the wonderful world of veena.

29 November 2011

10k tuesday: picking up steam.

Well, I have survived my first few 25-minute runs and am pretty happy with how things are shaping up. Or, at least as happy as I can be, considering I'm running.

Being in Memphis for Thanksgiving and running in my parents' neighborhood was good for me, because it provided a change of scenery. The park near my house was great for those short runs and runs with intervals, but in reality it is too small for when I get into upwards of 45-minute runs, so new sights were a welcome change. Also, it gave me a chance to run on some inclines, which worked a few new muscles for me.

Right now I am increasing my time so as to increase my endurance and not really worrying about distance; there is time yet for that to become my focus. My current goal is to be able to run for 60 minutes [God help me] by Christmas - to get there I am going to increase my time slowly over the next few weeks [5-10 minutes per week]. Once I hit that, I might consider changing it up a bit and rotating short runs with longer ones. We'll see how it goes and what kind of mood I am in by then.

The biggest factor right now is the weather. Now that we are into the end of November / beginning of December, mornings are getting cold. Like 40 degrees cold [that's 4 degrees to you fans of the Centigrade scale]. That's pretty chilly. And I have leggings and fleeces and gloves, but it's just generally difficult to motivate myself to get out of bed when I know it's that cold outside. My main motivation is that I hate running on treadmills and indoor tracks, so this is my only alternative.

Now that I know I can run 25 minutes without a hitch, I'm in a much better frame of mind as to what my abilities are. That usually puts me at just under 3 miles, which is almost halfway to a 10k. I know that with a bit more training, I'll be able to run the full race. It won't be pretty, by any stretch of the imagination, but I can do it. Being able to know that is pretty big.

And before you ask, no, I still haven't bought new running shoes. I suck, I know.
woo pig.

[sorry I missed my 10k update last week - I was out of the house by 5.50am and not in again until I reached my parents' house in Memphis around 9.30pm. if you are one of the 3 people who read this update each week, please accept my apologies. I don't foresee missing any more in the coming weeks]

26 November 2011

oh christmas tree.

First time I've gotten to decorate one of these in 5 years.

Happy Holidays!
woo pig.

25 November 2011

more kudos for bangalore.

It seems you can't turn around these days without reading something about Bangalore.

The other day, Maggie forwarded me an article about a group in India that calls themselves the ugly indians. They get together on the weekends and clean up different parts of the city, spending days picking up rubbish, painting, and putting dustbins in place to encourage Bangaloreans to stop throwing rubbish on the streets. It's something that is desperately needed, and I'm happy to see something is being done to clean up the city.

Then, yesterday, I stumbled across an article about the best music festivals in India. #2 on the list is the Fireflies Festival of Music, an all-night outdoor music festival that my dear friend Ananda and his friend Akshath organize every year. I attended the last two editions of Fireflies and have gotten to see tons of awesome performances by people and groups from all over India. In 2010, I got to see Lounge Piranha perform for the first time, and this year, I was right in the front for Something Relevant. [side note: the picture is of STR's performance this year, but you can't see me, because I am right on the other side of that super tall guy]

And, as I previously posted about, Bangalore has been named by Lonely Planet as the #3 city to visit in 2012, coming in right behind London and Muscat.

I'm glad to see my city getting so much attention. But every time I read something new, I miss it just a little bit more.

6 months until I get to see that crazy, cloudy, drunk, fat city again.
woo pig.

24 November 2011

i am thankful.

Today, I got to spend Thanksgiving with my family for the first time since 2006, and it reminded me of all the things I have to be thankful for.

I am thankful for my family. They have stood by me through all the ups and downs and all the crazy decisions I have made. They supported me when I wanted to move to India, and they supported me [and probably cheered a little] when I announced I was moving back to the States for grad school. No matter what, I know they will always be on my side.

I am thankful for Prakash. I know these months haven't been easy for him [nor for me], but he has toughed it out. I am so thankful that he loves me enough to let me go and that he has the faith that I will return.

I am thankful for all of my adopted families all over the world.

I am thankful for all the educational opportunities I have been given.

I am thankful for friends near and far.

I am thankful for food, for shelter, and for clothing.

