Saturday, February 21, 2009

Break on through to the other side!

Music - What does it mean to you?

To me music means everything, I embrace music in whatever form it is, be it Acid rock, heavy metal or hindustani. Basically I dont care about the genre of the music. If a song can put you into a state of trans - why care about genre.

I started tripping on english music 2 years back - I was influenced by few of my friends from the previous company and later i got sucked into it. By English music I mean the legendary bands like - The DOORS, Led Zep, The Kinks, Grateful Dead etc.

Listening to the the LedZep's stairway to heaven and no quarters have made me have mood swings - whenever I'm low on morale I play these tracks and i get back to my full vigour. No day passes without listening to Kinks - "You really got me going" - The voice of Dave Davis puts me into a world of "no- worries". Any music lover would love that song - its just a 2.11 minute piece but delivers an ever lasting impact on what music was during the sixties.

If ever God grants me a wish - I would ask me to put me back into 60's where i could grow up listening to these great bands.

And if given a second wish I would want to meet Jim Morrison - the god of music. His song "Light My Fire" made every person in farthest part of planet run crazy. His voice was magical and the songs he has given to the world during his short stay in the earth (he died at 27 - yes same like Jimi Hendrix; Great people die young!) is still raved about. I love this guy just for his attitude. You guys must have heard of this phrase : " Dont live in this world like you rule it; Live it like you dont give a damn whoever rules it". He was a epitome for this phrase.

Let me quote an episode which reiterates this. The Doors was given a chance to perform in the Ed Sullivan's LIVE show - then considered the Mecca for the rock bands. They had to perform their No.1 single - "light my fire". The production manager of the show made one small request to the band and asked them to change one world in their first stanza of the song which goes like this :

"You know that it would be untrue,
You know that I would be a liar,
If I was to say to you
Girl, we couldn't get much higher"

The production manager wanted the last word changed from "higher" to "nicer" as it was provocative and vulgar those days. After some confrontation - the band agreed.

When the show was aired LIVE - Jim continued with the original script and stuck to "higher" as he didnt want to change the song for anyone.After the song was over the band was thrown out of the studio and the remaining contract to perform for 4 more shows were terminated. Ray - the key board and pianist of the band, came to Jim and asked him " Jim, Do you realize that we will not be allowed perform the greatest music show on earth "the Ed Sullivan's show" ?

Bang came the reply " Ray, we just peformed on the Ed Sullivan's show". This shows the attitude which he owns and flaunts.

Apart from the english music scene I also love our Tamil music.My all time favorite is Munbe Vaa.and I love hindi music too! The latest peppy numbers by A.R.Rehman Masakali and Dilli-6 has made me go crazy.
If english music and filmy music makes my head turn, Carnatic music is not far away.
we have been blessed to listen to the likes of Smt. MS Subhulakshmi, Shri. Maharajapuram Santhanam, Shri. Madurai Mani Iyer and other great souls.
"Kurai ondrum illai" rendered by MS soothes every nerve in the body and "Bhaja Govindam" sets in you a sense of self realisation.
Okay let me take a break now. I dont want to bore you guys anymore.

Monday, February 16, 2009

My Farewell letter to my co-workers!

How lucky I'm to have something that makes saying Goodbye so hard

I passed out my CA exams in July 06 and I was almost clueless what I was going to do next. Whether to continue what I was doing till then - Auditing or to try my hands at something new. I somehow landed up a job with ThinkEquity in Oct 2006. the words "equity research" sounded too exciting to me.
As the dust settled I got introduced to exciting world of equities. There was not one day I repented my decision for taking up the equities as my career path. After a while my stint at TEP was like a song so melodious and soothing.
After 30 months or so the time has come for me to depart this beautiful company ( I mean it - it meant everything to me) I want you all to know that I am truly leaving here with mixed feelings; happy about my new career opportunity but sad to be leaving many wonderful friends and colleagues. The last three years as a member of the TEP India team was the best period of my career so far.
I always felt that TEP India was my second home and never felt tired even after staying for 2 days on a trot in office - this place was so enthralling, believe me! I became addictive for staying in office. You guys made the office so beautiful - I doubt whether I would get such a great set of friends in my future professional life.
Now its the time to say goodbye!
I always believe good times are always punctuated and never gets terminated. So our good times together are to continue.
I part with a heavy heart and I'm sure we only part to meet again!
Thanks for everything guys! Please stay in touch - I mean it !
My personal email ID is
For good times to come!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Go go, they say you got to go!!

