Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Finally found my way to Janta ! A homely, no frills, good food, cheap alcohol bar in Bandra. Don't know how I had managed to avoid it for so long...
Anyway... big shout to A, N, S and S - three of them were new folks A and I met there; 1 was from Coimbatore/ London and the other 2 were from Bangalore. Fun people. Relaxed, easy to converse with and just plain fun. No baggage in public. Need more of those kind in Mumbai. Daym.

Indian aggression

An article in Bloomberg Businessweek - Scaring India to Save it - talks about behavioral psychology and its use at the Mumbai local train stations.
What caught my attention was this:

"They say that many antisocial behaviors in India can be traced to generations of scarcity—of resources and opportunities—and what they call an empathy gap. “We have this idea that whatever little space I get, whatever little opportunity comes my way, I need to make the most of it rather than giving it away, because for the longest time we’ve been used to limited resources,” Prasad says. This fear of scarcity contributes to the inconsiderate driving, line cutting, and pushing and shoving to board trains and buses before they’ve come to a complete stop that characterize any Mumbai commute."

Indians, I believe, tend to be quite aggressive. We become easily agitated in discussions, we like domineering, our answers to most issues tend to revolve around "finding an alternative route" instead of solving the issue.

The paperwork that is required to operate a small business just kills energy - annihilates it. In addition to that there are rounds of backs and forths just to get things done. Why cant I change my electricity provider online? Why is there so little delegation of work? Why do people drive the way they do? What can one do if there as an errant parker on the road? In general, I find it astonishing that people refuse to solve problems - they grow bitter, angrier and eventually fume at not having taken the appropriate steps.

Just yesterday, I was appalled at a decision by a friend to opt for a longer, tedious route compared to a quicker, effective, albeit costlier route. He would not have behaved the same way if the more complex route was the only option. Makes one think of what options really mean... especially when they come gradually instead of abruptly - think of a INR 2 rupee increase in petrol prices each year as opposed to sudden moves.

Friday, October 26, 2012


There is a lot to learn from reading books... Charlie Munger finds it difficult to learn from other people through conversations when compared to reading what they write.
Imagine, if you had the chance to learn from somebody who has lived a long life and that too, an exemplary one. Now imagine, if there were 2 of them.
Buffett and Munger. There is a lot to learn through what they write and say and through the books and people that have influenced them.

There was a guy named David Sokol who was considered by many as CEO designate of Berkshire Hathaway and boom! He bought some Lubrizol shares before he pitched the idea to Berkshire, and subsequently, Berkshire bought Lubrizol. Odds are that Sokol didn't mean to front-run because he made an estimated USD 3 Mn on them, which, for sure was not that much for him; odds are that he didn't think much about his purchases before pitching the idea.

Not a shred of reputation will be tarnished. Not a shred. And hence, Sokol had to leave Berkshire. WB must have been more unhappy than other shareholders, but something that is mildly wrong is still wrong.

Never do anything - anything that can ruin your reputation or keep you up at night. That's it. And you live a wonderful life.

A similar thing seems to have happened to Rajat Gupta; based on the overwhelming praise he has received from outstanding global personalities and also based on what the judge said - Rajat seems to have done a lot of good stuff. But he bragged - may be unmindfully... there was precious little for him to have earned by talking to Rajaratnam or whoever, but he made a mistake.
And the US is brilliant at setting standards. Nobody is above the law. We like you, you are a good guy, but you did a wrong thing - behind bars you go.

It makes me think of the fragility of life and how much we take for granted. We lie at times without thinking much about it, we evade taxes, we bribe, because it's a way of life, but is it?

I just went through 2 official documents about Sokol, Lubrizol and Buffett. Here and Here.
There is nothing 'financial' about this, hence this post is on the Khadda.
I like what Munger said:

"Charlie Munger: I think it's generally a mistake to assume that rationality is going to
be perfect even in very able people. We prove that pretty well regularly.
WARREN BUFFETT: Do you have any explanation for the irrational?
CHARLIE MUNGER: Yeah. I think hubris contributes to it."

It's amazing - the kind of things that lead people astray; is it really worth it?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Running, Brains and Evolution

An intensely engrossing talk. Do read it.
People are suffering from fallen arches on their feet (flat foot?), lower back pain. Brains are the largest consumers of energy in a typical urban body. We can't climb trees! We are lousy primates. We wear shoes and land on our heels which is actually bad for our posture and our health...
Truly fascinating.

Makes me wonder about how human eyes will develop based on its new need for reading / watching TV. Also makes me wonder if we will keep becoming weaker creatures over time. What good is hair any more? We don't venture out in the sun. We wear a hat or a hoodie or a car over our heads! No wonder people are going bald younger...


"Money won't make any difference to you and me, Warren. We'll be the same. Our wives will just live better."
Benjamin Graham - Lowe

Monday, October 15, 2012

Why so serious?

A few days ago, I was sitting with a couple of friends late into the night at a coffee shop. Prior to that we were at a pub. They made a plan to go drinking next week and I said, "Will come if I'm alive."
At the coffee shop, we were speaking of a soap box race and me as the designated driver; I said, "Damn... that would be a cool way to die."

To this, my friend asked me why I was so obsessed with death.
For one, it's a certainty - there is no getting around it.
Secondly, when one has few expectations from life, the need for psychiatrists goes down!
Thirdly, it keeps me on my toes all the time which also makes me unwilling to compromise on the quality of my life.

May be this very characteristic about me suits my profession.
Wonly twendy fyyeee eye syay!!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Sam Walton

"I solemnly promise and declare that everytime a customer comes within ten feet of me, I will smile, look him in the eye, and greet him. So help me Sam."
- Sam Walton, Made in America

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Monday, October 8, 2012


From Farnam Street - A refreshing video and a fascinating idea.
A Little Bit of Dishonesty.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Ratan Tata

History is beautiful, especially when it is one's own.
This video of Ratan Tata's formative years at Cornell is deeply sentimental; his love for cars and for planes; the stories about his times with his friends, his disdain for cold weather, him trying to land a small plane at JFK airport and in general, everybody's fond memories of those times.
Sure, the bad stuff would be edited out or left out - but what it must be to look back at the 1950s and say, damn, I've come far!

"Don't slam the door!!!"
A great story in the video is the time when the engine stalled and Ratan had to go for a forced landing! :D

The last 8 minutes of the video are exemplary - praise after praise for Ratan's humility and demeanour. What more could one want from life? To forge lasting relations with people, to enjoy life and do justice for the society around you.

"His way of saying goodbye was, 'Tata'" :D

I hope that his reputation is never tarnished because he is one Indian that most Indians tend to admire. Unmarried, lives with his 2 dogs - German shepherds, humble, soft-spoken, true grit and deeply in love with what the family name stands for.

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Snowball

"He (Stan Lipsey) stayed in the hotel that Buffett recommended and ate at Buffett's favorite steakhouse - and was baffled at how Buffett could stand either one of them."