Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Post No. 41 - Life is intrinsically unfair, its all about chance and chaos

I am following football for the first time in my life. I have understood finer nuances (other than basic rules) only in my recent run up to Germany 2006. I try and catch the matches so as to understand the game better and develop a feel for it.

I have been quite successful so far. I definitely have developed favorites. Quite early on I betted on Germany because they I think they really play with clinical precision. England is too much hype, Brazil is under delivering.....Holland was another favorite.

I also liked Australia, and was betting on them to make it to the quaters at the least. Yesterday was Australia vs. Italy. All through Italy paid like a damp squib, and australia fought like sharks. The game had 3 minutes of injury time for the second half. At 2:58 into injury time, Italy were awarded a penalty kick and Totti converted. (the kick in itself was awesome, you can't take much away from that).

The penalty award itself was debatable, because in replays it was quite clear, that the Italians had run into an already fallen Australian, trampled on him, and fallen onto the grass.....

2 seconds before what could have been a lifeline, the supply was cut for Australia. One mistake, one chance, one (possibly) wrong decision, made sure that Australia would not progress beyond in 2006, they would have to wait for another 4 years at the least. Also that one mistake could mean they will never win the 2006 cup, which by pure logic of chance and chaos, they might have, had they still managed to remain in contention.

Sports, seem to bring the unfair angle of life in quite an exaggerated fashion. I remember a race in 2005, Kimi Raikkonen, driving from the back rows, reaching upto first, giving the fight to Alonso, reaching no.1, driving there for a few laps, only to blow his chassis up (I think it was nurburgring). I felt numb in that moment, it was so unfair, so horribly wrong.....

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Post 40 - Life is fragile (it reminds me often of that)

Just heard about a death in someone's family. Its 12 am at the night. I just got the call.

One of my constant fear is, I shall die abruptly, or worse lose my eyesight, or my capability to write, to see, to communicate....just like that in one moment.... This fear just reoccured to me again today.

Life is very fragile. Most of us never realise it, and even if we do, that feeling itself is transient, we really dont remember it for long enough.

But then, again, till I die....waiting for Khattam Shud!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Post No. 39 - Mid-day Cartoon - 3 : Bombay vs. the world, rude vs. alive, compassion vs. arson

Courtesy : MidDay Artist : Satish Acharya

Mumbai is the rudest city in the world..... http://ia.rediff.com/news/2006/jun/20mum.htm

This ones comes 2 days after a poll announced bombay as one of the rudest cities in the world. I am not jingoistic, neither am I one-eye-blind, but having spent time in Middle-East, UK, US, Delhi, Bombay, Hyderabad....I must pronounce my unbiased view, there is no city warmer than Mumbai. It gives you comfort when you need it most, and rushes to help others, like it did on 26th Jul 2005.
In fact the cartoonist is drawing comparison between 26th Jul 2005 and Katrina. On 26th Jul, the city was deluged under a rain like it never seen before. Millions of common men were stranded out of their homes, and who helped them? The civic chiefs (they were miserably absent)....the administration (they did not even know what to do in such a situation)....NGO's like Red Cross (no, they were simply not equipped to deal with it.). .....NO.....For 5 whole days, as Bombay (notice how I juxtaposte between Mumbai and Bombay) remained drowned, it was the common men who worked shoulder to shoulder to recover.
It gives me goose pimples to even say this, but I have never (and dont think ever) shall see such a demonstration of the power of humanity. No other city or place in the world can ever match the response which bombayites gave to nature's fury. Search on google and tales of horror and restoration (and bombay's helpful soul) shall come in leaps and bounds.
No arson, no looting, no rudeness, only help and humanity. And what happened during Katria? Well...well.

Post no. 38 - June 06 - June 07 : Mr. Market vs. Me

A friend of mine owns about Rs. 51k worth of diverse stock(primarily TCS and CIPLA). I was cajoling him to liquidate his holdings and switch onto Satnam Overseas (CMP of Rs. 56 on 15th June 2006, when we had this conversation). My target for this stock has been consistent 130-180 by June 07. I don't think he had the gumption to exit his current stocks at a loss. What I still wanted to do was to track how I fared vs. Mr. Market.

Probably, next June (07) I shall take a random walk down my friend's street and ask him on how has he done, vs. how he would have done had he followed my line of thought. I promise that next year, around July, I shall post an update on this story.

Post No. 37 - Mid-day Cartoon - 2 (Rain Gauge)

Courtesy : MidDay Cartoon by : Hemant Morporia

Post No. 36 - Perverse world of politicos


This story is about Rajasthan's CM, Vasundhare Raje Scindia (a royal scion), buying a Merc for her official transport. Very honestly, I am not surprised, world over, people in power are known for their excesses.

