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travel

personal, photography, travel

Wandering across Turkey

This is not a travel blog. And yet, I would be remiss not to share some photographs of my recent travels throughout Turkey, an incredibly beautiful country. We explored the country from distant Cappadocia – with its fairytale mountains and chimneys and ancient monasteries looking straight out of another planet – to Izmir, where we walked beside the coast and touched the Aegean Sea.  Izmir captured my heart and reminded me of California. The weather was warm, the food was delicious, and the views were incredible. Izmir is wine country, and filled with rolling hills, greenery and truly spectacular sunsets….

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personal, travel

Notes from Nairobi

This March, I had the incredible fortune of going to Kenya for a week, and had an absolutely wonderful time. The country is beautiful, picturesque and vibrant. Things are constantly changing and developing with the country’s new Constitution and decentralization process, and there is a sense of hope, possibility and optimism. It was an amazing time to visit the country. I wanted to share a few pictures! Church in Nairobi on a Sunday. A visit to the Supreme Court – a new and dynamic institution in itself. Visits to iHub, an awesome space for tech startups and social enterprises to…

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human rights, international development, travel

Salone Stories: a country of contradictions?

Anyone who visits Salone in the rainy season will inevitably remember the country’s color as green – a vivid, lush, and verdant landscape broken up by the contrasting deep reddish copper color of the dirt roads that wind through the most isolated villages, and by the dry yellow of huts built from sticks and thatch. My memories of the summer months will forever be imbued with the sound of rain pounding heavily on the zinc roof of my room, the taste of roasted corn and coconut water sold by roadside vendors, and the thrilling but absolutely terrifying okada [motorcycle] rides…

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human rights, international development, legal empowerment, personal, travel, women's rights

Salone Stories: Justice and Conflict in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone is quite firmly post-conflict, with the war soon receding into the space of distant memory. And yet, the wounds of the war still appear raw at times, at least directly beneath the surface, where anger and frustration seem simmering in a pot threatening to boil over once again. The ghosts of wartime past still linger in conversations. One man tells me about fleeing the war and being forced to be a refugee in neighboring Guinea, Ivory Coast, and Liberia. Another young woman tells me that her father was killed in the war, leaving her family – a mother…

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personal, social change, travel

Salone Stories: Life in the village

Village life is slow, languid, and yet can involve backbreaking labor. Most villagers work in farming, selling/trading goods, or mining – Sierra Leone is known for producing gold and diamonds. As I pass by the river, I see families washing clothes, bathing – and sifting sand for gold. I ask a woman if she’s found anything; she shows me her mug and I manage to spot several bright specks of gold. I wonder how long she spent in the river, risking getting parasites and diseases, to find those specks, and how much they are worth. With much of the country…

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personal, travel

Salone Stories: Touching down in Freetown

My flight was filled with aid workers, mostly middle aged white men, but also a few families with younger children. I wondered who they were working for, and why they were here. I saw a man working feverishly on a proposal for IrishAid Liberia; our plane was scheduled to head over to Monrovia after touching down briefly at Freetown.  The few Sierra Leoneans or Liberians aboard were outnumbered by their Western counterparts. As I stepped off the flight at night, I was greeted by a blast of humid, hot air and complete darkness at 4 a.m. Sierra Leone, I marveled….

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life, personal, travel

Here’s to 2012, and on to 2013

2012, you taught me much. A year packed with many years worth of memories, changes, challenges and movements. I failed  dramatically in many of my goals — of which I set far too many, and dreamt too big. Yet, I learned a great deal. In March, after visiting Harvard and falling in love, I sent in my seat deposit for law school with a tiny bit of apprehension and a huge amount of excitement. In April, after much planning and fretting, I left my job and traveled to California to volunteer with two non-profits I admired. I had a magical 6 weeks in…

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life, personal, travel

India, America, and the importance of community

India is, for me, always a whirlwind bursting with color, flavor, anticipation, love, community, and family. The weeks I spend there are always vibrant and joyful, filled with shopping for glittering saris and shalwar kameez, stopping by the roadside for sweets and coconut water, enjoying cups of masala chai, and building beautiful human connections with family and loved ones. There is a sense of belonging – that even though I’m an Indian living abroad, I’m still welcome in this country. My return to the U.S. after these joyful trips to my motherland always proves a shock to the system. India…

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personal, travel

Breathing, Beauty, and the Blues in Bengal

There is nothing quite so lovely on an unbearably hot, dusty afternoon as the sudden, deep rumble of thunder from the sky’s dark underbelly, signaling the onset of the monsoon rains. I’m standing at the edge of the neighborhood grocery store, carrying yogurt and bananas wrapped in a thin – but surprisingly strong – jute bag, when the pouring starts. Men and women duck back into the shelter of the shop, rickshaw wallahs get drenched while pulling up the intricately designed tops to shield passengers from the deluge, and workers roll plastic covers over the iftar buffet displayed proudly outside…

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international development, travel

BRAC’s Enterprises: Inspiration for Development Cynics

BRAC’s enterprises are what truly sets it apart from other development organizations across the globe, and I’ve been extremely impressed by the quality and scale of their enterprises. BRAC’s 18 enterprises help the organization create jobs throughout Bangladesh, solve social problems, stimulate the economy, and also assist BRAC in self-sustaining its non-profit programs. Today, 50% of the financial surplus (or ‘profit’) from the enterprises (and the microfinance program) altogether go to help fund BRAC’s development programs. The remaining 50% is reinvested in the enterprises themselves. Overall, BRAC’s core programs for the poor –health, education, sanitation, legal aid, and much more…

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