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Open Arms at the Matins for The IMAGH ki Chai Series of Appreciation!

Some of the ladies who attended the high tea. Seated at left is IAN recipe author Shakuntla Malhotra (fondly known as “mama”) and to her left is Paru McGuire, President of Club 65.

Some of the ladies who attended the high tea. Seated at left is IAN recipe author Shakuntla Malhotra (fondly known as “mama”) and to her left is Paru McGuire, President of Club 65. Photos: Jawahar Malhotra

By Jawahar Malhotra

HOUSTON: In the time honored tradition of showing your gratitude to those who have stood by and helped to illuminate your path ahead, the feeling must come from the heart … and must be accepted in like manner. It creates a bond that stands the test of time and forges ahead with common ideals and inspiration.

When you are a fledgling group, as the five-year old Indian Muslims Association of Greater Houston is, you need to create all the bonds to bind that you can. Four years ago, they held their stepping out with the first large scale Eid Milind function at the Chateau Crystale. The next year it was at the Westchase Marriott, where it has been held ever since, even as attendance and pomp have grown. But, in the mind of its first President, the publicity savvy and forever cheerful and unperturbed Latafath Hussain – who served till early this year and has been credited with the IMAGH’s growth – it was important to follow through with thanks.

IMAGH President Munir Ibrahim (left) and past-president Latafath Hussain (right) thanked the high tea hostess Shazma Matin

IMAGH President Munir Ibrahim (left) and past-president Latafath Hussain (right) thanked the high tea hostess Shazma Matin

And so, in 2014 after the Eid Milind, Hussain and his supporting Board came up with the idea to personally and collectively thank the year’s largest benefactor with an intimate gathering but with a twist: by coming to their house for high tea and light snacks. Four years ago, the first high tea was at the home of the prominent local immigration attorney Charles Foster and his wife Lily. This was followed the next year by a high tea at Nirvana restaurant hosted by Sunny Sharma and wife Rashmi. Last year, the high tea was held at the Memorial area home of Dr. Fatima Mawji and her husband Amin. It has become an event by itself.

Shazma and Arshad Matin opened up their River Oaks house for the IMAGH high tea this past Sunday, August 6Photos: Jawahar Malhotra

Shazma and Arshad Matin opened up their River Oaks house for the IMAGH high tea this past Sunday, August 6

This year the high tea was held this past Sunday, August 6 at the River Oaks home of Shazma and Arshad Matin and close to 30 people came to share a couple of hours of togetherness. As Arshad pointed out, “we are not only Indian, but Texans, Houstonians, professionals, business people and also Muslims. We have many identities,” he emphasized, “and by being around one another, we learn to appreciate each other.”

IMAGH President Munir Ibrahim said he heard nothing but praise for the broadminded Eid Milind gala that featured speakers from all major religions including from Swami Vedaswarupananda of the Vedanta Society. It was echoed by others like Ijaz Warsi, Dr. Maqbal Haq, and Hussain. Tasim Vadva was introduced as the chair of the 2018 Eid Milind organizing committee

And, in a poignant moment, IMAGH’s first life member, Shakuntla Malhotra (who writes Mama’s Punjabi Recipes for IAN) recalled how life was harmonious in her native Lyallpur before The Partition. She delighted the audience with her recollection of when neighboring housewives would remove a brick between their homes to pass through a tasty dish to share. This prompted Arshad to say that “we all should remove bricks and not build walls between communities.”

The Matins have renovated their River Oaks house and added on a whole wing in the back.

The Matins have renovated their River Oaks house and added on a whole wing in the back.

But, with a little urging, Shazma revealed some of the history of the house that was originally built in 1935, which the Matins moved into three and a half years ago. The American-Austrian bombshell actress Hedy Lamarr lived in this house till she separated from her husband, Houston oilman W. Howard Lee in 1958. She was the vixen who starred in Sampson and Delilah, Algiers, White Cargo and Ziegfeld Girl and was married six times, dying at the age of 85 in 2000.

Shazma also described how she and Arshad had expanded the house in the back by removing the swimming pool adding a wing the entire width of the house and removed the horse stable to build a garage. She was particularly proud of her mother’s wedding dupatta (long scarf) which is displayed under a glass frame and her pardadiji’s (great-grandmother’s) white metal, dome-shaped, ornate large pan box which has place of honor in the front foyer. “We have many get togethers here,” she exclaimed, “with many of our extended family, sometimes as many as 20 people!”

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