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Hi! I’m Justin Raj, a stock broker by profession, is also a freelance Journalist, an amateur Filmmaker and an enthusiastic Marathoner who possesses the ‘bad habit’ of writing too much. And as long as that ‘bad habit’ stays with me, I keep on posting to my blog.

A blogger is basically a tech-savvy writer. He is a keen observer with a sharing mind, not a silent spectator to all events which happen around him. If a reader is a person who loves to gain knowledge, a blogger or writer is one who loves to share his knowledge and dare to speak out his opinions and ideas. Like a singer expresses by singing, dancer by dancing, actor through acting, a blogger blogs his feelings and ideas out. Literally, Freedom of Expression is his shield and the blog is his Sword.

Here in my blog, write-ups are archived in 9 labels. In ‘Sweet and Bitter’ you can read about my diverse life experiences and valuable lessons I learnt from it. ‘Published Articles’ offers you my articles which have been published in Daily Newspapers. In ‘Random Brain Waves’ you can meet up with my random (or at times, weird) ideas. Poetry writing has eventually become a new hobby as well as a part of my blog. You can read my poems in ‘Verses’. In ‘Marathon’ label, you can read about my marathon experiences, challenges and how running a marathon can shape a man’s life.

‘Vlog’ is a recent addition to my blog as I realize the potential future of visual media. Sometimes, a 3-minute video can do the magic of expression than a 3000 word article. In this label you can watch the short films, documentaries, advertisements et al I have made. ‘Favorite Articles’ consists of articles which have influenced my outlook and attitude on life. Being a tireless traveler, ‘Travel’ label takes you to various travel experiences of mine. Conducting researches is a part of Journalism. In ‘Research Articles’ label you can get articles which throw light on various researches I have conducted.

Every life meets with various challenges, diverse experiences and at the end, all those teach us valuable lessons for our future. Wise men learn by other men's mistakes, fools by their own said H. G. Bohn. I learn more by my own mistakes than others. It doesn’t mean that I’m a fool! I learn from other’s lives too. My blog is a platform for sharing not only my life experiences but also the valuable lessons, ideas and poetry triggered by them.

To my mind, blog is a thinking man's tool. Blogging is more a passion than a hobby for me. It is as if talking something to someone somewhere in world. My words keep on talking to the visitors of my blog. I can feel the magic of words! And that’s the power of blogging!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Let’s break the cancer stick!

Long back in 2003, during a cool, wind blowing night, hidden in the darkest corner of my bed room, I did a deadly, yet, innovative act: lit a cigarette. I had tried it twice before but it didn’t made any impact as I hadn’t inhaled the smoke. But this time I had done the job perfectly and the aftermath was unexpected and also bit horrible. I puked! I haven’t come across any smokers yet in my life who had a ‘puking’ experience akin to mine. My experience is very unique. So, I love to call it ‘legendary’ and this ‘legendary’ puking marked the beginning of my smoking odyssey.

I always love to visualize me with a cigarette on my lips. To me, smoking was an insignia of manliness, strength and maturity. It took only a few months to transform me from an occasional smoker to an ardent one. The number of cigarettes which I had started with two, eventually, ended up with twenty two. My ‘care free’ smoking went well until I fell prone to smoker’s cough in 2005.

I felt as if my lungs would burst out. It prompted me to consult doctor immediately. He said,” Mr. Justin, you should better quit smoking.” he might knew that his advice was like doing painting on ice but surely, he wasn’t aware that he had given advice to a person who even couldn’t stop smoking while coughing! However, owing to the effectiveness of medication, cough subsided.

I kept the medical prescription safely with me as a weapon to eliminate future smoker’s cough ‘attacks’, which, I knew were imminent. I was ready to face cough but quitting smoking was not in my agenda.

Again, after few months, smoker’s cough started pounding my lungs. I faced it boldly and treated successfully by self medication in accordance with doctor’s prescription. In 2006, cough conducted its third ‘attack’ mercilessly. This time, it was comparatively severe and unfortunately, prescription didn’t work its magic too.

I settled down on patient’s chair consulting a doctor who is very close to my family. He opined that nothing could be done with my cough unless I stop smoking at least during medication. I was compelled to stop smoking during medication which went for a fortnight. I understood one thing: any idiot can try, start and develop habitual smoking but quitting; it’s not a child’s play!

One day, in 2006, during workout, I even nearly fainted as I had a cigarette just minutes before entering the gym. Sadly, I understood that my overall performance got affected. It is from that day, I started thinking about a ‘quit smoking’ regime and also started visualizing myself as a non smoker. I couldn’t find anything good in smoking. It could only end me up in losses and depression. My frequent common cold, coughing, sneezing, loss of stamina, which in turn, developed an inferiority complex ; fatigue are the results of my smoking. So can it be called as a symbol of manliness, strength and maturity?

I understood the bad effects, decided to quit, but the only problem existed was a solution or technique to quit. Proper implementation of my strong decision was not possible as I couldn’t find a substitute for smoking. At first, I tried chewing gum; it was a disaster! Next substitute was coffee. It also ended up with hopelessness.

Everybody needs hope. Hope imparts liveliness to life. It brings meaning to life. Everyone lives with hope. A smoker too lives with hope. His hope is nothing other than the next cigarette. Lighting one after another, cigarettes become an indispensable part of his daily life. It is a cyclic process which repeats itself and never ends. He waits eagerly to light the next cigarette and he cannot concentrate on anything as his craving for smoking sustains in his mind all through the activities which he undertakes. Only thing in this world he enjoys most is smoking, nothing else.

In the year 2007, after a series of failures, I discovered the real substitute for smoking: reading. World’s best habit versus world’s worst habit! After starting smoking, my loo moments were not satisfactory without a cigarette. In fact, a toxin (nicotine) was needed to flush out other toxins from my body. I experimented by reading newspaper while in loo. At first, it hadn’t proved to be efficient but gradually it started yielding results. Whenever, any activities feel to be boring, I will switch on to reading. That made all the difference! By the end of 2007, after 4 years of smoking, I saved myself from that habit. Later, more substitutes cropped up as bonus like running (for more details, visit www.runningandliving.com), swimming and even chocolate milk shake!

Dear reader, if you are a smoker, let me tell you that you are special! But, keep in mind that you are digging your own grave too. Nicotine is not as addictive as you think. There are lots of alcohol anonymous (AA) centers but why there are no smoking rehabilitation centers? This is just enough for proving nicotine is not an addictive drug. 85% of the world’s smokers wanted to quit, but, why they can’t accomplish their goal? It’s because most of them fails in finding out any other activity which can replace smoking. Developing a healthy habit not only boosts your confidence but also helps to strike out bad habits to a great extent. Unless you can’t divert your mind to any other activity other than smoking, like I diverted my mind to reading, running etc, you are trapped! If you start thinking beyond smoking and find substitutes, you will definitely succeed! I promise!

There is a widespread misconception that creativity and intelligence is rooted on nicotine and alcohol. People who are thinking that way should understand that only a healthy body can accommodate a healthy mind. A creative and an intelligent person should not only mentally fit but also should be physically fit. You have only one life on this planet and you should live it to the fullest, and never compromise on your health goals. So, quit smoking and enjoy your life as you have never enjoyed before.

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