The song by Jim Morrison - "Light My Fire" comes calling at these distressed times.

" you know that it would be untrue...
you know that i would be a liar,
If i was to say to you,
Girl i was never fired"

In this tumultuous times getting fired is is like catching a cold so common and contagious. People are just being thrown out of their jobs in a very systematic and smooth manner and Pink is the color in vogue. Axing, sacking and other job cuts adjectives take the headline in all the dailies starting from Financial Times to Mylapore Times. Once the famous hailed upon Wall Street is cracking up and the so called dooms day has become a daily affair. United States, the Goliath of the world's economy was diagnosed a Cancer patient a few months back, sticking to its basics the disease started spreading into other countries and every economy started imploding. The economists of the world are still trying to arrive at a magic formula to treat this cancer which has already taken a toll on the most part of the body. The economists of individual countries though had a different opinion, they thought their economies were intact and was de-coupled from the world's debacle. Yes they thought that the world could take a shelter from a few growth economies like India and China. These countries once considered piping hot economies has started showing signs of influenza. What could a panda and tiger do when the whole forest is on fire.

So is world coming to an end? Are we in for an another depression, apologies, let me be honest, when do we get out of this depression? When do we again see John Thains and Vikram Pandits start raking in millions through bonuses?

Even the world's best economists don't have the answers for these thought-provoking questions. We are in deep muck and it should take years (how many??) before we come on a firm footing.

Whos responsible for all this? or may be whats responsible for all this?

May be that's like the first question in the show - "who wants to be a millionaire?" so easy and so insulting - "Greed". If there are 12 gods as per greek mythology, there are hundreds of gods of greed and Wall street was abode of these gods - One stop shop. Wall Street housed classics like like Bernie Madoffs and Dick fulds (of the Lehman's fame). Wall street people always thought that they were straight descendants of the greek god of wealth Pluto conned every investor (victim of greed??) and company to amass sacks and sacks of money through complex derivative (considered WMDs of the financial world) instruments.

It is often (mis)quoted that even a sweeper in wall street earns about $600K per annum. I used to be surprised at this fact and used to think to myself that may be the wall street analysts and fund managers sitting on high rise building have too many dollars that some of that might overflow on to the roads of the wall St. Wall street was always like wonderland and we were like Alice. I hope atleast now people come out of their perpetual derangement and realize that the cliche "wall street" is now in history books and its time to get on to the main street. The raging bull has been tamed long before!

I'm stopping here right now as I got to get back to my work - hope its still on!!

More to come ... stay tuned..and stay in a job!!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Steve Jobs – Larger than Life

Being part of the finance fraternity we appreciate the basic funda of how a company is different from a mom & pop store. And the first think to strike our mind on this will be the trade mark Solomon & Solomon case - which states that a company is separate from its members and the company goes on even if its CEO, CFO or any top brass quit the company. We may also remember this famous line which throws the importance of this case – “Men may come, Men may go, but the Company goes on forever”. Being a core finance guy I’ve never doubted this principle. But some recent news in the Wall Street has made me rethink.

There happens a tech expo in SF every year, MacWorld, in January where all major tech companies unveil their new products and this is considered the mother of all tech conferences. Steve Jobs, the most revered CEO of the most celebrated company Apple, delivers the keynote Address which is the most sought after speech in the tech world and has had the widest media coverage so far. There came a shocker from Apple’s desk on 18th Dec 2009 that Jobs would not be delivering the speech for the January 2009 event due to his health conditions, instead the company’s SVP Phil Schiller would take the spotlight. Wall Street, which is off late not new to bad news, brought Apple’s share price on its knees and the shares slumped and closed that day at $89.16, down $6.27 (6.6%). The market sent a strong signal stating how crucial Jobs was for Apple. There came another letter from the Steve Jobs himself on 5th Jan 2009 stating that he is facing some minor health problems due to some hormonal imbalance which is perfectly treatable. The letter also stated that he will continue to function as CEO of Apple for the times to come. Remember Wall Street is not deaf to good news either; the stock price skyrocketed by about 4% in yesterday’s trading.

