The Girl with Dreams

“ Okay class, what do you remember about Amelia Earhart”?

The students blankly stared at their teacher, so silent you could hear a pin drop.

I was so frustrated, I know the answer, we just talked about her yesterday! The first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, oh how lucky she was!

“ Class, I will ask once more, who was Amelia Earhart”?

I opened my mouth, I will tell sir who Amelia Earhart is, yes I know the answer!

*thuddd*

“Sarina get up, if papa finds you sneakily listening to Tej’s class again, he will lock you in the house all day”

I slowly opened my eyes, my elder sister pushed me off my stool that I was standing on to listen to class.

“Mala di, I know who Amelia Earhart is, even Tej didn’t know, I need to tell Sir. If he knows how smart I am, he will convince papa to let me attend school”.

“ Sarina, mama wants you to clean the house and make food for Tej, let’s go home”

I respectfully called my sister Mala Di, which means sister, but she was never interested in the material I learned at school. During our walk home I told her all about Amelia Earhart, but she was not one bit intrigued, I don’t understand why.

Oh, let me introduce myself, I am Sarina. I am 9 years old and live in a small town in Nepal. It’s really nice in our town, lots of green trees, and you can see the mountains in a distance. I have a small family of 5 people- there is my papa, mama, Mala di who is 12 and Tej, my younger brother, who is 6 years old, and me. Our home is grey, made from cement with a yellow gate separating our home from the street made of stones. We have 3 rooms in our home, Mama and Papa sleep in one room, Tej has his own, and Mala di and I share a room. Mala di is getting married next month, so i’ll finally have my own room! The courtyard which is right by our gate is where guests come to drink tea and talk to papa, and there is small corner which is the outdoor kitchen where mama teaches Mala di and I how to cook different foods, it’s my least favorite place.

My day starts at 6am everyday, I wake up and make tea for Papa and Tej while Mala di makes them breakfast. Mama helps Tej get ready for school while Papa reads the newspaper. Papa and Tej leave at 8:30 to take Tej to school, and Mala di and I clean the house. I know class starts at 9, so when Mama and Mala di are talking marriage stuff, I sneak off to Tej’s school and find my secret stool to stand on and listen to class from the small window on the side, it’s at the perfect location because sir never sees me.

I started attending class with my stool a few years ago when Tej made a deal with me to let me do his class work so he could go play, how foolish he was to chose play over studies. I gladly took the offer, but I found that I needed to attend class in order to understand the homework. The next day, I found a stool outside the neighbor uncle’s gate, found the window which was part of Tej’s class, and have been attending class ever since. One day Papa found out that I had been doing Tej’s school work for him, and he took all the papers and told Mama to raise me like a woman. Since that day Papa watches Tej do his schoolwork everyday, so I don’t even get a chance to try helping.

I never understood why Tej was allowed to go to school and I wasn’t. I was much smarter and much more interested. Tej wanted to play all day, I wanted to learn but Papa always said that it’s too dangerous for a girl to go to school because no boy will marry me. I don’t want to be married, I want to be Amelia Earhart, or that one lady on TV, what’s her name? AH, Michelle Obama or Priyanka Chopra. I want to read books to little kids, listen to heartbeats of older people. I wanted to do something more than cook and clean all day, it’s so boring!

It was not always like this, Mala di got to go to school until she was 7 but everyone in the town told papa that no one would marry her if she was smarter than their sons, so that was the end of school for Mala di. I never got to go to school, sit in one of those wooden desks and wear those bright ribbons in my hair, oh how much fun it would be to tell sir who Amelia Earhart was and be placed in the front desk, it would be the best day of my life.  I want to be a teacher, I want to be called Madame, I’ll never teach them how to cook or clean, but I’ll teach them mathematics, history, science, all those wonderful subjects. Those were my thoughts before sleeping everyday.

