Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Market Mayhem

How many among us still remember our first sting with the stock market? How intriguing it felt in the beginning… and how excited we were with our first profits… well, not everyone starts on the right foot. The following few pages are a true narration, spanned over one worthless Monday where four IT professionals try their luck at making a quick buck. Welcome to the Indian Stock Market.

We’ve heard a lot about how greed and fear decide the emotion of a trader; when greed takes over fear and the other way round. This chat transcript quite articulately showcases these feelings. The foursomes are: Pranky, Zerd, Roz and Sam.

On 6th of April 2006 late Thursday evening Sam informed his erstwhile room mates about a potential money making opportunity. “Infosys was supposed to make a bonus announcement, tomorrow the stock price will zoom; if we buy and sell it right, we can make one grand easily”. All sat straight, trying to absorb the words that they heard and blinking their eyes to tell themselves that it was real. One grand is big money. The next half an hour or so was spent in speculating how many shares to buy and at what price. Sam patiently explained to them about the 4 times exposure that they can take which implied that they could buy 4 times the shares worth with their money. Of course they need to close the credit within the next 2 days.

7th April, for the first time in 24NKS Mansion history all of them woke up early and reached office before 9:55 AM, much to Sam’s surprise. Before the market opened the monies were also transfer to Sam’s account who was supposed to make the transactions on their behalf.

The last trading price of Infosys was at 3114 INR per share on Friday.

Roz says: Sam remember to keep Zerd’s bids on hold
Zerd says: buy 28
Sam says: He's asked me to buy
Roz says: okie
Roz says: 12 for me
Sam says: How many do you want me to buy now?
Zerd says: Sam what is the bid price you are putting
Sam says: Boy!!! Its 3310 against the close at 3114…
Roz says: Ya I saw that
Zerd says: It still shows 3114 to me…:-S
Sam says: Boss its too costly
Roz says: You can buy it Zerd if it shows that price to you ;-)
Sam says: Opened at 3365
Sam says: We’d become beggars if we buy this costly…
Sam says: 3300 now… going down
Zerd says: Is it falling?
Roz says: Sam, I think still its worth...
Sam says: 3290
Roz says: Hey… its falling.

Those were the opening 10 minutes. The scrip price was already flying high from the previous closing price, but gradually coming down. The guys had identified that 3250 would be an extremely enviable price to buy the scrip; though the buy orders were on hold and not yet placed.

One hour hence the scrip lost further ground and was trading at 3240… our new analysts had fallen from grace as soon as they thought they had gained that rank. This time the geniuses studied the charts and identified 3200 as the new support. Buy orders were placed at the so called mouthwatering price. The foursome were in discussion when the price corrected further to 3220 levels, 3216 and then 3208… all watched their terminal with batted breathe. Zerd was accessing an ancient terminal and hence his price quotes were delayed. The guys were greedy and wanted to see the price correct further so that they bought it at the lowest point. Who doesn’t want to beat the market? The falling ceased and the scrip zoomed to 3240 levels; touching a day’s low of 3201... Disappointment reeled within them.

The next moment the guys were convinced about their recently acclaimed competency in articulating the lows about the scrip. The buy orders that were tentative earlier became more vocal and a bit aggressive. Time was running out, neither the scrip price nor the buy orders budged. Finally the guys gave in and the buy orders were divided into two parts… one at 3220 and the order at 3205. This was a wise decision we thought, time had a completely different verdict chosen.

The guys were proven right, but partially… the scrip came down to 3209 and went back to 3230 again. One lot of their buy order was executed… they were congratulating and thanking each other. Having won the battle of wits, the guys decided to take a short lunch break.

Post lunch the scene had not changed much other than the fact that Infy had made a fresh bottom at 3161 but was again back at 3220. All buy orders executed; now all that the guys wanted was the price to go higher.

Only one hour left, the guys were glued to the terminal then ever before. Infy after having given the guys a short period of happiness had resumed it downward journey halting at 3180 and then at 3160. The picture hadn’t changed in the next one hour except for the fact that Zerd had withheld one last leap at 3160 to average down his buy. Last 15 minutes of trade were a sorry sight for all. The scrip gyrated from 3160 to 3180 and we sold it at that level. Leave apart making money, the guys later thought that having kept out of the market would have saved them the losses. It was exciting they agreed and intriguing too. Pranky had made a suggestion to celebrate the day with beer and whiskey. The losses were around one grand in total, but the excitement, the adrenaline, the tension… it was worth it. Sam mentioned that the day was apt for “short selling”. The concept of selling earlier at a high and buying later and pocketing the difference was so interesting that momentarily the guys forgot their losses and made imaginary calculations on how much they’d have made had they gone for short selling. Pranky also suggested to update the losses in the Kharcha-Pani excel that used to keep track of the monthly expenses of the house.

