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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!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Hindi, I miss you!

Today is an important, moreover, an exciting day in my life. Today, I became an ‘outstanding’ graduate as I took 5 years to complete my 3 year graduation course. Though I had a small party with few of my colleagues there was neither an official convocation nor a graduation party. Everybody wonders and ask me why it took two years more than the course required. That is where Hindi played a very mischievous role.

For graduation it is mandatory to select an optional language. While most of my friends had chosen our mother tongue Malayalam, I opted for Hindi as I thought it was easier to get passed. I also wanted to make a different move too.

Eventually, I came to know that the different move I had made is making all the difference. Hindi classes were not as easy as I thought. Its standard was higher than that of higher secondary level and also hard to learn. I lost interest in studying Hindi and began to skip classes. I spend those class hours either in library or in the college canteen without even caring what is going on in the class.

Even though, I was a ‘guest’ student in Hindi class, I was Hindi teacher’s pet. She always advised to study well and also warned not to miss the classes otherwise I will surely lose the exam. Wholeheartedly, I had taken her warning and hadn’t ever attended a single Hindi exam during those three years of graduation! But the truth is that even had I attended it, I wouldn’t have passed. In fact, Hindi got blanketed under lethargy and fun.

I still remember those Hindi examination days during which without even entering the hall, I used to spend my precious time either in my friend’s bike garage, movie hall or in bar. Actually, those unwanted activities provided some sort of escapism.

As my attendance rate was low, I was barred from attending two semester examinations. So, during the last semester exam, I had to clear around 18 papers including Hindi. Again I showed the same lethargic attitude and skipped Hindi. Fortunately all the papers got cleared but the four Hindi papers remained without passing.

After my regular graduation classes were over, I had joined a diploma course. As I was ‘busy’ with my diploma classes and ‘extra curricular activities’, I couldn’t give much attention to Hindi again. After completing diploma, I decided to join the armed forces and started preparing for Combined Defense Services Examination (CDSE). Minimum qualification for joining Army is graduation but I won’t be a graduate unless I clear Hindi papers.

It was a real challenge. After opting Hindi as my optional language, it is for the first time I’m taking it as a serious affair. I started going for special classes to mug up the load of four semesters. My new Hindi teacher helped me a lot to understand the difficult words and confusing phrases.

On April 2007, I entered the examination hall well prepared. I had seen some of my friends who were still struggling with their arrear papers. I was so glad to see at least some people in similar plight as mine.

Two days. Four exams. It was a very exciting experience as it had been for a very long time since I had written an exam well prepared. My defense examination and master’s program are hanging on Hindi paper results. So, the most restive and tension filled days had begun: awaiting results.

After two and a half months of prolonged waiting and anticipation, the D-day had dawned with an anticlimax. Out of four Hindi papers, one got stuck and remaining three got cleared.

As a result, I couldn’t join for master’s degree. I had only one option nothing other than preparing for CDSE. After CDS examination, again in October 2007, I got the next chance to attend Hindi exam and I wrote it well.

Although I had successfully cracked CDSE, Hindi’s condition was as same as last attempt. I failed again! To compound the situation, somebody told that due to the failure in Hindi, I couldn’t even attend the Service Selection Board (SSB) Interview. Some how, it got settled.

Semester exam in April 2008. My last chance to clear Hindi. This time I entirely changed my strategy. I prepared well by writing each and every question in the textbook. After preparing for two months by writing and mugging up, and under great pressure, I entered the hall. Mean while, I came to know that all my colleagues have passed out of the college and I’m the last man standing! Once even the college receptionist sarcastically told that, “Why you are coming again and again here like a school kid for writing this silly Hindi exam?” Little bit ashamed of myself, I took pen by firmly deciding in mind that this would be my final Hindi exam. Anyway, exam was comparatively easy and I had written well by filling as much papers I could. Success is imminent but uncertainty prevailed.