All this brings me to rethink whether Solomon and Solomon still holds good. In case of Jobs he is consider having a larger than life celebrity status. Research houses across the Wall Street have started discussing on Apple without Steve Jobs and most of them paint a grim picture on that scenario.

My Bottomline: Jobs gave Apple the cult status and orchestrated the company from rags to riches. He re-joined the company in 1997 as CEO after being ousted by a boardroom coup in 1987. In 2004 he survived a pancreatic cancer which nearly brought him close to death. Jobs has been a phenomenal CEO all through.

But I still think Solomon Vs. Solomon Case will hold good. Though Apple will not be the same without Jobs but will still continue to innovate and retain its celebrity status. Apple, though has mainly been the result of craftwork of the Great craftsmen Mr.Jobs, also has the hands of other great innovators in the company. I’m pretty sure whatever the employees have learnt from the “Master” would be put to use once he’s no more with the company. So the overreaction by the market to the Jobs health is unwarranted.

Anyways long live Steve Jobs, long live Apple!


Photo Credits : Picture taken from Wall Street Journal

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Rock Climbing – The Dan Osman Way!!

Every trek with CTC has loads of surprises, excitement in store for you, and the experience so fresh and reveling. Yes this trek/rock climbing to Ramnagar was no different; it was fun, frolic and a sense of satisfaction all through. Before this trip the only thing I knew about rock was the phrase “on the rocks” – Pun intended!
Here goes my write-up on one of a very beautiful treks organized by Vinod Hari
No respite from rains for about 10 days, water clogged roads, City’s traffic running haywire due to human chain, Chennai offered all the excitement it could and made the travel to a Central railway station a nightmarish experience. But twenty-five like-minded guys coming from various pockets of Chennai still made it to the station in nick of time.
After exchanging usual pleasantries all the guys, fatigued from the hectic weekly schedule, hit the sack. But Reddy and I had some secret discussion before we crashed for the day- okay let’s not keep it secret anymore. This story runs way down to the day Vinod put out the participants name list for the trek. My eyes got glued to a very peculiar name called “Trinka”. Reddy immediately started figuring out which part of the world this “Girl” belonged to? Reddy after some research, true to his reputation, concluded that “she should be somewhere from Eastern Europe. I was also convinced, because “in Reddy, I trust”!
The early morning on Saturday was characterized by chilly winds and murky skies. After basic freshening up we alighted the train at 6AM.
Vinod did a head count of all the guys. Meanwhile we introduced ourselves to the rest of the guys. My wandering eyes were on the lookout for “Trinka”. One deep voice said “Hi” from behind and then came the shocker: “he” said “I’m Trinka”. His full name - Thirugnanasambandam. Reddy and I quickly exchanged glances and our feelings then is left to anyone’s imagination.
We had 5 more people joining us in Bangalore. We boarded two vans and set on our journey to Ramnagar which was 60 kms from Bangalore. We broke for breakfast after some 30 minutes of drive. We had an interesting menu for breakfast - Idly – which was as big a dosa and masala as side dish. After the breakfast it was another hour’s travel to the spot.
We were warmly greeted by the adventure group which was headed by Kamlesh. He took over the proceedings from there.
We were distributed our ration of juices, snacks and some energy boosters. We were then briefed of our itenary for the day which went something like this –
 Trek some 6 kms in deep froest
 Rock climbing
 Take lunch
 Start the descent
We started with what we were good at – Trekking! The ground was sluggish due to overnight rain and rocks were slippery. After some simple walking for 10 minutes the group came to a halt. There was a 60 degree rock which we had to climb. The rock was slippery but Kamlesh climbed up the rock seamlessly and we followed the suit, indeed we were helped by guys in the adventure group. Immediately after I checked with Kamlesh as to whether there was any change in itenary as rock climbing was supposed to be at the last. Bang came the reply – this is no way rock climbing and that kept me guessing.
We encountered many such rocks, much steeper and taller, on the way and due to this we gained altitude real fast. We stopped at a few places to take some photos and yeah to grasp some breath too.
