Come on in!

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!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

How to outlive relationship disasters?



Every beginning has an end. It’s same with relationships too. In our life, relationships especially love relationships may always face a painful end. It blossoms with excitement, joy and delight but withers lifelessly and painfully. The days after a breakup seem like dark ages. We may get chucked hopeless and lost to the darkest corner of life. Everything seems like the end of the world.
Some gossip about their ex. Some cry out on their pillows. Some go aggressive on friends. But, only a few realize that it’s just a learning experience and life has to move on. Standing on one’s own feet not always been a child’s game. It requires great courage and determination.

There are lots of ways to wipe out break up blues. Take it positively and think of the ways for reconciliation. It’s always better if an open and candid talk can solve the issue. If the relationship breakup is mutually agreed upon, altering the environments should be your first step. Take out all the tangible possessions like photographs, gifts and letters you got from your ex out of sight.
You are entering a new phase in your life. Take time to think of new things which you haven’t done before in your life. It can be scuba diving, mountaineering or even bungee jumping. Visit your relatives, make contact with your old friends or arrange a party with them.
The pain of separation hurts, it hurts very badly. We may feel jealous of the ‘couples’ who roam freely and lovingly around us. Hundreds of inspirational books have been written to help people to survive relationship break ups. Pick some, read and try to absorb the words of wisdom. Don’t let yourself to be lonely. Always stir yourself to be socially active.
Movies and music are great anti-depressants. Watch funny movies like Friday, Austin Powers and Charlie’s angels. Songs like I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor, I Will Love Again by Laura Fabian, Stronger by Britney Spears, and Survivor by Destiny's Child may sooth your ears and reinforce you to sail through a break up.
Be honest with your feeling. If the break up happens because of your fault, accept it. Don’t try to repress your hurt feeling. If you feel like crying; cry. If you feel like ripping up a pillow; rip it up. All these never make you ‘weak’. They always help to make you stronger and wise.
Remember that there is not just one, "right person" in the world for any of us. If you think “you can’t live without someone”, you are just bringing down your self-respect and self-dependency. Time can heal any wounds in our heart. You can definitely survive relationship breakups and over time you can love again. And next time you will be a wiser person, a person who has benefited by experience and is now more capable of a successful relationship. An end can also be another beginning.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

When My Love Bids Adieu...



When my love bids adieu,
My world turns topsy-turvy.
As a joyful excitement it crept in,
As a painful experience it ends up.

Tectonic plates of my heart shake,
Covering crumbles all over me.
My dreamy castles doomed,
Chucked me hopeless and lost.

It was hard to smile at world,
With tearful eyes.
It was hard to go an extra mile,
With crushed heart.

The poison was not strong enough,
To take my life then.
Your love is not sweet enough,

To take my heart now.

I opened up my heart,
To make you fathom.
But you jabbed through its slit,
To make it bleed incessantly.

I’m not a rat anymore,
To fall in the love trap.
I’m not a moron anymore,
To leave my heart ajar.


I’m braver and stronger now,
As a learning experience it ends up!
I’m filled with new hopes and dreams now,
As a joyful excitement they creep in!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Dakshina Chitra: A Place Where Diverse Cultures Meet.


“Great culture is often betokened by great simplicity” – Dorothee Deluzy.

It’s raining heavily in Chennai. Used only with cruel sun and crippling heat, it’s the time of the year when Chennai always comes to a standstill. Rains always have a special place in Chennai as well as in my heart. They are emotive reminders. The reminders of my joyful childhood days. The days during which I carelessly played ‘mud-football’, sailed paper boats, caught cold and happily slept under the blanket.
Those days were gone. I’m not a child anymore but at heart I’m still a kid eagerly wanting to do all the naughty things and create nuisance all around me.  I might not be able to do all things tangibly. Anyway, in mind, I can do everything and anything I want and that’s what I’m doing right now: reliving in those fabulous memories in the rain. Our mind is such a beautiful machine, isn’t it?      

