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Monday, September 27, 2010

ABOUT MARKETING ???

I thought (and still think) that “Dabaang” has all the necessary ingredients that goes to the making of a B grade Indian movie. Yet it is one of the biggest all time hits of the country. Keeps me thinking….is it all about marketing???


…Or am I not able to appreciate stuff which others perceive “interesting”.

HOPE

With due respect to the sentiments of the people who were busy celebrating the Ganesh immersion celebrations on the already choked roads of Mumbai, I keep thinking about the patient who was inside the screeching ambulance. The ambulance searched for avenues to beat the choked roads already blocked by the celebrating devotees and the mighty Ganesh idols, but met with little success. The blowing siren and the flickering light on the top of the ambulance turned out to be absolutely helpless.


I keep thinking about the unknown patient who was inside that ambulance on the day of Ganesh immersion. Did the Lord ensure that he survived? I hope so…

Monday, September 20, 2010

EVIL MONEY

Why do we earn money? Is it to make our life more comfortable? If that were the case, then people won’t be striving hard in their offices working late into the night neglecting their own lives, their own health, their own families….
Whats the point in earning excess money if this doesnot translate to personal happiness and professional satifaction?
(With reference to life of an investment banker)

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

GRATITUDE

I have rarely seen gratitude to the extent I saw that night when I handed over a 100 rupees note to a taxi driver who dropped me home. The meter showed around 30 rupees less and the driver searched his pocket to pay me back the change. I said him to keep the change and moved out.

The driver looked as if he had never been happy in his life. He had a face which probably never experienced the happiness to smile.

But as he was steering his taxi back, he waved at me and thanked me. I could feel it in his voice…the sense of thankfulness. Difficult to believe the worth of thirty rupees sometimes.

EARNINGS AND HAPPINESS

Read something interesting today:
There is an optimal salary level where people are the happiest. Earning lower than the optimal earnings make people unhappy. Earnings if more than the optimal range can also wipe out the happiness that is experienced by the people who are in the optimal salary level.

Just wondering how far this is true…

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

RISK RETURN

In a busy morning during office hours cool down and relax on our seat…and…listen to the myriad of voices humming around. Hear the finance people talking about the investments, hear the legal people talking about the liabilities….hear the HR team discussing employee motivation programs and hear the business development people discussing how to win over the hearts of the clients….
It’s amazing to catch all the voices together from a distance….some underlining how to increase returns and others emphasizing on how to reduce risks.


The risk – return balance game is probably the most important enabler of corporate feel.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

BULLOCK CART

Mumbai has this unique ability to provide you views which if captured can win the best of competitions. In one of those busy lower parel streets, a bullock cart halted the flow of the traffic during the peak hours…

Treated myself with a hearty laugh with what followed.

Imagine….a bullock cart leading the way…a Mercedes following it….a Honda trying to overtake the Mercedes….a BEST bus trying to take a slanted route to overtake all the three but landing up in a situation where movement is not possible. In the single lane streets of Lower Parel, the heroics of the bus driver managed to block the flow of the opposite traffic. Complete commotion everywhere…and the traffic cops jumping around like mad men...and the show is taking place with the Mumbai rains in the background.

And the bullock cart moved ahead…as if nothing has happened.

Monday, June 28, 2010

ADULTHOOD

When I was a little kid, I used to watch other kids fight for chocolates and toys.

Now, almost two and a half decades later, I see grown-ups fight….this time, not for chocolates or any goodies….but for power, position, ego and money.

How does the desire for chocolates transform into hunger for power? Why does the satisfaction of egos of adulthood taste sweeter than the chocolates of childhood? Does money act as toys for the adults?

May be every adult is a child sans the innocence…

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

AMBITION OR GREED???

In this city….you can feel it….difficult to define it precisely…but you can definitely feel it. It’s probably a mix of ambition and greed…greed being the dominant ingredient. The city provides ample opportunities to further nurture this mix…
Today I met X. X owns an apartment in this locality. He had bought the apartment 4 years back. He was ambitious and prudent and knows that investing in real estate is definitely a good bet, and more so in this city. Today X is facing a big dilemma in life….His property is worth five times it’s original value. X wants to sell it and realize the net profits and make a killing out of it….But, at the same time he wants to retain the property….he feels he will be a loser if he sells it as property prices can rise further.

Nobody can accurately predict the course the real estate market is likely to chart from here…..and this further creates problem in X’s decision making process. He cannot sell his property peacefully….nor can he retain it with content….Ambition is there…but it tends more towards greed. Greed rules this city…through every person who has the potential to be greedy.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

CHOICES

We always have the choice to take a different path and move away from the difficulties of the current state. In the event, we don’t exercise this choice, does that mean that our net subconscious satisfaction level in our current state is positive? Somewhere within, we are satisfied…happy with the ways things are moving? Probably yes….


