Friday, April 17, 2009

The Curious Case of Missing La Bella !

To me, one of the enigmas of air-travel has always remained the curious case of missing la bella...are you baffled?...lemme explain...there have been quite a few recent instances of people from my firm having had the good fortune of travelling with some of the beauty queens...however as one of the (un)lucky ones put it..."yaar, Murphy forgot to write this law that when a beauty enters the aircraft and looks as if she is heading straight for the seat next to yours...dont raise your hopes too high for she will always sit anywhere but there..."

My kingfisher platinum and jet gold cards (flash flash!) would testify to the fact that I have been a frequent traveller and yet the statistical impossibility (on an average i do a 2 round trips a week and have been an active traveller for last 3 years which means more than 1,000 adjacent travellers) of not having even once the pleasure of a PYT on the adjacent seat just hits me in the face...its not as if PYTs refuse to travel...there are always a few around on the airport as well as the aircraft that I am on...but by some design of His, the airlines have never deemed it appropriate to make me sit next to a good looking female in all my travel history...its not even that the airlines have blacklisted me from sitting next to good looking women because I have tried to be funny with a fellow traveller or something (not that I have had a chance anyway..Chastity is a Virtue Forced Upon the Ungainly or so someone has said)

Think Vijay Mallya was well aware of this curious case as for consoling the disgruntled souls he instituted the perfectly lovely kingfisher policy of a PYT escorting one to the aircraft (that is if the one is a gold card or above and is traveling kingfisher first...this class discrimination never goes away..does it?)...

So the next time you are traveling by air and have a good fellow traveller please spare a thought for all those unprivileged who have never had the Opportunity!

Some Funny Plane Announcements

  • “There may be 50 ways to leave your lover, but there are only 4 ways out of this airplane…”
  • “We do feature a smoking section on this flight; if you must smoke, contact a member of the flight crew and we will escort you to the wing of the airplane."
  • Weather at our destination is 50 degrees with some broken clouds, but they’ll try to have them fixed before we arrive. Thank you, and remember, nobody loves you, or your money, more than Southwest Airlines.”
  • “As you exit the plane, please make sure to gather all of your belongings. Anything left behind will be distributed evenly among the flight attendants. Please do not leave children or spouses.”
  • And from the pilot during his welcome message: “We are pleased to have some of the best flight attendants in the industry…Unfortunately none of them are on this flight!"
  • Another flight Attendant’s comment on a less than perfect landing:
    “We ask you to please remain seated as Captain Kangaroo bounces us to the terminal.”
  • Part of a Flight Attendant’s arrival announcement: “We’d like to thank you folks for flying with us today. And, the next time you get the insane urge to go blasting through the skies in a pressurized metal tube, we hope you’ll think of us here at US Airways.”

Monday, April 06, 2009

So Pink Slips Aren't Really Pink...(the paper ones, U Pervert!)

One of the major discoveries in the past fortnight has been the realization that pink slips aren't really, my firm hasn't decided to "let me go", at least not as yet (though i find the term "let you go" very conjures the image of a bull-dog with bloodshot eyes straining at the leash and try as i might, its impossible to find any parallels with your boss walking in with downcast eyes and a pained expression and telling you the "news"). The way I got to know was when a very dear friend got the bad news and when she 'broke the news" (again, another expression that i find funny as I always thought that its news when you break a record or something so how does one break the news itself) to her family members, a particularly curious sibling's first reaction was "Didi, Are Pink Slips really Pink?"

An ode to my political correctness later, have decided to evaluate lay-offs...know that its a painful experience and know that I might be at the receiving end anytime but think its a subject, on which discussion (and more so in India) is as taboo as sex (which again is ironic as the latter is a pleasurable experience while the former is not unless one is into sadism & masochism, in which case both can be pleasurable ...or painful...or both..sorry, haven't figured out what!).

It has got a lot to do with people's reactions (which ranges from extreme despair, sometimes more than that of the person who got fired"Oh Sh*t! Now what are you going to do.." to those of extreme sympathy and a load of philosophical cr*p "Its all His wish, sweetie...he will open other doors for you blah blah and some more blah!") and also a bit about a person's own sense of self-worth, which arguably does take a beating for obvious reasons.

