Life is not just a journey from birth to death. Life is what you country through its many activities, including senior citizens events, do for others,” said IMAGH president Latafath Hussain welcoming educational development of the youth and promotion of the spirit the guests at the event. “Unlike most Indian-American organizaof volunteerism,” said Foster, Co-Chairman of Foster & Quan, LLP, a tions, the IMAGH’s objective leading immigration law firm. is to serve Houstonians, ”Every path is true to the believer,” to provide a platform from said Hon. P. Harish, Consul General of where they can achieve sucIndia, Houston, delivering his message cess, to serve seniors and on Unity in Diversity. He gave a detailed juniors of the community.” history of the creation of the Indian Hussain then spoke about constitution and how it came about to the two major initiatives of be so unique. “We evolved with inclusion IMAGH: the Club 65 and the and exclusion. In India inclusion prevailed Young Adults Association over exclusion,” he said. “When you’re that is yet to be launched. He dealing with a nation which has every dialso mentioned that IMAGH versity in terms of religion, race, language, plans to build a community culture, there has to be a factor that encenter in Houston. sures that everybody is represented,” he Sabir Fakhruddin, said. Speaking of India’s secularism that From left, Latafath Hussain, President of IMAGH; Hon. P. Harish, upholds freedom of practicing one’s faith, Chairman, Club 65 gave a Consul General of India to Houston; Grand Patron Hon. Charles he said, “You can wear what faith means detailed account of the orFoster; Abeezar Tyebji, Chairman, Board of Advisors ganization, its objectives and to you – everywhere.” its goals. IMAGH launched Receiving thunderous applauds Club 65 on April 7, 2013 to provide a platform to seniors in the South to his statements on India, P. Harish concluded by stating, “Our Asian community to socialize, to encourage seniors to run the Club (Indian) constitutional blueprint has served us well. The success of themselves, to be able to do activities of their choice, to build selfIndia is in keeping the circle of inclusion wide.”   confidence mentally and physically. It caters to stay at-home seniors Abeezar Tyebji, Chairman, Board of Advisors gave a summaby involving both the active seniors and young adults with activities tion of IMAGH and its future goals. This was followed by an Awards like picnics, lunches, seminars, cooking classes and movies. Ceremony; this year’s Community Award’s recipient was Aziz Dr. Moyeen Haque, Chair, Young Adults Group, sketched the Jamaluddin. young adults’ project plans for 2014. “The group is in its final stages A number of young adult volunteers were notably involved in of being organized and will be officially launched in 2014,” Haque the Eid Milan. The IMAGH’s efforts and hospitality in bringing the said. Its purpose is to serve our young adults by providing a platform Houston community together was remarkable exclusively for them to keep them informed about India, their heritand will be long cherished. A fitting festival dinner age, traditions, cultures, values and roots. It will also provide a forum was served before the guests were treated to a for mentorship,” he added. live qawwali performance by Riyaaz Qawwali. Shobana Muratee is a career journalist with a Masters Degree in journalism residing in Houston. She is the editor and correspondent for Voice of Asia, a local publication.

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Entertainment by NAACH Houston; Attire by Sari Sapne; Food by DAAWAT/Madras Pavilion; Photography Meticulously planned, and with by Bijay Dixit, Unique Photo Images; Linen and decor by Touch of Elegance; outstanding results, the Indo AmeriDesign by Redwing Creative. can Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston (IACCGH) shook off myths of being traditionalist and pedantic when it hosted a stylish and high voltage 14th Annual Gala at the Hilton Americas onTX August 17, 2013. Predominantly Houston, 77027 | T: 713-624-7131 | E: | in elegant Indian attire, was a veritable From left: Executive Director of IACCGH Jagdip Ahluwalia, Who’s Who list of a dynamic and diPresident-Elect Sanjay Ram, Mayor of Houston Annise Parker, verse representation by business, civic, Asha and Pankaj Dhume President of IACCGH Pankaj Dhume and political leaders, professionals, and socialites, whose support champiFrom oned the organization’s vision to proleft: BMC mote trade ties and economic growth Software between US and India, and serve the CEO Robert needs of the Indo American and all Beauchamp business communities in the greater with Consul Houston area. Members of Congress General of Sheila Jackson Lee, Al Green and Pete India to Olson, and Houston Mayor Annise Houston Parker were present and lauded the Hon. P. chamber for promoting cross business Harish pollination in the local community and with India. The theme for the evening was Empowering Energy and EducaMistress and Master of Ceremonies Tanya Pal and Rick Pal tion. Notably, Panchshil, an Indian company underwrote the gala; a coup for IACCGH and a telling illustration of the organization’s significance in fostering business and trade relations between the US and India. In his welcome address, IACCGH’s Executive Director Jagdip Ahluwalia, also a visionary founder member of the organization back in 1999, spoke of his pride in the annual gala and of the chamber’s role in predicting the needs of the community. Pankaj Dhume, President of IACCGH, reiterated the evening’s theme of education and energy, which encapsulates the chamber’s focus for 2013 – 2014; in both areas, he added, India is a large consumer and the US is a major From left: Suresh Khator, Chancellor of University of Houston Dr. Renu Khator, Jay Guerrero supplier. Over the next few decades, (Regional Director Office of Senator John Cornyn), Monica Garcia and Sheriff Adrian Garcia the US will be the net exporter of enMEDIA UNDERWRITER


