When young married couples begin their lives together, they often share a small apartment or house. Two local health-care providers, Dr. Ashok Verma and physician’s assistant Minu Verma, were no different.
It was 1978, and while Ashok finished his residency in internal medicine at Coney Island Hospital and a cardiology fellowship at Maimonides Medical Center in New York City, the couple lived in a tiny Coney Island studio, so tiny that the kitchen, bedroom and bathroom were in the same room. Minu, 19, had recently emigrated from India to join her new husband in their arranged marriage.
Suddenly, without the servants that she had depended on in her affluent family, she taught herself how to cook and clean as well as navigate daily life in a new country.
Fast forward to 2020, and just like their home has grown and changed, so have their lives. The couple, who are celebrating 42 years of marriage, are a testament to what is possible with a strong work ethic and devotion to each other, their daughters and their patients.
Quiet and clean
Behind the enormous cast-iron double front door of their home lies a contem-porary and peaceful environment. Driving through the cul-de-sac of their Hanford neighborhood, it is fair to say that guests are surprised when those doors open and they step inside, as the Spanish-themed exterior belies the modern interior. Situated on a 1.5-acre lot, the five-bedroom home is a far cry from their first New York studio.
But that’s just the way they want it, as Hanford has been an ideal town in which to raise their daughters and launch their private practices.
In 1982, Ashok and Minu said farewell to the bright lights of New York City, where Minu had embarked on a print modeling career while also working at Barbizon. They headed West to open a practice in rural Central California, an area in need of a cardiologist.
“I was looking for a smaller community where patients were like family members, not a number,” Ashok said. “I also wanted to work in an underserved area.” Hanford fit the bill.
Driving cross-country, the young couple — who were expecting their first child — were amazed at the vast country before them. They even stopped in Burbank to watch a taping of “The Price is Right.”
Soon, their family grew to include daughters Shivani and Priya. Minu balanced motherhood with operating a high-end clothing boutique called “Sophistication” as Ashok built his cardiology practice. By 1992, they were ready to build a new home just outside the city limits.
Before the foundation was poured, however, the active family built tennis courts where they could practice their favorite pastime. Those courts are still in use today as Ashok and Minu maintain healthy dietary and exercise regimens.
Inside, as the immense front door closes, guests are immediately enveloped in a calm, contemporary environment, where black-and-white amenities balance every room. The entry features a beautiful white alabaster sculpture on a pedestal with black glass walls serving as a backdrop. Large white marble tiles are inlaid with an amber mosaic tile outline; a diamond in the same tile centers the room.
Ahead, a floor-to-ceiling cultured marble fireplace immediately draws the eye to the family room. To the right, a step-down formal living room and dining room feature elegant Italian furnishings. Original art selected from international travels adorn the walls throughout the open floor-plan home.
The home also includes a prayer room, home gym and Ashok’s favorite, a sun room that looks out over the expansive and lush backyard.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, Ashok and Minu entertained regularly, with Minu often serving her favorite Italian or North Indian dishes. (When family visits from India, they are impressed with Minu’s self-taught culinary skills.)
Mindful of their roles as health-care providers, the couple was interviewed during social distancing. They said they are looking forward to again hosting friends and family in their home when it is safe to do so.
One of Minu’s favorite features in the all-white kitchen are her German-made SieMatic cabinets, which bring timeless elegance to the space.
Noting the home’s immaculate surroundings, guests have asked incredulously, “Do you live here?” “I tell them, ‘Yes, we just keep it very clean,’” Minu said.
The home’s uncluttered and bright, airy rooms lend to its solitude. “We are often told our house is serene and peaceful,” she said.
The couple’s daughters enjoy returning to Hanford from time to time, relishing the rural quiet that provides respite from their busy careers.
“Even though they are both in high-end places, they know their roots,” Minu said. “That is how we raised them.”
Shivani followed in her father’s footsteps and practices interventional cardiology in New York. As the pandemic raged in the spring, both Ashok and Minu were grateful each day to know that their daughter was healthy and protected.
Priya practices transactional talent law and is the youngest partner at Morris Yorn, a boutique law firm in Los Angeles. She represents writers, producers, actors and directors.
Both daughters attended Webb boarding school in Claremont.
When their teenage daughters left, Minu knew that she, too, needed to return to school.
With her family’s encouragement and noting how much satisfaction Ashok felt in his career, she enrolled at UC Davis’ physician’s assistant program and later earned a master’s degree in emergency medicine at A.T. Still University. She has been a family practice physician’s assistant for 17 years.
Both Ashok and Minu have offices in Hanford and Visalia. Ashok is also serving as medical director of the catheterization lab at Kaweah Delta Medical Center, and notes that some of his patients represent the third generation of local families.
“We have stayed in California because we see how much our patients value and appreciate us,” Ashok said. “That is so important.”
Through time spent with her patients, Minu has discovered a passion for women’s health and empowerment. She has created a website, healthandempower.com, and blogs regularly about preventative health topics that she believes women need to understand better, such as depression, anxiety, hypertension and pain management. Knowing that her personal journey could also serve as inspiration to others, she recently finished an autobiography, “Misfit,” that is available on Google Books.
Their daughters’ success in male-dominated fields serves as a source of great pride for Minu and Ashok.
They are also very proud of what they’ve accomplished together in 42 years of marriage.
“We came here as Indian immigrants with no inheritance or help from our parents,” Minu said. “We have accomplished everything on our own. Our daughters are the same. We gave them the gift of a good education but that’s it. They are successful because of their ethics and hard work.”
Behind the massive front door in their serene and contemporary home, surrounded by beautiful family portraits and mementoes of travels, Ashok and Minu Verma have indeed come a long way since those early days in New York City.
“We have accomplished a lot with our hard work and diligence,” Minu said. “Serving the community has been very fulfilling and we continue to do so.”