Of course, much water has flown down the Ganges since 7th of April 2006, but have the foursome learnt their lessons? In-spite of the losses made, that day still holds a special place in everyone’s heart, including Sam’s.
The foursomes are still in touch with the stock market. Roz till sometime back still had Infy in his demat account. Even the rupee strengthening had not shaken his belief that Infy will one day be in green in his portfolio. Pranky and Zerd have become hardcore traders…Last what I had heard was that they were becoming better and better in buying low and selling high… all in a day. Sam has resolved to studying sectors and investing for the long term and is horrible with short term intraday picks.

Monday, 26 November 2007

Sam's dream...

How many of us still remember the evening of 13th March 1996?

Well… Sam had the day etched in his mind. A 9th grade student then, he had been waiting for that day since the start of the tournament. That was probably the day when he came from school as fast as he could… surprising his parents. Post lunch he sat close to the television. He wanted to live the moment.

At around 10:00 PM, a gloomy Sam finished his dinner while his mom consoled him… “It’s only a game beta, haar jeet to hota rehta hai”… “Its not a game mamma, it was my dream to see India win the World Cup” thought Sam to himself. India had crashed out of the semi and out of the 1996 Cricket World Cup, breaking millions of hearts and Sam’s too. In-spite of a great start the momentum couldn’t be carried on and India lost 7 more wickets with the addition of just 21 runs. The score was then 120 for 8. The crowd went mad at Eden Gardens, Calcutta which brought the match to a standstill and subsequently was forfeited to Sri Lanka. Vinod Kambli, Sam’s hero, was still on the crease… he had tried to tell the crowd that he would take India home; all he asked was faith in his capabilities. India needed 132 runs in 16 overs with Kumble and Prasad to provide company to Kambli… the match should have seen a logical end. Kambli cried as he walked out of the ground…and so did Sam watching his hero remove the helmet in utter despair.

That was the first time Sam cried on India’s defeat. Till now, it turned out to be the only time when he cried for cricket… not even when he saw his passion being crumbled.

World Cup 1992 was when Sam learnt playing cricket and developed a keen interest for the game. What started as a game turned into passion and then into a dream. It was not unusual when Sam was chosen to play for the senior team at a tender age of 13 years. A terror on the batting crease, his team had won many matches under his captaincy. Sam’s favorite hits were the straight sixes above the bowlers head. Being the best, he was crafted to be an opener.

Though Sam was good in cricket; he was never encouraged to pursue it more than his studies. His middle class parents wanted to play safe with their child’s future and would prefer if he’d join a good college after school and have a regular job to his name. Cricket seemed to be a gamble to them and hence they’d had preferred if Sam kept it only as a hobby. Nevertheless they couldn’t deny his growing passion for the game and promised him a complete kit should he score good marks. One term later Sam admired his “Sunridges Sareen” cricket bat. It was his companion for so many magical moments.

As a keen follower of cricket Sam would collect paper cuttings of World Cup series and wanted to create a collage of the series. His obsession didn’t stop there. He was a living example of eat cricket, sleep cricket and live cricket. Sam gradually graduated to playing for his club where he was provided special attention by his coach; the reason for the extra care was his undying passion for the game. A rainy day would have otherwise dampened the spirits of the players but not Sam’s; he used to practice on the cement pitch. Such enduring zeal for the game didn’t escape the selector’s eyes too and he was sent for the summer camps for his region.

Five years later, Sam was being selected for the National level team. Sam couldn’t have been any more pleased. All went as he had dreamt of on that gloomy day when India crashed out of the World Cup semis. He had vowed that day that he’d teach the Calcutta crowd a lesson. He had vowed that never again would his country lose as they lost that evening at Edens. So many nights he had spent dreaming how he’d be the opening batsman for India. That he’d single handed take India to many victories. That he’d be one batsman who would have an answer to all the balls. That he’d be the fastest century hitter. Dreams, dreams and dreams. Sam was a dreamer… until the fateful evening just before his team was getting ready for the Inter zonal matches.

A hot summer afternoon didn’t hinder his team’s practice session. Sam was practicing high catches when his coach misdirected a long shot. The ball was way out of anyone’s reach for a stop, leave apart catching it. Even his coach asked him to leave it… but would Sam stop? Eyes on the ball, hands outstretched he moved as fast as his feet could carry him. He stretched and was airborne and landed with a thud on the ground… the ball safely in his hand. Elbows bleeding, hands bruised he went to his coach who had earlier cried to leave the attempt. That was it… that discussion with his coach was the end of his dream. That evening as Sam cycled his way back home he knew that he’d never see the club again; he’d never play for the region and never for his country.

