Monday, October 17, 2016

My own Samsung Galaxy Note 7 jokes

Ajit ( The Hindi movie villain of yore): " Mere paas bandookh hai, bamb hai, rocket-launcher hai... tumhaare paas kay hai?"

Amitabh Bacchan : "Mere paas Note 7 hai".


Worker, to the supervisor, in the granite quarry: " Sir, sorry. We cannot break any more rocks. We have run out of gelatine sticks".

Supervisor : " Dont worry, I have a spare Note 7".


Two cave-men conversing:

1: " Oh man! Cant light up fire. We have run out of flint-stones."

2 : " Dont worry! I have a Note 7".


Note 7 is the only device that is capable of authentic son-et-lumière (sound-and-light) shows


Ajit : "Raabart, iska pocket mein Note 7 daalkar udha do".

Robert : "Kyun boss?"

Ajit: " Usko 7 janam mere haaton hi marna hoga. Note kar lega, taaki bhool na jaaye"


Saturday, October 15, 2016

Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan has succeeded in dividing the world vertically. The jury still appears to be out there, assessing on whether this honour to be bestowed on him is appropriate enough. Interesting, I do not know of any big news on when his name figured in the list of nominations for the Nobel prize in literature.

I do realize that Bob has zillions of fans across the world. I do not wish to offend their sensibilities. I am not here to pass a judgement on whether he is the right choice for this this year's award , or not. However, I wonder if the standards set by the Nobel prize committee have been altered over time, for whatever reasons. I hope I am wrong.

As a general observation, Nobel prize awards have turned increasingly farcical over the years. I find that people who should have been in the list, do not figure- as yet. And I find people whose candidature is debatable, to put it mildly, walk away with the purse.

While it is well known that the selection criteria are defined, I wonder whether the committee sometimes hides behind technicalities of selection, in order to announce or denounce an individual or a group. For example, I know that a thousand explanations have been given on why a certain Mohandas Karamchand was not awarded the peace prize, but it is hard to digest any of them. For, when one applies the simple yardstick of the impact the man had had on 300 million people ( then) and the destiny of a nation, one finds it hard to ignore suspicions of ulterior motives, camouflaging as technicalities. In the same breath, Barrack Obama himself had subtly wondered why he was awarded one, in the first place, in his acceptance speech.

Coming to Bob Dylan, while his lyrics and music may be very popular with the masses, the question arises - can his lyrics stand on their own as time-tested poetry? I suspect not. My grouse is not Bob getting one per se, but others like Somerset Maugham, Leo Tolstoy, George Orwell, Robert Frost, Arthur Miller etc were decided not worthy of the prize. The big question then is - is Bob Dylan worthy of the prize, ahead of these literary greats?  Note that I have included only one non-English writer in that list. The Nobel is biased heavily in favour of English literature. Hardly a few non-English writers are awarded. I accept that as a matter of fact, instead of whining. If I were to include the plethora of non-English writers, then the list would be mind-boggling.

Also, questions have been raised on whether poetry, however brilliantly crafted, amounts to pure literature. My response to that, is that whether we like it or not, precedence has already been set, in the form of T S Eliot and our own Tagore, for Nobel prize in literature.

So, what is next? Chetan Bhagat being awarded the Grammy Awards?  ;) ;)

Saturday, October 8, 2016


Sub-prime, Mortgage-Backed-Securities, Credit Default Swap, Collateralized Debt Obligation, Countrywide Finance, AIG, Citibank, Lehman Bros, Bear Stearns, Credit Rating Agencies, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac,  Shadow Banking System, Bail-outs....


Thursday, October 6, 2016

Where is Oil headed?

I look at the prognosis for oil from two very different sources, for the long term:

1. Baltic Dry Index. When I look at the long term chart for this, , it is in a secular decline. In fact it is topping at the next level of resistance, meaning this will go down further ( purely technical view)

2. Stock Prices of OIL SERVICE PROVIDERS like Transocean (RIG) and Sclumberger (SLB). RIG' charts are languishing, long term, and the company continues to flouder in delivering OPERATIONAL profits. SLB is better positioned, chartwise, but again , has not gone anywhere.                      

Why are these important to me?

Baltic Dry is the key indicator of economic activity ( aka , a parallel for chinese production/ consumption engine) . When this starts stirring, expect an uptick in chinese oil consumption, leading to speculation in oil prices.

Oil Service companies do well operationally when rigging activity goes full steam. And that happens ahead of time. For example when oil companies feel that oil prices are headed north in 3 to 5 years' time, they start the prospecting now. The dumber amongst them do a catch up much later only to miss the bus and burn their fingers.

