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Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Will there be no water? I am Scared!!



Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.”
The above poem still lingers in my mind which my English tutor quoted for the very first time during our visit to Mukkambu dam in the year 1995 on the eve of Swami Vivekanda’s Centenary celebration at Tapovanam in Thiruparaiturai. She didn’t owe much definition to it rather the same was quoted to inform us that she was a literature freak. I got this thought as we weren’t in the midst of ocean water all around unlike Samule Taylor Coleridge, the ancient Mariner. But now I find a great significance attached to it.


I recollect reading in magazines that Greenhouse effect would increase the earth’s temperature resulting in melting of glaciers, which literally means ice would melt and instead of providing drinking water, the rivers would flood and cause mammoth damage to life and property. True indeed because not a year has gone past since the Uttranchal flash flood.  If this is the condition of North and North East India, in South India it is precariously worse, as we are running out of water in any form. The prevailing condition in my home state Tamil Nadu stands a tall example as the water desalination project in state capital which got to limelight half a decade ago is finding hard to ground its foot. I find no reasons why my place of birth, the Blue Mountains, the most sought out summer destination is reeling under water scarcity. 

What happen to the springs? How the drinking water problem got aggravated all of a sudden. The situation in the most favoured shooting spots of 80s and 90s, Pollachi is increasingly dangerous as the panchayat water supplies water only once in a fortnight and that too for two hours but the city is lucky unlike The Nilgiris, where it is for an hour every one month, can we imagine? The ground water level is too low and my own personal experience of digging a 300 feet borewell yielded no water. But as I had constructed a dwelling I had the privilege to cover my bore well unlike many uncovered bore wells nearby. This is a serious topic which we shall discuss sometime later.

Coming to the water situation in delta districts of the state, we have got used to see the dry Cauvery all around. The situation seems no different with Vaigai in Madurai ,Thamiraparani in Tirunelveli, Bhavani in Erode and Aliyar in Pollachi. Everywhere it is said that the storage would last only for a week. I myself see the nearby village homemakers walk for 2-3 kms daily to fetch potable water.



What is happening to the sub-continent? Will we die of thirst? Are we going to leave back our dependants with no water around? I am scared!! I am scared!!!

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Srinagar and Agra - A Travelogue



A family trip either to the Himalayan peak or overseas to visit Indian Islands was on cards, after too many permutations and combinations we grouped fifteen members in all and boarded the christened military train – Tamil Nadu express on the way to Srinagar. To board the train in time was itself an experience and so next day noon; we promised to abide by the name of train and cheered a Bacardi. Alighted at New Delhi Railway station and tussled to Airport after befittingly bargaining for our taxi cabs, the necessity of bargaining started here and it followed till we pushed ourselves south!!

The foot step at the airport brought the child within each one of us, check-in and boarding spicejet, made our maiden flight journey a true success! On reaching Srinagar airport we sensed a breath of icy air, we were ecstatic and searched for nameplate bearing “Suresh Solomon” and we followed him. On the way to our hotel “Akbar Inn”, we saw total numbness in the city. On recognising it was a Friday I discussed with a Islamic friend of mine, the religious fervour with which the Kashmirs observe their namaz,  without knowing that there was a shootout killing 7 civilians just an hour back and it was a called shut down all over Kashmir. So this was our Welcome Kashmir message!! In the evening we experienced the beautiful Shikara ride at sub Zero degree temperature, it was terrific in the splendid icy waters of famous Dal Lake. Only during our Shikara ride we realised our decision not to spend a night in house boat was a wise man’s decision. So we averted the first day disaster. Our ride was package sponsored, otherwise would cost Rs. 150/- per hour per shikara.