Sam’s grades were also not too good then. He just scrambled through with 48% in his 11th grade and that was when his dad said, “Enough is enough… we’re neither ultra rich to pay for your selection nor well connected for the same. Get yourself a good degree and a job and be a contend man”. Sam didn’t utter a word and heeded to his dad’s words. Packing the kit was not a tough part, but he couldn’t keep the bat away…It was his partner. It had shared so many happy moments with Sam. The deep sound that it made whenever Sam went for the long shots over the bowler’s head- all that was now gone. Sam took one last stance with his bat as if he was facing a virtual bowler and swung it hard…A sixer for sure.

Sam still regretted the fact that he’d never hit a century; though he’s grown out of that dream now.
Sometimes I think of Sam… of his dreams… how pleased he was with life… what all he had done to make his dream come true and more than that, he used to be so ecstatic while playing... batting rather. I don’t know where Sam is now. I don’t know whether he still holds the dream… but I know for sure that wherever he’d be, he’d be dying to play the game. About me… well whenever I hit a boundary above the bowler’s head… I smile and tell myself... “This one’s for Sam”… and as far as I’m concerned, my story is not very different from Sam’s.

Friday, 16 November 2007

The WASE days

Four years back…the place was same and so was the time. I had signed up for an educational initiative along with work experience for one of the premier organizations of the world…Eventually it turned out to be a work centric initiative with education sprinkled over the weekends. Four years hence, I was still there, accepting my offer letter for employment. I lived… I lived through WASE.

No… this isn’t any late evening classes or weekend programs that I’m referring to. This is something we wanted to get out of as soon as possible. Barely in the first season and we were counting years, then months when it’d get over. Now that it’s over… WASE was not just a course that we did. WASE is something that has taught us a lot of valuable lessons… some the easier way, most the toughest. Eventually what mattered was that we emerged winners. Throw any challenge at the WASEians and see how they conquer each hurdle initially with struggle but eventually with style and grace. That is the beauty of the program. Some realize it, some curse it. But every WASEian goes through it.

WASE is something that has made me what I am today. WASE came through my way when I least expected it to. The trials that happened in this period don’t seem to be for just four years. I almost lived my entire life in WASE. Where would I get to fall in love and then out of it… where would I get friends who’d take care of me when I’d be all drunk and knocked out… or when I’d want to fly while on a bike… the stock market blunders… the holi enjoyment… the exam fevers… the treks… the fights… the misunderstandings… the movies… and least but not the last the booze. Yes its WASE that gave me all that. Not only to me…but all. The following blog would be my version of the days… people can differ, but what the heck… this is my blog and my view rules.

Our first semester was smooth sailing for us. I was not too keen on studies… and hence crawled through with a 5.5 CGPA. The pass criteria were 6.75 which were later reverted to 5.5. Phew…I cleared. Over the semesters I kept my grades quite near my initial hit… that’s not chance, that’s perfection.

I was and am still inspired by the book, “Five point someone” by Chetan Bhagat. It’s about how three brilliant guys get their grades screwed, but tell me who wouldn’t want a life like they had. I’m not comparing myself to them. They ended up being five pointers but did it really matter? Do CGPA’s really gauge your intellectual prowess? I defy the school of thoughts that do. That might be my way of addressing my so called poor performance over the course… but am I listening? I was a five pointer, but I love the life that I’d got. I’d got friends to share my joys, sorrows… I’d seen enough… I’d lived enough… I’d enjoyed my life till here… and I guess that’s what matters.

Over the semesters’ we had seen enough issues… be it about chucking out a couple of our friends, be it dealing with attendance hassles… or last but not the least the exam fever. Me and my friends used to visit Abhinav’s on the penultimate day and we all used to have a gala ceremony of knowledge transfer. There have been occasions when KR [aka. mota] scored better than the Libin [not so mota]; while Libin was the one who was supposed to be the champ in the subject. The best part was… there were never any ego clashes. When our marks were distributed, KR walked over to Libin and thanked him… both smiling on the reality. Over the years we had learnt the art of scoring marks… I say marks because we never aimed for the stars. God willing all of us have sailed through.

Our WASE classes were early on a Saturday morning and stretched through to the evening. And mark my words, we just didn’t studied… we did a lot other things. I guess that made us effective in time management.

