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The Days of Awe Sounds of the Shofar

The Murals of

Sri Narumpunatha Temple

My Letter to this City Forgiveness and Healing

Kyle Fu’s

Folded Flights of Whimsy

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It’s been a long, scorching summer. The holidays are over, kids are back at school, and mothers are probably heaving huge sighs of relief as routine once again rules the roost. While we welcome and revel in the bustle of normalcy, the carpooling, the after school soccer games and dance lessons, we must take the time to count our blessings. Not to sound like a prophet of doom, but what we often take for granted could change in a scant moment. We’ve struggled to comprehend the horror that senselessly snuffed out twelve vibrant lives when James Eagan Holmes opened fire in a packed movie theatre in the Denver suburb of Aurora on July 20. While the tragedy was still weighing heavily on our collective hearts and minds, Wade Micheal Page, on a murderous rampage, stormed into a Sikh Gurudwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, and shot to death six worshippers on August 5. This month, HUM correspondent Dr. Arjune Rama examines mental illness and the ripple effect of impact of hate crimes from the viewpoint of a psychiatrist and a fellow being. In My Letter To This City, Deepi Sidhu, whose brother attends the Oak Creek Gurudwara but was fortuitously absent at the time of the attack, writes of forgiveness and healing in the aftermath of loss. We’ve had a surfeit of negativity and the spirit yearns for peace and optimism. Our cover feature is origami master Kyle Fu whose beautiful folded paper ornaments lend hope and auspiciousness. The Guru Chronicles, our featured book review, is a veritable prayer all in itself and shares ancient wisdom of venerable sages. Its pages are meditative studies in peace, spirituality, and tolerance. Let there be speedy healing of all those physically and emotionally hurt by the calamity in Aurora and Oak Creek, as well as for the rest of the world. Warmly,

Kalyani Giri


team HUM Publisher/Editor Kalyani Giri Art Director Saqib Rana Print Consultant Ken Hoffman Correspondents Dr. Arjune Rama Ian Mellor-Crummey Lisa Brooks Nalini Sadagopan Priya M. James Stefani Twyford Tajana Mesic Tamara Levine

CONTENTS What WE Love about

07 Houston

Professor David Leebron

Fu’s 08 Kyle Folded Flights of Whimsy Kalyani Giri

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a concept-to-completion, every stage in between - and beyond - enterprise

•Anil Kumar • Bhuva Narayan •Dr. Carolyn Farb •Chitra Divakaruni •Dr. David Courtney •George Eapen •Krishna Giri •Leela Krishnamurthy •Nellie Naidoo •Rachel Dvoretzky •Dr. Rathna Kumar •Robert Arnett •Sarah Gish •Seetha Ratnakar


Magical Craftsmanship Meet the Houston Greeters

Sesh Bala and Susan Borches


The Days of Awe


Decades of Diligence Hallmark of Greeters Nalini Sadagopan


The Murals of

Lisa Brooks

Big Bosses of Little India

Raja Sweets

Sri Narumpunatha Temple

Professor Anna L. Dallapiccola


4th Annual IFFH

Celebrating a Century of Celluloid Creativity

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SEPTEMBER 2012 28 Houston’s Gems


Guru Chronicles 41 The The Making of the First American Satguru

No White after Labor Day: 30 Fact or Fiction?

2.0 42 Sustainability Tajana Mesic

Medical Center 32 ATexas Confluence of Philanthropy,

Dressed up with 44 All Places to Go!

Sarah Gish

Priya M. James

Service and Science

Kalyani Giri

Dr. Jayarama S. Guntupalli

21st Century Education 34 A Jay Kumar Aiyer

46 Caviar & Cabbages

Vino Veritas 35 In Dr. Devinder Bhatia

Where Pleasure Meets Pain 47 Luckmi Pawa

36 The Dowry Scourge

48 HUMwee

Letter to this City 38 My Deepi Sidhu

Dhabi 50 Abu Sister City of Houston

Dr. David Courtney

Creek Massacre: 40 Oak Trying to Understand Hate Crime Arjune Rama, MD


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What WE Love About

Houston By Professor David Leebron My family and I became denizens of Houston just eight years ago. Perhaps even to our own surprise, we quickly fell in love with the city and its people. Here are some of the reasons: We love the vibrancy and diversity of this city, its openness and tolerance, and that opportunity is one of its most cherished values. We love its ambition and optimism, its willingness to embark upon and support bold new endeavors, and that its most successful citizens feel an extraordinary sense of obligation to become engaged and generous civic leaders. We love its southern hospitality combined with its western dynamism. We love the warm welcome the city extends, and that no one cares whether you were born here or when you got here. We love the pride it takes in its great institutions and their accomplishments, and that Rice, a small university in a big city, is treated like a big university in a small city. We love its special zones and the extraordinary institutions which comprise them: the museum district, the medical center and its theater district with more seats in a downtown area than any city other than New York. We love its trees, parks and green spaces, especially Hermann Park and the Rice campus. We love its international and cosmopolitan character, with the third highest number of consular representatives in the United States and restaurants serving virtually every cuisine. We love its political balance, and that the Republican Harris County judge and the Democratic Houston mayor are both Rice

graduates! We love the soft bell of the light rail as it runs by our home, and the promise it represents for a transportation system smoothly linking all the city has to offer. We love that Central Market and Costco are two minutes apart. We love that Houston has let us be such a part of it. And we love that all these great things about Houston are such a surprise to people from the two other coasts! David W. Leebron became Rice University’s seventh president in 2004. Under Leebron’s guidance, the institution has undergone a period of growth and transformation. Over the past eight years, the university has increased its undergraduate student population, enhanced the vibrancy of the campus with $800 million in new construction, extended its research endeavors and international presence, deepened its relationship with its home city of Houston, and earned greater visibility locally, nationally and internationally. Prior to taking the helm at Rice, Leebron was dean of Columbia Law School. A native of Philadelphia, he is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, where he was elected president of the Law Review in his second year. After graduating in 1979, he served as a law clerk for Judge Shirley Hufstedler on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Los Angeles. He began teaching at the UCLA School of Law in 1980 and at the NYU School of Law in 1983.  In 1989, Leebron joined the faculty of Columbia Law School, and in 1996 he was appointed dean and the Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law. Leebron also served as a visiting fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law in Hamburg, Germany, and as the Jean Monnet Visiting Professor of Law at Bielefeld University. He is currently part of the political science faculty at Rice and has authored a textbook on international human rights.

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Kyle Fu’s

Folded Flights of Whimsy By Kalyani Giri Kyle Fu places a delicate ornament in the palm of my hand. Entranced, I see a kaleidoscopic paper motif folded with mathematical precision to resemble a bird. “It’s a crane,” says Kyle with a boyish smile. “In the Chinese culture, cranes symbolize harmony, peace, and unity, and I offer you all three,” he adds with a slight bow. Kyle is tall and there’s a spare elegance about him. He’s 51, but looks two decades younger. I surmise that it is his chosen vocation as a master craftsman of origami that engenders that youthful demeanor. “I never grew up, I’m still the little boy who folded paper,” laughs Kyle, the Director of Zen Art Space at the Galleria. His sister Kate, who has accompanied him to meet with me, nods enthusiastically. She’s the older sibling and the bond between them is almost palpable. She knows all about his rambunctious childhood back in their native China when she would ply him with crayons, pencils, and paper to keep him engaged and out of trouble. Kyle’s love affair with the traditional art of origami has its origins in those halcyon days of childhood when he could spend hours learning how to fold paper into vibrant shapes. Today, it is how Kyle chooses to live, meditatively creating whimsical motifs and initiating and instructing children and adults in the fine craft of origami. He calls his art FUART, a fusion between the Asian and western cultures.

Origami literally means folding paper and began as a ceremonial practice in China in the seventeenth century. “If someone died, you created and burnt origami; if you made a house or a horse, then it meant your ancestor on the other side had a home or a horse to ride,” explains Kyle, who is a practicing Buddhist. “Origami held a place of honor at weddings, birth celebrations, and religious festivals. Today origami is made to entertain, to bring joy to people. In China, children are taught to fold paper at a very young age as it encourages concentration and helps discipline the mind.” His cultural repertoire is replete with folklore and colorful legends; in China and Japan it is believed that if one folds one thousand cranes, their innermost wish will be fulfilled. Kyle’s craftsmanship is exacting, his flights of fancy are original and refreshing. His imagination runs unfettered; zombies, horses, koi, butterflies, flowers, and tigers take lively form under his skilled ministrations. When his friends have babies, he fashions colorful mobiles to hang over their cribs. His pieces of art grace homes, and have been exhibited in museums and galleries all over the nation. He’s created a life-size twenty feet long origami dragon and a 5 ½ feet tall horse that he brings out during Chinese New Year, the International Festival and other diverse events, that delight crowds. His origami horse was the blueprint for a six feet tall, three hundred pound bronze

Photos: Sergio Santos



horse, an artistic collaborative with Austin sculptor Kevin Box; the sculpture was the cynosure of all eyes at the Houston City Bayou Arts Festival in 2006. The horse stands at the National Sculptures Guild at Progress Park in Paramount, California. Born in London, Kyle returned to China with his parents and Kate when he was two years of age. His mother passed away thirteen years ago and Kyle now lives in Houston with Kate and his father. He has carved a niche for himself in this city through his dedication to his craft. When he’s not at the Zen Art Space encouraging artists showing their works at the premises, he’s out at public libraries, the Houston Independent School District, the Children’s Museum of Houston, The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, or at the Chinese Culture Center teaching origami. He also talks to his students about caring for the environment and the importance of recycling. Origami, says Kyle, is a beautiful and productive way of recycling paper. “I never tire when sharing creativity with others,” says Kyle. “Seeing a sheet of paper transform into a flower or a fish is like giving life to paper.”





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Magical Craftsmanship

When Omana and Sam Abraham started Abrahams Oriental Rugs and Dhurries in 1974, little did they realize that within a short five years, they would become branded names in the elite world of high-end carpets.

When Omana and Sam Abraham started Abrahams Oriental Rugs and Dhurries in 1974, little did they realize that within a short five years, they would become brand names in the elite world of high-end carpets. The recognition was a far cry from what the prolific couple expected when they left their native Kerala for the United States several decades ago. Both anticipated working in areas they were educated in, while raising a young family. Omana earned a Masters degree in Islamic Art and History from Delhi University while Sam received his Bachelor’s degree in

business from Kerala State University in 1968 and a law degree from Agra University. After arriving in the United States, he got an MBA, and a second law degree from the University of Houston. Fate or fortune had decided on another path for the Abrahams. While practicing law with the Houston firm Givens and Deem, Sam and Omana started Abrahams Oriental Rugs. In 1976, the first retail space was opened and 1980 saw the birth of the wholesale operation in Houston’s prestigious Decorative Center. Now in its second decade, the Abraham’s exclusive imported rug

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business boasts a clientele that reads like a White House guest list; it includes former President Gerald Ford, former New York Senator James Buckley, and Texas legends such as John Connally and Oveta Culp Hobby. Their rugs also grace the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. The Abrahams have distinguished themselves not only in business, but also as generous philanthropists. Sam and Omana are grateful for their many blessings. They give back in myriad ways to the city and community that has supported them. Sam serves on the boards of the Houston Grand Opera, the University of Texas in Austin, and KUHT-TV Channel 8

Public Broadcasting Corporation, the University of Houston Alumni Organization, India Culture Center (also as past chairman) and the Moores School of Music at the University of Houston. The couple has been an integral part of the Asia Society Texas Center, and hosted cocktail parties and soirees preceding the Tiger Ball both at the Decorative Center and at their beautiful River Oaks home on several occasions. The following are popularly asked questions from clients purchasing premium rugs. The Abrahams, experts with years of experience, have answered those crucial questions:

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How much do high-end rugs typically cost?