Need to ensure not more than 4 persons board a shikara. It would require an art to escape from the rowing merchandise of still photography, saffron, dress materials, snacks, vegetables, flowers etc.  Our first sought out destination was a drive to Sonamarg through NH 1D which was a spectacular facet of country side in Kashmir, Nallah Sindh, the largest tributary of the Jhelum River in the valley of Kashmir. The river ran crystal clear like thinner stream as glaciers were yet to melt. We lost our senses when we peeped through the windows to look at houses packed with full of snow. The roads leading to the houses were not visible and on enquiry with our driver we were informed that even schools were closed for full 3-4 months every year during winter. So, all our doubts on the literacy rate of Kashmir were floored. On reaching Sonamarg we found the spot nestled within the imposing Himalayan peaks. At an altitude of 2800 metres above sea level the valley was  rightly believed to be bestowed with mystical water which turns everything into eternal riches. Hoof!!! Pudhu vellai mazhai ingu polligindrathu…….!!! 
Pudhu vellai mazhai ingu polligindrathu
Everyone was eager to make a move somehow to the snow-clad peaks. Pony ride was a must and so bargaining fetched us a pony for less than Rs. 500/-. A ride on the pony for few kilometres got us a chance to enjoy sledge ride on snow. The sledge assistants quoted Rs.250/300 per point and enlisted some 11 points altogether, but we got them for Rs. 150 covering all points. The bargaining stuff would bring down your cherishing experience but we should remember that it’s a part of the trip to the Snow clad Mountains. The sledging spot was breath taking, lively experience in difficult terrain and we were “aasman ke behaut kaareeb”. Although we skipped Krishnasar Lake due to one of our female companion not accompanying us on pony due to pregnancy, but fellow tourists should visit it as it was just few kilometres from there. On our return we stopped to photograph at another sledging spot, the moment we got down from our ponies we had no words to express the beauty of nature and we almost ran humpty dumpty in the snow clad mountains.  The day’s destination was done and we wanted to fill our belly at sonamarg itself but our driver took us to his favourite commission dhabha to find Plain rice Rs.60/-, Plain Dal Rs. 60/-, Roti Rs. 5/-, Pakkoda Rs. 80/- and Allu Matar Rs. 150/-, as we had no other choice we enjoyed our lunch at 5pm.
Heaven on Earth
The destination for the subsequent day was Phalgam, shortly called “Heaven on Earth”.  It was a 3 hour one way trip journey from Srinagar.  This time the ride was along the saffron fields, orchid trees, grassy fields and the cricket bat factories of Kashmir. Getting around Pahalgam is done mostly by walking, taxi and ponies. We chose ponies again and this time the rate quoted by the ponywallahs was double the quote at Sonamarg. They quoted Rs. 1750/- per pony for whole ride and we started with Rs. 300/- as usual and we ended up paying Rs. 550/- pony. It was bargain hunting which helped us because we saw people pay Rs.1250-1500 per pony.  The terrain was too testing and the pony ride was a true adventure. The pony took us to Baisaran or 'Mini Switzerland’ and it was too awesome an experience riding in the midst of snow fall. From there we rode to Kashmir valley, hoof!!! “You can just keep gazing for hours”.  Chandanwari, Betaab Valley and Aru can be reached by taxi for an onward trek to Lidderwat, Kolohoi Glaciers, etc. It would cost you about Rs 1500 as there was no bargaining. Though we could have had our lunch at Dana pani, we chose Hotel Hakeem and it was not bad either. White water rafting was a must do thing on the return from Pahalgam but as glaciers were yet to melt, we were deprived from experiencing the raft craft, still we adventured to have a feel of the icy water, I slipped and fell flat in the water and rest was a Salman Khan Style still pose in the shivering cold. We were lost in the dream Stream of Lidder River, watching its flow and the pebbles beneath. It was getting dark so we started from there only to stop to drink Kahwah, traditional green tea recipe of Kashmir. The tea was made from green tea leaves with saffron strands, cinnamon bark and cardamom pods. One of my friends hopped big to recollect the movie Mission Kashmir where the same drink was offered to soldiers. It was a nice drink after which we were marketed some apricot, Afghanistan black grapes, badam, apple jam etc. Wherever the driver stopped, it was his commission mandi but we could not help ourselves in the naive world. Mugal garden, Tulip garden and Shalimar garden would be worth visiting in the summer as we could hardly see anything green in the garden, why talk about lack of flowers then.