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ergy, and India, the net importer. Education, said Dhume, provides a similar business opportunity for both countries and the Indo American community. “The US has long been a leader in academic education and vocational training. India needs vocational training now more than ever. India has now become self-sufficient in agriculture and because of this, there is a migration of millions of people from the rural countryside to urban areas in search of jobs,” said Dhume. “We are working to create an alliance between vocational training institutes in Houston and in India. We are proud to have the University of Houston, Houston Community College, and the Houston Baptist University as our members and they are well represented here this evening,” he added. Dhume told gatherees of the chamber’s progress in what has been an exultant year of ‘firsts’. The chamber initiated and participated in a live video conference at the annual gala of the Pune branch of the Indo American Chamber of Commerce in India. In March, the chamber organized a presentation from Ernst and Young for IACCGH members detailing the business impact of the latest Indian budget. The chamber also launched the very popular “Women Mean Business” series, an exclusive set of events for women who want to succeed, grow their business, or learn from other successful women. Dhume acknowledged emissaries from the Delhi State Cancer Institute who were in Houston to sign a historic agreement with The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Dhume added that 10 years ago, the chamber was the catalyst in a similar agreement between M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and Tata Memorial Cancer Center in Mumbai. President-Elect Sanjay Ram will succeed Dhume in office. Chief guest for the event, Consul General of India to Houston, Hon. P. Harish, told the audience that the influx of Indian students over the years who have chosen to live and work here has vastly enriched the US landscape by their employability and hard work ethic. Presently, there are about 100,000 students in US universities contributing approximately $3 billion to the US economy. Chairman and CEO of BMC Software and keynote speaker at the gala, Robert E. Beauchamp, was invited to join the IACCGH Advisory Board way back in 2001 and has been an advisor ever since. He told guests that the chamber facilitated BMC’s presence in Pune, India, which today has more than 1,500 employees. Beauchamp told guests that the BMC research and development center in Pune is creating software for visually challenged computer users. Tanya and Rick Pal, founders of the philanthropic organization Ek Disha, served as adroit compères for the event. Asha Dhume, wife and dedicated supporter of Pankaj Dhume, presented a fashion show choreographed by Mahesh Mahbubani, founder and artistic director of Naach Houston. Walking the ramp in a dazzling array of Indian ethnic wear were women and men from the local communities. Naach Houston proffered Bollywood-inspired dances that made for spirited entertainment. This year, the recipients of the IACCGH awards were: Ash Shah, Businessman of the Year; Latha Ramchand, Educator of the Year; Dhiren Shethia, Outstanding Businessman of the Year; and Gaurav Khandelwal, Young Business Entrepreneur of the Year. Guests enjoyed delicious hors d’oeuvres and a seated dinner by Daawat, the catering arm of Madras Pavilion.




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BY J. BROOKS SPECTOR America’s political universe is currently embroiled in an increasingly angry, anxiety-ridden debate over how - or whether - the country can eventually achieve a fundamental immigration reform policy. In a nutshell, the key challenges for the politicians are to find a politically acceptable path to citizenship for the ten million or so illegal immigrants or undocumented aliens (depending on one’s political position in the debate) who are already in the country; and then, to sort out the best way to manage the country’s border control mechanisms to allow for effective policing and regulation of entry into the country. This column is not the place to parse Republican or Democratic difficulties in grappling with immigration reform proposals, but to point out one aspect of immigration that seems to be considered only rarely; that is the impact of the longerterm children of immigrants on their parents’ adopted nation. And the recent passing of audio entrepreneur Amar Bose is an appropriate moment to contemplate this phenomenon. Amar Bose was both founder and chairman of his privately held company that has focused obsessively on the kind of innovative acoustic engineering that has held the attention of the audiophile public for decades. His speakers soon gained a reputation for bringing concerthall-like sound into the average person’s home. Along the way, his company has added products like some very fancy, very high-end automobile stereo systems and revolutionary noise cancelling earphones for the pilots and air travellers. But it was his astonishing Series 901 direct/reflecting speakers with their distinctive pentagon-

AMAR BOSE a unique sound stilled


shaped configuration and those wonderful tapered spaceage-style stainless steel pedestals – like something that would have been right at home in George Jetson’s future home - that caught and then held the audiophile public’s attention for Bose products. Because Bose consistently declined to sell stock in the company he had founded, he had given himself the space to carry out long-term research without having to face the financial pressures of routinely reporting earnings to the market. As Bose told “Popular Science” magazine, “I would have been fired a hundred times at a company run by M.B.A.’s. But I never went into business to make money. I went into business so that I could do interesting things that hadn’t been done before.” According to Bose, most of the profits on the company’s estimated sales of $1.7 billion were plowed back into research. “One of the best decisions I ever made was keeping the company privately held, so we can take short-term pain for long-term gain. Public companies have to look good every 90 days to please the markets, so they can’t do that.” Over a half century ago, disappointed by what he felt was the inferior sound of a high-priced stereo setup he had purchased while an engineering student at MIT, his interest in the problem was piqued when he realised most of the sound a person actually hears in the concert hall was indirect sound as it bounces off walls and ceilings before reaching the listeners’ ears. Describing his search for that first really good stereo speaker system, Bose told interviewers he had approached the task like a typical engineer. Bose said, “I studied the literature and bought the best system based on the specifications. But when I brought it home and plugged it in, it sounded terrible. I was disappointed and confused. Why did so much of what I had been taught say it should be good, when my ears said it wasn’t?” With that challenge in front of him, rather than the dissertation that still had to be finished, his enthusiasm was captured by the science (and art) of acoustics and psychoacoustics (the study of the human perception of sound). That, in turn, led him to begin designing that new arrangement for loudspeakers drawing on a close observation of actual human sound perception. Eventually his design made use of that now-familiar group of smallish speakers designed to reflect sound off of the walls surrounding the speaker as well as a second bank of speakers aimed directly at the listener. At the suggestion of his faculty advisor at MIT, Dr

