Archive for March, 2007

The plunge

Friday, March 30th, 2007

As an eligable bachelor I was ‘scared’ of getting married and use to run away from every discussion about my marriage. But the inevitable had to happen and here a few lines on how did it happen.

Job and wedding were like a tug of war,
Both pulling me while I was at the center,
The job kept on winning with occasional disturbance,
Wedding was not the convinced side.

Discussions were ‘on’, on what my requirement was,
Analysts were busy doing ‘analysis’,
Once an analyst met and ‘talked’ to me,
Told me his analysis from life.

Many were proposed, many were processed,
Many were described and photographed,
Many were ‘trying’ to meet and greet,
Many were involved in the game.

Game made me make my profile
Game got me clicked in style
Game made me greet and meet people
Game put me in thinking gesture
Game made me scared of the future

Some day I was asked to meet someone,
Someone I have not met ever,
Someone I was not convinced about,
Someone I ‘did’ discuss and meet,
Someone could not meet my hearts need.

Meeting helped me on looking at ‘the one’
Thoughts went through, leaving no space undone

Job kept on winning
Each win made the other side stronger
While I was holding the rope tight towards job,
I did not know that I was about to be robbed.

On a bright afternoon, in a bright shop
People met me with great hope
Soon I was to meet someone.
She was unlike the previous one,
Discussions went on one to one,
But soon the confusion was none,
That ‘She’ was ‘the one’

And I took the plunge !

Wants & Habits

Friday, March 23rd, 2007

What you truly believe in and put your effort towards, you typically get it. It’s the universal cause and effect syndrome. Everything works in a cause-effect paradigm. If you work hard, you get results. The question is how much work you consider hard work. The result is inevitable and will follow!!

Life is short and we always have infinite wants. Out thoughts starts revolving around it. Over the years I have realized that we only get and do what we want and we always get some result (positive OR negative). Our wants are dangerous and can guide us to do anything.

Once I wanted to be the best in my company and one day I was given the award of excellence (after 2 years of service in the company). All depends on how badly you want something and what are the other things you are willing to sacrifice. To be the best I had to sacrifice family time, give-up further studies, a few pleasures of life like playing tennis in the evenings, go swimming and also time to do photography. All the time was taken by office and work. So you should be aware of what you want.

We often have the feeling to help others, but often fail to do so. One should be sensitive of ‘Wants’ and ‘Needs’. The need demands higher attention and immediate resolution. Wants could be many and can be addressed later. If you can satisfy someone’s need, then it’s a true service to humanity. As I said earlier, people have infinite wants and to satisfy all the wants is not possible. Another important factor but difficult to access is, if there is really a need or you are a ‘bakra’ in the person’s melodrama.

Habits of a person can make a lot of difference. If you invest 2000 rupees every month, you would have a lot of money in 8 to 10 years. We all know that but how many of us practice it ? Lets take another habit, in our effort to donate to humanity we search for the ideal person who has the needs, why cant we just donate 2 roti every day to unknown people ? In a year you would have donated 730 rotis (365 x 2) !! Is that not a huge donation and service to humanity ? Just 2 roti every day not much. The key here is ‘everyday’ and ‘every month’ which is not easy to practice. Our parents have to spent a lot of time to instil the habit if brushing our teeth everyday when we were a child, after sometime it just becomes a part of your regular routine. As we grow we do not install good habits within ourselves.

Out of love and affection, often my mother would cook delicious food and ask me to eat. I would love the food and soon start asking for ‘tasty’ food again and again. After a few months, if you don’t get tasty food, you just don’t want to eat!! Hold on, lets look back … Is the tasty food you want, healthy for your body? Is the habit of ‘tasty’ food doing any good to your body and you? If the answer is NO then why do you want it ? Why can’t we just say NO to it and move to a healthy diet? The answer is that we have already developed a habit of ‘tasty’ food and now can’t move away from it. We often become slaves to our tongue. Why?

This brings me to another nature we have is resistance to change. What is going on is comfortable and we just don’t want to change. I wonder why? Is this habit of ours helping us?

