Sunday, January 5, 2014

2013 - You were awesome!!

2013 was amazing - as amazing as it could get. I started the year all bright eyed hoping for things to work, little did I know it was going to be all that and much more. 

Completely unplanned, unexpected and to my great pleasure, the year kicked off in India with the best of my friends and family. Till 2nd Dec 2012, I was getting ready for a mellow rest of Dec in Boston and suddenly the pace of events changed and I was planning a trip to India and Europe starting in next 3 days. Couple of friends from Babson and I were selected for an offshore project in Germany which required us to travel to Germany for a week in Jan - all expense paid!!! As I was anyway going half the distance to India, I decided to take it all the way.  

January is great time to be in Pune. Just the right amount of cold and sunshine. Brunch with my 5 besties reflecting on 2012 and planning for 2013 - just the kind of new year morning you want (sans the hangover). 

Right after, I left for my first ever trip to Europe. 1st stop - Spain! 5 days in Madrid and Barcelona. Boy, those guys know how to party. All the 5 days I was hungry (thanks to add timings and no veggie food), sleep deprived and yet having the time of my life. Next stop - Germany. Our MBA Project Sponsors were gracious hosts. Cherry on the top was that the 3 German students who would become a part of our team were simply the coolest team members ever. We all bonded in no time - it was going to be a great semester working on this interesting problem statement and with such amazing ppl. After Germany our travels took us to Italy - cheap airlines, language barriers, multiple cities, good company, fine cheese and wine pretty much sums up that leg of the trip.  

January - India, Spain, Germany, Italy and Ireland travel.
Here I am with Ravi and Hal in front of Gaudi's Sagrada Familia.  
On the way back to Boston, I found myself stuck at Dublin airport for 27hrs due to delays. I decided to make use of this time to explore a new city all by myself. I was terrified at first but then it just took me stepping out and all was well.

New Experiences: Exploring Dublin all by myself.
Spire of Dublin

Once back in Boston, I was ready to sleep for 3 days straight and I did. One of my key goals for 2013 was to RUN!! I started small. Ran a 5k in Feb and committed myself to running the Chicago Marathon in October. Oh! Did I mention, meanwhile I accepted a post-MBA job offer from Cognizant Business Consulting and decided to join their Chicago office. 

February: Running beginsBabson 5K!
The biggest happening of 2013 for me was in February and to be specific on 14th of Feb. I guess its clear where this is going :) Arnab and I have known each other for 5 years and been together for 2 years. He caught me completely off-guard and made me the happiest person there is when he popped the question. It won't be too dramatic if I say that my world changed after this day - for the good. :) :)
Taken :)

Celebrations and travel continued moving into March. Back in Boston, having already accepted a job and with only 2 courses taken, I was pretty much chilling the entire time. To make myself feel productive (and some extra cash), I took up Tutoring for MacroEcon for 1st year students. It was a frightening thought at first - I studied more than ever to ensure I am prepared in the classroom. But as they say, you can never be completely prepared and it takes courage to say 'I don't know and I will get back to you on that'. This tutoring experience definitely taught me that and gave an additional humility shot.

March: Celebrations, Friends and more travel. 

Finally it started to warm up in Boston and better late than never - spring arrived. German teammates and clients were visiting Boston for final project presentations. We got to play hosts and hopefully did a good job at it. One of my teammates was a DJ so we took him to Steve Aioki concert that was happening at Babson. I later learned that it is pretty cool to attend an Aoki concert. I am not attending one again though ;) 

April: Germans visit Boston

There was also the last Formal dinner for the class of 2013. In the 2 years at Babson, I had never attended any of these prom-type formal dinners, so I decided to check out the last one. It was at the Boston Aquarium which was pretty cool. The party was like any other only thing that everyone was wearing fancier clothes and acting nicer ;) After sort of struggling for 3 semesters at Babson in terms of finding comfort zone, I was finally there in 2013. I was no more trying to desperately fit in but rather being myself and seeing how things work out. I regret not finding that out earlier but I guess it all in the learning curve.

With my fav Babson boys at the Spring Formal
Around the same time, Boston was shaken by a hideous act of terror. I was at the Boston Marathon when the attacks happened. I was so upset after the attacks that I wrote down my thoughts in a blog along with some of the pictures I had taken. This blog was picked up from Quora and published on Quora's Forbes Blog. Here is a link to that:
Quora Forbe's Blog - Boston Marathon Bombings
Boston came out stronger than ever after the attacks. Life was back to routine after the almost unreal chase to capture the man behind the horrible act.