One day Papa came home with a bag from the local shop, “Sarina beta, look what I have for you”. I quickly ran to Papa, I could feel Tej was jealous that papa bought me something and not him. I opened the bag and it was a new sari? “ but Papa, I don’t know how to tie a sari. I asked for books”

“ Sarina, books are for boys, this sari will look very good on you. No one will say no to  my beautiful daughter”

“Say no? Papa, what do you mean?”

“Sarina’s Ma, take her inside and have her wear her grandmother’s gold jewelry, the guests will be arriving soon”

I knew what was happening,  this happened with Mala Di too. Papa was arranging my marriage without even asking me. I didn’t want to get married yet. I wanted to go to school, I wanted to be a teacher, I want to be more than ordinary. I don’t want to get married. These thoughts were going in my head as Ma put the black stuff on my eyes,  and bright red lipstick on my lips. I looked so weird, I didn’t want this.

Ma gave me a hug, and I started crying,

“ Mama please, I don’t want to get married. I will stop going to Tej’s school, I will stop learning. I will stop dreaming of being a teacher, please Mama, please tell Papa I don’t want to get married.”

“ Sarina, you aren’t getting married tomorrow. Papa is finding you a nice boy then once that boy is done with school you will be married, this is a nice boy. He went to college, they say he works with computers. Sarina, you will be able to see a computer when you get married! They aren’t asking for much from us either. We don’t have to buy them a car  they just ask that you know how to cook, clean, respect your elders, and they want us to  buy him a gold watch. That is all. You are very fortunate that Papa found you such a nice family, just remember to act shy and respectful.”

I didn’t have much to say because Mama was on Papa’s side, like always. Mama made me cover my face and take tea out for the boy and his family, he looked weird. He was very skinny and tall with a full beard. His mom was very fat with short curly hair, I think the rings were stuck on her fingers because they seemed as she tried to take them off but couldn’t. His dad was short and skinny with glasses larger than his face, his head was bald too.  I learned, that they lived across town, which meant I wouldn’t be able to attend class anymore with my stool, what would I do? How would I go to school now? They have to say no!

* smash*

Oops? Perfect time to drop the cup of tea near his mother, now she will never say yes. She seemed like the boss of the family. I will not get married now, I will continue going to school!

I didn’t get to talk to anyone, Papa asked me to pick up the tea cups and return to Mama. After a few minutes they left with smiles on their faces, this was bad news.

“Sarina’s Ma, our job in finally done. Mala will be married next month, and they accepted Sarina into their family. She will be married off with Mala, we won’t have to double our expenses, one wedding for both our daughters!”

WHAT?! NEXT MONTH!? I DROPPED THE TEA CUP, HOW DID SHE NOT SAY NO?! We are learning about Mother Theresa next month, I can’t be married yet!!!

I am only 9 years old, I know how to cook, clean, and now will be married off to a man whom I don’t know and is much older than me. My new mother will be fat with rings stuck on her finger, and my father will have glasses larger than his face. Who knows, maybe my new husband will bring me books to read, or teach me how to use the computer. Or maybe I can read some of his old books to learn something, maybe getting married wouldn’t be so bad? Papa was handing out sweets to the entire street, this must be a good thing.

I don’t know how to feel because I have never seen Papa so happy and proud of me, this is what Papa wanted. This is how I am to make my parents proud, this was the purpose of my life. As a dutiful daughter, I shall oblige. Maybe in my next life I can go to school, learn about Mother Theresa, and become a teacher. Maybe I’ll know more than just the history of Amelia Earhart.  If a woman could fly a plane across the Atlantic Ocean, then in some lifetime I can go to school. Just Maybe.

*** DISCLAIMER: All characters are fictional along with the plot; however, this story is a reality for many girls around the world***

To learn more about Women’s right, to be involved, or spread awareness please visit: http://www.womenforwomen.org/what-we-do

Start of a New Beginning

I’m back and well!

Sorry for being absent for a little over a month now, I’ve been overwhelmed with school, vacations, and family that finding time to blog has been quite difficult!

