Sunday, October 26, 2008

Your mind is in disturbia, Its like the darkness is the light - Disturbia

ok so imagine this at 7 am on a saturday. again, a SATURDAY morning, the one morning you look forward to in the entire week, some construction type sounds start outside my building. and yes, i have blogged earlier of the sounds of the city and how I have gotten used to them. But this was no regular sound. and so I was super pissed. Plus the after effects of watching the movie, Hulla, which is based on this stock broker whose life gets messed up because he can't sleep all night due to his building's watchman constantly making sounds to chase away thieves. So, I go into my "kaun hai jisnei mujhei uthaya" hai mode and was all set to find out kab bandh hoye ga yei shor. It then starts to rain and the drilling hasn't stopped. I go out and find a truck filled with cement, and some workers in the rain fixing the pavement in the rain. they are all working on it sincerely and are completely drenched and honestly concrete when wet is pretty sick looking. I stood there for a moment, transfixed, just staring, when one of the guys looked up at me and nodded at me. I smiled back and then just walked back home. Moral of the story: reminder to self, not to be a spoilt brat.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

what can i do, to make you care? what can i say to make you feel this, what can i do to get you there.- The Corrs

so, i live in this relatively quiet neighbourhood of the city. its the neighbourhood of residents, interns, doctors galore, since there are approximately 6 or 7 hospitals in the area. its also the neighbourhood of pigeon hole studio dwellers like me. in the midst of all this its the neighbourhood of quaint restaurants, mostly family driven. and two blocks from where I live, there is a desi restaurant. and for a desi this is potential good news, and perhaps a benefit of living in the area, but in reality this is far from the truth.

its a sad excuse of a restaurant. its soooo dilapidated, its unbelievable. and i seriously doubt the hygiene of the place. its reviews on yelp arent encouraging either. and its pretty much always empty. and what bothers me is that they can do sooo much with it, cooking isnt rocket science. i know im not the perfect cook. But, I really think if you stick to the basics, you can actually do a good job. Most people dont really care about having something fancy, most people just want something that tastes good, all they want is food for the soul. food that makes them happy. my beef on desi restaurants in new york is that they try too hard. yea too hard. they put on so much stuff on their menu, chicken tikka masala is a must.
in the end, none of it tastes good or just tastes the same. why dont you just make a simple chicken curry, no frills no thrills. just make something you know and make it well. make it with laouve.

in my whole venture capitalist day dream, im always tempted to just walk in there and be like 'i can help you, please just let me'. i really do believe that i can. yea noone made me the dilapidated desi restaurant god mother. but i can think.

sometimes i do do things other than think.

i did try once. i got into this conversation with the owner, despite my shyness. well he did tell me that that the one samosa that he does sell here in the city is actually 10 times the actual cost of it, in other words he is doing absolutely fine. despite the restaurant being eerily quiet with just me and this elderly couple who were waiting for someone to take their order for a while. i didnt say much after that. my shyness factor kicking in.

so its really not my problem, but just coz something is not my problem doesn't stop me from thinking about it.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

aye dil hai mushkil jeena yahan, zara hat ke zara bach ke, yeh hai Mumbai meri jaan

so, after a longgg time, I saw a good movie. Mumbai meri jaan, is a story about different characters and how they were affected by the 11 July 2006 Bombay train bombings, where a series of seven bomb plasts took over a period of 11 minutes across Bombay stations.

So you have a news reporter, played by Soha Ali Khan who has done an extremely good job, whose job is perhaps to be highly desensitized to ongoings but once her fiancee gets killed, she begins to really understand the trappings of her job. What I like about this track is it portrays very much what the world is going through now, the emergence of sensational kind of news. The more sensational, the better the TRP. It doesn't matter anymore if you are invading someone's personal space, all that matters is sound bytes. and pehlai pehlai, it was very much restriced to celebrities, but now everyone is fair game.