(With reference to living a life in Mumbai…..)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

CHAPTERS

Inadvertently, the cursor key of my laptop got clicked on the “latest” icon of my gmail account... 2005….it was…when I had migrated to the user friendly gmail. I saw some mails which were more than five years old. Interesting fragments from my past….each one of them easily fitting into their respective chapters of my past.
One chapter of life ends so quickly and unnoticeably that you never know you are in the next chapter without realizing that you will never experience the bygone chapter. And every chapter, in itself is happening enough to preclude any deliberate efforts to read some pages from the lost chapters.

How systematically these chapters seem to have arranged themselves….one experience after another…a subtler look allows one to appreciate the fact of how bits and pieces merge together to create the perfect smoothness that is visible only in hindsight. This smoothness has evolved out of the effects of a series of few connecting and almost coincidental events, which are instrumental in defining the linkage between the chapters and in guiding the chapters towards exchanging borderlines.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

COMMUNICATION

What is the most sought after skill in life?

My views on this have been changing with time. When I was a student I was given to the understanding that being academically brilliant is the most important skill in life. When I joined job, industry veterans informed me that academic brilliance has very little to do with industry. According to them (not sure how many of them really mean it), infinite capacity to work hard is the most sought after skill in life. A closer look convinced me that while hard work is important, it need not be a skill. Now, as I am 29 years into life, I realize the importance of one particular skill i.e.“being able to communicate”.

Be it workplace or be it home, be it with family or be it with clients and colleagues, one skill stands out and that is ability to communicate. By communication, I don’t mean garrulousness or talkativeness. Communication is more into conveying our thoughts and understanding of an issue to another person. It can be as silent as a nod, it can be as warm as a hug, it can be as sweet as a smile. It can be anything which gives us a genuine chance to connect with another person and vice versa. Communication is not a unidirectional flow. It’s about understanding and being understood.

It’s not easy to communicate effectively. It demands patience, experience, mutual respect and more importantly regular self training.

Monday, May 31, 2010

LINKAGE

Some mails I have received in the recent past bear strong linkages with my engineering days….new news pouring in from my old friends….So much has changed in the lives of the bunch of teenagers who shared a common wing in the hostel.

A is the new dad in the group.
M got married to an American classmate with whom he shared common PhD courses.
B is busy scanning girls from Orissa. Finally completed his post doc and is ready for marriage
D is still single and probably plans to remain the same for some more time.
C, after a long stay in US, plans to return back to India and is evaluating MBA options in India.

Nice little mails….cann’t help a smile while reading them…

CONSTRAINTS AND IMMATURITY

What is happening to people in this city? Is it the space and time constraints and the severe lack of resources and amenities which are responsible in driving the so called “gentlemen” and “ladies” to such frenzied levels? In the co-operative societies or in the local trains or while driving on the roads, I have witnessed instances when people display a frenzied sense of zero tolerance. People in their apartments are almost on the warfront because of some minor parking issue. Boxing, judo and karate activities are quite common in the local trains. Belligerence is the pervasive attitude on the roads with every vehicle driver assuming that everyone/everything in the world except him/her is stationary. And these are the people who look well educated and well groomed.

The number of local trains is not enough to cater to the needs of ever-soaring influx of people into the city. Apartment builders, in their aspirations to suck out the maximum from the buyers, have raised disastrous structures wherein the occupants staying in these buildings will have perennial and eternal sources of problems to deal with. Roads are not enough to accommodate the rising number of vehicles registered in the city. Government is doing something… but that doesn’t seem to be enough. To add to the woes, time is such a rare commodity.

I am not complaining against certain people or rather against how people behave under certain situations, nor am I a cynic. I am just wondering how living under extreme pressure makes sophisticated and well educated people behave with such degraded levels of immaturity.

(I admire this city…for all the excitement it provides. I respect the people in this city for what they go through to survive here….I have myself experienced unmatched human kindness and support in this city but yet certain experiences are not so pleasant and today’s post mirrors this frustration.)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

SILENT ACHIEVEMENTS

Some silent achievements of my childhood which never got their due:

….when I learned to ride a cycle…and finally fell into a rain water filled pit along with the cycle
….when I stood before the whole school and delivered a speech….on children’s day
….when I won my first prize in school....in a fancy dress competition
….when I made my first real friendship
….when I read my first story and enjoyed the experience
….when I motivated other kids to complain against a particular teacher to the principal

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

PERCEPTIONS

Does somebody’s perception about me really help in infusing additional contentment into my life?