I am thankful for being able to live my dreams.

I am thankful for freedom.

I am thankful.

Woo pig.

23 November 2011

what the coming weeks will bring.

This is such a great time of year for so many reasons:

  • for the most part, it's getting colder outside.
  • college football games become more and more dramatic.
  • all the lights and decorations going up for Christmas.
  • holiday parties with yummy food.
  • people generally have a spring in their step thinking about the holidays and spending time with families.
...the list can go on for days. For grad students, however, this time of year brings many other things with it, such as finals and projects and presentations.

My calendar between now and Christmas looks something like this:
  • Nov 28 - Leadership Final Development Plan due
  • Nov 30 - Law & Ethics paper due
  • Dec 7 - Decision Analysis Final Project due
  • Dec 9 - Communication Final Memo due
  • Dec 9 - Law & Ethics final paper due
  • Dec 13 - Practicum Integrative Learning paper due
  • Dec 14 - Decision Analysis Final Exam
I'm hoping to get almost all of those first three things completed during this long weekend, but let's be honest, once those football games start on Thursday, my motivation and concentration fly out the window.

But once the 14th hits, I am free for a month.

A whole month. Just imagine.
woo pig.

21 November 2011

room to read = awesome.

As I mentioned a few days ago, I am going to be working with room to read in Nepal for my IPSP next summer.

For those of you who don't know, Room to Read is an amazing organization that, amongst other things, builds libraries for government schools in ten countries in Africa and Asia and runs a Girls' Education Program to keep girls in school. I am beyond excited to be working for them, and I am keeping my fingers crossed that I can parlay my IPSP into a Capstone and a potential <gasp> job post-Clinton School.

A few weeks ago, Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times wrote an awesome article about the work Room to Read is doing, and it made me even more excited about working with them next summer.

Happy Monday!
and Woo pig [#3 in the BCS poll!].

20 November 2011

namma bengaluru, tourist destination.

Lonely Planet recently released it's list of the top 10 cities to visit in 2012. Number 3? Namma Bengaluru. The description couldn't be more accurate, particularly the quip about being "perpetually drunk on the good life". Just reading that short blurb made me completely homesick for masala dosa, mutton biryani on banana leaves, Old Monk, Rest House Road, and the good ole BMTC buses.

oh to be back in my city of boiled beans.
woo pig.

19 November 2011

random rambles.

I realized it's been a while since I've subjected you to one of my random rambles, so here we go. Try to contain your excitement.

1. I'm going to the Arkansas / Mississippi State game today! First college football game in I don't know how long, and I can't wait.

2. My project for next summer is [mostly] confirmed. Looks like I'm going to be spending 10 weeks in Nepal working with room to read. [sidenote: Room to Read is also the organization I want to work for post-Clinton School, so this is uber exciting]

3. Thank goodness next week is Thanksgiving. Even though I have about 4 papers / projects that I will be working on, it will be nice to have an extended change of scenery.

4. Found out last night that Dylan Perry's mother is a cosmetologist - got myself a cheap lowering of the ears booked for next week.

5. Finally finished Little Bee and have moved on to The History of Love. Just wish I had more time to read for fun.

6. I really need to clean my room but have zero motivation. Anyone feel like helping me out? I'll pay you $5. Thanks.

7. We had Family Night last night and went to see Ides of March [yes, it's still playing]. Although the movie was pretty disappointing [except for you, Ryan Gosling], we had a blast, because we were the only people in the theater. Sometimes it's ok to not spend a Friday night doing work.

8. Still need new running shoes. Zero motivation to go to the mall. Maybe Monday...

9. I was lucky enough to introduce Ritu Sharma of women thrive worldwide before her Public Program on Wednesday. Experience of a lifetime.

10. Did I mention I'm going to the game??

Happy Weekend!

16 November 2011

about time to get those ears lowered.

I go through weird phases with my hair. When it's short, I want it to grow quickly. When it's long, all I want to do is chop it all off. locks of love has come in very handy - whenever I would get sick of my hair, I would just chop it off, donate it, and grow it out again. It was a great cycle that served me well for a while.

