Friday, November 27, 2009

The end of a dream?

Today I spotted a Toyota Fortuner on the road - the first time I saw the car outside of a picture or a website.

Unfortunately for me, it was quite a disappointment! I first mistook it for some version of the Innova, then double checked the name, and finally figured that the damn thing does not remotely resemble a power-packed animal. No doubt it is very efficient and indeed powerful, it just does not look so! I think the key factor is the ground clearance - our desi cars have high clearance and a higher back, while the firang cars (while more elegant) have lower centers of gravity and rounded backs. A bit of crudeness is missing!

Give me the Scorpio or the Safari anyday (till then I can dream about the Land Rover and the Audi Q7)!

Some photographs:

Land Rover:
Tata Safari:

How much is too much?

A question that a lot of people have asked me, and I many! How much is enough? What is the magic 'x' amount of money/assets/material stuff that if one owns, one does not desire anymore?

Clearly, unlike the ultimate answer to the question of life, the universe and everything, the answer is not 'forty two' or any other number. It cannot be, is my personal experience. When I was an engineering student, I used to think a salary of 40k per month was the end-all of most dreams. Then the investment banks came in and spoiled us with dreams of many zeros at the end of some obscene number of dollars in annual compensation. The bar kept rising higher and higher (as indeed did inflation - of houses, cars, food, everything else).

My buddy, who probably earns in fractions of millions of USD in Hong Kong, has also undergone the same phenomena. Last when we spoke of such things, he said he would be happy with something that gave him risk free income of some x amount. Needless to say, he has surpassed that target quite some time ago, but is still on the hunt for more mammon. He sometimes feels unhappy at his pace of life, but on the whole the feeling of being on-the-move energizes him.

Of course, money is not the only thing most people desire. I always like to read the stupid celebrity interviews where the subject is asked to rate by order of priority - fame, money and power. Invariably fame and power get higher billings than money. This is true for a lot of us as well. Money is just a way of keeping score!

The answer to the question therefore, in my mind, is truly what you limit yourself to - and also what you can aspire to. It is a bit like Maslow's heirarchy - when one target is met, one automatically moves to the next one, because without targets there is only boredom. Rare (and very lucky) is the person who has enough! How does this mythical dude entertain himself??

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The big bear turns positive on India

Nouriel Roubini shot to fame thanks to the global financial meltdown of 2008. He didn't make too much money out of being right (unlike John Paulson or George Soros), but certainly earned name and fame!

Since his heyday at the height (depth?) of the armageddon in October 2008, he has been as vocal as before, but not quite so prescient, as markets everywhere have ignored his calls of doom, and have rallied massively. It is interesting to see what the big bear says about Indian markets now...

And surprise surprise! The guy predicts new highs for us next year. The reasons he gives are: 1) The USD carry trade and 2) the fact that India is the top pick in the emerging economy universe and is relatively scarce (i.e. foreign investment can come into India only in the equity market, not through debt, real estate or other investment classes). Both points are well taken.

But I start getting sceptical when the sceptics start becoming believers!! Will Mr. Roubini be right this time? That is the trillion INR question :-)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

More on politics

Thanks DD for this pic - check out the gold on this 'social worker'!

Monday, November 09, 2009

This is what we have become

Politics always repulsed me. But our politicians every single day plumb new depths, and still retain their ability to deeply wound and trouble me. Today I am ashamed to be part of this venal, hypocritical and spineless country. It has a doomed future.

The immediate provocation - a common thug, whose only claim to fame is that he is related to so-and-so, with a very very calculated and cynical eye to a vote bank, commands a diktat which is illegal, unconstitutional and immoral. He says that new MLAs to the Maharashtra assembly should only take their oath in Marathi. While this in itself should be reason enough to put the guy in jail for the rest of his sorry life, what actually happens is that one particular person takes the oath in Hindi, and 4 MLAs from the thug's gang actually beat up this person in the assembly in full view of cameras, security and the country. These people are elected representatives who are supposed to frame our laws.

But what gets my goat is this - I quote verbatim: Eknath Khadse, the BJP group leader, called for a sympathetic view of the entire incident. "Nobody supports what happened today. But, there is nothing wrong in checking the footage again to verify the MNS claim that it was Azmi who had provoked them through his body language," he said. Khadse said since it was the first day of the new house, a lenient view should be taken.

Indeed. Punish the victim. This is what we have become. This is what we stand for. We have lost all humanity, dignity, and morality. We are doomed.