Run Prajakt, Run!

One month ago, I decided I would go for 5 consecutive half marathons on five consecutive Sundays. And I have completed two marathons so far. Both were trail runs and to my surprise (not really), I could complete them within 2 hours. Good accomplishment, isn’t it?

Let me share few moments of these 2 marathons here.

Half marathon 1: Nashik Spirit Run, Sula Vineyards

Beautiful place...
Beautiful place…

This was a gorgeous place to run. I don’t think there are any marathons which go through vineyards in India. And I must say, organizers did a great job with their first attempt. Nashik is one of those cities in India which is blessed with a pleasant weather throughout the year.

After a break of almost 3 weeks, I was going to run this marathon. Though I had only one week for the preparation, I was quite excited about it as my cousins were also going to be part of this marathon.

We started at 6:30. It was damn cold that morning. I could actually see my breath! But the route was really awesome. It traveled through vineyards, meadows and around the Gangapur dam backwaters. I always wish if I could get such place to practice my runs at. I would never stop!

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Lovely view..

I started with a brisk pace and could sustain it for the 1.5 loops. 1:50 finish was quite visible and achievable. But I couldn’t sustain the pace in last 4 km. I got slower and slower towards the end. When I reached the finish line, my watch showed 1:57. I was quite happy with my performance. It could have been better but still it was better than what I had expected before the run.

There were celebrations everywhere at the finish line. DJ was rocking! My cousins had successfully completed  their 10K runs. Everyone was happy and dancing. we hesitated initially but later on broke loose. We danced, danced and danced. There were some weird songs which I had never heard of but it was awesome fun dancing to them with weirdest possible moves.

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Family time..
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with my cousin..

Half marathon 2: Pune Running trail marathon

Another trail marathon. My friend who had run this one last year had told me that it’s not going to be an easy one. So I was apprehended to some extent as far as my timings were concerned. I   really want to complete all these 5 half marathons under 2:00.

I had company of my friends for this one. It’s always good feeling to have your friends running the same marathon. My start was again strong and I could sustain it till 17K. At 17K, I started slowing down. Again. My knee started aching. And the pain got worse more I tried to push it away. I finished the marathon at 1:51 but wasn’t too happy has I was pretty sure I had hurt my knee. But as usual, we ll had a great time at the finish race. Some pictures, some chats and some more pictures.

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with some known and unknown people..
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Friends..

We all went to South Indian restaurant for the breakfast. It was really nice to have a sumptuous breakfast along with never ending discussions. And this is exactly what I like about running. Running allows me to network, socialize and have fun!

My illiotibial band is still causing some troubles and I have 3 more marathons to run. I’ll ignore the band and will focus on the runs! See you soon!

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Exploring India…

It all started when Greg Dewey told me about his plans to visit India. Greg is my colleague and a very dear friend. We work for the same business unit – Individual Life New Business.
 
Greg was supposed to come to Principal Global Services to train my team on the enhanced triage process. He really wanted to visit the Taj Mahal and places around it during his four- week stay in India. Considering his busy schedule, we had only two days for this trip and I had my own doubts whether two days would be sufficient and whether I could bear this trip to historical monuments.  I never liked history and anything close to it. But to my surprise, not only could we visit the Taj Mahal but we could also visit places such as Agra Fort, Qutub Minar, Lodi Gardens, Red Fort, India Gate, Janpath and Raj Ghat.
 
We left Pune on an early Saturday morning and were in Delhi within two hours. On the way to our hotel, we visited the Qutub Minar.
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Qutub Minar is the tallest minaret in India and has been declared UNESCO World Heritage site. It is made of red sandstone and marble and is 72.5 metres high. It is surrounded by several other ancient and medieval structures and ruins, collectively known as the Qutub complex.
 
