Protima Daryanani was born in Lagos, Nigeria, where she lived for eight years. Military coups and changing politics in Nigeria led to the family moving to London. Growing up as an Indian in England, she learned to pick the best of each culture: an emphasis on family and tradition and a love of British “puddings!" Her travels to see family in India and the US and proximity to mainland Europe instilled a life-long wanderlust. “We used to come to the US to visit my cousins,” she says. “I just had a sense that this was the place I was meant to be.” Protima attended Brown University in Providence and law school at Emory University in Georgia, where she “ grew to love a grit.”
After graduation, Protima achieved a dream by moving to New York City (despite what her professor said about her chances to make it there: “You have no shot at a visa. Marry someone.”). Her initial time in the City was difficult. The super wouldn’t let her move into her first apartment (“We don’t want lawyers here,” he said), and she struggled to find work at a law firm. “My first months were tough,” Protima says. “I lived on $20 a week, was a full-time intern, and went to Bar review classes at night.” Avirom and Associates, a small immigration law firm in downtown Manhattan, hired her 1998. “I loved the immigration field because I was helping people just like me,” she says. “I understood what a visa or Green Card meant to them.” In 2001 she joined Eric Bland’s law firm, where she helped grow the client base and soon made partner. After a brief merger with a larger firm, Protima and Eric re-formed as Daryanani & Bland (now Daryanani Law Group), and she’s managed the firm since.
What is your favorite word?
Right now, serendipity.
What is your least favorite word?
What turns you on creatively, spiritually, or emotionally?
Sense of humor, wit.
What turns you off?
What is your favorite curse word?
What sound or noise do you love?
The ocean, waves crashing.
What sound or noise do you hate?
The sound of my alarm in the morning.
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Travel writer or food critic.
What is your idea of happiness?
What is your idea of misery?
The New York City subway in the summer.
Where would you like to live?
New York, London, Rome, and Sydney--a quarter year each.
Who are your favorite prose authors?
Jhumpa Lahiri, Kate Atkinson, Alice Munro, Guy de Maupassant, Harper Lee, and Jane Austen.
Who are your favorite heroes in fiction?
Atticus Finch, Hamlet, Elizabeth Bennet, Madeline, Harry Potter.
What would your last meal be?
A cheeseburger and a diet coke.
What do you hate the most?
Bugs of any kind.
What natural talent would you like to be gifted with?
The ability to play tennis like Roger Federer.
How do you wish to die?
For what fault have you most toleration?
None. I am probably not that tolerant.
What makes you laugh?
A lot: Someone else’s uncontrollable laughter, a dirty joke, my clumsiness, Tootsie, Mr. Mom.
What makes you cry?
What do you consider to be the greatest invention?
Where do you feel most at home?
Where my mother is.
What is your proudest achievement in life?
Ask me in twenty years.
What do you most like about the age we live in?
That most of us have the luxury of running water.
What is the biggest risk youʼve ever taken?
Moving to America by myself at the age of eighteen to go to college.
What is your earliest childhood memory?
On a swing in Nigeria.
If you could wish for one change in the world what would it be?