Life is so good.

Today I started my gratitude journal. Weekly, it’ll get opened and its pages a whiff of fresh air. More importantly though, I’ll get a better view of my world. Just a thought though, I have no expectations.

While reading this month’s issue of Experience Life magazine, I became hypnotized by Yogi Kathryn Budig’s mantras, routines, and words. This article written on her gives you a taste of raw empowerment and at the same time rips away all the negativity stemming from your ego or from external, uncontrollable happenings. It’s a must quick, must-read that will introduce to the writing below – called True Joy: Kathryn Budig by Kaelyn Riley.

Budig and her recently adopted rescue dog.

And if Budig can’t get you buzzing on higher level—feeling like you’re on top of the world—then this next lady surely can.

When did we start allowing ourselves to commit fraud to our own individuality? So much is to be gained from learning more about who we are. No one says it better though, or teaches it better than this astonishing human being: Caroline McHugh. Take a look for yourself. I promise her words will ring in the back of your mind as you adventure through life. Don’t miss out.

This life’s so good attitude doesn’t come from the parking ticket I recently paid off, the horrifying feeling in my stomach when we found out that a student at Malaika’s School for Girls passed away, or even the inevitable darkness that takes us all into captivity at some points in time. The horrid experiences we all embody, sometimes even create ourselves, are (unfortunately) here to stay. Yet, as Budig mentioned our attitude is our antidote. We are not here to enjoy an ice-cream sundae on a beach and to whisk through this thing called life. As McHugh explains, we’re here to learn more about who we are and radiate only that. And (sometimes) when learning more about yourself comes in a package wrapped in negative circumstance, then it is the universe’s gift to us all. Probably telling us that by digging deeper to find meaning, we will inevitably benefit ourselves.

This life’s so good vibe is actually a treasure laying in all of us just waiting to be uncovered—whether you stumble upon it or actively look for it. It is, in fact, so precious because it has no relation to the feelings and emotions that come and go; the temporary that may come in the form of negativity. Positivity—individuality through and through—is permanent. Our intangible “self” arrived long before our physical body came along and is here to stay long after we go. (At least I would like to think so.) It is a treasure to be magnified upon the world and better yet, it’s all yours. Probably the only thing we each truly have the copyrights to.

My Nani (mom’s mom) once explained to me that we all have to experience pain (this can be replaced with any other emotion) and when it comes, we should welcome it with open arms because it is a sensation that we only feel when we’re alive and able to feel. Every sense of “pain” has its own tune it dances to and therefore hits a different nerve in your body or resonates with a different lesson learned. This process all starts the minute we decide to be more aware about our own perception  of our selves. I’m not attempting to teach as much as I’m instead learning to listen to the work of our real sages—Mahatma Gandhi and Caroline McHugh alike—and reflect their thoughts through sewing it through my individuality. It’s my tribute.

I’m going to move on to doing something I believe none of us do as often as we should—sharing our ideas, plans, and thought-stream. Why not? No one can tell you that what your saying is not deserving of an A-grade or that it is sub-par to the “right” way. It’s such a liberating feeling to think that our thoughts are the microscope into our true selves and a most frightening one to know that this thought-stream will eventually come to an end. So New Year’s resolution #1: share my ideas more often. Here it goes…

My next six months constitute of a two week trip to Mumbai, India (I leave in 4 days), my second semester as a Sophomore at Hofstra University, a two week trip to the DRC, where I’ll return to our girls at Malaika (still in planning), and a five week trip to A Coruña, Spain, where I’m stationed to participate in the Atlantis Project Fellowship’s pre-medical MCAT and shadow program. Still reading? Here’s a few more details.

