Wednesday, April 30, 2014

2 Books

Last 2 months have been pretty crappy and rough. Sleepless nights with cluttered thoughts have been a trend that I have not been able to break out of it despite several attempts. Tonight, I try very hard to focus on some of the good parts of these past 2 months. And it pretty much boils down to books. Especially the two children’s books I picked up during an unplanned Barnes & Nobel visit - A Dog’s Purpose by Bruce Cameron and Wonder by RJ Palacio

Both books somehow felt very similar to me. Both heartwarming, wherein a bond with the narrator is quickly established and is a strong one. One (Dog’s Purpose) narrated by a dog who goes through several re-births chasing his (her) true purpose and the other (Wonder) mostly by a 10-year old Auggie with severe facial deformations.

Despite completely different settings and plots, the underlying theme of both the books is love and friendship. It may be between Bailey, the dog and his boy Ethan or between Auggie and his ‘lil group of friends. Subtle humor that’s not laugh out loud but makes you smile is beautifully used both by Cameron and RJ. I found myself smiling and crying and sometimes both at the same time. At the end of each of these books, you are left with a renewed faith is friendship, love and kindness.

Before I picked up these “kid’s” books I was going through some pretty heavy stuff (for me) such as Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig and The Difficulty of Being Good by Gurcharan Das. Zen and I shared a love hate relationship wherein I had to constantly put in an effort to read in order to discover the gems of wisdom in this book. A laborious read that left me exhausted towards the end.

I guess, sometimes you just need to hear a simple tale of love and positivity that pulls your spirits up and puts you back on track with more hope than ever before. For me Bailey and Auggie did the trick and just thinking about them while writing this post has put a smile on my face. Gonna leave hear with my favorite quotes from each of these books.

“When given a choice between being right or being kind – choose kind”. – Mr. Browne, Wonder

“People are vastly more complicated than dogs and served a much more important purpose. The job of a good dog was ultimately to be with them, remaining by their sides no matter what course their lives may take. All I could do now was offer him comfort, the assurance that as he left this life he was not alone but rather tended by the dog who loved him more than anything in the whole world.”  - Bailey, A Dog’s Purpose

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!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Be a Hero

We all worship heroes, we all have our personal heroes, we love them, we worship them and secretly we all want to be them - we want to be our own HERO!! No football-lover gets a chance to compete with their football idols and no hockey player has skated with the great names of hockey but as a runner, one has the privilege to run with these everyday heroes who have risen to a challenge unlike anything they have done before. And heroes they will be.  

Every runner runs for a reason - in memory of a loved one, for fundraising or for an organization. I always wanted dreamt of running a Marathon and never really understood completely why I wanted to do it and never took any action to pursue this dream. Then one day it dawned to me; my reason:

I want to be a finisher, I want to prove it to myself that I can do it, I want to go beyond my own limits, I want to be my own Hero!! 

Once I knew my reason, I signed up for the Marathon in Chicago, the city I now call home. While I did that, a great opportunity presented itself - to make this race more than myself and to run for a cause. And I am proud to say that I will be a part of American Cancer Society's DetermiNation team at the Chicago Marathon. 

Be a Hero - My Fundraising Page

As part of the American Cancer Society DetermiNation team, I can achieve things I never imagined I could accomplish. My race victory will help save lives from every cancer in every community. And I'm hoping you'll support me in my efforts and become a hero for someone fighting with Cancer.

It's up to us to change the course of cancer - and I believe in the work the American Cancer Society is doing to save lives. Every day, they're helping people stay well and get well, they're funding and conducting research to find cures, and they're rallying communities to join them in fighting back. More than 11 million Americans who have a history of cancer will celebrate another birthday this year. Please support me with a donation so that together, with the American Cancer Society, we can help save lives and create a world with less cancer and more birthdays.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


It's strange in a way and in other makes perfect sense that the Graduation day (last day in School) ceremony is called Commencement - a beginning. But the more I thought about it, the less strange it seemed and made more and more sense. The day was indeed a commencement; commencement of a new journey and a new career.