Think we need to grow up a lot in terms of our perception of what role our jobs play in our life as well as they way people define us. I, for one, would be hugely disappointed if my friends, acquaintances and colleagues recall me as "that banker from that firm", irrespective of how blue-blooded that firm is. Our jobs are a part of our identity, not the identity itself.

How would I want people to react when they get to know that I am laid off? (another expression widely used for getting fired is just so tantalizingly close to getting laid...a quip that i just can't resist is 'when you are laid (off) you are really screwed :)'... ? First, let me know, what would be a good place to chill for a couple of months and second, help me find a job...really that's worth more than all the commiseration in the world!!!

A Really Funny One
The Layoff
The vice-president of a local company had quite a problem. He was told by his boss to lay off one of his employees, either Mary or Jack. His choice was a tough one because Mary had been a devoted employee for 10 years and Jack was a fine worker who had a family to support. At night, the VP tossed and turned in his sleep trying to decide which of his employees he would lay off. Finally he decided, the first one to come to work tomorrow would be the one. Morning finally comes and the VP waits at the office for one of the two employees to arrive. At 8:55 Mary walks into the office. "I've got a difficult decision" the VP says, "I either have to Lay You or Jack off." "Oh? jack-off," Mary says, "I've got a headache."

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


So I am back....

Its been a while since I wrote on/in cyberspace (haven't figured out the right preposition to use for this) and it wasn't until I read that Budhau has started blogging that I got 'inspired' enuf to start typing...quite strange actually as most people wouldn't utter budhau and inspiration in the same breath :) (Sorry is quite mean to demean some helpless old bugger but that's the fun of blogging)

As usual, have strong views on everything under the Sun..from poet-politician Varun Gandhi's hate speech (just don't understand why is he called a poet as i have read/tried to read his so called poetry and it wasn't something i would write home about) to Team India's phenomenal-yet-clinical win (there was something Australia-ish about swagger, no flash just putting the ball in the right areas and putting the bad balls away) and the unbelievable lyrics of Gulaal (Piyush Mishra has scored a home run with Aarambh and Sheher) to Nawaz Sharif becoming a champion of Iftikar Chaudhury's cause to train the gun on Zardari (and unthinkably naive of Pakis not to realize it..think it was Pakis when Einstein said “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the the universe.”) but then being a terribly reserved person and politically correct to a fault, I will say nothing of the sort...

Lemme vent my frustration on the so called "90% bonus tax" that Obama Administration has come up with to "take back what is rightfully theirs" in the case of the US$ 165 MM which has been paid to some officials of Financial Instruments Group at AIG as it was in their contract, yes this is the very same group that wrote the CDSs and CDOs that got us into the mess we find ourselves in. As an aside am terribly disappointed by the way Obama has managed this whole process. To me its as bad as giving in to Taliban in the Swat Valley or giving in to the views of majority even when you know that they are not right. When men and women "of mind" are not assured that they will be able to get the fruits of their toil, it will lead us further down and not out of this mess).

The issues here are two fold and while one brings the basic essence of capitalism into question (honouring a contract), the second strikes at the very foundation of the economy (financial services industry)...

We can carry on with our lives because there is an implicit assumption that counter-party risk is minimized and that firms, people and above all Governments would honour the contracts that they get into...when we write a cheque, there is faith that your bank would honour it, when you use currency of a country, there is comfort that the central bank would make good on the promissory note if called upon to do so, there is an implicit agreement to provide a fair trial to even murderers and criminals. Once that faith, that comfort and that implicit agreement is violated and you have a government who is trying to subvert the constitution to appease the majority, you are asking for trouble. This leaves the room open for the Government of USA to repudiate all debt (this can solve all the problems of the fiscal deficit) or to even snatch the property of the rich to distribute to the poor ala Robin Hood...after all why stop at measly $20bn Wall St. bonus kitty when you have decided to go all out and violate the inviolate...

For appreciating the second point, we need to understand the very basic fibre of the business model of a financial services firm. Like a manufacturing firm, which uses land, labour, capital and organization as its factors of production and for which you pay rent, wages, interest and profit as payment, a financial services firm uses Capital and Talent as its factors of production (have a look at any bank's balance sheet and you will see 97% of assets/liabilities are financial products and then they have people which they cannot put a value to) and that the firm needs to use what it earns to pay these factors of production be it in form of interest/dividend for its capital and compensation or the so called "bonus" to its talent and roughly the ratio between the two has been 50-50 over the years (and has come down to 40-45% for talent for most firms this year)...the manufacturing firms cannot not pay rent or wages or interest...and thus why should the financial firms be asked to hold back they payment to theirs... If the government decides that a factor of production should not be paid in case of one specific industry, it just beats all logical explanations...