Pulling ourselves out of the bed was the toughest part. Once that was addressed, rest was a smooth sail with friends around. We all bonded well. We all had pre allocated places to sit…strategic places behind the computer monitors…hidden away from the prying eyes of the instructors. Some slept, some focused, some read books… and a couple of guys besides me played “Snakes” over blue-tooth on their mobile phones. Tea breaks were our way to freak out inside the campus. Huddled into one group all would be discussing about the latest flick on the large screen or a cricket match that India would have won… “won” is the keyword here. Or probably someone would be paying for the leg pulling that’d be happening there. I’m not talking about “Jai”: the gora from Canada. There would be a group checking on the latest chicks too. I’m holding all the names… I still want to live :)

Most of us had a perception change about WASE, post we joined the course. No... nothing wrong with the course. The work was more interesting than the course. Like me, most would agree to it; and when you have five days to work against one day to study… where would your focus lie? The course would have been more effective had it been two year duration with regular classes, but then there are commitments that we’ve got towards the organization. Ours was not an educational insti. These are just the thoughts that we’ve had over the last four years.

Libin, Hema and I were in the same working group for long, before Hema made the move. Libin and I continued growing in our respective areas of interest. We both had seen enough smartness in the industry being in that group. That group had taught us a lot. By the time I made the switch, I had learnt enough to be tried and tested elsewhere. Libin’s one hell of a dependable person…we were the twosome in the quality team. Both very well known and always together. Even the management had acknowledge the fact that we two were the best to work with… one prime reason being… that we never had any head weight. Boy you need something inside the head to have some weight.

Some of our friends traveled to work at client location. We were all so proud of that. On returning home they’d show us photos and video clips of various places that they’d have visited. I was touched when I saw a video clip of NYSE and heard Debu’s voice saying, “This is for Kunduda”. Thanks mate…you remembered me there. Chocolates and stories from the foreign land were the talk of the house then. I loved the chocolates. Our friends would bring goodies from there too. It’s not what the goodies are, but that something that our friend got us. KR and I had wanted to send one “GoodLuck” [piggie bank] with Debu where he’d drop in one dollar each day for the so called bhukhe-nange bhailog back at home. Debu used to call us at-least once a week and we all would be waiting to speak to him. Strange… that the days are over.

WASE days were the time when one of our huge friends took a huge step... He got married. Panky was and still is an amazing person. Intense and emotional but what a rock solid friend. He had stood by me many times. He had many times instilled the confidence that I won’t be getting a D grade in the subjects where I didn’t perform… more often than not, they used to be all the subjects. Panky is still very much living and growing.

WASE hadn’t been all fun and frolic. We had seen the disappointing departure of a few of our friends, unable to keep up to the mentioned educational requirements or otherwise. Then there was this attendance fiasco where the entire batch was questioned about false attendance being marked. Those present were asked to give the names on whose behalf they had signed; most had no idea on what was going on. Those who were absent physically but marked as present had no clue as to who their so called helper was, to put them in the soup. I was absent… both physically and on paper too. Blessing in disguise… eh??

There was no shortage of fun on Saturdays. By the time we were in the seventh semester, we were all too keen to attend the classes… cases like Debu and KR will remain where they are. Sleep is next best thing to nothing for them. But later even they would show up.

Bhavesh, Pankil and I used to be referred as the stock market gurus. I can never forget the portfolio discussion that Bhav and I did as Pankil overlook us. Bhav would tell me that the real investor just listens. Well till now the best returns are with Pankil. If Bhav’s the trader and Pankil the investor, then I’m the nomad. The Indian Stock market… well it’s the Indian Shock Market for me. I can never forget the “I’ll be rich mails” that I’d send to my roomies when the market used to tank. Debu and Panky used to and still value my suggestions more than anything. These guys are ready to invest just on my suggestion… crazy guys…but at the same time my best buddies. Rahul Soni had renamed me to “StockMarket” while I referred to him as “SoniKudi”.

We laughed, we cried… but we lived… Yes we lived the WASE days. We lived to fight another day…

Oh yes, I didn’t mention about my grades… I closed with 5.98… I guess that’s the best you can do being a five pointer.

Meeting manionline1, courtesy Moneycontrol Message board

Pardon me for my forgetful nature… I don’t remember when it started.

Teledata Informatics was in my radar since I saw it go from 10 to 90 in a span of a few months… though I never invested in it. I was out of cash... as always. After that a lot of confusion happened among the investors and the scrip price crashed till 55… that’s when I took it up… and sold again with a slight profit; only to enter later at a higher price and quantity.

Moneycontrol messageboard [commonly known as MMB] was a helluva of a place where Teledata’s fate was decided daily…whether it deserved to be one of the best fundamental company or one of those hyped with no matter inside. Small boarders like me were at the mercy of giants like Kfactor, Ramge, mainonline1 to give us a true picture of the fundamentals of the company. Hopefully all three were in one side… TD will be a wealth creator… don’t track on a daily basis, fundamentals and so will profitability improve quarter on quarter… Hold it for long…

Like me there were a lot who were convinced about what the future held for TD and unlike me there were a lot who would post contrarian views on MMB that TD is one scrip that should be sold and not bought at all. Well, bulls and bears will always rule the market.