At around 11:30 am we came to a place where were surrounded by huge rocks on both the sides and there was another structure which was laden with huge stones right in front of us. Have we hit on a dead end? As CTC’ns are no new to dead-ends we were figuring out as to how to get past this! Soon came the answer – Nagu, a national champion in rock climbing climbed the structure before us like a spider. He made it seem so easy. We were warned by Kamlesh as to not to dig our hands or legs to deep into the rocks as there could be snakes! Being a nature lover and one who cares for ethical treatment of wildlife, I didn’t want to disturb the snake’s natural habitat, so I obliged to that request.
After that climb there stood a majestic rock unseen by chennaites. It was a massive structure, a 90 degree 100 feet tall rock. To be geometrically correct it became obtuse at the top! We were perplexed to know that this was the rock we had to climb! Our Devil-may-care attitude made the rock seem scalable!
Seeing the Harness, saw powder, ropes and clamps and other paraphernalia gave the feel of being in film shoot of Mission Impossible. We were given some basic instructions and rule 101 was not to panic as we are bellied to a guy standing below and whatsoever it is 100% safe and there is no chance of mishap. But our human minds kept pondering over the same.
Vinod was the first to call the shot. He was harnessed and started the perilous climb. After making some progress he decided to come down as the climb takes a toll on your fingers and bruises your legs/hands.
Then more people started climbing and were cheered by people standing down. But most of us were just able to make some half way on that gigantic rock. But Rajesh made a stupendous attempt and made it all the way to the top. It was great to watch a member of our group make it. Ian was the next guy to make it up, he made on a tougher side of the rock! This inspired many who were struggling to make any progress. Vinod made a yet another valiant attempt, and yes this time he made it very close to the peak. After that we had so many success stories.
Who said its only nice up the corporate ladder, ask the guys who made it to the top, they will vouch that its much enchanting up there. We were so much engrossed into watch other guys climb the rock that we developed stiff neck! I felt that the rock climbing instilled so much confidence in me and made me realize that we could draw parallels between life and rock climbing , Like rock climbing life is tough , yet life is beautiful.
After about 2 hours of rock climbing whistles were blown for the lunch. It was always nice to eat after a hard day’s work and we hogged on the food. The spread was so good and it was delicious too!
After Lunch we were told by Kamlesh that there is still trekking in store for us. Our excitement knew no bounds!
We started our way up to a local peak. In the final stretch we had to encounter some really steep steps. Once the climb was over we ended up in a plateau which gave us views of the entire mountain range! And the view was breath taking. I thought to myself that these steps were stairway to heaven! For the uninitiated, “Stairway to Heaven” is the rated the number one rock song of all times and is from the legendary rock band “Led Zeppelin”. Usual things followed – we took photos, enjoyed the magnificent views and grabbed some quick rest.
Then we started our descent and reached down in 30 minutes time. Once on the foothills of the mountain, we felt a sense of accomplishment creep through us.
What’s a trek without a water body on the way? All that begins well ends in a well. Yes, we were taken to nearby well where people jumped and enjoyed the ice-cold water. We spent an hour lazing around in the water.
After coming out from the well, we thanked Kamlesh & Co who took all the pain in the making this total trek a memorable one. Each one of his guys treated us so warmly that it doubled the fun of the trek. I still can’t believe that how they could offer the whole package at a dirt cheap rate. Anyways we made it clear to them that we still have unfinished business in Ramnagar and will soon be hitting that place once again very soon.
We boarded the van again and started our journey back to Bangalore. After two hours we reached our bus stand. As we were well ahead of time, we (except a few) decided to top our journey with a few glasses of beer. And it was like “Oktoberfest” in Germany. After some merrymaking we came to the bus stand and crashed in the bus like a set of falling pins.
We reached Chennai by 5am and we took the opportunity to thank Vinod for his contagious enthusiasm and his “cool as cucumber” attitude. It was a trek engineered to perfection!
The memory of the trek is so vivid and will stay with us for a long time.

