Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Hahahahaha ...

Saw this on the BBC website somewhere, and this raises the issue about ladmags.
Well lots of stuff has been said and written about viewing women as objects of lust and desire rather than humans, and i dont want to add anything else.

Just found it funny, and i have been in many foot in the mouth situations, and made many a politically incorrect statement, reminds me of all those times. :)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Tussles with the estate agents

In any metropolis, i guess the biggest hassle when moving in is finding a house.
Property hunters Murphy's Laws apply here

(1) All good apartments are taken
(2) Nothing is within budget, at the right location, and the right size
(3) If everything seems fine, then there is sue some catch.

I totally swear by these (could surely call them Kanodra's Laws after myself)

anyways with my employers giving me accomodation only for a week, I had to find a place for myself real soon. and then with time running out, i was soon left with no place to live.
The estate agent i contacted, showed me a couple of apartments which were real crap, (not that we had great expectations, simply a separate bathoom per person) but seriously non of the properties remotely interested us, or were way out of our budget and these two satisfying were extremely far away.
Damn when everything was fine, we realised the area wasnt the best one, and well not even a safe one.

And then when you read classifieds and look up the websites, the cheap ones are all ex council houses (apartments given to people with no income, as dole to the unemployed)
Man visiting such a place would give me shudders, leave alone living there)

luckily Jamun and Vishal agreed to host nippo and myself for a week. (Which i tuned into two till i finally moved out)
Vishal being the generous soul was also giving shelter to one more colleague from work (Rohit from IIMC) and he called upon his friend to stay over from manchester, and he invited his friend from birmingham. So in a 3 bedroom apartment, we were 7 people, and with only 2 bathrooms it became a little too nervy early mornings when we had to reach office at the same times. another funny incident would be the musical chairs at dinner time. With 7 people in the kitchen there wouldnt be enough chairs for all of us, and thus i was standing up, i earnestly asked Rohit to get me another helping of rice, and then quitely grabbed his chair. Once the ploy was seen by all, whenever a person got up (even at times to answer his phone) his chair was soon lost.

All this made me all the more desparate to find a place of my own.

All this time in parallel, we were hunting down apartments with different estate agents, work til 7 PM and from 8 to 10 go for apartment viewings in different obscure corners of london city. And being made to wait in rain, cold weather till the estate agent turns up late and apologises profusely and shows you another bad apartment.

After many frustrated viewings later, we were told, "You need to stretch your budget a little bit" And damn, i was willing to strecth it a 100% (in the downward direction). Many frustated viewings later, (and being told the advertised flat on their website just vanished a couple of hours ago) we finally saw a wonderful apartment, and obviously with no catch this was a little outside our budget. (you cant get everything right)
After a lot of squeezing and haggling and what not, we finally managed the house, but as i said nothign in life is so simple. If everything falls right there has to be some catch. And Catches there were plenty.

First we couldnt fax our letters of employment to the landlord,
then one of us was in India till then (Paldy) and when their 3rd party evaluators said our income levels werent sufficient to pay this rent, and then the apartment was being refurbished, and thus after paying 6weeks rent as deposit, a month (4.33 weeks) rent in advance, 1 weeks rent as brokerage, our joining bonus was soon sitting in the letting agents bank account. And after all this we were told to wait for a week to move in.

Add to it the controversy we had over the contract, and on the night we moved in half of the bulbs werent working.

Damn inspite of all of this, finally alls well that ends well, the apartment is not only spacious, is well equipped, near work, has 3 independant bathrooms for 3 of us and good ventilation.

One year this should be our abode, and hopefully with increased incomes next year, we will only move upwards.

(P.S. finally did discover a catch here as well, the property is on the borders of a strong immigrant area, with a majority of people being of bangladeshi origin. Thats why not a lot of whites and europeans would want it, lucky for us, who couldnt care less, as long as its safe)

Friday, June 23, 2006

Football Mania on the Trading floor

(Please Click on the pic to see the enlarged version)

As you can see the football mania is hitting the trading floor.
This was in todays Telegraph, and there is some corelation between the performance of the countries economy and their performance in soccer worldcup.
Like right now the emerging market exonomies are all going in a spin. There are massive sell offs.
Turkey which didnt even qualify for the world cup, is seeing massive depreciation in the currency and record inflation levels.
Poland, Czech Republic and Croatia have been knocked out, thus you can imagine the currencies and equities in those countries might have plunged to their lowest levels.