So, when RIG or SLB start delivering operationally , it means that demand for oil is being expected to increase.

I know these are highly counter-intuitive yardsticks, but this is what I follow.

Having said that, two factors at play, will decide oil prices, going forward.

1. There is an OPEC meeting in Nov, where it is widely expectd that they would announce production cuts. the reason for that is, with oil at close to 50 bucks now to the barrel, the OPEC members now have crossed the critical threshold, I believe, where they can afford to cut oil production and yet manage their fiscal balance with reduced receipts from oil sales. That cut in turn , will raise the oil price further, leading to better even better bargaining chips for OPEC. This is a vortex effect.

2. Any Geopolitical indicent of 9/11 magnitude.

Currently the biggest factor working AGAINST any real demand uptick for oil is the continuing slump of the Chinese economy, where it is widely expected that it would take years before the excess capacities created are absorbed and fresh capacities are added.                         Hanjin bankruptcy: Are South Korea's 'chaebols' in crisis? - BBC NewsThree of South Korea's biggest conglomerates, or chaebols, are having difficulties at the moment: Samsung, Lotte and Hanjin Shipping. Is there a connection?

The bankruptcy of Koean shipmaker Hanjin is noteworthy... blamed purely on slowdown in global trade ( read: much lesser shipments of mines and ores from Australia and other places into China).

Need more proof? Here it is. One of the largest shipbuilders in China has slumped, by the own admission of Xinhua, China's mouthpiece                      

Bottomline, I have reason to believe that it is possible to rig up the price of oil to 55 to 60 a barrel. Anything can happen. But the fundamentals in terms of demand and supply do not support any sustained oil price rise - at least not yet.

Again, the price of oil is rigged by hedge funds, and the public seldom gets know how much open positions they hold- especially on the SELL side  ;)

Monday, October 3, 2016

Insensitive pseudo-intellectuals

You are my neighbour. We are in bonhomie, because both of us love music and other fine arts. But there is no love lost between your brothers, and mine. To the point of going into each other's house, and indulging in brutal assault. To the point of losing lives.

In that situation, what are we expected to do? Stop interacting with each other until the violence and instigations stop? Or continue to play Mahjong, and pretend as if nothing happened?

Cut the chase. The latter is exactly what the communists of the country want. And a few in Lutyens' Delhi, and the media sharks want.

They want that we go and " talk to Pak". They insist that we should continue to extend our 56" shoulders in warm embraces, to the artists from ISISthan.

These armchair intellectuals want to continue to sip red wine, and extend red carpets to the men in green. While our jawan bretheren shed red blood over the Parvat.

Makes me wonder - do they even have any feeling for their own jawans being killed by these marauders? Do they even realise that the brothers of these artists are the ones who target our defense establishments and civilian gatherings, and kill our brothers at will? Do they even realize that here are some people, who sign up to brave the sweltering heat of the Thar , and cryogenic Siachen, just to protect them, so that they can sit in Airconditioned rooms of Delhi and Mumbai peacefully, and wax eloquent about tolerance? Or are they actually saying " I , the high tax-payer, have bought you, Mr. jawan, using my tax money. So, you better go out there and die, while I enjoy the film and music by the brothers of these terrorists. You are a mere coolie, my servant who is destined to die in the hands of Paki terrorists, not a fellow national who does the supreme sacrifice for my welfare".

How lower can Lutyens' Delhi get? How much more can Sitaram Yechuri stoop?

Sunday, October 2, 2016

खुदा भी खुदा नहीं रहा

हमसफ़री के क़सम खाये थे, कुछ सादा नहीं रहा
पर वक़्त के साथ बिछड़ गए, और वह वादा नहीं रहा
बेकार में अश्कों का दामन मत बनाओ सनम
दिल-ए -मायूस में अब वह इरादा नहीं रहा 

कितना भी कोशिश करूँ, तन्हाई को साथी बनाने का
यूँ लगता है, अब जीने का तमन्ना ज़्यादा नहीं रहा

होटों पे जाम लगने से पहले नशा छढ़ गया है 
यूँ लगता है, मैखाने का रास्ता सीधा नहीं रहा

नींद खोकर रात का तलाश रात में भी करता हूँ 

यूँ लगता है, दिन में अब आधा नहीं रहा
तक़दीर का तमाशा कहूँ, या खुदा की बेबसी?

बस करो, मेरे लिए अब खुदा भी खुदा नहीं रहा

Monday, September 26, 2016

Thumb Impressions

I don't accept that we have improved our lives at all.

My great grand father used his thumb impression in all documentation.

I use mine on my mobile.... where is the development? ;)

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The shocker in Uri

It took more than 12 hours for CNN to make a passing mention in their international edition ( so did BBC), about the terrorist attck in Uri, where more than 17 Indian soldiers were killed.