Those days there was a court case that was pending and needed a clearance. Manionline1 emerged as one of those boarders who would update all of us on when and what of the court proceedings. Moreover he had created a group of genuine boarders who were interested in the value that TD held and would refer to them in one of the messages in the board. I also wanted to be one of them… and hence I sent a “private message” [PM] to him. I was told that there is no plan to increase the people in the community and that I should let him know more about me before he decides whether I could find a place. I sent a PM describing myself… as I would do when I prepare a SOP [statement of purpose] for one of the B Schools… if at all that happens. A very distant possibility that is, as for now. I also sent a PM to Ramge to influence manionline1.

A couple of days later I got a call from someone in Mumbai. Expecting it to be my dad… I received... an unknown but friendly voice.

6th November 2007, at about 1830 hours I was in front of the door and could hear someone opening it. I was received by manionline1. I had a wonderful evening. Of course I had seen a few pics of manionline1 but he never appeared as tall as he was. Later in the evening I came to know that he paid for an accident with a tooth. As you read this if there is something we spoke least of, it was TD. Though we had spoken for quite a long time over the phone, meeting each other in person was something amazing. We both said that it started with MMB and finally ended in meeting in person.

We talked a lot about life and its fundas… as Appu mentioned when manionline1 was talking to me; being his sister, Appu knew manionline1 more than me. Manionline1’s 12 month old terror was out of town so I had to be contented with his video clips. Captured in screen were the initial steps that the kid had taken; to be shown to him when he takes giant steps in future, how humble and delicate was the beginning.

I never felt as if I was out of place…I was provided enough warmth at manionline1’s home. Being elder than me, he had seen enough ups and downs in his life to guide me better. I had anyways opened up my life and he was an excellent judge to the positives and negatives that were there. There are a lot of things that manionline1 told me that evening about life and what it really meant…. what family meant… what was happiness and what satisfaction implied… For the first time I felt I met someone like me… but more experienced. We both had a more or less similar history as far as personal life is concerned…

Rum’s arrival was followed by excellent tea and the sweets that manionline1’s mom had sent all the way from home. We then spoke of a lot of things ranging from writings, thoughts, home and least but not the last “Amanat”. My first question on hearing the name was… Who is this?

Rum had her hand on her head. I was informed about some music competition and “Amanat” coming out as the runner’s up. My second question was “Is it a he or a she?” If my first question took her hand to her head, the second would have got me a blow… luckily I was at the other end of the sitting area. Manionline1 and Appu were laughing away to glory… Amanat was supposed to be a good singer and Rum’s favourite… its seemed that Amanat was good looking… That was enough. The leg pulling that happened since then continued till the time I got out of his car. The moment we were informed that he’s good looking, manionline1’s next comment was “Oh... he can sing as well” manionline1 and I then let loose of our imagination and came up with all sorts of theories… we linked him to the undercover organizations… we linked Rum and her organization also to the thread. Even Bangalore was not safe since her organization has god a division there too. Manionline1’s home was equally too dangerous for us till then. If imagination were horses, we had reached Rome by then. All in all, I had an amazing time with them… simply superb.

Later the discussion took a somewhat serious turn; we had a small chat on what the color black implied to us… For Rum its negative emotions, manioniline1 viewed it as depth, intense… I viewed it as power. Give it anything it won’t change… sheer stubborn, immovable, deeply rooted. Again, manionline1 and I shared the same view; but a subtle difference in observation. I love the color black: my wallet, diary, bike, and pen, mobile...
We also spoke about ink pens… how infrequent it is now a day to see them… I still use one. Manionline1 also used to have a diary; I still have it, and I write with only my ink pen. Rum’s next question about what I write couldn’t have a better reply… “I don’t write about regular stuff, only special incidents, occasions which are valuable enough for me… like today”. That is what I’m doing now. On asking why ink pen and why not another, my reply was ready “Ball pen don’t capture your tears when you write… Ink pens do”. Rum liked it… I saw her nod in agreement. Moreover there’s this fear of ink being washed away which ball pen does not have. My answer was that, my creations are fragile… they need care. It’s not for them who’re not careful with my writings. So were my relations; I offered ample breathing space to my partner, let them be what they are and at times, take decisions for both of us. It was not me speaking; it was my soul speaking then.

Appu reminded that my tea had gone cold; I love cold tea

Dinner was graciously served by manionline1. Loved the parathas with the dum-aloo. Of course our brick batting on Amanat had not stopped. A few more minutes after lunch we started for the station. Manionline1 and Rum came to give me a drop. Rum was quite specific on a particular channel over the radio… manionline1 and I speculated whether she was receiving secret information… A few good songs were on the radio. Manionline1 would have qualified for F1 on Indian tracks. Zoom Zaap Zipp and we were quite close to the station. A minor jam and then came my destination. We bade good bye before I left. I turned back for one last time, manionline1 had just reversed his Zen and was on his way back home. Thane station was quite lonely that time and my train for Vashi was just 10 minutes away. Excellent timing.