Though Argentina and Brazil have performed well, lets see their bond and stocks performance.

Till then not much, let me get back to watching the football matcheson TV (at work) :)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

What work do you do?

A couple of days back, my 11 year old cousin sent me an email, and among other things like how he was enjoying his summer vacation he asked me what work do i do in London. How the hell do i explain it to him, when my parents dont understand, his parents dont understand, (well he could be and most probably is smarter and more aware than his and my parents, they definitely didnt know much about email when they were 11)

Dunno why though. This question keeps haunting me, and I try running away from it.
The first is how do i describe what i do for a living.
When i was working in L&T and i told my dad i am in project management. He simply went around telling my son designs chemical plants. (when i only saw that the pipes to be delivered from haryana to kuwait were not on schedule)

Then now when i said to my parents, I am joining an investment bank, they first thought i wasa glorified teller in a retail banlike in the local bank of baroda. My Maternal grandma also advised me when customers hand in cash better count it carefully.
My dad thought since i am in debt markets the fixed income side, it might be dealing with giving big size loans to corporates, and my mum thought since it says rates structuring, i am the superwhiz guy who decides what is the rate to lend the money. My sis being the smartest person in the family (if you didnt know till now, im the dumbest) she doesnt even care about my existence, leave alone my employment details as long as i am not asking her for money, she really isnt bothered. Well my parents dont invest in the stock market, cause (a) they dont understand how it works (like 90% of retail indian investors) (b) they get scared of losing a dime their poor souls couldnt stand the volatility.

Most of my other relatives dont care what job i do but how much money do i make. And making the mistake of converting the British pound salary in indian rupees, and saying ohh my god, what will you do with so much money. I reply with a straight face, Pay rent, buy food, and little bit of entertainment like a pitcher of beer on weekends, and i guess i might be left with pocket change after each month. (and damn its true after the first month atleast) . And then they complain how the hell can a 24 year old be paid so much. Or damn how the hell can any one be paid so much (Please i say, im not some super rich guy, im being paid in a different currency, and Purchase Power Parity is not a concept they are ever going to understand.

Anyways coming to how much money one makes, Jack Welch had said that the Wall Street is defintiely the place where a lot of average people make a lot more money than they deserve. (Though i am not situated at the Wall Street, but work in a Wall Street firm, I seriously hoep its true) I guess in terms of income as a ratio to ability it only comes 2nd to Hollywood.

I distinctly remember some one had told me, "The way to make more money, is to somehow give happiness to more number of people" The person was Mr. Sanghvi, a Gujarati business man and owner of a firm which did piping design for firms like reliance, and was teaching piping design as a visiting faculty.

The example he gave was:
Why does HLL employee earn more, as he brings happiness to all those who consume its products.

Why does Dhirubhai Ambani of reliance make more money?
He made Vimal textiles affordable to the masses. By Petrochemicals he is indirectly supplying to our daily needs (fuels, plastics, exports raw materials for textiles thus clothes the world)

So i figured why do indian cricketers earn more than badminton, hockey or table tennis players? Since more people watch these sports. More people gain happiness from cricket victories than those in snooker and badminton and thus sponsors are willing to pay cricketers more.

Same explains why do less talented authors who write in english earn more than others (since you have a wider audience)

Why do engineers earn more than history professors (by building products which make more people happy ... and not troubling poor souls by terrorising history exams)

but then why do soccer players in bengal dont make as much money as American Football players? Simple Purchasing power of those people whom you make happy. An average bengali is communist and is not going to buy any of those useless products advetisers are trying to sell, apart from Goldflake cigarettes sold by ITC. So who cares about soccer players in Bengal while European footballers earn huge amounts.
Mr. Sanghavi you were right, but just this little tweek of weighing number of people with purchasing power.

