Deniz Toksoz Class of 1974
11 June 2010
I realized that it was finally time for a much belated bio write-up!
After leaving Turkey at the age of 4, we lived in the USA, followed by Colombia (South America), followed by eight amazing years on the Indian sub-continent: Lahore, Pakistan; Dacca, Bangladesh; and then New Delhi, India. In New Delhi, Dad was with the Ford Foundation. I was a freshman and sophomore at AIS 1970-1972. What a fabulous time we all had! We lived in Sundar Nagar, with a reclusive mother cobra at the bottom of the garden (the gardener would find the broken eggshells). Our house bordered the back entrance of Delhi Zoo, and we could hear muffled lion and tiger groans.
In my sophomore year, I hung out with classmates Anne Pearson, Tricia Gregg, John Hoefling, and David Joffe, who made us all laugh a lot. Other good friends were Marsha Tucker ('75) and Rekha Nimgade ('73). (Marsha and I also partly overlapped in Dacca, I believe). When AIS changed into AES, I ended up graduating high school at an American prep school in Istanbul, Turkey (Robert College) while my parents remained in New Delhi. Like every other AIS alum, I have since talked how leaving AIS and New Delhi were a huge wrench, and I suffered enormous culture shock. Since my sister Mina (who graduated from Dacca International School) was going to England to do a PhD, I also went to England for college to study biological sciences. In England I suffered yet another giant culture shock! However, during my college years in England, Anne Pearson actually visited me on her travels.
I stayed on in England after college and did a PhD in stem cell biology. Meanwhile, my parents had relocated from New Delhi to Nairobi, Kenya, so my sister and I had the bonus of visiting them at holidays and seeing East Africa. After 13 years in England that included post-doctoral training and getting married to a British scientist, Mark Exley, we moved to Boston, Massachusetts, where we have been for 20 years since. My sister settled in London; and after Kenya my parents retired to Turkey. Sadly, we then lost Mom to cancer.
In Boston, we actually live close to Ashok Nimgade ('76), and have had mini-AIS/AES reunions together! During this time, I have been faculty in the Harvard and Tufts Medical School systems, doing biomedical research and continue to do so. We have two sons, Andrew, and Metin, (currently 12 and 15).
When I look back on my life, I feel so blessed to have lived in and experienced so many fabulous cultures and places. Needless to say, of all of the places we lived in, India - AIS and New Delhi - was the most fabulous experience! We frequently visit England and Turkey, and my kids love having access to these different cultures. The funny thing is that although we have not yet visited India as a family (but it's on the agenda!), my kids and husband already feel familiar with it through me: they love Indian food, Indian films, and have an affinity towards all things Indian!
I attended the 2001 and 2005 Reunions in Washington, DC, which were amazing and fun. After 30 years, I met up again with Tricia Gregg Rocha, when she and her husband visited us in Boston in 2003, which was great. At the 2005 reunion, I met up with Anne Pearson, which was also fantastic. Then Anne visited us in Boston while attending a conference in 2006. I would love to be contacted by others who have mutual memories of New Delhi!!