What actually irked me was her 'chief secretary' coming on NDTV news, and justifying this, saying that this shall get Ms. Raje closer to the real (ground level ) people. How? It beats me? Also he went to add that a Merc provides more 'suvidha' (facilities) than a normal car, and hence this would make the CM more efficient.

My dear political hunny-bunny brethen, I am okay with you bunnies pulling a fast one, I am okay with you trying to schmooze us, I am NOT okay with you raping our sensibilities....Give us a little more respect.

(It helps to add that, Rajasthan is a state reeling under drought, farmer suicides and growing unemployment).

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Post No. 35 - Mid-Day Cartoon - 1 (Foreign Rule)

Courtesy : Midday Artist : Hemant Morporia

Post No. 34 - Mid-Day Cartoons

I am a big fan of Hemant Morporia and Ponnappa who post their cartoons regularly on Midday - Bombay's afternoon daily. Midday is an icon in itself.
I shall try and post the ones I personally like onto this blog.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Post No. 33 - Best of times, worst of times....stock update

The markets are on a slip-slop roll...sliding eitherways, getting jittery. My favorite stocks, Hinduja TMT and Apollo Hospital have been hammered by over 30% each.

What I had done is exited quite a bit of these holdings and moved into Satnam Overseas (to be now called Kohinoor Foods - they informed NSE today). Satnam was hammered by over 70% leading to a very strange situation.

Satnam has sales of about 520 cr, profit of around 21 cr, cash in bank of about 103 cr, and as of today the firm is valued at 103 cr. Trades at about 4.5x 2005-06 PE, and 2x of 2007-08 PE.

Net Net, you are getting a decent enough company for almost free (if you deduct the cash in bank and add some debts it has on books). Mr. Market is indeed very moody, just as Mr.Dodd pronounced long ago.

What I like about the market, it allows me to play games with myself, to pit me against I. If I win, I learn to trust my gut a little more, if I lose, I can always strive to improve my intuition. In the end its a nice game, it keeps me analytically inclined, and as I have always said, its terribly good if you make a fortune in the process (Not that I have done so far, but to be honest, I have not done too badly either).

My bet is by June 07, Satnam should trade at 130 if valued at around 10-12 PE(CMP on 20th June 2006 is Rs.59, and it shall be at around Rs.180 if market values it around 17 PE, though I believe 10-12PE is the right value for such a small nimble fast growing company, its not higher because of the associated risk of being a small player). If this bet works, I shall be a very happy man ;-).....finally you do live for these small little wins.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Post No. 32 - Sign 'o' Times...Times of India (and of Morons)

I loved this post http://only-in-india.blogspot.com/2006/06/cutting-edge-journalism.html

I remember reading TOI that fateful morning, and have this same sick feeling. Is this what the most sellable newspaper in India has to come down to? I think TOI is run by a bunch of hunny-bunnies, who in their sleazy zeal worry more about selling space, than printing news.

Heroin vs. Cocaine.....I want neither, give me Tehelka, anytime.

Post No. 31 - Older...another day, another year

I was watching VH1 (part of Viacom, MTV networks), 'Classics' - where they play video's from the 80s-90s.
I have to admit, that I was on a high after watching it. It was like a reconnection with an era gone by, an era I would like to go back, to my childhood, running around in knickers, listening to classics on the radio, hanging onto my parents for support....
Music connects in more than one can imagine. The only necessary condition to that, is your own ability to let yourself go in its force, which is hard what with most of us being so rigid in the face of music.
Watching 30 minutes of classic was almost spiritual. Listening to Money-Floyd, Everything about you - Ugly Kid Joe, Message in a bottle (unplugged) - Sting, Vasoline - Stone Temple ilots, Radiohead - Creep, Wallflowers- Heroes.......I realised that they don't make music like that anymore - music which had a long shelf like, was unpretentious, required an equal effort from your side( to like it) almost to the extent of being collabrative, was simple yet fun, was clean - in short, it quite literally rocked.
Its also possible that I am growing older, am dying, am like a record stuck on a pin, stuck in an era refusing to move on. Its not that I hate new music, but very few acts like DMB, REM still strike any chord with me....Sepaltura and the ilk are definitely not for me.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Post 30 - Brilliant Graffiti

Post No. 29 - The depth of a moron...or what is LEFT of it

I have often heard that there is no limit to stupdity. The recent debate on the petrol price hike gives a million illustrations of this adage.

To give a background, the govt. at the center hiked the price of petrol by Rs.4 (over Rs.50, making it a total of Rs.54) per litre in Mumbai, and this impact is slightly different in the rest of the country, based on the local tarrifs, but net effect, the prices of petrol and diesel have increased.

