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JULY 2013

Suresh Khator

The Wind Beneath Her Wings

Hands that Give

Marie Goradia – At the Helm of Pratham

Dorothy Hood:

An Artist for All Seasons

Vedic Roots of Stringed Music

Magical Heritage of the Vīņā

a year of sacrifice & success

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FROM THE PUBLISHER’S DESK Dear readers, welcome to our 1st anniversary edition of HUM Magazine, a monthly publication that celebrates the wildly prolific and cosmopolitan spirit of Houston. We are thankful for your support, encouragement and feedback over the past year which greatly contributed to our progress. We look forward to continue to serve you through the written word. To our readers nationwide and globally, we are delighted that you enjoy reading HUM. On this momentous occasion in HUM’s young life, I’d like to take the opportunity to laud my team including our intrepid Art Director Saqib Rana, and our superb writers who are the soul of HUM and whose works so enhance our pages. Our advertisers, thank you - you’re truly special. You make HUM possible through your support. As my team and I look to the future, we stay true to our vision for HUM that was birthed on the premise of this charismatic city that embraces people from all over the world who live here and enliven the cultural tapestry of Houston. Here’s wishing you all a splendid and safe summer. Warmly,

Kalyani Giri


team HUM Publisher/Editor Kalyani Giri Art Director Saqib Rana Correspondents Arjune Rama, MD Ken Chitwood Lisa Brooks Nalini Sadagopan Priya M. James Tajana Mesic Helen Buntting Langton


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The Wind Beneath Her Wings


What I Love About





Contributors Dr. Carolyn Farb Jose Grinan Loren Allardyce Lane Lewis Nandini Bhattacharya P.G. Parameswaran, MD Pradeep Anand Randall Goins Seetha Ratnakar Sowmya Nandakumar Swami Vidyadhishananda


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Marie Goradia – At the Helm of Pratham KALYANI GIRI


Carrying Ancestral Traditions Forward KALYANI GIRI

DOROTHY HOOD: An Artist for All Seasons


JULY 2013



Suresh Khator

The Wind Beneath Her Wings

Hands that Give

Marie Goradia – At the Helm of Pratham

Dorothy Hood:

An Artist for All Seasons

Vedic Roots of Stringed Music

Magical Heritage of the Vīņā

a year of sacrifice & success

HUM Cover July 2013





ANOINTED AND ADORNED 44 Photography Exhibit Richly Traditional



Chariots of the Gods









Religious Liberty Thrives in the Lone Star State







Passion for publishing continues to burn a 100 years later SEETHA RATNAKAR








Soundproofing Our Future



Suresh Khator

The Wind Beneath Her Wings BY KALYANI GIRI She’s been much rhapsodized about for her towering intellect and her masterfully pragmatic redesign of this city’s namesake university into a formidable tour de force. Willowy and elegant in her signature red power suits or in sarees that reflect her Indian heritage, she’s photogenic and easily recognizable as Dr. Renu Khator, the President and Chancellor of the University of Houston, a position she’s held since 2008. She’s a coveted guest and speaker at innumerable events that pepper her calendar on any given day of the week. And always standing tall by her side is her husband, Professor Suresh Khator, the man she not only acknowledges as her steadfast supporter; she also publicly lauds him for the woman she has become, and for her personal accomplishments. “Many people don’t know much about Suresh,” says Renu. “He is quiet and introverted and avoids being in the limelight. He’s a very special person, very secure. When you talk about what is tangible or visible about me, that is only the surface of it. What went behind it were his hard work, labor, and passion. You can give him any raw material and he’ll make something of it. I was also raw material and he molded me. All along I feel like he is the one who is dreaming for me and has believed in my potential more than I ever did.” On this balmy summer afternoon, the gentleman in question is taking me on a tour of Wortham House, the official residence of the Chancellor of the University of Houston. Following us from room to room in the cavernous dwelling is Sasha, a gorgeous German Shepherd rescue dog who was badly abused and left to die when the Khators took her in. Suresh spent hours nursing her back to health and training her, and it’s clear that she worships and trusts him implicitly. It’s easy to imagine Suresh in the role of the caregiver; his eyes bespeak volumes in kindness. He’s also a born teacher I learn, as he shares facts and figures about the historical house in an easygoing, engaging manner. The house, in the Rice University area, is way too large for the two of them, he confides. They only occupy one floor, but it makes perfect sense to give it the ambiance of lived-in occupancy, as it’s where they formally host university related events.

We settle down in a solarium overlooking manicured lawns and a sparkling swimming pool. I’m interested in learning more about Suresh who is an enigma and the less public face of the duo. I discover that he has a great sense of humor and is refreshingly humble; he’s reluctant to be the subject of my story, but acquiesces graciously after some cajoling. “I’m not the famous one in the family,” he avers with a gentle smile. He offers to make us masala chai. It’s delicious. Beginnings The oldest of five siblings, Suresh grew up in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, and attended the Arya Samaj’s DAV School from 1st Grade to high school. Tuition was typically in Sanskrit, a language he grew very conversant in. His parents weren’t very well educated, so he took on the responsibility of mentoring his siblings and guided their academic paths. He earned a Mechanical Engineering degree from Jiwaji University in Gwalior, and a Masters in Technology degree from the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology in New Delhi in 1971. In 1972, he got a scholarship to Purdue University in Indiana where he graduated with a doctorate in Industrial Engineering. He is the Associate Dean for the Graduate Program, International Programs and Competing Facilities at the University of Houston. He is also a Professor of Industrial Engineering and teaches courses and does research. “Parents in India believe that education is the only pathway to success unless you are from a rich business family, but even then, some college education is a must,” says Suresh. “As for teaching, it’s fun being in a classroom with young people, they keep me young!” “Suresh mentored his four younger brothers and sisters and they all hold high profile positions back in India. Every one of them will tell you that if not for him they wouldn’t be where they are. He got them to do homework, he held their hands and took them to school, and it’s the same with his friends — they vouch for him. When it comes to education, Suresh never compromises,” says Renu.

He’s the Dreamer and Shaper in Renu’s Life


July 2013

Arranged Marriage Renu and Suresh celebrated their 39th wedding anniversary on June 1st, 2013. The couple’s nearly four decades of togetherness began in the summer of 1974 when Suresh went to India. His uncle knew of Renu’s family and was the intermediary in arranging the match. At the time, Renu was working on her Masters degree in Political Science at Allahabad on an Indian government scholarship. She was determined to study despite her father’s protestations. On the day that Suresh and his mother and sisters arrived in Renu’s hometown, her father had her brought back home under false pretenses. “When she saw that it was all a charade to get her married, she was so upset that she couldn’t stop crying,” reminisces Suresh. “She agreed to marry me only if I promised to let her continue with her studies.” She never did get back to Allahabad. Her father arranged for her possessions to be packed and sent to the family home. Suresh and Renu were married ten days later and she soon joined him in Indiana. Once there, she reminded him of his promise, so he took her to meet the graduate school director at Purdue University. She was just 18 years old and dressed in a simple saree. She knew only a few words of English; Suresh translated for her. The director told her that she was too young, and that she would have to go into the undergraduate program. She refused and challenged him to prove that India’s undergraduate degree was inferior to that of the US. The director suggested she begin with two courses. With her limited English, she couldn’t understand what was going on in the classes. Suresh would accompany her and help with her studies. Together, they overcame challenges, and over the years she achieved her goals. Renu has candidly admitted to learning to speak English from watching reruns of the television show, I Love Lucy. Motherhood soon interceded, and the Khators welcomed daughters Pooja and Parul. Both are today ophthalmologist glaucoma surgeons with their own practices. Pooja, and husband Derin Parks, an attorney, live in Sarasota, Florida, and are parents to son Kai and daughter Anya. Parul lives in Atlanta and will marry her fiancé Gregory Cohen later this year. While the


Khators dote on their grandchildren and cherish every moment spent with them, Suresh shares a special bond with them, says Renu. “With our daughters, there was no negotiating when it came to educational achievement,” says Renu. “Suresh has been really instrumental in pushing them to do more than they even imagined they could. He believes in everybody’s potential to succeed. His students love him. Even now when he visits India and nieces or nephews are studying for exams, he’ll sit with them for hours. There’s no calculated thinking, he’s just selfless and without expectation.” “One of my students asked me recently how do I feel that my wife makes more money than I do. I said I’m now ready to retire! I should have responded that all three women in my life make more money than I do,” Suresh says jokingly. “Some people may feel intimidated but at different times in our lives, Renu and I have had the opportunity to support each other,” adds Suresh. His Thoughts on Renu’s Odyssey How does Suresh feel about Renu’s journey from that young bride to the iconic figure she is today? “Renu’s very bright, a very personable individual. She is passionate about her convictions and analytical in her thinking. She wasn’t handed anything on a silver platter. She worked for it. There is a need for people who have leadership qualities. There’s a strong vision required in terms of where the institution has the potential to go. Not many people have the ability to envision things and motivate people to help implement them,” says Suresh. When Renu was offered the job at University of Houston, the couple was living in Florida where Suresh had a tenured position at the University of South Florida. The first thing she did was to pick up the phone and ask his opinion. “He said it was such a great opportunity for me. There were no doubts, debates, or questions about what he would do. And if you have that kind of support behind you every day of your life, there’s no other way,” says Renu.

When Renu called her mother back in India to give her the news of her new job, her mother asked to speak with Suresh, whom she congratulated for her daughter’s achievements. Famously casual and very content with a limited wardrobe of a couple of shirts and pants, Suresh now dresses more formally when he accompanies Renu to myriad events. He dons a tuxedo, even if it’s five times a week, without a single word of complaint. “I really don’t mind, I always enjoy meeting interesting people,” says Suresh with a smile. “People love him,” says Renu. “He’s a great fundraiser for the university. Before we’d come here, the university was raising $39/40 million a year. Now we are raising over $100 million a year. Because he’s so conversational and easygoing people are attracted to him. People think I’m a very friendly person until they meet him. He’s just a gem. When my contract renewal came up, the board chair called Suresh to ask him what they could do to make him happy. They know he is a big influence on me. He’s the dreamer and shaper. If I had married someone else I just don’t think that I could have struggled through the adversities in life and reached where I am today.”

Faith “We believe in a supreme power like an anchor in your life — an anchor is so important,” says Suresh. “We are Hindu by faith but one can adopt the host culture without losing your own culture. Some people are rigid and don’t like to assimilate, but that is wrong. The host culture has so many good points. Immigrants can choose the best of both worlds.” Hobbies Suresh loves all kinds of sports, Renu tells me. He knows the statistics about every player and is an avid water sports watcher. He enjoys his walks with friends on Sunday mornings that conclude with breakfast at one of the group’s favorite restaurants. Of course, any game that is mind related draws him; he is a keen chess and bridge player. He and Renu used to play bridge together very often, but after a day at work, she prefers being outdoors. They have similar tastes in movies and their favorites include Chocolat and The Red Violin; they also enjoy the classical Hindi movies and music. Both are consummate travelers who relish seeing new places. I ask Suresh what he plans on doing when he retires. “I’d like to do volunteer work in schools teaching math,” he says.


What I Love About


I worked in the Dallas-Fort Worth area before coming to Houston nearly 20 years ago. Admittedly, this city was never really on the list of cities where I would have sought employment in TV News. I’ve always looked at myself as sort of an east coast type, even though I grew up on the west coast of Florida. However, after I was recommended for an upcoming job with a start-up morning newscast on FOX 26 in Houston, and with my contract not being renewed in Dallas, there was now serious consideration of the possibility of making a move to the Bayou City... which has now become my home. I told myself and my agent that it would be for two years only. That’s all the time I wanted to spend in Houston until I could find something different and possibly better in another city. Now don’t get me wrong. There have been several options to ply my trade/craft elsewhere. But there were also opportunities developing here in Houston. And, I was fortunate enough to be offered another contract. So, there was no reason to move to another city. There are so many, many things that have fascinated me about Houston. But I’ll start with music. My first weekend here, I ventured into downtown Houston and discovered the Houston International Jazz Festival. And, I happen to like jazz too. What a wonderful start to my time in Houston. I’ve been a supporter of Jazz Fest ever since, because of the way it helps develop and train young musicians in our local schools every year. I was unaware at the time that the Jazz Fest would be my introduction into the culturally rich and diverse music scene here. From jazz to zydeco... from rhythm and blues to rock and roll. From classical to country western and hard core rap. From salsa to Tejano and Bollywood. On any given night, you can always find the best of every musical genre somewhere in Houston. The musical soul of our city led me to other art forms. When it came to art, I discovered that Houston had all that I would want to experience. I’ve been to private art galleries, attended the ballet, opera, traveling musicals and much more since becoming a Houstonian. And with the Children’s museum, the Menil collection, and the Buffalo Soldiers museum,

just to name a few, we have some of the best museums in the nation, too. I also liked that Houston’s medical community is tops in the country. Health reports are very important to any community. But I feel they are more important when your hometown is a major population center. It is nice to know that the Texas Medical Medical Center, with its compilation of hospitals, teaching hospitals and other medical facilities, including the DeBakey VA Hospital, is one of the best medical centers on the planet. And it’s in our own back yard. Medical history has been made here. And other medical innovations and developments are always in the works. I’m not an avid sports fan, but choose one, and you’ll find it here in Houston. Soccer is becoming more popular in our area. When I first came to Houston, basketball was the rage. The Rockets were hot. And the WNBA’s Comets were making their mark on the court inside what used to be the Summit. So, whether it’s polo, cricket, football, rugby or any other sport, my choices and yours are almost limitless here in Houston. This city is home to a number of championship teams. I love rooting for the hometown team. And we can’t forget Rodeo Houston, which was my introduction into the cowboy way of life and western culture. I now own several cowboy hats and snap button shirts too. There are also limitless choices when it comes to dining in Houston. I love to experience the tastes and flavors of other cultures and ethnicities. What better place to do that than in the greater Houston area where you have a plethora of choices like Thai, Italian, Chinese, Korean, Indian, Pakistani, Mexican, South American and American cuisine. But the most impressive thing about Houston is its people. The true Houstonians are now mixed with the many other ethnic groups that have settled here and made this their home, as I did. There is diversity, warmth, generosity, friendliness, and an overall caring that you can feel just about any day. These are just some of the many things, including my lovely wife Kathryn, that have kept me fascinated about the city many refer to as the energy capital of the US, if not the globe. And I just love living here... with air conditioning of course.