And now the time has come once again. My hairs have grown ridiculous long and have lately become more unruly than I have the patience to deal with. However, because of the layers in my hair, I don't think I can cut off the requisite length for locks of love and still have enough hairs on my head to be satisfied. [sidenote: in 2004, the lady cut off 12.5 inches of hair from my head, and I've really never been quite the same since then] On top of that, because of my attempts at running, I want to make sure my hair remains long enough to pull back into a ponytail. At the same time, though, I want to make sure it doesn't get so long that it becomes too heavy and annoying to run with.

My original plan was to just trim the split ends, let it grow a bit, and chop it off in January. But then I remembered the running dilemma, so I axed that plan. The new plan is cut a significant amount off - say 4 or 5 inches - which generally just makes it easier to deal with. Then I will re-assess after my 10k in March how I feel about continuing to grow it out or what I want to do with it.

Enter my second dilemma: paying for a hair cut. For the last year and a half, I have been getting Prakash's barber to cut my hair. How much does that cost, you ask? Well, I will tell you. It costs approximately $2.50 - $3.50, depending on how unruly my hair is on a given day. That's right, less than $5 to tame this mess. And I realize it is unrealistic to expect that here in the US. I know. But I still refuse to pay more than $12 - $15 to cut some hairs off my head. I mean, really. So I have to find a place that satisfies my needs.

I'm hoping to get it cut this weekend, so I might have some new looks to show off come next week. I'll keep you posted.

[how girly do I sound talking about my hair? yikes]
Woo pig.

15 November 2011

10k tuesday: slowly getting back in the groove.

Well. I finally did it. I finally got off my bum and started running again. I ran last Friday as well as yesterday and finally made it through Week 5. Which is pretty crappy, considering how long ago I began this endeavor, but hey, I did it.

Yesterday I completed my first 20-minute jog. And I survived it. That was a pretty good boost to my confidence. I had to run at the park near my house, which is a pretty short loop, which is both good and bad. It's good because it's pretty easy to convince myself I can do another lap, and it also doesn't seem like I've run as much as I have. But it's bad because it gets a bit repetitive.

If I stick to my schedule, I think Sunday will be another long run, so I think I might drive down to Murray Park and jog on the trail down there. It will be interesting, because it will be the first time I've really run in "public" [my neighborhood at 6.20am doesn't count], but I think a change of scenery will do me good. I can't do those long runs through the neighborhood because of the hills, so I'm trying to think of alternate places so that I get to change it up a bit.

I also need to really make myself start sticking to my schedule, because we're now into the actual training portion that the LR Marathon people gave us, which has me needing to be able to run 4 miles week. No biggie.

I did realize a HUGE change in my attitude both on Friday and yesterday once I got back into my routine. I think one of the things that will keep me at it for the next month is the fact that it's a great stress-buster. I'm not usually one who freaks out too much about schoolwork, but I do know that the next month is going to be a bit crazy with trying to get everything taken care of, so I think this is going to be a great study break and stress break.

In other news, I did finally get some new music on my phone, which has come in handy.
I have, however, still not gotten new shoes. I'm terrible, I know. I was going to go on Saturday but then ended up leaving earlier than planned for Helena, so that didn't work out. It's looking like it might be this Saturday or Sunday before that gets done.
As for the fleece? Nope. But it was 70 degrees when I went for a run at 6.20am yesterday. So I think it's ok. This weekend? Who knows.

It's good to be back again.
Woo pig.

11 November 2011

bitten by the traveling bug.

No matter how much I love a place, after a while of being still, my feet begin to itch to get out of town. It's not that I want to move, it's just that I need to get away for a few days to clear my head and see some new scenery. Even when I was in Bangalore, I made it a point to go somewhere - anywhere - every few helped that I got to travel with the groups, so I had at least 3 built-in trips each year.

Since moving back to the States I had been doing pretty well. I got to go over to Charleston in July to visit the best friend, and I drove to Nashville in August to see Lindsay, Steve, Catherine, Drew, and Lizzie. And then nothing. The craziness of school engulfed me, and I was busy adjusting to homework, papers, presentations, parties, karaoke, happy hours, and the like. There was so much going on that I was ok.