Personal Investments

Wednesday, March 21st, 2007

Have been thinking aloud and practicing buy generic cialis 20mg investment habits but have limited myself to the following options 

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1.       Post Office instruments like NSC, KVP…
2.       Bank FD
3.       Insurance Plans (non ULIP)
4.       ULIP 
5.       RBI bonds
6.       Public Provident Fund(PPF)
7.       Equity – Shares
8.       Mutual Funds
9.       Gold
10.    Real Estate
 

I have experienced that most of the debt oriented options (FD, post office, Insurance, RBI bonds) does not give good returns and erodes as the inflation rises.

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Although PPF can be a good investment if you are planning for a term of 10 to 15 years also it is a tax free investment. 

Gold is an accepted investment in India but I did not find it to be providing good returns, it surly is a secure investment but not a very good investment and does not offer great returns. 

Equity comes with its own share of risks of the market and time commitments for identifying the stocks. People also get into misleading habit of timing the market and doing daily trading. My philosophy here is that we should get into the market with a long term vision and invest is strong proven companies or companies with a potential to grow. However, you need to invest a lot of time in identifying such companies and then of course stock-picking is not your profession hence how much justice can you do remains an open question! 

Mutual funds are safer than direct equity and does not require too much research. My thought is one should go for proven funds for 75% of the total investment to be made and for 25% take some risk of new funds/NFO. It is an investment where one can expect 20 to 25 % return per annum (equity diversified funds). 

Real estate seems to be a viable option however demands money to be invested in a large sum (between 40 to 80 lacs at least). Many fear the amount that needs to be put in and the future of the same in next 15 years horizon. I feel it is better to invest in land than a flat on the 8 floor in some society; however, it comes with the headache of maintaining and providing security to the premises. Also we need to the math on living on rent versus buying a house. 

Insurance as an investment is a confusing concept to me with so many agents and insurance companies promising 1000 things. However once you buy insurance you get to know the fine prints on mortality rate, admin charges and Terms of insurance. My thought is that one should buy pure insurance products with no returns / investment promise attached to it for 80% life coverage and for 20% can go for ULIP or other insurance products. 

Overall I am still doing research and trying to see if we have better/other options available. . .  

 

Visit to Rameshwaram

Monday, March 19th, 2007

This weekend I had the pleasure of visiting Rameshwaram with my parents. Overall the place is amazing. In case you plan to visit then this write-up should be of help to you.

There is no airport at Rameshwaram and rail track is under construction, so we took a 40 minutes flight from Chennai to Madurai.

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Madurai as a place is well known for the huge Meenakshi temple and is located 175 kilometers away from Rameshwaram.

We reached Madurai in the evening from Chennai and checked-in into the Hotel. I was suggested to stay at Park Plaza by a friend of mine at Chennai. Next day we covered 175 KM to Rameshwaram in 3 hours, the bridge on the ocean on the way is a visual delight!! The key is to have your ‘Panda’ identified before you even think about visiting the temple. In my case, dad already had the information and we had called him from Madurai itself before reaching Rameshwaram. ‘Panda’ had already made all the arrangements and bookings in the temple.

The grand finale starts with ‘Samudra snan’ (Ocean bath) where you go to a small beach near to the temple and take a holy bath there. This is followed by ’22 kund snan’ (bath in 22 wells). The temple has a well organized system. You enter the temple and pay Rs 51 per person for the 22 kund snan so that a person is appointed to you who would pull water from the kund (well). Taking bath 22 times with a bucket full of water is quite an experience. The guy pours water on your head 22 times!!

After the bath you need to change your dress and be ready for the Pooja. We did Abhishek of Lord Shiva with milk and ganga jal. For this you need to pay Rs. 651 in the temple and all the arrangements are made for you. Total time taken is around 2 hours inside the temple if you have everything organized through the ‘Panda’.

After the visit to the temple there is not much to do in that place, so we decided to take some rest and then started our return journey to Madurai.

One of the most important religious destinations of Hindus, the Rameshwaram temple is simply HUGE and has 108 shivling inside in the corridor. The temple is one of the dham (other dhams are Badrinathji, Jagganathpuri and Dwarkaji) and also one of the 12 jyotirlings.

Next day we visited the HUGE Meenakshi temple which was also a visual delight and returned back to Chennai in the evening.

Pleasure

Monday, March 12th, 2007

‘Pleasure’ holds different meaning to different people. A few lines on what it means to me.
 