José Griñán has anchored FOX 26 Morning and Midday Newscasts for the past 19 years. He also produces a variety of special series reports. He formerly hosted “Hola Houston” and continues to host “The Black Voice”, two weekly public affairs programs. Jose stays active in the community, volunteering his time for a number of non-profit and cultural, educational and social service organizations in our area. A Florida native, Jose began his broadcast career in Texas in 1975 as a photographer/reporter/weekend anchor for KTSM in El Paso, TX, just months after being discharged from the U.S. Army, where he filmed and helped produce military documentaries. Since then, he’s worked professionally in New York, Tampa, Miami, Los Angeles, and Dallas before joining the Fox 26 News department in 1993. His career choice has allowed him to be an eyewitness to both triumph and tragedy in today’s world. Jose is the proud father of two girls. He’s been a member of the National Association of Black Journalists since 1978, and also maintains membership in the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.


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Congratulations from Pratham Houston to Kalyani Giri on the First Anniversary of HUM Magazine Pratham Houston Upcoming Events Wednesday, October 30, 2013: Pratham Houston/IACCGH Golf Tournament Friday, December 6, 2013: Pratham Houston Holiday Luncheon Saturday, April 5, 2014: Pratham Houston Annual Gala ************ 713 774 9599 * *

Pratham USA, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, aims to raise awareness about educational needs in India and mobilize resources in the US to support Pratham's critical work.


Hands that Give Marie Goradia – At the Helm of Pratham BY KALYANI GIRI It’s a beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon and I’m in The Woodlands visiting with Dr. Marie Goradia at the elegant home she shares with husband Vijay and their children, Sapphira and Kevin. I’ve long been acquainted with the Goradias, and they are unpretentious and warm. We’re talking about philanthropy, a subject Marie and Vijay are very conversant with. Distinguished in the Indo American and mainstream communities, they are humanitarians who give quietly and generously to benefit causes that are close to their hearts. One cause that is synonymous with the Goradia name is Pratham, the largest non-governmental literacy movement in India dedicated to making education the birthright of every child. As of May this year, Marie assumed the mantle of President of Pratham Houston Chapter, the flagship fundraising arm of Pratham India. It all began back in 1998 when Vijay visited a Pratham Balwadi, an innovative and adaptive pre-school program. He was so impressed at what they had achieved, that he founded Pratham USA, in order to raise funds for Pratham. Pratham’s goal is to liberate children from the prevalence of child marriages, violence, poverty, and exploitation, through education. An estimated 11 million of India’s children are child laborers. Today, spurred by Pratham’s activism for universal literacy, there are 14 chapters nationwide in the USA that collectively channel about $5 million a year to India. Marie serves on the boards of several charitable organizations. She and Vijay raised their children to be

positive and independent. Sapphira has a Bachelor’s degree from Pomona College in California and a Master’s degree in Global Public Health from George Washington University in Washington DC. Kevin has a degree in Environmental Business. Like their parents, Sapphira and Kevin are committed to philanthropy. They realize that when much is given to them, much is expected of them in return. About Pratham Pratham, which means foremost in the Hindi language, was founded in 1994 by Dr. Madhav Chavan, a PhD in chemistry from the Ohio State University, and Farida Lambay, a professional social worker and teacher of social work. Using low-cost methods, Pratham works with parents, teachers, local communities and the government to realize its vision of every child in school and learning well. Today, the organization reaches close to 2 million children every year in about 20,000 villages. The movement has spread to 19 of India’s 28 states. In 2013-2014, it will work with several state governments to improve learning levels in primary schools which are extremely low. Pratham’s Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) that surveys nearly 600,000 children every year in 300,000 homes spread over 16,000 villages in 587 rural districts, reports that about 50% children reaching grade 5 cannot read although nearly 97% children in the 6-10 age group enroll in a nearby school; 49% of the children are girls. Read India is Pratham’s program to correct the problem of learning outcomes. Pratham, which has been supported by various US-based

July 2013

foundations for well over a decade has recently received a grant from USAID under the All Children Reading program to demonstrate the impact of its methods to significantly improve at a low cost, the proportions of children who can read. Although primary education is the main concern of Pratham, it has slowly been growing in the areas of secondary education and vocational skills. Two years ago Pratham started its Open School program, to find a way to get young women dropouts in the 18+ age groups to prepare for, and appear for the state secondary school certification (SSC) examination. This program is based on 5 days of monthly focused residential training followed by help from a trained tutor near their village to do assignments. Pratham has also instituted a vocational training program and in 2009 – 2011, a local education entrepreneur trained by Pratham provided about 80,000 rural volunteers digital literacy training near their village. An entrepreneurship program for rural women that trains them and provides equipment is growing rapidly. Pratham is recognized for its on-scale work and innovativeness with the Kravis Prize for Leadership, Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship, and most recently, the WISE Prize equated with a Nobel in Education for its founder-CEO, Dr, MadhavChavan. The following are excerpts from the interview with Marie: How do you feel about being at the helm of Pratham Houston? From the time Vijay started Pratham Houston, we have been blessed to have extraordinary leadership and dedication from the Board. Everyone has brought passion and expertise to the cause of wiping out illiteracy in India. They have given freely of their time, effort, and money to Pratham. Today, Pratham has 14 chapters all over the US, and the Board members come from a variety of communities and professions. The common thread is their determination to ensure that every child in India has the same opportunity that we had, the chance for a better future. I feel very honored and humbled to be in the company of and to be the President of such an extraordinary group of humanitarians. I know we will all do the best job we can.  What is your vision for your term of two years in office? I will be the 6th President of Pratham Houston. Since its

inception every President and Board has taken Pratham Houston another step forward. I am so grateful to each and every President and Board member that have come before me. I will build on the foundation they have put in place. I know I have very big shoes to fill, but I feel very fortunate to have a very dedicated enthusiastic and supportive Board to help me for the next 2 years. The two main goals for Pratham Houston are to raise funds for Pratham India and to spread the message about Pratham’s work in India. What are your plans for Pratham Houston Chapter? Do you have any different ideas about how to raise funds? So far we have been very fortunate in having very generous donors in Houston. Since it takes just $25 to educate a child in India, every dollar that is contributed makes an enormous difference in the lives of a huge number of children. We would like to reach out to a lot more donors in the Indian and mainstream communities, and let them know the life changing events their contributions will set in motion. Our donors need to feel connected with Pratham and know that their generosity is the reason Pratham’s programs have been so successful. To do this we are happy to make a presentation to large or small groups of potential donors in Houston and tell them about Pratham’s programs, and what their contributions have achieved in a state they are interested in. Pratham India is constantly innovating to address the needs of the children. We will update our donors on those exciting new programs. We are going to reach out to corporations doing business in India and foundations that support education. Also on our wish list is the establishment of an endowment. We do not know when it will happen, but we can hope it happens soon! How will you encourage the participation of youth/young adults? Our children have grown up in the USA, and have learnt to volunteer their time, effort and money to charitable causes. A lot of them are very idealistic and want to make a difference in the world. It would be good if they could be involved from an early age, and feel the joy of giving, because even a child in elementary school has the ability to change the life of a child in India. The options are many: • Elementary school children can join the PrathamReadathon ( •High school students can select Pratham as a class philanthropic project. •College students can start a Pratham Chapter. •Young professionals can join Pratham Young Professionals and raise awareness. •All professionals can add Pratham to the list of charities that their company supports. Many companies match their employees’ contribution and it’s an easy way to double the funds. Why is Pratham so close to your heart?   There are many reasons why we are passionate about education and Pratham. I was raised in a wonderful middle class family in India where we did not have luxuries, but we had love, education and the freedom to be who we were meant to be. My mother was the only physician in the village, and interacting with her patients taught me how hard life was for the illiterate. My father did not get a college education because he had too many family responsibilities. He read everything he needed to, educated himself, and became an outstanding public speaker and leader.


Education was very important to my parents and from an early age we were exposed to books on various subjects. My parents taught me that I could do anything in life if I worked very hard and got the best education I could. My parents lit a fire in my mind, which made me passionate about science and math. This was the key that unlocked the door to my career as a scientist, which brought me to America and the amazing life I live today. It’s why I’m passionate about education. How has your involvement with Pratham impacted your children? Vijay brought the fundraising arm of Pratham to the US. Our first visit to a Pratham Balwadi as a family was when my daughter Sapphira was in high school. She had been nervously awaiting news about her admission to the colleges she had applied to. Sapphira could not believe what she saw and heard in the Balwadis. Many children drop out of school because they have to work. Girls are forced to quit school, get married and have children and continue the cycle of poverty and illiteracy. It was a lightbulb moment for Sapphira. She realized how lucky she was to be getting a college education, when the Pratham kids felt so lucky to even be offered a school education. Her outlook on what is important in life changed dramatically, and made her passionate about helping others. That’s one of the many reasons why we are passionate about Pratham.         When I was growing up in India I felt the problems of poverty, illiteracy and healthcare were so gigantic, I would

never be able to make a difference in the lives of people I had left behind. We have been blessed with wonderful families and friends, good health and happiness. Through Pratham we can give back to the country that raised us to be the people we are today. Through Pratham we can give what we received, a chance for the children to have a better future.

Photo: Krishna Giri

Sathish & Sangeeta Rao 16

Udipi Café

Carrying Ancestral Traditions Forward BY KALYANI GIRI The hallowed and ancient temple city of Udupi reclines Udipi Café. So taken was she by the confluence of spices in the on the west coast of Karnataka in South India, home to the bisi bele huli anna that she asked for the recipe. With more than sacred Lord Krishna Matt founded in the 13th century by the a modicum of delight Sathish reminisces that she lauded the Vaishnavite saint Madhwacharya. Udupi (also spelt Udipi) is eatery on a local television show later that day. also the domicile of Manipal University, the internationally Since those early years, Udipi has expanded to include renowned educational institute. For aficionados of vegetarian more locations. When the original eatery outgrew its premises cuisine however, the storied Udupi name is redolent of piping Sathish moved the establishment to a prime spot on Hillcroft at hot Udupi dosas, sumptuous ghee-drenched bisi bele huli anna, Highway 59. By popular demand, he opened branches in Sugar and spicy coconut-infused gojju. Land, Katy, and in Richardson, Dallas. Udipi Café on Highway Prompted by a yearning to share the authentic Udupi 6 has a private banquet facility that can seat 80. Sathish also style of cooking from his native land, Sathish Rao hearkened started Krishna Chat House (on Hillcroft in the strip mall that to his ancestral roots of several generations of Udupi chefs; he houses Udipi Café), which has become a favored destination for rolled up his sleeves and intrepid adventurer that he is, took flavorful savory Indian snacks that are typically sold out of carts the risk of starting his own restaurant on American soil thirteen on the roadsides of India. On any given day Udipi on Hillcroft years ago. Never mind that it would cater primarily to vegetarian — closest to HUM’s office — is a hive of activity with guests palates, or that it was limited to a regional kind of food, Sathish, savoring delectable foods from the lunch buffet. Regardless of a trained chef, was convinced that Houston was global enough Houston’s warm weather, steaming hot rasam is mandatory, as for Udipi to are the crispy attract perspicadosas. Supper cious foodies. at all Udipi With the suplocations is a port of his wife la carte. Sangeeta, an While astute businessstill intrinsicalwoman, and lots ly vegetarian, of hard work, Udipi’s menu his gambit paid has diversely off. Udipi, then increased to located at Richencompass mond Avenue Rajasthani, and Shepherd, Punjabi, served nutritious Mughlai, Hyhome-style food derabadi, and that quickly garAndhra dishes. nered a zealous Catering is following. While boomtown, in its infancy, Sathish says. domestic diva He works with Martha Steward clients and on a visit to Houpersonalizes ston, famously menus accordSathish Rao serves former President of India Dr. Abdul Kalam at a Houston reception held in his honor. stumbled upon ing to their Also pictured is Dr. Durga Agrawal (right)

July 2013

specific needs. Sometimes, he and his team travel out of state and cook on location for weddings, conferences, parties, prayer ceremonies, and other events. He’s very comfortable catering for large crowds as he did when Microsoft Partners held their three-day expo here in 2009. He’s catered for them for eight years consecutively at Seattle, Detroit, and New Orleans, and in Houston from 7 – 11 July 2013. Sathish was commissioned to serve Indian food under the supervision of Aramark at the Starbucks annual national corporate gathering at George R. Brown Convention Center last year. He’s also a regularly featured chef when the Association of Kannada Kootas of America (AKKA) hosts their annual conventions at different cities nationwide. The AKKA typically draws an average of 8000 attendees. “We’ve been very fortunate, blessed, to have the support of the Houston community who helped us grow,” he says. “It’s not a one-man show, my family and my employees are an integral part of the process, we continue to work hard and challenge ourselves to do better,” Sathish added. Sathish is a former professional racing cyclist who represented Karnataka in the Indian national championships. Subsidized by the Indian government, he rode his way across Europe on a bicycle with just a knapsack of belongings before purchasing a plane ticket to the US. After a brief tour he returned to India and trained as a chef. The lure of America proved irresistible; he applied for a job at Continental Airlines and the company funded his training in avionics. A gifted raconteur, his eyes sparkle zestfully as he talks about his adventures. But he’s quick to admit that never in his wildest dreams did he expect to reach this level of success as a restaurateur or that he would rub shoulders with, and serve global luminaries in the ilk of former President of India, Dr. Abdul Kalam, and Oscar and Grammy award-winning music director, A.R. Rahman. Rahman, who notably scored music for the runaway hit movie Slumdog Millionaire, has Sathish’s mobile number and calls to request

meals when he is in town. The chain has seen its fair share of celebrity guests, Bollywood actors and musicians like Hema Malini, Shreya Ghosal, and Richa Sharma. Udipi Café would go on to garner attention and win kudos for it’s perennially congenial chef/owner. The Fearless Critic Houston Restaurant Guide gave Udipi a whopping 9.3 rating in 2008, naming it Best Vegetarian Restaurant and extolled the café for it’s “South Indian flavors exciting enough to incite existential crises in carnivores”. Robin Goldstein, the founder of Fearless Critic, invited Sathish to prepare dosas on site at his book launches and private events in this city. Rob Walsh, the Houston Press food critic named Udipi the Best Indian Restaurant for 2001 and 2002. It’s also a place where award-winning chefs like Sparrow Bar + Cookshop’s Monica Pope love to eat; Udipi is a venue that Underbelly’s Chef Chris Shepherd includes on his culinary tours. “My father wanted me to study medicine or engineering, but destiny brought me back to my roots,” says Sathish contemplatively. He and Sangeeta are proud parents to Sairaj, 20, and Saidev, 17. Sairaj is student of Environmental Science and Geology along with Graphic Design and Animation at the University of Houston; he is fluent in Japanese. Saidev will be a senior at Kempner High School and is a champion diver at Fort Bend County; he has qualified for the Olympic trials and is training in Indiana this summer. Both boys help with the family business on weekends. I ask Sangeeta what she believes has led to Sathish’s success. “Well, he’s a people’s person. He works very hard. He’s very generous and helpful — qualities that endear him to people. And of course, he’s great with food,” she adds with a smile.

