Club 65 Members Go on a Picnic to Port Lavaca

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HOUSTON: On Sept. 28, Port Lavaca, Texas was the destination for the picnic of Club 65, a non-profit organization under the umbrella of IMAGH (Indian Muslims of Greater Houston) and able guidance of the President Latafath Hussain. Club 65 is proud to have over 110  members and  growing stronger by the month.

The picnic morning  started at 8:30 a.m. with 61 enthusiastic members of Club 65 meeting at the Bayland Community Center in Houston. It was commendable to see all the excited seniors arriving early — ready to have a good time. There were new faces—Rashida Abdullabhoy, Akbar Ali Ladhani– who were eager to join  after hearing from friends about Club 65. Due to the tremendous response for this event, Club 65 rented an extra bus to accommodate the members. The volunteers assisted the seniors with their assigned seating and distributed snack bags as the members boarded their respective buses.

After a slight delay in getting on the road from Houston, it was all fun and games with laughter and music. The volunteers interacted with the members for a short while then played the game of “Antakshari” till the bus made a stop in El Campo for a quick break. The next hour of the bus ride was a ‘social hour’ at the request of the members who wanted to chat and take time to know each other. The drive was pleasant and relaxing. The greenery of the sprawling Texas landscape was cooling to the eye and  the cattle grazing under the big blue canopy/sky brought back old memories of the farms and countryside back home in India.

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Port Lavaca is a two hour bus drive from Houston located near the center point of the 275 mile Texas Gulf Coast. It is referred to as “the little jewel” nestled in the middle of the Gulf Coast offering visitors a variety of public parks and a tropical seaside environment with its own charm. The area also is a wintering ground for many species of birds including the Whooping Crane.

Arriving at the picnic spot -700 Lighthouse Beach Road- there was a huge pavilion with picnic tables (enough to seat 200 people) where the members enjoyed a cool drink of  “Chaas” (buttermilk) with” Kachoris” and relaxed to savor the view of the calm water of the gulf.  The weather was pleasant all day with an exception of a mid-day heavy downpour for a short while. The rain came down hard on the metal roof of the pavilion making music of its own and again reminding the folks of the monsoons in India.

The pouring rain kept the members huddled under the pavilion. It also provided the perfect time to play games! Game one was –Bean Bag Toss where the person has 4 chances to throw the bean bag into a hole on a board- 3 points scored for each bag in the hole and 1 point scored for each bag on the board. Everyone got a chance to play and had a good time. Game two was—Tossing the Ball into the Cup. This game is played with many cups lined on a table and the person has to toss the ball  directly into the cup without bouncing it on the table. Amazingly, it requires some skill and the members had a lot of fun trying their best.

The location was beautiful and very peaceful! There was a boardwalk along the water in front of the pavilion making it convenient  for the seniors to stroll in small groups on the boardwalk along the water. There was an Observatory (Gazebo) located at one section of the boardwalk where people could observe the different species of birds. Many of the members congregated in the Observatory and felt relaxed looking out into the horizon where the blue sky meets the majestic body of water! At the request of some members  Kaka (Tyeb Shipchandler) our evergreen senior member  sang a couple of beautiful songs that were like music to the ears with the awesome acoustics of the gazebo.

Soon after, it was time to head back to the pavilion for a sumptuous lunch after a fun filled active morning.   The food arrived a little later than expected –due to circumstances beyond our control—but it was hot and served right away.  The picnic menu was a big spread consisting of—BBQ chicken, Kofta curry, Veg. Biryani, Bhindi masala, Naan, Raita, Salad with Gulab Jamun for dessert.  Soft drinks were also served. Mr. Mujahid Kitabi of BBQ Village catered the food/drinks with Hot Tea and snacks in the afternoon. He is a big supporter of Club 65 and always takes personal interest in making sure that the seniors are taken care of. He, very kindly, took the time to drive the distance to Port Lavaca, as he had done for a prior picnic to San Antonio a year ago. Club 65 appreciates all his effort and support.

After lunch, the seniors were ready for some more activity. Games and music were played in the pavilion while the tea was being prepared.  Game number Three of the day was -Passing the Parcel. The game was simple but the rule was- a “Penalty” if one was left holding the parcel when the music stopped. The “penalty” was to tell a joke, special anecdote, sing a song etc. This game turned out to be a lot of fun and informative since the members were relating stories and episodes from their past experiences.  The game ended with a winner getting a prize.

By now the flavorful aroma of tea was floating around the pavilion indicating that it was ready— to be served along with some delicious Bhel.  While members slowly sipped their tea the rhythm of the music playing had a few sporting members wanting to dance—which was a big enough hint for the volunteers and they jumped into action. They had the enthusiastic ones, the bashful ones and those who needed help–all on their feet dancing merrily. It was  wonderful to see everyone having a good time.

The sun was slowly setting. The evening sun was shining its cool rays on the water making it glisten like glass. The day was ending and just as the saying goes—All Good Things Must Come to an End—it was time to leave. The volunteers cleaned the pavilion then helped the members settle into the buses for a quiet ride home.