A wildlife sanctuary,
a SLR camera
good animal visibility
great shots … that’s Pleasure
 

In the middle of a tea garden
Open landscape, pleasant wind
Me and my wife on two relaxing chairs
That’s Pleasure
 

Weekend with no work
Good music and broadband
Building web application on PHP
That’s Pleasure
 

Low sunlight and windy weather
Driving down the scenic road
Slow music in the car
Partner with her head resting on your shoulders
That’s Pleasure
 

A visit to a religious place
Parents happy to visit the place
Happiness and thankfulness showing on their face
That’s Pleasure
 

Training on technology
Learning on your own
Showing the learning at work
That’s Pleasure
 

Research on investments
Decision on stocks
Investment of money
Good long term returns
Ultimate Pleasure !!!  😉

IT consulting – India story

Saturday, March 10th, 2007

As a fresh graduate I use to wonder and dream of becoming the best in software design & analysis world. My impression was that IT consulting is very high-tech and respected job. Good blessed me with a job in an IT company soon after my graduation. My high aspirations and the big US dream was very much alive and true.

Entered the industry and realized that the reality was something else. Use of computers and electronic in the US is common because of high cost of manpower, hence the effort always is to automate the processes in an organization. This mindset leads to very high level of automation and computerization. Another fact of US is lack of skilled and educated work force. Although the government has provided free high school education BUT graduation and higher studies is very expensive even for an average American to afford. The US economy is rich and technology surly offers convenience to people and makes ‘work’ people independent.

To solve this manpower issue and to further automate things, organizations spend millions of dollars. Technologies take birth and die faster than the speed of human birth rate in India. In the web programming space CGI was hot then came PHP, then XML on the web followed by ColdFusion, JSP and ASP, then ASP.NET … soon distributed computing also became the buzz word with RPC, RMI, COM, EJB, CORBA then web services were HOT thing and now service oriented arch. Its a non ending story …

Technology is a broad term and is always meant to solve a business problem ! business problem could be of multiple kinds … need of a new technology for enhanced security at home gave birth to virtual security systems which allow you to control your house over the net. Now that sounds cool … but some smart person thought about this concept which will sell and mean a lot of business hence the need for such a technology. Similarly, their are other scenarios when business houses has already implemented systems and that needs further enhancement or revamp due to expansion of business and inability of the existing system to handle that volume, again the need for better technology. Then we have scenarios where the technology implemented is excellent but is obsolete now and the organization cannot find people with those skills, hence they have to consider upgradation of the systems although their is no change in the business process. So in every perspective, a technology lives and dies with the business need in the US.

You might say … great, nice to know that US angle, but how does this lead to growth of companies in India ? The answer is that Indians are smart and intelligent people available for cheap. Higher education is not that expensive and we have lot of hard working people with a dream to grow in life willing to take that extra pain to learn. And most importantly we CAN communicate in English. Its like a discount store where you get good stuff at a lesser price and hence US companies see dollar savings. A person in the US might charge anywhere between $90 to $100 per hour for utilizng his skills in a given technology or subject area. In India, companies offer the same skilled resources for $25 to $35 per hour which is 3 to 4 times cheaper. Internet has proven a boon to India for connectivity to US systems and the time difference of 9 to 12 hours makes it possible for us to work during our day time when it is night in US.

How do Indian companies afford to pay high salary ? a typical $25 per hour billing rate coverts to Rs. 1125 per hour @ Rs.45 per dollar. A simple calculation revels that Rs.1125 per hour becomes Rs. 9000 a day (1125 X 8 hours a day), Rs. 45,000 a week (9000 X 5 working days in a week) and Rs. 1,80,000 a month (45,000 X 4 weeks) !!! Even if offer a salary of 90,000 a month you still have another 90,000 to look forward to in order to meet your business expenses. We are till now talking about 1 person at $25 per hour. TCS has a workforce of 83,000 employees and many others in the range of 7,000 to 40,000. Even if you leave aside the support staff (non-billable) which is typically 10% to 15% of the workforce, this model means a LOT of money !!

My original dream of becoming best in design and analysis is still there but the perspective has changed. US dream is not live anymore as I have visited US 3 to 4 times now and understand that its not my kind of place. Its just a different place with people belonging to a different culture and mindset !!