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Dorothy Hood:

An Artist for All Seasons BY DR. CAROLYN FARB, HC

Mayan Bride, 1973, oil on canvas, 70” x 60”. Private Collection


American artist Dorothy Hood was all about the truth, no matter what the cost. The truth for Dorothy was recognizing herself whether the results were beautiful or ugly, light or dark, assertive or peaceful. Dorothy Hood played a major role in the history of abstract painting. Today, she appeals to a new generation of cheering fans — artists, collectors, viewers — some of those viewing her works for the first time. In 2016, there will be a full blown retrospective exhibition: El Color del Ser/ The Color of Being opening at the Art Museum of South Texas in Corpus Christi, an architectural treasure designed by Philip Johnson and Ricardo Legorreta. This will be a Bilbao destination for Texas. The exhibit will travel to venues on both coasts and internationally dissolve the myth that Texas artists, in particular female artists, are merely regional. Hood’s paintings seduce viewers both physically and psychologically and lure them into worlds unknown, introducing them to the limitlessness of space, the phenomena of light and galactic visions. She referred to her paintings as “landscapes of her psyche”. Her mature paintings referenced both the mystical and the cosmic evoking dreams, energy fields, and sensuous veils of color. The retrospective will track Dorothy Hood’s development through her formative years as a risk taking artist. She was the female artist in the Texas “Boys Club” — a woman ahead of her time who dreamed of breaking into the New York gallery scene and beyond. She reached out making national and international contacts in her quest to get her work viewed in larger arenas. Dorothy Hood was born in Bryan, Texas, raised in Houston, and won a scholarship to the Rhode Island School of Design in the 1930’s. She was a very beautiful

Photographer - Eric Kayne

Carolyn’s Flower, 1986, oil on canvas 62” x 72” Collection of Dr. Carolyn Farb, HC young woman who moved to New York and modeled as a way to pay for her classes at the Art Students League. In 1941, daringly, she decided on a whim to drive to Mexico City and would remain there for twenty years. While there, Hood cultivated close friendships with the European exiles reminiscent of the 1920s period in Paris. During this twenty year period (1941-1961), she was front and center to the cultural and political social crossroads of Mexico and Latin America. Her friends were artists, composers and writers — Remedios Varo, Leonora Carrington, Rufino Tamayo, Jose Luis Cuevas, Jose Clemente Orozco, and Mathias Goeritz. Chilean poet Pablo Neruda dedicated a poem to her. She thrived in this heady atmosphere. Dorothy married Bolivian composer Velasco Maidana in 1945. They traveled the world together visiting Boston, New York, Latin America, Africa, and Europe where she met Jean Tinguely, Arman and Christo among others, and to India later in her life. This period was the bridge of important new relationships and scholarly research between Texas and Mexico. When she returned to Houston, she began to produce her epic and iconic paintings that bespoke the psychic void of space years before NASA. “The void” offers contemplation and meditation, and at the same time a silent scream that makes the very ground shake beneath you. Dorothy kept journals where she believed the eye to be our own earthly right of possession of the cosmic orbs. Her creativity and intellect flourished. Dorothy’s subjects and accounts extended to what she had seen, experienced and imagined from abstract surreal to

Field Plexus, 1971, oil on canvas, 90” x 70” Collection of Gerald D. and Barbara Hines voyaging souls to poetry of the broadest human significance. Hood had reverence for formal sources and influences — Gorky, Brancusi, Ernst, Redon and Matisse. She was very spiritual, embracing both Christianity and Hinduism in particular. To quote Philippe de Montebello, former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, “Miss Hood is a deeply introspective painter whose imagery is born as much of psychic as of formal needs. The pattern book of her recurrent images is so intensely personal that a viewer of Dorothy Hood’s work has almost a feeling of intrusion into the artist’s subconscious.” Later, Dorothy returned to Houston and spent the rest of her life creating work that became her legacy. She was a vital force in the growth of Houston’s art community and could rival the best colorist with her controlled streams of paint and carefully veined sections of inner thoughts. Hood was represented by seasoned Houston art dealer Meredith Long who discovered Hood in Mexico and supported her through exhibitions and sales. The Art Museum of South Texas acquired, from the Hood Estate, over 900 paintings, drawings and collages — her ashes and those of her beloved Velasco were hauntingly a part of that acquisition. In her archives are volumes of interesting corre

July 2013

Untitled, 1970s, oil on canvas, 90” x 70” Collection of Art Museum of South Texas

Dark Plexus, 1994, oil on canvas, 120” x 96” Collection of Steve and Johanna Donson spondence between Dorothy Hood and Meredith Long, Dorothy Miller, the renowned curator of MoMA, Marian Willard of the Willard Gallery as well as the Tibor de Nagy gallery which was involved in the abstract expressionist movement and represented Grace Hartigan, Jane Freilicher and Helen Frankenthaler. The art critic Clement Greenberg would offer insightful comments in his correspondence with Dorothy about her style of color field painting. Dorothy soared with her monumental and majestic works of art which delve into one’s soul and being. Her paintings give you the feeling that you are having a metaphysical and cosmic conversation with her, even sensing her presence is in the room. Her paintings are a part of over 30 important museums

including the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Everson Museum, the National Gallery, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum and Museo de Arte Moderno. The Dorothy Hood monograph and retrospective will take viewers places in ways we have only begun to imagine. Dorothy Hood will at last receive the recognition she richly deserves and be on equal footing with the other recognized women artists of the period — Joan Mitchell, Helen Frankenthaler and Lee Krasner. She was a woman within a larger culture with enormous courage and commitment to be who she was, doing what she was doing, when she was doing it. She was a free spirit that challenged the rigid institutional structures. Dorothy Hood sought the answers, even if the truth be complicated and elusive. My commitment is personal in that I co-produced a film about her life, The Color of Life which is on YouTube so that the generations to come will celebrate this great independent spirit and all that Dorothy Hood fought and stood for. There is a commitment of purpose and passion that curator and author Susie Kalil and I will carry forward on this magnificent mission.

Carolyn Farb is an internationally known volunteer fundraiser, author, businesswoman, and philanthropist. She has been published in Interview Magazine, bRILLIANT Magazine, Origin, and is the author of three books; How to Raise Millions, Helping Others, Having a Ball, The Fine Art of Fundraising, and Lucas Comes to America.




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Michael and Lucia Cordua (third & fourth from left) with son David and daughters Michelle and Cristina with other daughter Elisa and her bridegroom Alexander Tavera

Family Values, Faith, Love Growing up Cordua BY KALYANI GIRI David Cordua’s eyes twinkle with merriment as he recalls the imaginative and complex school lunches that his dad used to create for him and sisters Michelle, Elisa, and Cristina. Nothing pedestrian for the Cordua siblings; more often than not, those midday meals involved maple syrup and cream cheese and were so substantial, sophisticated and delicious that the other kids hankered for a taste. David’s mom Lucia gently nudges him. “Tell her what you used to do, David,” she says cajolingly. With a naughty grin, he confesses that he’d shared the food indeed… for a couple of dollars! When your dad is culinary royalty in the exalted ilk of Nicaraguan-born Chef Michael Cordua, great food is a hallmark of the household. Michael, a legendary restaurateur of national acclaim, and the only Texas chef inducted into the Food and Wine Hall of Fame, is credited for introducing South American cuisine to culturally diverse palates in the US in the 1980s. He and David are partners/co-owners of Amazón Grill, Américas


Post Oak, Américas Woodlands, Américas River Oaks, Artista, Churrascos River Oaks, and Churrascos Westchase. David serves as the Executive Chef of Development – Cordua Restaurants, and is a recipient of the Up-and-Coming Chef of the Year, My Table 2010 Houston Culinary Awards. I’m visiting with the Corduas at their stunning Memorial area home. They moved in quite recently, and Lucia confides that it’s a work in progress. At the heart of the home is a capacious atrium with a retractable skylight. A handcrafted hammock begs one to curl up with a good book. We’re talking about family, togetherness, faith, success, and about Michael – not in his avatar as a celebrated chef – but as a husband, father and grandfather, roles he revels in, cherishes. The family is openly affectionate with each other, soft-spoken. “Michael is a gentleman, he’s old-fashioned, with a very attractive mind,” says Lucia. “He’s also a strong man with incredible willpower. I’m grateful that Michael was very involved as a father, especially for the girls who grew up with his sup-

“Parenting is more expansive than mentoring. I combined both and today my son is my colleague and friend” —Michael Cordua

port, he’s very encouraging and loving,” she adds. “I treat my daughters like goddesses, I spoil them with so much of love that they carry that love wherever they go,” Michael says. “David respects women because he sees how I am with his mother. Lucia has a third eye that sees into my soul. She subsidizes my heart,” he adds with a smile. Michael and Lucia are doting grandparents to daughter Michelle’s two little girls, Amelia, 2, and Annelisa, 5 months. They Skype every day as Michelle and husband William Mirshak live in Chicago. The couple’s two other daughters live in other cities too; Elisa and husband Alexander Tavera live in Minneapolis. Cristina resides in San Jose. All four children are well educated. The girls attended Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart, and David went to Strake Jesuit College Preparatory. All four attended Santa Clara University, following in the footsteps of Lucia’s father, who graduated from that college. They also held jobs while at college, something their parents encouraged. David spent two years in France where he earned Grand Diplômes in both Cuisine and Pastry at Le Cordon Bleu, Paris. The siblings are fluent in English, French and Spanish. “A well educated child is more accepted, more social and polite,” says Lucia. “We treated the children with respect and taught them to respect each other. We also taught them not to lie. They are very close and they value and support each other,” she adds. Growing up, the supper table was a sanctuary. Even if a child did something wrong, they were never reprimanded at the table. It was a time for the family to pray together and enjoy dinner quietly. Later as afterschool activities took up much of the evening, breakfast became the meal of togetherness. Regardless of whether a child was hungry or not, they were expected to be present at breakfast. “Michael would wake up early and cook breakfast and make the children’s lunches. I would create a pretty table,” says Lucia laughingly. Weekends, the children’s friends inundated the house and there was always plenty to eat and drink. It is still a fun household, says David. There’s a lot of laughter, dancing and singing when the family gets together. David’s hero is his father. “The most fun thing about dad is his unpredictability. He’s the least boring person I know, I love being surprised by him,” says David. “We’re fundamentally very different. For me it’s about getting to the destination, for dad, it’s the journey. It’s there in his approach to life,” he adds. While other fathers and sons bonded over cars and sports, David and Michael bonded in the kitchen. Both are inordinately gifted at pairing together unexpected ingredients. Father and son once made a memorable trip to Spain that combined Michael’s passion for food and David’s passion for travel.

“Parenting is more expansive than mentoring. I combined both and today my son is my colleague and friend,” says Michael. He is determined to be fit and healthy for his family. During his 30s, Michael gained 200 pounds. The next decade he made a conscious effort to exercise and lose weight. Early every morning he and Lucia go to the Houston Shaolin Temple where they practice Qi Gong, impact resistance training that strengthens the body and tendons. “Our family is a gift to each other, I never take that for granted anymore,” adds Michael. Michael is proud of David. He lauds his son’s accomplishments in creativity. In the 7th grade David apparently decided he wanted to be a filmmaker and asked his teacher if he could make a movie with the whole class, which he did. He loves music and is a lyricist and singer/musician with a recorded track. He paints, with several pieces of art to his credit. He’s also a brilliant chef in his own right. David has compiled a book of the Cordua family’s best recipes and included several new ones; the Cordua Cookbook pays rich tribute to his father and the staff who have been with them for 25 years. Nothing short of a labor of love, the book will be released in fall this year. David has generously shared two recipes with HUM Magazine’s readers. Both Michael and Lucia hail from large families. Lucia is one of eleven siblings, and Michael one of seven. The couple met in Managua, Nicaragua as children. Michael and Lucia’s brother were best friends. In 1972 when a 6.2 magnitude earthquake shook Managua and left 5000 dead and thousands homeless, Lucia’s family relocated to Chinandega. The couple reconnected when she was studying medicine in Mexico and he was studying Economics and Finance at Texas A&M. She moved to Houston and enrolled at the University of St. Thomas and changed her major to psychology, because she believed that being a doctor would preclude her from raising a family. Michael and Lucia married on December 26, 1980. Initially, Michael wasn’t eager to have children. That changed in 1982 when David was born. “As Michael cradled the baby in his arms, his eyes just glowed with love. He wanted to raise David to be strong and independent,” says Lucia. All her pregnancies were tough, but even though Michael was busy establishing the new business, he would bring her lunch everyday. How do Lucia and Michael keep the marriage strong and content? “Like every other couple we may not always agree with each other but we stay with the issue and discuss only that,” says Lucia. “We’re also naturally romantic and unafraid of showing our love for each other. We are very much the flowers, candles, and music kind of couple.”