The cheery packed Srinagar trip came to a halt only after we (male members) ventured in to have a look at Lal-chowk, the market area of Srinagar. It was getting dark, with rain and chillness creeping through the ear drums; we walked a long stretch only to find shops getting unfolded for the day. When we stepped further to taste lamp kabab, a sound of a gunshot shell shocked everyone, within 30 seconds life was normal for the localities unlike us, we decided to ply back to our hotel rooms only to find the auto-wallas exchange conversation in Urdu which we were too alien to us, but somehow in serious distress we luckily landed safe at our hotel, thus ended a short couple of hours ordeal (taste) of real Kashmir. We prayed Allah! Allah! Allah!!! and Insha Allah! We were safe. Next day we departed from hotel after multiple frisking by CRPF, AAI, Private airlines we boarded the flight back to India sorry New Delhi.
Our trip to Agra started well from Hazarat Nizzamuddin. We broke our fast at Comesum in Agra Cant Station. My itinerary was to reach Taj Mahal by a hired taxi, get dropped and after roaming for an hour or two, lunch outside Taj Mahal and get transported to Agra fort on the way to Agra cant. With the same itinerary, I approached Agra tourism but it was jam packed priced Rs.330/- person. So, immediately I rushed to pre-paid taxi counter to find out the viability. The fellow in the traffic police routed pre paid counter betrayed me by saying that there were no one-way trips available at Taj Mahal to move either to Fort or station back. As I could not decipher more, I hired a couple of 5 hour taxis by paying Rs. 650/- auto. After a kick start the taxi walla  said Taj was a splendour to watch, so we necessarily should visit agra fort first and on the way to Taj he would show Mini Taj Mahal, which was a must watch. We stuck to his plan as we educated illiterates believed him. Mini Taj Mahal was a real bakwass, it was a UP cottage industry and the stop was to gain commission for him on our purchase. Then he got us dropped at West gate of Taj and there were camels and rickshaws which claimed that it was 2 kms from there and they would charge just Rs.10/- person. We preferred a camel ride and now it was the camel walla turn to fox us, he claimed that it was lunch at Taj from 12.45 to 1.45 and so we can shelter or have a look at the UP cottages sales adjacent to it. We got Wild, as already we were mocked by the mini taj mahal fox call. So we asked him to ride us to Taj and when we got to the ticket counter we heard there was no lunch time at Taj except a full day holiday on Friday alone.
After watching the splendors’ TajMahal, we thought of going back to station but as we had one more hour we thought of having a good lunch and that was the messiest of things we did. He took us to a restaurant which served us worth- less, taste- less lunch and I had no other option but to show my anger on the hotel manager, my wife in addition to almost pulling the driver’s collar for a hasty betrayal on all fronts. Finally as we reached Agra cantt and I pacified everyone to order their will-full food at comesum.  My initial plan was perfect but the pre-paid counter men held hands with the taxi wallas and foxed us. So those visiting Agra from Agra cantt need to be extra vigil.
The final day was destined for a local tour at New delhi, but as one of friends on tour had to leave the suddenly due to his wife’s miscarriage, our mind went shell blank. In total fuss I could not even call my friends and acquaintances residing in New delhi to assist in the local tour. We again hired a couple of day –vehicle at Delhi for Rs. 700/- vehicle for visiting Red fort, Jamma Masjid and Rajghat. We could have minimised cost had we hired taxis/autos to places separately, but considering the mood at the dawn, we had no complaints. Shopping at Delhi requires the art of choosing the right yarn and right quality before deciding to buy. The art of bargaining alone will give you hand while shopping in Pallika Bazaar and Sarojini Market to a little extent. Karol Bagh is a long stretch and you tend to get tired walking for such a distance though all the goods of your choice will be available to shop at. The most sasta market is Jamma Masjid Old delhi market were the quotes are very reasonable but then quality matters.
In short the trip was a huge success and we aptly cheered every day with Magic moments. Thank God we made it.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

