One Last Iftar at Indian Consulate for CG Anupam Ray

Clockwise from top left: Deputy Consul General Surendra Adhana welcomed the gathering; Latafath Hussain, the former president of the Indian Muslim Association of Greater Houston; Sharad Amin, the Hindu Svayamsevak Sangh USA Representative; Indian Consul General Anupam Ray.

BY JAWAHAR MALHOTRA

HOUSTON: No sooner had the excitement abated over the inauguration the day before in New Delhi (on Thursday, May 30) of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to his second term than a section of the local Indian crowd gathered once again the next day – almost 36 hours later accounting for the time difference – to celebrate another important event: the iftar dinner, by now an annual tradition, at the Indian Consulate where there was excited conversation about Modi’s victory.

Part of that exhilaration came from the elevation of former foreign secretary (2015-2018) Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar to the post of Minister of External Affairs. Jaishankar had previously been the Indian Ambassador to the US from 2014-2015 and has a close professional relationship with current Indian Consul General Anupam Ray. Ray is slated to return to India later this year after his posting in Houston is over and he is excited about the possibility of working with Jaishankar again.

This backdrop formed an air of farewell to the much-admired Ray (in a year-long series of farewell appearances at events) who had helped to institute the iftar dinner at the Consulate as a tradition over the past four years. “We will miss our Consul General, but hope that the new one will keep this tradition alive,” said Latafath Hussain, the former president of the Indian Muslim Association of Greater Houston who had worked with Ray to start the event.

Ray responded that he knew he had been in his post long enough (usually a 3 or 4 year term) as he recognized most of the faces in the room! He later expressed confidence that another Indian Consulate may open in Dallas to handle the multitude of Indian nationals there and business opportunities for India.

The first iftar dinner in 2016 was held at Ray’s home off Woodway on the westside and moved the next year to the large reception hall in the Consulate. Over 100 people attended the iftar on Friday, May 31 at the Consulate, with many non-Muslim friends and community activists mingling with those breaking their fast.

In contrast to last year, the speeches were kept to a minimum – aside from Hussain and Ray, Deputy Consul General Surendra Adhana spoke to welcome the gathering – and the call to prayer took most people upstairs to another hall set up for the purpose. Sharad Amin, a retired engineer and Houstonian who has now become the Hindu Svayamsevak Sangh USA Representative also spoke briefly.

The delicious iftar dinner dishes were once again prepared by the housekeeping staff under the direction of Lali, the Consul General’s own housekeeper for the past 18 years, and they outdid themselves, as they have in many events in the past.

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