Archive for the ‘Arbit Thoughts’ Category

Its Durga Puja time again!

Posted: October 2, 2011 in Arbit Thoughts
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Its that time of the year when ask a bengali if he would like to spend a week in Switzerland in place of his hometown, and most likely …. The order would be declined.

Nothing beats hopping pandals in durga puja!

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I am not a Bihari. Yet, Nitish Kumar’s victory in the just concluded Bihar elections, makes me want to rejoice. Somehow, I am not sure that I would want to do the same if (which is just to be politically correct) and when Mamta comes to power in Bengal.

True it will be a befitting end to the tyrannous rule of the Left so much that all that is left in Bengal is little of educated skilled labor, some fertile land, lots of uneducated farmers who have been seasoned to being the subject of the state’s undemanding and benevolent welfare system which emphasizes on rights and skips duties. All I would fear that lest it not be out of the frying pan and into the fire. Just as Red Bastion was turning atinge more blue, Buddha had managed to get the buy-in from the likes of Nirupam Sen on the need to reawaken the spirit of enterprise and virtues of hardwork … and thankfully Jyoti Basu is finally dead (touchwood!) comes the screaming and banner hoisting hooligans of Mamta busy to show their influence, even if that means weeding out the tender saplings of industrial growth planted. For the same reasoning (and the belief on collective wisdom being immune to seasonal irrationalities; something which is questionable) I will rejoice if Mamta gets re-elected on her second term.

Coming back to Bihar, I am tempted to call this state flooded with emotions. And not without ample reason.

  1. Indians gave a thumbs down to the BJP government after the India Shining campaign, even as Vajpayee had managed to pull off a remarkable Golden Quadrilateral, Dedicated Freight Corridors and given Indians a new hope. All for waht, beacuse some Indians were too jealous to accept that they (as per their assessment) had been left out of the growth story.
  2. Bill Clinton on his first India vist had pushed a very crucial thought. You cannot make progress and be happy if your neighbor is in distress. Its just not socially stable state and would invariably give rise to sparks and disturbances. Bihar has for long been in abysmal state of affairs. Its socio-economic indicators like health, education and Factors of productivity like GDP/GNP has been at the Nadir. All of this as the talented Biharis had to move out to find appropriate jobs and bear not only the taunts of the North Indian but the cuts and bruises from the Marathi Manoos.
  3. It shows the emergence of the quiet but unmistakably confident electorate in the Indian Democracy. One who is able to see through the showmanship of gaudy politicians; their hysterics of ‘Secularism’, the cry for cast driven agendas (Yadav, Dalit, Bhoomihar, Jat, Gujjar … ) and the fascination with the pedigree.

Youv’e got to hand it to them: The Indian Electorate. Afterall, Rahul Gandhi got his ‘footfalls’ but not their votes!

I live a funny life in a funny world. It has these queer ways of denying the obvious.

Keep thinking that I am very different from the unknown man who is turning a corner of the street right bout now in the opposite end of earth when the reality is quite otherwise.

For instance I am just as much fad driven. Loved blogging. Still kindda like it, at least when I am doing it on my IPhone. Lately though it’s obviously loosing out to tweeting:

It’s easier, quicker, crisper and way more pragmatic.

Something as idealistic like grammar or building a case before the conclusion is arrived at is nether facilitated nor permitted.

Suits me just as fine, though leads to a gradual corrosion of my writing skills acquired painfully through my high school years.

Anyways, this iPhone typpng is finally taking it’s toll. Will catch up soon, meanwhile am there on my twitter tweets

Was wondering the other day, sipping tea and gazing lazily into the cupboards in front, about how when we go deeper into subjects the ‘dots begin to connect’ and the out of sheer chaos how order becomes visible. Been watching a Sitcom a lot of late. ‘ED’ is about Edwards J Stevens a lawyer who owns a bowling alley and prefers not to be called the ‘Bowling alley lawyer’ 😀

In one of his episodes a character gives a message that when things go really wrong and nothing seems to be working our way, one should hang on and stay put. Bad times will pass. Should not indulge in self-doubt or loose faith in one self. I am not new to this concept and might add a few lines to that; one should never ‘short’ his dreams or ‘long’ a compromise solution. In layman’s terms that would be translated (somewhat fancifully) as “Don’t give up, Don’t Give in“. Our Grandma’s never tire of sermonizing the fact we can rarely come across someone who fulfilled his dreams or became anything of worth without having made to sweat-out for it.

