Nina Basu, a Howard County native who grew up in Scaggsville, took over the reins at the Inner Arbor Trust from Michael McCall on May 1 after serving as the nonprofit’s legal counsel for three years. She is a commercial litigator who lives in Long Reach with her husband, James Howard, and their two children.
Basu, 36, shared some interesting aspects of her life, such as her Bengali ancestry and her cake baking skills.
1. The family takes to Columbia’s pathways.
The family can be found on one of Columbia’s paths — bubble wands in hand — once a day in the summertime. A favorite spot off High Tor Hill is Jackson Pond, home of Ashendorf Island, which is nicknamed for a neighborhood man. Basu spent a lot of time on the benches there while studying for the bar exam.
2. Her favorite novel is “Don Quixote.”
The novel’s title character is “mundane and chivalrous at the same time,” she says, and she loves the idea of tilting at windmills. On the other hand, “‘Man of La Mancha’ is a terrible musical that condenses the story too much.”
3. She sews princess clothes for her daughter, “Ducky.”
A tomboy by nature, Basu nonetheless creates frilly masterpieces to please 5-year-old Beatrix, who loves jewelry and dressing up. Basu has mastered the art of making tutus, capes and ball gowns for “Ducky,” who describes herself as “a sword princess, not a wand princess.”
4. She enables the MLB fan in her life.
Basu doesn’t follow professional sports, but her son, Chase, 8, is obsessed with baseball. He eagerly discusses stats for the Orioles and Washington Nationals after looking up the teams’ records online each day.
“He keeps up a running commentary,” and she’s happy to listen.
5. She wants her kids to appreciate “the American experience.”
Basu double-majored in government and history at Dartmouth College and calls herself “a complete nerd.” She has been reading the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights to her kids every Fourth of July for several years. To mix it up and quell any dissent, she sometimes plays an audio recording..
6. She’s a whiz in the kitchen.
Baking cakes is one of her favorite pastimes, and she names the Smith Island Cake, which is Maryland’s state dessert, and her 10-layer orange cake as two of her best creations, along with custom birthday cakes for the kids. She also bakes naan, an Asian flatbread, and whips up Indian-style food and a mean lamb chop.
7. She celebrates her Bengali heritage.
Basu is a first-generation American citizen; her parents came to America from India as a couple in 1975. Her brother and several male cousins take part with her each autumn in a religious ceremony set in Sanskrit called Bhai Phota, in which a sister blesses her male peers in the family by placing sandalwood paste on their foreheads, and receives presents from them in return.
8. Vacationing with friends is a tradition.
For the seventh consecutive year, Basu and family will travel to Rehoboth Beach in Delaware this summer to meet friends from New York, whom the couple refers to as their “faux cousins.” The two families, who have kids close in age, also visit Williamsburg, Va., together most years.
9. She adores opera.
One of her favorites is “Aida” by Giuseppe Verdi. She also enjoys “Scalia/Ginsburg,” an American comic opera inspired by the opinions of U.S. Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia, and is friends with its composer and librettist, Derrick Wang.
10. She rushed a co-ed fraternity in college.
She appreciated Alpha Theta as an alternative to the preppy image of Dartmouth. “The best friends from my life came from there,” she says of the gender-inclusive Greek house.