the wonderful world of veena.

29 February 2012

what's in store for march.

I've got a lot in mind for the month of March, which is shaping up to be a crazy month, both school-wise and other-wise. My goals / resolutions for the month are as follows:

run the entire 10k. I know I can do it, I now just have to actually do it. I don't care how long it takes me, I just want to be able to say that I ran the whole thing.

keep running at least two days a week. I know myself, and I know that not having the race hanging over me [including how much I spent on the registration] is going to cut my motivation in half. Schedules are getting crazy, but I want to keep running at least twice a week - once during the week for however long I can manage, and a longer run over the weekend. I like that I've built up my endurance, and now I want to keep it up.

start learning nepali. I want to start learning the language that I will be surrounded by for two months, so my goal is to spend 10 minutes each night learning vocabulary and phrases that will help me build a foundation.

give myself one night off per week. I realized last week that I was running myself into the ground. This week has been much better because we've had a bit of a light load, but I know it's going to pick up again soon. I decided that I need to prioritize my time in such a way that I could take one weeknight off from doing work.

get back to reading for 20 minutes every night before bed. I've let myself get out of the habit of reading and instead into the habit of falling asleep to an episode of Law and Order: SVU on Netflix. As a result, I'm staying up later and later. I'm cutting myself off from Netflix after 9.30pm and getting back into the habit of reading. I miss it.

I am also formulating my ideas of what I need to get done over Spring Break, but I'll get to that when the time is right.

Now, let's see how I do.

27 February 2012

another month gone.

With February coming to a close, I thought I would reflect on how I did with this month's resolutions:

no facebook. Other than checking it twice - once to get contact information for something that was due for my Professionalism class, and once because Facebook kept sending me emails saying that I had notifications pending - I've been good about following this one. And I have to say, it's been really nice. It took me a few days to get out of the routine of clicking on it, but once I managed about three or four days, I was fine. I'm hoping that my use from now on will be scaled back a bit, but who knows.

sending one personal email each day to a friend. Hmm. I definitely did not do this every day. I don't know why I think I will keep up with something like that. I will say that I was definitely better about correspondence this month than I usually am, and I did email people more than usual, but I was nowhere near close to sending one email each day. I'm hoping to stick to a goal of one or two per week from now on.

Additionally, as some of you might know, I stopped drinking in the middle of January as part of my training for my 10k, and I am happy to report that I have stuck with that. I did not, however, also stick to my plan of giving up soda. I was doing really well until a family dinner at Texas de Brazil, when my brother ordered himself a Dr Pepper. It just looked so refreshing, and it looked like it went so well with the food, that I couldn't resist. I'm not drinking as much soda as I was leading up to the holidays, so that's at least something positive I can take from that.

I'm coming up with my resolutions / goals for the month of March and will be posting those in the next few days.

Happy Monday!

26 February 2012

a few fun things on the horizon.

This semester is turning out to be one wacky ride, both within and outside of school.

Practicum is trying its best to swallow me whole between now and Spring Break, and I am refusing to allow that to happen. Our final deliverables to our partners are due in the coming weeks, in addition to a project for Program Evaluation. It's going to be hectic and busy and crazy, but I'm confident I'll survive it.

Outside of school, I have many other things that are keeping me busy, but they are all things I am excited about, such as:

babies. One of my classmates just had a baby last week, and my good friend Lisa Jain is expecting her first baby in May. That means that as of today, I have already attended two baby showers in the last month. I would say that's more than enough, but I'm just waiting to hear someone else speak up and say they are expecting as well.

a fun-filled wedding and all the fun-filled activities that go along with it. Catherine and Drew are getting married in Little Rock at the end of April, so not only does that mean I got to go to Miami for an awesome bachelorette weekend, but it also means that I get to attend many fun events here in Little Rock to celebrate their upcoming marriage. There was a celebration dinner last weekend, and there is a wine-tasting shower for Catherine in two weeks, complete with an appearance by a sommelier. I can't wait for that one. And then comes the actual wedding weekend at the very end of April.

race weekend. That's right, that 10k that I've been referring to since September is finally about to happen. Marathon weekend is a week away, and I'm looking forward to it. For one, I am confident that I can actually complete the entire race, which is not something I would have said six months ago. For another, there are a lot of Clinton School students participating in the various races, so we're going to get a few cheering sections together along the route.

