C24+ Philanthropy Under the Arc of a Rainbow

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Photos: Bijay Dixit

 

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By Jawahar Malhotra

KATY: The stage was set for an evening of socializing and handing out donations to deserving organizations, with black tablecloths and white linen draped chairs, all centered around the pool and a small stage set up for the occasion. But the weather had other plans, and – as has been the case with the Bayou City and its environs of late – and thunder clouds rumbled overhead, threatening the arrangements, even as some guests had to drive through pouring rain to get to Fry Road in Katy.

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Chatting amicably by the outdoor bar, a few guests were startled by a sudden loud pop and realized that an unopened bottle of tequila had suddenly exploded on its own, untouched by hand. The shattered shell of the bottle stood still propped up on the counter – an intriguing, unexplained conversation piece and thankfully, no one was hurt – while broken shards of glass lay in a puddle of smelly liquor on the floor.

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As the rain clouds drifted away, a beautiful rainbow made an arc between the palm trees, as if signaling auspiciously all was well. The ninth year of giving by the members of the Club 24 Plus organization began at the huge home with the enormous backyard lawn of Annu and Sagar Naik, who had graciously offered it for the evening after the previous volunteers had to back out at the last minute.

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Chair of the C24+ signature event, Dr. Asra Oberoi emceed the short program, and recognized her co-chairs Dr. Aparna Kamat and Vipra Bhasin. C24+ President Pradeep Gupta acknowledged the hard work in producing the event, as well as his other Board members and committee chairs for Nominations Ashok Garg; Social Events Savita Rao; Manisha Gandhi for Outreach; Communications Vandana Prakash and Treasurer Prakash Roopani .

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The shattered tequila bottle that spontaneously exploded before the event.

“The mission of C24+ is to build bridges and make connections between the Indian community and the mainstream communities,” explained Gupta, “by highlighting our culture and matching each member’s funds with those from the Club, to support causes they are passionate about.”

After dinner which was catered by Madras Pavilion (whose owners Mahesh and Alpa Shah are also C24+ members) the rest of the program dealt with handing out donations checks to ten organizations, earmarked by the benefactors: Asia Society received by Sadhavi Chauhan and presented by Nat and Leela Krishnamurthy; Ekal Vidyalaya presented to Naren and Bharti Chavda by Jugal and Raj Malani and Pradeep and Kiran Gupta; Habitat for Humanity to Allison Hays by Nat and Leela Krishnamurthy; Interfaith Ministries to Maria Magee by Anu and Mani Subramanian; Ovarcome to Vipra Bhasin by Juhi Ahuja and Aparna Kamat; PBS Houston Public Radio to Mary Ann Marucci by Vivek and Madhan Kavadi and Anu and Mani Subramanian; Pratham to Swatantra Jain by Pankaj and Asha Dhume; Save a Mother to Sangeeta Pasrija by Veena and Kuldip Kaul and Nat and Leela Krishnamurthy; UNICEF to Nelson Bowman by Nat and Leela Krishnamurthy; and Memorial Spring Branch Rotary Foundation to Gwen Corolla by Dr. K. T. Shah, Venu and Elsie Rao, Jagdip and Daman Ahluwalia and Rudy and Linda Ramos.

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A beautiful rainbow appeared after the dark rain clouds drifted away.

The remainder of the program went to a young standup comedian, Jafar Khan, whose most immediate claim to fame is that his is the son of Shah Rukh Khan … except she is his mother! A young twenty-something man who explained that he was a high school teacher in addition to his avocation as a comedian, Jafar tried a 15-minute routine on the mostly middle-aged Indian crowd. He confessed to not being a Muslim but he was going to talk about Islamophobia, Homophobia and Terrorism, none of which he actually touched.  Apparently gaining a reputation among the inner-city comedy clubs, he abandoned his risqué routines for tamer fare, but they fell flat on this audience.

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