Paul Cohelo in his revolutionary book ‘The Alchemist’ says that once we have made our intentions clear that we want what we want and will not stop till we get what we want, the whole worlds starts to conspire to help us achieve that. But what he does not talk about is the intermediary period when the world goes about testing the intensity of our desire to have it and for what its worth makes us literally bleed through the nose to have it. Steve Jobs talked about connecting the dots and the fact that while connecting them we aren’t really able to see through to our destination. We are only guided by our Karma or intense desire or that sacred inner voice in our actions. However when the picture is complete, it all comes back to us as how obviously it was a part of our destiny that we would have connected that dot. How else would the picture have come out in all its glory. What he does warn us though that it’s not all rosy, and the road to such perdition will ask and call for immense sacrifices and will test the will, spirit and soul of the person so desirous.

So, what’s so great about this, one might be tempted to ask. What is so great about dreaming and then believing in your dream and working at it even if the whole world thinks you are crazy to finally live out your dream! Further what has Present Value (PV) calculations got to do with any of this. In case you have read so far of this blog post, I an sure you would have scratched your beard at least once or raised an eyebrow or two or if nothing else twitched inadvertently at the berserk contextual fallacy of this post.

In Warren Buffet’s words investment is ALWAYS for the long term and when we buy shares of a company the way to look at it is not like we are buying some shares of it but we are buying a partnership in the business of the firm. As someone has rightly said (& Prof. Uday Damodaran elegantly pointed out at his SAPM class) A Pessimist is someone who knows the PRICE of everything but the VALUE of nothing. Price has little to do with the fundamental value associated with an object. Valuation of any business thus has to do a lot with these contextual framework and philosophical backbone.

If we sit back and think how does an astute investor make money in the equity markets without retorting to market manipulation. It is by realizing the Hidden Value of a Business. The value of a business which is not recognized by the market yet but is evident to the investor. In other words the dreams of the promoters and the prospects of it coming through not being gauged accurately enough by the investor community in general. The two words in this phrase are of equal importance, ‘Hidden’ and ‘Value’. If the vision of growth and prosperity of any firm is evident to the general community then the current price of the stock would have already factored that in. It needs to be something which has slipped accidentally or more commonly disregarded naively as an achievable and actionable objective. Moreover the Vision of Growth must lead to Value generation. In keeping with the maxims of Shareholder Wealth Maximization (SWM) the new projects undertaken by the firm must be because the management believes it will generate positive Net Present Value (NPV) for the shareholders and not because it is a ‘Pet’ project of the executives. The Present Value (PV) factors in the time weightage of the returns a $100 bill today is more precious than $100 bill bill a 100 years later.

I am sure the mathematics above is not at all pleasing to read, being banal and trivial to say the least. Let’s move into the more interesting aspect of this. The Philosophy side of it. What it essentially means is that the number crunching MBA investor managing wealth should be able to connect to the dreams and aspirations of the entrepreneurial promoter sweating in some remote area across the globe. What it means is that he should be able to gauge the intensity of this man’s psyche towards not letting go of his goals and his dreams midway. (He of course would also need to analyze the reality elements of his dreams, but considering the stock is actually being traded, it does have a decent chance of making it through. What is really in question is how much is the chance!). So while people going about their daily chores need to keep believing in themselves, an Investment Manager will need to believe in other people. He would need to access the chances that the promoter would not chicken out when the market is sloppy or when the tides suddenly turn unfavorable. Because if really has to jettison out from the firm when its going through a rough patch his investment would have been severely impaired.

Add to it the fact that the promoters are mostly over critical of poking investors and aren’t really forthcoming with the true state of the difficulties they might be facing in implementation of the projects and we really have a very difficult job for that ‘Astute Investor’! No wonder then that we just have one Warren Buffet!

Have been Reading the wonderful Foodies Guide to IIMK in the Taste of Heaven Blog. It’s a wonderful compilation with a direct “From the Horse’s Mouth” coverage. I’ve been doing my own Food outlets discovery in this city and decided to put two of mine up too.