kickball. Yep, it's that time of year again. Kickball season starts the same day as the Marathon, which seems a little wacky to me, but I guess that's why I'm not the one in charge. I'm looking forward to this season - we're keeping the novice team fun, which is how it's supposed to be. After all - as Nathan Jesson puts it - it's a sport designed for 10-year-olds.

spring break. Oh yes, in between all of this is that little vacation I planned for myself to visit the Mann siblings in London and Paris in mid-March. I am so looking forward to seeing them. Only 20 days until I set food in London-town. That's so soon!

tom petty and the heartbreakers AND regina spektor in concert. They're playing together here in Little Rock in April, so Angela and I decided we should get ourselves some tickets for that.

[these next 3 are technically after school ends, but they deserve recognition as well]

san francisco! Miriam and Dave have been living out there for nearly three years now, and I have yet to get out there to see them. That also means that I haven't actually seen Miriam and Dave in nearly three years. I decided that I needed to see them before I headed back to Bangalore, and upon some searching, I realized that tickets from Little Rock to San Francisco are pretty reasonably priced. And about $200 cheaper than flying from Memphis. So I coordinated with Miriam and booked myself some tickets for the weekend after school wraps up. Not only am I thrilled at the prospect of spending a solid three days with them, but San Francisco is also the home of the global office of room to read, so I will also get to meet the people with whom I've been communicating all these months.

walker's wedding. My dear senior year Rhodes roommate Emily Walker is getting married Memorial Day weekend in Memphis, which of course I can't miss. Her wedding is at the Dixon Galleries in Memphis, so it's going to be both beautiful and an awesome throw-down. I'll get to see a lot of people I haven't seen in years, which I am very excited about. So that makes two babies and two weddings in one semester. There must be something in the water.

bangalore, istanbul, nepal! Since my dates for my IPSP got pushed back, I'm going to have close to 6 weeks in Bangalore to hang out with everyone and catch up and hopefully finalize my Capstone project. And in the middle of those 6 weeks, my awesome Clinton School classmate Kellen is getting married in Istanbul, so I'm going to treat myself by taking a little trip over there for his wedding. So now we're at three weddings, all within a span of three and a half months. I sure hope it's not catching... And then it's back to Bangalore for a few weeks - which will hopefully include a visit from my Macaroni - and then up to Delhi for a bit, over to Kathmandu for a week, and then to rural Bardiya for a few months.

Like I said, it's going to be busy. But I am genuinely thrilled about all of these events. I'm trying to squeeze in a trip to Hot Springs for the races, a trip to Fayetteville for an Arkansas baseball game, and / or a trip to St Louis to hang out with preggo Lisa. We'll see. I'm running out of weekends!

Any ideas for other things I should add?

22 February 2012

gifts from home.

Amai recently sent a few things for me with one of Kishore's colleagues who came to Syracuse for training, and my parcel arrived from Syracuse yesterday. The main thing was my USB drive that I had left there in July. It's been a long process to get that back to me, but I felt there was no point in buying a new one when I knew I had a perfectly good one that just needed a little extra help finding its way here.

The other thing she sent were two 2012 Peace Child India calendars. To celebrate its 10th anniversary, PCI printed nice calendars to sell to friends and former interns. Since she knew someone was coming in February, she waited a few months to send them to me. It was so nice to page through it and see the pictures that they chose to use. Brought back some great memories from my Boys' Home and traveling days. Since she sent two, I displayed one in our kitchen and have kept one for my room.

And the last gift, the one that nearly made me cry, was about ten 5-Star bars that she and Kishore had sent along with the other things. I knew about the other stuff, but the 5-Stars were a complete surprise and made me completely homesick. Yesterday had been a really long day - we were on the road around 6.45 for Practicum, and I didn't return home until nearly 9.30 that night - so not only was it awesome to receive a parcel, but to find such an unintended and completely thoughtful and awesome gift inside was fantastic. I definitely teared up a little.

It made me remember how nice it is to receive little things from home, little reminders that people remember you and are eager to have you back. It also made a list begin forming in my head of all the little things I am looking forward to once I hit Bangalore shores in June. Things like 5-Stars. And Cadbury Crackles. And gobi manchurian... But that's a list for another day. And believe me, it's going to be a good one.