Today, as the exams were postponed due to incessant rain, we didn’t have any other place to spend some free time other than a movie theatre. Unfortunately, none of the theatre was showing the movie we wanted see: Unnai Pol Orruvan. We were running short of ideas. At last, my Friend Kamal suggested visiting a place which I haven’t visited during the four years of my stay in Chennai: Dakshina Chitra.
Located at East Coast Road under the patronage of Madras Craft Foundation, Dakshina Chitra is a beautiful, mind blowing meeting place of the cultures of the diverse Indian people with emphasis on Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
The only noise prevalent there in Dakshina Chitra was the noise of the heavenly water drops which were ceaselessly hitting on the roof. Neat, clean and decorated corridors took us to the seminar hall where a documentary was screening. We watched it for some time and went to the craft bazaar. From Mysore paintings to Rajasthani handicrafts, craft bazaar was vibrant in all aspects.
Painting- I really adore people who bring life to their sketches. It is the greatest form of creativity. I found lot of adorable people there who do miniature painting and sculpting in craft bazaar. At minimal price we can buy those great masterpieces too. If you are a person who seriously wants to learn painting, they also offer you courses in painting and other crafts.
Tamil Nadu section is the first place we visited. Six relocated houses including mud houses were there to exhibit various architectural styles. All of them boast of south Indian artistic, cultural and architectural splendor. They were also offering  excellent hands-on workshops on pottery, grinding rice and puppet making. While Kiran took the Kolam drawing (it’s a religious ritual of drawing auspicious designs with hands using flour at the entrance of the house. It requires excellent drawing skills and practice), I tried my hands at pottery!  It was fun playing with clay and making pots.
Soaking ourselves in the rain, we walked towards the Karnataka section where lot of costumes, pottery and other cultural monuments were at display. Andhra Pradesh Section too was soothing to eyes and refreshing to heart.
Finally, we reached the place which I was waiting to see since the beginning of the visit- Kerala Section. Two relocated Hindu houses, a Granary and a Syrian Christian House were at display. My wet body was chilling, while I entered the Hindu houses. They reminded me one of my Dad’s friend’s ancestral houses in Kerala. To my awe, the Christian house really looked like my ancestral house. While walking through the corridor of that house, I was, in real sense, walking down through my memory lines. Just for some moments I turned into a 6 year old kid who wanted to run crazily in rain, screaming, shouting and throwing mud water at mom and dad. Rainy days are really nostalgic.      
While coming back, we saw a person playing with fire! He was a glass sculptor. We spent some time with him amazed at his exceptional skills and an array of his masterpieces which involves glass chariots and deities.  Dakshina Chitra is also blessed with a good library and an amphitheatre.
We are also fortunate enough to meet Prabhu Deva, a legendary Indian dancer and actor and Mr. Pandu, a Tamil comedian. As Mr. Pandu was Kamal’s Dad’s friend, we were also lucky to have a small talk with him. We wound up by having a delicious lunch from Dakshina Chitra’s Kanali Restaurant and visiting craft shop. It was the end of a wonderful day which took me back to my childhood days and also made me proud of the rich, vibrant Indian culture in which I was lucky to born and lives. 


Monday, October 19, 2009

Linux Love!

I was introduced to the world of Open Source Softwares by the Chip Magazine’s -www.chip.in- June 2009 edition. It provided along with other complimentary DVDs, a Live DVD of Linux Ubuntu Operating System (OS). I was amazed and thrilled to use the new OS on my laptop. Installation of Ubuntu was effortless and I made my laptop a dual boot one with both Ubuntu and Windows Vista. 


Not only I converted my laptop but also informed all my close geeky friends about Ubuntu. They all knew about it but never tried or used it. After seeing my enthusiasm, most of my neighborhood friends and also hostel mates set up their computers as dual boot. Surprisingly, some of them even dared to uninstall Windows from their computer! Now, I’m the brand ambassador of Linux here in my class, home and hostel.
After reading a lot about Linux Ubuntu, I really fell in love with their philosophy. The philosophy of sharing, helping and modifying. To know more about their philosophy log on to www.ubuntu.com. A person who knows the source code (which is open to all) can modify the software according to his/her preferences and transfer to others.

When it comes to Ubuntu the most astonishing features are: it’s free, easily available and highly secure from viruses and hackers. When you use Ubuntu or other Linux variants, an internet connection is a pre-requisite. You can install softwares only with the help of an internet connection. You can do any work which can be done with Windows in Linux with almost same quality. You can find the Open Source alternatives of Windows at www.sourceforge.net.
If Bill Gate’s Windows have made personal computing an affordable experience to most of us, Open Source tools make computers more accessible to laymen and students especially from third world countries who don’t have the financial capability to pay for the licensing fees which is attached with most of the softwares available today.
Realizing its potential Sun Microsystems forayed into the Open Source market with their OpenSolaris OS and tools. (Thanks to Chip. I got a Live DVD of OpenSolaris with July 2009 edition but haven’t tried yet.) Internet giant, Google is also gearing up to launch their Chrome OS later this year. Open Source community is becoming larger day by day with the support of sponsors and tech savvy contributors.  


