Naga Chokkanathan

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என். சொக்கன்

Failures are a reality of life; from the same perspective, comebacks are also a reality as most people bounce-back from their small and large setbacks. If you look at the probability of permanent failures (with no comeback possible), they are pretty rare.

But somehow, humans register ‘failure’ as a stronger emotion than ‘comeback’. So, when they face failure (or even possible failure) in a new initiative, it doesn’t occur to them (at least, not in the beginning) that maybe it is only a temporary setback.

Thankfully, most of them have a friend or a wellwisher who reminds them of this simple fact. ‘Things will be better next time, why don’t you make the required changes and try again?’

But, is this advice true? or just given for the sake of comforting the individual? What is the assurance that things will be better?

That’s when we look at the use cases around us: successful people’s stories to see if they really succeed in the first attempt or faced failures before. If they saw failures in their earlier attempts, what did they do differently to succeed the next time?

Nidhika Bahl’s “The Queen of the Comeback” focuses on this theme. She talks about her own life, the kind of failures she faced and what it took for her to come out of those and see a remarkable comeback. In addition, she has given seven short profiles of famous personalities, from Dr A. Velumani to Surendran Jeyasekar, with analysis on how their comebacks happened.

The book is well-illustrated with interesting stories, themes, links (to read further), quotes and tidbits. You can read it fast, but make sure you collect the notes and customize them to your needs!

(The Queen of the Comeback: Nidhika Bahl: Blackcard Books: $27)

Avoid this agent, even if he gives you a trip for free: “Felix Feria”, Earlier known as “Happy holidays”:

I took a 4 day trip to andaman through this agent and that’s the worst travel, business or personal, I ever took. He booked us only on cheap hotels, he sent us only small vehicles causing tonnes of inconvenience, his people didn’t know how to handle luggages right, the hotels which he booked only offered us basic food which was also not very tasty, never served on time, sometimes we had to run behind them for food. Some of the rooms he gave us were full of cockroaches, and the only solution they had was spray some chemical and make it difficult for you to breathe, nothing happens to those cockroaches, of course.

Almost after every meal, I could see that members staying in our hotel going out for a real meal. I have a feeling nearby restaurants are paying these hotels to serve horrible food, so that they can do good business.

In one of the hotels we stayed, a friend was treated in an unprofessional, rude manner for some simple matter. They charged him a premium for something and refused to give him a bill, any one can guess where all that money goes.

The trip experience was so horrible (with some nice beach visits in between), i thought of escaping from the island. That’s when I realized why the British rulers used this island as a jail, it’s not easy to escape from here, especially when the person who brought you here charges premium, but gives you a below average service.

This agent was so unprofessional, I would strongly recommend everyone to avoid him at any cost. He is a directory of cheap services and use him at your own risk.


Naga Chokkanathan

Ever heard of a delicious sabji with greens and nuts together? No? Well, let me tell you about it. This nutty, green sabji contains methi leaves, drumstick leaves, almonds and also crunchy groundnuts. Don’t these healthy ingredients make our sabji the best? Let me mention a few of their advantages.

Methi leaves and drumstick leaves contain a huge amount of iron. Drumstick leaves even contain vitamin C. This is excellent as vitamin C aids our body to absorb iron effortlessly. Not to mention, this sabji is very yummy because the almonds and groundnuts provide a nice aroma and scrumptious taste to the mixture.

Elderly people who can’t chew nuts easily can eat this sabji instead. Greens can be put into a stubborn child’s stomach if they eat this sabji. Even if the child hates green vegetables, this sabji will be too difficult for him/her to resist!!!

So, let’s pull up our sleeves and get on with the cooking, shall we?

