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Showing posts from 2014

Junior Fall

I do my thinking on airplanes. This weekend's set of flights was from Boston all the way to India, where I'll be spending my month of winter break, after a fall that was everything that a semester of college should be.

This term was challenging and confusing at first in the "where are my studies taking me and what do I want to get out of college?" department, and ultimately stimulating, exciting, and fulfilling all around. I think I grappled with a number of questions that can be excruciating in the moment (viz. "what should I do with my life?") but that are so wonderful to have the luxury of asking, with the support of such interested and insightful mentors and friends.

These questions led me to throw myself this semester into those activities that I don't question have always given me life -- three stand out in particular:

1. Performing

The fall was particularly generous in bestowing solo/duo performance opportunities around campus, and I got to make…

The Big 21

Every year, I throw a birthday tantrum. When I was turning 4 in India I started crying when my friends wouldn't call me "Dum-Dum" when they sang me the birthday song because my grandfather used to call me Dum-Dum and so that's what I wanted. When I turned 13 and my friends didn't decorate my locker at school the way I wanted it on the day I wanted it (my birthday fell on the weekend that year), I wrote an angsty piece about it and published it in the high school's literary magazine because the episode made me lose my faith in humanity a little bit. Not all years are this dramatic; sometimes I would just curl up in my closet and cry on a birth-morning because there was no way the evening could live up to my expectations.

This year's annual hissy fit wasn't that different. I think what freaks me out every year is that I feel like a celebration that is supposed to be for one's entire existence can never be as magical, spontaneous, surprising, and uni…


When I sometimes lie
shoulders tensed and wrists wrapped under chin in my bed because  the future can't find me here
and hear the defeated end-of-day trudging up the stairs my heart falls upon the rattle of the key because I wish the trudging was for me.

The Quintessential Summer

This summer has been hands-down the best one I can remember, and I don't say that every year. It serendipitously contained the best balance of home and school, family and friends, play and work, food and fitness, and music and silence I could have designed, had I tried. Resisting the ever-present seduction of travel for a more familiar experience wasn't a simple decision to make, but I couldn't be more glad I decided to look at the people and places I'm used to through a new set of lenses as the days grew longer this time around.

I started June off at home, working remotely on a research project for the Environmental Defense Fund, which really meant following Priya to work on Capitol Hill a couple times a week to ogle at my tenacious sister from any sketchy Starbucks I could find with wifi to sustain me as long as my attention span decided to last on a given day. We gymmed together daily, which I didn't realize would become one of my favorite memories until I misse…

Happy 20th, Preeti!

Good moooooooorning, Preeti!

Today is a very special day!

I hope it's a magical one, and you enjoy it immensely with your inspiring siblings in uplifting Glastonbury!

I also hope all your wishes come true and you get to consume lots of colorful cupcakes.

I know one of your wishes was always to make an appearance on my ecstatic blog, so I thought I'd make that one come true at least.

I hope your trip to Peru was mesmerizing and today is fantastic, and I can't wait to see you back up here where we receive our wonderful education.

Love you, little sis!

The 6 Coolest Things That Happened To Me Sophomore Year

This school year was a toughie! At times it felt like one big "sophomore slump," between hard classes and cold weather and dreary moments. But now that I've vanquished (okay, completed) my last exam of the semester, I wanted to take a second to look back on some of the silver linings of this sophomore year. Here are some of the things I'm proudest of from 2013-2014:

6. I took a philosophy class.

Who would have thought I would take philosophy in college before ever taking a college English class? I knew as soon as I shopped Professor Sean Kelly's Existentialism class this spring and added it to my schedule in place of the Shakespeare course I'd been planning on. It was most refreshing to be taught "heavy" stuff by a professor who was at once so brilliant and so down-to-earth, a trait it's been hard at times to find here. To have a class full of engaging "aha!" moments and many a lecture that eventually proved something simple like "…

Eulogy, Alive

As many of you know, I've been lucky enough these past two years to get to know the family of one of my role models, Marina Keegan, and have been working with them on a literary tour for her first book, which was just released this April. Marina is an incredible poet, playwright, author, activist, and human who was killed in a car crash four days after graduating from Yale in 2012. Hundreds of people have flocked to book readings of The Opposite of Loneliness along the East Coast to get, just for a moment, a glimpse of what hearing Marina's words read aloud can be like. I was honored last Friday to be invited to be a reader at one of these events, and to read Keegan's essay The Opposite of Loneliness, which she originally composed as a commencement speech, and after which her book is named.

I was thankful to have a number of friends attend the event, and each and every one was struck by the power and pertinence of Marina's expression, which can be described by no words…

Korea Day 7: Streets of Seoul

We spent today wandering in and out of markets and winding through subway stations and green spaces.

After a hearty breakfast, we patronized Insa-dong, a large market for Korean handicrafts and artwork.

Our group took its time finding souvenirs for those we love and admiring the colors, sounds, and tastes of the city.

When we had run our wallets' supply low and went to the bank to withdraw more, we stumbled upon a Buddhist temple called Jogyesa, which is the chief temple of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddism.

With Buddha's birthday coming up on May 6th, we took some time to celebrate, looking up at the colorful lanterns covering the place and sitting down for a brief meditation.

At the grand Seoul Subway Station, we stopped for refreshment at a lovely spot called Beans & Berries, where the gang stocked up on smoothies and pastries.