But for today, I'm enjoying a little taste of home, thanks to my Boss and my Bava.

21 February 2012

10k tuesday: it's crunch time.

Race day is in less than 2 weeks!

While I haven't gotten up to the full 6.2 miles - and I most likely won't now that it's so close - I ran 5.5 over the weekend and survived. It took a bit longer than I would have liked, but I'm partly chalking that up to not having run a long distance in two weeks. Which is my own fault, I know. So I'll live with it. And also to the fact that somewhere between miles 3 and 4, I seem to just hit a brick wall. I need to work on that. In the next 2 weeks.

Since I'm not supposed to run too long of a distance the week before the race, I was thinking that I might do a 6.5-7 mile jog/walk, just to keep myself in practice and to get used to a longer distance. As in, jog 3/4 of a mile, walk 1/4 of a mile, and repeat. That way I'm still getting in a good run, but I'm not attempting to do the whole thing at once and "running" the risk of injuring myself [pun intended, even if it is a bad one]. Which is, in all honesty, always a possibility with me.

At this point, I'm just ready for the race to be here.
Then I have to find new ways to motivate myself to keep running.

15 February 2012

it's a small world after all.

One of the things I can never get over living in Little Rock is how small and inter-connected this town is. Since moving here at the end of July, I have consistently run into people I know. And not just people from Helena, although there have been quite a few of them, but also people from Rhodes and Memphis and even someone from Chattanooga.

And it's not just running into people I already knew prior to moving to Little Rock. It's also continually running into people I've met while here. I was at Town Pump one night and ran into a guy whose kickball game I had umped a few weeks prior. And it's meeting people who know people I know. One of my friends from college was in town from DC a few months ago and we realized that he grew up with one of my classmates at the Clinton School. My dean knows one of my dad's close friends from Helena. While in Miami a last month, one of Catherine's friends from Little Rock was telling a story about her cousin, and somewhere in the middle of it, I realized her cousin was one of the second-year students at the Clinton School. And just tonight, at a Create Little Rock event for Little Rock graduate students, I ran into two girls from Helena as well as Angela's classmate from law school who knows both of them, plus a ton of other kids from Helena.

I always knew Arkansas was a small place, but I guess I just never realized how overlapping all the circles were.

It's a small world, for sure. And shrinking every day.

11 February 2012

book update: the lost flamingoes of bombay.

Well, I finished The Lost Flamingoes of Bombay [Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi]. I still haven't decided yet how much I liked it, though. The beginning was really interesting, a nice homage to the complexity and randomness of Bombay, but somewhere in the middle it lost its thread a bit. The plot went in an odd direction, and I just wasn't quite sure how to feel about it. It picked back up again about two-thirds of the way through, and the end turned out more interesting than I was expecting, based on how the middle was going.

I thought the characters were interesting, although I couldn't quite get a grasp on the character of Rhea. The main character, Karan, went through a lot of transformations over the years the book covers, and although I could sympathize with a few of them, there were a few character turns that were a bit baffling.

The bit in the middle that dealt with the court system in India was the part I found to be a bit plodding, mostly because most people know how the corrupt the court system is in India, and the result of the trial that takes place was completely predictable. If you don't know much about India's court system, that part could be interesting, but for someone who knows it fairly well, those 75-or-so pages felt like a bit of a drag. That was where I lost the thread a bit and is possibly why it took me about a week longer to finish than it should have.

By far my favourite parts of the book were the passages on Bombay the city...

"So this is Bombay, monster muse, part witch, part clown, always absurd, often charming - my rogue ballad; this is Bombay, meri jaan."

"Without the distraction of beauty, without the consolation of art, people find respite in each other. Yet the sparks between two people do not qualify as companionship. In Bombay people don't offer each other too much talk or touch; rather, they look each other in the eye like soldiers, wounded and brave and crazy. And lucky to be alive, if not happy. The power of this city is the mad desire it arouses in you to live an unlonely life."

"Love. It was this city, its ghastly buildings and the sea. Dark petals of red roses dancing in the wind and the roofs of crumbling cottages. A shell on the beach and the hum of a blind beggar. The amber cast of the street light and a dog howling at the moon. Everything was made out of it. Everything had come forth from it, as it would on day return into it. Love."

There just aren't enough ways to describe how beautiful and complex Bombay is. I can't wait to go back for a visit one day.

