Priya Paradise

I'm waiting at the airport for Priya to clear security, after an amazing weekend spent with my sister and world's favorite person. Seeing my college experience through her eyes has made me even more grateful for the freshman year that I so enjoy everyday.

Priya landed Friday morning while I sat in Latin class, and was received at the airport by my sweet friend and hallmate Sophie. I snatched my sister from her and we raced to my math class, where we sat in the back giggling as I learned nothing about reference angles. We ate lunch at the unbeatable Science Center Cafe (Indian food!) before heading to the Square to bother Reylon at his job at Harvard Student Agencies. We dragged our brother down to the river, where we took iconic Charles River selfies before enjoying some bubble tea and existential conversation. Next, we really got down to business, each splurging (actually bargain hunting) on a pair of shoes before heading back to my dorm to get dressed for the night. On Friday was the Freshman Formal, which Priya and I skipped with Sophie and her little brother Tom (who was also visiting this weekend!). We did take advantage of the fancy food at Annenberg though, before bunking the dance and instead opting for Cantabrigian adventures of salad at Panera, cookies at Insomnia, pool at Quincy, and piano at Adams. Around midnight, we retired to my room with Reylon and the rest of the sibling gang and played with pictures taken during the night.

 We slept way too late and got up too late Saturday morning, strolling to a Bertucci's lunch with Javier and some post office errands before the highlight of the day -- Cultural Rhythms! This is an annual event that showcases student groups that represent a variety of cultural backgrounds -- from Wushu to Mariachi to Bhangra -- and features an annual Artist of the Year. This year's special guest was the gorgeous Nicole Sherzinger, whom Priya and I admired during the show and enjoyed imitating afterward. We left the show early to race to Opportunes rehearsal, which Priya observed for a while before leaving to hang out with her bro Manik! We reconvened at 10 for dinner at Felipe's, dessert at Insomnia Cookies, and more dessert at Zinneken's Waffles. This weekend was not a good one for our figures.

Sunday was our work day. Priya and I met Reylon for Brazilian brunch at Adams Dining Hall before hitting Insomnia yet again (we visited this cookie joint a total of 7 times during her visit here) and then doing some Harvard-themed shopping. With souvenirs bought, I deposited Priya at Lamont to do homework with Rey as I again rushed to rehearsal. After 6 long hours singing this semester's awesome arrangements (and emailing my Indian Philosophy essay in at the last minute), I joined Priya, Reylon, Eliza, Lucy, and Kevin for a dinner of Korean Barbecue at Bon Chon. The sister certainly enjoyed talk of K Pop, and heard rave reviews of Korean soap operas, which I'm sure she'll soon explore. Regrettably finding every other dessert possibility closed on this snowy night, we had to settle for...Insomnia Cookies (so named because they close at 3am daily). We bundled up and shuffled back to Greenough when Javier sent a special request that we deliver him some chai -- and caffeine is my specialty! I whipped him up a Tazo tea in my room, poured some pistachios into a box, and trudged through the snow for delivery to Thayer. We found a sleepy Javier in incriminating attire, and brightened his night with some hermana conversation and an order of white chocolate macadamia cookies from Insomnia. As the delivery came to his door, we slipped out and through the snow-clad Yard back to Greenough.

After a good night's sleep, we sprung up again today and I sped to Expos as Priya packed up her bag before joining me in Latin class. Professor Tarrant called on her to read some lines of Tibullus aloud, which this Latin monster did, receiving warm accolades from my teacher. After Latin, Sophie invited Priya to attend her class on Education Reform as I dragged my feet to Calculus. Framing our weekend in a perfect ring composition, we lunched on the Indian food at the Science Center before again venturing to the Coop to buy Priya the birthday present we'd been window shopping for all weekend. One quick Insomnia order pick-up later, Priya accompanied me to my Environmental Policy class, finding herself less intimidated than I. After ESPP we dashed to Greenough, grabbed Priya's stuff, bid Sophie adieu, and set out for the airport!

We had a lovely dinner and conversation before Priya boarded. For a kid five years younger than I am, she's dripping in wisdom. Her appreciation for the people and places around me reminds me how lucky I am, and the way she looks at things makes me feel special. I'm so happy we got these four days together, and I can't wait to see this cookie monster again in a month...and next time in India!

Work Request #935-087356

The water pressure in Greenough is terribly low.
It makes the bathroom line notedly slow.

We stand exchanging pleasantries as one of us washes her hands,
another steps back from brushing her teeth,
we each take a turn between
getting into conversations about rushing and a cappella and archaeological evidence about death rituals of the Neolithic Era.

We stand looking at ourselves and the other in the mirror,
reflecting on our days and how we don’t quite like how we spend our nights
and I wonder if our conversations would last this long
if the water moved faster.

Maybe waiting takes some of the pressure of “everything else” off 
and so we’re not in such a rush
and perhaps I won’t email YardOps with my work request just yet.