And then it hit. I needed to get out of town, fast. Luckily, I had already planned to go to Ann Arbor to visit Shalini, and that coincided pretty well with my itchy feet. I got out of town for 2.5 days, had a great time catching up with her, and thought I would be alright. And then I got back, and those feet started itching again. I went to Memphis last weekend for my mother's birthday, and I'm going to Helena tomorrow, so I'm still getting out of town, but I want more.

I wanted to go somewhere new. Somewhere different.

Enter Lindsay and Catherine. They are planning Catherine's bachelorette party in Miami. Granted, it's not until January, but it gives me a lot to look forward to. The only problem is that, while booking my tickets the other night, I seem to have awoken a monster.

I suddenly found myself looking up flights to San Francisco, to New York, to London. I found another website and started looking up train prices from London to Italy. I can't get enough of looking up prices. I find myself checking almost daily to see if prices have gone down and to see if any new deals have emerged. It's really not a good thing. Especially since I don't have the money - right now - for all these endeavors.

The problem is that I know I will have the money, eventually. I will hopefully have my money from India in the next few weeks. I'm slowly earning money babysitting and have cut back - for the most part - on my expenses. I'll be getting back some money I loaned to a friend in the coming months. I get a stipend from school that covers most of my travel and living expenses for next summer. And while I know I should save the money for the future and blah blah blah, all I can think is that I want to travel to all these awesome places while I have the chance.

So here is my lineup at the moment:
I am going to Helena tomorrow. Memphis for Thanksgiving. Memphis for Christmas and New Year. [hopefully] San Francisco just after the New Year to see Miriam and Dave [haven't seen them in 2.5 years!]. Miami over MLK weekend for Catherine's bachelorette. Baton Rouge for St Patty's Day. [hopefully] New York for Spring Break. [still debating] Rio for the World Youth Congress in April [it's very expensive to get down there, plus the cost of the visa. it's still up in the air]. and then wherever I end up going for my IPSP.

That looks pretty solid to me. What do you think?
And knowing all of this awesome-ness is in my future should keep me pretty well grounded for the craziness that is about to be upon us.

Now to figure out how to break my obsession with the travel websites. Any suggestions?
Woo pig.

10 November 2011

a little funkified.

I know my updates have not been particularly thrilling or exciting the last few weeks. Honestly, I've just been in a bit of a funk. I've not been sleeping well, I've not been exercising, I've been eating too much, people have been getting on my nerves, I've gotten itchy feet...the list goes on.

I know it's a cycle I'm in - I'm not exercising, so that puts me in a weird mood for the day, which means I procrastinate my work, and then I don't sleep well, so I then don't feel like getting up and going for a run. I know that. But I've just not been able to pull myself out of it.

I had hoped that these weekend jaunts would be good for me, and they have been, but the effects were not as long-lasting as I would have hoped. They keep me cheerful for a few days, and then I just get the blues again. My days have been getting longer, and with it getting darker earlier now, it's messing me up. For instance, I have stuff straight from 9am to about 9 / 10pm. I would love 2 days off where I don't have to worry about assignments or readings or projects or presentations or facilitations or any of the other crap.

I also know that I have probably over-committed myself. It's not that I can't do all that I've signed up for; it's more that it's probably not sensible. But then again, I've never put much stock in being sensible. I always do better when I'm busy, but it's been many years since that included homework. My brain shuts down by about 10pm, and I prioritize my 7-8 hours of sleep, but many times that means I don't have much free time during the day, or my schoolwork wouldn't get done. I've spent many Friday nights doing homework, and I'm going to be spending part of Saturday and most of Sunday doing work as well.

It's not that I can't do the work. And most of it is interesting to me. It's more that the work piled on top of everything else is beginning to take its toll.

So tonight, I am re-prioritizing. It is currently 10.08pm [coincidentally, I was born at 10.08pm. I thought it was interesting]. I am going to finish this post, brush my teeth, get into my bed, read some Rules for Radicals [it's for class. not one I would choose of my own volition], and have lights out no later than 10.30pm. And tomorrow, come rain or shine, I am getting up at 6.10am, I am going for a run, and by gosh, I am going to be in a good mood, I am not going to let people irritate me, and I am going to have a good, productive day.