Let me apply this to my profession as a guy working to create structured fixed income products. (aha i am explaining what i do for a living)
My team (and me as a small part of it) look at the financial markets, to find what is cheap, and what expensive. From this we create complicated products where we buy low and sell high, and show these trade ideas to clients (people with money to invest) and hopefully make more money for them. So I make them happy. these are pension funds and hedge funds, and thus if they do well their investors feel happy. And though these might not be many, Damn you add the weightage of earning power, and Lo and behold the numbers go up. And boy it does go up by a very big amount. So a make a few REALLY RICH GUYS HAPPY, and i make some decent money.

Wow, man Mr Sanghavi himself is a really smart man. NOw doubt he is damn rich. (Ok he drove a fantastic big car) Since his firm designed pipes, which ensured that the chemical plants keep functioning well and churn out more chemicals and make more products which affect our day to day lives and make manyu many people happy (Shampoos, soaps, plastics, ... )

But then Damn

Every one hates politicains, and those guys seem to make the most money.
No way do these bring happiness. They Raise taxes, have stupid policies, dont give any services and simply eat a lot of money.

Damn Mr. Sanghavi, your theory doesnt seem to work here. [:)]

Monday, June 19, 2006

Pedalling away to work

Since i got this apartment only 2.5 km from work, i started thinking on why spend a pound everyday to commute by bus (80 Rs for a bus ride, that to standing throughout, damn im still converting in Rs, and my gujju genes dont even fade away)

So i started walking the distance, which though not a lot some times gets boring. So simply to be a little better off, i bought a bicycle. Thinking that this would not only save money, but also this is the fastest mode of transport for me, and gives my lazy bones some exercise.

So I went ahead to a cycle shop nearby, thinkning i would buy the cheapest second hand cycle there, and to my shock saw that it only sold new cycles. At first i was fancying a 80 pound one, but the salesman said that was'nt good, it was heavy, and with a uncomfortable gear shifting mechanism (damn i had never ridden a cycle with gears before how would i know)
So after a lot of confusion, I end up buying a 200 pound bicycle, with shimono gears (3x7), front suspension, all aluminium body, allow gears and powder coated alumium chain. The sales man said the difference on this and the cheap ones was between in porsche and a volkswagon beetle. (Damn that guy made a nice deal, after also selling me the most expensive lock, helmet and a puncture kit)
All my female readers (Ok mom, i was refering to you) might just end up saying, men and their machines.
Dont know how many men have been suckered in to buying jazzy cars, or electronic equipments which had a lot of functions which were unecessary, ot they simply didnt understand, but went gaga over them right after they spent a bomb buying it. Guess i am the same. And am sure this is not the first time i am gonna get suckered by some salesman in my life.

So after i buy this bicycle my daily commute by bicycle is only 7 minutes, but i take 5 minutes park it and lock in at the nearest bicycle stand, and 10 minutes to get it out of my apartment down to the street. Net net i save 3 minutes compared to walking.
And compared to bus, I shall break even some time after 235 bus journeys (did i here someone say pennywise pound foolish)

Anyways cycling to work is much more fun than i had expected. I am not one of those environmentalists, who say cycle to work to cut down green house gas emmissions, and nor am i a health freak, but i do feel rejuvenated after the journey rather than tired.
Also strange as it may sound, i get time to think and plan while cycling (as compared to walking or commuting by bus or tube) . Dunno why but when on two wheels, my eyes hands and legs coordinate, somehow bypasssing my brain.

also its great fun to try taking right turns, on no-stop roads with speeding vehicles, and me pedalling and frantically signalling with my outstretched right hand and trying to precariously balance myself.
Also cycling gives me a better perspective on the roads. Nothing else tells you about the incline of the land better. Even a damn 5 degree uphill slope can be recignised, and now i have stopped considering routes based on distance or time taken, but also on the gradient of the path.

the only sad part of the day is when i some person whizzing past in a 60 bhp motorcycle while i am on my single "nirav" powered bicycle.
I guess that too shall come, may be a year later (hope the city of london and its mayor dont apply the congestion tax to the two wheelers as well)

Also i found out from , that cycling daily to work not only makes you move, keeps your reflexes sharp, and exercises your joints preventing from them turnign stiff.
With a sedentary desk job like mine, i need every bit of physical activity possible.

also on the weekends i rode to Hyde park, some 7-8 km away, and the whole to and fro journey was nearly as enjoyable as admiring the sun-bathing beauties while in the park.