YW Lee, Bose set up his own company – eventually located in Framingham, Massachusetts, outside of Boston - to carry out his acoustics research. While the company first carried out some military contract research, Bose’s real vision was to make that new generation of stereo speakers. While the first version was not as fully successful as he had hoped, in 1968, the first 901 Direct/Reflecting speakers hit the market and they remained top sellers for a quarter of a century, making Bose’s company a frontrunner in the highly competitive audio components marketplace. Like so many others back then, this writer was also captured by the beauty and sonic realism of the sound from a pair of 901s owned in the early 1970s. After those speakers, sets of Bose 501s and 301s – suitable for different room sizes in homes around the world – were played very loudly for years. And, now, most recently there is an Acoustic Wave system in the house. Even now, the temptation is strong to purchase yet another Bose audio product for a new home office. That’s brand loyalty with a vengeance. The company’s famous noise-cancelling headphones proved to be so successful, thousands of military and commercial flyers have adopted them for use while in the air. Meanwhile, yet another product, a unique Bose software program, has made it possible for acoustic engineers to simulate the sound being heard from any point in almost any large concert venue, even before it has been constructed. This, in turn, has allowed acoustic engineers to design sound systems for places as varied as The Staples Center in Los Angeles, The Sistine Chapel and The Masjid al-Haram, the grand mosque in Mecca. If all this was not enough for one man and one company, in the early 1980s, top-line automakers like Porsche and Mercedes-Benz began installing Bose sound systems in their pricey automobiles. Bose systems have remained firm favourites among auto buyers in that price bracket for years now. And after a quarter of a century of R&D, Bose’s company is now perfecting a real breakthrough that will be able to replace oldstyle automotive shock absorbers with ultrafast linear electric motors that can balance a car’s suspension in conjunction with computer chips. But throughout his life, Bose’s enthusiasm was not just limited to research. After earning Bachelor and Masters of Science and PhD degrees in electrical engineering at MIT, and after a Fulbright scholarship stint in India under his belt, Bose joined MIT’s faculty in 1956 and remained on the university’s teaching staff for some 45 more years. In 2011 he gave a majority of his shares in his own company to the school to generate an annual cash dividend for MIT.

Bose’s university colleagues have been effusive about both his love for teaching and the impact he had on his students. On colleague, Prof Alan Oppenheim, said of Bose’s continuously popular course on acoustics, Bose “talked not only about acoustics but about philosophy, personal behavior, what is important in life. He was somebody with extraordinary standards.” And Dr William Brody, the head of the Salk Institute, a student of Bose’s back in 1962, added, “His class gave me the courage to tackle high-risk problems and equipped me with the problem-solving skills I needed to be successful in several careers. Amar Bose taught me how to think.” Popular Science magazine writer Tom Clynes wrote of Bose after spending several days with him in Hawaii some years ago, and after talking with him about “everything from network theory and cold fusion to philosophy and badminton, I’m convinced that there’s something more fundamental behind his penchant for speed. Amar Bose is just incredibly eager to get to the future. As an MIT professor and as CEO of the eponymous company that he built from scratch, Bose has made breakthroughs in an astonishingly broad range of disciplines, including acoustics, aviation, and defense, even nuclear physics. At times, he says, he has risked the entire company in pursuit of a particular idea. ‘I would have been fired a hundred times at a company run by MBAs,’ he tells me. ‘But I never went into business to make money. I went into business so that I could do interesting things that hadn’t been done before.’ ” But Amar Gopal Bose was not just a class A researcher and teacher, he was also the son of an immigrant to the US. His father was Noni Gopal Bose, a Bengali freedom fighter and physics student at Calcutta University who was arrested and imprisoned for his opposition to British colonial rule over India. Bose, the father, somehow escaped from prison and then came into the United States as a political refugee. Once in America, he married an American schoolteacher and set up house in Philadelphia. In the midst of the Great Depression, Amar Bose, while only thirteen years old, began repairing radios to earn money when his father’s import business first began to founder in the bad economic times. Popular Science magazine adds more detail. “During World War II, the elder Bose’s business—importing coconut-fiber doormats from India—became impossible when nonmilitary shipping was suspended. The teenage Amar suggested that his father post signs at the hardware stores where he once sold his mats, offering radio-repair services. With his father gathering the radios and young Amar fixing them in the basement after school, the business helped support the family through the war years. After the war ended, Bose used surplus radar

August/September 2013

tubes and an oil-burner transformer to build the neighborhood’s first television. In 1947 his father borrowed $10,000 so that Bose could attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to which he says he was admitted ‘by the skin of my teeth.’ ” When Bose entered MIT in 1947, he became a protégé of the renowned mathematician Norbert Wiener. The thing of it is, Bose represents the best of what the sons (and daughters) of immigrants can achieve in America. Given the chance “to spread their wings and take to the sky,” they find opportunities to study, then build new businesses, make contributions to the country’s economy and – as often is the case and was so in Bose’s – to find ways to repay the opportunities they received and the successes they had – as with things like Bose’s gift to his lifelong university. Bose’s credo

was, as he so famously told his many students, “The future isn’t in solving the problems to which we already know the answers. It’s in learning how to work through the problems you’ll experience in life, in any subject.” Amar Bose died on 12 July this year, aged 83. Given his life and the examples of so many other immigrants’ children, what seems so surprising – and distressing – in America’s debate on immigration reform, so far at least, is how little the multi-generational impact of immigration and the ultimate contributions of those immigrant families are being discussed. That is, save for the sniggering tone in remarks like those of Congressman King and others of his ilk – as with King’s recounting of those almost certainly apocryphal marijuana-smuggling, immigrant children. (Story excerpted from The Daily Maverick)

J Brooks Spector settled in Johannesburg after a career as a US diplomat in Africa and East Asia. He has taught at the U. of the Witwatersrand, been a consultant for an international NGO, run a theatre, and been a commentator for South African and international print/broadcast/online media, in addition to writing for The Daily Maverick from day one. He says he learned everything he needs to know about politics from ‘Casablanca.’ Maybe he’s cynical about some things, but a late Beethoven string quartet, John Coltrane’s music and a dish of Pad Thai will bring him close to tears.