I recently finished reading When Breathe Becomes Air  by Dr. Paul Kalanithi. A beautifully written memoir of a successful Neurosurgeon resident faced with the challenges of life and disease. During his final year, Dr. Kalanithi was diagnosed with a severe cancer that changed his entire life. The book recounts his final moments, his thoughts, and what he found most precious to him. Written by Dr. Kalanithi himself, the reader is left inspired, awestruck, and deeply infused into the reading.

I finished this book while sitting on my balcony during a cruise I took with my family, and I was awestruck by the deep found love between Dr. Kalanithi and his wife. The deep affection towards one another is illustrated beautifully in the form of words, a mature love often seen amongst the elderly.  The book has taught me to be grateful for those closest to me, the ones I adore and care for. Dr. Kalanithi’s memoir provides the readers with the opportunity to reflect on their lives and try to create a better version of themselves in the time we have left in this world.  It has left me with the thought that the future is unpredictable, so leave your mark in this world everyday. May it be doing something small for your family or friends, or dedicating your time to a complete stranger. It’s a beautiful read, and I recommend everyone to take some time to read this memoir.

The next book is Blink by Malcolm Gladwell.

Stay Healthy and Happy,

Preety 🙂

 

Living Life to Your Fullest

As January ends and February begins, I’m ecstatic to announce I have finished book 3 of my new year challenge!

I have grown up dreaming of one day becoming a Physician. I have never been forced to go into the field of medicine, and I’ve explored other options but don’t find them as appealing to my personality. Dr. Atul Gawande’s book Being Mortal truly opens the eyes of those hoping to pursue a career in medicine, those already practicing medicine, and for those that aren’t even in the health field. A novel we all can learn from, he explores the struggles with decision making when it comes to caring for the elderly and terminally ill. With several advancements in medical technology, many of us are under the misconception that undergoing a certain medical treatment can cure our ailments and get us back to a perfectly healthy condition. Where this may be true for several cases, those struggling or overcoming a disease that involves the major body systems, it’s extremely difficult to return to their original healthy self, which then the definition healthy attains a new meaning. With numerous treatment options, many are asked to weigh out the decisions of staying and forgoing continuous treatment (with possible side effects) in the hospital, or to live out the remaining time they have with close family and friends at home. Weighing the options of nursing homes, hospice care, and medical facilities, it really opened my eyes as to “What would I do? What would my parents do?”.  Death is something we all ignore to think about, but in reality it is inevitable and having a plan and decision beforehand makes the process much easier for the self and the family involved. From your views on organ donations to where you would like your remains to be laid, it’s important to have a conversation amongst your loved ones so they KNOW what you would want, not what they THINK you would want. The topic might not be the happiest, but it sure is necessary.

There is much to learn from this book from the establishment of nursing homes, the reality of medical training, and the lesson to instill empathy in our daily routines. I truly recommend this read to everyone, for I am not going to explain every minute detail that has opened my eyes, but I promise you’ll learn something new. The most important lesson I have taken away from this book is how to dedicate my future practice in medicine for my patients, for the people, and not allow the institution of medicine shadow over the reason I wish to pursue a career as a doctor!

My next book will be When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi.

Meditation Update: I recently recovered from a very bad cold and cough, so I have not been dedicated to my meditation challenge for the past two weeks (also had to pause on my daily yoga and workout). Now that I’m feeling much better, I’ll be starting from the beginning!

Stay Happy and Healthy,

Preety


 

Greatest Elephant That Ever Lived!