Talking to manionline1 is always fun. I’d be amazed by the quantum of information he held... amazingly well spoken but so down to earth. The next day I got a call from manionline1 about how wonderful last evening had been. I agreed and I look forth for more such meetings. While I was to start for Bangalore, I gave a farewell call to him. “bhalo moton jaash”. [Bangal version of “Travel carefully”].

Of course TD was the one to bring us together…It’s still our discussion topic over the phone. Tomorrow onwards TD would be trading as a de-merged entity. Till today the bulls and bears are fighting… and it’ll continue.

Manionline1 is no more a friend for me... “Dada…” is how I refer to him. I guess he also doesn’t look at me any less than a younger brother.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Palani, The autorickshaw driver.

"Boss?? Station??" I asked just as I just turned into the alley. The autowala nodded and I gestured him to follow me. By the time I reached my bhabhi’s place to park my bike the autorickshaw had also made the U turn and was waiting for me to board it. Bhabhi asked me about my tickets, money and food. All in place bhabhi.. And then I had a look at the auto. I was getting late and the last thing I would have wanted was in front of my eyes: a fragile looking auto. As I boarded, I told bhabhi that I hope it takes me to the railway station on time. There was no time for responses…though Tantu waved me goodbye. I love the sweetheart!!!

It was the 31st of October and my train would start from Bangalore at 2000 hours sharp for Mumbai CST. I had booked a top berth ticket via Tatkal. There were only two things in my agenda: Sleep and read Harry Potter part seven. I always love reading good books while in the train and hence don’t mind the extra cash for the AC coach. Expectations of a nice time with the book in the train were quite high… I was in no mood for a backtrack. While these thoughts flooded my mind, I asked the autowalla about the time that would take to reach the city railway station. He checked the time and said that we’d reach about half an hour before the train departs. That was about one hour from then. Too risky, I thought… traffic was horrible that evening. We need an alternate option and then it clicked… Cantonment Railway Station. Udayan Express has a 2 minute halt there and comparatively Cant. is closer than the City station from where I was. Moreover Udayan arrives about 10 minutes past 8 at Cant.

I asked the autowalla what would he have done... and presented the facts to him… train at 2000 Hrs, can be boarded from Cant. station also and we’ve got only an hour and half with us… He asked for a couple of minutes to think and then told me that Cant. would take only 30 minutes and we’d be going there. I was so pleased. After that what happened…. That’s the reason for the blog.

His name is Palani…and since days gone by, he’s been in Bangalore. He’s seen the small town of Bengal-uru famous for its weather and coffee beans grow into a mighty IT hub of Asia. Though destiny put him to ferry people from one part of the town to the other, he’s got good friends with him…One such person is Ashokbabu who own a 50 acre land beyond Sarjapur village. Over the weekends Palani along with his friend visit the summer house [as they call it] and spend time there. The park’s all green with a water stream running from one part to the other. Crabs are supposed to be the tastiest and the most dangerous there. Palani had once saved his friend’s life by some alternate medication for treating Asthma.
The surge in the petrol prices has not left enough margins for profit in the auto driving business and hence he shifted to gas. In spite of the initial investment, gas offered better margins. Moreover with the onset of IT, professionals take long distant travels to their offices which are situated at the outskirts…this also gives them good returns.

“Wosh!!!” We took a U turn and just missed the rear of a Mazda truck by two inches… Palani was trying his best. We were going through all sorts of routes which I had never seen any autowala take. He told me… “Its loss for me to take short cuts.. but… Uparwala hai.. ” and raised his arm. I smiled… I was pleased… and told myself … “achche logo ki kami nahin hai duniya mein…” [No dearth of good people]. Every now and then he’d tell me how much more time it’d take to reach the cant. while I looked at the way ahead and my time piece... my mobile phone.

Somehow I didn’t like the idea of causing a loss to him and offered to take him for a coffee. He was shy of joining me… and suggested that I go alone and have something while he’d wait for me. “Oh come on Palani, I want to have a coffee with you cause that’s the only thing we can have together now” He agreed and we had good hot coffee… while Palani described about his life and friends. The small cafĂ© besides the road was just perfect for a hot coffee and a person reminisce about days gone by. At that time I wished I had more time. He agreed that the coffee was good… great in fact.