in healing progress!” BY ARJuNE RAMA, MD Physicians are known for their ability to remain objective in the face of horrific illness. However, the line that separates objectivity from insensitivity can be blurry. I’ll never forget an episode during medical school when I clearly saw that line crossed. I was sitting in a pediatric intensive care unit in a busy New York City hospital. Nearby, I could hear medical students, residents (physicians-in-training) and attendings (fully-trained physicians) snicker about how one of the teenage patients was behaving like a “big baby” about her pain. Over the previous week she had had a large rubber tube placed into her chest to drain nearly a mop bucket full of pus from an infected lung. Although she was prescribed appropriately heavy narcotics she noted that she still felt the painful presence of the tube as well as the trauma from the original incision. The area where her chest was punctured remained tender to the touch and she felt pain with every breath. Air in, pain. Air out, pain. This cycle repeated 18 times per minute, 1080 times per hour, 25,920 times per day. As I was writing my progress notes, I could hear her crying beneath posters of cartoon bears and a sign that read, “Shhh! Healing in progress!” From a medical standpoint they had properly medicated her — in fact, any added pain medication might cause her respirations to become life-threateningly slow. Rather, I felt uncomfortable for another reason: they weren’t being objective about her pain. They were being downright callous. Perhaps their criticism of her constant wails was a defense against their feelings of being unable to adequately and safely alleviate her suffering. Either way, the situation felt utterly macabre. Now, I’m no Mother Theresa. I’ve laughed about patients in private. However, I just can’t understand how anyone could laugh at or criticize someone who is in pain right before their eyes, regardless of treatment limitations. I noticed that as the medical students/resi-

dents/attendings wrote their reports about this patient they had moved on to discussing a list of the best hospitals for post-graduate fellowships, research, and further training in their disciplines of interest. Their patient continued to wail in the not-so-distant background (about 10 yards). Medicine is a strange field; you dedicate your life to the treatment of strangers and yet there is a mind-boggling amount of narcissism necessary to achieving the lofty position of “Doctor.” You spend 12 years at minimum working on yourself. You enroll in college, then medical school, then residency, then fellowship. Essentially every few years I have to decide what I want to do next. Where I want to go. What field I want to enter. For a calling that purports to focus on others there is a tremendous amount of “ME ME ME” going on. Considering that 1 in 5 Americans will eventually die in an ICU, it’s easy for me to imagine our roles reversed: she attending to my infected lung as I lay dying. I hear myself moaning in agony. Unfortunately my physicians/physicians-in-training cannot (or will not) hear me over the din of their own conversation regarding the best moves for their clinical futures. The irony is that they are discussing plans that will help them become superior physicians purportedly to better serve me, the patient! Should I scream louder to get their attention, or keep my wails to a minimum? Do I make a statement about my rights as a patient or remain stoic? With this chest tube I certainly can’t march to the hospital chairman’s office, at least not until I’m well. The relative powerlessness of being an extremely ill patient is crushing. I hope they get what they want. I hope they obtain their fellowships. I hope they use their training to advance the treatment of people like me because in my current state all I can do is follow the sign: “Shhh! Healing in progress!”

Arjune Rama is a resident physician in psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine. You can follow him on twitter at @arjunerama

August/September 2013

The Surprising Liberation of Aging BY M. YVONNE TAYLOR

Brothers Richard and Jaime Zamora at the Men’s Senior Baseball League World Series, October 2008

We live in a culture that is youth-obsessed. Images from to take better care of it. I’ve always been on the heavier side and magazines, television, movies, music, and ads perpetuate the for years was almost maniacally ashamed of my body. The body idea that life and vitality are the singular domains of the young shame created a negative feedback loop in which I felt so badly, and that those of us “over the hill” must buy products to mask I didn’t see the point in taking care of it. As I’ve gotten older my the signs of aging and restore that youthful glow in order to appreciation for my body has increased dramatically, causing remain desirable or contenders in the world. me to want to treat it better. The worship of youth has detrimental effects on us all. It • I’m valuing the uniqueness of all of my relationships. As affects our livelihoods, in the form of limiting job prospects, and the clock keeps ticking and I lose people I love, I am becoming our quality of life, through diminishing feelings of self-worth. more appreciative of all the people in my life, from family and Yet, we are all aging every day. Trying to hold on to an impractifriends, to acquaintances and strangers. cal ideal robs us of the joys and freedoms that come with aging • I’m having better sex. Yes, it’s true! The rush of hormones as well as the appreciation of the wisdom we have gathered and the pull of pheromones may be stronger for the young — along the way. but being comfortable in my own skin, knowing my body, and But as our aging population increases, so do the depicappreciating myself more have only come with age, and they tions of positive regard for inevitable forward march of time. have enhanced my expression of sexuality. Recently, Houston’s Catastrophic Theatre produced the latest • I understand that life still has so many surprises in store. Tamarie Cooper summer musical, the delightful Old as Hell. New challenges, relationships, and experiences await. For Meanwhile, Geraldo Rivera, 70, tweeted a much-maligned photo example, I’ve always been employed full time and been careerof himself practically naked, and though the minded. But as I hit 40 and felt more conscious shot was humorous, viewers had to admit he of my own mortality, I felt even more strongly that has rather impressive muscular physique. I needed to do the things I felt called to do: Now. As I become safely ensconced in my 40s I decided to take a leap and work for myself only — for the next seven and a half years at least — doing what I love. And it rocks! I find the process surprisingly liberating. In my I asked a few other Houstonians, all over teens and twenties, the years most celebrated 40, about how aging has liberated them. They by American culture, I may have had wrinklewere eager and excited to respond: free skin and a sharper memory, but I was Khon Lu, 47, owner of Khon’s Wine, Darts, socially awkward, painfully shy, and unsure of Coffee and Art Bar: “Being in my forties made me Photo: Jason my values and where I belonged in the world. braver. I’m being taken more seriously by others, Flowers Below are five areas of my life that have therefore I’m able to take more chances in busialready become better with age: Khon Lu, owner of Khon’s Wine, ness decisions. It was scary to go at it on my own Darts, Coffee and Art Bar • I’m becoming more true to my own valat first, but if you trust your instincts, and you’re ues and ideals. I can look back at the journals crafty, you can make things happen to your I kept when I was 14 and see that I’ve almost always held the advantage. The whole idea of autonomy is clearer and attainsame core values: a belief in equality, compassion for others, able than before. I’ve gone too far to go back into the corporate love for the written word, and, well, a near-obsession with the structure anymore. I’ll send them a postcard from freedom; opposite sex. But only now am I finding myself increasingly paradise is at my horizon.” comfortable with expressing those values and standing up for Jann Barr, 86, community activist and educator: “Aging is them in front of the world, rather than hiding them in a diary liberating! My children were grown by the time I was 44. I lived under lock and key. in many places after that. I celebrated my 60th birthday in The • I am more comfortable with my body, leading to a desire Ivory Coast and became a world traveler and community devel-