Addicted to Trekking!

Rama is a serial trekker now!!

Many raised eyebrows when I told them I'm into trekking.. After two months of trekking, I'm pretty sure that this is where I belong!

My encounter with Nagalapuram -- I have summed it in my post below

Do read it and leave your comments!!

My experience about the Nagalapuram Trek -- A first time trekkers FIR -- A bit Long though!!!

My typical Saturday itinerary is something like this-- get up @ around 12 noon, get hooked to the internet, book any movie running in Satyam Cinemas/mayajaal, Do Pub hopping and hit on a watering hole, Get home late night and crash for the day cursing myself for wasting one day of my weekend.....

There was a unusual twist to my usual cozy Saturday story.... Thanks to Baidik who threw light on this group to me.... I registered to this group on last Monday and through the chain mails realised that a trek is happening in nagalapuram hills.... Never heard of that name before... But I registered for the trek just for the heck of some fun filled TRIP.....

I woke up @ 4am... Rushed to Tidel Park after picking up Raghu - the co trekker on the way... As we came near the Tidel main entrance I saw a set of people chit-chatting, I asked one of them casually whether they are part of Chennai Tekkers Club, He was flummoxed and did know what I meant..I was bulbed... My wandering eyes caught another set of people... I didnt want to be embarrased this time... So i just went near them and tried to figure out myself whether they part of the group .... Bingo !! they were the CTC guys... We waited for 5 mins or so... there came Peter, Balaji and other trekkers... I introduced myself to the other trekkers...Then we headed to koyambedu to pick up the other trekkers...

"The TRIP has begun" My SMS to my mom once we started zipping from the koyambedu CMBT.....We pulled over for some gas in a nearby gas station...We had breakfast in a food joint... Then suddenly the rain god descended on earth, it was so refreshing to see it pour... we waited for about half an hour for it to stop and then we continued with our journey....We reached the base camp at around 9.15... We parked the cars/bikes...back packed ourselves with the snacks and food materials and I embarked on a journey of my life...

Perfect weather, Lush Green forest, thick tree cover and a passionate group of trekkers, I couldn't have wished for more. We were traversing across the thorns, bees and what not.. At one point we were walking across a small piece of rock clinging ourselves to the the wall of the rock...At the moment I almost felt that I have made a mistake by enrolling for the trek...After about 30 minutes we hit on stream with a small waterfall , it was so delightful to eyes... We jumped into it and soothed our aching muscles for sometime..Peter tied a rope across the stream to make sure that non-swimmers were not denied the fun... we lazed in the pool for about 30 mins and continued with our journey... for about one hour we were wading through thorns and steep climbs... and finally we broke for lunch near another stream.... Pooris and Idlis were in the menu.... But for a change I didn't have much inclination to eat.

I was feeling very thirsty then and all the water we carried were dried up.... so Shubro helped us filling the water bottles from the waterfall which was flowing into the stream... To be very frank I have never tasted any water like that before, so cold, refreshing, straight from mother nature... It felt like ambrosia ...Water has never tasted so good before...

After Lunch we continued with our journey ... I was starting to feel the pain...Aching legs...bruised hands(with thorns and even a bee stung me!!)... fatigued body...All of these wanted me to give up.... but my mind was just keeping me up to go an extra mile..But after a point I decided its the time to give up ..Then came Ram who carried my bag and gave me support and was helping me in the perilous climb... Thanks Ram !!!! We reached the summit at around 2 when the sun was scorching... We took a group photo to mark our conquest...

We began our descend immediately, we increased the pace of our walk and descend was really steep we had to watch our steps as there were many loose stones... After about 30-45 mins we hit on another stream... We decided to follow the stream...As we walked along the stream... we encountered another stream which we had to cross.. Peter did the initial safety checks...and we jumped in and cross the stream with the help of Peter, rope and the other swimmers... We thought we were done with the rivers by then... but we were in for a surprise when we bumped into two more streams one after another.... Yes we had to swim across the streams....We were so much connected with the trek that we didnt really feel the pain... We synced perfectly with nature took whatever it had to offer..... Peter and other swimmers were fabulous in helping carrying the bags across the stream.... and also helping the non-swimmers cross the stream seamlessly.... I'm sure we can give Mike Phelps a run for his money!!!!