FUTURES MARKET

FUTURES MARKET – the future less market

Discipline is the only tool which aids you to persist with your dreams. This is true to any phenomenon and so money market is not just an exception.

Let me torch you on FUTURES MARKET in this post of mine. Futures & Options are twin children which act as complimentary tools to edge against cash market holdings. But then where have we bothered about pure theories and it is a known fact that once we learn alphabets, we bet, we qualify ourselves as an Oncology Specialist and start prescribing medicines. It is absolutely true and by denying you are fooling yourselves not me. 

OPTION is just an ICE CREAM which melts since getting exposed to the atmosphere. In Option Market there is something like time value which gets deteriorated as it progress towards the expiry. After knowing the risk attached to it, if you wish to taste the liquor, place your fingers and check its liquidity, open interest position, put-call ratio and do trade strictly with a time frame of maximum two days. Why do I say so? The risk attached to option is that you don’t own a single share and it is just horse-trading your hard earned money.

 
Future market arrives with an assigned lot size for each and every specific counter and you should possess sufficient fund as Margin money to trade in Futures. This is known to everyone but to play it safe is an unexplored question. Do ensure you have double the margin money in your account to safeguard against any inverse reaction of stock market against your expectation. A better strategy would be to hedge your futures month on month, to leverage your position and take a call after watching the market and script movement carefully. This might seem a difficult task, so better use “OPTIONS” as the edging tool. Truly options are only pure hedging tools so if you trade in futures, ensure you take a contra position in option market just against your expectation because this would prevent you from windfall loss. Futures market is roughly a market which doesn’t have a future of its own and then where from it will guarantee your future??



What we want is to hatch Gold in a single day/week/month? But then it is you who get lost chasing your unknown dream in stock market whereas market has remained still. Stock Market was there during the Great Depression of 1929, it was there during the massive bull run of 2005-07 and it is there even after the Recent Recession of 2008-2009. Men do come, try, vanish and go. But market is firmly placed where it is. Now the decision is yours!!!!????

IS STOCK MARKET A BIG FAT HEN?



Should an investor, trade in Stock Market?  Can one make a Million in Futures market? Answer is YES, NO, YES??!!!!!
                                  
Firstly, as quoted in my blog post on Stock market, always enter the stock market as an investor and book returns/profits without second thought seasonally. The instant worry one gets in booking out is what will I do if the stock moves further up? It may? Why it shouldn’t? Remember, all that is spread out in market is not yours and be contended in licking the cup of your tea and stay calm. Fixed Deposit offers p.a returns but what we seek from stock market is per day return. Can a big FAT HEN deliver? I don’t know.  In stock market what we always seek is growth, instant growth and nothing else. This is your attitude. I hear your strong “NO”. Keep denying, but shun it immediately because it will convert you into a gambler. You will no longer be an investor and where from the word ‘trader’ peeps.
There is nothing called a trading stock or an investment stock, if you primarily seek a difference, former is one which possess good liquidity. Do possess a watch model - portfolio of yours purely based on fundamentals. Time your entry and exit after monitoring the market matched with economy. Rely less on the fortune tellers who occupy business channels calling them chartists, analysis executives, technicians & experts. I curse the person who gave these folks the word ‘disclaimer’.  Make it a habit of diverting your profit/returns to Fixed Deposit or better spend them for your kids/family.  Traders are stingy to spend a single penny on a lollypop but then they are open to lose 1000s in a single trade/day. It is easier said than done. I am yet to implement, but then why not we pledge/try to implement. After all “everything needs a beginning”.
Brush up your mind and inject that the stocks are assets and just by getting it dematerialized it doesn’t sit in the other half of your balance sheet. Can you liquidate your land property without fetching an Encumbrance Certificate, Parent document and getting it rightly measured by the Village Officer? How much time does it take to clear the formalities and find an instant buyer?  When everything is made to look simple you make it look simpler and simplest.
 
 
If cash market scenario itself steals so much heat then how volcanic will the mammoth Futures Market look like? Why don’t you wait for a day to have a look at my post on it later? When Stock market itself is a SHEER TEST OF PATIENCE, Why not I taste a pie

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

NETWORK MARKETING

NETWORK MARKETING – ENIGMA UNREVEALED



Of late, Part time job and Part – time income have become a full time crazy search among the middle class Indian families. Advertisement  that glitters in today’s newspapers “Read Email earn 5000 per day”, “Data entry job from home, earn thousands”, “Become an exporter, and earn lakhs without investment”. “Spell bee franchisee – investment 7 lakhs ROI – 50 lakhs per annum” and last but not the least the subject of this blog “Multi level marketing (MLM), - Network marketing”.