I have finished reading the story of Modoc, and man am I amazed! The book really opens the reader to the emotions, and relationships humans and animals share. The entire novel is a TRUE story of a boy named Bram, and his admirable friend elephant, Modoc. Bram and Modoc were born on the same day and in the same farmhouse, for Bram’s father was an elephant trainer. The entire story encompasses the adventures and challenges both Bram and Modoc faced in the world, and their commitment and love to each other. Being an elephant lover, I already knew that I was going to enjoy the read. Upon completion, I did not expect the story to touch me in such a drastic way. The novel is very well written, every detail pulls the reader into the setting in order to experience the emotion, I caught myself crying a few times too! So far my favorite book of all time! I recommend the read to animal lovers, and even those just looking for  good read!

Since Modoc was a story focused on the life of a great elephant, I would also like to take some time to discuss the dangers this beautiful species is undergoing. The population of elephants is drastically decreasing in Asia and Africa due to the large ivory black market. In circuses and zoo’s, elephants are enclosed in small areas and trained to perform actions beyond their natural capabilities, they are smart, but they are abused to perform. There are several organizatins that are funding to preserve a species that may quickly vanish from our environment. In the past year alone, US and China have banned imports of ivory, and circuses are no longer allowed to perform with elephants! I encourage all readers to take some time to look into these organizations and the work they have accomplished. Please do check out Sheldrick Wildlife Trust African Wildlife Foundation, and Save the Elephants. Please do your part in raising awareness by being the voice of these beautiful animals.

Meditation update: after completing my last book, I have challenged myself to participate in a daily practice of meditation. Well, it was very difficult at first because I just don’t know what to think of or focus on. So I implemented the techniques I’ve learned in my yoga classes and started to focus on my breathing/holding my breathe occasionally at an inhale and exhaling a huge breath out. It has been working very well because I’m not thinking about anything except my breathing patterns! I have missed a few days here and there, completely forgetting about it, but if I remember, I’ll meditate regardless of the time (even though mornings are most ideal). I do keep a daily journal, but I pretty much summarized it in this paragraph.

The next book on the list is Being Mortal-Medicine and what matters in the field by Atul Gawande. Already on the 3rd book of the year!!

Thanks for stopping by,

Preety 🙂


 

 

 

Light, Truth, and Peace

Today, I have finished reading my first book of my new year challenge, Eat, Pray, Love! This book is nothing compared to the movie, it’s worth the read. The entire story revolves around Elizabeth Gilbert finding herself,  her happiness, and physical and spirtual balance in her life after a bad divorce; therefore, she decides  to travel to Italy, India, and Indonesia. There was much I have learned upon completing this novel, especially the importance of meditation. Meditation allows one to escape the physical world, the daily to-do list, and other factors that take up space in our mind. Meditation is the one time where we focus on ourself, our mind, connect to a higher power, and control our thoughts. There were a few quotes that stuck out, one being, “You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That’s the only thing you should be trying to control”.

Throughout the book, the readers watch Gilbert grow from a vulnerable individual to a confident woman, and much of her change is due to her commitment of daily meditation. As I said in my last post, I am trying to learn something new from every reading, and I have decided that I too will begin practicing the art of meditation. I have tried it before, but I found several excuses to escape from that challenge. Therefore, I shall start small, meditate about 2 minutes every morning and hopefully achieve 10 minutes of peaceful meditation by early February! Now, I loved the idea of smiling meditation not just smiling from the outside but smiling from within as the medicine healer from Indonesia said, “To meditate, only you must smile. Smile with face, smile with mind, and good energy will come to you and clean away dirty energy. Even smile in your liver”.  So, Eat Pray Love has challenged me to integrate smiling meditation into my daily routine!  An entertaining memoir, Gilbert takes the readers through a journey of lifelong lessons along with amazing travel ideas and advice! I truly believe everyone receives a different message after completing the memoir, and I encourage everyone to see what they can learn about themselves by reading this book. So as I focus my energy to listen more than talk, and use the energy I spend choosing my clothes to choose my thoughts, I hope to engage in my own spiritual development.

As we live a life with several ups and downs, remember that every situation we are put through has a purpose, and challenge yourself to overcome each predicament as a stronger individual!