As expected, there was a whiplash against this increase, and a lot of people across sections cam strongly against this hike, because it is going to impact the overall cost of living, and in toto, inserts an inflation of 4% into the system.

To appease the people, in a populist move various state governments have decided to forgo the sales tax on the increased part of the petrol price, which means for example, that Maharashtra has decided to forgo whatever sales tax is applicable on rs.4 and continue charging sales tax as per the old price of petrol which was around Rs.50.

SITARAM YECHURY (photo inline), the spokesperson for the Left based political parties, has said that 'West Bengal shall only forgo the sales tax on the increase, if the central govt. rollsback the hike'.

Now, I need help understanding this, because this is counter-intuitive. If the original price was 50, and with the increase it is 54, if the centre rolls back the price it would come down to 50, which means the hike is 0, and Mr. Yechury in his altruistic best has agreed to forgo the sales tax on 0, which again is 0. (exact quote is 'The Left said today it, too, would reduce sales tax but only after the Centre rolled back the price hike.' ref http://in.news.yahoo.com/060612/48/650ov.html)

Am I just plan dumb (or at least does Mr. Yechury believe so)?

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Post No. 28 - Insight 2 : Karan Thapar (Indian English vs. British English)

Karan Thapar is a journalist in this part of the world, who does a show on television, very akin to Tim Sebastian's Hard Talk. I must admit, he does the job with aplomb, especially when he is talking to politicos (you must remember that the politicos in my land are the scum of the earth, you cannot get any worse).

He writes oft in The Hindustan Times. In one of the recent articles he brought out a very sly observation, on how the Indian version of English (in everyday use) is peppered with literal phrases, whereas the British are so much more refined and use the language in a more rich way, garnishing it, using it in a more subtle metaphorical almost giving it a lyrical tone.

I have a few colleagues who are Brits. When I did notice carefully, what Karan says is bang on. Our language is so much more cruder, so much direct, versus a sopho Brit, who shall wax lyrical.

To further sell his point, he also rightly stated that we use Hindi (our national language) exactly how the Brits use English....metaphorically...full of subtle hints.

Think of it....

Friday, June 09, 2006

Post No. 27 - Insight 1 : From Tarun Tejpal's Tehelka (The price for a dailogue)

Tarun in his recent edit in an issue of Tehelka was defending Aamir's right to speech, and castigating the a***hole bunnies in Gujrat who had banned 'Fanaa'.

I on my part have heard hazaar arguements for and against the ban.....'Its an issue of national security', 'It was done only to avoid riots', 'He really has no right to have an opinion on NBA without conducting proper research'....and tending to infinity ....blah!

Of course, I have an opinion, and as usual, its an anti bunny opinion. Having said that, I must admit that I was delighted with the way Tarun presented it.

His main theme was a lament on how as a nation we have lost our capacity for dialogue, especially the state vs. the lumpen....its more of how the state is now a perverse humungous entity lording over a equally humungous but impotent lumpen.

His other point, was the state should infact be focussing on encouraging dialogue than throttling it.....and the example he gave was apt....The British government did not spend millions to protect Rushdie, either for its love of the author, or for its respect for 'Satanic Verses'. It spent the money only to safegaurd the bastions of dialogue and free speech.

In this context, he kind of hammered the irony of the Gujju bunnies banning Fanaa.

To be honest, to me this was quite an insightful way to present a view....much more humane than our normal profane shit-shat methods.

Post No. 26 - 'Insight' Defined

One of our primal instincts is to try and understand the machinations of the world around us. More than just 'understand', its also our desire to 'comprehend' and rationalise the indeterminate proceedings around us.
We intutively slice the world into conquerable pieces, and behind each piece 'understood' lies an insight....
If that is a fair enough definition of insight, then lets move on...we have lots more to talk.

Post No. 25 - Antiquota quote....attributed to Premji

Somebody sent this to me....It has been attributed to Wirpo chairman, Premji, I am sure that is apocryphal, but I liked it and thought it illustrated the anti-quota point in a nice exaggerated manner.....

Wipro Chairman Mr. Ajim Premji's comment on reservation: I think we should have job reservations in all the fields. I completely support the PM and all the politicians for promoting this. Let's start the reservation with our cricket team. We should have 10 percent reservation for muslims. 30 percent for OBC, SC/ST like that. Cricket rules should be modified accordingly. The boundary circle should be reduced for an SC/ST player. The four hit by an OBC player should be considered as a six and a six hit by a OBC player should be counted as 8 runs. An OBC player scoring 60 runs should be declared as a century. We should influence ICC and make rules so that the pace bowlers like Shoaib Akhtar should not bowl fast balls to our OBC player. Bowlers should bowl maximum speed of 80 kilometer per hour to an OBC player. Any delivery above this speed should be made illegal.