The Decorative Center Houston Design Center (to the trade) 7026 Old Katy Rd. Suite 166 When buying an oriental rug, how does 5120 Woodway Dr. Suite 180 Houston, TX 77024 one determine quality and authenticity? Houston, TX 77056 (713) 622-3226 622-4444 It(713) is very difficult for novices in the rug to assess quality and authenticity, which is why we recommend educating yourself during the process of purchasing. A rug’s value is based on many important factors that include materials, workmanship, tightness of weave, number of knots, harmony, balance, age, artistic merit, size, pedigree, design, rarity, and color combination. Enquire about the country of origin and the condition of the rug. Because quality and value are relative, ask where the rug you are considering ranks among other rugs of a similar type. Unless you have at least a moderate level of expertise, you will need to rely on the competence and trustworthiness of the seller, which is extremely important during the process of purchasing a rug.

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How do you keep the color of a rug from fading? Exposure to light will fade most colors to some extent. Rugs with improperly set dyes may fade dramatically no matter what. There is no antidote, but using window treatments including UV blocking films, can minimize the effects of light on your rugs. Turning your rug every couple of years to even its exposure to sunlight is also a good idea. Should one choose a rug based on decor or color? Both are important, but not at the expense of quality. As you are going to live with your rug for a long time, it must be a fitting housemate. Good rugs are worth the wait.

When buying a high end rug, $100 to $150 per square foot is not too much to spend. While Abrahams has several rugs costing more than one hundred thousand dollars in stock, we also have many roomsized rugs costing under $2,000, and several flat woven rugs in room sizes for under $1,000. In addition, Abrahams also designs rugs in custom sizes, which are not in stock. Generally, the price to design a small room size rug is less than $500. What are some differences among rugs made in different parts of the world? Designs and colors are cultural, but in this age of globalization, it can be difficult for a non-expert to seek out what attributes belong to which rug weaving options. For instance, these days you can find Oushak woven in Pakistan, Isfahan and Qum from China, Sultanabad made in Turkey, and Kazak produced in Afghanistan. Why should we pay thousands of dollars just to walk all over the rug? Oriental rugs are masterpieces that have set the standard for fine living all over the world for many, many years, and are unrivaled in technique, design, and color. This perfection was achieved much earlier than the fifteenth or sixteenth century. Rugs were always historically considered to be symbols of wealth, prestige, and even spiritual power in each of their locations of origin. Rugs are an investment; they are also used as collateral for loans, and given as wedding gifts or when a new baby is born. The history of the Oriental rug is like the flow of a river that adapts and blends into the countries and cultures it flows through. How about maintenance? Depending on how much foot traffic there is and how much wear and tear there is on a rug, would determine how often it requires cleaning and/or restoration. At Abraham’s we have an experienced department whose expertise in unsurpassed.

Which are considered modern rugs? There are several rugs that qualify as modern, such as Ikat, Vintage-Distressed, and Sari rugs, to name a few. Ikat is a style of weaving that uses a tie-dye process on either the warp or weft before the threads are woven to create a pattern or design. A double Ikat is when both the warp and the weft are tie-dyed before weaving. Ikat is a very difficult and time-consuming way of incorporating pattern in cloth. Designs are dyed into individual threads before weaving, and then the piece is assembled to reveal the pattern. Due to the inevitable variation in dyeing and assembly, the patterns show a shimmering irregularity that makes each piece unique and vibrant. Ikat can be done on the warp or the weft. Some pieces use Ikat technique in both warp and weft, which compounds the complexity of production. When I was back in India in the 60’s and 70’s they were using a lot of Ikat dyeing in the looms. As other techniques developed, Ikat weaving became a forgotten art. Today Ikat is a technique that is employed by weavers in many different parts of the world. It is certainly possible to imagine how it could appear in places like India, Central Asia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Japan (where it is called Kasuri), which are all connected by trade routes. But one must wonder how it appears in Guatemala, Peru, and Ecuador. The designs and colors from old Saris are used in making new Sari rugs. The appearance of Sari rugs looks very much like fine silk Saris. The Vintage-Distressed rugs are as fascinating as the process required to create each one. The 19th century rugs are overdyed and even though they are vintage, still have more pile to them, so they are treated with rough stones, reducing the pile height unevenly. Dye is then added, giving the old rug a new look. Abrahams Oriental Rugs, Decorative Center Houston, 5120 Woodway, Suite 180; also at Houston Design Center, 7026 Old Katy, Suite 166; 5000 Westheimer Suite 200; and 9595 Six Pines Drive, Suite 470 in The Woodlands;



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Meet the Houston Greeters By Sesh Bala and Susan Borches Did you know that Forbes magazine recently recognized Houston as the “Coolest City to Live”? So, you are new to Houston and want to learn what is so special about the area. Maybe you have lived here for 30 years and have not taken the time to find out much about what Houston has to offer. Perhaps you are in town for a conference for four days and you have one afternoon free. You can take a conducted tour with a bus full of people with a tour guide giving you a broad overview. But wouldn’t you prefer to learn first-hand about something special and unique about Houston from a native or a long time resident? I know I would. Enter the Houston Greeters organization which offers a free service through its 120 volunteers (“Greeters”) who will give you a “greet”, which means meeting you to show you and describe a place of mutual interest, or engage in an activity of mutual interest. There are plenty of places and activities offered by the Houston Greeters, over 100 of them, such as the museum district, historic neighborhoods, Galveston beaches, downtown tunnel system, Texas Medical Center, antiques shop-

ping, ethnic dining, rodeo, golfing, biking, Hindu temples, and the new Asia Society Texas Center building, to name a few. It is a one-on-one experience with a Greeter or perhaps a small group. Greeters have a passion and knowledge in that subject area. A greet may take 2 -4 hours and at the end the visitor has learned quite a bit from an expert. All Greeters go through a training program. Among them the Greeters speak

17 different languages. Use of public transportation is encouraged. The Houston Greeters have arranged with the Houston Metropolitan Transit Authority to provide passes for free bus and rail transportation for visitors engaged in a “greet”. The Houston Greeters is a non-profit organization founded in 2005 by Mrs. Susan Borches, formerly a VP of Corporate Af-

fairs for Shell Oil. In 2006, Mayor Bill White formally inaugurated the organization. The current Chairman of Houston Greeters is attorney Mr. Gordon Quan, former Councilman for the City of Houston. As part of the Global Greeter Network, other cities such as New York, Chicago, Sydney, Melbourne, Paris, The Hague, Buenos Aires and other cities in 16 countries have similar programs as well. In 2011, Houston hosted the Global



sites via the Internet before ever leaving their countries. Use the Houston Greeters’ free service to get to know a part of town you are not familiar with or schedule a greet when family and friends visit. The starting point to go on a greet is to fill out the simple online form “Request a Visit” at Greeters website You can select up to three areas of interest with different dates and times, and based on availability of greeters, you will get a call or email from your Houston Greeter and the two of your can set details of your plans. Enjoy the greet experience! Photos: Sesh Bala

Sundaresan “Sesh” Bala is a Houstonian for over 40 years. He migrated in 1966 as a graduate student at the UC Berkeley. He worked for Shell Oil Company for 35 years, retiring in 2002 as a Senior Manager and Advisor. Post retirement, Sesh is fully immersed in volunteerism, community service and the arts! Sesh brings his corporate experience and skills to benefit a wide range of non-profit organizations - family outreach, city visitor services, charity foundations, museums, the arts and religious organizations! He currently works actively with eight nonprofits including as Board Member of Daya and the Houston Greeters. He is married to Prabha Bala and has one son Vikram Bala.

Greeter Network annual conference. Representatives of a number of Global Greeter countries attended, as well as New York and Chicago. “Houston is a diverse and vibrant city, and its best asset is its people,” Susan always says. “Spending time one-on-one is an enriching experience for both the visitor and Greeter. Houston Greeters is a framework for people of all cultures and back-

grounds to get to know one another.” From the Indian community Susan signed up Sesh and Prabha Bala to be Houston Greeters. She also got Sesh Bala to serve on the Board of Directors for Houston Greeters. Many others from the Indian community are also active Greeters, sharing their favorite parts of the area. Many visitors including some from China, Japan and Russia have found out about Houston’s

Susan Borches is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C. where she studied international relations. Among several assignments in Washington, she served as Director of Communications at the U.S. Department of Commerce. Her first corporate job was with Asea Brown Boveri (ABB), headquartered in Zurich, and then was recruited to join Shell Oil in Houston as Vice President, Corporate Affairs. Upon leaving Shell Oil she founded Houston Greeters and also serves on the Board of the Global Greeter Network, currently headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands.



The Days of Awe

Happy New Year, L’Shana Tova! Early fall, for people of the Jewish faith, is a time of celebration, reflection, and repentance. The holy days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are among the most important observances of the Jewish year. In many climates, the weather begins to turn, and as a result we begin to turn inward, both in our physical environment and in our spiritual reflection.

By Lisa Brooks Rosh Hashanah, which means head of the year, is the celebrated Jewish New Year. It is observed on the first day of the Hebrew month of Tishri. Since the Jewish calendar is a lunar calendar, the secular date moves around a bit. Thus, there is a joke among Jews that the holidays are always either “so early this year” or “so late this year.” Somehow, they never seem to be just on time! Tishri is actually the 7th month of the Jewish calendar. It is the time of year, in ancient days, when the final harvest was complete and a new annual cycle was ready to begin. This is the celebrated new-year, even though the Torah, the Jewish Holy Book, speaks of Nissan, the month during which we celebrate Passover in the spring of the “new” year.

All Jewish holidays are celebrated from sundown to sundown to mark the day. Rosh Hashanah this year begins on the evening of September 17. Personally, I don’t think that is too early or too late. Rosh Hashanah is the first day of what are called the Days of Awe, the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. We are called upon during this time to examine ourselves and to think about our relationship with God, and with other people. It is a time to consider the state of our spiritual health. We reflect on the past year, our accomplishments, our failures, and deeds for which we are sorry. Many Jewish holidays are centered in the home, with celebrations revolving around specially prepared foods. However,

the focus at Rosh Hashanah is the Synagogue service, during which the shofar is sounded. A shofar is a ritual object, a sound-making instrument fashioned from the horn of a ram. A shofar calls the faithful to worship, and is also used for the commencement of significant events throughout the year. Traditionally, the shofar is blown at the beginning of each month on the new moon, and on the full moon. The shofar sound is also a call to action. The Jewish faith teaches that it is our duty to help “repair the world.” In Hebrew, this is pronounced Tikkun Olam. The shofar’s call to action acts as a reminder that we need to look within ourselves and out into our larger community so each of us can take steps to make a positive difference for oth-


