Thursday, October 30, 2008

Opinions are like...

If you read the financial dailies you will not miss large reams of paper being devoted to the financial crisis that is sweeping across the world. So much so that it is become the topic of discussion during coffee breaks replacing reviews on the new movie that is giving headaches to its viewers. (note: head in tamil is thala).

Opinions they say is like your backside, everyone has one. I have a backside and so here is my opinion on the financial crisis. I would like to use a few references from various sources to construct my opinion, here it goes:
1) From the Bible (pity people use holy books for only one side of life)

Luke Chapter 6: 48 -47 : That one is like a person building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when the flood came, the river burst against that house but could not shake it because it had been well built.

But the one who listens and does not act is like a person who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against it, it collapsed at once and was completely destroyed.

The bottom line here is the foundation. If business is done on sound fundamentals, it does not matter who the owners are the state or the citizens the business will weather the storms. (Funny that this was there for over 2000 years and still people seek for answers)

2) Core Competence of the organization: The concept of core competencies was developed in the management field. C.K. Prahalad and Gary Hamel introduced the concept in a 1990 Harvard Business Review article. They wrote that a core competency is "an area of specialized expertise that is the result of harmonizing complex streams of technology and work activity."

If you know fishing, try to fish for bigger fish or newer fish, don’t make shoes. Even way back then one very smart thinker upgraded fishermen to fishers of men.

3) “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” – old English proverb : I have 100 rupees in one crisp bank note sitting safely in my pocket and I am better off than somebody whose money is but a number in the cyberspace. Most of the wealth that has seemingly evaporated existed in number only, so why cry?

Actually my opinions don’t stop here, but I will because I know you have backsides too. So don’t forget to leave your opinions (only) in the comments section.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

How the mighty have fallen!!!

“If it can’t get any worse it can only get better”

“If you fall, fall on your back that you may see the sky and rise again”

In the midst of the financial crisis that is sweeping the world these two statements may be a band aid to many bruised, battered and wounded souls. Crashing markets, sub prime crises, pink slips, pay cuts, layoffs, downsizing… the list of taboo words are growing.

In the middle of this carnage, I remember seeing an article where people have started reading Marx again and another in which better the west is slowly accepting that the Indian banking system was not a bad thing after all. What goes around comes around…

Sub prime crisis to the unknowns is simply giving a loan to somebody who is not credit worthy. When I joined work in lending, the two basic principles of lending were clearly laid out to me by my first boss: Before you lend check 1) The ability to repay and 2) The intention to repay, common sense tells you that ONLY if 1 AND 2 are right the client generally will repay. So why did no one tell this basic rule to these giant organizations who have crippled so many economies with foolish lending? What is even worse is that the company that taught me the basics of the lending business has forgotten its roots and is facing its first ever loss in 30 years of existence. The erstwhile prudent and conservative organization tied up with a financial whiz kid from the South East and went the same way as so many others who have fallen by the wayside. The culprit here was not secured loans like housing but an unsecured clean loan that went by the name of STPL (Small Ticket personal loan) to many undeserving candidates. I call them undeserving simply because they did not have the ability to repay and it did not take any rocket science to detect that.

Often the solutions for many big problems lie inside and I’m sure many of these mighty organizations will realize it when see look within and realize that strong fundamentals will stand the test of time.

And as I sing off it seems that prudent, conservative and many other unfashionable attributes are not bad things after all.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I swear...

Wasteland, did you inform your house that you are making your last journey?

Death-seeker (not the Death Eaters from Harry Potter), have you no other vehicle but mine to kill yourself?

Buffalo! See how it goes…

Foreign stranger, don’t know who taught him to drive?

Spoilt brain, having no clue what he is doing…

He is who is going to get ruined....will he never learn?

(every time, a bad driver crosses my path, I swear)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The St. Paul I know

The following is an essay that I wrote for a contest in our church for the annual parish feast. I did not win anything for this, but would like to know your feedback.

"The St. Paul I know"

As the fires burned around them and bodies fell many Christians like you and I huddled in the shadows of a village in Orissa. These people feared the loss of their limbs, their goods, their loved ones or even their lives from the marauding mobs before them. Even as they peered through the haze they could vaguely see the faces of their tormentors even as the smoke cleared their horror increased as the faces of their neighbours were in the forefront. The very same shopkeeper, milkman, vegetable vendor, who had been an in separable part of their lives are now threatening to end their very lives.