July 2013

Chef David Cordua has generously shared with HUM Magazine, two recipes which appear in the Cordua Cookbook. The book will be released in the fall of this year.

CHICKEN ALBONDIGA SOUP Albondigas: 2 ¼ pounds ground chicken 2/3 cup chopped onion ½ cup chopped green pepper 1 teaspoon chopped garlic ½ cup chopped cilantro 1 egg 1 ½ teaspoon salt 1 ½ teaspoon Creole seasoning 1 pound boiled yucca

Soup: ¼ cup corn oil 2 ½ cup chopped onion 1 ½ teaspoon minced garlic 2 ½ cup diced tomatoes 2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo, minced ½ cup white wine 1 gallon chicken stock 2 tablespoons lime juice 1 tablespoon salt 1 tablespoon black pepper 4 avocados, diced Fried tortilla strips Chopped cilantro Cotija cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, combine the chicken with the vegetables, egg and seasoning, processing until a thick, smooth dough develops. Add the yuca a little at a time, processing to thoroughly incorporate. Use a scoop that produces small meatballs about 1 rounded teaspoon. Bake in the oven for 12 minutes. Heat the oil in a large pot and sauté the onion until starting to caramelize, then add the garlic and stir briefly. Add the tomatoes and chipotles, stirring for 1-2 minutes before adding the wine, stock, lime juice, salt and pepper. Cook for 20 minutes, then add the cooked meatballs. Serve in bowls. Top with diced avocado and garnish as desired with tortilla strips, cilantro and cotija. Serves 8-10.

STUFFED QUAIL TAQUITOS 8 quail breasts ¼ cup pineapple juice 1 tablespoon soy sauce 8 cremini mushrooms 3 tablespoons chimichurri (see recipe p. xx) ½ shallot, minced 1 teaspoon corn oil 2 tablespoons seeded and diced jalapeno 2 tablespoons diced red bell pepper

2 tablespoons cotija cheese 1 tablespoon finely chopped basil 16 slices bacon 8 flour tortillas Brown Butter Bearnaise (see recipe p. xx) Finely chopped romaine lettuce Cotija cheese Diced red bell pepper Finely chopped basil

Marinate the quail breasts 30 minutes in a bowl with the pineapple juice and joy. Remove the stem from each mushroom to create a cavity for stuffing, then brush the mushroom caps with chimichurri and grill briefly. Mince the mushroom stems and make a duxelles by sautéing with the shallot in the shallot. Let cool. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, combine the cooled duxelle with the jalapeno, red bell pepper, cotija and basil and use to stuff each mushroom cap. Set 1 marinated quail breast on top of each mushroom and wrap each with 2 slices of bacon crossing each other. Set the quail packets seam-side down on a roasting pan and roast in oven for 18 minutes. Let cool enough to handle.  Meanwhile, spray the tortillas with cooking spray and cook lightly on one side in a pan or on a griddle, letting then turn golden and puffy. Slice each quail packet into 4-5 slices. Spread each tortilla with some Brown Butter Bearnaise and set the quail slices on top. Garnish with chopped romaine and the same flavors as the stuffing: cotija, red bell pepper and basil. Makes 8 taquitos.


Photo: Krishna Giri

July 2013


Humanity NOT What We Don’t Say Counts!

Dr. Ardeshir Babaknia

BY SOWMYA NANDAKUMAR Despite the devastating enormity of the Holocaust, perhaps the single most widely known of historical calamity, there lived until recently, a population in denial of it. They were far removed from it then and did not have access to literature on the subject in the Persian language until now. Dr. Ardeshir Babaknia, 66, an Iran-born Jew, disturbed by the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejadin’s denial of the Holocaust, and in an effort to tackle this crucial lack of a populace’s awareness, took the onus upon himself to research, analyze and present the Holocaust in four books. The books, written in the Farsi language, are Man’s Inhumanity to Man, America’s Response to the Holocaust, The World’s Response to the Holocaust, and End of the Holocaust and Liberation of Nazi Camps and the Genocides of the Last 100 Years. Dr. Babaknia, who came to the US in 1974 to complete his residency in gy-


necology at Johns Hopkins University, is presently working on his fifth book, in English, Humanity NOT, to be released in the fall of 2013. He currently serves as the Chairman of the Medical Advisory Board at the Los Angeles Center for Women’s Health. Dr. Babaknia was at the Bahá’í Center in this city June 17, 2013, to talk about Humanity NOT and his other books to a diverse audience. With the publication of his books, Iran, and people in denial of the genocide that claimed millions of lives, has gained access to much-needed Holocaust literature in Farsi. It’s also significantly led to some government authorities stepping up to admit that denying the reality of the holocaust was unwise. Dr. Babaknia began his discussion intending to answer two crucial questions; while the Holocaust was happening in Europe, which was supposedly the most civilized, and socially

advanced part of the world at that time, where was the rest of the world? He told attendees that no matter how geographically far removed the Holocaust occurred, it happened on planet Earth. “I wanted to know where the rest of the world was,” Babaknia said. “Where was Churchill? Where was Roosevelt? What was the reason for world leaders to be indifferent? Where were the other Jewish leaders and when did they act upon it?” After all, he said, “forgetting the Holocaust is repeating the Holocaust.” After 17 years of research, Dr. Babaknia concluded that, “the Jews of Europe were ground to dust by two millstones — the Nazi’s criminal intent to kill and the world’s silence”. He shared that a 97-year-old Holocaust survivor once told him “No one can understand what I went through”. To which Dr. Babaknia responded, “Human knowledge is limited but human imagination is not. What the Nazis did is beyond even my imagination”. Dr. Babaknia terms the Holocaust as “generic terrorism”; Jews were killed for being Jewish. However, he notes in his works that the Nazis had not lost all morality, but exercised something of a bi-polar morality model. They knew that children were to be loved, the elderly respected, and the disabled treated with care. While this moral code applied to their own people, it never applied to the Jews. This bi-polar morality code had been fed into the Nazi psyche. With this ideology well in place, they massacred Jews, yet demonstrated basic human decency to their own people and lived guilt free because they were trained to adapt to the bi-polar dogma. Quoting from survivors’ anecdotes, Dr. Babaknia said that Nazis told Jewish prisoners repeatedly that they were “not human”, “worse than animals”, “worse than rats and cockroaches”. “How could a population be conditioned to hate so much and where does one begin to understand such hatred?” asked Dr. Babaknia. As a physician, Dr. Babaknia learned that categorizing makes human life easier. So he categorizes this “hate” as a psycho-social disorder/disease which calls for medical treatment. This disease could have afflicted a few, but it managed to

engulf Europe, perpetuated only because of the world’s silence. While injustice is committed relentlessly, silence is neither an option nor a solution because it only encourages the perpetrators. The Nazi’s were inhuman, but so was the world’s silence, said Dr. Babaknia, and future generations can learn from history and consciously choose not to repeat it by demonstrating the courage to speak up. “When you encounter hate, don’t treat it with hate, but not with love either, but treat it immediately by speaking up, actively participating and sharing your story, acting on it, not by ignoring, denying and staying silent,” Dr. Babaknia said. According to him, the Holocaust had its beginnings not as the enormous human catastrophe we know of today, but with limiting people’s fundamental rights — the right to life, work, speech, writing, and expression. While a population was gradually being stripped of these rights, the world held its solemn silence. It was only in the light of that silence that it took on the monstrousness of the “Holocaust”. Citing a more contemporary example, he narrated his meeting with President Bill Clinton. Dr. Babaknia asked him what his greatest failure was. President Clinton answered, “My biggest failure is my untimely response in Rwanda.” Dr. Babaknia told the audience that he hopes that the holocaust will never happen again, but the genocides that occurred postWorld War II are an indication that it could happen again if people chose silence over active participation, and if world leaders chose to ignore rather than act. Dr. Babaknia labeled the Holocaust as a “unique” historical event, a catastrophic failure of human civilization, “not just a Jewish tragedy” a “human tragedy” that he hopes remains “unique” and never to recur in any form. Aptly quoting Martin Niemoller, a German philosopher, he said, “First they came for the communists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist, Then they came for the socialists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist… then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.” Dr. Babaknia emphatically concluded that words unspoken count, that society cannot remain silent in the face of injustice. Silence is Humanity NOT!

Sowmya Nandakumar holds a Masters in Mass Communications, University of Houston, and is an alumnus of Stella Maris College, and the Asian College of Journalism, Chennai. She has worked as assistant director for three feature films including “Vaaranam Aayiram” with Gautham Menon. She is a certified Yoga instructor teaching in the Houston area, learns ballet at Hope Stone Dance Studio, and is studying Carnatic music on the violin. She enjoys writing and free lances for The Hindu occasionally.

July 2013

Vedic Roots of Stringed Music BY Swami Vidyadhishananda The rich and resonant sounds of the Vīņā enthrall every music lover. Often, simply referred to as a lute, this magical instrument carries a hallowed tradition. The Vīņā bears the distinction of being a truly Vedic era instrument predating what has come to be known as the classical era of music in the Indic heritage. This article lists several important references to the Vīņā in the Vedic Sanskrit literature. One may note that the Vedic Sanskrit texts are referring to the Vedic times as opposed to the more popular classical Sanskrit tradition that has flourished since the Mahābhārata times. The Vīņā does not have a direct mention in the RigVeda Samhitā mantra section but the rendition of the Rik mantras into Sāma notes also known as Sāma-gāna relies on the use of this string instrument. Thus the relationship of SāmaVeda, the Vīņā and the goddess of arts and learning, Saraswati, has been hailed as one of the foundations of musicology in the Indic heritage. It is believed that goddess Saraswati inspires and facilitates the rendition of Sāma-gāna through her Vīņā, and thus every aspiring Vīņā player must have the divine blessings of Saraswati. The Vīņā was not only used for singular compositions to express Sāma-gāna, it was used to create orchestral music as part of ensembles during Vedic times. In such ensembles, an individual player was known as Vīņā-Gāthin (Taittiriya Brāhmaņa; Shatapatha Brāhmaņa;, 11, 14; The prominent player in such an ensemble leading the orchestra was referred to as Vīņā-Gaņagin (Shatapatha Brāhmaņa;; Shānkhyāyana Shrouta Sūtra 13.1.29). The Samhitā and Brāhmaņa literature, subsequent to RigVeda, mention the Vīņā frequently: Taittiriya Samhitā; Kāthaka Samhitā 34.5; Maitrāyaņi Samhitā 3.6.8; Shatapatha Brāhmaņa;; Shānkhyāyana Shrouta Sūtra 17.3.1; Jaimini Brāhmaņa 1.42. General references to a Vīņā exponent are found in Vājasaneyī Samhitā 30.20 and Taittiriya Brāhmaņa The structure and parts of the Vīņā are mentioned in Aitareya Araņyaka 3.2.5. The Vedic sage Yājñavalkya takes the example of a


Vīņā in Brihadāraņyaka Upanishad to hone in on a point that particular notes have no separate existence from the general note. Referring to the Vīņā as an example, the sage implies that particular knowledge of the world in waking, dream or sleep has no validity of its own, separate from the intelligence of Brahman (God) who pervades this world. The erudite seer cites the same verse twice as mentioned in separate chapters: 2.4.9 and 4.5.10 of this remarkable treatise. Sage Yājñavalkya further elaborates on the vocal excellence of Sāma-gāna and its instrumental rendition using the Vīņā in the smriti text on sacred laws of Vedic times (Yājñavalkya Smriti 3.4.112 and 115 respectively). Verse 112 promises that mental immersion while singing the correctly intonated songs of Sāma-gāna brings about the highest state of liberation into godhood. Whereas verse 115 affirms that excelling with the Vīņā using expertise of the swara (note), jāti (type of melodic mode) and tāla (rhythm) to create soulful music leads to liberation without the attendant strain of rigorous yogic or mystic disciplines. Herein, the great seer is clearly mentioning the use of jāti (18 types in total) that are used to evoke aesthetically mesmerizing melodic states of devotion (rasa) in the listener. It is clear from this verse that the thematic combination of note, melodic interlude and rhythm as in a rāga were all very well practiced in Vedic times simultaneously with sublime chanting and singing of Sāma-gāna compositions from SāmaVeda. Pupils of Indian classical music recognize SāmaVeda to be the source of music in the Vedic Indic heritage. The hymns of RigVeda are known to be exquisite offerings to the gods through the Vāņī, or the essence of speech expressing devotional thoughts through the sublime recitation of intonated mantra. However, the essence of these hymns is the musical rendering of those Rik sounds into Sāman by way of either intonated singing or the music of the Vīņā. Here is a classic example of reverse juxtaposition of Sanskrit sounds – Vāņī of RigVeda is expressed as the Vīņā of SāmaVeda. Sublime expression of the Sāma-gāna through voice or the music of the

Vīņā is said to bear the power to replace rites and rituals, and is verily hailed as giving fulfillment to the heart. Sublimation through this celestial music is deemed as a way to moxa or deliverance from the cycle of death and rebirth. The expert chanter of Sāma-gāna as well as the Vīņā maestro are said to repose in the heart brimming with the bliss of the merciful Brahman (Lord). The nectar of Sāma-gāna through intonated singing is aptly captured by the melodious resonant sounds of the Vīņā like no other musical instrument. There are of course various kinds of Vīņā of notable history, such as Rudra-Vīņā, Saraswati-Vīņā and the smaller DhanurVīņā (or the violin). The Saraswati-Vīņā has four main strings constructed and placed in a way that allows the creation of distinctive lingering melody (popularly known as gamak)) and three strings

on the side meant for tāla or rhythm. It is believed that the four main strings represent and cover the entire mantra-vinyāsa or the spread of verses in the four principal Veda (viz. ( RigVeda, YajurVeda, SāmaVeda and AtharvaVeda). The three drone strings on the side impart rhythm that structures the melodic composition and prods the momentum. These three strings are said to represent the three primordial powers or shakti-trayam: the power to wish (icchā-shakti), the power to know (jñāna-shakti) and the ( power to do (kriyā-shakti). (kriyā-shakti The 24 frets of a Saraswati-Vīņā symbolically represent the 24 existent constituent principles (tattwa) ( of Sāmkhya philosophy which define the domain of evolution in matter (prakriti and vikriti). These frets are ( arranged with increasing gaps between them symbolically representing the discrete evolutionary steps and direction of creation. The 25th principle or consciousness itself supersedes all frets, and transcendental absorption at the subtlest level of musical immersion is the ultimate boon of playing the Vīņā.