08 February 2012

10k tuesday: inching our way there.

Sorry for the lack of update yesterday - I left home at 6.30 in the morning and returned only at 10.30 pm, when I promptly fell into my bed and did not emerge until 8.30 this morning.

But. I have a very positive update for this week. I ran 4.2 miles on Sunday and actually ran it faster than the 3.8 last Monday, which was pretty exciting for me. Also, because it was Sunday and I wasn't crunched for time, I drove down to Big Dam Bridge and ran along the River Trail, which was probably the best decision I could have made. Because it's a long trail, I didn't run around in circles 25 times, and it's very scenic down by the river and Murray Park. I think I'm going to try to do the remainder of my long runs down there from now on.

Part of the reason I think I was able to pick up my pace so much was that I had done a half-hour run on Friday. I'm going to try to stick to that schedule from here on out, as time allows.

This Sunday I'm hoping to get up to 4.6 miles. Ideally I would do something closer to 5, but it all depends on how I'm feeling.

Look at me, I'm a running machine!

05 February 2012

becoming a good citizen.

This month's good challenge is to become a better citizen. I get the emails about what the daily task is, and I thought I would share my responses to today's. Today's task was to make a list of the issues about which I am passionate. My list includes issues both domestic and international, and it encompasses things about which I am passionate as well as things about which I would like to learn more.

  • education. I believe that every child in the world should have access to education, regardless of location, socio-economic status, or gender. It's something I was passionate about here in the States, and it is something I have become almost crazed about since living abroad.
  • sustainability, in all shapes and sizes. Many people think that living sustainably means living in extremes, but that's not the case. Doing little things, such as recycling, turning off lights, not leaving appliances plugged in 24/7, or drying your clothes on a line instead of in a dryer can make a difference. Starting small is at least starting.
  • a woman's right to choose. I may alienate people who are reading this, but I am a firm believer in a woman's control over her own body.
  • freedom of religion. While not being a particularly religious person myself, I have no qualms with people who do have strong faith. I do, however, have issues with people of any religion who try to push their beliefs onto others. The beautiful thing about the world in which we live is that there is space for everyone to believe whatever they want to believe, and none of us has the right to trample on that.
There are other things in which I have been involved over the years, but those are probably tops on my list at the moment.

Apparently I will be referring back to this list in the coming weeks as part of my month-long attempt to become a better citizen, so check back to see what comes next.

04 February 2012

random rambles.

It's been a hazy-crazy-dazy kind of week, so my copout is to leave you with a list of the things shuffling around in my mind at the moment...

1. Jane and Dillard came down yesterday and we went to see Will Hoge play at Stickyz downtown. They've seen a lot of his shows over the years, but I hadn't seen him since Music Fest 2001. He's still awesome. And I remembered how much I love live music.

2. Today was our student session with President Clinton. It was pretty cool to sit right in front of him and listen to him answer my fellow students' questions. He knows so much about such a variety of subjects. If only there weren't a two-term limit...

3. It's looking like we might just be able to complete all of our interviews for our Practicum project. Maybe. Let's give it a few more weeks before we make any big decisions.

4. Tomorrow I am supposed to run 4.2 miles. I've never run that far before in my life. I've been having some sort of mental block about getting past the 4-mile mark, so here's hoping it's not too traumatic.

5. I'm almost finished with The Lost Flamingoes of Bombay. It's been a bit of an up-and-down read. I'll do a full review next week once I've completed it.

6. It's going to be a crazy semester. My weekends are full from now until I leave for India in May. How that happened, I'll never know. But it's going to be one hell of a ride.

7. Each week I get more and more excited about my summer project. All of the contacts I've had at Room to Read are awesome, and the more my project gets cemented, the more I can't wait to get there and get started.

8. I'm slowly beginning to make some big decisions about the next few years. Once I get a few more things confirmed, I'll announce them to the blog-o-sphere.

9. At this time, in 6 weeks, I'll be running around London with Ellie-Bear. I can't wait.

10. I've generally gotten off to a good start for the semester. Staying on top of my reading; no more 6am runs; reading for pleasure every night before bed; cooking at home more often and generally eating better; 7.5 hours of sleep every night... I like how we've started, now let's see if we can keep it up.

That's all for this week. It's going to be an early Saturday night for this girl. Hopefully next week I'll have some more fun things to impart.