I like to dispute with myself the validity and effectiveness of this question, delinking myself from the views of others. Yet to find an answer…

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

EXPERIENCE

Experience is such a wonderful thing….makes one what one is. Every experience adds a streak to the canvass of life. How a person behaves bears a strong correlation with his collective experiences.

The other day while I was driving back home the traffic restricted my progress and I had to halt waiting for the green light to flicker. Typical Mumbai, the road was flanked with slums. Just then, I saw a little kid from the slums with an iron rod like thing in his hand. He was making his way through the vacant space between the impatient vehicles. I did not take his presence seriously until I felt a screeching sound that emanates out when metals rub against each other. It was not before this that I realized that this little kid has deliberately rubbed his iron rod against my car. Without seeing, I could estimate the size and the shape of the mark on the car. I looked at the kid and he looked at me…with no regrets…no fear…and then he threw a smile, which was beyond his age and moved ahead through the space between the vehicles. Probably he did the same thing with other cars too.

I felt an instant rage with what happened. Came back home and thought about the incident. A little kid from a devastating slum….his origin…the live he has lived so far….the life he will live in future…his frustrations when he must be seeing the tall towers where the people with cars live…his perception of affluence…no wonder he derives a strange pleasure in making those marks on the cars when he walks through them….

This little kid has experienced the harshness of life too early. Not that my car deserved a mark, but certainly I cannot blame the kid for what he did…I will rather blame his experience…of life he has lived so far.

Friday, May 07, 2010

WHOLENESS

The day before yesterday I hated the new apartment in the heart of Mumbai where we have recently moved into. Yesterday, I loved the same apartment.

Periodic or instantaneous liking or disliking for someone or something is a complicated function of lot of variables. Imagine the flow of a fluid through a conduit….old time physics…any momentary feeling we have about someone or something is like the instantaneous flow of the fluid through a cross-section of this conduit. It can be associated with the properties of the flow at that particular instant. For instance it depends on instantaneous temperature, slope, steepness, boundary conditions of the conduit, pressure, viscosity and many more...

Our complete connection with the same person or the same thing is like the full volume of the fluid in the conduit. It’s beyond instantaneous moments….beyond the cross sections of the conduit….it’s the wholeness of the concept that never stops amazing me.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

FEEL LIKE REVISITING THEM



















BACK TO DESK

Life immediately after a remarkable vacation is associated with an uneasy feeling. After experiencing the dreamy version of life, I am yet to tune myself to the ubiquitous phenomenon which is experienced differentially by those under the sun. Some call it the daily routine….others love to get challenged by it….some mock at it…..others admire it….for some it’s the means and for others it’s the end….in short…life at work place.

Monday, March 29, 2010

THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST

Authored by Mohsin Hamid, this book is in the form of a monologue by a US educated Pakistani youth with an undisclosed American in a Lahore restaurant where he recounts his experience of immigrant life in New York. At 21, Changez was an Ivy league graduate, working as an analyst with one of the most revered of valuation firms. He was in love with an appealing and elegant Greek classmate Erika, who did not mind welcoming him into her thoughts. Accolades after accolades, Changez proved himself to be the smartest among his batchmates. He loved his newfound status that his business card unfolded for him. He loved the social life that Erika introduced him into. Personal life could not have been better for a successful Princeton educated Pakistani youth who was beginning to consider New York his home.

Then 9/11 followed and the identity of Changez turned upside down. Elements like suspicion and confusion challenged his American identity and he seemed to plunge into an abyss of despair. To make things worse, the past of Erika started haunting her. She had lost her childhood sweetheart when she was a student and the trauma she had survived then returned to haunt her to almost schizophrenic levels. Further the mounting political turmoil between India and Pakistan that threatened to blow into a full scale war added to the trauma of Changez and he desperately wanted to move close to his family in Lahore.

Soon, Changez’s admiration for America transformed into antipathy towards the political role she plays in world diplomacy. He began to identify America as a regime which was destroying the fabric of Asia. He left his valuation job in New York and headed towards Lahore. In his new role as a university lecturer, he endeavored to influence the mindset of young Pakistani students against, what he considered, the political dictatorship of America.