The author, His Holiness Swami Vidyadhishananda, is a Vedic monk who hails from unbroken saintly lineages of the combined heritage of rishi and nāth traditions. He is among the very few available in the West who has been awarded the degree of Mahāmahopādhyay (Great Ordained Teacher) by the university system in India due to his scholarly and meditative interpretation of Sanskrit literature. He is the founder of the California based nonprofit organization, Self Enquiry Life Fellowship. The nonprofit preserves and disseminates indigenous knowledge from the ancient Sanskrit heritage, including extant literature, spiritual practices of Vedic antiquity, esoteric Himalayan yoga, and meditation techniques of unbroken lineages. The Self Enquiry Life Fellowship strives to make accessible through its educational publications, the spiritual philosophy passed down by the lineages of Vedic monks, archived vintage images, intonated chanting and sublime recitation of Sanskrit hymns, Vedic fine arts and classical music. To learn more, please visit For more information about the Nonprofit’s upcoming Vedic music publications, write to or call 909-543-6003.

July 2013

Photos: Krishna Giri

Chariots of the Gods

The gods are brought from their hallowed spaces within the temple to the chariot


Defying the sweltering afternoon, hundreds dressed in traditional Indian garments joyfully participated in the 6th Annual Rath Yatra, or chariot journey, on July 14, 2013. Amid the sonorous lowing of conch shells, flower showers, Vedic chants, and the staccato beat of the drums, devotees escorted an ornate chariot bearing the Hindu gods Jagannath, Balarama, and Subhadra out of temple grounds at the Vallabh Priti Seva Samaj (VPSS) and onto the street to see and be seen by all of their domain. The colorful event, organized by the Orissa Culture Center and the Shri Sita Ram Foundation, was widely supported by several organizations such as VPSS, ISKCON, Houston Arts Alliance, India Culture Center, and Hindus of Greater Houston, to name a few. Hallmarking the occasion were invocatory prayers, devotional songs and dance; this year’s event included a free health fair, a bazaar, and a grand concert by India’s renowned singer of ghazals and bhajans, Anup Jalota. The observance of the Rath Yatra of Jagannath dates back to the period of the Puranas. Descriptions of this festival are found in Brahma, Padma, and Skanda Puranas. Among the ancient tradition of Rath Yatra’s many purported significances, what towers above the rest is the celebration of the equality of all beings. When the gods are brought from their hallowed spaces within the temple and onto the streets, everyone – regardless of caste, creed, rich or poor – has the opportunity of viewing the deities and receiving the blessings. This impartiality in the days of yore, extended to the royal patrons, who for the day, eschewed their lives of privilege and walked ahead of the chariot, humbly performing the menial task

“Royal Patrons” Sushma & Vijay Pallod performing Chera Pahara

July 2013

of cleansing the ground with broomsticks dipped in sandal paste, turmeric, and water. The ritual is known as the Chera Pahara. This year the designated royal patrons at the VPSS Rath Yatra were the regally garbed Sushma and Vijay Pallod, well known in the Hindu community; the pair, as the Raja (king) and Rani (queen), dutifully performed the Chera Pahara. The weekend of July 13-14 also saw Rath Yatra observed at various locations in Houston. ISKCON took their chariots of the gods to Discovery Green downtown, and the Houston Durga Bari Society held Rath Yatra on their temple premises.


Jagannath, meaning Lord of the Universe, is the etymological origin of the English word, Juggernaut, which means unstoppable; Jagannath, an avatar of Lord Krishna, is also the resident deity of Puri, a coastal town of Orissa in east India. Puri is the main epicenter of the Rath Yatra Festival, which is celebrated with pomp and grandeur, drawing about one million pilgrims yearly. The Ratha Yatra festival has gained momentum in most major cities of the world since 1968 through the ISKCON Hare Krishna movement. Its leader Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada successfully popularized the festival which now happens on an annual basis in cities all over the world.

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Celluloid A Hundred Years of Enterprise BY NANDINI BHATTACHARYA Indians are dreamers and entrepreneurs, some accidentally, some reluctantly, and others with intent and gusto. In the year 2013, the anniversary year of HUM Magazine, I want to remember the one hundred year anniversary of Indian cinema and its founder and pioneer Dhundiraj Govind Phalke (Dadasaheb Phalke, 1870-1944), who began in 1913 what has become one of the world’s most vibrant and robust dream-making machines with his film Raja Harishchandra. The founding father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi, had of course refused to sully his consciousness with the filth and taint of cinema, as is well known. No surprise; fear and suspicion of theatre and actors goes all the way back in world history through the Enlightenment and the Elizabethan age right to the Classical period in world history. But who can deny that Gandhi himself was an entrepreneur and a dreamer? Gandhi dreamt into being and practice forms of political resistance to brute power and oppression that few had been able to conceive of before his time, let alone put into practice in such a way that a nation of many millions was exhilarated and liberated from the greatest imperial power the world had seen since Rome: Great Britain. D.G. Phalke, while in one sense the anti-thesis of Gandhi, was in another sense an entrepreneur and dreamer who ironically felt that cinema was nothing if not a handmaiden to the cause of national pride and national liberation. Indeed, as the story goes, it was after seeing a short early film called The Life of Christ that Phalke was struck by the idea that here indeed was a medium that traditionally theatrically-inclined and performanceloving Indians would naturally gravitate to. While the yet-dominant western practice of the medium focused on glorified western Judeo-Christian tradition, it was

up to enterprising Indians to appropriate the medium and use it to sing the praises of Indian history, Indian mythology, Indian tradition and Indian heroes and heroines. And Flash Bang! So was born the first film made entirely in India by Indians – Raja Harishchandra – which is a chronicle of the greatness and glory of one of Hinduism’s mythical heroes, to be followed in fairly quick succession by Phalke films that depicted the doings of Indian gods and goddesses and indeed an entire value system and way of being and thinking about the world and how to adorn as well as inhabit it. These include Mohini Bhasmasur (1913), Satyavan Savitri (1914), Lanka Dahan (1917), Shri Krishna Janma (1918) and Kaliya Mardan (1919). When I say “Indian,” I am aware that in that early cinema there was not yet a pan-Indian consciousness which would include and represent Muslims, Christians, Parsis, Jews and other minorities; however, as the subsequent history of Indian cinema will indicate, by the 1930s, and indeed in tandem with popular nationalist momentum and certainly by mid-century, these other communities were amply and significantly coming to be represented and given voice by the creative and versatile children of Phalke. To press the comparison with Gandhi just a bit further though hopefully not fatuously so, ironically, like that other dreamer, Phalke instituted something of an artisanal system of making films — the home studio — not unlike the ashrams (beginning with Tolstoy Farm in South Africa) that Gandhi had set up. So, like the Satyagrahis whom Gandhi trained in his retreats and ashrams and farms, Phalke created a community of filmmakers with whom he went into retreat or into relative seclusion from the metropolis of Bombay, setting up a studio in Nasik where he gathered together a motley bunch of

friends of friends and family, and strangers who became friends and family, and with their help, churned out film after film out of a sheer childlike joy and gusto at the ability to have a say about what it meant to dream, and provide a counterpoint to the British view of India and the domination of racist Hollywood and British films. Which brings me to a wonderful recent film that one must see, a film called Harishchandrachi Factory (2009; Paresh Mokashi) that, as the title suggests is a marvelously sympathetic, thoughtful and nuanced depiction of Phalke’s inspiration, his life, his mode of work, and his genius. True, Phalke died in penury; true, the advent of sound in cinema wiped out Phalke and most of his contemporary magicians of the silent film, but if proof were needed of the deathlessness of creative enterprise and genius, one need only think about Indian cinema today in all its diversity and bustle. Phalke was remembered again, 100 years after Raja Harishchandra, in a perspective on “experimental Indian cinema” at Hundred Years of Experimentation (1913-2013), Retrospective of Indian Cinema and Video, by the Mumbai-based FD Zone, Films Division, in Mumbai, 28 – 30 June, 2013. In a session called “Experiments with Gods” D.G. Phalke’s Raja Harishchandra, Lanka Dahan, Sri Krishna Janam, and Kaliya Mardan (1913 – 1935) were revisited on screen. Hats off, then, to enterprise, and to Indian enterprise, and to Indian cinema, and to D.G. Phalke, all those that have withstood the ravages of time, and in that spirit to HUM Magazine and its spirited and creative publisher, Kalyani Giri.

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.


IIT 2013 Global Conference on Innovation: December 6 to 8, Hilton-Americas, Houston, Texas BY PRADEEP ANAND I enjoy the hit TV show, Big Bang Theory, for a reason that many readers may find curious. The comedy reminds me of my student days at IIT Bombay, where I was surrounded by these geeks, who were social misfits, clueless about the world outside their sizzling minds and their immediate physical surroundings in Powai. Today, these oddballs are unrecognizable. They have managed to shed their oddities, polished their social skills, and joined the global mainstream in leading extraordinary lives. Today, they are internationally admired for their intellect, their vision, and their accomplishments. Through the IIT 2013 Global Conference on Innovation, they intend to assist in the creation of better tomorrow, for the greater good of humanity. An estimated 30,000 IIT alumni live in the United States; at least 3,000 of them call Greater Houston their home. The Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) are engineering and management institutes whose alumni have proved to be strong innovators and highly successful executives and technologists in the corporate world, entrepreneurial ventures, academia, government and other walks of life. IIT alumni’s achievements have become the envy of the world. It is estimated that IIT graduates have created over 500,000 jobs in the U.S. and significantly more in India and the rest of the world. Almost 40% of technology start-ups in Silicon Valley, over the last 20 years, have an IIT graduate as a Founder or CEO. In 2005, the US Congress passed House Resolution 227 — introduced by Congressman Tom Davis and co-sponsored by then Congressman Bobby Jindal — praising the stellar work done by IITians. Today, IIT alumni hold executive positions in many of the largest global organizations, and a majority of the Energy-related ones in Houston. The single largest university represented among the research personnel at one of the largest global corporations (with substantial presence in Houston) is the IIT. IIT Global Conferences are held every other year in the US. Recent conferences were held in New York City, Chicago, Washington DC and San Jose. The IIT 2013 Conference’s theme is Inspiring Innovation for Tomorrow. By 2045, the world’s population will be about 9 Billion people. By then, humanity will need to be healthy and educated to

power global economies, and they will consume at least 50% more food, 30% more water, 50% more energy. This conference is focused on five threads, to weave a tapestry of innovations for this not-so-distant future. These five are Sustainability, Technology, Education, Energy and Life Sciences (STEEL). These interwoven STEEL threads will help current and future generations enjoy better, fulfilling lives. Past keynote speakers at these conferences have included President Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Jack Welch, Larry Summers, Hillary Clinton, Jeffery Immelt, the President of India, the Prime Minister of India, and other world-renowned leaders. The US conference attracts about 2000 attendees, who are the crème-de-la-crème of the Indian-American diaspora. The current program includes luminaries, and business- and thought-leaders who will illuminate various braids of STEEL. More details are available at The Houston and global community has provided overwhelming support for this conference. The forum already has more than 625 paid registrants. We expect an audience of over 2000 people. The outreach campaign — Don’t be Left Out, You’ll fit Right In — has been effective. About a third of the attendees are not IIT alumni and about 50% are from outside Texas. Additionally, Houston-based and global businesses are stepping up to participate in the event as speakers and as sponsors, to not only influence the minds of this rich audience but also to engage in joint initiatives that span the globe. Moreover, the leadership of Rice University and the University of Houston are enthusiastic in creating new vistas in Global Education in a Digital World. The IIT 2013 Global Conference is chaired by Witty Bindra, co-chaired by Pratish Kanani, and supported by hundreds, locally and globally. The purpose to assure a better world for current and future generations creates the passion and cohesion in this diverse team to deliver a successful conference. Join us in Inspiring Innovations for Tomorrow. Come. Enjoy a Cup of Eye Eye Tea!

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.