We were just swimming and climbing and swimming again.... we were kind of unsure where each stream was leading us to.... I was getting a bit apprehensive about getting lost in the woods... We looked like blips on a radar scale when compared the mountains on both the sides.. I was reminded of an Eagles all time hit song "hotel California" -- where they end it like this -

"Relax said the nature ("nightman" in the original song) We are programmed to receive,
You can check out anytime you like(crossing every stream thinking that this the last), but you can never Leave (never find the way out)"

Then came the good news from Peter and the other senior trekkers that we have finally hit the right spot.... I heaved a great sigh of relief....

The night set in.,... the trekking continued.... We were walking cautiously across the dense forests...It was pitch dark and we were walking with our torches on....Then we were told to hold back for a minute or so by Peter.... The GPS system stopped working.... But Peter and other trekkers were quickly able to get the trail at the drop of the hat... that was when I realized that when technology fails experience steps in!!!

After that -- In Peter's words "it was just a child's play" and we reached to the base camp and got back to our vehicles....

Raghuvir and I were so tired... 100 kms before us looked like Nagalapuram IV to us... but we drove the vehicle like Johnny Depp drove in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and somehow managed to reach home safe.......

Finally -- Thanks to all you guys for making this TREK (atlast I realized its not a TRIP) a memorable one... Special thanks to Peter, Ram, Vivek, Antony, Balaji and Shubhro for organising such a fantastic trek

Last but not least... I think Robert Frost, the greatest American poet should have been a trekker himself since his lines fit the Club perfectly.

Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening

"The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep. "


--- Live for a reason, Trek all-season

Friday, January 2, 2009

Welcome 2009!!

Welcome 2009!! Let the dreams we had - be achieved, Dream Big, then only you know what could be achieved..

Let our thoughts be converted to action, "an ounce of doing is worth a ton of thinking"

Let joy be translated into happiness - Joy is short lived and a temporary phenomena, Happiness is from within and stays forever...

Let India have a terrorism-free year -- We were bleeding in 2008, Let 2009 be a definining year in India's history. Lets not be a muted neighbour, Lets protect our soverignity whatever be the cost... As a peron inflicted with pain by Mumbai attacks said " I'd rather die in a war rather than being taken hostage when having a dinner with my parents in a 5-star hotel". yes, If war is a solution... Lets not discount it... Exercising restraint is important but not with a neighbour whose words and actions dont match...

Let Politicos "also" think about the people they ought to serve - Let Raj Thackerey show his love towards Mumbai by using his sena for developing the city rather than by beating the northies.. Let Mamta grieve over her decision to send out TATA...

Let's take more steps towards poverty rather than propagating 20-20
We have more things with greater importance to concentrate on rather than wasting our time in watching 20-20 a money spinning machine for the already over flowing cricketer's kitty....

Let the media channel stop sensationalizing events of public misery - Let the journos focus their energy on educating the indian junta on various issues requiring their attention rather than running exclusive footage of the Taj shoot-out....

Lets spread the aura of education, each one teach one,lets do something meaningful, lets spread whatever we have learned onto others....
There is a saying in sanskrit which goes like this: (from my 7th sanskrit text book)

na chorahaaryam na cha raajahaaryam

na bhraatrubhaajyam na cha bhaarakaari
vyaye krute vardhata eva nityam
vidyaadhanam sarvadhanapradhaanam

The wealth called education cannot be stolen by thieves, cannot be taken away by the king ,
cannot be divided by brothers, is not a cause for burden.
It increases on being spent, it is the most important among all wealth

Teaching 1-2-3(basic education) to our kids could have made India more tech-savvy and we needn't have pleaded US for the 1-2-3 nuclear agreement ..

Bottomline : Lets step into 2009 with great hope and faith and I'm sure 2009 will be a great year for everyone of us and lets continue our march towards glory...