Photos: Lisa Brooks


ers outside our own community. There are specific foods associated with the holiday as well. Pomegranate seeds represent hope for a prosperous year. According to lore, the pomegranate contains 613 seeds, and there are 613 commandments in the Torah. Honey is also important. We enjoy apples dipped in honey, honey cake, and other honeyladen sweets, which herald hope for a sweet year. Special holiday challah bread is shaped in a circle, rather than in the traditional braided shape eaten the rest of the year. The round shape is significant of many things; a well-rounded life, the life cycle, the cycle of the year, the sun, and the moon. Often, people eat challah with raisins or apple baked in to make it extra

sweet. In the evening at the end of Rosh Hashanah, there is a casual and fun ceremony called Tashlich. We gather on the banks of moving water, in our case in Houston, on the banks of the bayou, and we empty our pockets of crumbs symbolizing the casting of our sins into the depths of the sea. It is the beginning of unburdening ourselves of our sins, ready to start the year anew. A few short prayers are recited, and songs are sung. Children particularly love this tradition, and it is a fun observance for all. Sometime during the Days of Awe, it is traditional to visit the cemetery where our loved ones have been laid to rest. It is believed that God is deciding whether or

not to inscribe each individual on earth in the book of life for the year ahead. Jewish tradition suggests bringing a small stone to place on the headstones you visit. Stones are more permanent than flowers, though at this time of year, it is not unusual to see flowers in the cemetery as well. Visiting dead relatives is traditional because it is believed that they might intercede with God, making sure that their own loved ones are granted another year of life. A traditional greeting for this time of year is L’shanah Tova Tikatevu “may you be inscribed [in the book of life] for a good year!” Ten days later, on the 10th day of Tishri, we celebrate the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. We have just spent 10 days




reflecting on ourselves, and our behavior for the last year. The holy day of Yom Kippur is our day to say we are sorry, to ask for forgiveness, to promise to be better in the coming year. We fast without food or drink from sundown to sundown, spending our time in the synagogue praying, reflecting, and repenting. It is the time when it is believed that God passes final judgment on each individual, depending on how they have repented and acted during the days of awe. It is a time to make amends with God. As far as making amends with people we may have wronged, that is up to us, and it is required that we do so. Again, food is important. We enjoy a huge meal the evening prior to sundown and the start of the holiday. It is a feast to fortify us for the 24 hour fast ahead. Then, after dinner, we head to the temple for the Kol Nidre service. The Kol Nidre prayer is set to beautiful music, and is sung and/or played three times. Often at our temple, we either have a cello or violin soloist play the music. It is a time to begin the quiet reflection. The synagogue has several services on the day of Yom Kippur. There are morning and afternoon services, a contemporary service and a healing service, and finally, the Ne’ila service, which means the closing of the Temple gates, and represents the closing of the gates of heaven. It is uplifting, and full of promise for the year ahead. The shofar is sounded once again, marking the end of the Days of Awe.  And then, we go and eat! Having fasted all day, it is traditional to have a light meal. But a light meal Jewishly, is not such a light meal. In my family we often will have breakfast for dinner, but traditionally, bagels, lox, tuna salad, egg salad, noodle kugel, and other yummy things will be enjoyed by Jews of European descent. Personally, I love this time of year. It has always symbolized a fresh start to me. It is when the new school year began, new teachers, new classmates, new school supplies, new clothes, new routines…it was very exciting to me as a child. I

s ’ o a R h s i t Sa PURE VEGETARIAN

still love this ritual of preparing for the new secular school year with my own children. I love that we also get to start our spiritual life anew each year around the same time. I encourage my children to do as I do, to reflect on the year past, to think about what was good, what was bad. We have several names for the “good and bad” in my family...roses and thorns, peaks and pits…we often have a similar conversation as it relates to the day or the week when sitting together at the dinner table. However, at this time, I ask my children to reach a little deeper and reflect on the whole year. Every year there are many things in which I found happiness, pride, and joy. It is important to me to note these to myself, and to celebrate my children as they acknowledge their high points. However, every year, I know there are many things I can do better too, and regrets that I have from the year past. I know that my children do too. I don’t force them to talk about it, but to acknowledge those things to themselves and to promise to do better in the future. Goal setting is part of this process for me. I set goals, I make resolutions. Setting goals is more concrete for me. I always come up with a list, and then focus on what is most important. Jews are especially lucky, I think because we get to do this in the fall, and then we have a time to check in, just three months later, as the secular year comes to a close. I always stop and evaluate how I’m doing with my goals, refine, restate, and recommit. So, to all of you, Jewish or not, L’Shana Tova Tikatevu! All the best in 5773! Lisa Brooks is the proud mother of four wonderful children, a Comparative Religion teacher at Congregation Emanu El, and she also owns and operates a small home organizing business. She enjoys writing, reading, and exploring both in Houston, and around the world. 

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LITTLE INDIA Decades of Diligence Hallmark of BIG BOSSES OF

Raja Sweets By Nalini Sadagopan It’s a hot Friday mid-afternoon when I step into Raja Sweets, the pioneer fast food restaurant on Hillcroft, to learn more about their multi-decade existence in the Indian Mecca of Houston. As I walk through the door I notice the signs for Wi-Fi and Trip Advisor approval, “Impressive for an Indian fast food joint”. While relishing the aroma of ghee from the fresh sweets and the spicy fragrance from the hot samosas that wafts through the cool air, I’m met by Sharan Gahunia whose smile is as sweet as the spread of mithais in their glass almirah. As she sits down to talk about the historic eatery, she continues to make eye contact with the incoming customers and greets them with warmth, at the same time keeping wholly engaged in our conversation. “My dad and mom were the first to open a fast-food restaurant specializing in authentic Indian sweets in all of Texas, 26 years ago”, she declares with pride and poise. Wow, it did sum it all up. A beautiful and pleasant Resham Gahunia - Sharan’s mother - joins us a few minutes later. Until then, she was effectively managing the workforce at the customer counter. She epitomizes hard-work, persistence, patience, and customer service to me. I am curious about her success in continuing the tradition that she started along with her late husband, Joginder Singh Gahunia. “We wanted to do what we know best, run the restaurant business. When we moved to Houston there was an opportunity which my husband and I seized,” said Resham reflectively. Originally from the Sujjon area in Punjab, the entrepreneurial husband and

wife duo had run restaurants in the mostly cold locations of London and Cleveland, Ohio, before relocating to Houston. There was a glaring lack of Indian food services in the area when they arrived here nearly three decades ago. While the generations of today have a variety of restaurants to choose from, for those early immigrants longing for a taste of home, there weren’t any. “We were a part of the first trio of businesspeople that wanted to bring the Indian settlers of Houston what they longed for – food, jewelry, and clothing,” added Resham.

For the first 10 years (1986-1996) there was only one Indian grocery store on Hillcroft and Raja Sweets was the only Indian restaurant in the area. During the conversation Resham also casually mentions that her real first vacation after they started Raja sweets was 15 years after its inception. I was agape for a few minutes unable to comprehend the depth of her dedication to their business, not just in working twelve hour days, seven days a week until it took off, but how she enjoyed what she did best; in many ways the restaurant was her work, her vacation, and her life. The recipe for success in any endeavor calls for key ingredients of talent, passion, market need and hard work. The Gahunias’ passion and drive to fulfill the community’s need of an eating/meeting place was infectious; along with Resham’s two talented brothers who had culinary training, and Raja Sweets was born. Many a student and families far from home made the location their destination for hot, tasty, and affordable meals. Joginder, popularly known as “Jogi”, was a larger-than-life force whose smiling presence, generosity, and kindness, drew people time and again to Raja’s. Most days he would hold court at the corner table, drinking lassi and engaging diners in conversations about life in America, politics, cricket, and music, among other topics. He had a depth of caring that was sincere and genuine. His jocular personality often had people smiling as they enjoyed hot food. When he passed away in 2002, the community grieved, as his loss left a void in their lives. Rana Dasgupta, a longtime friend of



Jogi’s, reminisces about meeting him almost everyday for over 16 years. Dasgupta’s insurance business was a few doors down the strip from Raja Sweets. The two men became close friends and would eat lunch together most days. “Jogi had a different philosophy, he was generous to a fault,” says Dasgupta, during our telephonic conversation. “He had large hands that were always offering. He fed students large portions and also packed food for them to take home for the next day. I often saw him refuse to take money from them. I used to coax him to raise his prices, which were very low for the good food, but he wouldn’t listen. Jogi was very involved in civic and philanthropic activities. He was enthusiastic about life and his joy was contagious,” adds Dasgupta, who still misses his old friend. Today at Raja Sweets, the original two chefs continue to make their trademark tasty treats along with an efficient team of kitchen staff. The all-Indian team ensures authentic preparation of sweets almost all day every day. Be it the most sought after gulab jamuns or pendas that I tasted during my visit, all the sweets listed on the menu are prepared from scratch with premium ingredients. I gathered that typically one hundred gallons of milk go into the creation of pleasurable treats on a daily basis. One hundred gallons approximates to the volume of milk an average family would consume over a six-month period! I surmised that the use of fresh milk based ingredients for pre-

paring their sweets, and not using premade milk products, was what truly distinguished the delicacies at Raja sweets. Authenticity was the hallmark of their recipes. Besides the diverse array of sweets, the

prices of which have only changed upward by a $1/lb in many years, they also serve a sumptuous lunch and dinner buffet at $10. They serve vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. Besides a busy business in the shop six days a week except for Tuesday (holiday), the business caters for small parties and supplies sweets to larger restaurants in the area. During popular holidays like Eid and Diwali they cater up to 600 lbs. Since Raja’s began, more eateries and restaurants dot the landscape on Hillcroft giving diners many choices. I asked the mother/daughter team what differentiates

their business from all others. Though quite pointed, it must be a question that probably popped up in the minds of most readers. I could very easily talk about the features that pleased me; the fresh tasting delicacies, the simple yet neat décor, the cleanliness, and above all the pleasant, personal, and cordial warmth that every single visitor is greeted with. “It is our quality and authentic recipes that have remain unchanged over decades,” said Resham and Sharan in unison. The “you know what you will get every time” criterion is the key factor to keep satisfied and repeat customers in any business. The management team at Raja Sweets has honed in on this mantra with their quality and originality. The dynamic and customer focused team will ensure that Jogi Gahunia’s legacy will live on and continue to remain an intrinsic and favored part of the Mahatma Gandhi District for years to come. Nalini Sadagopan is a Houston area resident and loves writing and public speaking in her spare time. Her passion for arts, culture and heritage motivates her to volunteer time in the local community to promote these, especially among the youth. She is a chemist by training and works as a Technical Specialist for Agilent Technologies. She is married to Rishi and they are parents to Shilpa and Vishnu.

The Murals of

Sri Narumpunatha Temple By Professor Anna L. Dallapiccola Southern Tamil Nadu has a rich and varied cultural heritage that has yet to be discovered. Among its hidden gems is the Narumpunatha temple at Tiruppudaimarudur. This picturesque village lies at the confluence of the Tamraparni and Ghatanadi rivers some 25 km west of Tirunelveli, in the Ambasamudram taluq (a subdivision of a district). Its main attraction is the large Narumpunatha temple, located in beautiful surroundings on the south bank of the Tambraparni among huge shady trees and mango groves. On the west side of the temple are the ghats descending to the river and on the south, among fields and orchards, is the temple tank. The interior of the temple, filled with pillared halls and corridors, is dominated by the twin shrines dedicated to Shiva as Narumpunatha (‘Lord among fragrant flowers’) and to his consort, Gomatiambal. The linga, a symbol of Lord Shiva enshrined in the sanctuary, is slightly tilted towards the left and the following story accounts for this: a devotee wanted to worship the Lord but could not reach the temple since the Tambraparni was in a spate and he could not ford it. He closed his eyes and cried aloud ‘Narumpunatha, will you not help me?’ No sooner had he uttered these words, that the floods subsided and he had the blessing of the deity. It is said that when Shiva heard the devotee’s call, he bent his head slightly towards the north bank of the river. For the historians and art lovers however, the five-tiered east gopura (tower) housing remarkably well-preserved paintings and wooden sculptures is the main attraction. Surviving paintings from this period are extremely rare, and nothing can prepare the visitor for the rich and varied imagery and the wealth of minute details displayed in them. Within the hollow tower are five successive chambers of diminishing size whose walls are covered by murals dated to the late 16th or early 17th century. Intricately carved timber columns with ornate brackets support the chambers’ wooden ceilings. The brilliant palette is dominated by a rich red; the figures, landscape, and buildings are sensitively delineated in black. Yellow, green, light violet, and white are the other colours used by the

artists. Labels, albeit very faded, assist in identifying the depicted scenes. Occasionally, intricate textile patterns occupy portions of the walls. Some of the paintings, in particular those near the windows and the stairs, have been damaged by the elements, whereas those on the interior walls of the chambers have fared better. The themes of the paintings are very varied: the artists combined Puranic (ancient) themes, with incidents drawn from the life of the major Shaiva saints like Gnana Sambandar and Sundarar, and secular occurrences such as courtly receptions, foreign merchants engaged in their trade, military parades, and battles. Episodes of the life of Sambandar, the Shaiva child saint savant who went to Madurai at the time of Netumaran Pandyan (7th century), are illustrated in the first chamber. He was summoned by the Pandya queen and the king’s minister, who were concerned at the increasing power of the Jain monks and their influence on the king, who had converted to Jainism. The monks tried to set fire to the house of Sambandar, but it was the king instead who was afflicted by a sudden fever. Since no one could heal him, he agreed to submit to the miraculous powers of the child-saint and, if the cure succeeded, he would reconvert to Shaivism. The saint applied sacred ash on the forehead of the King and he was cured. The rivalry between the Sambandar and the Jains escalated; he had to face their varied challenges on many occasions. Eventually the monks were defeated, and a popular tradition has it that they were impaled on stakes as punishment for their persecution of Sambandar. On the second tier of the gopura, an Arab ship carrying horses in the hold, sailing through the tranquil waters of an ocean, is placed near representations of Narasimha, Nataraja and Ganesha, as well as trade scenes, and lively depictions of battles. This depiction of the craft, manned by Arabs is remarkably well observed: the horses neatly arranged in the hold, the captain and his crew, and finally the man perched on the lookout scanning the horizon. This mural testifies that the horse trade between Persia, Arabia and South India was firmly in the hands of Central Asian and Gulf merchants until well into the 16th century.