And now that i cycle every day, it gives me the license to pop another beer.
Which reminds me, enough rambling, time to open the can

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Domestic Woes

Well, now that we 3 (myself, Nippo and Paldy) have found this nice apartment, we are settling our ghar grahasti.
Though most of the weekdays are spent at work, on weekends we do all our cooking, cleaning and vacuuming. No weekend goes without our trip to the supermarket, and we keep talking about what to cook, how to cook, and which milk to purchase the advantages of wholemeal brownbread over sliced whitebread. (inspite of all my arguments these guys simply dont understand whats the best for them)

As you guessed it we have our fair shares of quarrels and allocation of household tasks always ends up in cribbing. With me being the only experienced cook (damn you can understand the state of the other guys here) I refuse to wash the dishes after dinner. Damn they should learn cooking themselves, till then they should observe me, and chop vegetables and clean up after dinner. (well with me bossing around like this, i always say my prayers before each meal, hoping it doesnt turn out too bad that i am made to clean up after dinner as a punishment)

anyways being busy with these household chores, makes us more and more like bitchy housewives (damn even me, i was cribbing bout the other two ehhh). Still more chores await us, like getting a phone connection, and BUYING A TELEVISION. (I bet we are gonna kill each other on that)

But the worst of all household chores i find is ironing clothes. I really cant iron a damn thing and on weekends ironing 5 shirts and trousers can be literally killing. Ironing away those creases, i always end up creating new ones and the process seems to go on for ever.

At such horrid times, I remember Kallu the Istriwaala. His ramshackle shop (or should i say bench, under a tin roof) was right outside the main gate of my apartment block. My first trips outside the main gate would be to handover clothes to Kallu at the age of 5. Thats as far as i was allowed to go. Kallu was a friendly guy, and as his name suggests was as dark as the coal he would use in his iron. (yes no electrical iron at his place, he would use old fashioned iron, which was huge in size and used burning charcoal inside to heat it) . To a 5 year old it was a fascinating sight, to see the orange glow of burning charcoal and him ironing away piles of clothes in great speed and making it look more like an art form.

While playing hide and seek and dabba eye spy (called dabba aais paais by the local marathi guys in my building) and the best hiding place was behind Kallus ramshackle shop.
One such day when i was playing and hiding behind kallus shop, my mum came looking after me, since i had my all important first unit test in standard 1. I was more interested in playing than studying (which i guess never did change with age) After searching high and low, my mum finds me there, and pulls me bakc home, and screaming and scolding me, that if i didnt study, i would end up like Kallu and be ironing clothes all my life.

Damn looking in hindsight, most of my life after that i was simply studying, (so i blame my lack of social life on this incident) and then all my life, I never did even iron a handkerchief (and damn when i tried it once at home, it ended up having more creases than before)
Now after all these years of studying, I end up here in london, and end up spending a nice lovely sunday evening ironing my clothes. (Damn its tough). I sacrificed watching the Brazil Australia match in a pub for this.

In hindsight, if a had disobeyed my mom, and didnt study much, i would be whiling away my time in dads business, whiling away my time and not adding a single rupee to his profit or revenues, doing all that crap, but ironing clothes.
Though Kallu is long gone, (his shop was demolished many years ago, and he moved a couple of blocks away, and then we moved elsewhere as well) I am sure when living at home no way would i ever iron a handkerchief.