We reached the station at 1940 hours. He asked for my mobile number and told me that he’d want me to visit his friend who owns the park for a weekend out. I can even bring my friends. I asked him... “Would you remember me?” and he smiled and replied “Aapko nahin bhulunga…” We shook hands and I walked towards the railway station while he went ahead with another passenger.

As I waited for my train to arrive, I wondered how the last one hour had passed. I told Libin and Shinvanj about the Palani…

I hope someday again I meet him, just the way I did this time… “Boss?? Station??” and see the dark smiling face of Palani.. the autowala.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

RSCD Session at Bangalore, 2007

"A team outing just before the certification?"
I couldn’t believe when Libin told me that. He was equally bewildered when the news hit him. Boy, how many times do you get IBM Rational to conduct free certification… and we seem to be taking it lightly. Moreover we just had an “All hands meet” of the Quality team… But we both knew that there’s no point raising such questions. We went for the team outing… it was awesome… just awesome… and we all knew that there was something much better left for the next day, 23rd August, 2007.

Early in the morning I set out for Senthil’s place… had a nice breakfast there... chatted with his mom and played with his kiddie… I have to mention, the tea, it was amazing… and I even observed that they had a special way of handing over the tea cup to you…
Our ride from his place to Hotel Leela was smooth… with a couple of halts due to the traffic jams at the cross roads. Senthil would have preferred me driving a bit slower, but then… who cares ;-)

The arrangement right from the main road was perfect. There were placards placed at the right places to guide us to the parking lot. RSDC was being held on the first floor and on reaching there I saw our entire team. Most of them had “tiredness” written in capital, bold and underlined on their faces. The team outing was to be blamed. Like me most of them had crash landed on their beds the last evening.

Senthil and I went for the registration counter after which we attended the opening speech. While we got ourselves registered we were given a sturdy backpack apart from the other stationary that usually come and the timetable; much better than the umbrella last year. We agreed that a cup of tea would do us good. The biscuits looked yum and so I kept my cup near the table and by the time I was back with the biscuits, my cup was gone. Senthil was laughing away to glory. This never happened in my office; I’ve got a habit of not holding my cup when I’m not drinking the tea. The biscuits were still yum!!!

The session was informative… I was glued to my RUP book. I had the certification to be cleared and the previous day didn’t see me with the book. The timetable came in handy to decide which sessions not to attend. Hehehehe… A couple of talks on Requirements management and Unified process were all that was there for me. Another snacks break was followed by landing in one of the comfortable arm chairs and focusing on the RUP book. Sitting there, one cannot deny the scenic beauty that lays there… a beautiful landscape done… with waterfalls, tracks and shrubs.

Lunch was yum!!! Dessert was yummier!!! I loved the main course too… especially the fish preparation… no Bong connection please. Post lunch some of our team members had already appeared and cleared the certification test. I kept studying… no one had appeared in RUP and so I had no one for feedback…. Senthil and I had planned of taking it together. Evening snacks was again followed by discussions on Rational tools and clarification from the support staff there. I stuck to my RUP book. I had found one vacant room where I studied, undisturbed on RUP.

After the session was called for the day, all left, except for me. I found myself a spacious armchair near the corner lamp and studied. The evening was wonderful in the hotel. I saw an Indian family being interviewed about life in some other part of the world…. There were people all around, some socializing, some making a few deals and a couple of kids deciding where to have their dinner with mom close behind. I was done by then and left for home.

Next day again Senthil and I revised the course material once more. We had a question bank to aid us; later Senthil complaint that the question bank had confused him more than clearing his doubt. Niharika helped me with the test pre-registration; saved me the effort of standing in the line. Once inside the test centre, I got myself registered and an hour later, certified. When the screen blinked with the words “Congratulations… you pass”, I was so so pleased. I came out all beaming… none of my group there, I went into the room just besides the test centre… and there was our team. Libin was the first to realize where I came from and asked “Bhai.. kya huya?”. I smiled and punched the air. It was all congo congo for me then… Amit sir, Kamalra, Shilpl, Shivanj, Deeptiu, Ashish and Jayatp. I was so damned relaxed then…

Along with our preparation for the certification and attending sessions, Asha, Nihar and I were collecting the coupons to be exchanged for the gifts that were kept in the retail counter. We did all sort of things… just to have the coupons. Of course our whole team joined us in the collection spree. Finally I came out with enough coupons to buy me a coffee cup…

Lunch was awesome, I savored the chocolate mousse and I found company in that… Nihar. I had about four of them… I loved it. Libin was a bit tensed and preferred missing the lunch… how foolish. We attended Libin’s session on “Distributed development using RAD”… he sounded confident… obviously; in spite of that Shivanj and I had a few leg pulling comments for him. He knew that we’d never be generous to him. Jayateerth had somehow flicked the coupons from me in the session… I had misplaced it, but he scared the hell out of me before handing them over. I was surprised on the crowd that had come to attend his session… it was the highest I’d seen in all the sessions. Moreover the doubts that were asked were addressed to the point with enough clarification. I say this because even I understood. Hehehehe… I always believed, Libin is the best teacher.