Snow Day

This weekend is turning out to be a ghastly one, work-wise. Two of my classmates and I have been tossing around puns all day about how we are being absolutely inundated by this Environmental Policy class on water scarcity, and it's completely drowning our dreams. The assignments we have to prepare for this week seem to have no beginning and no end and no clear directions on what to do. Welcome to policy-making, I guess. (The last thing this brain-baffling I encountered had to be something assigned to me by Trish Deveneau junior year of high school.) Don't get me wrong -- I've taken hard classes before. But I'd rather translate Ancient Greek for hours or even do calculus over this nebulous (for lack of a better or more alliterative word) nonsense. It really has been quite disheartening.

But walking back from the cafeteria and a lunch spent grunting and groaning, two small but wonderfully heartening observations struck me about my weekend:

1. I'll be starting each of these uber-stressful days with meditation. Before our environmental marathon, Reylon and I re-read the beginning of The Power of Now to center ourselves before diving in, and then meditated for 20 minutes before reading the instructions for the policy memo we have to write. Tomorrow, I'll start my day with reading for my expository writing on Indian Philosophy, with the words of the Buddha himself. Quite a luxury to have this reflection built (or fit) into such crammed days.

2. The SNOW. Oh my goodness it's so beautiful outside. I've never seen this much snow before. Trekking to  obligations is just so much more exciting and dream-like in this post-apocalyptic paradise that our campus has become for the weekend. Some more daring (imprudent) northeasterners will even needlessly brave the nor'easter seeking out their favorite caffeine fix (only to find Starbucks intelligently closed).

I guess I just thought maybe a fourth coffee today would help me finally see what the heck I can do to help Australia solve all of its water problems. But I think my point in this post is to find your meditation -- through your music or your art or your sport -- and start your days with that if you can. And feel the crunch of the snow under your soaked pink rain boots, and enjoy it.

Or maybe I just wanted to take a break from the kind of writing I can't seem to figure out, and allow myself to be distracted by the type I sort of know how to approach.

A Semester Preview

I'm very excited to be back for my second semester at Harvard, and looking forward immensely to the classes and activities in which I'll be enrolled/involved this spring! I wanted to give you all a brief overview of what a week in my shoes will look like this semester, obviously minus the spontaneous wandering that will of course also take place.

My mornings will start a bit like this:

At 10, I'll walk just across the street from Greenough to the Barker Humanities Center for an expository writing class called Indian Philosophy and the Search for the Self. I'm super delighted to have gotten into this class because of my personal interest in meditation and yoga -- the course description reads as follows:

Who are you? What does it mean to have a self, and how do we even know we have one? This course explores the views of thinkers who radically challenge our everyday notions of self: Buddhist philosophers who denied the very existence of the self, and Hindu philosophers who taught that most of us are ignorant of our true selves. We will read early scriptural classics, later philosophical literature, and works on yoga and meditation, concluding with a look at the transformation of these practices in contemporary American culture.

At 11, I'll head over to Boylston for my Latin Elegy class which includes selections from Propertius, Tibullus, and Ovid's Amores. Our professor himself warned us that these poets tend to be tricky, so this class should be an exciting linguistic challenge!

At noon, I'll have Mathematics Mb in the Science Center, which is described as "continued investigation of functions and differential calculus through modeling; an introduction to integration with applications; an introduction to differential equations." While this description is a bit dry, I'm looking forward to this class in particular because of how much I enjoyed math last semester, and for the fact that my CA (course assistant), who is a sophomore in Adams house, is a really great teacher and awesome guy.

After lunch, I'll stroll to the University Museum for Environmental Science and Public Policy 10: Environmental Policy. This class is exciting for two reasons -- it will be my introduction to a field that I am strongly considering majoring in; and our professor, John Briscoe, is a close colleague of my dad from the World Bank! The description of the course reads as follows:

This course develops the concepts and skills needed to design effective public policy for managing interactions between environmental, social and economic systems. The course is organized around cases of real-world policy analysis, some from the US and some involving developing countries. We will examine the environmental, social and economic substance of the cases, the interests of stakeholders, the policy and political processes, the ways in which trade-offs are perceived and evaluated, and the outcomes and impacts.

In addition to these four classes, I'll be involved in two major extracurricular endeavors:

I'll of course be singing with The Harvard Opportunes again this semester, and our Spring Jam will be very early this year, right around the corner on March 9th! The group is extra excited this semester to have recently welcomed two awesome new girls, Sara Wiant and Madeleine Smith, to the Opps family. I can't wait to make music with these chicas!

And finally, I'll be performing in the biggest show on campus, which is called Ghungroo and sponsored by the College's South Asian Association. I'll be trying my feet at semiclassical Indian dance, with which I have no prior experience -- so it's bound to be a blast!

Other than that, I'm planning to continue to enjoy the interesting people and extraordinary opportunities that greet me at every corner. Cheers to a great semester!