Then there's the suspicious of all muslims guy, played by Kay Kay, who I think has set the bar to the point where Im thinking if Kay Kay is in it it must be good, alrite minus Drona but you know what I mean. So anyway this is the guy who in his detective suspicious mode goes to the extent to going to the muslim guy's house and finding out where was he on the blast day, and when his misconceptions get cleared he realizes that not every muslim is a terrorist. At work once I was asked almost cautiously immediately after finding out I was a muslim, what do you think of Dawood? I have always been one to call a spade a spade and it made me a little irritated that the person would think I would even try to defend a criminal. What is wrong is wrong, your religion is your personal thing and in no way allows you to use that as your shield in doing wrong things. After I said that, I was asked so you are pretty vocal about this. Why wouldnt, I be, I am not trying to dissociate myself, I just find it wrong to even consider these kind of people as muslims.

moving on, theres paresh rawal and supporting actors, who play roles of cops. Paresh Rawal is awesome in this movie. This track is very real, its a portrayal of how cops sit on the fence trying to balance what is wrong and what is chalta hai. an aquaintance,V, was telling his story once on how he broke a signal on his bike once in delhi and the cop caught him and asked him to pay. He only had some 50 rupees or something his pocket, so was indignant and was like "theek hai ticket deido"( give me the ticket) something on those lines. the cop goes from the dhamki mode into the acha jaanei do mode and is like lets finish the story here only. V was like forget it just give me a ticket, I dont have any money on me. The cop is like you dont have any money? And starts scolding him how can you leave house without any money? How much do you have? V is like I have 50. The cop is like ok give me 30 and we can forget everything. At the time, V was saying his story it was more like the light-this-happens-only-in-india kinda stories tone. But in reality, its actually very sad. Its become very common to bash cops. Our family's only encounter with cops in India hasnt been great so its added to their image. In reality, I know its the same case of equating all muslims as terrorists. and not everyone can be measured on the same scale.

this isn't restricted to cops. it permeates the whole society. at one local bank in India, we had gone for some papework and one oe of the clerks, directly asked us for some karcha paani, since of course because you live abroad you of course are the golden goose. At the time, I was shocked beyond belief, and had a major argument with my mom why she is feeding into this vicious circle. her answer was like jaanei do, coz they do have the power to make everything extremely difficult for you. and they will use it, since thats the only power they have.

Then there's this poor man, played well again by Irfan Khan, who is simply trying to fit in this upper middle class/rich snobbery. Not even fit in I would say just trying to be a fleeting part of it. He is happy in his own world, but pple dont allow him even a basic dignity. He fights back in other ways, I wont give out the whole story, but realizes his wrong doing and tries to rectify it. This again is very common, you see it everywhere, people speaking condescendingly to the watchman of your society, the housemaid etc. It breeds contempt for each other.

Then there's the educated guy, again played super well by Madhavan, who loves his city and doesn't want to move to the greener pastures of the USA. He travels by local train and not cause he cant afford it, but because it is faster and environmental friendly. One of my favourite lines in the movie where the NRI friend is like be it here in India or in the US, the new generation will become immune to violence and tragedy.

On a similar tangent though, yesterday I went to see the movie W with a bunch of friends, its a movie based on George Bush, we reached the theatre really early and t our shock ther ewas a huge line for the 11 pm show an hour before! The movie was well boring, I fell asleep couple of times. But what was shocking to me, is how involved the youth are or at least care about the elected governement and are curious to know more. Topic at our dinner was heavily about politics, most people do think Obama can win, but no one is confident that he will definetly win. Then there was talks of how there are so many videos on youtube that are anti Obama and say he is a terrorist and how the republican party is even propagating this and how the "mob" at the rally was using words like treason and kill him. But what really shocked me, and the point of saying this story, was when a friend mentioned how he was at a bar watching the debate and people were like there is so much hatred still and shayad if he does become president, he will be killed.

But what bugged him and what bugs me too, was that people were so matter of fact about it and if it happens, Khuda na Khasta, it will be more like oh we expected this and not so much why is this happening? It really scares me that we are slowly becoming immune. We become so fixated in our own little world, that nothing not even tragedy happening all around can affect you. Its like we are watching a long movie and as long as we aren't in the movie, its all good.

if you watch only one movie in the remaining of this year, watch mumbai meri jaan