opment worker. My life continues to be an adventure.” Jaime Zamora, 50, news photojournalist KTRK TV, Channel 13: “I’ve been liberated from the notion that turning 50 means that you have to cut back on extra physical activity. I still play competitive baseball and play as hard as I ever have. I feel that I can still do all the things I could do 25 years ago. I even have better endurance than my teen children. I hope to continue to be as active once I liberate myself from work and retire. I won my first World Series as a baseball player at the age of 45. Proudly wear my ring when I can. It took 38 years of competitive ball, but I finally did it! Incidently, my brother played on the same team at the age of 57. Today, he still plays at the age of 62.” Barbara Cowan, 82, Jungian therapist: “I think one of the biggest surprises of this time in my life is that I’m so looking forward to the future. There are many changes and developments happening in my life. I’m still changing and developing, and I am excited and eager about the chapter ahead.” Of course, growing older isn’t easy, but it’s exciting, and yes, liberating, to reframe the narrative. As those I interviewed can attest, whether at age 40 or more than twice that, life still has so many surprises to share and the story is still being written. I, for one, can’t wait to see what the next chapter holds. M. Yvonne Taylor is a Houstonbased writer, educator, and life coach. She obtained her BA in English with a psychology minor from the University of Houston and an MLA from Southern Methodist University. She’s also mom to 7-year-old Alexander, who definitely keeps her on her toes and young at heart. Her life-coaching practice and writing workshops focus on women and young people navigating transitions.


The Les Miserables song puts it very aptly: ’At the end of the day, you’re another day older…’ And later they go on to sing: ‘one day less to be living.’ August is my birthday month so it’s no wonder I spend some time during this month musing on the vagaries of aging. Not that it’s a real big deal for me. I’ve always been philosophical about life. Getting older is the price you pay for being alive. When I was young I found a lot of fault with myself. My hair wasn’t straight enough (given my part African ancestry that was a real problem), my nose was round and dumpling shaped unlike my sister’s which was petite and pointy. My wrists were too skinny and my cellulite-free thighs and pert bum were too big. Add a late onslaught of teenage pimples and I was a regular oneman band of low self- esteem. It bemused me many years later to discover that the cool girls who seemed to have the perfect figures and faces were wallowing in the same morass of low self-esteem. It would appear then that there is some truth in the adage that beauty and youth is wasted on the young. When I look at the few pictures I have of myself back then I see a beautiful, young woman with a lovely figure, a flat tummy and shining hazel eyes… Old age and body changes are another country altogether when one is in the spring of youth. These things were so far removed from my consciousness, that it never crossed my mind that I would age or go through all the changes that are such a part of my life now. It seems I have lived my life on fast forward. I went from sexy, young girlfriend to gorgeous bride to yummy mummy to old lady, all in one heartbeat. I sometimes look in the mirror and wonder who is the rather aged lady looking back at me. Why is she living in my home? When menopause finally let go of its death grip on me I breathed a sigh of relief. Gone were the irritable moods, the sudden onslaught of my own personal combustion engine, and the periods of inexplicable exhaustion. To my consternation I have since discovered that like a bad reputation, menopause never quite leaves you. I still have combustion engine moments, especially at

night when the duvet feels like I’m on fire. My poor, long-suffering husband has to put up with his burning hot wife who kicks off the covers just for a few minutes of respite in the cold winter air of the bedroom. For most of us the signs of aging creep up unnoticed. A few extra kilos here and there which become harder to shift. The stretch marks, the varicose veins, the grey hair which starts off as a few pluckable strands and ends up as an avalanche of snow. The hot flushes, the water retention, the sore knees. The blood pressure that refuses to be 120 over 80. That first time when someone refers to an old lady and you are looking around and realise they are actually referring to you. The time when you discover that running around after a toddler feels like you have climbed Mount Everest. Then there’s the ignominy of the thinning hair on the head which somehow finds its way to your chin. The perky bits that cave in to Cooper’s Droop at a rapid rate. The tight foundation garments that can’t contain and shape anything. One might as well wear a straitjacket as they seem more comfortable. Everyone blames Mother Nature for messing with the female species. I rather think it’s Father Time who is really the culprit here. Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could have the beautiful bodies we had as youth with the beautiful minds and spirits we now have? I thought about this for a few seconds then realised, no, it wouldn’t work. We would be perfect and perfection in any form is just plain annoying. I actually love being the age I am now. I see life so differently. I don’t obsess about my physical appearance anymore. I’ve made peace with my nose a long time ago and actually think it suits me. I know what’s important in life, like love and family. My family loves to hug with daily words of affirmation to one another I find I don’t need much to make me happy. We laugh a lot, we struggle, we live and we love. We accept our imperfections and we celebrate beauty in all its forms. And for the first time, I’m truly happy, just as I am. Now, if I could just neutralise the internal combustion engine…

Helen Buntting Langton is a writer and a dedicated wife, mother, and grandmother residing in New Zealand. In a former life in her native South Africa, she worked as a teacher for 18 years.