There is no free lunch. But in the Open Source world, nearly everything is free and open to customizing. With minor tweaking, most of the windows softwares can be run in Linux too. A real Open Source lover never recommends this, which is what I learnt from a Linux workshop I attended a fortnight ago in Chennai.    
Think of a world in which everyone is part of the technology and software development. And that world is going to be a reality in no time. If internet has created a virtual world, if computers are the future gadgets, then undoubtedly Open Source technology is the future!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Molding Tomorrow’s Global Citizens


This article is written for the School of the Week column of Times of India which awaits publishing.

Since its inception in 2005, PSBB Millennium School has been on the mission of creating global citizens rooted in Indian values, traditions and culture.

Driven by technology and efficient management, PSBB Millennium School, GST road has come a long way. Today, this institution consists of 120 teachers who diligently educate above 2400 children. “Every child is unique and it’s our duty to cater to their needs. Creating citizens with a global outlook with a respect for our rich culture and heritage is our aim”, says Rukmani Mothilal, academic adviser of the school.

Cycle tests are conducted on a regular basis and this helps eliminate the examination pressure on children by enabling them to focus on one subject at a time. The school also has unique programs such as the biannual ‘Parent observation week’ during which parents are allowed to sit with their children during class hours. “We believe in the coordination of the ‘golden triangle’ – children, parents and teachers. That is why we conduct the monthly Parent Teacher Meetings and quarterly Open Days”, says Sita Umamaheshwaran, school principal.
 .
Collaborating with Educomp Solutions, every classroom has been converted to interactive ‘smart classroom’ equipped with audio visual technology. The classmate PC program was launched last year by which every third grade child was provided with a laptop which was used with assistance from teachers.

The school has its own cultural wing called Bharathiya Sanskriti which exposes the talents of students and helps them choose their own career paths. It also hosts activities like yoga, music and veda chanting for the students. Yuva Deepthi, a monthly magazine, showcases children’s talents especially creative writing and painting.The institution has its own science and quiz Club, Sanskrit Club and a Tamil Club which encourages student participation. “My child loves going to school and has no monday blues. Various innovative initiatives of the school helps develop the communication skills, confidence and creativity of every child”, says Swarnalakshmi G, parent of B. Arjun, a student of class 3.

The institution has lot of tasks in store. The school is in the process of signing up for DEAS (Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme), a student exchange programme with UK.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Gurukula of Modern Times.



Edited version of this article got published in Times of India on September 25th 2009

Started as a small school in 1983, Maharishi Vidya Mandir Higher Secondary School imparts Consciousness-based education to thousands of students today.

Tranquil ambience and disciplined way of life is what one experiences first while entering into the Maharishi Vidya Mandir Senior Secondary School. Founded in 1983, Maharishi Vidya Mandir Senior Secondary School has been providing education from pre-school level to higher secondary level. “Unlike other schools our daily classes begin and end with yoga training for half an hour. This helps the students to remain attentive throughout the day and also reduces the stress level” says S.Namasivayam, Principal of the school and the recipient of National Award for Best Teacher 2007.

Maharishi Vidya Mandir Senior Secondary School accommodates 5200 students and 200 teachers. “We appreciate active participation of parents. So we came up with innovative programmes like Eureka Saturday and Self Empowerment Programme. These are kith and kin programmes which creates a community feeling among both parents and students” says G. Vijayalakshmi, Vice Principal of the school.

“Our school is founded on the ideals of His Holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. We believe in the Consciousness-based education rather than conventional educational system.” Says V.Sankari, Social Science teacher. The school on its mission to widen the pupils’ horizon beyond academics included activities such as Keyboard, Martial Arts, Yoga, Vocal Music, Calligraphy etc into the curriculum. The school also conducts Heroes of the Week programme to recognize outstanding achievements and inspire students. The school also publishes a quarterly newsletter called Papyrus Clubs.

“Here, the fees structure is affordable. My children enjoy school life. The teachers are very friendly and also recognize individual talents. They inculcate creativity, shape personal behavior, and enhance language skills in children. It ultimately helps the children to grow up as responsible citizens” says Janani Hariharan, parent of two students studying in Maharishi Vidya Mandir.

The school is active participant in the activities of NSS (National Service Scheme), NCC (National Cadet Corps), NGC (National Green Corp), Consumer Club and lot more. They also work closely with Junior Red Cross and Exnora International. “Partaking in all these activities instill leadership qualities in children which is very essential to face today’s challenges” says Radha Sairam of Administrative Department of Maharishi Vidya Mandir. The school’s alumni include Civil Servants, Bureaucrats, Entrepreneurs and Journalists.

Maharishi Vidya Mandir boasts of cutting-edge infrastructure with hi-tech computer labs, air conditioned yoga practicing rooms and laboratories. They have evening courses on CAT and FIITJEE. Till date the school had qualified 130 students and 90 students to join IITs and NITs respectively.

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