Sagar

(A good family restaurant that is light on your pocket and a treat for your taste buds)

INTRODUCTION

If you miss your the bicker & quibble-quabble of your naughty nephews/nieces as you would dine with your extended family, then look no further. A splendid family restaurant catering to local folk who more often than not turn up with their families, its a wonderful change from the aristocracies of Taj and the noise of Sea-Queen. Most importantly, its a place where you can drop over for a sumptuous dinner after you have completed your shopping (Whatever you would have done on that …!) and had some change left which if left unspent would risk making your un-accustomed pockets jingling with coins. Its so damn cheap!!

HAVEs and HAVE-NOTs

For non-Veggies ask for ginger chicken and pathri which is something like rice chappatis but only thinner and tastier (Its like rumali-roti made with rice and of dimensions of a normal roti). Alternatively you could substitute pathri with ‘Appam’ in case you have an eclectic taste, Appam is something like baked version of rice cake and has appearance hybrid between idli in the middle of a small dosa. But, Boy! Does it taste good! If you are too tired of garlic chicken, then try ginger chicken as well. But, by far garlic is the best; ginger comes close. A rider: don’t try much more, its not all that great! For fish lovers, you’ve plenty of choice. Most of the fish curries are delicious if you do not mind the strong aroma of coconut oil.

For Veggies, substitute chicken curry with paneer butter masala and/or mushroom masala, and you got your own winner combo!

LOCATION

Sagar has two branches on two ends of Mavoor road and most often is swarming with people. It has three categories of seating: normal, family & AC. The cost escalation for AC is marginal so taking that is highly recommended!

COST

In all a gluttonous meal will set you back by anything like Rs. 85 to Rs. 120 and with larger numbers the per head cost comes significantly down.

Al-Bake

(The Authentic Arabic Cuisine served at a fraction of the Arabic prices)

INTRODUCTION

The city of Calicut has been known for two things, Vasco-Da-Gama’s Entry and its next-door proximity to the Middle East. How then you would wonder would the city not be served by at least one authentic Arabic food joint? Well with Al-Bake you can put all those qualms at rest. Situated tight in the corner opposite Baby Memorial Hospital, the chain of restaurants are all labeled with bright neon lights so that you cant miss them even if you are doped that you couldn’t differentiate between a dove and a crow! It’s a largely conservative up-market restaurant frequented by most gulf-returned Mallus. Its not too well light but the ambience is quite decent. The space is a bit constricted but the air conditioning and the service more than make up for these minor defeciencies.

HAVEs and HAVE-NOTs

For non-Veggies: Try out any dish, most of them are quite palpable. I had something which tasted like ‘luckhnowi Biryani’. The beauty about this place is that I never came across a single item which was not worth trying out at least once (and maybe twice as well!). Also most food retain their distinct “Arabic” flavor and the customizations to Indian Taste if any are hardly visible to naked eyes. The desert is amazing with Ice cream shakes which are worth dying for. My favirte is the Pista Flavored one.

For Veggies: It has some dishes , but largely there are better avenues where you can try out the food. Skip Al-Bake if you intend to stick to a Veggy meal.

COST

Al-Bake is slightly prier than Sagar but much cheaper than Sea-Queen or Mezbaan. The food is really worth the price they charge and a decent non-veg meal will cost two people Rs. 130-160 per head with a slight lessening with increasing numbers. Look for this place when ARABIC is what you are looking for.

A Rider:
Ambience is Very conservative, so consider a different restaurant if you plan to have a cosy dinner with your lady interest.

Prostituting News

Posted: August 27, 2007 in Gibberish Blabber, MBA Ramblings

Read this

The Journo who wrote this classic piece is the ‘Famed’ editor of B-School Rankings. A kind of guy whose core competency remains marketing shit by posting it as ‘Research Verified and OUTLOOk stamed authentic’. My thoughts on that article follows.

Of course! As C-Fore correctly points out MDI and likes are truly a world class MBA college. Much better than three of the IIMs. Especially when the 8 lakhs siphoned off from students make its way to advertisements in Outlook and the editors of such ranking articles are taken good care of. After-all it’s situated in MY Delhi! That alone suffices.

Minor trivialities like quality of students and level of academics really count for a petty sum. The Weighted Average Value calculation really puts a trivial score of such factors. The fact that most decent profiled professionals who are well placed in life already don’t even care to apply to this institute is due to the Evil Axis spinning IIMs who keep fudging-nudging with the mindsets of people.