August/September 2013

Diverse Styles, Textures, Hallmark of 17th Annual Art Exhibition


BY REESE DARBY While the 17th annual Citywide African American Artists Exhibition, currently on view at the MFAH Glassell School of Art was just open to citywide artists from the African Diaspora, this show itself is a celebration of diversity, exemplifying how our cosmopolitan city has expanded beyond the stereotypical boundaries of race. One thing that can be said about this show is that this is not necessarily a show about “Black” artists, as was “” the issue in Dallas recently, according to an article by Derryl Ratcliff. While important aspects of African culture and roots were proudly present, this show focused on and presented them simply as artists, with multiple perspectives, subject matter, and influences ranging from Picasso and Man Ray, to current events and contemporary culture. Curated by Michael K. Taylor, an artist and middle school teacher alike, the show centered on portraiture, with works displayed as a flowing collective narrative of multiple communities and voices past and present. Haunting and emotional paintings such as Donald Walkers See No Evil are juxtaposed next to the more subdued hyper-realistic portraits by Eddie Filer. As one rounds the central gallery, the portraits become more stylized and then abstracted before easing back into figuration to begin the story again. The most striking and predominant painting was Muted Emotion, a mixed-media painting by Shaun Coffman of a seated woman in white. In three quarter profile, she stares off into the distance, her expression serious and defiant, almost regal. Tex-

ture and lines crisscross the painting seem almost like a barrier between this woman and her viewers, keeping them at a distance and suggesting she is someone who is off limits. Does she represent a specific woman, or does she represent modern woman in general? While sculpture was significantly lacking with only two participants presenting in true 3-D form, tucked into a corner was Romeo Robinson’s Enigma made from reclaimed wood with painted details. Possibly taking the form of some fantastic bird with brightly colored feathers and blood red claws, or perhaps an elaborate ship bleeding from the hull, each wood cutout seems perfectly placed to imply one thing or another without ever definitively giving away it’s secret. Keith J.B. Hollingsworth’s Ode to Picasso and the Western World II and III almost seemed to not fit with the overall concept of the exhibition, but were definitely worth including in the show. Precisely executed, Hollingsworth seems to draw parallel’s from Picasso’s work during times of war and strife and current events, with blue cubist elements and elements of WWII planes and bombs. The juried exhibition, on view through Sunday, August 25, features the work of 47 Houston-area artists. An award ceremony for the first, second, and third prize-winning artists takes place Friday, August 23, 2013, from 6 to 8 p.m. Sponsored by the MFAH through the patron group Five-A (African American Art Advisory Association) and the Houston Museum of African American Culture (HMAAC), this annual exhibition offers artists the opportunity to show their work to a broader public, and to the collecting community.

Based out of the Houston area, Reese Darby is a freelance arts writer and over-zealous coffee enthusiast. She has her own Fine Arts PR and Consulting firm, and an adorable Beagle named Bentley. Recently she moved to Galveston, Texas, for no other reason than that it sounded like fun and thus far she really loves it. While she would love to do things in her free time she hardly ever has any so she normally just drags her dog around to various coffee houses.

August/September 2013

The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa was discussed in the July 2013 issue of HUM magazine. The following article provides a discussion of the “Regional Center” aspect of the program. The Immigrant Investor Pilot Program was created by Section 610 of Public Law 102-395 (Oct. 6, 1992). EB-5 requirements for an investor under the Pilot Program, now entitled the “Immigrant Investor Program,” are essentially the same as in the standard EB-5 investor process, except the program provides for investments that are affiliated with an economic unit known as a “Regional Center.” A Regional Center is defined as any economic entity, public or private, which is involved with the promotion of economic growth, improved regional productivity, job creation and increased domestic capital investment. The organizers of a center seeking the Regional Center designation from USCIS must submit a proposal, supported by economically or statistically valid forecasting tools, showing: • How the Regional Center plans to focus on a geographical region within the United States. The proposal must explain how the Regional Center will promote economic growth in that region. • How, in verifiable detail (using economic models in some instances), jobs will be created directly or indirectly through capital investments made in accordance with the Regional Center’s business plan. • The amount and source of capital committed to the Regional Center and the promotional efforts made and planned for the business project. • How the Regional Center will have a positive impact on the regional or national economy. For a new commercial enterprise that is located within a Regional Center, the EB-5 program provides that the full-time positions can be created either “directly” or “indirectly” by the enterprise. Those investing in a Regional Center are subject to all the same program requirements except that they may rely on indirect job creation as demonstrated through reasonable methodologies. • Direct jobs are actual recognizable jobs for qualified employees, (An “employee” is an individual who provides services or labor in exchange for compensation. “Full time employment” requires a minimum of 35 working hours per week) hired within the commercial enterprise the EB-5 investor chose to invest in. • Indirect jobs are those shown to have been created indirectly or as a result of capital invested in a commercial enterprise affiliated with a Regional Center by an EB-5 investor.

How the Regional Center option assists EB-5 investors

BY RANDALL gOINS Randall Goins is an attorney with the law firm Willy, Nanayakkara, Rivera & Goins.


Indirect jobs are held outside of the new commercial enterprise but are created as a result of the new commercial enterprise. For example, indirect jobs can include, but are not limited to, those held by employees of the producers of materials, equipment, or services used by the new commercial enterprise. Indirect jobs can qualify and be counted as jobs attributable to a Regional Center, based on reasonable economic methodologies, even if they are located outside of the geographical boundaries of a Regional Center. For purposes of demonstrating indirect job creation, petitioners must employ reasonable economic methodologies to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the required infusion of capital or creation of direct jobs will result in a certain number of indirect jobs. USCIS has accepted input/output models as “reasonable methodologies” to calculate the indirect job creation ability of projects within a designated Regional Center. Examples of USCISapproved input/output models include the following economic models: • RIMS II - Regional Input-Output Modeling System • REMI - Regional Economic Models, Inc. • REDYN - Regional Dynamics Economic Analysis Model • IMPLAN - Impact Analysis for Planning These economic models use data from various agencies, including the Bureau of Economic Analysis and U.S. Census Bureau. The models are able to determine inter-industry relationships, using input data such as estimated revenues and direct jobs in the new EB-5 development, to forecast the business effects across other industries. Such models could be used, for example, to determine how the development of a new hotel in an area will create a business impact on the bookstore or restaurant down the street. The current Regional Center List, though not endorsed by USCIS, can be found on their website at There are presently 379 centers listed (as of August 2013). Texas presently has 28 listed (as of August 2013). The information in this article, and prior articles, is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. The law changes frequently and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Being general in nature, the information and materials provided may not apply to any specific factual and/or legal set of circumstances. No attorney-client relationship is formed nor should any such relationship be implied. Nothing in this article is intended to substitute for the advice of an attorney. If you require legal advice, please consult with a competent attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.

