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Infused with Wisdom of the Ages, SOS’ 2014 Graduates Celebrate

The 2014 SOS graduates took a bow at Madras Pavilion.

The 2014 SOS graduates took a bow at Madras Pavilion.

By Jawahar Malhotra

SUGAR LAND: In the video that was shown towards the end of the evening, one of the new graduates in the room, Rishi Goswami, played the role of a frustrated, overworked young husband who comes home late one evening to his wife (Meher Patel) and she calls out to him, “Hi honey, did you get the things on the grocery list”? This sets him off in a rage and she responds in kind. As the tempers escalate, the young man stares at his wife with a look of anger that recalled the lines from Kenny Loggins famous song, “What a shot you could be if you could shoot at me with those angry eyes”!

Visiting Judge Carolyn Garcia was the keynote speaker at the SOS graduation on Friday, May 9.

Visiting Judge Carolyn Garcia was the keynote speaker at the SOS graduation on Friday, May 9.

The moral of the video was the final lesson in role playing for the graduating class of 2014 of the Share Our Secrets group, better known as SOS; that a calm, reflective person can handle the stresses that Life throws at you in a peaceful, collected way, deflecting the damage that may be wreaked otherwise. And aptly, the whole theme of the evening of Friday, May 9 for the 16 graduating young men and women was about relationships.

After cocktails and appetizers, the new graduates, some parents and other members of the SOS retreated to the banquet room of the Madras Pavilion in Sugar Land to proceed with the evening’s program. Farida Hasan Ali, a co-founder of the SOS, explained how the group was started and functioned, adding “Once we start this process, we don’t leave”, and then she recited the Serenity Prayer. The other co-founder, Biki Mohindra, also attended but true to his style to nurture others, he took a backseat role that evening. The last co-founder, Kevin Kalra has since left the city pursuing his career.

The SOS ( is a five-year organization that was conceived as a vehicle to mentor and enlighten youthful minds through exposure to the ideas and concepts that other successful people and groups have encountered and grappled with before. Mohindra came across the idea when he applied for the MBA program at the University of Houston and instead came away with having lunches over a seven year period with three professors who taught him the ways of the world in a manner that he would never have been able to imbibe otherwise.

“When I became successful in my career and met with them for the final time, they reminded me that I didn’t have to pay them back for the knowledge, but to just play it forward”, recalled Mohindra. “And so, all my life I have been sticking to that principle and this program – SOS – was formed”. He was so impressed by one of the professors (of Industrial Engineering) that the SOS has an award named after him, the Dr. Benjamin Ofstrofsky Award, and the first recipient in 2011 was Farida Hasan Ali herself (IAN dated August 20, 2012).

SOS co-founder Farida Hasan Ali opened up the evening by reading the Serenity Prayer

SOS co-founder Farida Hasan Ali opened up the evening by reading the Serenity Prayer

“SOS is like a friendship between the generations”, said Mohindra, explaining how the SOS-1 and SOS-2 courses work, spread over meetings two Saturdays a month from August to April and taking the students to upper crust experiences at the Houstonian and the River Oaks Country Club, among others, to meet with mainstream figures from the community, or to learn about comparative world history, relationship encounters and other facets of life. SOS has over 50 paid members and each student pays $250 per course.

Mohindra introduced the keynote speaker for the evening, Visiting Judge Carolyn Garcia, Arbitrator and Mediator who is also an artist and has her own gallery. She has known Mohindra for 26 years and went to visit India with him and his family long ago, spending a great deal of time with Mohindra’s mother and learning how to do aarti. She spoke of her full life and noted that relationships are a big factor and unconditional love was the main ingredient. She has been married to Charlie for 46 years – he attended the event with her that night – and pointed out that “you can’t change anyone but yourself, so adjust to the other person”. Interestingly, she said she believed there was a philosophical link between William Shakespeare’s “to be true to yourself” and Michael Jackson’s “look yourself in the mirror”.

The graduates introduced themselves and later were able to speak their appreciation for the SOS course and the impact it had on their lives through the latter half of the video. The entire room then proceeded to play a game listing the top three things that make or break a relationship, resulting, in the most part, in the expected answers, but a few offbeat ones elicited some good laughs. The current SOS President Dr. Swapan Dube gave a v0te of thanks and the President-Elect Quasi Mahesri closed out the evening.

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