Updated: Jan 9
Ruchi Kapoor is the appellate director and legislative liaison for the Office of Respondent Parents’ counsel (ORPC), where she established Colorado’s first appellate program for respondent parents in child welfare cases. Prior to ORPC, Ruchi worked on appeals and criminal post-convictions at The Noble Law Firm and clerked at the Denver Juvenile Court. She attended undergrad at Creighton University in Nebraska and graduated from the University of Colorado Law School in 2010.
Aside from her legal career, Ruchi is extremely active in the Denver legal community. Ruchi has been president of the South Asian Bar Association of Colorado, was a 2017 graduate of the Colorado Bar Association’s Leadership Training (COBALT) and has been a member of the Colorado Women’s Bar Association Board (CWBA) since 2017. Ruchi is currently the co-chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee of the CWBA with Magistrate Melina Hernandez. She also sits on the Denver Bar Association’s Board of Trustees.
Ruchi has been writing in some form for her entire life. She is a Colorado native, growing up in the Denver suburb, Highlands Ranch, which inspires much of her creative writing. She won the DBA’s Art & Literature Contest twice for the non-fiction category, the most recent of which chronicles her big break starring as Rizzo in Grease for her high school dance studio, “The Rizzo Diaries”. She is also working on her first novel and an untitled autobiographical essay project.
The summer before eighth grade a miracle happened: someone built a large mall close to my house that actually had a GAP. On opening weekend, I asked my best friend if her mom would drive us there in her Eddie Bauer Limited Edition Ford Explorer. Rumor had it that they were calling the mall a shopping resort, which sounded intriguingly exotic.
What? It was the Clinton era. Shopping was all we had.
In honor of the occasion, my mother had given me $20. “Go nuts,” she said.
Mom knew me well, especially my propensity to give in to peer pressure at the mall. See: the unnecessary feather pen collection from Claire’s that was collecting dust under my bed. See also: the unnecessary number of sparkly notebooks from Barnes & Noble. The $20 limit seemed prudent in hindsight.
I had started seventh grade with a desperate attempt at being cool: attending a Glamour Shots birthday party. The party had been hosted by one of the new students in town and, in true Highlands Ranch mom fashion, we got to ride there in a limousine. I was excited — I had never had my hair professionally done before. The hair lady twirled me around to look into the mirror, and I was greeted by a mountain of curls piled on my head that only Blanche Devareaux could envy.
“It looks…okay, I guess. Can we do something about the bangs?”
“Sure, honey,” she said, popping her gum.
She then proceeded to curl my bangs so high off my forehead as to emphasize my blue eye-shadow and Texas-sized star earrings. Not what I was going for. Predictably, seventh grade only got worse after the Glamour Shots party, and I was eager to put that chapter behind me. I was ready to embrace my destiny and, finally, be cool.
We walked in through the food court, and I resisted the urge to immediately buy a plate of orange chicken and an Orange Julius. It would wipe out half of my mall budget. I also resisted the urge to buy a pretzel. Damn that Auntie Anne.
Finally, we walked into the crisp interior of the GAP. Mom never understood my teenage obsession with the store, but I knew that it was the key to unlocking any hope of my self-reinvention for the next year. I had to select carefully. I trailed my fingers along all of the t-shirts, petting the slightly puffed up letters on the logos emblazoned on the front. These seemed less subtle than the statement I was trying to make.
Then I saw it: a rack to the ceiling, stacked with rainbow-colored nylon tubes that were roughly the size and shape of burritos. They called to me with their swishy nylon-ness. “Ruchi. Come to us. We are here to support your future outdoorsy self, even though you’ve never done a sport or anything outdoors in your life.” I knew it. This was it. I picked out one of the green anoraks and slowly unfurled it into a half zip jacket with a hood. There was a black zipper that ran across the front of the jacket, across my abdomen, almost from armpit to armpit when I put it on. Although the size small hung almost to my knees, I knew that I had to have it.
Best of all, it was in my $20 budget.
Two full three ring binders, all of my gel pens, highlighters, and pencils. Plus, a pack of watermelon Bubble Yum, a yo-yo, and a pack of stickers. Sweet! No backpack! Now I was definitely going to be cool. The only downside of jamming all the junk in the front was that I was now shaped like a lopsided cube (because of the binders, you see). Overall, it was very attractive.
On the third day of homeroom, as I unpacked the contents of my belly onto my desk, the girl sitting in the desk next to me leaned over and asked, “Hey. Can I have a piece of gum?”
Boom. Thank you anorak. I put a piece in my mouth as well and, after a few moments of contented silence, I learned that her name was Stephanie and that she had moved to Colorado recently.
“So, do you always carry stuff in your jacket like that?”
I nodded, since the gum was slowly slithering its way down my throat. I really should never chew a whole piece of Bubble Yum at once.
“It’s like you are a kangaroo.” She giggled. “Like a kanga-ruchi.”
And that, friends, is why I didn’t have a backpack in eighth grade. It’s also why there are certain people in my life who are still allowed to call me Kangaruchi.
Not you, though. You haven’t witnessed the magic of the anorak.