The town, from up high :)

Whenever I travel, one of my best friends back home always asks me the word I’d choose to describe the place I’m in. Argentina = passionate. Sri Lanka = paradise. Washington, D.C. = power. Not that you can ever really sum up all that is a place or a city or a people with one word, but it’s a sort of organization system for the mind. A point of focus really.

I mention all this because I think London’s word for me might just be lovely. Pics below from this past week. After a whirlwind of a semester set on fire by many a paper to be written and exam to be taken, it turns out London is just what I needed. I’ve been before and seen all the major sights, so this go around I got to really experience the city. The fish and chips. The Pimm’s. The coffee shops. The coffee shops. That and some walking, some good (and may I add, well deserved :) Cadbury chocolate, and conversations with my cousins who are growing up much too much and far too fast. All of it made for a good first stop on this three-month long sojourn across the Atlantic Ocean that I’m on this summer. Write soon friends, next from Cape Town! xo Inesha



The Things I’ll Miss



During our first days in Chiapas

The beauty of places like this is that time matters a little less, and that makes every passing second worth more.

I understand now what people mean when they say that a study abroad experience will change you. I wouldn’t give up mine for the world.


In the mountains of the Sierra, I had a chance to reacquaint myself with a different manner of living–not as someone who is going about life only writing her own story, but as someone who is also stumbling upon hundreds of unread ones that she will continue to discover as time passes. Every passing stranger will say hello as you walk the streets in a community of the Sierra, and in traveling with doctors, you quickly learn that there are many life stories apart from medical histories that people are eager to share with you.

GHEO Palenque
From Harvard –> Chiapas with Vicky, Tilsa & Hanna


My host family

10348913_320871441394959_4587705058000682934_o…and my CES family :)

To never know who you will run into, but that you will, without a doubt, run into someone whose story will be another lesson in living is an incredible gift and one that I know I will miss.


Just another day at the office…precious twin baby boys!

I remembered in Mexico what it was like to live with a family at a time in my life when I spend vast expanses of the year away from my own—these are the people who insist that you eat another helping at every meal and advise you against all the dangers out there in the world even though they know that you’re adult enough to take care of yourself.

In the span of one day in the Sierra, I would have spoken with a 23-year-old patient with Neurofibromatosis and his entire family, sat on the porch and chatted with the local doctor and a man who has a mental condition for which he has been ostracized by his community, eaten a lunch of tortilla and pollo while learning about both the immense opportunity and the tremendous nervousness that accompanies a newly graduated Mexican medical student’s social service year, learned the proper way to perform simple injections, and listened to a neighbor’s four-year-old daughter demonstrate her ability to count to 10 in English for me while her parents look on proudly.

As I walked from home to the clinic each morning, part of me remembered my seven-year-old self walking through our old neighborhood to the school bus. I used to think that it was the most beautiful walkway in the world (bursting as our neighbors’ lawns were with gorgeous Azaleas) and the simple happiness I felt in knowing where I was going, and where that bus would take me, was one I had forgotten–until now.

It was that I’m-on-my-way-to-the-bus stop feeling again there in the small community of Honduras. I may have traveled to quite a few big cities since my elementary school days, but the small town girl in me still lives on.


Outside of the Clinic in Honduras

The reality I’m facing now (and will face in full next fall) is realizing that it is unlikely that I will ever have a semester like this one again. Everyday life is more of a game of staying put, though admittedly that too depends on one’s point of view. So, at this time next year when I’m reflecting on the end of my four years as a college student, I hope I’ll remember these words written by my junior self.

When you’re a child you really do think it’s possible that multiple worlds exist–the ones that stay with you like the most memorable vacations and birthday celebrations, others through which you’re just a passing ship, and still more that you dream up. But now as an adult, I’m not so sure that I was wrong to believe it.

Sitting back here in a Harvard dining hall can feel surreal–like being part of something that is at once deeply familiar and also part of another life. Admittedly, it was just 3.5 months ago that I was here regularly. Hardly another lifetime ago. And yet, after having lived to a different rhythm for the past few months–surrounded by people who taught me not only about medicine, public health, and community relations, but too about true, raw humanity–I’ve come to realize that the reintegration process is going to be a slow one.

I already miss Chiapas dearly. I’m the kind of person who prefers to experience the “letting go” process in stages–makes it easier on the soul, I figure. It’s also just the way that I think, and write. For me, the prospect of leaving the physical place where I had my Chiapas experience meant that I subconsciously (or consciously, I’ll never know) began playing my memory reel in my mind well before I left. I wanted to remember these moments always, and I believe firmly that you can will your mind to remember what you think it should never forget. It might be a childish notion–this idea of squinting really hard and willing a time and place to stay with you–but I believe in it (minus the squinting, perhaps). It’s my assurance that I’ll be able to recall those memories when I need them most or–more likely–when I miss the people who helped me create them. Chiapas is many miles away from Boston, and with no finite plans to return of yet, it can seem even farther. But I have to believe that I will return and that the other world where my Chiapas experiences exist is one that I can carry with me, regardless of whether I am physically there or not.

And so, I suppose there aren’t really “things” that I’ll miss. I miss all of it.

I am so grateful to the many people who made this semester possible–Vicky, Tilsa, my incredibly dedicated professors, Partners in Health/Compañeros En Salud, the Harvard Global Health Institute, the Harvard Medical School Department of Social Medicine & Global Health, and so many more people whom I cannot venture to include in a single blog post. Thank you for one incredibly memorable semester that I will always remember as the spring that I spent learning, living, and falling for an entirely new community of people in the mountains of Chiapas.

And with that, here’s to SUMMER 2014! Hard to believe it’s that time of year again–here’s hoping that these warmer months are filled with just as much joy, laughter, loved ones, and learning :)


Take me back to San Cris

Sometimes when I need of a break from my work, I’ll close my computer and take a walk. I’ve always thought they were pretty under appreciated, these walks. When I’m back at Harvard they might take me out of Mather House and down the street–perhaps if I’m feeling adventurous, they’ll even take me a ways down the winding Charles River.

Sitting in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, I felt that familiar urge to take a break from paper-writing and step outside. But this time, I had a new city to discover.


This is a city that is hard to describe in any concrete terms–it has a little bit of Venice perhaps, with tidbits of Zanzibar, and certainly fascinating people who come from all over the world and bring their unique flavor to the place. This also means that it’s a city where it can be hard to figure out where anyone is from, although you’re bound to hear every variety of accented Spanish you could have ever imagined. It’s a city, too, of honeymooners and backpackers, tourists and the occasional Harvard student who is writing her final papers very far away indeed from the University where they will ultimately be sent. The sounds here may remind me of Sri Lanka, but the sights and rich history belong only to San Cris–

the city where staying forever seems impossible, but coming back one day you hope is inevitable.

But alas my walk must come to an end, and I ultimately return to the pleasant café where my paper writing will resume. It is that time of year again after all :)

Happy finals week(s)!