Given below are your magnificent, magical ingredients :
1. 50g of Methi leaves
2. 100g of Drumstick leaves
3. 4 big onions (finely chopped )
4. 1 tomato (finely chopped )
5. 2 teaspoons of coconut oil
6. Half teaspoon of mustard seeds
7. One teaspoon of Urad dal
8. 30 g of roasted almonds
9. 50g of groundnuts
10. 5 to 6 red chillis

Here is how you can make this dish:

1. Put your urad dal and mustard seeds onto a kadai and wait for them to turn golden brown in color.
2. Add your onion and tomato to the mixture.
3. Now, add the methi leaves and drumstick leaves. Allow the mixture to cook.
4. Meanwhile, grind your roasted almonds, groundnuts and red chillis to get a coarse-grained powder.
5. Add the powder to the mixture in the kadai, mix well and allow it to cook for a few more minutes.

Mmmm…by now your sabji would have become ready to eat! Go on and enjoy this iron-rich, healthy and lip-smacking treat! Yum!

(Written for a contest organized by )

Everyone wishes for one luscious yet nutritious snack to gorge on. But sometimes our wishes are never fulfilled and we only turn to junk food! Well, you know what? It is time for you to get your wish. Yes, these energy bars that I am going to talk about are your solution. This is because these bars are filled with iron, they have no sugar, no jaggery, no ghee and no artificial colors. As a brilliant bonus, you can make them easily and they only contain natural ingredients.

These remarkable energy bars which are too good to be true can be given as a snack for children who go to school, a reward after a workout, an easily chewable, sugar-free treat for grandparents and so on. So, what are you waiting for? I know you are drooling badly so, hurry up and continue reading to know the recipe for these delicious energy-rich bars!!!

Our yummy, lip-smacking, super healthy ingredients would include the following:

* 1 cup of almonds
* Half cup of pumpkin seeds
* Half cup of groundnuts
* Half cup of seedless dates
* One fourth cup of walnuts
* Half cup of raisins
* One fourth cup of chopped fig

Here is how you must do it…..just follow the procedure! :

1. On a medium flame, dry roast your almonds, pumpkin seeds and groundnuts. Let them cool after roasting.
2. Powder this roasted mixture using your mixer.
3. Add your raisins, walnuts, dates and chopped fig to the powdered mixture one by one.
4. Mix them together in your mixer one more time to combine them well.
5. After that, put this sticky mixture on a tray and flatten it. Place the tray in your refrigerator for about half an hour.
6. After refrigerating the mixture, cut out energy bars from the flat layer of goodness on your tray. Store your bars carefully and munch on them whenever you feel like it!

Alternatively, you could cut out shapes from the bar mixture using cookie cutters, for children. You could even roll them up and eat them as though they are nutritious balls of goodness. As a creative idea, you could make energy lollipops and serve them at your birthday party along with other goodies!

So, the next time you really need to treat yourself but also be healthy, remember your superhero energy bars that will certainly save you!!!

(Written for a contest organized by )

Played a vocabulary game with the kids, we named it “CoVo”. These are the rules:

* You need to identify a word which has at least 4 letters in this pattern: Some consonant … Some Vowel … Some consonant … Same Vowel … and so on
* It shouldn’t be the name of a person (Sara) or a place (Sahara) or a brand (Tata) or a non-standard usage (Haha) or a non-English word (Baba)

After 15 minutes these are the words we found:


All these were 4 letter words. We could only find one word which had 6 letters: Serene

A 12 letter word “Almost” won: Divisibility

I am sure there are many other words in English. Join the fun.


N. Chokkan …
20 10 2017

“The Third Squad” by V. Sanjay Kumar is an Indian thriller. I was surprised to find that the author runs an art gallery and writes regularly about art. Such a profile didn’t fit with a thriller-writer tag. So I decided to find out what kind of thrill an art-writer can create.

First of all, this is a racy novel. You can read it wherever you are and finish it pretty fast. But, you can enjoy it a lot more if you read it at a lesser pace. The author paints a great picture of Mumbai and each character’s emotions are presented in the correct light, without affecting the demands of the story.

Karan, the hero, is a shooter. He belongs to a secret squad which handles encounter killings. He is used to following instructions without asking questions, but at some point, he is forced to think about what he has been doing all these days. As we can expect, this won’t be interesting to his bosses and the novel revolves around this conflict.