This book was a nominated for 2007 bookers and is widely read in American universities to shape cultural perspectives. In the contemporary global political scenario, this book is a wonderful read about how personal lives are shaped by political decisions. Nothing innovative in this novel with respect to the theme (piles of reads and movies are already based on the 9/11 impacts), yet the tone of the book is what makes this book different from the herd.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

THE MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA

Soaked with free flow of electrified emotions and the beauty of the Japanese culture during the early decades of the last century, this book “Memoirs of a Geisha” by Arthur Golden, is a fictional depiction of the life of a “geisha” based out of Kyoto during the pre/post Second World War.
Geisha”, in Japanese, means a woman whose job is to entertain as dancers and singers and sometimes more depending on the situation. The story is revealed through the voice of Sayuri Natta, the female protagonist of the story. The medium of depiction is a systematic flash back commencing with a tragic and difficult childhood of a young girl whose destiny transformed her into one of the most famous “geishas” of Japan. The world war followed and once again transformed the life of Sayuri.

During these cycles of transformations, the book reveals several instances revolving around the life of Sayuri set amid the Japanese canvas. Her tragic childhood, early admiration for a man which transformed into passionate love with age, her tutelage with a senior geisha, her outperformance of her rivals and elevation to the ranks of the most successful geishas, her survival means during the world war and other themes are very sensitively lineated.

I loved this book for its sheer eloquence and more so because I have spent reasonable time in the oriental world. In 2005, this book was translated into an Oscar winning movie, directed by Rob Marshall. No wonder, the richness of the book which was aptly pictured in the movie won Oscars for art direction, cinematography and costume design.

But latter realization that the author of this book was sued by a retired geisha (Mineko Iwasaki) whom he had interviewed for the purpose of the novel was disappointing. It seems Arthur Golden had broken the traditional vow of silence by acknowledging Mineko Iwasaki as a source of the novel. Things that transpired were never pleasant.

Monday, March 15, 2010

I HATE LAW, BUT....

My current profile has decent exposure to legal aspects of business. Every contract is in itself a legal document. Law, I feel is the most open ended topics where interpretation of a single phrase or line can run into pages and in some instant into books. People into law have invented wonderful phrases which can completely turn the meaning of something upside down. For instance, consider the following phrases, which one can trace out in almost any contract, sitting reclusively away from the uniform tempo of the rest of contract.

Notwithstanding anything mentioned anywhere in the contract, this section will hold precedence over any other clause. “

The whole contract might read like a decorated love letter between two parties but the inclusion of the phrase “notwithstanding anything…….”, line and the attached clause can include some of the most draconian conditions of the contract. If someone is not savvy enough not to understand the significance of this statement, he can land up in something really unpleasant later.
Similarly consider another phrase:

Subject to clause xx.xx, this section confirms that all the liabilities will be shared between the two parties in proportion of their investments”

The presence of the phrase “subject to …” drives home all those situations (referred in clause xx.xx) where the liability will not be shared. And this clause will be hidden somewhere in the end of the contract.

Consider yet another:

“……. Shall not be unreasonably withheld”

Now, who defines the limits and boundaries of being reasonable? Some really nasty stuff can be attached with this phrase and if the intervention of this phrase is required during the course of the contract, it all depends on lawyers again to fix the problems.

For someone like me who would rather prefer to maintain simplicity in everything, law seems to be an inevitable mate.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

THICK SKINNED PACHYDERMS

One interesting aspect of spending fourteen hours a day awake in a place like Mumbai is getting introduced to a variety of breeds of people. Imagine, you meet hundreds of people with whom you interact on a daily basis....

Now, there is one class of people whose typical traits have irritated me in the past but have impressed me with time. Come whatever may, these people so easily swim through their daily rituals without any exterior influence. Their emotions hold zero correlation with the judgment of their critics. They are happy creatures with limited capability to empathize with lesser mortals. They are well versed with the rules of mortal success.

I don’t know if it’s a compliment….but I do feel it makes sense to develop this special trait of a “thick-skinned pachyderm”…at least on a case-by-case basis. A colleague of mine from my previous workplace used this term frequently to target certain people who were just intolerable by being what they were. Today, I hold these individuals with higher respect.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

BRANDS

Often wonder what made their founders give them the following names -

Apple (ultramodern gadgets)
Orange (telecom service)
Mango (apparel)
Pears (soap)
Red Hat (OS)
20th Century Fox (Film studio)
Caterpillar (Construction equipment)
Jeep (vehicle)

Monday, March 08, 2010

EVOLVING AS ALWAYS

Things change….or should I say they evolve….