The third tier illustrates incidents from the temple’s sthalapurana, such as Indra’s penance; to atone for the sin of having killed a Brahmin, Indra assumed the form of a maruda tree and eventually was blessed by Shiva; episodes from the Ramayana, the dashavataras and the narrative of the wedding of the Goddess Meenakshi and Lord Sundareshvara. The fourth tier displays a long sequence of paintings focusing on the birth, the upbringing of Valli, and various other incidents of her life that include Murugan’s courtship of her. The vaulted fifth tier whose low walls are covered by paintings of deities has been damaged by whitewash and, unfortunately, has been vandalized by visitors who engraved their names. Apart from their indisputable artistic merit these paintings are extremely interesting not only because of the choice of subjects they illustrate, but also because of their style which exemplifies the gradual transition between Vijayanagara and Nayaka painting. Dr. Dallapiccola is based in Edinburgh. She has a Ph.D in Indian Art History, and a Habilitation (D.Litt.) from University of Heidelberg, Germany. Formerly a Professor of Indian Art at the South Asia Institute of Heidelberg, she was appointed Honorary Professor at Edinburgh University in 1991, and has regularly lectured at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London. She participated in the Vijayanagara Research Project from 1984 to 2001 writing mainly on sculpture and iconography. Her monograph The Great Platform at Vijayanagara was released in 2010. She was involved in two concurrent research programs, one in India regarding the art of the Vijayanagara successor states, and the cataloguing of the kalamkaris in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Dr. Dallapiccola’s books include Indian Art in Detail, Indian Love Poetry, Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend, Hindu Myths (Legendary Past), South Indian Paintings: A Catalogue of the British Museum Collection, and Hindu Visions of the Sacred (British Museum), to name a few.

Photos: Anna L. Dallapiccola Sri Narumpunatha temple, Tiruppudaimarudur the east gopura housing the paintings



I am Kalam

It’s Cricket, No?


A Decent Arrangement


a Century of Celluloid Creativity

Cinema in India is much more than just entertainment – it is indeed a way of life. In a land of over a billion where illiteracy still prevails, where the state-run television (which went national only in 1975) monopolized the airwaves until the early 90’s, cinema in the twentieth century became a unwitting medium of instruction, dishing out both good and bad education without discretion. So, it should come as no surprise that a blockbuster movie that appeals to the masses will run for a whole year or even more to packed houses, three shows a day. Fans that come to watch their favorite matinee idols in their larger-than-life movie roles again and again, memorizing every dialogue, every move, are very common. In a country where the phrase “movie industry” was coined, over one thousand films are made every year in several languages. That, I believe, is more than fifty percent of all movies made the world over. A hundred years ago, Dada Saheb Phalke made India’s first fulllength feature movie about a king, Raja Harischandra, who never lied. Phalke’s inspiration came from the English film The Life and Passion of Christ. Indian cinema turned 100 on April 21, 2012. In those hundred years, Tefloncoated heroes beat up many a menacing villain in kick-butt action capers without turning a hair, only to return in the next scene to romance gorgeous made-in-heaven beauties. The protagonists break into feverish song and dance sequences at the drop of a hat even as they travel exotic locales of the world and don lavish custommade costumes before they reach the concluding chorus. Not forgotten are the tearjerkers, social melodramas, tickle-me-pink stories and comingof-age pangs of 20-nothings sometimes enacted by 50-somethings. You have to agree, the Indian cinema has touched every genre of entertainment.

Despite all its peculiarities, Indian cinema has been a reflection of the socio-economic, political and cultural changes that took place in the country. The Indian Film Festival of Houston, Inc. (IFFH) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization devoted to creating a greater appreciation of Indian cinema and culture by showcasing quality films that pay tribute to entertainment industry performers and filmmakers while promoting the diverse perspectives of the Indian Diaspora through an annual event. IFFH showcases a combination of features, shorts and documentaries that provides programming and activities that no other film festival in Houston offers, and serves a community of Indian and international filmmakers by providing the opportunity to reach a crossover audience. Last year alone, IFFH enjoyed audiences of more than 2600. After a successful 3rd Festival, the 4th Annual Indian Film Festival runs from October 3rd to the 7th, culminating in an elegant night of glamour and culture on Sunday, October 7th at Hotel Sorella in CityCenter Houston. During the Festival, one will experience the very best of the Indian film-making industry, partake in unique cultural events and participate in Q&A sessions with filmmakers and actors.  Past IFFH winners include the 2009 documentary Smile Pinky, which also won the Oscar for Best Documentary; the 2010 feature film Udaan, which went on to win 7 awards at the 56th Annual Filmfare Awards (India’s equivalent of the Oscars); the 2011 short film Fatakra, which went on to win the Directors Guild of America Student Film Award; and the 2011 feature film I Am Kalam, which had an acclaimed premiere at the 63rd annual Cannes Film Festival. For further information about the Festival, screening schedules, and ticket reservations, visit www.iffhinc. org

Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park Mams House of Ice

Exploring Houston’s Gems By Sarah Gish I am a lifelong lover of Houston! So much so, in fact, that a few years ago, I started doing talks that included information about cool spots in this city I adore. As I was doing these talks, I realized that many people didn’t know about the places I was touting. So I decided it was time to start a revolution: a revolution to highlight Houston’s Gems. And since it’s the 21st century, I started this revolt where all good revolts now start: Facebook and twitter! I began posting almost daily about different “Houston Gems” I thought people would love, both on www.facebook. com/houstongems and on (#houstongems). It’s been a never-ending source of pleasure for me – and others! – that helps me enjoy Houston even more by highlighting at least one thing great about Houston every day. The first factoid about Houston that I think is truly Gem-y is that we are now the most (not “one of the” but “the most”) diverse city in the entire country! There are 90 languages spoken every day in this dynamic patchwork of a city and that remarkable diversity is expressed in the variety of restaurants, shops, art, and people you can see scattered across our terrain. Religious variety even comes into play: someone once told me that we were home to all the world’s major religions and all the world’s major subreligions, surely because of a need in such a varied population. Those who scoff at our lack of nature obviously aren’t aware that the greater Houston area is home to ten Eco Regions, from the “Piney Woods” to the “Coastal Marshes” (don’t believe me? Check out One of my favorites is the “Bayou Wilderness” Eco Region because I believe that our bayou system is the crown that holds together all the Houston gems! They run under, around, and over everything in Houston

and are to me some of the most surprising and beautiful waterways anywhere. I sigh happily every time I pass Sims Bayou on the way to Hobby Airport – perhaps I’m a sucker, but I think there’s nothing quite so special as finding beauty in places where you least expect it. So now you know my secret for finding Houston Gems: always keep your eyes “peeled” (as my mom used to say…) for unexpected tidbits of beauty and cool as you never know when they’ll pop up and hit your windshield. Did you know we have a 1940 Air Terminal Museum ( or that Houston’s underground tunnels ( downtown-tunnels/) link 95 city blocks? Shopping (http://www. is heavenly here: you can hit Harwin Drive for bargains, Montrose for Farmers’ Markets, the Galleria for upscale spending, and almost any neighborhood in town for art. As a busy girl who often needs a break, I love hanging out in introspective spots like the Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park (, the lovely new James Turrell’s “Twilight Epiphany” Skyspace at Rice University (, Glenwood Cemetery (, Rothko Chapel (www.rothkochapel. org) and the Houston Arboretum (, where I love to sidle up to a shady bench and just SIT. Some of my favorite quirky gems are the Ink Spots Museum (; St. Arnold’s Brewing Company (; Wabash Antiques and Feed Store (www.; the Beer Can House (www.beercanhouse. org); the Orange Show (; Texas Junk Company; Mams House of Ice (;

F o r A l l Yo u r E x c l u sivE E v E n t s A n d cAt E r i n g n E E ds and the Art Car Museum (www., to name just a few! I used to run the Landmark Theatres in Houston so I have to give a shout-out to the film venues that are gems, starting with the grand old lady, the 1939 Landmark River Oaks Theatre ( which is the oldest continuously running movie theatre in Houston and a City of Houston Historic Landmark. The newest kid on the block is, thankfully, the eco-friendly Sundance Cinemas ( and I’m also extremely grateful for the smaller venues around town: The Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas ( which are set to expand inside the Loop; the Aurora Picture Show (www. which just found a new home near the Rice Village; 14 Pews (www.14pews. org) which is as gorgeous as ever; and Rice Cinema (www., home to screenings ranging from green films to Margaret Mead cine-fests. So this is Houston and those are some of my gems. But before I slip away to find more

gems, I must mention three gems that really gave this town its start: brothers John Kirby and Augustus Chapman Allen and Charlotte Allen, wife of Augustus. Without the three of them, Houston would be merely a blip in the marsh! And like me, those three saw beauty where others might not. Won’t you join us in the pursuit of Houston Gems? Sarah Gish is the owner of Gish Creative (www.gishcreative. com), a personal, family, and business enrichment company. It’s her goal to ignite lives and create connections and one of the ways she does that is by pointing out Houston Gems to everyone she knows. She recently coproduced an album highlighting fourteen historic Houston landmarks in honor of Houston’s 175th birthday, OUR ROOTS ARE STRONG. And, although she has lived in Roanoke (Va.), Austin, Paris, Boulder, and Tokyo, Sarah still hearts Houston the best!

1940 Air Terminal Museum

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N o White After Labor Day: Fact or Fiction? By Priya M. James “Don’t wear white after Labor Day” is a phrase that you have likely heard several times before that has traversed the generations. One theory to the origins of this “rule” is that it began when people of high society would take white clothes on their summer trips, and pack them away in September when they returned from their vacations at the end of summer. White clothing was the color of choice during the summer, because unlike dark colors that attracts the sun, white reflects light. White garments also would not be worn in the winter, because they were easily susceptible to dirt during winter storms. The no white after Labor Day rule demised as early as the 1920s when Coco Chanel incorporated white in her wardrobe all year round. Chanel, that intrepid icon of style, also famously said, “In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.” Dare to be different! These days, the color white can be found in stores throughout the colder seasons, and most designers incorporate white into their fall/winter collections. Some strategies to integrate the color white include wearing white sweaters paired with dark pants or white dresses with dark shoes. Also, do not hesitate to wear white pants; just pair them with colors more suitable for fall, like a deep red or navy blue. Another approach is to wear a white top and a pair of white pants, and infuse color with a dark belt and dark shoes. If you are still hesitant to incorporate white into your wardrobe, then try including it in subtle ways by wearing accessories like gloves, hats, or scarves in white. You can also wear a white top layered under another color to add a hint of white. The key concept to integrating white into your wardrobe during the fall/winter season is related to the choice in fabric. You do not want to wear light fabrics such as linen that will not provide any warmth. Instead buy white clothing made of wool, fleece, or cashmere. In the end, the ultimate fashion rule is that fashion rules are meant to be challenged, so that the styles and colors you dress in do not merely reflect trends, but reflect your personality and what looks best on you. Priya James is a fashion stylist and owner of Priya James Fashion Consulting. She has a Bachelor of Science in Fashion Merchandising and Marketing from The Art Institute of Houston. Priya has styled and assisted in the production of fashion shows and photo shoots and has provided fashion consulting services to small businesses and start-ups in the fashion and retail industry.