For those of us, who are anxious to flash " we stand by Paris" or " we are with Sydney" memes and change of FB profile pics to reflect those sentiments, this is yet another reminder, that while you and I think that human lives, at least outside our borders, are the same, the western world clearly does not think so. Clearly, for them, some are more equal than the others.

Let us continue on our path of generosity. Generosity manifested in those profile picture changes, to express solidarity with the West. Generosity that goes to show our "secular" credentials, before anyone else can ( hey, how else can one show off his erudite upbringing, or his intellectual moorings?) . Generosity, that extends well beyond extending token solidarities with the West, and right into the hands of those terrorists that repeatedly alternate between our left and right cheeks, delivery surgical slaps, the latest being Uri.

We have no one else, but ourselves, to blame. The vertebral column of the nation has been systematically dismantled, the day Nehru signed the Panchsheel accord. Indira Gandhi fortified that notion when she raided right into the enemy territory, captured it, only to pussy-foot later. And not mention the successive congress governments , whose economic messiah PM kept releasing statements that we will take strict action against perpetrators, every time an act of terrorism happened in this very soil, but did precious little else. And this NDA government, I am afraid, is treading down the same garden path, decorated by encomia on it's lawns, but with no real action. Almost six months into the Pathankot fiasco, and no action has been taken.

It is hardly surprising the the western media could not care less for terrorist attacks on India. No one takes notice of nations that insist on projecting themselves as weak-kneed. Neither the Western governments, nor their media. And for that matter, not even our own people. For, come tomorrow, wreaths will be placed on the martyrs, a few rabble-rousing speeches will be made from the ramparts of the Red Fort. And the nation will invariably slip back to indifference.
We seem to take no real pride in our jawans. Those lives lost, defending the border, clearly, appear to mean nothing special.

Until we learn to put a premium on the the lives lost, defending the nation, blood will continue to flow in the border. And callousness will continue.

God bless this brainwashed billion.

Mandolin Srinivas - two years on

On 19th Sep, two years ago, Mandolin Srinivas stopped providing divine music to earthly mortals. Perhaps God wanted him to do the same in the the heavens. 

Back in the 80s, I was representing SPIC-MACAY in my college, and had met him a few times over, at his house, in connection with programs in my college and elsewhere. I found him an extremely humble human being, soft spoken, with a lot of respect for elders, and an infectious, child-like enthusiasm for music, which lasted till his very last breath. When he played, the music simply flowed out of his hands. He took the listener to hitherto unknown depths of music, something that only geniuses can do.

I miss your divine music, Srinivas. Waiting for your successor in the music field, here on earth, while you entertain the Gods up there.

Page Industries

Probably around 6 years ago or so ( don't remember exactly when), I had entered this stock at a "lofty" price of about 2550 or so. What I was skeptical about, was not the price ( I don't get intimidated by the price of one stock) but the rather high P/E that the stock was asking for. I was skeptical, that for an underwear company, a P/E of about 40 was " not comfortable" ( pun intended). Bought just 10 shares, thinking " I will buy more when the prices crash to 200( stupid me!)"
That 200 never came. 2550 has become 15000 now, over this period. I have stayed on, kicking myself that I should have bought more then. Hindsight wisdom is always dis-heartening, you see! But that is not the point.

What made me pick the stock? The brand name Jockey, though not very big then, seemed to strike a chord. I had observed that the company was positioning it nicely, to tap into the youth market. Immediately, I guessed that this could mean premium pricing, and increased profits, as long as the product quality was good. I told myself " P/E 40 looks scary, but I am prepared to lose 20000 rupess on this horse if required, if this turns out be a fad".

Turns out to be anything but a fad. The brand is ubiquitous, in all urban centres, and tier 2 cities. It is amply evident that "mind share" of the customer is big, for Jockey. There are other brands like Rupa, Lovable etc, that are listed, and are doing OK- but not as dominant as Page, at least going by the numbers and the consistent growth, quarter on quarter.

They started off with underwear. Then comfortably expanded into lingerie. And then extended the brand into simple tees. And have gone on, into socks. What next?

I did not know much about the management then. I do not know much about it even now. Not that I care, in this case, for, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

Jockey is a dominant brand. From the looks of it, it will remain so for some more time. The company, to me, clearly have got their marketing act together very well. Their product positioning is spot-on, and pricing continues to be premium.
In hindsight, Page Ind has been a great buy for me. I am staying on.

PS: I have not given any numbers to back my above statements, since I am sharing my experience, and not recommending it per se.
If one wants to enter, it is not too late even now. Nibble during dips - after doing your homework.