Increasing Awareness of Commute Solutions

Attendees at the lunar New Year 2013 celebrations visit H-GAC booth

Our region may be Forbes’ “Coolest City in America,” but residents of the Houston-Galveston area know there is one element about our city that isn’t cool at all – traffic congestion. That’s why the Houston-Galveston Area Council is excited to observe Commute Solutions Month by encouraging drivers throughout the region to try a commute alternative during the months of August and September in an effort to help reduce air pollution and congestion. Our flourishing economy enjoyed a 2.6 percent job growth in 2012, enticing nearly 500,000 new residents to our eightcounty Houston-Galveston region. However, with this continued growth and economic success in our region comes congestion and major roadway construction resulting in traffic delays and frustration to our daily commuters. Aside from relieving congestion, commute alternatives can also reduce air pollution. The Houston-Galveston region currently falls short of the Environmental Protection Agency’s standards for air quality, and unfortunately lands on the list of “non-attainment” areas. In other words, air pollution levels in our region exceed the national air quality standards. Since on-road vehicles account for approximately 40 percent of our region’s air emissions, committing to an alternative rather than solo commuting can contribute to improving our region’s air quality. “Commute Solutions Months in August/September are a great time to remind residents that they have the choice to improve our air quality by choosing a smarter commute while also saving travel time and money,” said Shelley Whitworth, Air Quality Program Manager at the Houston-Galveston Area Council. “There are several alternatives that residents may not be aware of, and August is a time when we at H-GAC encourage people to explore options that fit their life and schedule.” Commuters can pledge to carpool, vanpool, ride a bus or train, telework, bike or walk. Additionally, they can pledge to try other green options such as combining errands and other trips, reducing idling or maintaining their vehicle. H-GAC will host events throughout the month of August

and into September to show appreciation for residents already implementing commute alternatives and encourage others to try a solution. Listed are events which will be hosted by H-GAC at the following locations and times: • Market Square in Downtown Houston, August 23, 11.30am – 1.00pm • University of Houston Campus, August 29, 1.00pm – 4.00pm • City Hall Farmer’s Market, September 25, 11.00am – 1.30pm • Discovery Green, September 26, 5.30pm – 10.00pm Events will include prizes ranging from t-shirts to food items to coupons and gift cards to local restaurants. Sponsors include: Birraporetti’s, Jamba Juice, WhichWich, PotBelly, Spaghetti Warehouse, Chuy’s, Haven, Café Express, Demeris BBQ, My Fit Foods, Hubcap Grill, Chipotle, Sugar Land Skeeters, Snap Kitchen, Frank’s Pizza, Chick-fil-A, Becks Prime and Kolache Factory. To wrap up Commute Solutions Month, H-GAC will host its annual Clean Air Action “Best in Motion” Leadership Awards Luncheon, recognizing companies, organizations and local governments for their contributions to promoting commute alternatives and clean fleet programs that improve our region’s mobility and air quality. The luncheon will be held Thursday, September 19 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Houston at Greenway Plaza. “Every year during August and September we take the time to encourage organizations to include a Commute Solutions program in their benefit policies,” added Whitworth. “We want to be sure they are aware of the resources available through our knowledgeable staff at H-GAC or our newly renovated website.”

August/September 2013

Style BY PRIYA M. JAMES The kids have gone back to school and summer vacation has come to an end. Summer is slowly beginning to wind down, and although fashion magazines and websites are beginning to preview fall essentials, we know that the summer heat is here to stay in Houston. Cooler days seem far and away and the thought of sweaters and boots won’t cross our minds until October. So here are a few essentials to get you through the rest summer.


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Priya James is a fashion stylist and owner of Priya James Fashion Consulting. She has a Bachelor of Science in Fashion Merchandising and Marketing from The Art Institute of Houston. Priya has styled and assisted in the production of fashion shows and photo shoots and has provided fashion consulting services to small businesses and start-ups in the fashion and retail industry.


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Valuable Way of Giving Back

BY DRAYTON MCLANE, JR When you’re young and first starting a professional career, it can be a little intimidating. As you are deciding what you want to do, who you want to be, and where you want to start you might change your mind a few times. You can help eliminate some of the stress involved with this by finding a successful mentor in your area of interest to give you advice and guidance to help you achieve your goals and build your confidence. I believe in the early stages of your career it is beneficial to find a mentor that knows you. This way you will not be getting some generic advice, and you’ll have ideas and plans that are more specific to your own personal needs. Be sure whomever you ask to be your mentor is experienced, willing to spend the time needed to give you advice, and only wants to see you be successful. Find an effective business professional that is honest and just wants to give back. My father was an experienced, successful businessman and my first mentor. Much to my surprise, even after receiving a degree from Baylor University and an MBA from Michigan State University, when I came back home to work for him, he put me on the night shift loading trucks for McLane Company. It was not until a few years later that I realized how important that was. I had the opportunity to learn the business from the ground up.  I also had the opportunity to talk to and get advice from other executives there as well.  Once you have a few years of experience, I recommend finding other leaders that are outside your business. Find hard workers and risk-takers. It will give you different perspectives and help you to continue to grow. Then, when you have reached a high level of success and are in a position to give advice to someone who is just starting out, you should honor your mentors by paying it forward and doing what they did for you.   Drayton McLane, Jr. is an American entrepreneur. He is the chairman of McLane Group, a high technology firm. He was, until 1990, the CEO of the McLane Company, a grocery and food service warehouse, supply, and logistics firm, and was, from 1993 until 2011, the chairman and CEO of the Major League Baseball’s Houston Astros. On the Forbes 400 list of richest Americans, he was ranked #272 in 2009 with an estimated net worth of $1.45 billion.

