Sunday, December 27, 2009

The case for a perpetual Christmas

Recession has been the most pronounced word of 2009. Some call it the credit crunch, some just blame it on their respective governments, some blame their luck, the economists write articles analysing the happenings through a seemingly intellectual eye. My understanding is rather simplistic.

Recession is lack of confidence. Recession is lack of balance.

Imagine a boat ‘the universe’ which is sailing in balance and suddenly everyone moves to one end. It is most likely to topple because of imbalance. This imbalance can be irrational exuberance (2005 – 2007) or unsolicited fear (2008-2009) and that’s what we precisely saw in the last 5 years.

Over confidence burst the bubble - stock markets, real estate prices, easy credit (the ability to repay - notwithstanding).

And lack of confidence is preventing the recovery because people are overtly fearful.

Has there been any significant change on this planet? NONE. The same number of people have same ambitions and aspirations and same desires. People over spent and over consumed and stoked an artificial boom that could not be sustained. NOW they are under spending and preventing a recovery.

But Father Christmas is an exception – His birthday is celebrated with unparalleled zeal. He induces hope that is illogical and belief in magic that is never seen. Young gullible children are made to write their wish lists early in December so that the lists reach Santa well in time. People over spend, over consume, become irrationally happy, develop unsustained hopes and promises only to realise that Christmas does not last forever.

Credit card defaults, home repossessions and financial exigencies are quite typical of any January and Santa is missing. Because Santa does not exist. December creates an imbalance towards one side, January towards another.

Why can’t Human beings learn to be rational? Be positive all year round. Live within their means. Invest wisely. Spend for all their needs but none for their greed.

And we will never have an imbalance and will stop expecting Santa to do miracles.

Or simply put – Have a year round Christmas with rational exuberance.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Birthday Dear Sister

Many people have made a difference in my life with their love, affection, support, strength of character and above all by being there when I needed them the most. As Tanu turns 28 today I cannot help but write a few lines to wish her Happy Birthday.

On 21st Dec this little angel took birth and brought immense joy to our lives and growing up with her was full of happiness. While we both fought madly, she would always relent and let me have my way.

As school happened, her keen interest in karate was commendable and for the next 10 years she trained every single day to become the Black Belt Dan II, one of the youngest in her city. Financial exigencies pushed her to start teaching and for many years she taught over 50 students of the preceding class each day while coping with her own studies.

Her ability to paint, dance, teach, work and strike a balance between all these activities never failed to amaze everyone in the family and her ability to form an instant fan club has been a source of inspiration for me all my life.

Never ever did any of her actions or decisions cause a concern for anyone in the family and we have always been proud of her simplicity and values.

It was a happy but emotional day for the family when she married the love of her life Soarabh and went away to the US. While it is easy (understandably) to get busy with the new life, not a day has passed that she hasn’t called to check upon my welfare. Along-with many relatives and friends she quietly transferred a large sum of money so that I could complete my MBA in the midst of the stock market crash as all my financial plans nosedived with the world indices.

Her sensitivity amazes me. During my recent trip to the US, I liked a shirt but did not have the money to buy it and neither the courage to express my desire. She sensed this thought and quietly bought this amazing shirt and hid it in my suitcase so that I wouldn’t get embarrassed and discovered it only when I unpacked in the UK. As an Indian we are used to eating rotis instead of bread. She cooked hundreds of rotis for days before my departure from the US so that my staple diet gets sorted for many months at Warwick.

I can go on and on but words are not adequate to say how proud and blessed I am to have Tanu as my sister and how much I love her.

God bless you Tanu. Happy Birthday..

Friday, December 11, 2009

The insignificance one's travel conquests

In the august company of a meritorious family in the UK I was overwhelmed by the ‘grandness’ of the holiday that they recently returned from. The hostess while ensuring an incessant supply of caviar and champagne regaled the guests throughout the evening with her travels on the finest cruises and the number of countries the family visited this year.

The sceptic that I am at times – I subtly asked whom were they visiting? She said no one.

Just as I return from a fantastic break after visiting Arvid, a very very dear friend in Norway, I muse – are holidays about destinations or people?

Are holidays about the money spent on them – to regale the lesser mortals at parties where guests are obliged to hear the travel conquests of their filthy rich hosts or are they about the people whom one visits.

I wouldn’t say that I have seen every nook and corner of the world but have travelled sufficiently far and wide to reflect with a degree of confidence that every destination in the world is just marginally different from the other. Globalisation has ensured that all high streets are just the same. Same brands, same shops, almost the same prices. Architecture and collection of museums and places to visit varies only to the extent as it varies if one is travelling from London to Liverpool via Cotswolds.

Same buildings, the same sort of places of interest and every city would have some sort of an insignificantly similar attraction.

I strongly believe that it’s only the people who matter in this equation.

Oslo (my recent holiday city) was just another destination. But what moved me was the hospitality that was extended to me. The opportunity to be a part of my host’s family, to be invited to his home where his respected parents re-scheduled their programs just so that I could be part of the family Christmas dinner, a special afternoon in his farm house, the time he spared amidst his new job to take me sightseeing and above all the evening in his beautiful new home, with a log fire, where he invited two of his best childhood friends too - made me feel on top of the world.

Destinations play a small role – the genuine friendships, relationships and the company that you are in, is all that matters.
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