Naga Chokkanathan

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“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.

Why?

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 (bit.ly/2oQTj8q) 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

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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

 

 

Guitar Center is a music instruments’ online store which specialises in Guitars, Bass, Amps & Effects, Drums, Recording, Software, Keyboards & MIDI, Mics & Wireless and many others. You can review products, read customer reviews, rate the product and buy. They ship internationally!

Another interesting section gives us music lessons on various instruments. They also provide maintenance and repair services for music instruments. Very useful for students and professionals!

 

http://www.guitarcenter.com/V-MODA/

One line review: this book started as a thriller novel, and then became a reference book!

As the title suggests, Reza Kamarei tries to answer the big question about Fate: is it predetermined and drives our lives, or we can control/manage it?

Logically thinking, it is not difficult to answer this question. What we call as fate is actually based on various factors and subfactors. For example, where we are born, to whom we are born, in what circumstances we grow, where we study, how much marks we score, etc. determine our fate.

This book takes this discussion to the next level by scientifically approaching this problem and trying to list down most, if not all, factors under specific headings. For each factor, Reza Kamarei gives a detailed description (actually, this page has more than 1000 definitions!) and asks us to answer a simple question: did this factor affect our life? If yes, how?

By the time you reach the end of the book, answers to these simple questions help us answer the big question about “fate or not”. In fact, the author gives a detailed process on how to approach the bigger problem step-by-step, and he warns us not to rush.

I would call this book a mini encyclopaedia of life. Some of the chapters tell amazing (and real) stories, especially the one about the growth of a human baby inside the mothers’ womb, and almost all of them make us stop and think about our own lives: can we understand what ‘fate’ really means, and can we control it?

You can read more about this book here: http://forums.onlinebookclub.org/shelves/book.php?id=92282

 

What happens when a young fellow decides to move from a small city to a very large city?

In this age of globalisation, It sounds like a simple thing to do. There are websites, social media, phone numbers, apps… you need to click a few buttons and that’s it. You will be in a new city.

But the reality is not that simple. Systems come secondary and suddenly human emotions take over. While everything can be planned, it is not easy to predict and manage the various relationships you have.

That’s what Kevin finds when he tries to move to Chicago from his small town. He has his parents, siblings, relatives, friends, colleagues and a girl friend to handle, while making this move. He carefully plans and executes it, but it doesn’t go as per his plan and this novel describes his confusions and reactions very well.

It is a short novel, you can finish reading it in 90 minutes or less. But it captures a snap shot from today’s youth, which is much different from the picture Social Media world shows us. Even though Kevin handles it very well, we see how things can go wrong and how it is all part of learning.

I liked this novel a lot, just felt the last paragraph was too short: I see a follow-up novel which details this important portion!

You can read more about this novel here.

***

N. Chokkan …

26 01 2017


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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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