And so it shall be true.
Woo pig.

08 November 2011

10k tuesday: the week that wasn't, round two.

Once again, I have been lazy and have not run. First I was tired when I returned from my trip, and then I had a lot of sleep issues last week. As in, I didn't get any. It really threw me off my pattern, and honestly, I was in a pretty bad mood by the end of the week. But tomorrow! Tomorrow I will be back to my routine, and I will give you full updates next week. Veena-promise.

My main issue is that I know one of the reasons I've been in a grumpy mood is because I haven't gotten any exercise, but I also know that the longer I go without exercising, the lazier and less motivated I become. I went back and read my post from when I first signed up for the 10k, and reading the part about the registration fee kind of kicked me back into gear. So hopefully tonight will bring sleep and tomorrow will bring a good run.

Until then,
Woo pig.

06 November 2011

my mother the magnificent.

Yesterday I drove down [over?] to Memphis to hang out with my mother for her birthday. It's the first time I've been in the country for her birthday since 2006, so it was really nice to be around and to get to spend some time with her.

For those of you who are not aware, it is a widely known fact that my mother is the greatest mother in the history of mothers.

Growing up, my mother worked full-time and still made dinner - home-cooked Indian meals - nearly every night. She never missed any of our sporting events, plays, awards ceremonies, or other school-related happenings. Every weekend she fed a horde of hungry boys who tromped through our house, and she wouldn't have had it any other way.

I know these past few years have been difficult for her, especially realizing that we are most likely never going to live on the same continent again [hey, it's been hard for me, too], but I know that no matter what, she will always support me following my dreams, wherever those may lead me.

One of the greatest moments of pride in my life was the first time someone told me that I was just like my mother, because I cannot think of anyone else I would rather grow up to be like. She is my role model, my inspiration, and my hero.

Happy Birthday, Ma.
Woo pig.

03 November 2011

cultural taboos.

We had a panel at school today about the taboos that exist in different societies. It was interesting to hear about taboos that exist in China and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and it was also very amusing to listen to Sophia's tales of translating taboos from Pakistan into life in the United States.

Here's what I would have said about India:

  • Remember always to eat, give and receive money, and generally do everything with your right hand.
  • Never touch someone with your feet/shoes [this is one I have to remind my girls of every day].
  • Also, always take off your shoes when you enter someone's house. To this day I get on to my brother's friends who don't take off their shoes once they come into the house.
  • Public displays of affection are not acceptable in the villages; in the cities it can go either way.
  • Women are not advised to purchase alcohol themselves [never stopped me, but I've also never been one for rules].
  • No bare shoulders or short shorts in the villages; they're acceptable in the city center.
  • At most roadside shops, you are expected to bargain. Shopkeepers will never respect you if you pay the first price they say - it's more of a suggestion, anyway.
  • Remember that in India, many people live at home until they get married. After marriage, the son often continues to live with his parents, and his wife moves in.
  • If you are white, you will most likely be asked to pose for pictures everywhere you go. My advice to my interns was to charge people; that usually got them to go away.
There are tons of others, but those were the ones that came to me off the top of my head. Feel free to chime in with any others you can think of!

And keep those feet away from me.
Woo pig.

01 November 2011

10k tuesday: the week that wasn't.

This is a sad update for me, because I have not run from last Monday to today. There were a few reasons for this:

1. I had a pretty bad cold last week. Normally that wouldn't slow me down too much, but I decided to take it easy and get rest, because...

2. I went to Michigan last weekend and did not want to make myself sicker by running in the cold prior to my trip.

3. a minor point, but my ankle, although having held up well during my run on Monday, bothered me a bit on the following days.

So all of that added up to Veena not doing any exercise last week. I didn't do yesterday because I needed one night of solid sleep after my crazy weekend. Although I have quite a bit of work to do tonight, as well as a long day tomorrow, I am hopeful that I can get myself out of bed to get in a run in the morning. I'm afraid that if I am lazy for too long, I won't get back into it until it's too late. So wish me luck.

In good news, I did finally get some new music on my phone! So that was a plus. Hopefully I will actually get to listen to it in the morning.

Here's hoping I have a better update next week.
Woo pig.