We were joined by Mukesh Rao later in the day… he was pleased that I cleared the certification. Being my ex boss in Tools Group, he had always suggested me to undergo some certification on Tools – “It’ll add value to your profile”. It did add.

Once all the sessions ended… we all gathered for the closing speech. We were told that the highest number of certifications was cleared in this RSDC. The Q&A session round was followed by lucky gifts distribution. Neither me, nor anyone I knew were lucky enough.

Before the closing session, I saw a banner of “Kamasutra Girls” performing live… hold on… its music that we’re talking about… though the name provokes otherwise. Leave apart the live show; I’d never heard the name. Anyways, they came, they sang and I left… they were still singing. But not before having a handful of roasted mumfali with a coke drink.

That’s all about the Rational Software Development Conference. All that I took home from the session was information about RUP, the certification and of course the backpack. This session, the certification rather, had marked a new beginning of a teaser that Shivanj and I unleashed on Libin and his team…. “We don’t talk to uncertified people.. huh”… boy.. so many times… this statement had saved our skin… and well.. it still does… hehehehehe…

Monday, 29 October 2007

Breakfast, Books, Beer and Bourne...

It was quite sometime… seriously quite sometime when I wanted to go out with dada bhabhi for breakfast. Finally we agreed for a Sunday morning to Koshy’s. Eventually we dragged till lunch time and had an amazing time.

I was late, as usual to pick up Nup. Dada had called and told me that they would be there by 0930 hrs. By the time I reached Koshy’s was full and we were contemplating whether to go to KC Das or Indian Coffee House. Tantu was as happy as he could be.

We took our upper floor seat at the Indian Coffee House. Tantu had his breakfast first… the only difference being the ambience; his food was the same he has daily, packed from home. Bhabhi had to do her runaround with Tantu’s breakfast till he settled for the window seat and watched the cars go by down on MG Road. Had he been an year older, I’d have no doubts that he was checking on the babes on the street.

Once done with Tantu we ordered for our food. Though it arrived a bit late but I was ready… scrambled eggs, coffee, vegetable chop, mmmm…. I just loved it there. Dada wanted me to click a few pics while bhabhi had her plate full… dada always teased bhabhi. :-)

After breakfast we thought of paying a visit to Blossoms book store on Church Street. That’s one place where I feel so much at home. So many books… I was on a collection spree for Ken Follet’s novels than and ended up buying “Eye of the needle” from there. Bhabhi found a novel that she had once read completely but the last couple of pages. Nupur like me was collecting John Grisham novels. Dada bought the entire Bourne series. Latest I had heard was that dada is yet to start reading them :-) One thing common for all of us there was that we loved books. Nupur even bought a few books for her sister…consulted over the phone.

We were enjoying the morning sun… late morning sun to be precise… and it was getting warmer. We had our bikes parked a little further and while returning from Blossoms, we crossed the “Beer Cafe”. Dada complained about the heat… I took cue from him and echoed his views. We looked at each other… and turned back. Bhabhi and Nup took sometime to realize… we continue to complain about the heat and entered the beer cafe. :-) We got a nice place to ourselves. The street was not crowded then. We had a pitcher of beer while bhabhi and Nup settled for a mock-tail. Tantu savored all the drinks, though
he seemed to prefer the golden drink [beer] more than anything... bhabhi may differ but we know what’s in his heart. Drought beer is much better than bottled beer. Tantu freaked out in the open space… made friends with a couple of waiters. He even seemed to be instructing them about something. We talked about books… about dada’s new house and how he’d make me call the owner of the house to bring down the price and how each time he’d break my dream of buying a house. It’s a different story altogether. I teased dada a lot about that. God willing they’ve bought a house now. After having a nice time we set for Nupur’s sister’s place while dada bhabhi went home.

At didi’s place we had excellent rajma. I loved the way she cooked it. Jiju found it a bit strange on the idea of having beer in the morning… but we’re after-all guzzlers… beer guzzlers… time’s immaterial. Didi flicked through the books that Nup got…another round of good books for her. I guess Jiju would ban us from visiting their place because we’re keeping didi busy with a continuous supply of books :-). After lunch it was time for a movie… and that too a Bourne one…“The Bourne Supremacy”. We lazily watched the movie. Jiju had to give us a background of the protagonist and how he landed up where he was; a good movie…like all Bourne movies.

That was how I had my 7th October spent. Breakfast, books, beer and Bourne movie. What a combination… just remarkable.