Thursday, April 5, 2012

Divas 217: Carmina laudantur, sed munera magna petuntur.

My to-do list for this lovely morning:
  • Meditate for 1 hour.
  • Read 1 section in The Power of Now.
  • Read 30 lines of Ars Amatoria.
  • Design newspaper advertisement for Gyaan Ghar part-time teacher.
  • Update proposal for visit to Manav Mangal Smart School.
  • Make changes to blog page on Mumbai.

I hate to share my experience in bullet point form, but this is very much how it felt today! I postponed my shower repeatedly thinking I'd take it after attacking "one more thing," and ended up finishing all my pending odds and ends before washing up and chilling out a little bit (I fell asleep while meditating this morning -- oops). Of course, many of the little "chores" were fun, and I interspersed the above with snacking on aesthetically pleasing fruits (left) and digging up ancient photographs for a secret project. :)

As I've said before, I'd do nothing but work if my stamina could take it -- not that my to-do list for today contained any back-breaking labor.

Over lunch, Gaikwad Uncle gave me a wonderful lecture -- both detailed and big picture -- on the history and present impacts of Mumbai's urbanization. I'm proud to say that I actually understood most everything, and have had at least some level of exposure on this trip to most of the key urban areas he highlighted:

1. Housing
2. Transport
3. Water Supply
4. Stormwater Drainage
5. Sewage
6. Solid Waste Management

I rested at length after lunch (goodness knows I needed it) and then enjoyed a long conversation with Mama over Skype. She closed with the words "Thank you for your smile" -- you're welcome, Mommy! Thank you for my existence!

I was moved by Uncle's briefing to read the last chapter of his Initiatives in Development Administration over tea -- about his time working to transform the city's infrastructure as Metropolitan Commissioner of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority.

I read the last few pages during a grueling (i.e. minimal) workout on the treadmill in an attempt to do justice to my comparatively minimal afternoon agenda:

  • Work out for 1 hour.
  • Meditate for 1 hour.

I think the one thing that really tends to stress me out is planning, and I was inclined to try to plot and plan the rest of my year during this evening meditation session, but I did my best to maintain awareness and equanimity (the cornerstones of Vipassana) and made it through the session! I chalked out the remainder of my gap year after meditating, and here is my tentative schedule (also visible in the left sidebar):

9 April - 3 May: I'll be in Punjab, spending more time with family as well as Gyaan Ghar students and staff.
3 May - 15 May: Receiving teaching training from Mr. Chang, and a week of classroom experience at Flint Hill!
15 May - 15 July: Working on environmental conservation in Latin America (I'm thinking Mexico).
15 July - 1 August: Coaching teams to compete at Latin Convention, and attending the event myself.
19 August: Participating in Harvard Pre-Orientation!

Didi joined us for dinner tonight and we were all in a very jovial and silly mood -- we had great fun. I just finished chatting with her about the training program she is conduction for the ICICI Fellow Program; it sounds like those kids are having a great time and learning more than ever (like me!).

Before now, I thought "happiness" meant laughing hysterically or feeling on top of the world all day. But I'm beginning to experience a new sort of placid pleasure -- not going to lie: I really like it.


P.S. The title of today's post translates roughly to "poems are praised, but great (material) gifts are preferred" -- the Roman poet Ovid made this observation in the lines I read today, and I think it's stood the test of time!


  1. Yay, I am so happy that you're definitely going to nationals! Me too!

  2. Also, wanted to tell you that for some reason one sentiment from your letter to Priya stuck out to me: [paraphrased] "If you're not happy now, why do you think you will be in the future?" I've been thinking about that a LOT ever since reading it. Thank you! :)

    1. Hahaha not to be weirdly solipsistic or whatever, but I'm proud of that one, too. It makes sense, right?