And, yeah any institute has the right to force a sloppy job on its students so as to protect its ‘Average Salary Figure’ even if it ends up ruining his prospects of following his dream career path. So MDI really cannot be held at guilt.

After-all the top B-School in the world is SUNY (State University of New York) and not Wharton. You see the reason causing that is the fact that Wharton is in an investment impoverished state of Pennsylvania whereas SUNY is in the Cradle of financial capital of the World, New York! 😀 (I almost fell off my seat laughing)

Thank my stars that policy matters are decided by dumb politicians and not smart journos!!

By the way, I wrote this as a comment on that article. Of course it has a Moderated comment section to ensure that only ‘Proper’ comments are filtered through! Lets see how sportive is Premchand Palety, the self proclaimed expert on B-Schools and the humdrum journalist Prostituting news.
I have written this article with MDI because this institute happens to be a particular favorite with this magazine. I could however have replaced it with many others like IMT/SPJAIN and even government ones like IIFT!

~ ‘There is nothing so PATHETIC as a man with an AMPUTATED SOUL’

They say that the honeymoon period begins in reverse order in IIMs. So to say it peaks the month before the course ends and starts somewhere midway, i.e. with the start of second year.

My prolonged absence from what used to be one of my frequent pit-stops, my blog, is due to the unforeseen academic load that has viralled in. This unusual load is not a matter of chance or of co-incidence, as most people believe. The talk doing rounds is that a two-pronged approach was taken by the PGP (Post Graduate Program i.e. MBA Program) office to curb this infidelity to their sacred subject, ‘Academics’. Firstly, they brought all the important electives in this term, so if you have even an iota of hunger for learning you got nowhere to run to pal! Secondly they squeezed a normal 3 month term into a 2 month ‘crash-course’. I don’t know where crash course got its name from, but from my end it looks to be inspired from the fact that there is a very high probability that the course will end up in a crash!

Anyways looking into the various aspects after my previous blog, here goes.

  • Summers was a fantastic learning experience. Got a feel of an Investment Bank though the workload will almost quadruple when I finally join one. I finally decided on the first stroke in the white canvas in the post-MBA employment scenario. I was decided on Investment Banking, but was not sure which branch would it be. Now I know which one it will be and more importantly the difference between them. Private Equity has become a long term career goal and Hedge funds the intermediary one.
  • Delhi was a welcome change. It was great to be back in my home-town for a longish span after almost 7 years! It was hot as a furnace, even in the nights when on one day it was 43 degrees Celsius! It was home though and that made all the difference!
  • Went for a visit to the school of ‘Babus’ in Mussoorie: Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration. This is the place where newly minted IAS officers are polished before they take chair and officiate as Babus of India! The systems in the institute were actually generations behind what we have in IIMs and it was without doubt that it wasn’t faring half as well in living up to its mandate! In fact, the IAS Cadre Students (Officially called Officer Trainees or OTs) were so reckless with government property that they actually opened all taps of their hostels before they left for their postings at the end of their training. As a result the institute was parched for water for one full day! It’s sad that these people will be undertaking the nearest equivalent of management of government machinery.
  • Back in Campus the weather was sheer Bliss! The clouds and the rain drops laden breeze seem to be romancing all day long. The campus is so picturesque that I almost felt a pang of sadness that next year this time I will no longer be here! Our section went to a beach party one day. We all packed off early afternoon and off we went to Kappad. After many rounds of Ocean-water dumping, sand ball flinging, beach football, drinks songs and merry making we made our way joyously back to campus. The photos came out superb the next day and flaunt my flickr account now!
  • Juniors are a primarily work-ex laden batch, however they are still being treated with kid-gloves by the system. They are having a very merry time and the euphoria of having made it to IIM hasn’t collapsed yet. Probably the Mid-term examinations will do that for them. We pray that they have a soft landing so that they aren’t crippled and can rise again!
  • Our classes have started on Turbo mode from day one. I averaged 8 hours of classes till yesterday and today as I write I have chosen to conveniently skip two hours of classes that will be stretching to 23:30 hours! Management of Banks is proving to be more that living up to its precedent of being morbidly loaded, but the nice part is that the facilitator is a very nice and understanding person. Securities Analysis and Portfolio Management is by far the best course I have taken till now and the facilitator, Dr. Uday Damodaran is no way the lesser cause of that. UD sir is sheer music to ears, his classes are like listening to a maestro play Mozart or Beethoven! Financial Derivatives is a steep learning curve and the terror of Black & scholes model with their option-pricing model has already taken grip of students!
  • Finally, booze parties have been allowed in the campus, and with that it brought back the sparkle to the freshers party and to the numerous hostel parties. Hostel ‘G’ods is recreating history and truly adding glitter to its illustrious reputation as rambunctious and happening hostel. Junies have taken to watching movies and competing in all frivolous competitions in true earnest. Academics has taken a backseat for them!
  • After a lot of fanfare the Doctoral program was rolled off this year. We finally have Fellow Program in Management students in our midst! Surprisingly quite a few of them are rank freshers (what in IIM lingo is called ‘Bloody Fresher‘). They are provided air-conditioned cottages and a princely stipend of Rs. 12,000 per month for studying. The first year is common for them with the MBA students and thereafter theirs charters its way to thesis and doctoral research. Met two guys from them, nice people with an academic bent of mind and a steely resolve to achieve their goals! Wish them all the best as the flag-bearers of Doctoral program of this IIM!
  • Watched two movies (even in this academic load!), ‘Corporate’ and ‘Life in a Metro‘. Of them, the later was easily avoidable and a typical bollywood quasi-masala contemporary genre movie. Corporate on the other hand was a very nice movie and threw up many questions of business ethics and its importance in the life of professional managers like us.

