Naga Chokkanathan

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My daughter Nangai has a school project “Prepare your own newspaper”. She is discussing with her friend on a plan for this:

‘What color the newspaper should be?’


‘Girl, have you ever seen any news paper in pink color?’

‘So what? Ours will be the first’

‘What sections we would have?’

‘First, Politics’

‘Hei, don’t make it a grandpa newspaper. I want only kids stuff’

‘Next, Sports’



‘Only boys will read sports news’

‘Let them read’

‘I don’t want any boy to read our newspaper’

‘What next?’


‘Noooo. That will be boring, Let us include a page for Books!’

Now, I am very curious to know how this newspaper will be 🙂

N. Chokkan …
31 08 2014


“Autobiography of an American Swami” is the tagline for this heavy (literally and figuratively) book, which reminds you of a very famous self help book. However, this is a totally different kind of book where Radhanath Swami has described his spiritual journey in detail. It is so interesting, you can’t resist reading more about him online, even after reading a 340 page autobiography of him.

This author’s spiritual quest has started at a very young age. He began asking questions and studying various religions by going through their holy books, traveling, speaking to number of holy men. This journey took him to India, and he stayed in Himalaya, living as a simple Sadhu, roaming around the country meeting interesting people. He describes these discussions and experiences in a poetic language.

So, this book reads part memoir, part biography and part a philosophical manual. With all this complexity, you can read it really fast as the incidents are very interesting and there is not a dull moment anywhere. The questions raised by the author to various people and the understanding he gets from them (or from others, life experiences) gives us so much to think about!

(The Journey Home : Radhanath Swami : Jaico : Rs 250)

Just finished reading Mala Kumar’s amazing “Rupaiya Paisa” series books. (Released by Pratham Books, Rs 160 for 4 books).

When I started reading, I had my own reservations: Can financial matters be explained to kids? Either it will be too diluted or confusing.

But this well designed, well written book surprised me pleasantly. It covers all aspects of finance in detail that the kids need to know. It starts with ‘what is money’ & talks about income, expense, assets, investment (short, long term), ROI, insurance, laws, taxes, shares… Best part, all these are presented with simple examples, colorful illustrations, practical tips, activities. I LOVED reading it.

I knew most of the topics that were discussed in the books, but the simple manner in which those were explained, made it a great read.

My personal thanks to Author Mala Kumar & Illustrator Deepa Balsavar. Strongly recommend this to kids / adults of any age who want to understand money.

To buy this book in English / Various other languages:


N. Chokkan …

29 06 2014

Met someone who is using kids’ books to learn Tamil. She knows the alphabets, uses them to learn reading fluently. It is the fun way to learn a language: colorful pictures, lovely stories…

She had few specific comments / possible improvements which may apply to most kids’ books in Tamil or other regional languages. Wanted to document them here.

First, Sentences and words have to be short (at least in level 1 and 2). Typically it takes a minute for them to read a 5 word sentence. If it is a long sentence with many words, by the time the statement is over, she forgets the beginning.

To help in learning, sentences are to be short, so that they can see it as a whole, understand and then move on.

As the levels go up, words / sentences can get complex. At every level, give the personal satisfaction to reader that “I read it myself.”

If the story has to be tweaked to make this, or the story itself is too small / just an incident, it is okay. Story or twists don’t matter, It is “Reading” that matters to them.

So, there has to be difference between “story books” and simply “reading books”. It can be mentioned in the book wrapper itself.

On “Reading” books, choose another language (say English) and give meanings of difficult words in each page / as an index.

This helps them review what they read / learnt in that book. On every “Reading” book, give full alphabet chart with pronunciation for recap.

In general, I guess we need to write many “reading” books for kids / adult learners. From “Apple, Ball”, they should get to “Apple is round. Ball is blue” stage. That satisfaction will make them learn further.


N. Chokkan …
28 06 2014

Attended an event for kids, where author Mrs. Arundhati Venkatesh gave few easy tips for young writers. Thought of documenting them:

1. Think of a situation and ask ‘what if it was different?’
2. Create crazy, interesting characters (humans, animals, birds, future characters, ancient characters)
3. But make sure their feelings are something readers can relate to
4. Create a funny problem and solve it satisfactorily, make the reader happy
5. Have fun while you write


N. Chokkan
05 04 2014

I usually do my translations on soft copy only. For the first time, a publisher sent a hard copy, he had no soft copy.

So, I started translating using the hard copy itself. Found it VERY difficult, I couldn’t do beyond 50% of my normal speed.

Yesterday I read an article about speed reading, eye ball movement & the strain it causes in readers. They told if this movement can be minimized, we can be very fast in reading.

Then it occurred to me, may be that’s the reason I am not able to do this translation fast. I need to move eyes from printed pages to computer so many times every minute. May be that slows me down?

So, I clicked each page, moved the pictures to computer, translated from the pictures. Now I am back to normal speed 🙂

Wow, a slight eye movement can cause 50% drop in productivity?! Wondering what are the other such silly mistakes we do!


N. Chokkan …
11 03 2014

We were walking on the road when we saw few very dirty cars. My daughter Nangai asked “why these cars are so dirty?”

I saw a police station opposite and explained to her that these might be stolen cars, captured by police and waiting for the rightful owners to come and take them.

She walked silently for few minutes and then asked “why leave a car dirty like that? Till the right owners come, can’t they give it to poor people for use?”

Of course, it’s not practical, but those dirty cars were really useless anyway.


N. Chokkan
09 03 2014


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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