When I was a teenager, there came a bollywood song by the lyrics “Hello sexy…hi sexy…”. The whole concept was no less than a revolution of a sort. Elderly men and women claimed that Indian culture is doomed….parents tried their best to veil their kids from hearing such songs. Cultural ideologists threatened to destroy movie halls screening that movie. Teenagers mumbling these songs were severely rebuked…The list is endless. Such was the effect of this outburst that finally the word “sexy” in the song was replaced by the word “baby” and the world moved on.

Today….”sexy” is perhaps the most glamorous word, well appreciated and respected by every silo of the society. It’s the word which truly defines beauty in all its versions. In the business world, every high potential idea, every new thought is so respectfully named “sexy”. Any idea which is platonically stimulating to the mind (I repeat “mind”, forget others…) cannot be defined more articulately than being coined sexy. Even elderly people don’t mind using this word. And cultural ideologists…I believe they are not so unhappy about the usage of this word….From beauty to vehicles, from ideas to business plans is there any other word which is so pervasive in its usage.

So what happened….is this just a generation change.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

TRANSPARENCY VS. SECRECY

One of the most visible aspects of corporate life is to understand and appreciate the significance of information. Especially in the Indian context, people love to restrict disclosure of facts and acts.

The culture of an organization is greatly shaped by its information management policies. If critical information trickles down into different levels of an organization like free flow of water, the organization cannot survive. As against this, if information just remains within the closely guarded veil of a few people, the organization becomes highly centralized and the majority of the employees will soon lose interest in the affairs of the organization.

Where should the balance lie between transparency and secrecy? What should be the optimum level of organizational trust that can guide towards a healthy balance between employee motivation and company disclosure restriction policy? Not easy to answer...I guess.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

CONFLICT OF INTEREST

How many times an individual faces the situation of conflict of interest for being a part of various social entities? An individual is himself an entity with his individual interests. He belongs to a family, which is again an entity. He works for an organization, which is another entity. He belongs to a nation, yet another entity. Now, he also belongs to the much larger entity i.e. the global definition of humanity.

An individual’s place within an entity entrusts him with certain obligations. But he belongs to different entities at the same time. More often than not, different obligations from different entities are not in sync with each other. Every individual continually survives balancing the obligations of his roles he plays by being a part of different entities he belongs to.

For instance, the obligations of his workplace at times intrude into his family obligations. In another situation, his obligations towards humanity might affect the obligations he owes to himself. Extrapolating this to other entities, it’s such a delicate balance of conflict of interests an individual is almost always subjected to.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

GEORGE SOROS AND MARKET

Making billions and giving away millions …This is how the iconic billionaire investor and philanthropist George Soros is best known for.

Loved his quotes (on the nature of markets) which I bounced upon.

The financial markets generally are unpredictable. So that one has to have different scenarios. The idea that you can actually predict what's going to happen contradicts my way of looking at the market.

Stock market bubbles don't grow out of thin air. They have a solid basis in reality, but reality as distorted by a misconception.

Markets are constantly in a state of uncertainty and flux and money is made by discounting the obvious and betting on the unexpected.

The worse a situation becomes the less it takes to turn it around, the bigger the upside. (don’t understand this one)

Markets are designed to allow individuals to look after their private needs and to pursue profit. It's really a great invention and I wouldn't under-estimate the value of that, but they're not designed to take care of social needs.

Monday, February 15, 2010

MY NAME IS RED

It took me more than a month and a half to experience this Orhan Pamuk classic. This book is nowhere close to an easy read of the refreshing breed. Neither is it easy to assign a particular theme to the subject of this book. Enriched with the voice of the most renowned contemporary Turkish author, “My Name is Red” is set amid the splendor and the religious ideologies of the 16th century Ottoman empire.

What is this book about? Not easy to answer. This book can qualify itself as a murder mystery evolving out of the heresy, blasphemy, self-doubt and religious turmoil in which the Turkish art found itself deeply soaked in. But it is not about the murder per se. It can also be a book about an engaging and apprehensive love story. But it is not about love per se. The book is also about the perceivable religious tensions between the east and the west. But the tension is just a canvas which Pamuk has used for his creation.

In the context of the above themes, this is a book on art and painting as depicted through the lives and thoughts of miniaturists. Intensely researched, this book very intricately presents the then prevalent Islamic art form in medieval Turkey and the influence of Persian and Chinese art on it. As the novel unfolds, the impact of the European art forms on the Ottoman sultan and the Turkish miniaturists helps define and build the concept of the novel where one intricate concept after foreplays with each other before the inevitable happens. What starts as a murder mystery ends with redefinition of Turkish art, illumination and ideologies. This is where religion, art, suspense, mystery and ideologies converge at the climax.