Just cant help but notice the similarities with Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged and desperately hope that "the motors of the world" don't stop....

Monday, November 05, 2007

So finally IT happened.....
IT took a very long time and i can't really say that i have not wondered about IT...during most of my college days and even during IIMB days IT was a thought which always troubled me...i had never done IT...will i manage to do IT...will IT be as much fun as is bandied much has been said about IT in the books i've many "educational movies" have been devoted to IT... will IT actually give me that feeling of high...will IT match upto the hype that surrounds it...i've always been told that one has to experience IT to believe IT...I used to look upto people who had done IT and who were doing IT on a regular basis...
Now that IT has finally happened I can reflect back on all that and as they say...we are all wiser by i wonder was IT worth the effort...I mean i am knew at IT and some people have told me that IT is an acquired taste..much like wine...really dunno about that.....IT does keeps one up at night when one should have been sleeping...have to agree with a friend who said that IT is a lot of pain...especially for first-timers...does lead to a lot of moaning and groaning..for some people doing IT actually means giving up something which was always preserved to be bestowed upon something far more superior...
Getting IT is a process of bull-shitting...if the subject is new to IT, bull-shitting is of the highest standard with all the people who are doing IT geting into a cock-fight to show who can best do IT..if it is an experienced candidate one does not lose much sleep over IT as both the parties know what they want...
However can't really say that I did not enjoy IT or am not enjoying IT...IT is a lot of fun...IT is a sort of addiction and once you get a taste of IT, don't think there is any looking back...I would recommend IT to everyone as an experience...
BTW i hope i am very clear as to what I am talking about here...surely most people with even half my intelligence get it...yes I am talking about Investment Banking...finally Investment Banking happened for me...between my last post and this one i've changed jobs and I've become a banker with Morgan Stanley in India and that is what I was describing all along...what did you think..
Hope you get/got IT :)

(dedicated to a dear friend who unintentionally inspired the piece when she said 'Mumbai guys just want "IT"..')

Saturday, June 16, 2007

It was the best of times,
It was the worst of times,
It was the age of wisdom,
It was the age of foolishness,
It was the epoch of belief,
It was the epoch of incredulity

These lines from Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities capture my feelings quite succinctly over the happenings in the last couple of weeks. A lot has been happening...some of which i like and a whole lot which i don't.
Among the good things which have happened, first and foremost i got promoted (not that it was a significant achievement as it was in the contract which i signed at the time of my recruitment), we executed the India's largest ever IPO (which was a result of an 18 month labour pain with a couple of abortions in-between and will most probably grow into a problem child) and I found a dabbewali aunty who sends me lunch which is as good as 'ghar ka khana' (which is not great news for my expanding girth, but again as one of my colleague puts it bluntly, "jindagi mein agar khaya nahin to kya kiya").
As far as bad things are concerned, most are things which i can not put down in public space, however these are things which make me look at things in a totally new light. When i had decided to join IB from campus, the single biggest factor had been that of compensation and i had thought that whatever happens I will be able to take it all because of the undeservingly fat paycheck that i will receive at the end of the month and it seemed to me that i had been quite sucessful at doing that at first but now the urge to do things which add some amount of value and which make a difference to someone's life has begun to crop its head again. A banker friend of mine had once expounded the concept quite lucidly when he asked me "Think of it this way, if some loonie wakes up tomorrow with a AK-47 and decides to kill all cab-drivers, we will all be in a terrible mess, if he decides to kill all politicians, the country will be on a decidedly better path, but if he decides to kill all bankers, there wouldn't be a soul who will miss us...that tells us something about the value of our profession".
I have never facied myself as "a deep sort of person" (quite the contrary actually), but i always feel that the amount of thought and effort that goes into the making of a pitchbook (that too from the best of the minds of the country, given every second student at a b-school wants to be a banker (be careful of what you you wish for, lest your wishes be fulfilled)) could very easily have solved some of the most pressing problems that our country faces...