Texas Medical Center

A Confluence of Philanthropy, Service and Science Dr. Jayarama S. Guntupalli In Texas, everything is big as they say. Even ideas are as big as the Texas sky. Texas Medical Center is no exception to the Texas size ideas. Strange as it may seem, two unlikely people, George Hermann, a cattle rancher, and Monroe Dunaway Anderson, a cotton merchant, unbeknown of each other helped create the World’s largest Medical Center here in Houston. While Hermann, a baker’s son, was a native Houstonian born in 1843, M.D. Anderson, the son of a banker, was born in 1873 in Jackson, Tennessee. After completing his studies, Anderson rose very fast in echelons of banking and in 1904 joined his brother Frank and Frank’s brother-in-law Will Clayton in buying and selling cotton in Oklahoma City. Thus was born Anderson, Clayton & Co. Frugal and scrupulously honest, Anderson poured his business talents into the company and brought the partners great affluence. Meanwhile, George Hermann took a slightly different path to riches. He joined the 26th Texas Cavalry regiment in the civil war and after the war, returned home to Houston in 1872 and joined W.J. and J.J. Settagast, a real estate company with interests in the cattle business. In 1884, Hermann was dealing exclusively in real

estate. He traded a buggy and few horses for a track of land in northern Harris County, only to discover that his piece of land was fortuitously at the center of the Humble oil field. By 1904 Hermann was a rich man worth several million dollars. Anderson, Clayton & Co. moved to Texas when the ship channel was fully constructed to gain worldwide access; by 1914, the partnership became the world’s largest cotton trading company worth millions of dollars. Both Anderson and Hermann were devoted businessmen with perhaps little personal time; both remained bachelors. The ever-thrifty Hermann wanted to bestow much of his wealth on the people of Houston. A hospital that would not deny treatment to any one on the basis of ability to pay was his idea of benevolence. To that end he donated ten acres of land in the south end of Houston, where Hermann hospital stands today. It later became the principal teaching hospital of The University of Texas Health Science Center, established in 1969. He also donated another 285 acres of adjacent land to the city of Houston, now named Hermann Park. In 1914, four months after his donation, George Hermann died

in Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore Maryland. The ever-cautious Anderson was sure of the twin certainties of life - death and taxes. Death, he could not avoid, but what about taxes? After all, he and Will Clayton owned more than half the company stock. Death of either one of them would result in huge estate tax that may require liquidation of the company. Anderson’s sense of philanthropy and business acumen resulted in the creation of Anderson charitable foundation in 1936 and he donated $300,000 to which was added nineteen million dollars after his death in 1939. In 1941 the Texas Legislature authorized The University of Texas to establish a cancer research and treatment center in Texas with an appropriation of $500,000. The Anderson foundation approached the State of Texas with an offer to match the appropriation and a suitable site if the center is located in Houston and named after it’s benefactor. Thus the foundation of the new Texas Medical Center was laid. In 1943 the MD Anderson foundation invited Baylor University College of Medicine to join the newly formed Texas Medical Center in Houston, and in 1948, the luminary Dr. Michael E. DeBakey joined

as Chairman of Surgery, attracting a galaxy of eminent physicians to the affiliated hospitals of the Medical College. Innovations in various fields of medicine in the late fifties and early fifties, particularly in cardiac surgery, brought international attention and reputation to the nascent Texas medical Center. As the Second World War was winding down, President Franklin D. Roosevelt approved acquisition of 118 acres of land in Houston for construction of a hospital for returning naval personnel in 1941. The land, adjacent to the Texas Medical Center, was actually purchased by 350 Houston philanthropists and donated to the federal government for the same purpose. The Naval hospital opened in 1946 but required an executive order from President Harry Truman to transfer facilities to the Veterans Administration in 1949. Thus the first Houston VA Hospital was birthed. It was Dr. DeBakey however, who brought the VA into the fold of the Baylor College of Medicine as the first Dean’s committee hospital in the USA. The hospital expanded rapidly both as a respected research and service facility and the newly rebuilt medical center is the second largest federal structure, only after

the Pentagon. Recognizing the contribution of Dr. DeBakey to the welfare of the veterans, President George W. Bush renamed the current facility as the Michael DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center in 2003. Not lagging behind in enthusiasm and service, the Harris County Hospital District added a new hospital for indigent care; the Ben Taub General Hospital, named after Ben Taub, a Houston businessman and real-estate developer, boasted a level 1 trauma center to the Texas Medical Center in 1963. While many city hospitals across the country were either closing or curtailing services, Ben-Taub moved into a brand new building in 1990 with expanded services, a testimony of public commitment to indigent care in Houston. Staffed by the Baylor faculty and trainees, Ben-Taub General Hospital is a major teaching constituent of the Baylor Medical College. Several other non-profit hospitals including St. Luke’s Episcopal hospital, The Methodist Hospital, Texas Children Hospital, joined Texas Medical Center as independent constituents, complimenting each other in research and patient care. Thanks to the dedication and perseverance of a few visionaries, a simple idea of starting

a hospital for the citizens of Houston grew into the world’s largest medical center which is larger than downtown Dallas, employing nearly 100,000 health care professionals pursuing cutting edge medical research and providing the most advanced health care to people from all over the world. Texas Medical Center has 50 medicine-related institutions, 15 hospitals, and three medical schools in addition to Schools of Dentistry, Nursing, Public Health, and Pharmacy. More heart surgeries and solid organ transplants are performed in the center than anywhere else in the world. With over six million annual patient visits including nearly twenty thousand international patients, the Texas Medical Center is truly the pride of Houston and a jewel in the crown of this city.

Jayarama S. Guntupalli MD is a practicing physician faculty at at the Baylor College of Medicine in Texas Medical Center



A 21st Century Education By Jay Kumar Aiyer As parents prepare for another school year, we find ourselves discussing the effectiveness and direction of the American education system with greater regularity. News reports are filled with stories about the “failure” of the public education system and that students by and large are underperforming vis-à-vis their international peers. Against this backdrop, I want to argue that the educational system as we know it is not failing, but rather, thriving. More choice and options exist now than at anytime before, with parents and students having the availability to create a wonderful educational experience. The challenge most parents face is getting past the notion that education is simply a set of sequential steps on the road to adulthood. We often see elementary school as preparatory for middle school, which in turn is preparatory for high school, which of course is a prelude to college. This view of education as simply extended college prep undermines the long-term benefits of education, and more dangerously does not prepare students for a complex future they cannot see. Educating just for today is shortsighted…educating for tomorrow is the goal. The question is how best to do it? Author and Education Researcher, Tony Wagner lays out the most compelling approach to education that has been developed in years. He argues for preparing students in a dramatically different way - building skills, not just memorizing facts. His approach relies on what he calls the “seven survival skills” needed in our modern education system. His approach emphasizes identifying problems and thinking about solutions; working in team environments; becoming more adaptable to change; embracing innovation; understanding and using technology to access information; developing oral and written communication skills; and creativity. While each of these seven seem selfevident, it is important to understand that our current system (and even some parents)

doesn’t naturally value these skills. Instead, American education increasingly relies on memorization and standardized testing. We become consumed with the highest performance on a given exam rather than a broader holistic education process. I am often asked, how can we design this type of education for our child? If you are fortunate enough to live in an area that has an International Baccalaureate program, the work is done for you. The IB Diploma is the most well known comprehensive advanced academic program in the world. It requires mastery in 6 distinct areas touching on science, math, English, foreign language proficiency, fine arts, and social science. It also requires completion of a research thesis and participation in community service. For schools without this type of program, I would strongly encourage parents to get involved in their child’s course selection process and create a broad education that pulls from Wagner’s seven skills. In addition to the traditional math, science and English course of study, I would encourage parents to consider four other areas that will help nurture a well-rounded and prepared student. Global Citizenship through language In an increasingly interdependent world, fluency in language is critical. Parents should encourage students to study foreign languages as early and for as long as possible. The study of language and culture not only gives an individual the ability to communicate with individuals from another part of the world, but a greater understanding of their culture. It is invaluable in an increasingly global economy. Understanding of Technology Technology and computer fluency is increasingly becoming as critical as language fluency. All students should understand basic programming and the ability to recognize how technology functions. Moreover, the ability to access information through technology is in many ways is more important than

knowing the information directly. Students should be encouraged to take as many technology related courses as exist at their school and encourage schools to develop more. Fine Arts and Music No medium does more to encourage creativity and “out of the box” thinking than the fine arts and music. Often derided in some schools and discouraged by parents as damaging to the all important GPA, fine arts and music can open up the possibility of innovation in a way not imagined before. Whether directly in school or through summer and private instruction, parents should make art and music study a priority. Written and Oral Communication In a world increasingly using standardized testing to evaluate students, the ability to express oneself through words is being lost. To combat that, students should be encouraged to look at speech and debate courses at school that emphasize both written and oral presentation. Writing and speech, like art, are often denigrated as superfluous to core education, but its value can’t be overstated. Without the ability to express an idea, it’s as if the idea doesn’t exist. Giving your child a great education in our system is still possible! All it takes is a little more work and an emphasis on developing the whole child. We have options to create a diverse and broad curriculum for our children. It’s up to us to take the lead. Jay Kumar Aiyer is an Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Education Researcher at the Jordan Leland School of Public Affairs at TSU. He also serves as the Interim Assistant Director of the Barbara Jordan Institute, a Policy Research Center and is an Adjunct Professor of Law at South Texas College of Law. He has written extensively on education and policy issues. He can be contacted at

In Vino Veritas By Dr. Devinder Bhatia

Several years ago, I recall walking into a restaurant to have dinner and being handed a wine menu that was about as large as an atlas. The overwhelming intimidation I felt while thumbing through the pages and lists of wines from all over the world, almost made me lose my appetite. “I’ll have the house red,” I said, not knowing the first thing about what wine to choose and even worse, what wine went with what food. Some days later, I was offered a glass of French red wine to accompany a steak that was cooked by my host. The complexities of the wine were incredible, the flavor was so good and most of all, it almost blessed the food that I was eating. I could not believe how deliciously the two were paired. It was at that time that I decided to learn about wine. So I thought, I would just read about them, study them much like I studied for an exam while in medical school and poof, I would have it all down. Boy was I wrong!  What I soon found out is that you can never learn everything there is to learn about wine. What you can do, however, is take what the wine world will offer you. I say this because you can learn as much or as little as you wish when you begin your journey down wine lane. Over the years I have become a collector, admirer and lover of wines. Not just great wines that no one can attain unless you are born on a mailing list, but the good wines that all can acquire, sometimes with a little challenge. I have been to many a wine tasting all over the world during the past twenty or so years since that fateful night in that restaurant. I have read countless books, reviews, articles, and journals as well as many tasting notes written by other wine aficionados over the years. If you have read anything about wine and reviews of wine, I would be willing to bet that at some point you all have asked questions such as “what does lead pencil taste like?” or “what does crushed granite taste like?” or “how can wine taste like petroleum, or fusel oil?” All of these are highly complex descriptions of wine and how the taster perceives them. I remember being invited to a very special by invitation-only tasting in Los Angeles. There were about 40 guests

present. I attended this tasting with my wife. As we sat in Spago with Wolfgang Puck, we sipped our wine, 40 different ones that night, and as we did, we made our notes on a specially provided binder that was given to us for the evening. As I wrote my long tasting notes about color, the “nose” and finally the taste of the wines, I found myself almost with writer’s cramp at the end of the night. Amazingly, as I looked at my wife’s tasting notes, I saw words like “good”, “very good”, “excellent”, or “terrible” and she had NO writers cramp! My point is simply this; much of the fun in tasting or collecting wine is the subjectivity of the taster. Just because a famous wine taster rates a wine at 99 or 100 points, doesn’t mean that you will love it as a perfect wine. Also, just because a bottle of wine may cost $100 or more won’t mean it tastes $90 better than a $10 wine. So for those of you who may be contemplating wine tasting or collecting or for those who may be seasoned collectors, I say to you “drink” and enjoy life as you can the best way you can, and if the fruit of the vine can add to your life’s experiences, how great is that? Don’t be intimidated to try new wines and learn more about what you’re drinking. The joy you will derive from this unexplainable. Stay tuned for this writer’s experiences with pairing Riesling wines with Indian foods. In wine there is truth…



