the wonderful world of veena.

30 March 2012

april: last full month in little rock.

It feels a little weird to type that - and even weirder knowing it's true - but the fact of the matter is that April is my last full month in Little Rock.What that means is that it's going to be crazy, because I'm going to be attempting to cram in a LOT of things while also trying to keep my head afloat in the vast ocean of grad school projects. My list for the month is both long and short:

complete as many things as possible on my little rock / arkansas / usa bucket list. I'm currently in the process of compiling a bucket list of all the things I need to accomplish before I leave for India. If anyone has any suggestions, be sure to pass them along. I hope to get that list up here in a few days so you can see all the things I'm hoping to do next month.

identify - and potentially contact - at least 3-5 possible Capstone organizations in Bangalore. while Capstone is still far away, it's going to be upon me sooner than I realize. My hope is that in the next month I can begin identifying some potential organization who might be willing to allow me to work with them. Even better if I can go ahead and establish some contact so that I can set up some meetings for June and July. If you know of any organizations in Bangalore - particularly one's working with education / girls' education - let me know!

And that's pretty much it. I might come up with a few more, but as I said, most everything will fall under the bucket list.

Happy weekend-ing! I am celebrating Dylan Perry's birthday tonight, doing some Auction work and attending a screening of miss representation tomorrow, and kicking some balls around on Sunday. In between mounds of reading and organizing my Project Methodology for my IPSP, of course. woo!

29 March 2012

the whirlwind that was march.

I feel like March just started, and here it is almost over. That does mean, however, that I am that much closer to being back in Bangalore. I thought I'd take a few moments to look over how I did with my March goals / resolutions...

run the entire 10k. check. and in only 2 minutes over my estimated time. I'll take it.

keep running two days a week. didn't do so well on this one. since I was sick when I ran the race, I took thee week after the race off to recuperate. then I took another week off. then it was spring break. then, while on spring break, I wore shoes that were too small and walked around so much that the blister popped open, and now I can't wear closed-back shoes. so that didn't quite work out for me. here's hoping for better results come April.

start learning nepali. well, I didn't start learning Nepali. but that's because my contact at Room to Read told me to learn Hindi instead, since I already have a bit of a foundation in it, and in western Nepal, most of the people there will speak Hindi. so I broke down and bought the Rosetta Stone for Hindi [go big or go home, right?] and have been going through the lessons on there. There are 3 levels, each of which are broken down into 4 units. Each of those 4 units are broken into 4 lessons, so essentially there are 48 lessons to go through, and I have completed...2.5. I decided I need to complete at least a unit a week from now until I start my project, so wish me luck getting through that. it's actually quite interesting the way it teaches you, including learning to read. I'll keep you posted on how it all turns out.

take one night a week off. definitely was not able to accomplish that before spring break, mostly due to the dearth of stuff we had to complete for Practicum. this week has been a bit hectic, but I'm giving myself an easy night tonight - have a few things to get started on, but nothing I'm freaking out about.

read for 20 minutes each night. success. some nights I don't make it to 20 minutes - I have a tendency to fall asleep with the book in my hand - but I've been reading at least a little each night. I completed The Handmaid's Tale [Margaret Atwood] over spring break and have begun the first book of The Hunger Games trilogy [Suzanne Collins]. review of Atwood's book forthcoming.

So that's March. I'm working on composing my April list and will get that up here shortly.
happy almost weekend!

28 March 2012

march madness musings.

Even though I've missed a fair bit of this year's tournament having been out of the country for Spring Break, I still have a few things I'd like to discuss regarding changes that happened while I was living in India...

  • the play-in games and opening rounds. I'm a March Madness purist - there are 64 teams who participate in the tournament, and the first round begins on Thursday. period. none of this business with the play-in games - all 4 of them! - being counted as the first round. if you want to do that, expand the tournament and still have the opening rounds on Thursday. otherwise go back to the way it was.
  • networks. what's up with the games being broadcast on 3 or 4 different networks? when I left for Bangalore, CBS showed all the games. part of the beauty of the opening weekend of the tournament was that there was never a down moment - when one game went to a commercial or had halftime, it switched to a different game in progress. that was the whole point of staggering the starting times of the games. that, and not having to sit through a halftime report until the Elite 8.
I know all of these changes are being driven by money - everyone wants more money, and the tournament can make more money with extra games and with additional networks paying to broadcast games. But that doesn't make it right or ok with me.

I love my March Madness, and I miss its simplicity.

24 March 2012

spring break shenanigans.

It'll take too much time and detail to rehash the details of my fantastic spring break visits to London and Paris to visit the Mann kids, so the following is an overview of the highlights:

london rain. the underground. homemade shepherd's pie. 2-for-1 cocktails on a sunday night at bar 55. lunching in camden town. dinner at jamie's italian in leicester square. old monk. eurostar-ing it to paris. wandering along the river and across arrondisements. maneuvering the paris metro. notre dame. reading in the luxembourg gardens. sidewalk wine with a view of the eiffel tower. hanging out in a portuguese pub in paris. twinkling lights on the eiffel tower. tipsy cycling around paris at night. lunch at the pasteur institute with mathura. wandering around the musee d'orsay. reading in the tullerie gardens overlooking the river. evening wanderings across and up and down paris. emergency sneakers. speaking hindi. making friends with a bangladeshi rose peddler. being asked for directions like a local. hanging out in the british library courtyard. drinks overlooking the camden lock. dinner in east dulwich with jagan, maeve, and the smalls. lunch with jon and flick. a quick visit with alex. a behind-the-scenes tour of london parliament. a drink at a pub called the blind beggar. traditional last-night-in-london dinner at tayyab's, capped off with some old monk. early morning tube to heathrow. and a whole lot of fun thrown into all of it.

what a week. and now it seems it's back to the real world. practicum beckons; paris pictures forthcoming.