After a sumptuous lunch, we headed for Lodi Gardens. It’s a serene, beautiful place which has quite a few monuments scattered around the park, spread over 90 acres. One can easily spend hours admiring the nature here.
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After Lodi gardens, we visited the Red Fort and the Raj Ghat. Red fort is the largest monument in old Delhi and was built by a Mughal emperor, Shah Jehan (who also built the Taj Mahal). Every year on 15 August (Independence Day), Prime Minister hoists the national flag at the Red Fort, followed by a nationally broadcast speech from its ramparts.
Raj Ghat is a memorial to Mahatma Gandhi. The black stone marks the spot of cremation of Mahatma Gandhi.
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Then we were at India Gate, a wonderful and famous monument in New Delhi. It was built in 1931 to honor the soldiers of India who fought and then died during World War I and the Afghan Wars. On the walls of the monument are the names of all the 90,000 fallen soldiers who died in those earlier wars.
 
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By 8 p.m., we were back in the hotel, located within a 10 minute walk from the India Gate. We were quite tired and hungry. So, we had our dinner at the hotel and called it a day.
 
Sunday:
We started at 6 in the morning. Agra is 202 km away from Delhi. We reached Agra by 10 a.m. We were really excited about our Taj visit. And when we reached the Taj Mahal; we were completely fascinated by the beautiful and spectacular monument. We were completely awestruck and just kept clicking pictures. 
 
Taj Mahal is known as a symbol of enduring love. It was built by Shah Jehan to house the grave of his beloved wife, Queen Mumtaz Mahal, who died following the birth of their 14th child.  Construction of the Taj Mahal began in 1632 and it was completed in 1648. Yes, it took 16 years to build this beauty.
 
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Taj Mahal is actually an integrated complex of structures. The white domed marble mausoleum is the most familiar component. It is also surrounded by tombs of Shah Jehan’s other wives. 
After having a mesmerizing experience of visiting the Taj Mahal, we moved to Agra Fort.
 
 
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Agra Fort is quite huge and offers a great view of the Taj Mahal from its balcony. Some part of this fort is still being used by the Indian Army so one doesn’t have access to those parts of the fort.
 
We left from Agra at 2 p.m. and reached Delhi Airport by 6:30 p.m. And yes, we made it two hours prior to our flight to Pune!
 
I’ll remember this weekend trip for many exciting and enriching experiences:
  • It was fun travelling and seeing places with a friend who belongs to a different continent. A memorable experience! Looking forward for more such experiences!
  • I was never good at history and Greg doesn’t like history much, so it worked for both of us! But while writing this blog, I had to refer to sources for more information. In the process, I realized that history is not that boring. And Wikipedia makes it more interesting!
  • Taj Mahal, the symbol of enduring love, made me fall in love – with photography and travelling!
  • A visit to the Taj Mahal and New Delhi is easily possible over a weekend. Please feel free to approach me if you want to plan one. I’ll be glad to help you.
  • Lastly, I came across this poem on Wikipedia. Emperor Shah Jehan has himself described the Taj Mahal in these words-
Should guilty seek asylum here,
Like one pardoned, he becomes free from sin.
Should a sinner make his way to this mansion,
All his past sins are to be washed away.
The sight of this mansion creates sorrowing sighs;
And the sun and the moon shed tears from their eyes.
In this world this edifice has been made;
To display thereby the creator’s glory.
 
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Truly, a wonderful experience and a memorable trip it was.

Girl next door-part 2

After my blog on HER (read here), I’ve been asked by many-

“How is your neighbour? Have you made any progress?”

There is one confession I’ve to make. And I’ll make it later in this blog. But let me take you through an interesting story which revolves around HER and me. I hope you will like it.

It was a dry, dull and a boring Monday. I came home at around 6, fatigued and exhausted. All I wanted was a self-made cup of tea and I was really looking forward for it. I reached kitchen and I realized that there was no tea left in the house. Andy (my roommate) eats tea, I guess! I didn’t have any energy left to go out and buy it. So for the first time in my life, I stepped out to ask for tea. Well, the target was defined. It ought to be HER!