Trespassing in India

How could I be an intruder in my own culture’s home territory? Well, I don’t know how to speak Hindi fluently and I definitely cannot tell you how beautiful the land is; it’s a sight that must be personally experienced. I am going on a visit for two weeks while I’m on winter break from school. Originally this trip was designed just to cross the pond and see how things are doing since my last visit (when I was sixteen). It wasn’t too long before my excitement got to me and I started buzzing. During the first week the plan is to hang out in Mumbai – my companion (Dad) and I are planning on doing some sight-seeing and spending some long-overdue time with family. When the second week rolls around my mind will get a real taste of what its been craving: I will get to shadow physicians inside the Indian healthcare system. The thought-process is to not just get a chance to learn from surgeons and clinicians, but also to speak and interact with them. Maybe they can help me on my mission of finding a way to get stable healthcare planted and growing in a remote village in Africa? Maybe they will point me to the third-world villages inside India itself and say “hey, you could learn from this successful system”. Maybe they will show me a method in practicing medicine that had never crossed my mind. Just thoughts.

It’s Time for Spain

I applied for the Atlantis Project thinking it is the perfect combination of what I want to do in my future: travel, meet new friends, exchange weird stories, and be in an environment where humans serve at the pleasure of an ever-changing system: the human body. I recently found out I will be spending this 2016 summer in A Coruña, a city located in Spain’s Galicia. Take a quick peak:


You could say I’m a little excited. The Atlantis Project Fellowship “immerses pre-med and pre-health undergraduates in small hospitals in Europe. Successful applicants spend a few intense weeks observing the daily life of doctors in various specialties”.

I am off to experience yet another country’s health care system and am itching with curiosity—surgeons, family practitioners, intensive-care units—how will it all play out? After witnessing the Congo’s in January of 2013, now India in a week or so, June 17th – July 24th spent in Spain will be all-too-telling. Traveling every weekend is the next piece I’m slowly carving out. Berlin, London, Venice, Florence, Rome… (it doesn’t end) – I guess I’ll have to see how many places I actually get to over my 4 weekends of easy-peasy Euro-zone travel.

Micro-Clinic To The Rescue

I never knew what I wanted to do, career-wise, before arriving in the DRC. Through Malaika and it’s mission of empowerment through education, I became awe-stricken with the poverty of health care—its lifeless infrastructure in the places that need it the most. Developed countries’ magnifying glasses take one glance over these lands and are quick to send aid, in the form of shipping containers filled with medical supplies. When I was on the ground we visited a local hospital and I could feel sorrow sting by watching the line of patients grow and wrap around the hospital door. Third world nations suffer from post-war mechanisms and the after-affects of colonization (which includes the lateness in gaining independence). Yet, what I don’t think politicians and leaders understand the importance behind is where these issues lead and infiltrate any attempt at reconciling the political or economic struggle: the society’s poor health. It’s a circular pathway that stops for no periodic package containing medicine—it only stops with sustainable health care and education. I’m proud to know that Malaika is superior in building the next generation of DRC’s thinkers, activists and leaders—but will they be healthy enough to survive the mental metamorphosis? As long as I’m around, Malaika should note that they have some one on a hunt to find the ticket to healthy students.

I’ve stumbled upon this project which is already taking place across the world, called a micro-clinic. It’s where an established organization, wealthy in knowledge about setting up a sustainable (key word) system of health care in a community, brings ‘a healthy life’ into reality through creating partnerships. I’m not too sure exactly how Malaika will one day have a health care system but I full well know it is on its way. Through finalizing my next trip back to the DRC in mid-May, I’m mentally making a checklist. Example of what’s on there: Study the girls to see the extensiveness of their fevers. Where do they localize? Why are their parents not taking them to local hospitals? My goal for the trip, along with all daily operational duties, will be to gather the statistics and data necessary to build a portfolio that displays both the deserving nature and friendly environment found in the village of Kalebuka. This an attempt to secure the exact partnerships mentioned above whose fruits will extend far beyond the initial talk of sustainable healthcare in this one village. Its fruits will also lay in the Malaika-educated girl who grows up healthy and hungry to take on this world in front of her.