The Dowry Scourge By Dr. David Courtney “Will these people ever stop tormenting me?” Nagbani thought to herself. “All they ever think about is money... money... money.” Nagbani was a beautiful young girl with deep dark brown eyes, and jet-black hair. Two years ago, she was like any other sixteen year-old. She attended school in the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. She joked with her classmates, and was very happy. She had loving and doting parents. When her parents came and told her that they were fixing a marriage with the Kundulas in the next town, she did not really think too much about it. Nagbani first sensed that things were not going well during the marriage negotiations. These negotiations involved things such as marriage expenses, but more importantly, it involved the dowry. Tradition dictated that she would enter her husband’s home with three types of property. There was the streedhan. This was property that belonged to her. It was her insurance so that if anything went wrong with the marriage, she would not be completely penniless. There was also the saare, or household items that were jointly owned. Finally, there was the dahej, known in the Telugu language as katnam. This was property that was given to the boy’s family and would be retained by them even if the marriage dissolved. It was this latter katnam that was the bone of contention. Nagbani sometimes wondered why her family had to give dowry. She had seen Lambadi women, and knew that in that community, it was the men who had to give money to the girl’s family. Yet throughout India, it was the general custom that the girl’s family gave money to the groom’s family. Nagbani’s future in-laws made demands upon her father that were hard to meet. But there was nothing that her family could do about it. Things had progressed too

far to back out of the marriage. The wedding invitations had been sent. If they broke things off now, their family would become the laughing stock of the community. Besides, this sort of thing was common. Everyone assured her that once the marriage was done, everything would be okay. But after she came into her husband’s home, things did not improve. Her in-laws began to pester her. As per the original negotiations, Nagbani’s family paid 50, 000 Rupees and 15 sovereigns of gold to her in-laws. They kept this locked away in a large Godrej almari (steel cupboard). But the major disputes were about some of her father’s agricultural lands and an outstanding debt of 35 sovereigns of gold. Her father did agree to put the agricultural lands in her name, but this did not satisfy the avarice of her in-laws. “Are you going to sit there all day, you useless girl?” exclaimed her mother-in-law. “Wash those dishes.” Nagbani’s mother-in-law was Kundula Annapurna. From the very moment Nagbani moved into the house, Kundula behaved as though it were her god-given duty to make life hell for the young Nagbani. Nagbani’s husband merely watched as his mother scolded and abused his wife. His name was Kundula Bala Subrahmaniam. He was not particularly bad, but he was very weak. He was definitely “tied to his mother’s pallu (trailing end of the sari).” “When I was your age I’d already given birth to a son,” Annapurna said accusatively. “What have you done, you worthless thing?” “Chi - Anni kastalu!” Nagbani muttered under her breath as she reflected on her cruel fate. Nagbani’s father had consulted a lawyer when he came to know of her problems. The lawyer told him dowry was theoretically illegal. The Dowry Prohibition Act that was passed in 1961 banned dowry.

But the system of dowry couldn’t go away because it was linked to inheritance. Under Indian law, inheritance should follow a system of “partible inheritance”, where property was equally divided among all the children. But in an agricultural economy like India, this didn’t work. If every time a man died that the property was divided, within a few generations the land became so small that it would not support a family. This guaranteed starvation! Everyone knew that having property pass undivided to one of the sons was the only way to be sure that it could sustain a family. Usually this was the oldest son. “Primogeniture” the lawyer called it. In this system, daughters inherited nothing. But dowry was a way that a girl could enjoy her portion of her father’s wealth while he was still alive. Dowry was supposed to assure that a daughter’s standard of living remained high even after marriage. Yet, Nagbani did not feel that her standard of living was high. Everyday was filled with hellish abuse. “Nagbani, what is this?” exclaimed Annapurna as she held up a stack of letters. “Have you been conspiring with that shameless family of yours?” Nagbani was indeed in correspondence with her family, but in a very surreptitious manner. She wrote letters and secretly gave them to her neighbor. All of these were in Hindi, because her in-laws knew only Telugu. These letters detailed the abuse that she had been suffering. “Nee Amma ... Answer me! What have you been telling your parents?” demanded Annapurna. Another fight ensued. This was not itself unusual except for one thing. This time Annapurna went to the kitchen, and brought out a steel container of kerosine. This she poured over Nagbani. “Babu, you know what to do?” An-


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napurna ordered her son. Whereupon Nagbani’s husband lit a match, and put it to her kerosine soaked sari. The sari immediately burst into flames. Nagbani was overcome by terror and pain. The polyester sari melted in the heat, and clung to her young flesh as though it were napalm. She ran to the living room and collapsed on the floor screaming for help. The melting, burning polyester bubbled, turned brown, then black as it enveloped her body. The room filled with smoke and the most horrible smell. It was a diabolic scent, reminiscent of burning plastic, kerosene, and the smell of burning flesh from the burning grounds. As Nagbani lay in the living room screaming in agony, the neighbours came in. They immediately saw the situation, and demanded that Nagbani be covered with a blanket to extinguish the flames. But Nagbani’s husband and mother-in-law just stood there, waiting for the fire to do its unholy work. Finally the flames were extinguished. Nagbani lay naked on the living room floor. The fire had burned over 90% of her body.

Much of her skin was a black crust. It was very difficult to tell whether this black crust was charred polyester or flesh, as the end result was the same. “Please tell mother and father as I am telling you. My mother-in-law poured kerosene on me and my husband set fire. You tell father and mother about this. Don’t fight. Anyhow, I am dying,” Nagbani told her neighbour. A short time later Kundula Koti Nagbani was dead. She was eighteen years old. This was not an isolated event. Even today in the 21st century, it is estimated that up to five thousand young brides a year are either killed or driven to suicide due to dowry disputes. For more information about this case, visit doc/1053935/ Dr. David R. Courtney is a writer, musician, teacher, activist, and filmmaker. He has over 65 publications on the subject of Indian culture and Indian music. He is presently running for Texas

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My Letter to this City Dear Houston, I have never felt more a part of this city than I did on Thursday, August 9, 2012. As I looked up at City Hall lit up in blue lights, I bonded with my fellow Houstonians in a most unexpected way. Our mayor Annise Parker had just designated lighting up the building in blue in memory of the victims of the Wisconsin gurdwara tragedy. Just four days earlier on Sunday, August 5th, the unthinkable happened at the Oak Creek gurdwara in Wisconsin. A lunatic with white supremacist tattoos ties showed up with a gun to a place of worship and killed six innocent people. As a member of the Sikh community, I will never forget seeing images of the survivors mourning their loved ones and asking the question everyone in the country was thinking: “Why?”

By Deepi Sidhu Although I consider Houston my home now, I really felt so far from my own parents and siblings who live in the Midwest. My parents and sister, who live in Indianapolis, seemed no different from the victims. My brother, who lives in Milwaukee, has attended the Oak Creek gurdwara. Thankfully, he was out of town that weekend. We all called and texted back and forth but it was one of those times in life when you just want to be with your family. It was a shock to my system. When I found out about the candlelight vigil at City Hall, I decided to go. I needed to be with others who were also shaken by this tragedy. Even more importantly, I wanted to support our local government for its compassion in recognizing our pain and loss. As I stood there at the vigil surrounded by others, I felt a sense of comfort I had not felt in days. Leaders from different religions spoke and soothed us, offering solace as we mourned. In their own way, they all had the same message. We are hurting for your loss. We have more that unites us than what separates us. We will get

through this devastating time and we will do it together. I not only felt closer to fellow Sikhs, but also fellow Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Jews, and so many of other faiths. This did not just happen to the Sikhs but it had happened to all of us. Loss is loss but forgiveness and healing is what helps us move on. When a candle was lit for the victims, I thought about them and all the victims of such crimes that other faiths have lost. A lone cello played beautifully in the background as we passed a single flame around until every single candle was lit. Seeing 1500 candles lit in the dusk while looking up at City Hall, I felt kinship, peace, and a new sense of pride in Houston. Seeing old friends, new friends, the elderly, small children, Sikhs, non-Sikhs all sharing the same pain made it feel lighter. Thank you, Houston. Ironically, I had gone to support you and in the end it was you who supported me. The leaders, the people, and the different communities gave me a metaphorical embrace and I walked away a little more healed and with a renewed sense of hope.



Photos: Deepi Sidhu

Deepi Sidhu is a co-host of GenerAsian Radio ( and can be heard every Thursday from 1-3 PM on KPFT 90.1FM or at She writes a weekly football blog for women at www. and has also previously written articles for CBS Radio Houston. Along with talking and writing, Deepi also loves shopping and is the owner of Styled. By Deepi personal shopping and styling services. For more info, visit She lives in Houston with her husband Sham and their three boys.

Oak Creek Massacre:

Trying to Understand Hate Crime By Arjune Rama, MD The Federal Bureau of Investigation defines hate crime (also known as bias crime) as “a criminal offense committed against a person, property, or society that is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity/national origin.” While we will never know the motivation behind Wade Michael Page’s rampage at a gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisc. last month, through his affiliation with white supremacist organizations and claims by his friends that he talked about an impending “racial holy war” it stands to reason that his offense was motivated by hate. As a mental health provider I am curious about what motivates people to commit such atrocities. I find the word “hate” to be too generalizing to precisely identify the motivations for these crimes. Fortunately, some social justice literature has been generated on this topic to help parse this word out. In a 2002 study, McDevitt et al. suggested that hate crime offenders can be grouped by four motivations: thrill seekers (66%), offenders who view themselves as defending their turf (25%), those responding to a real or perceived hate crime (8%) and a small group of offenders whose life’s mission is to rid the world of groups they consider evil or inferior (1%). Their investigation using data from the Boston Police Department suggests that the most common type of hate crime was one where an attack was committed for the thrill or excitement experienced by the offender. According to McDevitt et al., “In 91 percent of these thrill-motivated cases, the perpetrators reported having left their own neighborhood to search for a victim in a gay bar, a temple in another part of town, or a minority neighborhood. The target was chosen because the offender perceived that the victim was in some way significantly different from the offender.” The issue of “difference” plays prominently in the Wisconsin murders. If Page had attacked worshipers at a mosque, a link to the events of September 11th, 2001 might have been more comprehensible, although no less tolerable. Instead, he elected to attack non-Muslim Indian-Americans on a seemingly random day. This appears to

be less likely an act of retribution against a certain group but rather against people who simply fit an perceived image of terrorism. While it may be appealing to explain the motivation for these crimes as a case of mistaken identity, in a recent piece for The Washington Post, Valarie Kaur and Simran Jeet Singh lucidly explain the pitfalls of such a hypothesis: “The notion of ‘mistaken identity’ is not just wrong, it’s dangerous. In the initial aftermath of 9/11, Sikhs told the media, ‘Sikhs are not Muslims.’ Our community quickly realized its mistake, and made a commitment to express solidarity with Muslims. Although we are distinct religious communities, we have shared in the experience of hate violence, religious bigotry, and racial profiling.” While the issue of difference motivating Page frightens me very much, I find myself even more afraid of the “thrill-seeking” element of hate crimes as noted in the research by McDevitt et al. While psychiatric interventions would have likely been employed with Mr. Page had he survived, I see this as a second-best solution by virtue of it being after the event. Fundamentally, we as Americans must confront the fact that so many find a “thrill” in violence against a nameless, shapeless “other.” As a clinician I feel at a loss as to what effective measures can be taken. Certainly issues of bias begin early in life suggesting the value of an education that emphasizes tolerance. Also, a heavier emphasis on psychiatric evaluation in routine medical care could help to identify and help those at risk for such thrill-seeking violent behavior. Further research in this area, particularly in light of recent events, is merited. Until a clearer management strategy is developed, the best we can do is to support those who have been psychologically traumatized by these incidents and mourn those who we have lost. Arjune Rama is a resident physician in psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine. You can follow him on Twitter at @ arjunerama.



