IMAGH Sails in on Galveston Bay with a New Committee


The new Executive Board, from right, Munir Ibrahim, President;Dr. Yunus Langha, Vice President; Saeed Pathan, Secretary and Parvin Saiyed, Treasurer. Joint Secretary Rahat Kalle was not available.
Photo: SMB Films & Images

By Jawahar Malhotra

KEMAH: The waters were fairly calm and the Sun smiled down through cloudless blue skies as the Star Cruiser slipped out of its berth with the last of its three passengers who had arrived late. Captain Mark Caldwell guided the boat out of its berth across from the Landry’s and into the channel, under the Texas 146 bridge, past the Kemah Boardwalk and Seabrook, early morning anglers in their flat-bottomed boats and fishermen returning from the night’s catch, and into Galveston Bay.

Onboard getting settled in, were the 100 members of the Indian Muslim Association of Greater Houston on what was one of their most relaxed general body meeting, on an outing to herald the end of summer and the great Fall weather that was slowly creeping in on Sunday, October 16. They crowded the aft and fro decks checking out the passing boats, seagulls skimming the top of the waves, the calm green waters and made small talk in the sea breeze and the early morning sunshine. Others mingled inside the main cabin, at white tables and chairs, with a few small balloons and streamers festooning the rafters, looking through the large bay windows as the waters slipped by.


The Star Cruiser at its berth in Kemah just before taking off a short cruise on Galveston Bay with the IMAGH general body meeting onboard on Sunday, October 16. Photo: Jawahar Malhotra

It was a family affair, with little children scrambling around and babies in their strollers; elderly parents carefully walking to their chairs. Parvin Saiyed and Zaib Hussain (Latafath’s son) made a few introductions using a video screen and the gathering broke for a much-awaited and well-deserved breakfast of rolls, eggs, grits, potatoes, waffles and pancakes.

As the last gulps of coffee and tea were being drowned, current IMAGH President Latafath Hussain opened up the meeting of the general body, whose main goal that morning was to introduce the changes to the top leadership. Zaib and Pravin expanded on the IMAGH Vision, current leadership, Board of Directors and Advisory Board, many of whom were onboard. With his usual warmth and gusto and eye to detail, Latafath Hussain hailed Dr. Raj Bhalla for his encouragement in starting the IMAGH seven years ago and honored him with an award and a cream colored, embroidered shawl. Bhalla described the long process that led to the IMAGH being formed as a separate non-profit in 2012.

Hussain then welcomed all the rest of outgoing 2015 Executive Committee – Vice President Karim Maknojia; Ismet Warsi, Secretary; Shaheen Vora, Joint Secretary and Parvin Saiyed, Treasurer – who were presented with awards. He singled out Maknojia, praising his willingness to respond to all requests and work on any issue that was thrust on him, and honored him with a shawl too. Maknojia spoke of his devotion to the IMAGH vision and gave credit to his wife Dilshad, who could not hold back her tears of happiness.


The atmosphere onboard the cruise was festive and relaxed. Photo: Jawahar Malhotra

Hussain introduced the new Executive Committee – Munir Ibrahim, President; Dr. Yunus Langha, Vice President; Saeed Pathan, Secretary; Rahat Kalle, Joint Secretary; Parvin Saiyed, Treasurer – and then joked about how he would be able to get back to his family and the new 8-acre farm he has purchased. His wife Zabie seconded the sentiments, adding some witty zingers to boot, much to everyone’s delight, and the couple’s two sons Zaib and Zain voiced their admiration for their father’s zeal in starting the IMAGH and its sister organizations, South Asian Youth Alliance or SAYA for the youth and Club 65 for the elderly.

Ibrahim, a veteran of other Boards and organizations, said that he had vowed not to serve on any others any more, but couldn’t turn down Hussain persistent appeal to take on the helm. He mentioned three things that influenced him to accept, “but the most important of them all was when my son spoke about the current hysteria against Muslims and I knew I had to do my part to counter it.”

Looking at his electronic navigation system, the Captain rode out for 45 minutes, well south of the dredged sandbar that forms the edge of the ship channel and turned around, back for a short round of Clear Lake, past the enormous mansions with the boat slips and then returned to berth the cruiser. Sensing the end of the 3-hour trip, Advisory Board Chairman and a consistent supporter of the IMAGH, Abeezar Tyebji couldn’t resist the microphone, and with his cellphone held close for musical accompaniment, sang a favorite Louis Armstrong tune in his melodious voice, “I see skies of blue and clouds of white …. And I think to myself what a wonderful world”.