Dwarka Flyover

Posted: December 29, 2006 in Gibberish Blabber

My blog has off late become something which is so typical of a B-School student. This is primarily because the typecast that I have followed while picking topics or even while deliberating on any one. I am so aghast at this realization that I have almost made a silent New Year resolution that I will try to become a more ‘Wholesome Individual’ or in the words of ‘Kaavya @ How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got A Life‘ become a ‘well rounded personality’
In keeping with this I have decided to shed some light about something which is very much a ‘ground reality’. The ‘Dwarka Flyover’, the largest flyover in Asia-Pacific region spanning what would (after completion) be 11.2 KMs connecting the dream sub-city of Rajiv Gandhi ‘Dwarka’ with the mainstay of the city, the ‘Outer-Ring road’.

It provides easy access bypassing the treacherous and unpredictable the railway crossing at Palam. This was a big headache for residents of the posh suburb as traversing through here in the busy office hours could be an assault on all your senses. It could take anywhere between 20 to 80 minutes to negotiate the short distance of 500 meters depending on the time of the day and the timetable of the trains having through fare through the passing lines. This was a longtime bottleneck but what was proving to be hindrance in construction of the flyover was the fact that this is just adjacent to the military airport which remains on ‘Critical Operational Readiness’ protecting the capital city from any impending disaster. Hence the armed forces had a lot of reservations over allowing any form of construction which would bring their facilities within observable range. However with the onset of Google Earth and other such Digital Satellite imaging services, they had bigger things to worry about!

From Google Earth

Another roadblock which was threatening to be a show-stopper was the fact that the construction of this flyover would require the evacuation of numerous illegal houses which had mushroomed in and around that area. In fact the whole of Mahavir enclave and the majority of Palam were unauthorized colonies. Removing them was like igniting a political dynamite as all these were controlled by the ‘Jat’ community, one which has the largest say over the vote-bank in Delhi.
However with the constant brow-beating of the courts & thanks to the relentless efforts of the housing RWAs (Resident Welfare Associations) this finally got completed. With this the Airport just became a 7 minute journey from the gates of Dwarka. More importantly important fixtures like Connaught Place and Nehru Place came at a workable distance by Delhi standards (both at < 1 hour)

dwarka-flyover-2.JPG

For Dwarka residents it meant a booming time not only because the added convenience it brought for them but because of the instant trippling effect it had on the real estate prices. Now with the metro too having come to Dwarka in a very big way, (the average distance between two station in the sub-city is 1 Km) there is no looking where the prices have skyrocketed to!
For me, I am hardly complaining as the eight lane width and the splendidly lit up concrete build make it a pleasure to cruise along!

comming-out-of-flyover.JPG