Amidst all this, I received another unreal but extremely happy email. I was going to be the STUDENT COMMENCEMENT SPEAKER for the Class of 2013. I had submitted my speech when the school was looking for student speakers and not in my wildest dreams I thought that I would make it. But I did - I knew what euphoria felt like at that time!!      

May: Babson Commencement
Here is a link to my speech :)
2013 Babson MBA Commencement Student Speaker - Anagha Mahajan
I heard some great things from my classmates and their parents about the speech. This was undoubtedly the highest point of my MBA. Arnab was there in the audience when I delivered my speech and received the degree. I expressed my thoughts about this surreal experience here: Commencement Blog

With the Commencement Ceremony behind me, it was almost time to leave Babson, Boston and the student life behind and enter the "real-world" but not before some more partying. The last few weeks in Boston were nothing less than glorious. One amazing year at 41 Gardner was coming to an end but the 6 of us made sure we packed up as may memories as possible in the limited time we had. Lunches, dinners, kitchen gossip sessions, movies, parties and hanging out never stopped until it was time to say goodbye. I left Boston exactly on the next day after my B'day.

41 Gardner: Home away from Home

It indeed was difficult to leave Boston but at the same time, I was looking forward to moving to Chicago, starting a new job, staying close to Arnab and moving in with my best friend. It was a start of a new life - a life that I was dreaming about all throughout the MBA. First few weeks were chilled out at work. I used this time to set up the new place, explore Chicago and notch up raining for the Marathon.

June: Move to Chicago
New place, lake view and best friend roommate

2013 was about impulses as much as it was about plans. In July, 2 of my closes friends were getting married in India. I hated the thought of missing out on events just because we live in a different country. And just like that, I decided to book my tickets for a quick 7 day India trip and not live while missing out on stuff. These 7 days were as action packed and sleepless as my Europe trip. To add to that, all the weddingy eating had to manifest itself at some point and it did - on the day I had to leave India. My body is signaling that all this excitement is getting to much to handle. Time to slow down. 

July: Surprise India Visit and Weddings
Slowing down was something not gonna happen in 2013. My mom, being my mom decided that if I could take a last minute trip, so could she and hopped on the same plane as me to Chicago. She is a funny and fun woman. Contrary to my expectations, mom just loved Chicago and the US. She enjoyed traveling with me, site-seeing, meeting my friends, checking out people from different countries and most of all - shopping. The 6 weeks she was in the US just passed by like a breeze. 

August: Mommy visits Chicago

Talking about breeze, our first car together happened in 2013. See how awesome 2013 is? It just keeps getting better and better.

September: First CAR!!
And talking about getting better, Anuradha finally made it to the US. After all the visa trouble, it was all finally official and she arrived in the US the same day Mom left from Chicago. It was time for a mini-reunion in Seattle. 

Old friends meet in Seattle

In middle of all this travel, I got left behind in my training for the Marathon. It was difficult to accept but I had to settle for running the half marathon. It was not an easy decision but that what endurance sports teaches you - to be patient and be ready when the right time arrives. My preparation wasn't adequate and I had to accept it gracefully. I sort of did. I ran the half marathon and completed it in 2:58:30. Although, I did not run the full marathon, I was pretty happy with my run and highly motivated to complete the Marathon in 2014. 

October: Chicago Marathon
There was no slowing down otherwise either. November was about being on flights and at the airport. Travel continued for work and even otherwise. Work needed me to travel every Mon-Thurs to NJ. To top that, I decided to be a part of 2 different plans during the short 5 day Thanksgiving break. 1st the Great Smoky mountains and then Texas. My location history for that week looked like this. 

November: Flights, delays, misses, Huston, Austin, Smoky's and Bachelorette parties

With December here. I was feeling blue that the awesomest year of my life so far is coming to an end and the Chicago weather was not helping one bit. But 2013 was about impulses - so just like that to beat the blues and the cold, we decided to get away for Christmas break and hit the ol town of Charleston in South Carolina. Away from the 10s and 20s in Chicago we were sunbathing in the 70s, taking walking tours and eating gourmet food. The perfect year deserved a perfect ending and I am glad it got one :) 
December: Charleston, sunshine, beaches, great food and contemplations

What a great year this has been, I am so thankful!! And as they say, don't be sad it's over, be happy that it happened. Hope that the new year brings in new excitement, new passion to fire our ambitions, more travels, more time with friends and family, love and laughter. 

2013 - Life is Good!

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