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Articles and Columns

Dr. Anil & Laura Nanda
The Shreveport Times
Published Sunday, October 30, 2005

Dr. Anil Nanda and wife Laura came to Shreveport in 1990 just "to try it out." Miles from their then-home of Philadelphia, where Anil was finishing his neurosurgery residency and Laura was finishing law school, they had never heard of Shreveport and had to look it up on a map when Anil accepted a job here. Fifteen years later, the Nandas are still in Shreveport, raising their family and establishing themselves as supporters of community projects and causes.

"We hit the ground running and it seems like I haven't caught my breath since," said Laura. "We moved, bought a new washer and dryer and I started my new job all in one week."

Between chairing events and projects at their children's schools, flying around the world to give a lecture or two and participating in marathons and triathlons, the couple said they keep it all together with excellent time management and frequent phone calls.

"Time management is key," said Anil. "I can't drive without talking to my wife on the car phone." As a professor and chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery at LSU Health Sciences Center and president of the North American Skull Base Society, the Southern Neurological Society and the Louisiana Neurological Society, Anil often travels to speak at various events and meetings around the globe. He gives about two to three talks a month, he said, with last year's number totaling 35. "It's fun. It's not a big deal," he said. "I just enjoy public speaking."

Anil is also on the board for the Robinson Film Center and appears in a health segment on KTBS once a month to discuss issues that affect brain health.

Laura and the children Alexander, 12, Christopher, 11, and Mary Catherine, 9 are able to accompany Anil on some of his trips, which she said is a perk of her husband's job. But she has plenty to keep her busy in Shreveport when she isn't able to go. Laura is vice president of the board of Sci-Port Discovery Center and a member of the LSU Health Sciences Center Faculty Women's Club. She is also a member of the PTA at both Caddo Middle Magnet and South Highlands, and the room mother of her daughter's class at South Highlands, which encompasses everything from organizing snow cone parties to planning fundraisers.

And then there are the children's swimming and soccer teams that require frequent traveling for out-of-town events. Laura also still does some pro-bono cases even though she isn't currently practicing as an attorney.

Aside from their various other involvements, the Nandas both share a love for outdoor physical activity. Anil is an avid biker, often participating in and sponsoring triathlons and the Tour de Goodwill bike event, which helps fund job outreach and placement programs for people with disabilities and other employment barriers. Laura loves to run and participates in marathons often. They also take a walk through their neighborhood together every evening.

The Nandas say they also remain close as a family through their faith. They say prayers together daily and attend church at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church every Sunday, even though Anil is Hindu.

"Faith is what really keeps everybody together," said Anil.

The family also volunteered together at Summer Grove Baptist Church during the efforts for Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. And on Laura's birthday, they all headed down to a local shelter to give their time.

"Every time we can get together and help out, then we try to," said Anil. He and Laura also worked together on the Authors in April event at LSUS and on the American Heart Association's ball a few years ago. They both love to read and compare notes and go to the theater and art museums when they're in New York.

"We make a really good team," said Laura. They also finish each other's sentences and are extremely supportive of their spouse's achievements and accomplishments in life. Both are extremely humble when it comes to discussing their own individual successes.

"I like to take care of people," said Anil. "That's the bottom line. Being a neurosurgeon is very humbling. We're very grounded. Death, dying, suffering those are serious issues we see every day. Medicine keeps you very humble."

Anil said he borrows one of his favorite quotes, "Faith, family, friends," from his friend, Fred Lowery, pastor of First Baptist Church, Bossier City.

"I love that. It's true. "That's a good line," he said. "That's what really grounds you. That's so much more important."

Since the Nandas travel so much, they do most of their shopping out of town. Anil said his favorite place to buy clothes from is Barney's in New York, and his favorite designer is Ermenegildo Zegna because of the cuts and quality of the fabrics and the line's "really great ties." When he does find time to shop in town, which is very rare, he goes to John Pickens Clothiers.

"I like bow ties, shirts with French cuffs and suspenders," said Anil. "And I like blue a lot. I took inventory of the clothes in my closet once and decided I have a blue problem."

"He even wears blue scrubs," said Laura, laughing. "He likes to shop much more than I do. I don't shop for him."

Anil said what he wears away from work depends on the occasion, but he always wears a tie or bow tie when he sees his patients.

"I think you should always be professionally attired," he said. "It shows the patients you have respect for them."

Laura said she isn't a big shopper and doesn't have much spare time to shop for clothes, but she likes Sports Spectrum. When the situation calls for dressier attire than her typical, more casual apparel, she wears clothes by Carlisle or St. John, often in black. But her hectic, everyday life calls for jeans from the Gap, she said.

Laura said she hasn't been that much of a shopper since a trip to India a few years ago. After seeing the massive poverty and what few material possessions the people there needed to live, she put herself on a year-long "consumer diet."

"I came home and looked in my closet and it was like gluttony," said Laura. "These people lived with so little and they were fine with it. So I said I wouldn't buy any clothes for a year, and I didn't. The wants in life really outweigh actual needs."
But Laura does have a weakness.

"I do like shoes," she said. "Manolo Blahniks are my favorites."

Since she can't buy those locally, she usually does her shoe shopping in New York also. But clothes and other material possessions are merely an afterthought in Anil and Laura Nanda's minds. To them, the things that really matter aren't tangible.

"Helping people and saving a human being's life is what's important, not all of this other stuff," said Anil. "Wearing a great tie may feel nice, but it's not helping anything."

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