The excitement was in the air for this day few weeks in advance. Many could not believe where the 2 years went by so quick and I was no exception. Just seemed like yesterday that I was writing this post and sulking about having to move away from Pune and all the friends back home. It just took a little time before Boston became home and classmates became friends for life. 

For me Graduation ceremony was just about black robes and throwing the cap in the air - I was so wrong and boy am I happy for that or what? As a B-school applicant, three years back, I would always look up student commencement speeches of the school I was applying to. It always provided so much perspective into the school's culture and what it stands for. And being the innate dreamer that I am, I dreamt of the podium on my graduation day.

Dreams do come true!! Like many others, I always thought this was just a trap your trainers tell you to run longer or hike higher (how we hate those guys). I never imagined this dream of mine will come true UNLESS IT DID!! I was driving down Masspike when my phone buzzed and I read the sweet sweet email informing me that my speech was selected for the ceremony. I almost ran into a few trucks in the excitement. I had never stopped believing but somehow the belief was a little bit shaken during the 2 years at b-school. But this email restored that belief. Couldn't have asked for a better end to the bitter-sweet MBA journey. 

The day of commencement was beautiful, impeccable weather, sunshine, everyone looked so stunning (I even got my har done for once), families and loved ones and a feeling of accomplishment surrounded us. When I marched towards the venue with the music and cheering along with my classmates, it did feel like we had achieved something special. 

Personally, for me this is a commencement of a new belief in myself, commencement of possibilities and commencement of a life where dreams do come true.  

Thank you all for the kind and motivating words before and after the speech. I felt so very special hearing all your compliments and glad that everyone found something to identify with in the speech. Here is a link to the speech.. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boston keeps running

Patriots' day is one of the best days to be in Boston. Today was no exception until.. until the horrific and shameful act brought the race to a standstill. The city might have stopped for a brief moment to soak in what happened but Boston keeps running. Nothing can kill the sprit of Marathons or of Boston.

The weather was perfect, not very hot like last year but not too cold either. A perfect weather to run, to be outdoors and to cheer the ones running the Marathon. The most iconic of all marathons where Boston hosts runners from over 90 countries. Runner who are running for world peace, for their sons and daughters, in the memory of their moms and dads, for raising funds for cancer studies, against hunger and guns and for equality for all. The race is a reflection of human spirit to say the least.

I saw the kick-off of the race online and watched Japan's Yamamoto(46) finish the Wheelchair race in 2:25:28 and yet hardly seeming drained or tired. It was simply inspirational and very powerful to watch him cross the finish line. Motivated, I decided to head out to the race scene to cheer for these everyday heroes of the race. I walked barely a mile to 'Mile 24'.

The scene was breathtaking! 100s of runners one after the other, rocking various costumes, with no costumes, with messages, some waving, few dancing, most focussed but everyone returning a smile when you gave them a shout out. I joined the huge crowd of people cheering and celebrating the race. We kept on going "Run Run Run", "Go Mike", "Go Dave", "Go Cathy", "Go Jen", "Almost There", "No stopping Monday" and "You are my Hero".

One of my favorite guys from the race. He cheered for every single runner till his voice gave up. I tried to  keep up with him as much as I could.

Witnessing the race from so close was very humbling. People of all age, many with disabilities, and few even without limbs kept running. A guy who recently lost his daughter ran in her memory, a woman who lost an arm to cancer ran, a 74 yr old was running his 8th marathon, many wear running to test their limits and to prove they too can do it. Simply amazing!!
Wide spectrum of ages at the race - An old guy totally rocking the race and the Tux while little kids cheer them at the  mile 24!
The free spirit of the Boston Marathon

I stood there for 3 hours cheering and chatting with others around me. We cheered together for their daughters and boyfriends and girlfriends. I hugged random people upon news of their loved ones finishing the race. I high-five-d more people than I ever have but the fact that some of them started to run because you cheered kept all of us going.