Even as the persecuted wondered at the sudden change of events, several questions arose that went abegging for answers. What had happened in the space of a few days to tear a community apart? Can something as intensely personal as one’s faith be the cause for so much suffering? How will they ever relate to people of other faiths before? Why is my own neighbour persecuting me?

History has the habit of repeating itself. Turn back time to nearly 2000 years and you will probably find yourself yet again cowering in fear from marauding mobs. You will be hounded to death because even back then you simply were not one of the chosen people and you had no right to inherit the land of your forefathers because you believed what the majority did not. As you huddled in fear you may see the face of a zealot who led the rampaging mobs spreading terror in the hearts of those who opposed him. This young man hailing from Tarsus was called Saul.

Saul of then or the zealots of today look at them closely and you may not find many differences between them. They were conditioned to believe that they were right and maybe they were right but what they did can never be justified. But Saul is remembered today because he did not remain Saul, he experienced for himself the truth and as the saying goes the truth set him free.

The transformation of Saul to Paul has been documented and I will not dwell too much on the topic, but I admire the depth of change that Paul underwent. It is easy to go from good to excellent but from Saul to Paul nothing short of a miracle will suffice. The miracle in question is a deep and intimate encounter with Christ. Religion after all is not about rules and procedures; they are for the leaders and politicians who can use them for their own ends. Religion is simply a deep relationship between oneself and his God. As St. Paul said I now no longer live, Christ lives in me, sums up how intimate the encounter was.

Many of us tend to get a spiritual high from various spiritual exercises and often I tend to come down to planet earth and go on with life till the next high. It maybe the same with others but with St. Paul it was always a life of highs. Even in the depths of despair it was his faith that carried him through.

It will be hypocritical for Saul to write about love but for St. Paul who gave us one of the best descriptions of love it is simply the only way of Christian life. St. Paul has shown to us that no matter how evil we can be God will still call us but the choice to listen remains with us.

The transformation of Saul to Paul and the growth of the church is a reminder for us that the blood of martyrs is the seed of the church. Through the ages the church has faced persecution but has been resilient and has grown for 2000 years. History will still repeat itself and when the mobs attack I pray that God will call yet another Saul to Paul.

PS: The image taken from the web is supposedly MIchelangelo's conversion of st. paul

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Breathe Easy!

Being a teetotaler, bars and other watering holes have no appeal for me except for the fact that they are sources of great entertainment. You just cannot imagine the crazy things that inebriated people do; well everything except puking all around their antics are a whole lot of fun. However the main reason I stay away from night spots is that the smoke kills me. Did I forget to mention that I don’t smoke too? The divine forces intervened to give me an allergy to smoke especially the carcinogenic kind, so smoky places are a big no, no.

I met up a couple of friends in Escape, the bar (ok pub if you please) in Green Park, Hyderabad. I was so happy to find that I could actually breathe easy Thanks to Mr. Anbumani and even better see other people in the darkness. The turn off though was the music dished out by the resident DJ. It ranged from “Heal the World” to “The reason” and even when we were left pondering if Escape was a gay joint considering that we could not see a single member of the fairer sex around Dire Straits made a stealthy entry only for the CD to get stuck. We had fun and the best part was we had the Happy Hour tariff, with a tag line that ran “You buy one, we give you one, you buy one, we give you one… till you decide to stop”. The “One” in question was either RC or Fosters for the curious. With my talent to nurse one orange juice even for hours I lessened the burden of the bill.

If I can breathe easy and get some great entertainment at Happy Hour rates I don’t mind pub hopping in future, but yes I would prefer that the DJ’s realize that Happy and Gay may not exactly mean the same thing especially when it comes to music.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Animal Manners

The following is an extract from The Times of India Chennai edition dated 13/10/08.

Animal manners
Dogs seem to better understand the plight of the starving. On Sunday morning, an old lady with tattered clothes came begging to a teashop. When the tea shop owner shooed her away, she pleaded for some biscuits, but he could not be moved. Seeing the dog outside the tea shop eating biscuits, the old lady tried to pick them up. The tea shop owner chased her away, saying the biscuits were for the dog. When the woman turned and started walking away the dog pranced up to her with a biscuit in his mouth and dropped it at her feet. The woman picked it up and walked away. Humbled by the dog’s act, the teashop owner called her back and gave her tea and biscuits.