Recommended for all fiction lovers and thriller fans.

(The Third Squad: V. Sanjay Kumar: Juggernaut: Rs 499)

BMTC plans to implement cashless travel from October 2017. Customers can purchase a smart card for Rs 30; then they can load it with money; swipe it in any bus against the fare.

I feel this puts a lot of extra work (and learning) on the bus conductor. In a city like Bangalore, this can be easily avoided with the use of Mobile Apps Self Service:

* Get on a bus, take out your mobile phone, open BMTC ticketing app, select your route (regular routes are automatically shown; starting point picked automatically using GPS) and get an eTicket, Money automatically deducted from the wallet
* Those without a mobile phone/app/internet connectivity can opt for the manual ticketing: swipe their card in the conductor’s machine

I feel this hybrid approach can help in an easy implementation of this important initiative.

Another alternative could be: adding swiping machines to the existing ticketing machines themselves. That will avoid a lot of unlearning/relearning for the conductors.

But, a long term solution would be to issue a chip-based smart card to every traveller:

* Just get on a bus (CHECK IN), with the card in your pocket
* System uses GPS to find out where you are starting your journey; You are issued an eTicket (SMS) with a minimum fare (Rs 5 at this moment) which is deducted from your wallet
* If you don’t have enough money on the wallet, system alerts you immediately to recharge (which you can comfortably do before you get down from the bus)
* Get down from the bus (CHECK OUT), with the card in your pocket; Once again, system uses GPS to find out the total travel distance, deducts the money (on top of Rs 5) automatically, puts a negative credit if there is not enough money: This will be adjusted in your next recharge

This is a no-swipe solution and can be implemented easily. Smart cards will become costlier (not sure by how much: today it is Rs 30 for swipe-based smart cards), but regular travellers will prefer this I believe.

Do you Email yourself?

Well, it is a strange question. But I am asking this publicly with the hope that some of you will nod your heads and I can get the comfort feel that someone else also does it and I am not alone in this.

I mail myself quite often. I don’t send any philosophical questions to myself. Instead, I use it as a reminder system.

For example, let us say I see a newspaper advertisement and want to buy that product later, I click a picture of that advertisement and Email it to myself. It stays in my inbox as a reminder to buy. After I have bought that product (or, after that urge to buy goes away), I simply delete that Email.

Like this, I keep sending Emails to myself throughout the week and those Emails act as my reminders. Trust me, it works.

A few weeks back, one of my clients was making a payment for a translation I did. He transferred Rs 1422, while my bill was Rs 1420.

I don’t know what made him pay 2 rupees extra. So, instead of checking with him about this small amount, I decided to adjust that amount in my next bill to that client.

But, his next job may come after a few days or a few weeks, how will I remember to adjust this amount?

Easy. Send a self-Email. I did it.

But, I made a mistake: at that time I was reading my client’s Email about the payment. Instead of composing a new Email to myself, I replied to the client’s Email itself. Means, my self-email went to somebody else, that too with this strange line: “Client X paid Rs 2 extra. Reduce this in next invoice.”

After a few minutes, my client (from Russia) responded with a smiley. “Come on, Rs 2 is nothing, you don’t have to repay it to me.”

Only after reading his Email, I realised my mistake. I responded to him with an apology note and explained that it was supposed to be a self-reminder. But I insisted that I would adjust this amount in my next invoice, whenever I am doing another translation with him.

He didn’t believe my explanation. He responded with this note: “Don’t get me wrong. But I feel you are trying to make a drama out of this situation and establish yourself as an honest person. I am working with you for many years, I know your skills and professionalism. You don’t have to fake anything to boost your image with me.”

I thought of sending him an angry response. But, I didn’t. No one will believe that I genuinely wanted to adjust/repay those two rupees. Let him assume that it is a drama. No harm.

There is nothing special in my thought process: none of us (under normal circumstances) would want to take away others’ money. Whether it is Rs 2 or Rs 20, we don’t want to steal, we just want what we genuinely deserve.