July 2013



What Got Religious Liberty Thrives in the Lone Star State BY KEN CHITWOOD Texas gets a lot of things right. It is top of the pops when it comes to small business investment, competitiveness, jobs, boomtowns and its voice is growing on the national stage in politics, education and society. Texas has the best brisket, no state income taxes and Blue Bell Ice Cream. In a country known for independence and freedom, Texas is fast becoming the paradigmatic paragon of liberty and autonomy. In the words of Twitter satire handle, @TexasHumor, “Texas isn’t just better. Texas is best.” And when it comes to religious freedom and diversity, Texas gets it right.  In their newest book, Texas Got it Right!, singularly successful father and son duo Sam and Andrew Wyly not only argue for Texan supremacy in politics, population and professions, but also when it comes to self-determination in pulpits and pews.  Sam Wyly wrote, “Texans are churchgoers... we’re mosquegoers and temple-goers too... we’ve got Mennonites, Lutherans, Zoroastrians, Quakers, Episcopalians, and pretty much every other denomination and sub-denomination you can think of.” The statistics tell the story. Not only is Texas one of the fastest growing states in the US, but it is rapidly becoming one of the most diverse regions of the country. According to the Texas Almanac, the Lone Star State is not only first in Evangelical Protestants (6.5 million), non-denominational Evangelicals (1.5 million), but also Muslims (420,000). Texas is second in number of Mainline Protestants and Hindus, third in number of Catholics and Buddhists. The state is fifth in number of Mor-


mons. Houston is replete with Mormons and Muslims, the fastest growing religious demographics in the city, but Catholics, Baptists and Methodists still exercise their faith in large numbers in the Bayou City.  Wyly said that the same principles that make Texas the most conducive state for entrepreneurial economic growth make it ripe ground for religious growth and diversity. “We let people worship as they please; and we don’t put roadblocks in the way of growth,” he said. Texas religious diversity goes part and parcel with its emphasis on liberty in all things.  The entrepreneur highlighted Lakewood Church, led by Joel Osteen, as a great example of Texas religious liberty and freedom. He said Osteen’s “ever-optimistic, ‘Texas-style’ gospel of acceptance and self-improvement resonates deeply with his multi-ethnic, multi-cultural TV congregation.” Coming from California by way of New Zealand, South Africa, and Arizona, and appreciating a healthy dose of religious diversity and entrepreneurial growth, I cannot help but agree with Wyly’s estimations. Texas is fertile ground for creedal miscellany and for successful growth across religious lines in churches, masjids, stakes and temples. And it’s only getting better. As Texas’ immigrant population rises, so will its spiritual heterogeneity as newcomers bring their faith and proselytize. Even within congregations of the faithful there is great variety as Latina/os convert to Islam and join African and Arab compatriots and Asians and Caucasians seek to share space in Buddhist temples. 

Opening in June

UNIVERSE IS FLUX THE ART OF TAWARA YŪSAKU Organized by the Indianapolis Museum of Art

June 19 – September 15, 2013 As Wyly commented, “Texas changes, and our religious diversity grows with it. Buildings take new forms, and the languages spoken inside change, but Jews, Protestants, Evangelicals, and people of all faiths have always found a welcoming home in Texas. It is absolutely a big part of what Texas got right!” However, there are limits to Texas’ warm welcome to its ever-growing interfaith assortment. There is still resistance in pockets of the Texas population, and with freedom comes the opportunity to deride and denounce those with which we disagree. At times, dissenters react violently or irreverently, lashing out with vitriol at people from those religions they disagree with. This is a lamentable abuse of liberty. Prime among those persecuted in Texas are atheists. Alternet ranks Texas as the third scariest state to be a non-believer and Houston atheists say that even though the metropolis is fairly progressive, there are still many who use political, economic and social capital to ostracize secular humanists and the like.  Texas can improve on its already stellar spiritual situation by continuing to listen and learn to diverse perspectives and provide opportunity, and land, to those who come to “God’s country” to advance their way of life, and beliefs (or lack thereof).  Texas should be a place of new beginnings and second chances, as it always has been, said Wyly. It is vitally important that Texans continue to accept people as they are and underscore its libertarian view towards religion. Wyly said, “As we say in Texas Got It Right!, ‘Blood and baccalaureate don’t matter to us. We care more about what you do than where you’re from.’”  He said, “That’s why you see immigrants coming here from all over the world, and migrants flocking here from all over the US, especially from states like California, Illinois, and New York. Our diversity and youth hold challenges, but also opportunity. We think Texas provides a model for the rest of the country to follow.” I could not agree more. Texas, when it comes to religious liberty, you get it right. 

Ken Chitwood covers religion from Houston as a freelance writer. Passionate about religious education, he writes to share fascinating religious stories from various spiritual perspectives. His work regularly appears in the Houston Chronicle and his work has appeared in Religion & Politics, RealClearReligion, Publisher’s Weekly, and Sightings from the University of Chicago. Ken serves two local churches and is a graduate student in theology and culture. Ken has learned about, and taught, religion in several countries and actively encourages religious literacy through teaching, blogs, professional writing and speaking. Follow Ken on Twitter @kchitwood.

Tawara Yūsaku (Japanese, 1932–2004) Untitled, Ichi [99], from Sora series May 10, 2001 ink on paper image: 5-5/8 x 4-1/8 in framed: 20-3/8 x 15-3/8 x 1-1/2 in. Indianapolis Museum of Art, Martha Delzell Memorial Fund © Tawara Yūsaku

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How To Seize The Day – Even When It Seems Impossible BY LOREN ALLARDYCE I usually go to church on Sundays with my husband, two toddlers, ages four and two, my two stepsons, ages eight and ten, and my parents in their mid-sixties. It’s quite an event. For some reason, even though church does not begin until 11 a.m., it seems as though by the time my first child awakens with her usual 6.30 a.m. rooster call, getting to church by 11 a.m. seems to be as complex as splitting the atom. I ask myself every Sunday, as I watch my perfectly groomed children pile into the car, how I survived the previous two hours. I usually plop down in the front seat of our minivan, turn the air-conditioning up on high, aim the vent directly at my face and let out a huge sigh while silently asking myself, “How did we ever pull this together?” and “What time is it?” I have no clue whatsoever. I haven’t looked at a clock since 9 a.m. when I said, “Okay. Game on.” What I DO know, is that somehow everyone had breakfast, brushed their teeth, and put on a clean pair of underwear (I hope), while my hair is in a shambles and I am sweating more profusely than I do when I take a five-mile jog in the middle of a Houston summer. We arrive. We take the marathon hike around what seems like the entire universe to get our kids to their appropriate classrooms (which seem to change monthly, so we are consistently lost). We head to the sanctuary for the adult service. I sit, now feeling somewhat relaxed, yet I am thinking, “Gosh, I hope the kids are ok.” “Are the kids ok?”


“Should I go check on them?” “No. They’re fine. Just relax.” “I wonder if one of the kids went number two in their pants and a poor Sunday school teacher has to clean it up. I hate it when that happens. I always feel so guilty. It’s one thing to clean your own child’s bowel movement, but it’s another thing to clean someone else’s child’s bowel movement. Yuck.” “No, don’t worry about it. They are enjoying themselves.” “Is my daughter eating Play-Doh?” This conversation takes place in my own mind, with me and me only, by the way. And I have it approximately five times before the service was over. As church concludes, we sprint down the corridor to pick up the children and see their pretzel/glitter/glue/felt thingamajobber craft that they made, leave the building and decide as a family where we should go and eat. Now, Sundays for me have always been a day to eat lunch at a restaurant. It is always a treat to go out to eat after church and head home with full bellies and no dishes to wash. So, we all decide on a Mexican restaurant. You can’t go wrong with Mexican food. There’s something for everyone. And if all else fails, beans and rice will do the trick. We choose a restaurant that we know well, that is busy on Sundays and full of families – so that when my child abruptly screams “I. WANT. MILK,” we only get a couple of glances. Here we are at our usual spot. We greet the hostess, “We have six and two high chairs.” The

hostess grabs four coloring books and four packs of crayons and kindly says, “Right this way.” We follow as a busboy lays down four bowls of salsa and two baskets of chips – directly in front of one of my children, of course. Whoops – there goes the chips all over the table. Moment #1. My daughter promptly begins coloring… on the table. Moment #2. A loud scream comes from one of my children – for whatever reason – I have no idea. Moment #3. I head to the restroom with my daughter and I walk by this woman and her two daughters. Both girls were junior high or high school age. The woman looked at me and smiled. She was staring at my daughter, adoringly. I looked back at her and smiled with closed lips, gritting my teeth and asking myself, “What is she looking at? Why is she smiling?” I thought of this woman for a long while after she left the restaurant. Actually, as I saw her and her two daughters leaving, I wanted to give her a more genuine smile. You know, one without the teeth grinding involved. One that didn’t have the look of “I’m smiling back at you because it’s polite and that’s what my mother taught me, but really, I just want to burst into tears.” Tears that are not sad tears, but ones of bewilderment, tears that have been building since the morning hours of chaos. But I get it. Or at least, I am starting to get it. She wasn’t seeing what I was seeing as pandemonium at my dining table. She didn’t see the chips strewn about or the refried beans smeared on the table. She was watching me and remembering her own two daughters at ages two and four. Her thoughts probably took her to a place of big bear hugs, saliva-drenched kisses and first sentences. Maybe it took her to a place of birthday parties, first days of school and watching her children jump into a pool as if it were the first and last time they would ever jump into a pool. I get it. Carpe diem.

Sometimes I don’t want to carpe diem. Sometimes seizing the day is not a possibility. I am just simply trying to survive the day – forget seizing it. Yet, so many parents are constantly telling younger parents, “Don’t blink or your kids will be twenty years old” or “Treasure every moment because it goes so fast.” Really? Does it really? You mean you treasured potty-training? You relished the moments of attempting to dine out or going to a museum with some sort of dignity and peace when the result was not a peaceful viewing of the French Impressionists but a meltdown? This built-in amnesia that we all acquire is truly a blessing in disguise. My children are very young but I can look at a weary new mother holding her four-week-old baby, knowing the exhaustion that permeates her mind and body, and wish I could hold each of my babies again at that tender, fragile young age just one more time. Just give me one more moment to watch my newborn baby in a peaceful slumber, kiss their cheek, smell that perfect newborn baby smell, and bestow every bit of love I can find in my soul to them. Even though the months of pregnancy seemed so long and the distress of childbirth so difficult, I can still see a pregnant woman and wish to feel that baby flourishing inside of my womb just one more time. Rearing children may not always allow parents to seize the day, but what we do hold on to are precious memories for a future moment. It will likely be an unexpected moment that reminds us that life moves quickly and every trial and tribulation is a memory-building exercise. As each stage of life moves to the past, temper tantrums, sleepless nights, and peas and milk cascading to the floor are soon forgotten. The only memories engrained in our complex minds are the life-filled moments of bear hugs, I-love-you’s, first words and first steps.

Originally hailing from Indiana, Loren Allardyce has a Bachelor of Science in Music Education from Ball State University and a Master of the Arts in Voice Performance from the University of Michigan. Since moving to Houston in 2003, she has worked for the Original Carrabba’s and currently works in the home office as the Assistant to the Director of Operations. Loren is married and has two children, Aila (4), and James (2).

July 2013

“A New Birth of


In 1776, the meaning of freedom was simple, though far more noble and poetic than it is today: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” as it is defined in the Declaration. Today, the definition is more complicated, convoluted and debated. Freedom for American women had its symbolic birth in 1848 at the Seneca Falls Convention in New York, where an all-woman’s assembly was held to outline and detail a plan for women’s rights. Over the subsequent 165 years, women’s freedom has vastly expanded — most notably gaining the right to vote in 1920 by passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. According to a recent Pew Research Center study, 4 of 10 American households include a woman who is either the sole or primary earner for her family, the highest percentage ever. Despite this, women still face unfair obstacles to the very freedoms that men share. Women continue to have to fight to have freedom of choice regarding their health and reproductive rights against a


strong conservative movement bent on stripping away hardearned legislative victories that ensure that women have say over their own bodies. This year, prominent Republican Party lawmakers argued and voted against extension of the Violence Against Women Act. Conversely, in 2009, as one of his first acts as president, Democratic President Barack Obama signed into law the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which ensures that women receive equal compensation for the same work as their male counterparts. The House Republicans voted unanimously against it, with only 3 crossing party lines. Racial and ethnic minorities have faced an even more arduous climb. For African-Americans, robbed of their freedom in their native land and brought to American shores in chains by slave ships, the march continues. Strength and perseverance against brutal opposition took them from 3/5ths Citizens, through Jim Crow and segregation, passed both the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act in 1964 and 1965, respectively, to the White House upon President Obama’s historic election in 2008. Yet, African-Americans continually fight to hold the line on the freedom to vote, to have access to higher education and fairness in hiring. Over the past few years, Republican lawmak-

ers and conservative judges on high courts have passed legislation and made decisions reversing many of these freedoms paid for with the lives so many. Latinos, some themselves, others sons and daughters of immigrants — no different than the millions that arrived from European nations at Ellis Island between 1892 and 1954 — still labor to find the freedom that eludes them in America today. Republican and conservative leaders have pushed for and passed egregiously racist laws in states like Arizona, and stood in the way of sensible and fair legislation like the DREAM Act which rewarded children of immigrants — here by no fault of their own — with a chance at citizenship for honorable service in our military or graduating from college. Annually, in May, America observes Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month. Immigration to the United States from Asian nations now surpasses that from any other region in the world with most migrating from the Philippines, India and China. Nearly a third settle here in Texas, followed by New York and California. Harris Democrats welcome them, their families, their talent and participation and hope that they recognize the Democratic Party’s ongoing fight to protect freedom and liberty in our great land. Their service reminds me that freedom is not something that is obtained and held static, but something that must be fought for and advocated for in the lives of each and every one of us. So as President Abraham Lincoln said in his address at Gettysburg referring to those who had perished there: “It is for us, the living, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is for us that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom…”

Lane Lewis has dedicated his life to serving the people of Houston. The proud son of a teacher and factory supervisor in Pasadena, Texas, Lane understood from an early age the value of hard work and helping others. Lane began his career of service as a licensed Social Worker in Houston. The youth he worked with struggled with poverty, abuse, abandonment, drugs and alcohol. Lane’s experience in the psychiatric hospital compelled him to return to non-profit work. He co-founded a youth center to help get young people off the streets and back into school. Lane worked tirelessly at his paying job during the day and at his non-profit work at night to meet the needs of those who depended on him. In 2009, after serving as elementary school teacher, Lane unsuccessfully ran for Houston City Council in District A. In 2010, Lane was elected Chair of Senate District 15. Starting in 2011, Lane has been twice elected County Chair of the Harris County Democratic Party.

