Mission Possible! Search for a Bride!! Then Get Married!!!


Ellen Goldberg being interviewed by Naslin Keshwani Peffley in the auditorium of the Ismaili Jamatkhana on First Colony Blvd.

By Jawahar Malhotra

SUGAR LAND: Though she is not South Asian, Ellen Goldberg has been so immersed in local community affairs, especially in international circles like the Sister Cities Project that is near and dear to her heart, that she has often been in contact with people from the Indian and Pakistani communities, in one form or the other.

And here she was, at the Ismaili Jamatkhana on First Colony Blvd. being felicitated at a launch of her first book “Finding a Bride” that was the outcome of her trip 32 years ago to India after perhaps her first close encounter with a young Indian man, Umesh Jain, then 25, who happened to be the comptroller of The Desk Factory, a company owned by Ellen and her husband Howard.

“Mike (as Umesh was called then – and even now) came to me to tell me he was engaged and whenever I asked him for a picture of the girl, he would only say ‘It’s coming’,” Ellen remembered as he spoke from the podium in front of a room full of people who came to hear about her book. “Then, a couple weeks later, he said he was off to India to get married, and declared that I had to come with him ‘To help pick the bride’! I was dumbfounded and asked him to explain this.”


Ellen Goldberg with her family (from right) grandson Harry, son Jay, husband Howard and daughter Margie at the book launch last Sunday, February 21. AT extreme left is Jawahar Malhotra, publisher of Indo American News, who gave her the first few assignments to write for the paper in 1982 and got her interested in writing.

The explanation came in the way of a voyage to the Punjab, where Mike hails from, to his ancestral home and on the trail of several bride candidates that his parents had learnt about, in the typical tradition of Indian arranged marriages, but one that was completely foreign to Goldberg. She kept a detailed journal of the two weeks she spent in India and the many mini adventures she had along the way, all of which she managed to narrate in flowing and engrossing prose in the book that she self-published and launched with this reception. Sneha Merchant, the Programs Team Member with the Jamatkhana, emceed the program.

She read one such passage about the time she had to get off the train to go the restroom, only to discover, much to her horror, when she returned, that the train had already started moving. She started running after the train, but it slowly gathered speed and just when she began to lose hope, her luggage was thrown off the train and her companion, an Indian relative who was her guide, jumped out and soon the train came to a screeching halt. Relieved, but confused, she asked her guide what had happened. “He said, ‘I pulled the emergency brake as the conductor said the train stopped for no one unless it was an emergency!’” explained Goldberg.

Later, Goldberg spoke conversational style seated in armchairs with Naslin Keshwani Peffley who is also associated with the Jamatkhana to help with special events. Goldberg explained other incidents related in the book as well as the photographs that she taken herself and included in the middle. She explained that it took her 32 years, but she was determined to get the book published. The graphic artist, Kelley Blakely, who designed the catchy cover, was also in the audience.


The writer Ellen Goldberg (right) with the couple she helped to unite, Umesh and Rajni Jain, the central figures in her new book, “Finding a Bride”.

And of course, so was the couple who Goldberg helped to get married; Umesh and Rajni Jain and along with them was their daughter Shelly and husband Nitin Chandra (who are expecting their first child soon) and Umesh’s brother Ravindra and his wife Kamani who has since moved to Sugar Land. Goldberg’s own family – husband Howard, son Jay and his son Harry, and daughter Margie were in the audience too to enjoy Ellen’s special moment.

Also enjoying the special moment was this reporter, whom Goldberg singled out in the reception, for giving her the first chance at writing. When Indo American News needed some furniture in 1983, Fate brought Jay Malhotra and his partner Dr. K. L. SIndwani to The Desk Factory which then had an outlet at the corner of Hillcroft and Harwin, Ellen recalled “and soon after Jay asked me to write an article for them. I had never written before, but he said ‘Don’t worry, I’ll help and edit it’ and so I did.” That was the first of five articles that Goldberg wrote for Indo American News, one of which sent her, a Jewish woman, to a mosque to do a story on education.

After that, Goldberg said she got the bug for writing, photojournalism and meeting people of all cultures. And she has never looked back.