I set my hair, put on a nice T shirt and headed towards her apartment. And within 10 seconds, I came back, without even pressing the doorbell! That must be the quickest and funniest ‘give up’ in the history. I’m good at fighting failures. I did some self pep talk and left for the mission again.

This time I pressed the doorbell.  No one responded. I took a deep breath and pressed it again. Again, no one responded! Just when I was about to return dejected, she opened the door. Wow! She looked stunning and gorgeous.

She: Hey..Hi! How are you, Prajakt?

I: Hi..I’m good. How are you?

She: I’m good ya. Tell me, how come you are here?

(Silence) I couldn’t remember why I was at her door!

I: I wanted something…Yeah, I wanted some sugar. Can I have some sugar?

She: Sure. Just give me a second.

She came back with some sugar in a bowl. Wow, she looked pretty with her spects on.

I: Thanks! Thanks so much!

She: You are welcome, Prajakt!

I left her apartment with a smile on my face. And the smile disappeared when I reached my kitchen.

Sugar???  I wanted tea, Prajakt ! And I asked for Sugar! How can I be so idiot! I had never behaved so confused in my life. But yes, I wanted tea. And I wanted it desperately.

So I did some pep talk again and left for the mission. I reached her apartment and stood there. Before pressing the bell, I took a deep breath to reorganize myself. After few seconds, I pressed the bell. This time, she didn’t take long. She opened the door with the same gorgeous and gracious look.

She: Hi again! What happened?

I: TEA!! (she was taken aback by my aggression.) Hey, I want some tea also.. Sorry to trouble you..

She: Not a problem, ya..I will get it for you.

She came back with some tea in a bowl. I couldn’t stop staring her.

She: Here you go! I hope you have milk and water available with you.

I: (Smiling) Yeah..Hey..by the way, would you like to join for tea? I’m pretty good at making tea.

Whoa! What did I just do? I asked her out for tea! My heart started beating faster..I could feel it..

She: (pause) hmm..(pause)…hmm (pause)..

I: It’s okay if you are not comfortable. Sorry, if I intruded your space.

My heart was beating even faster now and a part of me had started disowning me. I could have fainted at any point.

She: Why not! Give me five minutes and I’ll join you.

Heaven! I was in heaven! I was speechless. I couldn’t believe what was going on.

I: Sure. See you in five minutes!

I came home with a mission ‘over’accomplished feeling. I punched some fists in the air and celebrated in my own way.

I had to focus on my tea now. I was charged up and excited.

After five minutes-

The bell rang. So did my heart. I opened the door. And there was she! A gorgeous and gracious female at my door!

I had arranged two chairs in the balcony. The view from the balcony was refreshing on that day. Well, everything looked beautiful that day. Sunset was on the verge. The orange-amber hue in the sky was offering a stunning view. Cool, soothing breeze was going on. I had put a soft, lovely melodious music in the back ground.

So there were we! Two people connected by a series of coincidences, having tea on lovely evening with a soothing breeze, a melodious music and a beautiful view to accompany. We spoke for a long time over a cup of tea. The tea allowed us to get to know more about each other.

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As usual, I had a smile on my face. That evening tea is going to be cherished for a really long time. I sincerely want to thank Andy for working long hours on that day.

Confession/Disclaimer: This blog is purely a work of fiction and bears no resemblance to reality. I just wanted to stretch my imagination and nothing else. 🙂

What a beautiful coincidence!

I was in a good mood as it was Friday. There is a stark difference in the way I used to look at my work one year ago and how I look at it now. One year ago, I used to crave, crave for work, and crave for Mondays. And now, I hate Mondays! My colleague at work calls this transformation as humanization of Prajakt Mahajan (that’s me)! But that’s not the point I want to discuss here.

Something beautiful happened today. It had never happened in my life (No Mom, I’ve not fallen in love!). It was in a series, in a series of coincidences.

