the wonderful world of veena.

01 January 2014

all the things I hope to do in 2014.


I've mentioned before that I'm not really one for resolutions, but I do have an idea of various things I want to do / accomplish in 2014. I don't like the term "bucket list", but I also don't have a better one. For now we can just call it "All the things Veena thinks she can do in 2014". Sounds good to me.

And here we go...

I want to start volunteering again. I've been realising in the last month or so that part of the reason I've been getting down about the whole unemployment thing is because my weeks don't have a routine, and because I really miss being around people. I decided that while I'm continuing to look for jobs, I want to start volunteering a few days a week around Memphis. For one, it's a great way to contribute to organizations around the city who can always use help [some personal favourites include St JudeLiteracy Mid-South, MIFA, and Volunteer Mid-South]. Additionally, it will help me increase my network around the city and potentially open up some new avenues for future employment that I hadn't thought about before. The biggest potential setback I see is that most places want a 6-month commitment, but that is a hurdle I will cross when I come to it.

I'm going to run another half-marathon. I know, not something you thought I'd ever say. Truth be told, I didn't really think I'd run the first one, let alone consider running a second one. But here I am, bitten by the running bug. And my experience running my first one was pretty positive on the whole, so it's put me in the mood to train for another. I also know that having a specific race to train for makes me more motivated to stick to a regular running schedule. So with all that in mind, and at the urging of my friend Julie Clary, I have taken the plunge and registered for the Little Rock Half in March. Only 8 weeks to my next 13.1...

I hope to run more races in general. I recently realised I want to participate in a few "fun" <read: shorter> running events in addition to a more serious half marathon, so I got the ball rolling on that in December. I was signed up for an Ugly Sweater 5k in Memphis a few weeks ago, but it was canceled due to weather conditions; instead, I can transfer my registration to a race organized by the same company in 2014. I ran the Orion Starry Nights 4k at Shelby Farms Park a few days after Christmas and had a pretty good time getting to see the Christmas lights in the park. I'll likely sign up for another in late March or early April once I've finished my run in Little Rock. It's a fun way to get in a run while having just a little bit of fun at the same time. Who knew the two could go together?!

While I'm in Memphis, I want to be more active in the city. Last year I had the pleasure of re-visiting both Graceland and the National Civil Rights Museum, getting back to some of my favourite restaurants, and attending a few Grizz games, and it reminded me of what an awesome city Memphis is. I forget sometimes, staying out in the 'burbs with my parents, but downtown and Midtown have such a great personality, and I want to explore those areas more. I got around a lot during my undergrad days, but it's been a long time since I got to properly play tourist in Memphis, and so much has changed in these last 10 years. I want to go to museums. I want to try out new restaurants. I want to hang out in Overton Square. I want to experience as much of Memphis as I can in the time that I'm here. The ILoveMemphis blog has a ton of great recommendations that I plan on checking out, but I'm always in the market for more, especially if it involves eating in Memphis.

I want to travel somewhere I've never been before. This is something that's on my list every year, and I've been able to cross this one off the last couple of years -- CharlestonAnn Arbor in 2011; Miami, Paris, Nepal, Kurnool & Pune in 2012; and Nashik, parts of northeast India, Kansas City and Topeka, & Aruba in 2013. It doesn't necessarily have to be somewhere crazy or exciting or even necessarily out of the country; it just has to be somewhere new.

I want to cook more. I'm not necessarily very inventive in the kitchen, but I enjoy cooking. For years all I could make was brownies and 7-layer dip, and while I'm pretty good at both, I want to add to my repertoire. I've slowly been working on cooking some Indian veggies under the supervision of my mother, and I'd say I've gotten pretty good at them, especially cauliflower, stuffed okra, and parwar [a Gujurati vegetable]. I can make chicken biryani also, but the thing with Indian food is that it's quite time-intensive - especially this dish. It's nice on Sundays, when my mother and I make lunch together and have the whole morning, but it's just not feasible to throw something together quickly during the week. So I want to find some easier recipes that I can make, say once a week for dinner. I figure the Smitten Kitchen Recipe Index is a great place to start, but I'm definitely open to other suggestions if anyone has any. I've also been craving gumbo recently, so I'm on the lookout for good gumbo recipes.

I want to read the following books:
  • Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie
  • The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
  • And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
  • Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
  • Americanah by Chimamada Ngozi Adichie
  • The Round House by Louise Erdrich
  • Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
  • Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
  • The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux
  • On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  • Creating Room to Read by John Wood
  • Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
Some of these I've had for years, and others just came out and will be releasing in paperback sometime in 2014. There are obviously scores of other books I am also interested in reading, and I would like to make some more progress through the Wheel of Time series - I've been stuck on Book 4 for a while - but the ones listed above are the ones I absolutely will [hopefully] read this year. If anyone is interested in reading along, let me know.

I want to learn basic coding. I don't need to be the world's expert in programming, but it would be nice to know some of the basics of coding and building a website. It is something that is pertinent to the world today, and it would go a long way to helping me further develop this blog, should I choose to do so. It's something I've been thinking about for a while, and I figure now is as good a time as any to begin. I've mentioned Coursera a few times before, and I just found a self-study Computer Science 101 course that they have on offer [taught by a professor at Stanford, no less!] and signed up for it. Wish me luck!

I want to watch The Wire. I've been hearing rave reviews of the show for over a year, and I figure it's time I see what it's all about for myself. My brother has all the seasons on DVD, so it's right on hand for easy viewing. I sense a marathon in my future.

I want to buy a record player. This is one that I've been thinking about for a long while now, and I decided a few months ago that a record player will be my "congrats on getting a job" gift to myself. Sounds like a pretty solid plan to me. Now to just get that job...

From the looks of it, this is going to be quite a busy year, but I'm looking forward to seeing what it has in store. Here's hoping yours is busy - and prosperous - as well.


  1. Good list, Veena. Infinite Jest has been on my list for a while now, but I'm definitely intimidated by the length. Let me know if you'd be interested in reading it together. Maybe we could set up our own little discussion group too. :-) I'd love to catch up with you sometime regardless.

    1. Thanks, Stacy! I would love to read Infinite Jest together. I just started The Fault in Our Stars, and there are a few others I wanted to get through first, but maybe in a few months? We could do a Google Hangout to discuss it to keep us motivated through the sheer length of it :)

      Hope your year is off to a great start! How are you enjoying life in Maryland?

  2. Your list is lovely and its so similar to mine :) come to hk for no 5, you will love it.. And wish u a very happy new year!! :)

    1. Vaidehi! So lovely to hear from you! Doesn't surprise me that your list is similar :) I would love to visit HK! Maybe I can find myself a fairy godmother to sponsor the trip...! Hope you are well, and I hope we get to see each other in the near future. And a very happy belated new year to you :)