I’m really happy they decided against continuing to do business-as-usual. There was too much change in the air, even before the tragic car crash.

As she discovers in What’s Left, my new novel, so much resulted from a very intense year when her father-to-be – her Baba – moved in with the family.

Here’s some background I cut from the final version of the story:

Bottom line? What did he bring to the family mojo?

Well, as Thea Nita’s told me, that initial year is difficult for him. For the most part, he has to put his cameras away, and they’ve been so much of his identity, even more than a career. But he learns a new world in doing hands-on work as needed, from carpentry to dishwashing to participating in the planning for the restaurant expansion. His truest value, however, comes in guiding the local Tibetan practice and in the family council, where his understanding augments Dimitri’s entrepreneurial values.

Oh, it’s not that he doesn’t take photos. The shots he makes – the ones I’ve gone through repeatedly – well, as you can see, they record so much of the color of the social transformation. But that’s not his primary work, even if he does manage to set up a small darkroom after he settles in.

Thea Nita tells me, Working up to sixty hours a week on my column, I couldn’t be much of a presence in the family enterprise, but your father was a big help for me – my other eyes and ears on the street, as it were. Remember, he’d worked in the news biz, too, and could smell an angle, so he was always passing tips on to me, things he heard around the restaurant, for example. Oh, and I should mention, he could write – not all photojournalists can, you know. Courting your mother is another matter. You want to talk of love at first sight? The only problem is that she was still seventeen when he arrives and starts living under our roof. Literally – he’s encamped in a dormer in the attic. She’s in a first-floor room next to Yiayia Athina.


Essentially, most of that was more redundant than we needed. You get the picture.

But the reality Cassia acknowledges is how much her father’s cameras defined him. They gave him a role – photographer – that he needed to put aside as he joined into his future wife’s family. Yes, he could pick them up as needed, but they weren’t the primary thing in his life anymore. If you answer Buddha or Diana or both, you’re on track.

Still, we are often identified by what we do or who we’re with or where we live. What do you find essential to your identity?


In the family, Cassia may have had food like this.

Dinner at Elia restaurant in Kos, Greece. (Photo by Michal Osmenda of Brussels, Belgium, via Wikimedia Commons.)

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