Also we should have reservation in Olympics. In the 100 meters race, an OBC player should be given a gold medal if he runs 80 meters.

There can be reservation in Government jobs also.

Let's recruit SC/ST and OBC pilots for aircrafts which are carrying the ministers and politicians (that can really help the country.. )

Ensure that only SC/ST and OBC doctors do the operations for the ministers and other politicians. (Another way of saving the country.)

Let's be creative and think of ways and means to guide INDIA forward...Let's show the world that INDIA is a GREAT country. Let's be proud of being an INDIAN.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Post No. 24 - Naresh Trehan, NR Narayanmurthy - Take a bow

Was watching "The Big fight" on NDTV at 12.30pm. I must admit, it was unexpected that two such luminaries would come out openly against Quota.
Dr. Trehan is one of the most respected cardio surgeons in India. Earlier he was with Escorts, now he is a managing partner with Fortis of the Ranbaxy Group. (Thats Trehan image at the top).

Crack-Jack Bunny vs. Trehan and NRN

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Post No. 23 - People I admire - 2- Tehelka...aka Tarun Tejpal

I am big fan of Tarun Tejpal's Tehelka. Tarun and Anirudh Behal, did a great job in 2002, exposing the defence ministry in India for taking kickbacks and completely compromising on the position of respect and security.

Tarun himself writes extremely well and its great to read a different insightful, yet scathing take on everyday life. (Once again...tehelka presents a very different view of the world around us).

My complain with most of the media today is its apathy to real matters, and its senseless sensationalisation of trite. The excuse " we sell what sells" is an empty excuse.

In my opinion "NEWS should force us to think, it should be interactive, it should be a mirror to your own socio-reality". Tehelka does exactly that, its intelligent, leaves a lot of subtle edges un-rounded in the news, so that you can form opinions, you can regurgiate the news later and process them into sensible information bits.

I urge you all to pick up Tehelka. I promise you, you won't regret it at all.

Post No. 22 - The higher cause...understanding the microcosm

Was reading a very interesting interview by Arundhati Roy in Tehelka. The interview revolved around how or why did she get into activism, and is she using it as a prop to further a more insidious (probably) policitical goal.
She started off by describing her own journey as a writer, how she started writing well as a novelist, tasted sucess with GOST. Her supposed awakening happened upon brushing with NBA and the reason she felt she must take up the cause was manifold:
1. The cause was justified (I think this is obvious, no one wants to fight for a cause which is arbit).
2. By understanding the nuances of NBA she felt she could understand the whole world...in terms of power, money, what drives human beings.....and in toto "the microcosm"....

The more I think of it, I think the second point is a great insight. I believe all of us in our own little pursuit want to understand the world around (either in a scientific way, or an operational way, or a spiritual way), but all the time, at every instant, we want to know the secret code, the so called DNA which runs Gaia (Mother earth).

Do you agree?

Post No. 21 - That Strange feeling of space...

Its 3am in the morning. I am awake and blogging. I just saw a movie called "Kal-Yesterday and Tomorrow". It has Smriti Mishra, Chitragandha Singh and Shiney Ahuja.

The plot is simple. All the above 3 are friends, Chitra is in love with Shiney, - who is ambivalent about it. Shiney finally marries Smriti. Chitra has never recovered from the jilt till date, but still continues living....till one fine day, she returns home to find Shiney at her home (at night) in a dishevelled state. The next day morning she discovers that Smriti has been found murdered. The whole thing revolves how Chitra unwittingly becomes a important witness in the case, where Shiney is the prime accused, and how her older biases (remember she was (is ) in love with him), make her not see the case in a neutral sense.......

Overall a decent movie, very not off the mill kind of story, different and great performances. About a *** rating on a scale of 5.

The weird part is, I am feeling so spaced out now (at this instant). I am having a few things running in my head. One of them is a strange weary feeling of mental tiredness, of wanting to give up....wondering why am I doing what I am doing.....Just feel tempted to go into a long sleep.

The other questions which crop in my mind are about my own life, primarily concerning work (am I a good leader?), and life (am I a good husband?, am I a good son? am I a good brother?).

With these questions, a plethora of thoughts scream into the(current) empty spaced out condition of the mind.

I know the answers to quite a few of these questions. They are neither all black nor all white, they are in reality hues of gray.....This is when I realise the 'greatness' of being either white or black....not just somewhere in nether-land.....

Wish I could change a few things....wish I could live life differently....wish I could escape a few things....

What am I feeling right now? Depressed....nah. Stressed....nah. Angry...nah. Possibly, a slight mixture of sadness and helplessness. "Shit happens".