I am here, not to curse or praise MLM, because there are theories on either side. But more prominent are the newspaper headliners which sweep every alternative day– ‘Chain marketing chief absconds with few crores’. The history of MLM is that it was propagated as the future of marketing system by many leading institutions in their reports all over the world in the year 2000. So the craze of Network marketing crept into leading business houses of India including leading FMCG major Hindustan Unilever, Ajanta, Insurance companies Bajaj Allianz, reliance insurance, Shriram Chits, Sahara, Peerless and many others  but then almost everyone had to bite the bullet. The forerunners of all MLMs is Skybiz renamed as Skyways which flourished later as V-can/ Magnetic bed too saw a big down turn in India but then Amway which got launched after India opening up economy in 1991,  had made a steady stride from then on in Indian soil.

In an MLM, you either follow a binary system or a 9-6-3 plan or even a 3-6-9 plan. Whatever be it, the prime factor is to introduce your friend, relative, neighbor, mate etc. It all begins with a phone call to your close acquaintance initially and then call gets forwarded/diverted to X or Y. All is well if you “sign them up” * for your team else even an emergency phone call of yours will not be paid heed to. You will be lauded when you begin to succeed but then even a small collapse will help you nail your own coffin. There are many ifs and buts in MLM and so, if your sole(ul) choice is money and nothing else, just proceed. In MLM you are wholly dependent on others. You will have the craze to grow but then your growth depends on your down-legs* performance and to make them perform you follow-up* on a regular basis. The tide turns blue when they don’t meet your expectation and you end up opening a new line. Neither you stop here nor the story. You may achieve all silver, gold, diamond and platinum levels* but at the expense of making others restless & disgust.  When you emerge a winner you end up losing your real near and dear ones.

So if at all you dare to venture an MLM, sacrifice all your love and craze towards your fellow beings. Think (why only look) before you leap. After all wasting your own time, energy and effort is also money’s worth. If you ask whom am I to comment on it?? I had had experienced the gifts of MLM from 1999-2006.  I lost many an acquaintance and helped my fellow friends lose their Peace in trying to promote the business of an unknown.

I am a winner but then a loser indeed.
  

 (*terminologies attached with MLM )

Monday, 20 June 2011

NATIONAL HIGHWAYS



NATIONAL HIGHWAYS IS ON A ROLL

Till October 2006 I seldom gazed at road infrastructure. I did read about it in Current Affairs Wizard and Chronicle, it was called “Golden Quadrilateral “initiated by Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee, the then Prime Minister. My casual reading took a ‘U’ turn when I was posted to Member Audit Board, New Delhi, wherein I was asked to audit units associated with National Highways authority of India (NHAI). There I had the opportunity to read much about the contracts and its construction- infrastructure.
Incidentally, I happen to go through the weekly news bulletin of NHAI and I read something about “negative credit” - Contractors who were awarded Build Operate Transfer (BOT) contracts hand over a cheque of few thousand Crores to Government of India (GOI) for getting the contracts awarded as a goodwill payment. I kept pondering what was this?? For getting a contract awarded you pay an official bribe??

But truly, Contractors are scope- goats indeed, because the facilitation they do to cater to the Project Directors, Manager (Finances), Auditors are so heavy that they compensate them only be reducing the quality. This applies to contractors associated with all Public Works Department. Few contractors in Delhi, Bangalore & Hyderabad were under preview for not meeting the quality (hope the bridge collapses in Hyderabad and Delhi are still fresh in memory) but nothing was blow out of proportion and they were all saved. Against my expectation NHAI isn't seen on corruption board till today and all thanks to GOI for compromising on quality by receiving Negative Credit.



Despite all these I just admire the real work done by the contractors on National roads. Once Railways ran monopoly for any travel beyond 300 kms because of time and travel convenience but now buses ply and cover distances in shorter span than railways. For instance, 300 kms in 4.5 hours at ease – between Chennai  and  Trichy and 450 kms in 6.5 hrs between Mhow  & Aurangabad.  The roads are well highlighted by fluorescent paints almost thorough-out and nice white lines are drawn along the edges of roads so that buses don’t get off the lane on the left side and don’t hit the median on the  right.  Earlier the indications of interior villages used to be shown by an iron board, painted in yellow and black along the roadside and that too looked rusted and unclear but now the boards are big and are painted in fluorescent green and white and are just perfect direction indicators. In my yesteryears, I used to read in text books about the small-small villages but now just a ride down the lane helps me locate the pen-names of villages in our state. When I travel from the central district of the state i.e., from Trichy down to Madurai and beyond south, I see name of villages followed by “Patti”. Similarly when I ride towards Palani and Pollachi I see all “Pettai” and when the same is done towards Coimbatore and further north I come across “Palayams”.  The land topography was so aptly named but how many of us knew?  So Swami Vivekanda saying “Break the wall burn the books, throw the students away from classroom let them learn from the nature” is made a partial reality by the bump-less plastered road infrastructure of NHAI.