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May 2013


Dr. Rathna Kumar (center) with Amulya Peri, Sneha Peri, Pragna Paranji, Sahiti Rudravajala, Aparajita Maitra, Smrithi Ramachandran and Meghana Nutalapati

Rangoli Artist Sangita Bhutada with husband Bhagwan

Divya Brown and Minnette Boesel

Pat Jasper with the Dhol


Photos: Alexander’s Fine Portrait Design

Sarah Hallock, Suchit and Reena Majmudar HAA’s Angel Quesada, Rati Ramadas Girish, Sohil Maknojia and HAA’s Pat Jasper

University of Houston’s Lois Zamora and Carl Lindahl

Therese Cole-Hubbs, HAA’s CEO Jonathon Glus, Fatima Mawji

Anointed and Adorned Photography Exhibit Richly Traditional Over 300 guests attended the opening reception of the Houston Arts Alliance (HAA) Folklife and Traditional Arts Program’s Anointed and Adorned: Indian Weddings in Houston exhibition, featuring the photographic work of Sohil Maknojia and audio interviews by Rati Ramadas Girish, on June 6, 2013. Fresh rose garlands and petals festooned the Alliance Gallery at the HAA on Allen Parkway, and traditional Indian ephemeral art, rangoli, created with colored sand by artist Sangita Bhutada, embellished the ground, making for a festive wedding ambiance. Icons of the Hindu gods in the entranceway added auspiciousness to the event. Internationally renowned Indian classical dancer and guru Dr. Rathna Kumar presented a bevy of young ladies ornately garbed in seven Indian regional bridal costumes and jewelry, and eloquently described the vari-

ous indigenous bridal traditions. To further engage gatherees, there was Soniya Gheewala Ekici, founder of The Original Henna Company, applying intricate henna designs on the hands of guests. The staccato beat of the dhol and music by DJ Rocky added vibrancy to the occasion. Fêting Maknojia and Girish at the soiree were HAA CEO Jonathon Glus, John Guess, Jr., Minnette Boesel, Judy Nyquist, Divya and Chris Brown, Ajit and Vimla Paralkar, Sujata Anand, University of Houston’s Lois Zamora and Carl Lindahl, Mickey Rosenau and Dr. Ellen Gritz, to name a few. The Anointed and Adorned exhibit is open until August 2, 2013.

July 2013

Avant Garde Ammamma

Passion for publishing continues to burn a 100 years later BY SEETHA RATNAKAR

Social reformer Vinjamuri Venkataratnamma, publisher of Anasuya, India’s first cultural and literary magazine for women, 1914


The year was 1914. The British still ruled India. It was a period when the people were struggling with the dichotomy of balancing traditions while being infused with progressive new ideas. My ammamma (maternal grandmother) Venkataratnamma, born in 1889, belonged to one such family in Pithapuram, Andhra Pradesh, India. She hailed from an illustrious lineage of Telugu classical poets and scholars. Her father, Devulapalli Thammanna Sastry and his brother Subbaraya Sastry were the Royal court poets of Pithapuram. Her brother, Devulapalli Krishna Sastri, was a poet laureate and the recipient of the prestigious Padmabhushan and Sahitya Academy awards. She was eight years old when she married her maternal uncle V.V.L. Narasimha Rao, who was the headmaster of a school in Kakinada and also an erudite writer, actor and playwright. As a committed educationist, he encouraged his child bride to continue her education from home. Venkataratnamma had a penchant for reading and a flair for writing. She was one of the earliest women to pass the highly commended Vignana Chandrika literary examination with distinction. She went on to become a trailblazer in the history of Indian journalism by publishing the first cultural and literary magazine for women from 1914 to 1939. Venkataratnamma was a social reformer who was deeply influenced by the ideology of Raja Ram Mohan Roy. Though she belonged to an orthodox Brahmin family, she strived to eradicate the caste system and untouchability that was prevalent during those days. She felt the need of the day was to empower women through communication and dissemination of ideas. She founded Anasuya, a unique monthly lifestyle magazine for women with a kaleidoscope of information. It contained news and views, articles, poems and stories by contemporary women writers, fashion trends, home improvement tips, exotic recipes and simple home remedies. The maiden writings of many modern writers adorned the pages of this magazine which soon be-

came a household name. It was quite amazing that she could garner information on such varied subjects at a time when communication systems were limited and technology was rather primitive. She was an enterprising woman with a rare ability to empathize, care and share through her magazine. She worked hard with the limited resources available and was highly respected for her entrepreneurship. In recognition of her pioneering service to Telugu literature and journalism, she was awarded the Gruhalakshmi Swarna Kankanam. Venkataratnamma put her heart and soul into her magazine. It had a deep impact on her personal life. When her first daughter was born in 1921, she shocked her family by choosing to name her Anasuya rather than follow the traditional norm of giving her the name of the grandmother or family deity. She was a woman of substance with strong convictions and inculcated a love for literature and fine arts among her three children. All of them chose different professions but became writers of repute during their lifetime. Her son, Vinjamuri Prabhakar, wrote satirical comedies. Her daughter, Dr. Vinjamuri Anasuya Devi, a singer, composer and musicologist, notated her vast collection of traditional and folk songs and released them in seven volumes and also published three works of semi-autobiographical fiction. At 93, the fire that was kindled by her mother continues to burn as she writes relentlessly. Venkataratnamma’s youngest daughter, Vinjamuri Seetha Devi, also a musician, released her collection of folk songs of Andhra Pradesh through several publications. Sharing the honor with their mother many years later, both Anasuya and Seetha were also awarded the Gruhalakshmi Swarna Kankanam for their contribution to art and literature. Anasuya was the catalyst for a quaint romance that blossomed in our family. My grandmother’s classmate Gangamma was a writer, friend and frequent visitor who contributed poems and stories to the magazine. She introduced her nephew Avasarala

Singer, composer and musicologist, Kalaprapoorna Dr. Anasuya Devi. At 93, the fire that was kindled by her mother continues to burn as she writes relentlessly

July 2013

Photo: Roswitha Vogler Kalyani Giri, Publisher of HUM Magazine, holds aloft a copy of the first issue of the publication at its launch in July 2012

Seshagiri Rao to Anasuya and soon they became life partners. They had five children and I happen to be the middle born. Our parents believed that education extended far beyond the boundaries of classrooms and we were blessed to have exposure to a wonderful world of literature and culture. I was not fortunate enough to meet my grandmother as she passed away a few months before I was born. Sadly, she did not live to share my grandfather’s moment of joy and pride when he was honored with the Padmashri award for his contribution to Telugu Literature. She continues to be an inspiration as we remember her with pride as a visionary who was far ahead of her times. The fire that was kindled by her almost a hundred

years ago is still being kept ablaze. Following in the footsteps of his grandparents, Krishna Giri along with Kalyani Giri are the talented publisher/editorial team of HUM Magazine. On the first anniversary of HUM, we, the family, take great pride in felicitating the HUM Magazine team that has contributed to the success of this publication and wish them many more creatively satisfying years of humming and buzzing. On this happy occasion, we salute Venkataratnamma who started the ball rolling a hundred years ago and bequeathed this legacy with these words of Omar Khayyam, “the moving finger writes, and having writ moves on”.

Seetha Ratnakar is a media person who has been associated with Doordarshan, the official Indian television network, for over 37 years. She recently retired as the Assistant Station Director of the Chennai Kendra. Her area of specialization has been directing programs on dance, music and documentaries on subjects related to Indian culture. She now lives in Chennai, India and works as a freelance film director and artistic director for major dance productions. She also writes articles on media and travel.


“Go back to your own country!” BY ARJUNE RAMA, MD

Every July, like so many Americans, I look forward to grilling burgers with friends, seeing the stardust trail of sparklers dragged across backyard summer blackness, and paying respect to those who gave their lives to preserve our freedoms. Unfortunately, each time at this year I can’t help but recall a stinging event from my childhood when I was made to feel less of an American because of the color of my skin. *** “Go back to your own country!” shouted a neighbor from her porch. I heard this as I was taking a shortcut through her yard from the neighborhood soccer field to my house during the summer between seventh- and eighth-grade. While one might expect my first response to be stomachburning anger, my first feelings were of pure surprise. I thought to myself, “But ... this is my country ...” It wasn’t until I did a faceplant into my bed that I burst into tears. I felt confused. I felt ashamed. I began to ask myself, “Do I not belong?” I was born in Detroit and graduated from the same neighborhood school where I went to kindergarten. I don’t have an Indian accent. I don’t say this as a point of pride; it’s just a fact. The country to which my neighbor referred is a place I have visited twice — once as a baby and once when I was 11 years old. In my opinion, I was as Michigan as they get. As a child I would forget that I didn’t look like every other Grosse Pointe teenager. Human eyes face outward. A little background on my family. My mom and dad were born in Chennai, India. My father came to Michigan to receive training as a general surgeon and then sub-specialized in vascular surgery at Detroit’s St. John Hospital, where he has been

treating patients for over 30 years. My mother earned her MBA from nearby Wayne State University at night while managing our household during the day. Despite her hectic schedule she made time to tutor me in chemistry, which is fitting because she also used to teach chemistry at WSU. Since graduating, she has worked in banking in Metro Detroit for nearly 15 years. So while my parents were born and raised in India, they have spent the greater part of their lives in Michigan. Their roots are Indian but their hearts, minds and citizenship are red-white-and-blue. I’m an American citizen with Indian heritage. I’m married to an American citizen with European heritage. We have a child who is an American citizen with Indian and European heritage; she’s a living, breathing symbol of the American “melting pot.” I’ve never felt more like an American than I do now. *** To the woman who yelled, I’d like to say this: Thank you for reminding me on this Independence Day that we’re such a young country that we don’t always know a true American when we see one. As an aside, if you need some minimally invasive vascular surgery by an American who was trained in your neighborhood, lived in your area longer than you, and loves his country, I know a guy. Maybe we can provide some banking assistance from an American who studied locally and understands the economics of the area like the back of her hand. Either way, let us know if we can help you out — it’s the American way.

Arjune Rama is a resident physician in psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine. He can be reached on Twitter @arjunerama. A different version of this piece appeared in The Detroit News.

July 2013

Complementary Medicine And Stress Management BY P.G. PARAMESWARAN, MD Stress is an experience that most of us are familiar with since childhood. A child feels stressed when she is separated from her mother or when a new sibling is born or when she enters school for the first time. Overtime, we learn to blame stress when things go wrong and we resort to unhealthy habits like smoking or drinking. We seldom realize that stress has a beneficial role in our lives. In fact, stress can be a great motivator capable of pushing us to perform our best. However, at times of extreme stress, our bodies are hardwired to react and protect us. It is when stressful situations become constant and overwhelming that stress causes distress resulting in physical and or mental breakdown. In order to manage stress, we need to understand what is stress and the type of stress we are undergoing: big or small, short term or long term, internal or external. What is Stress? Stress is the normal reaction of the body when we encounter situations that we deem to be threatening or frightful. Stress is what happens within ourselves when we are unable to meet additional, exceptional or unaccustomed demands made upon us. A small area in the brain called the hypothalamus sets off an alarm reaction sending neural and hormonal signals to two little glands called the adrenals situated over the top of both kidneys. At times of perceived stress, the glands release a rush of hormones, collectively called “stress hormones,” most important of which are Cortisol, Adrenaline and Noradrenaline. These hormones prepare us for a “fight” or “flight” (Hans Selye) response to the situation we are facing by helping us to focus and concentrate. We become anxious, our heart rate increases, blood pressure rises, breathing gets faster and pupils dilate; our muscles become tense and we start to sweat. This reaction is self-regulatory and when the perceived threat passes, the hormone levels drop and the body returns to normal. This experience of a set of reactions in response to a frightful event constitutes what we call as “stress”. There are two kinds of stress: Acute stress and Chronic stress. Acute Stress Acute stress is the body’s reaction to a brief, transient


threat like a dog barking at us while we are on our morning walk. Our body’s alarm reaction sets in and as soon as the threat passes the stress hormones return to normal levels. However, when we go through a more serious and sudden stress reaction like getting caught in a tornado, it could cause even a heart attack. Chronic Stress  When we are unable to cope with life’s problems like unhappy workplace or marriage, the continued secretion of the stress hormones — the same hormones that protect us in acute stress — with its resultant actions on the body, lead to disease states. Chronic stress disrupts the functioning of almost every system in the body. The blood pressure rises with resultant hypertension. The long-term effects of uncontrolled hypertension could lead to heart failure, renal failure or even stroke. The immune system may be suppressed increasing the risk of infection. Stress, though by itself does not cause diabetes, can have an adverse effect on blood sugar control. Infertility in men and women could result from long-term stress. The aging process can get hastened. Depression due to chronic stress may go unrecognized. It is important to know that in the long term, stress not only will affect the body but also our emotions, attitudes and behavior leading to disruption of our relationships with loved ones. Common Situations that Cause Stress Stress can be caused by external events or by self generated thoughts or problems.   External Causes:  Major life changes like death of a loved one, marriage, divorce, loss of job.  Unhappy work environment  Difficult Relationships with parents, spouse, siblings and children.

Financial problems Work overload, and inability to cope with increased responsibilities  Poor time management Internal Causes (self generated): Pessimism Inability to face certain situations Unrealistic expectations Perfectionism Lack of assertiveness Negative self-talk Early Warning Signs of Stress Early recognition of the signs and symptoms of stress can help to take appropriate action before they get worse. 