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I stay in a building which has 12 floors and 30 studio apartments on each floor. It was 8:50 a.m. and I was cleaning my bike on the ground floor parking. When I was about to leave for office, I saw doors of the lift open. A girl came out. She had a backpack and a book in hand. She was in some strange hurry. I observed her for few seconds and then got back to cleaning my bike. After few minutes, I left for office. When I reached the main entrance of our building, I saw that the same girl was waving at me. She was asking for a lift. This time she was not only in hurry but looked confused. That’s a fatal combination!

I stopped my bike. She walked to me and asked, “Can you drop me to main road (10 minutes away)?”

Before I could say YES, she started talking again. “Look, it’s my first day in the new office and I’ve missed my bus. I’ve never taken a lift in my life but I want one today. Please drop me at Main Road.”

This time I was able to speak. I spoke, “Yes, I’ll drop you.”

She didn’t look too confident as far as sitting on a bike was concerned. But with few failed attempts, finally she could settle on my bike. I started my bike and the journey began.

I: Where do you work?

She: I work at ABC Company. It’s a mortgage company.

Coincidence number 1: This company lies 2 floors below my work place! We share the same tower in Cybercity, Pune.

I: Seriously? I work in XYZ Company. It’s a finance/insurance company.

She: Jeez, the world is too small!

I was driving slowly. I don’t know why. My Mom would have hugged me if she had seen me driving today.

After 500m-

I: You don’t appear to be a Puneite. Where are you from?

She: I’m from Nagpur.

I: I’m from Nagpur too!

She: Oh god, the world is too small!

Coincidence number 2: We both belong to Nagpur and our houses are not more than a kilometre away.

After 1000m-

She: Hey, I haven’t even asked your name! What’s your name?

I: Prajakt Mahajan.

She: Maharashtrian?  (in Marathi) Deva, he jag khoop lahan aahe! (God, this world is too small)

Coincidence number 3: We have a common mother tongue, Marathi.

She is a mechanical engineer who is working in a mortgage company. And I’m a doctor working for a finance company!

Coincidence number 4: Wrong people at wrong places!

We spoke about blah-blah-blah. And our tower arrived.  Thank you, Bye, See you later formalities were completed and she left.

I had to park my bike which by the way must have surely felt treated like a bicycle today. I started climbing stairs thinking about the girl and the coincidences we have been part of. I had a smile on my face. I was happy. The whole coincidence saga was lingering on my mind. Too many coincidences to take!

The day was hectic and kept me busy. At 6 p.m., I left for home and when I reached home, I got a phone call from a colleague. I started talking to her on the floor lobby itself.

And then I saw that morning girl again! I saw her opening the door of an apartment which is right opposite of mine! Though I was still talking on the phone, I shouted her name, “Blah Blah?”

She: Oh my God! This world is really too small!

I: (Still on the phone) Catch you later.

She: Sure. Bye.

Coincidence number 5: I’m speechless!

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For last 4 months, we (Andy and I) have been thinking that the apartment opposite ours is haunted! We have seen all the signs of human habitat but not a human!

There are 360 apartments in my building and the person whom I gave lift in the morning works 2 floors below mine, hails from the same town, has same mother tongue as mine, and has been staying right opposite me for last 4 months!

What a beautiful day it was! The coincidences just kept me smiling throughout the day. I have got to say just one thing-

God! This world is too small!

Mom- No, I’m not in love. I’m not even thinking that way. And I don’t want to get married this year!

Trek to Sinhgad…

I trek on every Saturday (sometimes Sunday). And I’ve been able to hit 80% success ratio. Not bad, huh? I trek with Andy(my room mate) and his hangover. Otherwise, I trek alone. Its a wonderful exercise and a good change from routine runs. Last Saturday, I had a company, a company of 8 awesome people. And it was fun! Well, it had to be!

We trekked Sinhagad, a local fort near Pune. It takes 50-60 minutes to climb this fort. The trek is relatively easy but has few patches which require stamina and some trekking skills.