The Guru Chronicles

The Making of the First American Satguru From the Lofty Himalayas to the Breathtaking Peaks of Kauai The sheer heft of The Guru Chronicles – The Making of the First American Satguru is the first indicator that this is no ordinary book. I page through and am riveted by the storytelling illustrations and an image gallery replete with historical photographs dating as far back as 1891. The narrative describes in exquisite detail a young American man’s yearning for self-realization and the mystical and spiritually uplifting journey that shaped his future as America’s first Hindu Satguru or Perfect Master. Forty years in the making, The Guru Chronicles describes the life and times of Robert Walter Hansen, who was born in Oakland, California, and would go on to become Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami (1927-2001). The sweeping saga of faith traverses the lofty Himalayas to the breathtaking peaks of Kauai. Through anecdotal accounts and carefully archived words of saints and sages (and others that were blessed enough to have known them during their lifetimes), The Guru Chronicles, compiled, edited, and designed by the Swamis of Kauai’s Hindu Monastery, is a labor of enduring devotion. Forty years in the making, the 832-page treatise traces the young Robert’s 1947 voyage via steamship to India and Sri Lanka in pursuit of a guru who would guide him on the path to self-realization. Vignettes of his personal odyssey are documented in his own voice as told to his disciples over the years; he speaks of the intense soul recognition that occurred when he met his guru, Siva Yogaswami, an enlightened master. After years of rigorous training, and upon his guru’s directive, the Satguru returned to America to claim his rightful place as the American heir to the hoary lineage of Saivite mystics that started over 2,200 years ago in the Himalaya

mountains. The Guru Chronicles delineates the roots of that lineage of siddhas, or perfected beings; the Satguru’s guru Yogaswami and his guru’s guru Chellappaswami, and earlier to sage Kadaitswami, and other nameless rishis, and way back to Rishi Tirumular and his guru, Maharishi Nandinatha. Tall and charismatic, Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, known affectionately as Gurudeva, was determined to promulgate Saiva dharma and bring Siva worship into the 21st century. He founded the Saiva Siddhanta Yoga Order and established America’s first South Indian Hindu Monastery in Kauai, Hawaii. He also brilliantly conceived Hinduism Today, the first international Hindu magazine, a legacy that is formidably perpetuated by his disciples. He earned the respect and friendship of Hindu spiritual leaders and seekers alike, and at public gatherings the world over, he exhorted Hindus to take pride in the “most profound religion on the planet.” Gurudeva was the latest guru in Saiva parampara; the next inheritor of the mantle is his successor, Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami, the current head of the Kauai Adheenam. What makes The Guru Chronicles so exceptional is that it is an astonishingly intimate window into the lives of the sages of yesteryear who were the very embodiment of truth and divinity. One is privy to their words and demeanors as they walk among us through the pages of the book. Scribed with gentle humor, simplicity, compassion, and humility by the Swamis of Kauai, the book shimmers with utmost love. It travels and lingers at the heart of Hinduism and God and self-realization, and educates the reader about the significance of the guru, worship, meditation, service, and Hindu dharma. The traditional style of paintings by the late artist

Photo: Krishna Giri

By Kalyani Giri

S. Rajam adds eloquence and enchantment to the South Indian Tamil ethos of the book. The Guru Chronicles was released last year on the 10th anniversary of Gurudeva’s departure from the world. Recently, his disciples Paramacharya Sadasivanatha Palaniswami and Sannyasin Senthilnathaswami visited Houston and other cities to create more awareness of the book. Sadasivanatha worked on the book for 39 years and accompanied Gurudeva to Sri Lanka after Yogaswami had passed. “In 1972, we interviewed all the villagers and recorded their stories. The power of the book is that it’s a series of true stories,” said Sadasivanatha. “For artist S. Rajam, painting was his religion, less about technique but more about consciousness.” The book, priced at $59,95, is available at and at



Photo: Dragica Surlan

The goal of the Sustainability 2.0 column is to help you by sharing resources, discussing trends and bringing you the latest and greatest on how you can be part of the solution, saving money and being more “green”. We will discuss energy, out of the box water conservation, socially responsible investing, eco-tourism, healthy eating, and collaborative consumption. Let us know if there are other topics you would like us to cover.

The author Tajana Mesic pictured in front of a large photograph of inventor Nikola Tesla


SUSTAINABILITY 2.0 By Tajana Mesic What do tree swallows have in common with the temperature you set on your air conditioning system? It’s all about adapting to the current climate. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, July 2012 was the hottest month on record in the U.S. since record keeping began in 1895. With the thermometers showing triple digit heat, we all want to cool off. For cooling off, we need energy. Energy Economics 101 The word energy comes from the Greek energeia (activity, operation), which possibly appears for the first time in the work of Aristotle in the 4th century BCE. To survive, any living organism relies on an external source of energy. Plants need light and water, and animals need oxygen and food. To run a society and thrive, we humans use energy for transportation, building and operating homes, commercial and industrial purposes. Producing food, driving cars and moving freight, heating and cooling our homes, lighting office buildings, and manufacturing products are all functions that require energy, mostly in form of electricity. To produce electricity, we harness fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas. In recent years, we started using renewable energies such as biomass, geothermal, solar, wind and hydropower. In 2008, renewable energy accounted for 7 percent of the total U.S. energy supply. Finding ways to reduce fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions while producing enough energy to support economic development is the challenge of our times. Why? Because there are changes around us – droughts, longer summers, floods. Our world is changing at a rapid pace. We live in the world of finite resources. Droughts are expected to be more frequent and extreme temperatures more common. In the world of limited resources, we have an energy problem. We need more energy to produce food, manufacture goods, and keep our homes comfortable. Department of Energy predicts a 17 percent increase in electricity consumption in the United States by 2035. An immediate question pops to mind. Will we have enough affordable energy in the near future? How do we spend energy? In 2010, we spent 41 percent of the

energy produced in the United States on residential and commercial buildings. We spent another 30 percent on industrial production and 29 percent on transportation. Tomorrow’s energy will come from a variety of sources. By 2035, the use of coal is projected to increase by 11 percent, while natural gas consumption will increase by 17 percent. Use of non-hydroelectric renewable resources, including wind, solar, and biofuels, is expected to increase 109 percent. Renewables are on the rise. Why not opt for renewable energy when making your electric supplier choice? Review your energy bill annually and ask how the energy is sourced. There are many plans available for you to pick from by going to and comparing plans and rates. The Power of Adaptation A recent study reported that tree swallows laid their eggs up to nine days earlier because of warmer temperatures in the spring. These changes show that birds are learning how to adapt to springs that feel like summers and to significantly hotter summers. How can we adapt to the changes around us? The average U.S. household consumes 10,000 kilowatt-hours each year. The largest share of energy is spent on lighting, both in homes and businesses – a whopping 35 percent, followed by 16 percent spent on heating and cooling. In offices, we spend over 12 percent of energy to operate our office equipment. With over 122,000 businesses, Houston ranks number 9 nationwide for number of businesses in its market. Almost 97 percent of businesses are small business with fewer than 100 employees. Energy consumption trends of most non-manufacturing small businesses resemble those of individual American households. An average U.S. company with less than 100 employees and $10 million in revenue pays 35 percent more than the sector average for electricity. Why? It doesn’t invest in assessing its energy consumption and making simple adaptations in operations to save money. When energy prices rise, small companies are the ones most vulnerable to such changes because it directly affects their profitability and cash flow. Rethinking their processes could save lots of money in the long term. All impactful changes start



with small steps. If we make small changes at home, it often carries over into our workspace and our businesses. So let’s start adapting a little and saving a lot. Adapt a Little, Save a Lot You manage what you measure. Outlined are some of the simplest and more impactful ways to decrease energy consumption in your own house and save big. It all depends on the type of energy user you are. If you are “stay at home” type, and spend most of the day at home, infusing energy efficiency investments into your home will pay off. You can perform basic weatherization, which includes repairing cracks that let in drafts of air into your home and weather-stripping or caulking around doors and windows. A good way to control direct sunlight that enters your windows is by using blinds, solar screens, solar films, shutters or outdoor awnings. Being vigilant about turning things off and unplugging them when not in use will save you additional money on your energy bill. Whenever you don’t use your electronic equipment, unplug it from the wall. This action alone can save up to 10 percent on the electric bill. Even when not in use, your appliances “suck” the energy out of the source, like a vampire. Or get a smart power strip, a $20 investment to turn off equipment when not using. Most of us use energy during peak demand hours, from 3.00 - to 7.00 pm. If that fits your energy use pattern, becoming aware of when and how your household uses electricity and cutting back by putting electronics on power strips will do the trick. Turning out lights when not in use, installing a programmable thermostat and doing your laundry and dishes after 7.00 pm will save you dollars on your monthly bill. Think about energy when you shop for any new equipment, computers, or lighting. Look for energy-efficient equipment. Did you know that an average Houstonian owns 25 pieces of electronic equipment? Before you dispose of your old equipment, know that there are a number of responsible local electronic waste recyclers who will recycle it. A good Houston recycler is the EPA-accredited CompuCycle. If you can be described as the one to “be the first in the office and last one out”, you are leaving the home early and coming home late, try signing up for a time-of-use plan with your local utility then shift your usage to the free or cheap time of day. Temperatures are rising, and we need to find the way to adapt to our changing environment, both in our personal and professional lives. Take charge of your adaptation by knowing more about your energy use and how to best manage with minimal disruption to your lifestyle and well-being. You will be glad you did. In next month’s column, we will shed light on some of the pros and cons of socially responsible investment.

A sculpture of Nikola Tesla, the brilliant creator of the AC electrical supply system and multiple energy innovations, taken outside his birth home in Croatia. He was a Croatian inventor, physicist, and electrical engineer. Tesla’s patents and theoretical work helped form the basis of wireless communication and radio.

Photo: Tajana Mesic

Tajana Mesic is the president and founder of GGG Sustainability Solutions, a speaker and a citizen of the world. GGG is a full-service sustainability and resource efficiency consulting firm operating in Houston and Dallas, providing clients with professional services and guidance on integrating sustainability strategy into operations in a financially viable way. GGG is a certified B Corporation and deeply involved in the Dallas and Houston international community. You can get more relevant sustainability tips at or connect with Tajana at

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Latika & Gopal “Sunny” Bathija celebrated two decades of wedded bliss surrounded and feted by a coterie of about 200 at the Ashiana Indian Restaurant on August 25, 2012. Bubbly flowed as friends toasted the adoring twosome and danced to a live band ‘til the wee hours. Congratulations, Latika and Gopal! Photos: Sandhya Ayyar for Twilight Reflections

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Gripes and moans, rants and raves. HUM Magazine’s new page Caviar & Cabbages is all about what you like and dislike about Houston. In a few lines, have your say and we shall print your words. Team HUM welcomes you to vent grievances, and/or heap kudos on our fair city. The following contributions are from our readers.