Behavioral Symptoms         Overeating or under-eating Sleeping too much or too little Social withdrawal Neglecting responsibilities Nervous habits like nail biting Drug, alcohol abuse       Tobacco use   Any of these symptoms can be caused by other psychological or medical conditions. Therefore it is of utmost importance to consult a physician who can decide if the symptoms are stress related. Chronic stress can precipitate or aggravate an existing health problem. Some of the conditions that can be affected are pain of any kind, insomnia, digestive problems, heart disease, depression, obesity, autoimmune disease and skin diseases like eczema. Stress can cause blood sugar to go out of control in diabetic patients. This can increase the need for higher dosage of medications.

Cognitive Symptoms                                     Constant worrying.                                          Inability to concentrate                                          Poor judgment                                                  Stress Tolerance Memory problems                                           Some people can not only tolerate but also perform well Negative thoughts and negative self-talk        or     even better under stress while others experience a nervous Lack of focus and motivation breakdown. So what influences one’s stress tolerance?      Genetics: The genes that control stress response keep Emotional Symptoms most of us on an even keel and over reaction or under reaction Moodiness is a result of minor variation in genes Irritability, angry outbursts          Life experiences: People who have been exposed to Inability to relax extreme stressful events as children, such as abuse or neglect, Feeling overwhelmed are more vulnerable to stress as adults Sense of loneliness and depression Sense of control over every day’s challenges Knowing when things get out of control Physical Symptoms                                           Positive attitude Aches and pains                                               Optimistic outlook Rapid heart beat, chest pain                               Ability           to deal with one’s emotions Nausea, dizziness Good time management Diarrhea or constipation                                  Knowledge of stressful situations and preparations to Memory problems                                 handle               the same Nervous habits like nail biting Willingness to delegate when overwhelmed Loss of sex drive                                          

July 2013

How To Manage Stress Though most of the time we might feel stress is out of our control, we can always control the way we respond to it. We need to remember that stress is in response to an event, which in turn leads to the release of the stress hormones. It is important to recognize the early warning symptoms of stress and take charge of the situation before they get out of control. The following suggestions can help in de-stressing a stressful situation: Change a stressful situation whenever possible. Change our reaction to the stressful situation, which is beyond our control by taking charge of our emotions and thoughts. Learn time management and take control of scheduling. Take charge of the environment at home, work and in the social circle and change situations that are stressful. Review the ways we handle problems and see what needs change. Take care of our health by eating nutritious food and regular exercise. Take time for rest and relaxation Get adequate sleep Perfectionism is good but don’t make it our mantra as it can add to ours and others’ stress. Seek professional counseling when required. Relaxation Techniques to Minimize Stress One often hears friends starting to smoke or resort to drinking “because of stress”. They don’t realize that by doing so, they are just adding some poisonous chemicals to their bodies, which can hurt more than the stress hormones themselves. Stress cannot be eliminated completely from life because it is stress that helps us to perform well at school, job, sports and other endeavors, but we can always control how much it affects us by changing our reaction to it. Western medicine has no magic pill that can control stress. Therein comes the power of many complementary techniques that can reduce stress by relaxing the mind and body. These relaxation techniques, when practiced regularly can reduce stress levels and many practitioners claim they are even stress free. Deep breathing: Simple technique of deep abdominal breathing also called diaphragmatic breathing over several minutes can not only help you relax but can reduce severity of pain if any.

Yoga: Regular practice of yoga not only helps the body but also relaxes the mind. Yoga is mind body medicine. Tai Chi: This ancient Chinese traditional practice of slow relaxed moving meditation also reduces stress like yoga. Meditation:  Daily practice of meditation is a great way to minimize stress. Meditation teaches one to control emotions and attitudes and brings peace of mind. It elicits the “relaxation response” (Dr.Herbert Benson) to negate the “stress response”. Prayer:  All religions encourage daily prayer and especially at times of stress, it is a great stress reliever. Exercise: Exercise not only improves the physical body but also releases chemicals called endorphins, which counteract the effects of the stress hormones. Massage: Massage improves blood circulation in the muscles helping to reduce tension and promote relaxation. Music therapy:  Listening to soothing, relaxing music not only relieves stress but can also promote sleep. Walking:  When stressed, a walk in the open air will be a great de-stressor. Aroma therapy:  There are some specific aromatic oils used in aroma therapy which can reduce levels of stress hormones. Acupuncture:  There’s are specific acupuncture points in the body which on needling can cause relaxation by releasing endorphins, induce sleep and relieve pain. Hypnotherapy:  One can learn self-hypnosis and use visualization techniques for quick stress relief even while at work. Gardening:  Getting involved in gardening is an enjoyable hobby, and a stress reliever Pet therapy:  Having a pet like a cat or a dog that gives unconditional love not only relieves stress but also decreases blood pressure in patients with hypertension.  Pet therapy is becoming common practice in several hospitals as a complementary therapy.  Published reports indicate benefits in addition to lowering blood pressure, reduction in pain, increased happiness and motivation to get better. Complementary medicine has an important role not only in maintaining positive health but also in healing the body at times of stress and disease. Most of the leading medical institutions in the country, including the M.D. Anderson hospital in Houston have a department of Complementary Medicine, which employ several of the modalities discussed. The good thing about stress is that one can learn how to control it in spite of life’s stresses.  

P.G. Parameswaran, MD., MS., Mch., is a general and thoracic surgeon trained in India and the United States. He has been in practice for over 35 years. A firm believer in total wellness, he took further training in acupuncture, hypnotherapy, yoga therapy and energy medicine. He has used these complementary techniques in his practice and has helped many patients achieve optimal health and well-being. Dr. Parameswaran has been conducting bone marrow donor registration drives throughout the Houston area for several years and is responsible for increasing the number of potential bone marrow donors in the South Asian community. For more information, please visit his website Dr. Parameswaran can be contacted at 832 755 6687 or by email at


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EB-5: The Immigrant Investor Visa BY RANDALL GOINS Congress established the EB-5 Program in 1990 to bring new investment capital into the United States and to create new jobs for U.S. workers. Immigrants who invest their capital in job-creating businesses or projects in the U.S. receive conditional permanent resident status for a two-year period. After two years, if the individual has satisfied the conditions of the EB-5 Program and other criteria of eligibility, the conditions are removed and the immigrant becomes an unconditional lawful permanent resident. The EB-5 Program is based on three main elements: (1) the immigrant’s investment of capital, (2) in a new commercial enterprise, (3) that creates jobs. More specifically, individuals must invest $1,000,000 (or at least $500,000 in a “Targeted Employment Area”) creating or preserving at least 10 jobs for U.S. workers excluding the investor and their immediate family. Please note that this program is quite nuanced and not every aspect or ambiguity is covered below. Investment of Capital The EB-5 Program requires that the immigrant investor must invest at least $1,000,000 in capital. The word “capital” does not mean only cash. Instead, “capital” is defined broadly in the regulations to take into account the many different ways in which an individual can make a contribution of financial value to a business, such as equipment, inventory, and other tangible property. The program further requires that, in order to qualify as an investment, the immigrant investor must actually place their capital “at risk” for the purpose of generating a return, and that the mere intent to invest is not sufficient. For the capital to be “at risk,” there must be a possibility of loss and a chance for gain. If the immigrant investor is guaranteed the return of a portion of their investment, or is guaranteed a rate of return on a portion of their investment, then that portion of


the capital is not at risk. An exception to the million dollar requirement exists if the immigrant investor invests their capital in a new commercial enterprise that is principally doing business in, and creates jobs in, a “targeted employment area.” In such a case, the investor must devote a minimum of $500,000 in capital. USCIS defines a “targeted employment area” as an area which, at the time of investment, is a rural area (not within either a metropolitan statistical area as designated by the Office of Management and Budget) or the outer boundary of any city or town having a population of 20,000 or more), or an area within a metropolitan statistical area or the outer boundary of a city or town having a population of 20,000 or more which has experienced unemployment of at least 150% of the national average rate. New Commercial Enterprise The EB-5 Program defines “new” as “established after November 29, 1990.” The investor can devote the required amount of capital in a commercial enterprise that was established after November 29, 1990 to qualify for the EB-5 Program, provided the other eligibility criteria are met. The immigrant investor can also invest in an existing business, regardless of when that business was first created, provided that the existing business is simultaneously or subsequently restructured or reorganized in such a way that a new commercial enterprise results. The immigrant investor can finance an existing business, regardless of when that business was first created, provided that a substantial change in the net worth or number of employees results from the investment of capital. Creation of Jobs The creation of jobs for U.S. workers is probably the most critical element of the EB-5 Program. It is not enough that

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the immigrant invests funds into the U.S. economy; the investment must result in the creation of at least ten full-time jobs. The ten employees must be “qualifying employees,” meaning a United States citizen, a lawfully admitted permanent resident, or other immigrant lawfully authorized to be employed in the United States including, but not limited to, a conditional resident, a temporary resident, an asylee, a refugee, or an alien remaining in the United States under suspension of deportation. This definition does not include the immigrant investor, the investor’s spouse, sons or daughters, or any nonimmigrant alien. The job creation requirement provides that the work is “full-time employment,” meaning the position requires a minimum of 35 working hours per week. A full-time position can be filled by two or more qualifying employees in a job sharing arrangement as long as the 35-working-hours-per-week requirement is met. A full-time position, however, cannot be filled by combinations of part-time positions, even if those positions when combined meet the hourly requirement. Direct jobs that are intermittent, temporary, seasonal, or transient in nature do not qualify as full-time jobs. Jobs that are expected to last for at least two years, however, generally are not intermittent, temporary, seasonal, or transient in nature.

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

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Soundproofing Our Future 56

BY TAJANA MESIC According to an old proverb, the eyes are the windows of the soul. As the world’s population continues growing at record speed with most of this growth concentrated in urban areas, parks are the windows to the soul of the city. While this growth brings promise and opportunity to our cities, it also puts enormous pressures on our natural resources and brings about more extremes. Sea level rise, mega-storms, record temperatures and severe droughts are becoming the new normal. Naturally, cities are looking at watersheds, wetlands and forests as assets that can help us withstand more extreme and crowded conditions. A park is a space where the community comes together to relax and enjoy cultural and recreational activities. Trees of our parks filter and absorb the carbon emissions we create. They serve as giant lungs. It is

somewhat difficult to imagine giant lungs in the middle of the city – but here we are – acres and acres of green lungs help Every City USA generate clean air. From the 1,000-plus acre urban Golden Gate Park in San Francisco boasting attractions including the Japanese Tea Gardens to New York’s Central Park where it is so easy to get lost in the urban forest, city parks in America are a cherished treasure and lungs of the city. Nowhere is the care for parks as evident as in Scandinavia. During my recent visit to Denmark, I made a point to enjoy the abundant public parks. Under the flowering chestnut trees, Danes were strolling, bicycling, sunbathing and reading. Copenhagen is famous for the historic and colorful Tivoli Garden, in its resplendent glory, but it also teems with pocket parks – former parking lots or small parcels of land that are now budding pocket parks. Did you know that it is official 2015

July 2013

Photo: Tajana Mesic

Copenhagen city policy that all citizens must be able to reach a park or beach on foot in less than 15 minutes? How does Houston stack up? Houston parks date back to 1916 and the City of Houston stewards and maintains 366 developed parks and over 200 green spaces. Amongst the traditional parks, there are dog parks, fitness centers, hike and bike trails, skate parks and playgrounds. Did you know that there is a large statue of Mahatma Gandhi, Great Confucius, Dr. Martin Luther King, and Benito Juarez in Houston’s Hermann Park? The park is nestled between the Museum District, the Texas Medical Center and Rice University. Many have seen an outdoor performance at the Miller Outdoor Theatre, played a round of golf on the Hermann Park Golf Course or made a spring visit to the Japanese Garden or the Houston Garden Center. It’s all part of the Art in Parks program by the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance. The City established an ordinance back in 1999, mandating that 1.75 % of qualified Capital Improvement Project monies be set aside for civic art. The Houston Arts Alliance was formed shortly thereafter to fund and promote the public arts in Houston. As of today, there are 91 pieces of municipal art in 24 parks around the city. Why not make it a great summer family activity and find all 91? (http:// So many of us experience high levels of stress and fatigue these days – mental or physical – sitting in front of the computer, working on reports, keeping up with time zone differences and working until wee hours of the night. When can you “work in” nature, you ask? And where? Just take a walk in the park. Walking in nature, surrounded by plants and fresh

air is good for our brains in more ways than one. Studies show that spending time in nature helps to conquer mental fatigue and boost our cognitive functioning. And work up a sweat too, which is great for our bodies. Right in the heart of downtown Houston, Discovery Green Park is a welcome respite from the bustling city center in all seasons. In the summer, the dog-friendly park is a popular family destination. Visitors cool off by the water fountains and enjoy food, music, festivals and outdoor movie screenings. In winter, many are headed to Discovery Green for ice-skating and a hot tea or coffee. Houston has a giving and collaborative spirit benefiting – among others – Houston’s urban forests. Through collaborations with forward-thinking organizations, the Houston Parks Board, Inc. creates and maintains Houston’s green spaces. For example, the Parks Board’s partnership with the Hermann Park and Memorial Park Conservancy groups have raised millions of dollars for specific park projects that benefit Houston today and invests in Houston’s green future. How can you participate in keeping Houston’s parks alive for generations to come? Join or support one of the following partner organizations: Buffalo Bayou Partnership, Bayou City Outdoors, Houston Arboretum & Nature Center, Keep Houston Beautiful, Memorial Park Conservancy, Hermann Park Conservancy, The Heritage Society or Houston Parks Board. If eyes are the windows of the soul, then Houston is a vibrant and generous city. We should count our blessings because Houston’s parks are not only the eyes of Houston’s soul but also its amazing green lungs, filtering our air and soundproofing our future in light of rapid growth.

As President of GGG Sustainability Solutions, Tajana Mesic is 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 July 2013  
HUM Magazine July 2013