Let the pictures tell you the story now…

A lovely Sunrise...
A lovely Sunrise…
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Orange turning blue..
View from the top..
View from the top..
Energy drinks..
Mission accomplished..
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Smiles everywhere…
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Stunning view from the top..
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I couldn’t resist clicking this one..
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The wall of Sinhgad..
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This click features my desktop now..
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My favorite..
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Waiting for breakfast to be served..
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Spicy, oily and tasty!

It was one of the memorable outings  I have had in my life. The aura of this trek is still lingering around me..And it will be there..Till we go for our next trek!

So when was the last time you had gone for a trek with your friends?

Goa unloaded…

It all started when my mother reminded me that I haven’t met her and dad for last six months. Well, I had my own excuses for not visiting their place, Vasmath (a small cute town in Maharashtra). I don’t like travelling to Vasmath not because it’s a small town but it takes 9 awful hours to reach there. And the bus service is as good as a father in law who had never approved your marriage!

As usual, my mother had a plan. (A mother is a necessity for an invention!) She asked me to come to Goa where they were going to spend their week-long vacation. I agreed to join them for a weekend.

According to my friend, Goa is known for 3 Bs. Lovely Beaches, gorgeous Babes and cheap Boozes.  I have been to Goa, thrice- for beaches and boozes…For the first time in my life, I was visiting Goa with the only intention of meeting my parents.

I checked in at Club Mahindra Resort on a Saturday morning. This resort is beautiful and has its own private beach. I’m not much into arts but I loved one of their restaurant’s architecture.

Club Mahindra Resort
Club Mahindra Resort
Italian Restuarant
Italian Restuarant

I was happy to see my parents after a long time. There were conversations. Some were funny, some were insightful and some were thought provoking. I have always enjoyed talking to my parents. It just gets me back on track. We chatted, we discussed and we listened to each other. I stopped contributing when my dad asked me about my marriage plans. That was too embarrassing!

Double bicycling!
Double bicycling!

The beach offered a stunning view. Be it any time. Morning, noon or night.

What a seat and what a view!
What a seat and what a view!
Just before sunset. A stunning view!
Just before sunset. A stunning view!

For the first time in my life, I went for a run on the beach.

A Perfect Run!
A Perfect Run!
A run on the beach!
A run on the beach!

With my new found love for running, this wasn’t a surprise. And it was awesome! Waves hitting the shore, sunset on the verge and a cooling breeze made it one of most beautiful runs I have taken till date. During a run of 60 odd minutes, I could witness couples holding hands, people doing Yoga, kids playing and few sitting in solitude. A beach is one of the very few places which can cater to variety of emotions, moods and people at the same time.

A perfect way to cool down after a run of 60 minutes!
A perfect way to cool down after a run of 60 minutes!
Swimming pool
Swimming pool

A pool at the resort was enticing. Floating in cool blue water, sipping my fruit punch and a soothing music in the background is all what was needed to make me feel relaxed and at peace. And boy, what a refreshment was it! First time, again!

When I was talking to my dad about all those things I did it for the first time in Goa, he shared one of his philosophies for life. It’s in a form of a question.

When was the last time you did something for the first time?

He said, “Prajakt, if you keep asking this question to yourself, you won’t ever get bored of life”. How true! This compelled me to jot down the list of things I did it for first time. There were quite a few to note-

  1. Visiting Goa for reasons other than 3 Bs.
  2. Taking a long run on the beach
  3. Floating in the pool doing nothing
  4. Riding a double bicycle with dad
  5. Completing a novel (50 shades of Grey) at 3:00 a.m. (Please refer to my previous blog, here.)
  6. And discussing (?) marriage plans with parents!!

So, let me ask you-

When was the last time you did something for the first time?

One of my favorites!
One of my favorites!

Disclaimer: I’m a rare, social and occasional drinker. 🙂