“There’s unbelievable diversity of food/restaurants. Not only diversity, but the authenticity of the variety of flavors - Indian, Vietnamese, Italian, Jamaican, Mexican, etc, in their traditional form as well as the ever-increasing options of fusion foods. Whenever I travel to other cities both in the U.S. and elsewhere, I notice that Houstonians have a laid-back attitude compared to cities like NYC, Chicago, LA, and even Dallas! It’s hard to be bored in this city, as there is so much to see and do. You have to choose to be insular and blind to all the activities that are constantly going on in the city; museums, musicals, plays, operas, festivals galore, art, music, cultural, international, trade shows and shopping, charity and social organizations, there is something for everyone. What I hate about Houston: the unpredictable weather, the mosquitoes and crazy flying cockroaches, and the extreme drivers who are either too slow or too fast!” Tanya Pal

“Even though I have grown up in Houston, since recently becoming a new mom I am enjoying a whole different side of Houston. I like the Houston Zoo, the Children’s Museum, the Museum of Natural Science, and the Museum of Fine Arts, and I like that they are all in a beautiful area near Rice University. I don’t like the sweltering hot summers, but for enjoying pool time, ice cream cones, and a summer filled with weekly children’s Japanese anime movies at the Museum of Fine Arts with my daughter! Oh and I love that my family and close friends are here in Houston.” Shubhra Ramineni “What I hate about Houston is the traffic, road construction that causes the traffic, and the humidity. Being a native Houstonian, I have witnessed and love its growth in cultural diversity. We have various venues of entertainment and some amazing restaurants. The food in Houston is phenomenal! I also like the shopping, of course!” Lonnie Sadberry

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Where Pleasure Meets Pain By Luckmi Pawa I suppose as per the theory of evolution, humanity dictates that we humans, at some point in our lives, feel the need to perpetuate our species, hence the desire and “need” to become a parent! The process of falling in love with another human being can be simultaneously beautiful and painful. We have all experienced the thrills and tears associated with a teenage crush, or an unrequited love. However, the love and the pain that develops between a parent and child is unlike any other. Being the parent to 3 wonderful children, I can truly say that I have felt such intense feelings of love and pain at various times in my life. Well, to begin with, all three of my children made very dramatic and unexpected entries! The first, was ushered into the world about 6 weeks earlier than expected, in the middle of a blizzard on the coldest day in the history of the state, that almost made it near impossible to drive to the hospital!  My second arrived about 5 weeks ahead of schedule again, making his mark in our lives with tremendous fanfare. And finally, my princess made her entry with the biggest splash of all, as a preemie that was hardly three and a half pounds; she was whisked away even before I got to get a glimpse of her after she was born! Talk about excitement!   To convey what I felt at the very moment of their births is almost indescribable.  Joy, in its purest form, love, in its most virtuous state, fear, of what may become of them, and agony, at the thought that they may not survive! This mixed bag of emotions that one feels is the official induction into the state of parenthood!  Have you ever wondered why the MOST important job in the universe, comes with absolutely no instructions? As much as we profess our love to our significant others, I’d have to say that we parents truly love our children the most. Why? Because they are an extension of ourselves!  The pride we feel and the love we exude when our children achieve something, or are applauded for their attributes in some way, is immeasurable! From simple compliments that we hear about our babies being so cute, to the more substantial ones like how talented, nice, or smart our kids are, we take immense pride in what is being said about, and how others view our children.  There is truly nothing more gratifying than to be validated as a parent!   We recently attended our eldest son, Vijay’s, college graduation.  As I was sitting through the graduation ceremony, trying to listen to the keynote speaker wax eloquent about what was in store for this graduating class, my mind kept drifting, recounting memories that had been etched somewhere in the recesses of my brain. I thought about his birth, his 1st birthday, his first day of school, how he did not speak a word of English because I had my Aunt Ammu (who spoke no English) living with me at the time, how I had to let his teachers know key phrases in Tamil just so he could get through his first day. Fast-forward to now - I smiled, seeing him in cap and gown, with a future filled with endless possibilities, so tall, handsome, self-confident, accomplished, a product of his parentage, and his environment. And then, I glanced over to my other children, my son Viraj, my “middle child” in every sense of the word, and my “baby” Ria, my princess, and my true “mini me.”  I thought about how I had fared as a parent. I looked over at Viraj and realized what a truly wonderful child he is, and how he has been (and will always be) in a precarious position. I realized at that point, that he would never have a superlative attached to him for his birth order. I realized how difficult a position that truly is.  I thought about the fact that perhaps that is why he is he way he is. His pleasant demeanor, his “que sera, sera” attitude, and contentment with status quo... these are perhaps adaptations that middle children develop to secure their positions in the family.  I found myself making a mental note to try to remember to validate

him whenever possible, to recognize his talents, and remind him of his worth in our family. No parent ever wants to compare their children, but the truth is, we all do! Of the three, he has the kindest heart and is the most generous one, a veritable diamond in the rough. I then looked over to my daughter, Ria, my sweet, quirky, diva. Youngest in the family, and probably most cherished by everyone by virtue of that, she is a superstar in the making. Extremely self -critical, she seeks and expects perfection. Talented, and bright, she has the potential to achieve her dreams. Younger to her brothers by 7 and 14 years, she truly is the glue that binds them.  I am sometimes envious (but proud) that she shares a closeness and bond as a sibling that I will never have as a parent. I am fortunate that her brothers adore her in their own special ways. I am also comforted in knowing that she will always have a “parental” influence from her brothers present in her life, long after my husband Shivi and I are gone. Just as there is immense pleasure in being a parent, there is tremendous pain. I distinctly remember feeling physical pain the first time my infant son, who at 4 months old, was diagnosed with pneumonia.  His tiny body was thrust into a plastic chamber with his arms held over his head to take an x-ray picture of his chest. The scream he let out nearly 23 years ago still haunts me. That same intensity of pain I felt again, when my child was excluded by a group of children in his preschool class. Why is it that we lose our appetite and our sleep when our children are not well?  Why is it that we ache at the thought that our children may not reach the goals that either they or we have set for them? How we wish we could remove the pain and sorrow of facing losses and rejection that come with the territory. How many times have we thought, “if only I could have been in his/ her place”? As his graduation ceremony came to a close, I found myself thinking that for the most part, I feel that I have thus far been a successful parent. Not a perfect parent, but a successful one. Although, just like many other things in life, I don’t believe that there really is a “perfect” parent.  Our children are daily reminders that make us strive to be our best, to perpetuate the species in a meaningful and productive way.   I suppose the biggest lesson I have learned is this: A parent is not limited to or defined by virtue of reproducing, rather by exhibiting and demonstrating selfless acts of love, kindness, and care.   Being a parent means that one is able to give of oneself freely, unconditionally, and without reserve.  As difficult and challenging as it can be at times, to parent someone means to love that person unconditionally. It also means that one can forgive oneself for mistakes made, after all there is no instruction manual! Natural parents, adoptive parents, foster parents…they all share one simple thing in common…they are parents! We all wonder if we are doing the right things, saying the right things, or giving our children what they really need. We share the pleasure and pain that is associated with being a parent. The ability to feel and truly care for an entity outside oneself is one of the hallmarks of humanity and of parenthood. London-born Luckmi Pawa moved to Houston in 1977. She works for United Airlines. A dancer in the classical Bharathanatyam style of Tamil Nadu, she won the Miss India USA in1987 and enjoys music and dance of all cultures. Accomplished at preparing sumptuous traditional South Indian food and exotic drinks, she loves to entertain and host wonderful parties along with husband Shivi Pawa.


Adorable Mahima and Gaurav Dhume helping mom in the kitchen. Today, they are 20 and 17 years old. Their proud parents are Asha and Pankaj Dhume.

Dylan Cugley, 9, Natasha Speiss, 7, identical twins Deven and Derek Cugley, 5, Roshun Murthy, 4, and Saanya Murthy, 2 ½ spent part of their summer with proud grandparents Leela and Nat Murthy.

Children. From the day that you bring them into the world, it’s a rotating and constant collage of emotions. They’re your pride and joy. They color your world with butterfly kisses and grubby hugs. They grow into disgruntled teenagers and fill you with untold anxiety. And before you know it, they’re off to college, starting new jobs, getting married, and bringing their own little ones into your world. Every stage of their lives is celebratory. Share your memories with us at HUMwee. We welcome photographs and captions describing those precious moments. Cute Mia Phillips and Elmo. Mia is the daughter of Tommy and Rosily Phillips. “Elmo is Mia’s best friend and we can’t seem to ever leave the house without him. God help us if he ever gets lost! Last week, I buckled up Elmo on Mia’s pink bike and pushed him around the block while Mia walked next to me. A few days later I strapped up Elmo in Mia’s stroller and pushed him around the lake while Mia walked next to me. A man would only do this only for his daughter. She had better remember all this when she’s grown up,” said Tommy.

Minka is HUM’s first baby! Mom Tamara Mousner is a HUM correspondent. Congratulations Tamara and Jim on your precious little bundle.

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Abu Dhabi - Sister City of Houston “The origin of modern diplomacy was in the relations between cities. Today, cities are our conduits for world trade, our main communicators of culture, the homes of those with the strongest ethics contacts with other countries and a proven training ground for future world relationship. The sister cities program helps to provide a means by which all of these important assets can be made more meaningful.” - Henry A. Kissinger Sister Cities International Sister Cities International (SCI) is a non-profit citizen diplomacy network creating and strengthening partnerships between U.S. and international communities.  SCI’s goals are to increase global cooperation at the community level, promote cultural understanding, and stimulate economic development. The sister cities concept was launched in 1956 when President Dwight D. Eisenhower proposed linking American cities with cities in other countries to exchange people, ideas and cultures.  President Eisenhower’s goal was to involve individuals at all levels of U.S. society in personal diplomacy in the hope that these people-to-people relations would lessen the chance of future world conflicts.  Houston established its first sister city with Taipei, Taiwan, in 1963, and has added sixteen more sister cities since then. Ellen Goldberg and Sunny Sharma are the two original members of the team who started the sister city effort in 1997. Houston-Abu Dhabi Sister City Association (HADSCA) was eventually incorporated in August 2001. They are still actively involved with the sister city establishment today.  Abu Dhabi is a major energy city and ranks third in the world for oil reserves. There are 71 Houston companies with subsidiaries in U.A.E. and one U.A.E.-owned company in Houston. In addition, Texas Children’s Hospital has an ongoing physicians program with the Ministry of Health of the U.A.E. In 2006, Houston’s seaborne trade with the U.A.E. was valued at more than $759 million, and air cargo trade was valued at more than $289 million. Houston and Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates, became Sister Cities in 2001. Mayor Lee P. Brown led a delegation to the UAE to witness the signing of the agreement officially linking the two cities. One of only four Muslim sister cities with Houston, it is a natural partnership since both municipalities provide oil and gas to the rest of the world. Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque This architectural work of art is one the world’s largest mosques, with a capacity for an astonishing 41,000 worshippers. It features 82 domes, over a 1,000 columns, 24-carat gold gilded chandeliers and the world’s largest hand knotted carpet. The main prayer hall is dominated by one of the world’s largest chandeliers – 10 metres in diameter, 15 metres in height and weighing twelve tonnes. The mosque’s first ceremony was the funeral of its namesake, Sheikh Zayed, who is buried at the site.

Reflective pools surround the mosque, amplifying its beauty. The striking white and gold colors shining in the sun are transformed at night by a unique lighting system, which reflects the phases of the moon. Unlike other mosques in Abu Dhabi, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is open daily to visitors, except on Friday morning, which is for worshippers only. Emirates Palace A real iconic Abu Dhabi landmark, this luxurious hotel blends Arabian splendor with the latest technology to create a magical and memorable experience. During daytime, the hotel’s golden-sandy color contrasts with its fresh green gardens, silvery water fountains and the blue sky. At night, the hotel’s lighting changes subtly, featuring a majestic rainbow-changing effect over the main dome. The main Palace building stretches over a kilometre from wing to wing, and its gardens and surroundings spread across 100 hectares. The hotel features 114 domes, with the central dome at an imposing 72.6 metres above ground. Gold, mother of pearl and crystals dominate the interior. The Palace has 1,002 chandeliers, the largest weighing 2.5 tons. Another memorable Palace feature is its two handmade wall display carpets, portraying the Palace itself and each weighing a ton. Ferrari World Abu Dhabi It’s fast and furious fun for all ages at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi - the world’s first Ferrari theme park and the largest attraction of its kind. The park tells the Ferrari story with passion and excitement through more than 20 exhilarating and educational rides and attractions, interactive shopping and authentic Italian dining experiences. =Beneath its huge, iconic red roof, attractions include: Formula Rossa, the world’s fastest roller coaster, reaching speeds of 240 kmph; Galleria Ferrari, the world’s largest Ferrari gallery outside Maranello with an interactive display of cars from 1947 through to the present; Speed of Magic, a fantastic 4-D adventure through deep green jungles, icy caves and ravines and to the mouth of a fiery volcano. Those wanting to start their Ferrari World Abu Dhabi experience in top gear will get their adrenaline fix at G-Force blasting through the red roof, before dropping from a hair-raising height of 62 metres.

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Hum Magazine September  

Hum Magazine September

Hum Magazine September  

Hum Magazine September