The most striking aspect of this book is its ability to weave multiple perspectives. Every chapter is in a form of an intense monologue depicting individual perspectives. Even nonliving entities like a coin and paintings present their perspectives. Dead corpses share their perspectives too.

It’s a typical Orhan Pamuk classic. It has everything which Orhan Pamuk loves to picture through his books. It took five years for Pamuk to create this creation and he has ensured that the readers of this book too give considerable time in understanding what the book is all about.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

BROWNIAN MOTION

I was about to catch a sweet nap in the local train after catching up with Orhan Pamuk’s themes in “My name is Red”. It is habitual now. It is almost impossible for me to read this book for more than thirty minutes after which I feel myself getting overpowered by drowsiness. That’s exactly the reason why I am yet to post on books so far this year.

Today morning, after completing my quota of delving into Pamuk’s thoughts, I was feeling this tremendous urge to close my eyes and relax. It was at exactly this moment when I overheard three middle aged gentlemen who were sharing the adjacent seat in the local. It seems each of them had kids who were about to clear class 12.

1st Gentleman: These days it’s not worth going for Engineering. Everyone is an engineer these days. I am not encouraging my kid to pick up such a career. Its too outdated…

(The statement made my ears ring…I have an engineering degree…oops)

2nd Gentleman: You are right. But more than engineers, you can trace out MBAs these days. Every 2nd person holds an MBA degree. Too much oversupply you see. I am just not going to ask my kid to undertake such fancy studies worth nothing.

(Well…that was like another arrow shot….I have spent so much time and energy gathering a fancy degree)

3rd Gentleman: I agree with both of you. These 20 something people are hugely responsible for pulling down America’s economy. The son of my boss is 26 years old, holds MBA…is an engineer and is working in a global bank….earns too much for his age….absolutely not worth his knowledge and experience. You see we are so much experienced and we are nowhere close to what these guys earn. That’s why the economy got screwed. That’s how US got screwed. These people without experience assume decisive roles, make wrong decisions….and we suffer.

(So here I am…according to these people…with two degrees….one outdated and one fancy….and responsible in my own way in screwing up the economy….and make these people suffer)

What makes me wonder is the fact that these three people were supporting each other in blind with such absolute ease and continuity…. nowhere their thoughts were in sync…the idea of the 1st person was to underline the fact that Engineering is outdated stuff. The second person supported him but stressed the fact that MBA is a fancy degree which every second person has. The third person supported both of his friends but he wanted to prove that MBAs have ruined the economy and that they are terribly overpaid.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

SMILE AS YOU ENTER

Noted something…in the entrance door of one of the ground floor offices.
There is a mirror extending the top half of the entrance door. The span of the mirror provides an ideal visage to every individual who happens to cross through it. Just above the mirror is located a board which reads:

SMILE AS YOU ENTER

Simple but striking….isn’t it !!!

Monday, February 01, 2010

PACE OF CHANGE

When I was doing my engineering….

1. No one used mobile phones…actually no one possessed one.
2. Laptops were nonexistent….only the luckiest and richest of the students had computers in their rooms…an anachronous machine in the present day context.
3. There was a high demand for a “certain” category of books….such books are outdated stuff today.
4. Google was just introduced as a search engine….today it’s the most frequently used word.
5. My engineering college did not have a website. I think it was during my third year that the website was created through student volunteers.
6. Library was overpopulated…these days I really doubt.
7. There were no “orkut” friends or “facebook” friends.
8. Examinations were limited to pen and paper.
9. We used to visit the campus bank and queue up there to withdraw cash. ATMs/debit cards/credit cards were quite forwardlooking concepts.
10. People used to write handwritten, well ornamented love letters.

I am just trying to gauge the pace of the change. Ten years back certain things were unimaginable. Today, we cannot live without them. But more importantly, all these changes have brought about a paradigm change in the way people think, behave and act.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

ASPIRATIONS AND DREAMS

As a generalist, I have often enjoyed when specialists from two tangentially divergent fields exchange their awes. In one of the recent gatherings, I happened to witness the spectacle of two specialists discussing their professional experience – one a seasoned seafarer and the other a professional investment banker. I was acquainted with both of them, thanks to my past experiences and common friends.

While the seafarer was exploring the thrills of his profession, the investment banker was busy reflecting his enlightening experience of multi-million dollar deals. While the seafarer was talking about his exploits in Brazil and Mexico, the investment banker was mentioning his late night office hours in London and New York devising winning strategies. While the seafarer emphasized his expertise with operations of pipelines and engines, the investment banker was proud of his ultra sophisticated financial models. While casual comfort marked the nature of the seafarer, conscious sophistication defined the attitude of the investment banker. But the question remained unsettled…which of these professions is associated with more glamour and money?