"All is well" till the edge of 2G/3G doesn’t creep into NHAI.  If the officials attached with NHAI take the already explored corruptions as a note of caution and act firm, India would sure meet World standards in infrastructure. 


Wednesday, 15 June 2011

THINK DIFFERENT


WHY END -UP A FAILURE IN STOCK MARKET?
THINK DIFFERENT!!!

What is the COST of getting into business with STOCK MARKET? 

One loses money first, becomes restless next,   searches for sound sleep in the nets, devoid of peace he tends to emerge empty and loses his LIFE in full.What a twist? Am I sounding alarming for the new entrants into so called BAROMETER OF A COUNTRY'S ECONOMY? I might be, but by the above I am just cautioning you and not stopping you, of course whom am I to stop you from losing all your pleasures in life by venturing into so called TATA - AMBANI business. A blog on this,  at the very time when leading global investment institutions/brokerage houses like JP Morgan, Standard Chartered, RBS etc., are holding conferences all over the world, is just a supplement so that you are not mislead by the real BIG B'S.

Let me get into the business straight away.  Now assuming one has entered  business with STOCK MARKET, there are very many securities to be transacted with, but all we know is Equity  which is a high risk high return sought of an instrument. In Equity we have Share market and Mutual funds (the bifurcation of it runs long). In this initial post of mine, I will put forth perspective on Shares/stocks alone.


When it comes to Shares - the biggest question in the mind is whether I should  be a trader or an investor? Wow - million dollar question, indeed. Still I will try to answer it in my own way. Always step into stock market as an investor and work on percentage returns and keep booking profits then and there. By percentage returns I refer to Fixed Deposit (FD) returns, anything more than a FD return is always handsome. Hey! Come on,  I hear your yell, You know all these but despite that you are a failure. This very impatience of yours crisscrossed with over enthusiasm or frustration makes you a real failure. So be PATIENT!!



When it comes to investment, always go with 'A' Category shares. The huge amount of notional loss that is floating in your portfolio is because of venturing into Z category and mainly small cap shares. Small cap Shares are mostly operator driven and they might give you handsome return in some and hefty loss in others. 
The most important aspect - What should be the time frame of your investment? Normally go into stock market as a long term investor, and if you see handsome returns within a couple of months then it is a Jackpot, take it away without any second thought. But don't expect Jackpots every now and then. This is where we go wrong and commit all faults. Always remember that investments in Shares are prone for heavy volatility and so at a given point of time, the principal invested might deteriorate. Make it a habit to plug in investment in a staggered manner. The perspective of staggered investment should be followed only when the share price declines to more than 20% of your initial acquisition price, I quote this because, averaging is an art and many fail to make the effective use of this tool. Next, See that your portfolio has a mix of sectors and never ever stick to one sector,  hope the memories of 2008 when Infrastructure was at all time high is still alive and now those who solely rested with infrastructure are at notional loss of at-least 75%. Just to quote one - Ackruti City was trading at 4000 then and now it is quoting at 200. It is true. 



Selection of shares to be picked should be basically driven by fundamentals of the company, its peer company valuation, profitability and return on investments. The above is a difficult analysis even for smart commerce or a business administration graduates. So stick to well known companies and do administer their Profit after tax every quarter or at-least annually, this might increase your faith in investment. After all its your MONEY.


I am stopping it here.  I expect your valuable feedback and comments to proceed further on the subject. Because the above is a tiny mustard and there is so much to be explored. I do have an experience of four full years wherein I had lost more than a couple of Lakhs, Come on! Don't fear. I am blogging on this very subject so that young enterprising investors are rightly guided to emerge as winners.  

If everyone has to have a big fall before stepping onto the winning ladder then many may quit on those big fall   - So why not I THINK DIFFERENT!!!