So, we all have done this: if a restaurant bill misses a sandwich you had, you inform the cashier and pay for it; if you don’t have coins to pay for a medicine you bought from a store, you return later to pay it. This is quite normal.

That’s exactly what I did. But, my client didn’t believe me. The reason could be the amount: Rs 2. In case he sent me Rs 200 by mistake and I wanted to repay it to him, he would’ve understood it and believed me.

But, what makes stealing Rs 2 a smaller crime, and stealing Rs 200 a bigger crime? If you believe you don’t want others’ money, returning Rs 2 should be done with as much sincerity/effort with which you would return Rs 2000 or Rs 2 Million. Isn’t it?

I haven’t read much about other cultures, but I believe this is a very common Indian Trait. I don’t mean to say Indians don’t cheat/don’t steal. Some of them do. But the majority believes in hard work and not taking others’ money, even if it is carelessly dropped in their laps. However small or big that amount is, they want to return it.


Rs 2 staying in my account or my client’s account doesn’t make any big difference to both of us. But I would feel heavy till that leaves my account and reaches him. I am not doing it (or writing about this experience) to get some ‘wows’ from others. I am doing it because I don’t feel good when I am keeping something which I don’t deserve. I want to get rid of it as soon as possible.

So, what happened to these two rupees?

Within next few days, I did another job for him and invoiced him for Rs 10212, instead of Rs 10214. Happy!

When I saw Lufthansa’s campaign #MoreIndianThanYouThink ( video (embedded below), this is the incident that came to my mind immediately. I feel such an Indian value system contributes immensely to staying professional, doing a good job at every opportunity and staying ahead!


N. Chokkan …

17 04 2017

The Spaceacle

By N. Mangai


Once there were two astronauts called Jimmy and Timmy. They both were best friends. They once travelled to space in a spacecraft. They came out of their spacecraft and saw an amazing sight.

Suddenly, another spacecraft came nearby. They saw a boy come out of that spacecraft. It was Manish, their friend. All three of them exchanged high-fives and then started roaming around the space.

At that time, a miracle, I mean, a spaceacle happened. All the planets started talking.

First, The Sun spoke, ‘Hello Friends, What are you doing today?’

The Mars and The Saturn answered in Chorus, ‘The usual Mr Sun, we are revolving around you.’

‘Good’ told the Sun. ‘Who else is around?’

‘The Venus’ answered the Mars. ‘But, for some reason, he is angry.’

‘Angry? Why?’

‘No one knows!’ told the Saturn carelessly, ‘Forget it, let us continue our business.’

While they were discussing this, the main villain of this story, a comet, approached the Venus, ‘Hai Friend, care to join me in a great mission?’

‘What Mission?’

‘Let us destroy the Sun from the solar system and make you the centre of the universe.’

‘Wow. That sounds cool’, told Venus, ‘If that happens, I will make you my space minister.’

‘Thank you my lord’, told Comet dramatically, ‘Now, can we execute our mission?’

‘What can we do to destroy the sun?’

‘Simple, we will revolve around him and when he is not noticing, we will slice through him. That will be the end of Sun. Hahaha’ laughed comet.

Venus doubted if it will be that easy. But he joined the comet anyway.

They both went near the sun and started rotating rapidly. They were waiting for the right opportunity to cut it.

But unknown to them, Mars had already informed the Sun about their plan. So, the Sun was well prepared for the planned attack.

However, when the comet and the Venus went near the sun, they started sweating a lot. They couldn’t go any further.

So, Venus abandoned its plan and went back to its business of revolving around the sun. But the comet didn’t give up. It went nearer and nearer to the Sun. It was confident of cutting Sun soon.

But, that never happened. After some time, the Comet failed in its mission and returned too. It darted away.

Jimmy, Timmy and Manish saw all these and were surprised that planets also play silly games like this. They went back to earth to tell this story to their other friends.

But, My dear friends, who will believe them?


I’m blogging my #ColgateMagicalstories at BlogAdda in association with Colgate




The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Organization He works for / belongs to.

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