The talks continued….the comparisons gradually waned...and after the initial extravaganza, they soon resorted to a new topic…somewhat pensive but relatively practical….about their families….about their personal lives…The seafarer’s life oscillates between the sea and the land with an allocation of six months for the respective stays. The investment banker mostly spends his time in offices and travelling with occasional visits to home. Every time the seafarer gets back home, his people are older by six months. Every time the investment banker gets back home, he finds his people lost in deep sleep. The dream of the seafarer is to earn enough so that he can stay with his family…in his hometown...and can live his dreams. The investment banker aspires to earn enough wealth in the next decade that will enable him to retire and live his dreams with his family for the rest of his life.

Especially when I come across such discussions (the frequency of which keeps on increasing), I feel most of us are in the same boat. Residing within a colorful fa├žade, we so successfully pursue our aspirations. We aspire to be successful….success makes us strive for more. We identify ourselves with this ever widening scope of success and all the recognitions it’s associated with.

But is this success potent enough to stir that little thing which sits within us and continually requests nourishment...the fulfillment of which provides individual contentment…without any further extension of the boundaries.

Are aspirations and dreams two different entities in the present day context? More I look into, the more I sense so. And the divergence seems to be widening.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

BUFFETT'S RATIO IN INDIA ???

Buffett’s ratio: (Total market cap of all companies listed in an economy)/(economy’s GNP)

According to Warren Buffett, this ratio is amongst the best indicators of where valuations stand in an economy. He has used this ratio very frequently (and ofcourse successfully) for predicting successful movements of markets.

The GNP of a country is a measure of the revenues of the business and the market cap is the value investors are ready to assign to the businesses. Ideally, under reasonable situations, both the market cap and the GNP should grow at a similar rate. But that’s not what happens.

As per Buffett, an astute investor buys stocks if the ratio falls below 70-80% for long term investments as markets are fairly valued. If the ratio exceeds 115%, the markets are overvalued where odds of investing are not in the favor of investor from a long-term perspective.

Came across an interesting article analyzing the Buffett’s ratio in the context of the current Indian market, where the ratio stands at 1.04.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

LANDSCAPES

Landscapes can change in a matter of months. Just a year back, my neighborhood was relatively silent with long stretches of lands defining the spaciousness of this place. With hills all around, this place looked like everything but typical Mumbai.

Now, on this vast stretch of open land sits one of the most hyped parks of India, the Central Park. Crowds of all ages throng this half constructed park to witness the creation of the most striking landmark of Navi Mumbai. The story does not end with the Central Park. Just opposite to the park, some of the hills were sacrificed and are being currently leveled to form a sprawling golf court. India’s largest ISKON temple and a Gurudwara are just waiting for construction activities to commence. Malls and towering apartments are getting added at a very brisk rate.

The whole area now wears a colorful and festive look. Very different from what it was when I made it my home. I loved it then too…without the parks, malls, golf courts …..just huge, open, green space and hills separating them. Now it’s different….this place has completely taken a new look….an outspoken and bubbly look….distinct from the earlier charming reclusion.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

RIGHT CAUSE???

We (as in human beings) are a scientific lot, or shall I say “logical” is the right word. We tend to look out for a reason for everything…. a cause for every effect.

Why do we so relentlessly keep on stressing ourselves so much to find “why” something happens? And we keep on pursuing it until we manage to allocate the “right” cause to the effect.

Effect: Company did reasonably well last quarter
Cause: The CEO was replaced last quarter


Effect: Recession seems to be evaporating
Cause: The policies of our government are clicking

Effect: Inflation continues to menace with close to double digit growth
Cause: Government is not taking adequate measures

Effect: My friend is relocating to US
Cause: He was fed up in India

Effect: Our new business is rocking
Cause: We have an excellent PR team

Effect: India is growing at 7% per annum
Cause: Thanks to budgetary, monetary and fiscal policies of our Government.

Think anything…and we have this unique ability to fix a cause to the effect.

I am not against analyzing effects. But the fact that we can successfully assign an effect its cause is just beyond my understanding and endorsement….because I feel that its just not possible for something to have a precise cause. We just have the tendency to assign the most visible contextual fact/(s) as the cause to an effect/(s)….forget the blurred ones….and more so the nonvisible ones.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

DOES IT MATTER

Do people make situations more complex and decision making more painstaking by investing too much time and thoughts into them? Gathering information and using them as pointers in decision making is fine …but isn’t it that too much information normally acts as deterrent towards decision making and execution? What is the optimum research one should do before commencing something?