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Not that Unlike each other !!!!

The result of a test called - What Famous Leader Are You?
personality tests by

Since the time i wrote the last post there has been increased social activity on my front and quite a few friends whom i had long since forgotten (and assume they had too) suddenly discovered me...(i admit that i had acted as a catalyst in the process by changing my display name on orkut to "blog updated" to create interest...thank god for the cheap marketing gimmicks :))

I think that an update on the bonus situation is in order, however the strict rules of my fraternity forbid me from sharing any worthwhile information so i will continue with my rants...

Somehow i got this idea of drawing an analogy between bonus and here goes my latest brain hurricane..
  • Come to think of it both of them solve very critical problem of poverty. You may think i am being jocular here but it is an undiscovered fact that there are very few communities who are poorer than I-banking Analysts...we are poor in most respects... be it morals (i can show my organization to be at the top of the league tables across geographis,across products and across time periods...i can show India to be undervalued or overvalued depending upon the nature of product that i am pitching for and also depending upon what kind of day i've had or how miserable i am feeling) be it hygeine (don't think much of a description is required here...a colleague once confessed that it got to such an extent that he could not find time to buy bathing soap and he was using the same one for multiple purposes) or be it money (a friend whp earns US$80k fixed in India is perpetually in debt of amounts like Rs.5,000 while his credit cards are always maxed up..once it came to the point of the car-parking wallah threatening him with dire consequences if he did not pay the bill soon). Compare the situation to the teeming millions who depend upon monsoon for for their livelihood...they too become immoral, unhygenic and fatehal when monsoon does not arrive in time...
  • Both the phenomenona are highly cyclical and totally unpredictable. I've heard horror stories of years when even the newspaper supply to the office was rationed as the markets were down in the dumps and the deal flow was practically nil...on the other hand i have also been witness to people performing miracles like buying a house in south-mumbai because of the riches which were bestowed upon them...bonuses are a function of market sentiment, deal pipeline and most importantly what the competitor on the street has parted with...This is not unlike the binary sitiuation of drought or floods that monsoons often bring about
  • Both create a lot of haryali (greenery). Typically after a bonus one sees a lot of haryali on an analyst (in terms of his puffed up wallet) and also a lot of the same around him (in terms of chicks- he has two in tow with a one or two following behind). Bonuses bring about a situation whereby an analyst falls into a chimera of actually liking his work!!! This is exactly like what happens to nature after a heavy splash...

Can think of a few more but i will leave that for sometime later...

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Feels good to be is more than a year since i wrote something (i.e. wrote something which had an iota of thought behind it). A lot has happened since then but strangely nothing that made me sit up and write something (which is ironic since i never write sitting upright).
So you one may ask as to what has changed today??? what earth shattering event has happened which made the perfectly honourable me log in to and waste an hour typing away...
Well, it is my evaluation day on Monday.
If you are not a banker it would be very difficult for you to understand what an analyst (the lowest in the i-banking food chain) goes through when his evaluation is is a feeling which is somewhat between what a girl feels when she is subjected to a typical Indian numaish and what a guy feels when he is going to propose to the lady of his dreams...the concoction of expectation, exhilaration, disappointment and despair is quite heady...your mood swings are even more wild than that of an 7-month pregnant lady...afterall this is the carrot that has been dangled infront of you and you wait with bated breath just to see if the stories of untold riches have any substance, if it can really be true. In all, has it really been worth it as you have been reduced to a willing slave (calling home once a week, that too just to let gharwallahs know that you are still alive, meeting friends fortnightly and destroying every semblance of a social life that you never had).
Life at IIMB and at office at least have some amount of similarity in the sense that at IIMB, one half of my brain was constantly thinking about grades while the other side was busy calculating if whatever grades i got would improve my chances of making it to day zero and at office, I one half of my brain is constantly thinking of how much can i make as bonus and the the other side is calculating if whatever i get would be enough for my dreams...
I think bonus is the single most important annual event for a banker (and here i mean ALL bankers, be they lowly analysts & associates, semi-respectable VPs, just one step away from godhood Directors and gods themselves MDs)..this is what we live for...everything else is now you would understand why i am on the edge...Monday is the pray for me...