August/September 2013


Evolution of the Monarch

TEXAS STYLE Of Business and


Emulating Nature for growth and Survival Little rays of sunshine, glittering in the sun, making their every minute count – butteries. 48

Photo: Tajana Mesic

BY TAJANA MESIC This time of year, butterflies can be seen flying in the skies all over Houston. The burnt orange Gulf Fritillary, the nimble chestnut-brown Queen, and the majestic rust-colored Monarch butterfly, the “Bambi of the insect world”. If you planted nectar plants in your garden, you might have a garden full of colorful butterflies and flowers. Our Texas butterflies feed on nectar from Milkweeds, Black Eyed Susans, Blazing Stars, Azaleas, Lilacs, Marigolds, Zinnias, Verbenas and Purple Coneflowers. The official State Insect of Texas is the Monarch butterfly. Monarchs start their lives as a tiny egg exclusively on the milkweed or butterfly weed plants. A butterfly is possibly one of the most beautiful things in nature - tenacious, colorful, elegant, resolute, adaptable and driven - all features of a great business. None is more beautiful than the majestic Monarch butterfly. To say that butterflies always looked like fragile creatures to me is an understatement. It seems like a strong gust of wind can tear apart their delicate wings. But did you know that every year, millions of Monarchs pass through Texas on their April migration North to Canada and on their September South migration to overwintering grounds in Mexico? Southbound, they fly over 2,000 miles, averaging 50-100 miles per day, on the quest to find a warmer home for the winter in the mountains of Mexico. Yes – the little Monarch butterfly that could! Just as a healthy Monarch butterfly is perfectly designed to fly and thrive in its natural environment, a successful business can take clues from the Monarch through all stages of its development. So how did the Monarch butterfly get that way feeding on only nectar plants? Each butterfly starts humbly as a tiny egg, deposited on a milkweed leaf by its mother. From the very start, the Monarch butterfly female must be judicious and find the milkweed plant to lay her eggs. Otherwise her offspring won’t make it. As the fragile egg is laid, it germinates for three days attached to the milkweed leaf. The little caterpillar works hard to suck the nutrition out of the leaf in preparation for hatching. Your business is the same. No business starts as a huge, well-oiled machine infused with millions of dollars of capital. It starts with an idea that needs to be fed properly to grow. One small victory and then another; it takes time and determination.

What do you need to do to survive the egg stage? The fragile egg needs to be planted firmly to get the right food early on. Be tenacious. Have enough savings to get you through the first six months without a steady paycheck. Find all the resources you will need to grow strong to get you to the next stage. On day four, the second stage of Monarch’s life begins when it hatches as a miniature black, yellow and white striped caterpillar. During this stage, the caterpillar sheds its skin up to four times as it grows to its full length of about two inches. For the next ten days, it must eat voraciously. As it feasts on the green leaves of the milkweed plant, it is most susceptible to parasites and predators who want to eat it – predatory wasps, Tachinidae, spiders, and ants. After the first six months in operations, your business is hungry for growth and still vulnerable. You have more clients and higher revenue. You also face more challenges. That is why setting a vision and guiding your company towards that goal is critical in this stage. Leadership must build commitment from customers and employees, leverage partnerships and resources. It also must make tough decisions. Stay hungry and eat what you can. Focus and grow. Growth means change and you must shed your “old skin” in time to allow for more growth. As your business expands, take a cue from the Monarch and make decisions that will sustain your business in the long run. To protect your investment, get industry certifications, work with experts, and join industry associations. There is no waste in nature. Most caterpillars eat their old skin to add nutrients to their new body. Learn from your mistakes and add strategic decisions and relationships to your growing business. Eat your skin! In its third stage, the monarch forms a protective covering called a chrysalis, or pupa. This pupa is shiny and green with gold speckles that look like a gold crown. Here is where the magic begins – from the inside out. When the time is right, the little caterpillar will crawl onto a fence post, a leaf, or a twig – anything that will shield him for the next ten days of transformation. Once it finds the most suitable location, it weaves a small silk button, which serves as an anchor to later hang by its hind legs. When it feels secure, it drops into a “J” position and after a day turns into a jade-green chrysalis, shedding its

August/September 2013

skin completely. Once it turns into a pupa, it has effectively kick-started the transformation into the elegant butterfly. No more going back. All the food it ate, all the enemies it evaded, all the elements it endured led to this phase of its life. From the outside, it looks like nothing is moving, but the sleek butterfly body is magically forming inside. After the novelty wears off and the activity slows down, your business is likely to focus inwards and purge anything that it doesn’t need for its continued progress. It is time to look within and identify old processes, obsolete equipment, early stage goals, and accounting system designed for a smaller operation. What can you change and what can continue growing with you? Make sure you have enough revenue from the early activity to see you through the quiet times. As you prepare to unveil your purpose, make your changes slowly and purposefully. This is a good time to use a trusted outside adviser to help you work on defining your identity as you mold your business from within. In its final stage, the Monarch butterfly slowly breaks open the pupa and emerges as a beautiful rust-orange and black butterfly. When it first comes out, it is wobbly with crumpled wings, almost looking deformed – far from the polished elegance it will soon possess. As its wings pump up, expand

and dry, it slowly explores its new environment. It cleans its antennae, stretches its legs and tests its proboscis, so that it can feed. It’s a magical time, full of wonderment and amazement – time to be a Monarch butterfly and take flight. A few flaps of its wings and off it goes, into the beautiful Texas sky. As for your business, in this stage you need to keep things in perspective and know what is important in life. You have built your business slowly and carefully, avoiding pitfalls, staying on course, fueling it with the right partnerships and clients. The whole time getting ready for the next stage, ready to unveil your identity and to transition from the small business to medium to large, showing the world your true beauty. The time is now! Unfold your wings and glide through the air, enjoy your time in the sun. Look for other “rays of sunshine”. In the process, plant some milkweed in your backyard for our Monarch friends to grow and thrive. The Monarch butterfly is as beautiful and memorable as a Texas sunset, soaring above all other insects in its nobility and determination. Its unique relationship with Texas makes it a truly appropriate symbol of the majestic spirit of the Lone Star State. Plant more milkweed to help them thrive and to serve as a constant reminder to you what you can accomplish.

A President of GGG Sustainability Solutions, Tajana Mesic is also a conservationist, speaker and a writer. By delving deep into best practices of sustainable solutions globally, she leverages them for her clients locally. When not working, Tajana can be found knee deep in her garden or involved in her small community as a Parks Commissioner. You can reach Tajana at


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HUM Magazine August- September 2013  
HUM Magazine August- September 2013