It was back to the bustle of the city then, with a visit to Namdaemun Market, the oldest and largest market in Korea.

We soon felt smothered by…

Korea Day 6: Sunshine in Seoul

We rewarded ourselves for a job well done at the conference by sleeping in till assorted hours of the afternoon today. When we rolled out of bed, it was right up the street to a typical Korean restaurant for lunch, followed by a brief trip on my part to the ethereal hotel gym.

The group then set out for an exciting afternoon of exploring the city. We started at Gyeongbokgung Palace, which we hadn't been able to enter on Tuesday because it was closed. We spent a couple of hours admiring its vivid colors and uplifting courtyards, all under the sunny but not overbearing Seoul sky.

We paid a brief visit to the National Folk Museum of Korea before meeting up with Jen to head to Myeong-dong, a bright and bustling tourist area full of light and tempting street snacks.

We meandered about for quite a while searching for a dinner restaurant upon which everyone could agree. Our #1 criterion was that our meal choice be typical Korean fare, followed by specifications about location, variety, an…

Korea Day 5: Singing in Seoul

Today was the second day of the KEY Platform 2014 conference, which featured a series of modules on business innovation through sustainability. Our S&S speakers were prominent moderators and discussants at today's three panels -- on Big Data, Ecosystem Thinking, and Hyperconnectivity. It was super fun to see all of our colleagues and new friends present, and Juan, Eric, and I were busy at work all day reporting on the conference, snapping dramatic footage of our team members, and conducting video interviews of speakers.

After a long day of presenting and reporting, the team was ready to celebrate! We set out for Gangnam (as made famous by the song) in the evening, which is full of lights and energy, and even has selfie machines on the sidewalks! (Although we couldn't get ours to work long enough to email me our photo...)

We enjoyed a traditional dinner of Galbi (Korean barbecue) and Soju before delving into another Korean favorite -- karaoke.

Ten of us colleagues piled int…

Korea Day 4: Sick in Seoul

Today, Juan and I donned our rapporteur hats and dove into the first day of the KEY Platform 2014 conference! He scribbled notes at this morning's Plenary Session while I snapped pictures for the Facebook page I manage for the event.
This morning's session featured speakers from a variety of countries and sectors describing what "innovation" means to them. A highlight for us undergrads was when Heather Henriksen, Director of the Harvard Office for Sustainability, connected to the conference via webcam to describe Harvard's innovation efforts within the sustainability space.

Also exciting to me was the vibe of the session as a whole -- the event has a very futuristic feel, with dramatic lighting and an interesting backdrop setting the scene for the TED-style talks. High-quality, fast-paced videos were interspersed throughout the presentations of the morning, making the event really interesting and different from other conferences I've attended.

After a colorf…

Korea Day 3: Sightseeing in Seoul

Breakfast today was all abuzz with the news...that we had made the news! MoneyToday Media did a special on S&S earlier this week, and we all were excited to see it this morning.

After feasting to our heart's delight on the lavish spread of breakfast options, Juan and I trotted off to Kinko's to see if we could manage to print a few copies of our updated brochure. What followed was an amusing series of conversations (mainly gesticulations) that proved definitively that between the two of us, we know eight different languages and not one of them is Korean. Nevertheless, we were able to print a handful of adorable pamphlets and load up on snacks before heading back to the hotel. We snuck in a quick workout before lunch, and then briefly met the CEO of MoneyToday, with whom Jisung, James, and Patrick had a meeting.

In the afternoon, the team set out to explore old Seoul. Our sights were set on Gyeongbok Palace, but the royal palace was unfortunately closed to visitors for the …

Korea Day 2: Somnolent in Seoul

My eyes water with jet lagged fatigue as I type this post, and I've an entire essay in front of me tonight, so this'll be another brief one.

We awoke this morning (some at more normal times than others) to a breakfast buffet unlike any other. At Zest on the 8th floor of our hotel is what looks like a small marketplace but is actually just the array of food options available to start one's day at the Conrad.

After several courses each, we settled down in the lobby to settle some logistics, not without frequent interruptions of "but first, let me take a selfie!"

I put together a quick conference timetable for our team before finding myself in Nirvana, otherwise known as the gym in our hotel. I thoroughly enjoyed a few hours there to avoid beginning the essay I'm supposed to have been writing these past few days. I eventually did start the paper while the rest of the S&S team explored a local fish market.

In the evening, we met up for dinner with Mr. Hwang …

Korea Day 1: Safe in Seoul

I won't write much as jet lag has begun it's stealthy attack on my colleagues and me, but I will say that I'm settled in the gorgeous Conrad Hotel in Seoul, amazed by the comfort of the place and the generosity of our hosts. 
Our journey began Saturday morning in Cambridge, from where Jisung, Juan, and I flew out and met up with James in New York. 
We all took off together on our 14-hour (FOURTEEN-HOUR) flight on a beautiful Dreamliner plane complete with Bibimpap + instructions and a Duty Free mall in the rear of the aircraft. (Yes, the photo below was taken behind the bathrooms on this plane...)

We've received a warm welcome from MoneyToday here, and made it to our hotel in time for dinner at the adjoining IFC Mall. Juan and I went extra creative and got butter chicken and chicken curry respectively for dinner -- but we know there's plenty of traditional Korean in store for us!

The team's getting rest now before our first big business meeting tomorrow. This is…