A large wave of runners clocking in a under 3 hour finish. 

Slow but very steady and solid. Love his beard!  
A marathon is the place where everyday men and women appear superhuman. It does not need a stadium or many equipment, it takes place on the everyday streets where everyday people run and go from ordinary to extra-ordinary.

Team Noah!

And then suddenly in midst of all this there was an unrest. Everyone seemed worried suddenly. I checked Twitter to find out there was some explosion at the Finish line. I just assumed it must be some construction or domestic small scale explosion. But within minutes we were proven wrong and the word that it might be something more serious spread. My friend and I decided to leave not wanting to get in the way of authorities. As the events unfolded and we learned more about the blasts, it just horrified us and sent a chill down the spine.

Why today? Why the Marathon? Why Boston? So many questions and frustrations. Perhaps the forces behind this sick act wanted to break the spirit of the people, perhaps they wanted to shatter the inspiration that the race brings or perhaps they are just sadists who cannot see a peaceful event that brings people of all backgrounds and beliefs together. Whatever their reason, nothing can ever justify such a heinous act. NOTHING!!

The race might have come to a stop but it served its purpose. We did see the undying spirit of the runners. We were inspired and motivated. Most of all, we did not really stop and we won't. Boston Marathon will be back next year with renewed vigor and hope.

“If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a

 marathon.” – Kathrine Switzer


Monday, February 11, 2013


A recent Quora question, “What will be the 1st line of your bio/auto biography?” made me think long. Oh yeah, I am addicted to Quora, but more about that later.
So I had various versions going on through my head:
- I had arrived
- At the stroke of midnight, with her usual fanfare, Anagha made an entry.
- And I thought to myself, “Meh so much for the nine month wait”.
- As the clock struck 12, ending the month of May, my life changed, I was born.
Moving away from just the birth clich├ęs, I thought even harder:
- A small town girl, out there to make it big.  (I know, real bad and cheesy)
- If I said I never thought this book would be written, I would be lying.
- I spent a lot of time thinking about this sentence 20 years back.

And then something struck and this was my final answer
"Mediocrity best explains everything that I am but hope it doesn't define me, as I have never ceased to fight it."
Successfully or not is yet to be decided. When I wrote this down, I was pretty satisfied with it. Not because of what it says about me but because it is true.
When we are growing up, we always think of doing great things, at least I did. Don’t get me wrong, I still do but I guess the definition of great has changed. Great is no more becoming famous, earning ton of money and giving to charity or becoming the first Indian woman to win a grand slam (sweet!). Actually it’s exactly all this but not in an overnight-filmy kind of way. More in an enduring and patient kind of way. Not sure if this is true or just a story adult me tells the kid me to justify why we couldn’t do all that we set out for – yet!
But yep, that’s the story; I mean the start so far. What will be your start?

Friday, September 28, 2012


He always walked in with a smile and messed up hair
His shirt was always a size smaller for his tummy and pant an inch too long
His hands were cracked and shoes unclean but had a heart of a king
He was always eager to talk and never wished to stop
He loved his car and always shut the door a little too hard
He was always there to pick me up at the wee hours when I arrived home
He was the first to arrive in the morning and the last to leave
He was also the first one to defend his beloved ‘Bhau’ and the family
He was the one we counted on and looked for, for anything and everything
He was Devidas!!!

Just this morning, when I got up to the rains and cloudy weather, mom called up and something seemed odd. She spoke about a lot of other things but seemed lost. Finally when I asked and heard her speak, my heart stopped.

Devidas is no more. Our driver for last so many years but more of a family to all of us is gone. I am so far away from home and haven’t seen him for last 2 years but still cannot stop thinking about what a great guy he was and feel the big loss and void this has caused.

May his soul rest in peace!