Damn mom, you fooled me here, inspite of all this, there is little difference between your son and Kallu. (For one he sure could iron clothes much better than me, and surely much much faster)

Sunday, June 11, 2006

World Cup begins

well, the only reason for not writing on this blog, is not lack of any events, but
(a) Lack of an internet connection at home
(b) Blogger beign blocked in office (and rightly so)
(c) no motivation to write.

Well there have definitely in the last few days the world cup fever has caught on every where.
Especially in all the bars, UK being known for its soccer hooligans I am surely not gonna cheer for any team playing against ENgland, and whatever comes, not cheering for germany at all.

Though i was thinking a country of 80 million beer drinking sausage eating fans, playing in home conditions would have some advantage, (being on the trading floor, one always starts getting a feeling that you know a little more than what the markets calibrates as the odds)

And at a point i was contemplating betting on Germany on Ladbrokes.
(The Bloomberg terminal on my desk can give me live odds on soccer and cricket, apart from the swap curves, interest rate volatility and the news from Fed, and Eurpean Central Banks ... but as you guessed those functions are purely secondary)

So as i go one more on thinking of taking a view on the worldcup, i think with 4 french guys in my team, i could offer them good odds on french winning, and they would lap it up with great nationalist fervor, but no,
after the frogs lacklustre performance in the last edition (they lost their opener to senegal, a country which i didnt know ever existed before, and the goal scorer was some Papa Borba... errr something, who has faded in oblivion and Senegal didnt even qualify this time round)

Before i could put my money somewhere the first match Germnay vs Costa Rica started. (After the semi hilarious opening ceremony, i didnt know whether it was funny or pitiable)

Well my seat is near to the sales desks, which are organised by the geographies they sell the products in, and on my left is the Spanish and Portuguese desk, on my right are the Italians and behind me are the German and austrians.

Due to the Fussball (thats what Germans call Football) all apart from 2 quitely slid away from work early (it anyways doesnt matter, i bet theior clients are also busy watchiong soccer, no way are you gonna sell that Auto Reedemable Bermudan Swaption)

So when Germans scored in the 6th minute, only 2 guys cheered (though all walked upto the nearest TV screens on the pillars which though are supposed to be tuned in to CNBC or BBC News or something which provides info on the direction of the markets, when football is on no one cares)

But when in the 12th Minute Costa Rica resposnded with an equaliser, nearly all of the 600 odd people on the floor started cheering.
I new that the debt markets floor in Merrill is Multicultural, but so many Costa Ricans??

It took me a iminute to realise that its not that there are more Costa Ricans on King Edward Street than in Costa Rica, but this was a clear indication of how much the brits (and rest of Europeans feel towards the Germans)
so its plain and simple, no cheering for the Germans ( though i spent a term there and do believe they have a chance) in any of the English Pubs, I surely dont wanna be on the worng side of some hooligan who might be 6ft 6in tall and weigh 300 pounds. Though still i believe in Ballack, Klosse and their coach Juergen Klinsmaan's style Attack Attack and more Attack. (they finally won 4-2)

anyways with Poland losing 0-2 to Equador one Polish guy on our desk was a little down,
but then guess he is happy enough that poland qualified, compared to India who didnt have hopes. (our team has one polish 3 indians and 5 French guys, ... so you know the pecking order during soccer world cup time.)

Anyways now is the right time for me to be spending time guzzling beer, and cheering England (they won the the rugby world Cup 2003, Ashes 2005 and so its soccer 2006)

But the Italians on my right vehemantly disagree.
With all their animated hand gestures (you have to talk to one to realise) they say:

" Inna 1990 when the World cuppa wassa inna Itaaaly, Germaaanee won eet. NOwwa thatta eet ees innna Geramaaanee, Itaaalee has ta weeen eet"
Well it does make sense, and as i already have written badly about italians (remember WHU and exchange term) I shall go on no more.

Let me try out and structure some bets, and atleast recover the money i lost on the champions league finals. (5 quid on the gunners)

Anyways lets see who is the winner
(anyone not betting on brazil is free to contact me, will give ou better odds than Ladbrokes :)