Today, though I’m experiencing an inexpressible bliss and satisfaction, I strongly feel that, something is missing somewhere. It doesn’t need any thorough introspection for me to understand what is missing. Undoubtedly, the missing factor is the Hindi challenge. It may look simple or silly to others if I say that it took two years to pass my graduation optional language paper. But it was not an easy going affair for me. Those two years and especially Hindi papers taught me a lot of things in life. I understood the meaning of hard work and the prominence of patience. It was a real challenge and also a ‘speed breaker’ of my carefree academic life. It made me taste the bitterness of failure and finally, the feeling of real accomplishment. Moreover, it is an end of a span in my life which taught me that there are no failures in life; only lessons. I really miss you, my dear Hindi!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The pen and paper magic…

If I’m asked, what is the most marvelous process in this world, my answer would be writing. Ideas sprout and emotions flow out when we stroke our pen through paper. Only human beings are blessed to hold a pen, write, convey and store his/her ideas. Ideas to design an aero plane to creating a movie come out from the tip of a pen.

Writing is a wonderful art akin to sculpting. As a sculptor meticulously polishes his work, a writer patiently pre write, write and re write his text in order to bring it into a good form. Patience and clarity of thoughts are needed for clear and precise writing. If the writer is not very clear about his thoughts and ideas, the reader will get more confused than the writer.

Ideas are like flashes. It will not stay in our head for long. Geniuses are those who can feel and catch those flashes. For developing a small idea, we have to scribble it on paper. In fact, paper is the training ground of ideas. Our ideas flow and grow by further writing. By each pen stroke, we are further digging our mind and bringing our hidden ideas out. Greatest books and literature works take birth from simple scribbling. We will really wonder how our ideas develop and form a good shape and style. A well written powerful idea can make revolutions. Famous revolutionaries like Ernesto ‘che’ Guevara was motivated by writers like Garcia Marquez and father of our nation, Mahatma Gandhi got inspired by Russian writer, Leo Tolstoy. That is why great people have told pen is mightier than sword

Recently, I read an interesting article about journaling. Nowadays, most of the therapists suggest keeping a personal journal and also recommends making daily entries. Latest researches have proved that stress levels are very low in people who write journals compared to the persons who don’t. Whenever I take my pen to scribble something for my journal, I feel as if I’m holding a magic wand which can work wonders. I’m really amazed to see how this simple things-pen and paper- bring positive vibes in my life. More we write, more we can convey our emotions and ideas. It will help us to understand the real problems and challenges in our life. Journaling won’t be effective, if you are not truthful to it. Never try to hide anything from your journal. Just open up your mind and let the pen do the rest. Warning: keep it safe from others!

In real sense, pen is the tongue of the mind. If you want to write, take a pen and start writing and everything else will just follow. If you want to feel the pen and paper magic, don’t hesitate, just go for it!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

World, my son starts school today!

World, take my child by the hand, he starts school today!

It is all going to be strange and new to him for a while, and I wish you would sort of treat him gently. You see, up to now, he has been king of the roost. He has been the boss of the back yard. I have always been around to repair his wounds, and I have always been handy to soothe his feelings.

But now things are going to be different. This morning he is going to walk down the front steps, wave his hand and start on a great adventure that probably will include wars and tragedy and sorrow.

To live in this world will require faith and love and courage. So, world, I wish you would sort of take him by his young hand and teach him the things he will have to know. Teach him- but gently if you can.

He will have to learn, I know, that all people are not just- that all men and women are not true. Teach him that for every scoundrel, there is a hero; that for every enemy, there is a friend. Let him learn early that the bullies are the easiest people to lick.

Teach him the wonder of books. Give him quiet time to ponder the eternal mystery of birds in the sky, bees in the sun, and flowers on a green hill. Teach him that it is far more honorable to fail than to cheat. Teach him to have faith in his own ideas, even if everyone tells him they are wrong. Try not to give my son the strength not to follow the crowd when every one else is getting on the bandwagon. Teach him to listen to others, but to filter all he hears on a screen of truth and to take only the good that comes through.

Teach him never to put a price tag on his heart and soul. Teach him to close his ears on the howling mob and to stand and fight if he thinks he is right. Teach him gently, world, but don’t coddle him because only the test of fire makes fine steel.

This is a big order, world, but see what you can do. He is such a nice son.

-Abraham Lincoln

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