Miami helped with American dream


Tell us your story

HistoryMiami invites you to share your Miami Story.

To submit: Email your story and photo(s) to Please include caption information with any photos. Your story may be posted at, published in Sunday’s Neighbors print edition and archived at

About Miami Stories: This project is a partnership between HistoryMiami, Miami Herald Media Company, WLRN and Michael Weiser, chairman of the National Conference on Citizenship.

Special to The Miami Herald

The year was 1973, the beginning of October, and for our Indian-origin family of five, the beginning of our new life.

I had just turned 6 and my first memory of our new hometown was actually one of fear. Everything here looked so big and spread out. The city’s bright lights especially scared me. Before moving to Miami Beach, we had lived all over England.

I’ll never forget the drive from Miami International Airport to our two-story apartment building on Normandy Drive. The neighbors living beneath us, Ralph and Betty, spoke Spanish, a language we had never heard before.

My father Virendra Bhuta, a 40-year-old physician, had only come to the United States a few months prior. My uncle had been telling my dad for years to move from the UK to the United States. He also advised him that there were only two possible places where he should choose to live: California or Florida.

After applying to a ton of medical residency programs throughout the country, Miami ultimately came calling Dr. Bhuta. What did my parents know about Miami before coming here? They knew only three things – sunny beaches, beauty pageants, and lots of millionaires!

My father, who had practiced reconstructive plastic surgery before coming to the U.S., unfortunately had to give up his love of being a surgeon. He did a medical residency at St. Francis Hospital in Miami Beach. In 1973, he was only earning an annual salary of $10,000, not much to support a family of five. After only a year of training, my dad eventually turned to emergency medicine. Baptist Hospital in Kendall had the privilege of his expertise in their ER for more than 30 years.

Pravina, my mom, also did more than her fair share. Being 11 years younger than my father, it wasn’t easy for her to take care of my two brothers, ages 4 and 8, and me. She put my older brother, Amar, and me in Treasure Island Elementary. Incidentally, the school’s principal was Christina M. Eve, who would eventually have an elementary school named after her. .

Soon my mom also became an Avon lady and receptionist at nearby Mount Sinai Hospital. Her best customers were the employees at the hospital. Her monthly Avon meetings were around the corner at Howard Johnson’s.

My parents really took full advantage of achieving the “American Dream.” In October 1973, we were living in a two-bedroom/one-bath apartment in Miami Beach. By January 1976, they had already purchased their first home. It was in Kendall, a four-bedroom/three-bath home with its very own swimming pool. My brothers and I attended Blue Lakes Elementary. In fact, we were there the year it “snowed” in Miami. I still remember the snowball fights.

We also went to Glades Junior High and Southwest Miami Senior High. Our higher education came from Miami-Dade Community College, Florida International University, and the University of Miami (where we were national football champs for my senior year). My older brother, Amar, eventually went to Ohio State University medical school to become a doctor.

We have enjoyed many things growing up here in Miami. My dad and brothers would enjoy going to Dolphins games at the Orange Bowl. Of course, we didn’t move here until the year after their perfect season. We also remember attending the spectacular Orange Bowl Parade for New Year’s. I recall the aroma of roasted peanuts and delicious chocolate in the air, along with all the decorating of Winnie-the-Pooh teddy bears.

My teen year weekends always included visiting Burdines and Jordan Marsh in Dadeland Mall. The Falls being built seemed so luxurious, now that we had a Bloomingdales. Eating at LUMS was always a treat, as was being a spectator at the annual Bed Races in Coconut Grove. The Seaquarium and Parrot Jungle were always places to take our out-of-town guests. We also enjoyed showing them the colorful sails gliding on the water at Key Biscayne every weekend. Crandon Park beach was also always a fun time.

My mom even got to chaperone a few beauty pageants in the 1980s. They were all broadcast from the Knight Center in downtown Miami. She did Miss Universe, Miss Teen USA, and Miss USA (the one where Halle Berry was Miss Ohio).

I feel very fortunate to have lived here for most of my life. While I am now 45 and have traveled extensively, I can’t imagine living anywhere other than Miami. Yes, I’ve seen many changes here over the years, but for the most part, they’ve been beneficial for our community.

My parents still live in Kendall, in a different home, near Norman Brothers. My husband, Rajesh, is an interventional cardiologist, practicing mainly at Baptist Hospital and Kendall Hospital. I help with the bookkeeping for his solo practice. I have three daughters.

Seeing my own children and husband live where I grew up is such a great feeling for me.

It’s as if everything has come full circle. For me and my family, Miami will always be our wonderful “Home Sweet Home.”

Read more Miami Stories stories from the Miami Herald

Old photo of family-owned jewelry store.

    Miami Stories

    Beloved jeweler Balogh set deep roots in Miami Beach

    My father, David R. Balogh, is a Miami Beach legend. Most Beach people knew him and many, many shopped at his Balogh jewelry store.

Elayne Weisburd and her husband Sidney

    Miami Stories

    She was the ‘best man for the job’

    Some might say that I was made to serve in public office. I don’t know, but I have lived an interesting and good life.

Old family photo of author’s grandparents, Enrique and Caridad Moya, with Adrian Moya and his baby sister.

    Miami Stories

    Desperate journey to a brighter future

    This Miami Story was based on family recollections shared by relatives of the author. It was written as a Miami Dade College class assignment associated with The Big Read, presented by The Center for Literature and Theatre.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category