When You’re Brother’s Applying to College, You are applying to College

This likely should have been the first event, as it is something I’m currently in the midst of, but the thoughts here I hold most carefully and with utmost respect—so I saved it for last. These past few weeks I’ve been home from campus, enjoying mom’s home cooked meals, and late at night, Rishi’s plea for help. I come storming to him, disgusted that I have to leave my comfy couch where I’m thoroughly in the midst of giving myself a pedicure or binge-watching Friends. Why am I doing this? And every time after I finish up pointing out where sentences may have been too long or a single word overused, I halt. I pause and enjoy these moments because I’ve realized that he could be asking anyone in his brilliant high-school, a scholarly teacher, or even one of his research mentors, but he’s not. He is asking me. Pride enters and disgust leaves.

One of the biggest points I reiterate to him is that what he is trying to communicate (his thoughts) are sometimes put into a sentence that doesn’t make this particular thought of his (which is remarkably intelligent) transparent enough. It could be coated in unnecessary words or maybe it’s too short and starved from a lack words. Whatever the case may be, the thought is blocked. This idea resonates with me because it’s so applicable and common – so much more than we may think. The minute we enter this world we are raised and molded into thinkers; society attempting to create a mind productive enough. What if we were able to live our life, interact socially and internally, yet never let our original thoughts conform to those that are deemed “right” or “upheld” by standards (set by those who are not you). Of course this is close to impossible in the battle we call ‘nature v. nurture’, but is there a possibility that our minds can be trained to actively oppose the external ideas that are conforming in nature and welcome and enhance those which serve to uncover new thought patterns or introduce one to a new idea? It’s hard for me to keep track of this thought-process, in fact (laugh here).

It is refreshing to think that being in service to someone never really impacts them as much as it does to oneself—a sort of service to oneself. Not to say that service to others should be practiced out of selfishness but shouldn’t there always be an internal part of oneself seeking to better their moral compass or to grow the vast territory of matter upon which we think from daily? I’m not too sure if I’m right—but turns out I don’t have to be because I’m just thinking, out loud.

The Gap trespassed on my “normal” life, stealing my senior year. It then planted roses in every corner of my vision field, so that I now see potential in every object, idea and person entering my sight.

My grand scheme (detailed in four sub-headers above) is just a compilation of the few plans I’ve set up to structure this crazy thing we call life. The challenge I didn’t know would come with it, is not being sure how to describe this feeling of gratitude I’ve found. I guess one way to put it is that I feel as fearless as I’ve ever been, more powerful than ever before, and simply more reflective of the self that I am.

As Caroline McHugh explains, there is never a comparison. No one is more and no person is less magical, astonishing, or brilliant than you. We are all, in fact, on a journey to self-discovery no matter how we choose to define it, be it: career-wise, socially, spiritually, politically, medically, religiously, etc. (This list is unending). Our options are endless on the road to fearlessness. So, let’s share what we’re inspired by, speak out against what we will not tolerate, and if there’s one thing outlining my “Grand Scheme” has taught me: your future is in the hands of the attitude with which you approach your present.

Watch out 2016 – I’m coming for you; my happiness and I have packed our suitcases. #Mumbai #NewYork #Congo #Spain #Euro-Narnia #InLoveWithLife’sOfferings



3 thoughts on “Life is so good.

  1. Wow… Just fabulous… Very well written…
    When did my baby girl grow up!
    Will miss you sooooo much … But you so deserve the upcoming trips!
    Make the most … Enjoy every moment!


  2. Wow… Will understand more about your Atlantis project of Spain when you visit us personally in Mumbai . It sounds so thrilling … I am sure you will have fascinating time and gain tremendous experience , which will help you to build your future in a big way,. Best wishes and all the best..
    Your loving Nana ( your Mom”s Dad )


  3. Simply Amazing Ria. We all are on journey to self discovery….empowerment through education…Every sense of pain has its different tune…I can relate to your wonderful emotional expressions and wishing you joyous and meaningful journey of self discovery. Warmly. Aditya Ajmera


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