To lose balance sometimes for love is part of living a balanced life

~Eat Pray Love

The next book will be Modoc by Ralph Helfer, a true story about the love between a young boy and his friend elephant (I love biographies and elephants).

Until next time,

I honor the place in you where the entire universe dwells,

Namaste.


New Year, New Challenge!

As 2015 comes to an end, majority of us are reflecting on what we would like to change for the upcoming year, or what new activities to implement in our daily lives. After much thought, I have decided to give myself a challenge for the new year. No, I’m not focused on exercising more, or losing/gaining a few pounds, or even adapting to a healthier diet. Instead, I have decided to intellectually challenge myself and complete a total of 26 books by December 31, 2016.

This idea sparked after completing “Angels and Heros” by Dr. Robert Lesslie. The book is composed of 19 inspiring stories from our every day hero’s on the front line that include: police officers, firefighters, EMT, nurses, and physicians. The true stories made me realize how much I take the services of those for granted. They truly have the ability to change ones life. The inspiration I gained after finishing this book motivated me to intellectually challenge myself for the next year.  After carefully scrolling through several lists of novels, I finally compiled a list of 30 books that I hope to gain some knowledge from! The goal is to complete a book every 2 weeks (atleast) and write about what I have gained from the reading. I will begin this challenge with the book “Eat Pray Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert, hoping that this will be a great book to start the new challenge!

If you would like to join me on this year long journey, please don’t hesitate to comment below, e-mail me, or even throw a few suggestions of books you have enjoyed! I’d love to have some company, or even someone to talk to!

Happy New Year to everyone! I hope 2016 brings nothing but peace, love, and prosperity into your life, and everyone else in the world!

Cheers!

Preety


 

 

“I Am Malala”

During my last trip to India, I decided to buy this book thinking I could read it on the plane ride home (obviously didn’t happen). Earlier this week, I happened to come across it again as it lay in a pile of all my MCAT books, and I thought why not give it a shot.

I finished the book cover to cover in about 3 days, and I can not explain how amazing of a read it is. Narrated in the first person, Malala shares her story from her time back home, the faded memories of the hospital after she got shot, and her life during her recovery period. I’ve learned so much about Malala, and her dedication to provide education to children across the world. I’ve always thought she got involved in the movement after the shooting incident, but I was wrong. She has been motivated to speak for girl’s education ever since she was young, her father even strived to bring schools and education to every child across their home country, Pakistan. It was a movement that was unheard of until she got attacked.

The way I view it, her enemy became her strength. They provided her with a platform and opportunity to have her voice be heard around the world, something that may have taken years if the attack had not happened, since she had come from a small town, low-income family, and a country that fails to progress. Malala’s story has done nothing but inspire me, her dedication to spreading education to girls and her fearlessness from death displays the same courage and motivation historic female martyrs like Joan of Arc and Jhansi ki Rani had. Her story leaves you thinking what more we can do as privileged youth to leave our mark in the world, to change someones life, and to change our world. Whoever is reading this post right now obviously has had the opportunity to receive an education, have access to a computer and the internet, and even be able to drink clean purified water. We live where we don’t fear today may be our last day on earth, and we don’t go to sleep hearing the bombs and gunshots of the enemy close to our homes. We don’t finish the food on our plates when we eat out, and we complain about having to study all night for difficult exams. We complain so much that we forget there is someone in this world that would do anything to have the life we have. We are so blessed to have been grown up full of privileges that we start believing they are a given right and don’t appreciate them.  I honestly recommend this book to everyone, regardless of age and gender. It really opens your eyes to the difficulties faced by many in certain parts of our world, and we hear the story from their perspective through Malala. Being the youngest ever to win the noble peace prize, Malala Yousafzai is the girl that grew up in Swat, Pakistan, she is the girl that is the voice of many, she is our world’s daughter, she is a living inspiration, and she is my role model.


Please do take a look at Malala’s initiative through her organization, The Malala Fund, at http://www.malala.org.