12 March 2012

the news of the day.

As almost all of you know, I will be completing my International Public Service Project [IPSP] with room to read in Nepal from the end of July to the beginning of October. As many of you may also know, my plan was to stay on in India - hopefully in Bangalore - to complete my Capstone with an organization there.

Well. In the last few weeks, my plans have taken an even more drastic turn. After a lot of self-reflection and a host of conversations with classmates, professors, advisors, and my parents and brother, I have decided that when I go back to Bangalore in June, I'll be moving back there...permanently.

This was an idea that had been floating around in my head for a while, but to actually take the plunge and announce it and make it official was another thing entirely. I thought about how ready I am to be back in Bangalore; I thought about the logistics of either keeping a room in Little Rock for the time I'm gone or else having to find a room for the final 5 months of my grad school career; I thought about coming back just to take 2 classes my final semester; I thought about how staying on could help kick-start my career...I thought about a great many things and then finally decided to just do it.

One of the good aspects to the Clinton School frontloading our credits in our first year is that it gives us the freedom to spend our second year wherever we want. After this semester, and including the 6 hours I will get for IPSP and Capstone, I will require only 5 further credits to graduate. Thanks to the flexibility of our program, I can do an independent study with one of my professors as well as an online course, both of which can be completed from anywhere.

All of which made me think: what's stopping me from just moving back? And the answer was: not much. I was hesitant because I had told my parents I would be back in the States for two years, but after talking with them, I think they also realize that this is probably the best step. I reassured them that I will still be completing my degree, but I will also hopefully be getting a start on my career as well. Honestly, I think my father is just happy that I finally have a plan for my life.

So there it is, my latest life plan. I am beyond excited to know that I'll be back in Bangalore in less than three months, and that I'll be back for good.

And now to make my bucket list for my remaining months in Little Rock / Arkansas. If you have any suggestions, be sure to throw them my way.

11 March 2012

the girl effect.

While perusing a few websites on educating girls for my Professionalism speech, I came across a website called The website opens by asking you to agree or disagree with a statement: The world could use a good kick in the pants. Clicking on "agree" leads you to a short prezi / video about the crossroads that a girl comes to when she turns 12 in a developing country and the different paths she can go down depending on her level of education and support.

I haven't gotten a proper chance to peruse the rest of the site fully, but the video is well worth a watch if you have 3 minutes. It encompasses a lot of the reasons room to read works with girls' education, and it emphasizes a lot of the reasons I have become really interested in this issue in the last year or so.

Let's all work to promote the education of girls world-wide. After all, we know girls can - and will - change the world.

09 March 2012


It's been a while since I got some new pictures up here, so here are a few from Todun's baby shower and the Multicultural Committee's International Dance Party.

There's been a lot going on this week, but I hope to have some proper updates over the next few days. And at this time next week, I'll be on a flight, chugging my way over to London-town. Can't wait.

Happy weekend!

04 March 2012

post-race reflections.

I did it! I finished the race! And minus three spots of roughly 75 or so meters, I ran the whole thing. There were a few inclines towards the end that got to me, but otherwise, I kept on trucking.

My original goal was to finish in 1:20, which is somewhere between 12:30 and 13:00 per mile. I finished in 1:21.59. Considering I was sick and blowing snot all over the place [sorry for the unnecessary detail], I'm pretty proud of that time.

My feet are hurting a bit, particularly my heels and arches, but I think it's partly also because I stuck around until 1.45 to cheer on all the people I knew in the half and marathon, so I was on my feet for a long time. And then I played kickball in the evening. My hips are alright, but I've been stretching them on and off throughout the evening, so overall I think I'll be fine.

Overall I'm pretty proud of myself for setting a goal to finish this race and then actually following through on it. Back in September, when I first started entertaining thoughts of running [running! me? ridiculous], I could hardly run a mile without wanting to curl up in a ball, so to come through it and be able to run [mostly] 6.2 is a pretty big accomplishment for me. There were certainly a few points where I wasn't sure I was going to be able to do it, but it all came together in the end.

I've been thinking a little about future running goals, but for the time being I am going to enjoy the fact that I made it through today. I'll come back to those goals in the coming week or so.

For tonight, I'm sleeping with my FINISHER medal.

[below is a picture of Ashley and me with our medals after we completed the 10k]

03 March 2012

pre-race musings.

By this time, in 12 hours, I should - hopefully - be finishing with my 10k. After all these months of training, it finally comes down to the final 12 hours. Physically I am both ready and also not ready. By that I mean that a week ago I knew I could do it, and then on Wednesday I got sick. As in fever and stuffy nose sick. Normally I wouldn't care so much, but the stuffy nose makes it difficult to breathe through my nose while I'm running. As a result, I've had to slightly amend my plans for tomorrow. I am still going to run as much as I can, but I'm not going to beat myself up if I have to walk a bit of it. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it doesn't come to that.

So now I'm going to curl up in my bed and fall asleep to whatever pops up on my Netflix and dream about running across the finish line. [in reality, I'm probably going to dream about spreadsheets and data from interviews and whether it goes in human or financial or infrastructure or social. or how about all 4! don't ask, I promise you don't want to know...]

Sweet dreams, all. I'll catch you on the flip-side.