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

its too late to let it in, when its underneath your skin.
so the last and final presidential debate got over. i didnt see most of it, lot of my friends didnt either and im guessing many pple at work prob gave it a miss. ironically the vp debate was more talked about. its pretty obvious both obama and mccain dont like each other. at all. i hope obama wins, he's got youth, reputed credentials, has the believable quality that makes you want to trust him and i would like to say in my very layman knowledge of american foreign policy, his appointment may actually improve US relations with other countries. that being said, i think it takes a lot of guts to stand up and decide to run the country. with great power comes great responsibility, i think thats the quote from spiderman =).and despite my agreeing to disagree with republican policies, i do think it takes a lot of effort for mccain to be runing for president especially when hes 75 and has had a cancer scare. if i was 75 and prone to cancer, God Forbid for the latter, i would be on my world tour right now. screw the economy, screw everything else. i would be sailing on some rented yatch (i dont think i would be able to afford one ever) in the middle of the sea fishing. occasionally zeroing on a radio station to not be in the know of whats happening in the world, but to listen to casey's top 40. ok i digress.
anyway, speaking of screwed up things. a leading bank recently did some mass firing, the manager came in and said you all go now. the whole trading desk was shell shocked. this takes brutality to a whole new level. its even lower than brutal. since this was heard from a friend of a friend, im hoping this is the classic case of chinese whispers/hearsay and not the veritable truth. then again, there is no smoke without fire.
even at work, everyones become more octopusy than normal. octopusy, my own creation, is euphism for sticking your fingers into everything, despite having enough on your plate already, the idea being having a share in everything so you are in the know of everything and can take credit for some piece of everything. and the more octopusy you get, the more "valuable" you become to the firm. never mind you dont finish up your filled to the brim plate.
anyways, in good news since all my posts lately have been pretty cribby. a bunch of us have been selected to do an "interview" about our experiences at the bank. basically potential to be on those recruiting videos, where i use the most cliched line "there is no such thing as a typical day", subtly incorporating the fave buzzwords learning, teamwork and leadership. oddly all seem quite opposites. haha. i dont know about other pple, but recruiting videos at least for wide-eyed wannabees like me were the most fun thing about corporate presentations. and frankly they made the whole place cool. and you actually wanted to be the smiling person in the video. life eventually does comes full circle. hell, more than a full circle.
good nite all.


Saturday, October 11, 2008

when the shit hits the fan

today was probably the single worst day ever. short sale ban was lifted, govt is pumping money into the arteries of the financial markets nonstop, central governments are cutting rates like crazy in order to simulate the different economies. still nothing is working. everyone is still pulling out, and hoarding t-bills. The LIBOR rate has jumped to all time highs. not just companies, but countries, COUNTRIES, are going bankrupt.
and despite you are in the middle of this, you aren't really really in it. until it hits you or your friends. when bear sterns went bust, then lehman, merril lynch,wamu, wachovia, morgan stanley teetering on the edge. when all this happened, i knew it was happening, but i never knew anyone who was still at these companies, i knew of pple who shifted jobs before the shocking happened but i didnt know of anyone who got the axe, so i was still in my little bubble. but today, i got texted within seconds by a friend about another friend who was let go from barclays. i just cannot imagine what he must be going through. the gang was supposed to meet up today, he didnt show up, or reply to my emails that i sent prior to this happening. its embarassing and considering how the market is flooded with smart brilliant people its even more difficult finding a job. i feel extremely sad for him.
another friend who has been scouting the market for the last month, because she hates her trading desk was initially inundated with calls from boutique quant shops and hedge funds, within 2 weeks the picture has changed so much - no one calls, they dont need to.
of course certain teams are still growing, but whats scary is not that there are these brilliant applicants who can do the job but its these applicants bosses too that are on the lookout for the same job, ready and willing to take the pay cut.
what riles me up is the dumbness of the senior management. how could they have been so stupid, how could you leverage up so much that you are risking your whole capital. have yall not heard of VAR, stress testing, in simple words not eating more than you can show. stupid greed, and it doesnt screw up any big guy it just screws the worker bees. the current rumor going around was the ceo of lehman was working out at a gym, and someone pushed him and roughed him up. just imagine if this happened in india or something. so much value has been lost, its like people are pulling out and just taking the loss, which is really really stupid, im expecting huge write downs this quarter and this recession is touted to be the longest. high frequency trading is controlling hte market, im not saying everyone is losing money, some divisions are making huge money but those whose strategies are long term or even to a medium short term (1-3 months) are getting screwed. its no more the case of what if it doesnt rebound but more of how much can we afford to lose to rebound. what bothers me most is the lack of action, you know whats happening, sure you cant predict tommorow - if anyone could, they woudl probably have their own hedge fund. but you see the signs, and you should not wait too long to react.
to end with a small but true anecdote, the cleaning lady at work gets her 30 seconds quick updates about market conditions from my friend. and hell if she, too is worried about the shop closing, that's a signal right there.


Thursday, October 09, 2008

im going nowhere - staying alive

they say, at some point you have to stop running and start walking. chances are you may trip less, chances are you may not make the best time, chances are you may never lose the extra pounds, chances are that you may never get lost, chances are you will never lose sight of what was. chances are you will always be able trace your way back. chances are that you may never know your own potential.


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