Imagine….someone keeps himself immersed in a sea of information, spends immense time analyzing all possibilities, potential problems, likely scenarios, risk analysis etc….based on assumptions (wild ones) and finally becomes overburdened with data, exhausted by (mis)/information….takes every step too cautiously (based on some illusion that some problem might happen)….and finally turns out defensive….and lacking the guts to embark....justifies lack of action to all the problems (none of which might actually happen) which he foresees….

Now consider….someone well versed with the basics….shifts gear to the action mode…faces hurdles on the way….devises ways and modes to resolve the hurdles….either he succeeds in clearing the hurdles or learns the hard way at some cost…either way his course is dynamic…sometimes success, sometimes failure….with the success rate getting better with time.

Now extending this logic to companies, should companies invest so much resources and time in gathering data and analyzing them? Does it really matter in the end? How many MBA jobs will be crucified if companies put a brake on too much data analysis.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

A SMART CREDIT CARD CALLER

(Caller knows only the phone number from God knows where)

Caller (with relentless ease): Congratulations, Sir!!! You are the winner of a silver coin from our bank xxx
Receiver (wondering, what he did to deserve a silver coin): Ohhh…k
Caller (even sweeter): And along with it, we are glad to select you as a proud recipient of 8L limit credit card of our bank xxx
Receiver (now realizing that its one of those credit card callers.. throws): I don’t need credit cards. Don’t call me again!!!
Caller: Sir, Do you have a credit card with credit limit of 8 L. No other bank will give credit limit of 8 L
Receiver (realizing that the maximum credit card limit he has from existing card is only 1 L): ok, tell me the details..

(Long conversation follows. Receiver dreams that he is going to be a proud owner of a 8 L credit card)

Caller: OK sir, my executive will visit you to receive the relevant documents
Receiver: No problem. I will be ready with all the documents
Caller : Sir, just to confirm, where do you work?
Receiver (thinks…how can some bank offer credit card without knowing where he works, anyways): xxx company
Caller: Sir, if I may ask, whats your monthly salary?
Receiver (now thinks hard…how can bank offer 8L credit card without having prior salary information, anyways): xxxx/ per month
Caller: One, last question, sir, Whats your name?
Receiver (thinks even harder…silver coin, 8 L credit card etc without knowing name, salary and work, anyways): My name is xxxxx
Caller: Thank you very much Mr xxxx. My executive will meet you tomorrow evening and collect all the relevant documents

Next day: Executive collects all relevant documents
After one month: Caller receives credit card from xxxx bank

Some of the contractual points mentioned in credit card
1. Credit limit: less than 1 L ( That’s like 1/10 of 8 L)
2. Reward if you secure xxx points a month : 1 silver coin (which is possible if someone utilizes the whole credit card limit during the month)

A NOT SO SMART CREDIT CARD CALLER

(Caller does all kind of background check, gets to know the name, designation, salary, and even the take home salary…God knows from where. Also calculates the maximum credit limit that she can offer to her potential client. Then she decides to give a call)

Caller (as courteous as anyone can be): Am I speaking with Mr.xxxxx?
Receiver (almost getting a hint... responds impatiently): Yes!!!
Caller (even more courteous than before): Sir, This is xxx and I am very glad to say that my bank yyy is offering credit cards of maximum credit card limit. I have gathered something….(suddenly hears a sharp noise and realizes that the phone has been disconnected from the other end.

Story ends

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

PLAY SCHOOL

Over the years, so much has changed. Present day toddlers are so different from those of the past, thanks to their parents and society.
My neighbor’s daughter is not even two years old. But the search for play school has already started. Why so early? Because, the kid has to be groomed for the pre KG interviews. If a kid does not clear her/his interviews, s/he will not get admission into a good school. And the best route to be an eligible candidate is by joining playschool.

The cost of such play school starts at Rs 70,000 per year…no upward limits.

Isn’t this an example of exploitation and commercialization in the name of education? More than that, its forcing a tiny kid to forego his/her early freedom and get into the “processes” and “systems” of education provided in our country…the education which is so successful in transforming human beings into some vague creature, which knows only to run a race and move ahead of others, without knowing why s/he is running.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

AM I RIGHT??

Amongst other things, smart people are often good at the following –

1. They don’t take life too seriously
2. They know whom/what to ignore and at what time
3. They know when not to follow what they generally preach

1ST DAY

Highlights of New Years Day:

My Name is Red
Three Idiots
10 km walk
A late night drive
Phone calls and emails
Lost and found a gold bracelet
(Overall a very happening day)