January 28, 2009

Lovely little story

A boy and a girl were playing together. The boy had a collection of marbles. The girl had some sweets with her. The boy told the girl that he will give her all his marbles in exchange for her sweets. The girl agreed.

The boy kept the biggest and the most beautiful marble aside and gave the rest to the girl. The girl gave him all her sweets as she had promised.

That night, the girl slept peacefully. But the boy couldn't sleep as he kept wondering if the girl had hidden some sweets from him the way he had hidden his best marble.

This is one of the best forwards I have received for some time now and the beauty of it lies in the simplicity of putting forward an extremely important point.

Rules of the Road

A forward I received and loved. These are few points we should all read very frequently and try to live by, me thinks.

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.

8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.

10. It's OK to let your children see you cry.

11. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

12. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.

13. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

14. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.

15. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.

16. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy dress. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

17. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

18. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

19. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'

20. Always choose life.

21. Forgive everyone everything.

22. What other people think of you is none of your business.

23. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

24. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

25. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

26. Believe in miracles.

27. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.

28. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

29. Your children get only one childhood.

30. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

31. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

32. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's,we'd grab ours back.

33. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

34. The best is yet to come.

35. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift.

January 20, 2009

A letter from a father to his little son

This piece appeared in the Speaking Tree column in today's Times of India. I was talking to a small group of fresh Chartered Accountants who passed out from our classes recently, and some of the points I touched upon in my talk is a part of this piece too. Irrespective of that, the piece is a good read.

Dear Pranav, It's been 20 months since you set foot in the world. When I held you for the first time in my arms at the hospital, your tiny hands were twitching and your eyes were shut tight.

Your clenched fist reminded me of a science lesson that said to get an idea about the size of your heart, you should clench your fist. I could imagine the little heart throbbing inside you. The eternal miracle of birth. When it was my turn to witness it, I cried.

Before I married your mother, I used to debate one question endlessly with my friend. Which is, "Is it really worth bringing another life into this world?" Especially when terror has become an ugly leitmotif in the canvas of our lives?

When I switched on the TV that Wednesday night, the question of whether I was right in bringing you into this world haunted me again.

This is my attempt at an answer. Call it catharsis.

I feel there are two ways to raise you. One is to wean you on cynicism. Where you'll erect a sky-high wall in your mind and live your life pouring scorn on everything you see. Which is one way of insulating yourself from fear... A kind of indifferent machismo.

The other way is to prepare you to live in this world. I can't imagine the world for you, son. But i can certainly show you the way to live in an uncertain world. Make a pact with yourself. Understand the following early on.

Life is precious. And equally fragile. So every day is a gift. Get up early once in a while just to watch the sun rise. Stare at it intently and burn it in your memory. Be aware of every passing second. Look around you. There's a thin stalk of plant finding its place under the sun in a crevice on the wall of our apartment.

Appreciate mother's cooking. Praise it to heavens... Make it a habit to eat together as a family. No, make it a rule. Fall in love with books. Words will transport you to worlds far away. It will also keep you informed and prepared.

Follow your heart. The mind can waver but the heart seldom does. Respect your conscience. It's like a post-it note from God.

When you grow up, seek a job you love. As you enter the world of careers and cocktails, you'll get sucked into a vortex called rat race. Don't be overwhelmed. We're all human. But have the courage to step out of it. Nothing will be lost. Some illusions will shatter. Good riddance.

Money. It's important. But it has its place. Don't make the mistake of putting it right on top.

Find your love. Hold it dearly. Be a good husband. A patient father. Give your children space to make their mistakes. But hold them when they fall.

Speak up when you have to. Like this occasion. Whether we like it or not, we're living in a democracy. Sure it has its pitfalls. But don't forget the positives too. The real fight in a democracy is between remembering and forgetting. Go and vote. It's your chance to give shape to the kind of society you want to live in.

Be alert. But try not to live in a state of fear.

It you were to get caught in a situation similar to what happened and should we lose you, then you will have left us with enough lovely memories for the remaining years. That will only happen if you start living every day like it is the last day of your life. Though it can never compensate your loss, at least we'll find strength in your love for life.

Don't have regrets. They defeat the very purpose of life.

Immersed as I am in work most of the time, this letter is also a wake-up call for me.

Love, Dad

January 15, 2009

A couple of good thoughts

Calendars are for careful people, not passionate ones. - Chuck Sigars

At the end of the day, whether or not those people are comfortable with how you're living your life doesn't matter. What matters is whether you're comfortable with it. - Phillip C. McGraw

January 13, 2009

Unbiased take on biases

I do not like prejudices. We all seem to have them. As much as one would want to shrug it off, they are more actively present in our subliminal realm than we would ever accept. For instance, a bias towards fairer skin is one of the most widespread amongst us. Or a craving for more marks let it be at whatever cost. A mature and literate society needs to be more broad-minded than this. I feel so.

I don’t intend to be the flag-bearer for pro-modern society. I do not necessarily opine in favor of live-in relationships, same sex marriages, less moral stances against divorces, lenient norms on smoking, etc. I am not an institution and I desist imposing my thoughts on others. I am only hoping for a more balanced ‘thought-system’.

Whenever a divorce happens, I always keep hearing that it is because the wife in the relationship could not adjust well. What makes us think that the husband is absolved of all such ‘adjustments’ to make a relationship work? Surely lesser people are guarding such biases within them, but people who still do are a large enough number, even if lesser.

When a maid in a house cries foul that her employer is exploiting her, it is easy to see people take her side. The fact that the employer is in a dominating position in this case will be adequate enough to raise questions about his doings and integrity.

In a case of a road accident where a car or a bike hits a pedestrian, we jump to conclude that it was a case of rash driving. Where the pedestrian was walking – whether on the footpath or at the middle of the road talking on the cell – is irrelevant, nay? Or for that matter, in any typical matter of rift between a poor and a rich, the bias is to take the side of poor.

When a relationship between a couple withers off before it reaches its ‘logical’ end in marriage, the man in the relationship is the one who is generally supposed to have triggered it leaving the woman lonely and vulnerable at a difficult crossroad of her life. The woman is left heart-broken and sobbing. Aren’t guys the more insensitive of the two sexes, as a rule?

A lot of moral stigma is imposed on a person who decides to part with his parents and leave the old couple at an old-age home. But when a working couple decides to leave back a child with baby-sitting or boarding, it is seen very differently. How are the two treatments different? Should they not be seen in similar light?

Am I raising these points because I am on the ‘victimized’ side of the group in some of these instances? Are your thoughts veering towards this question? Well, then that is one more instance of a pre-conceived bias that we all live with. One that expects only affected and ‘interested’ parties to voice their opinions.

A free, open mind can and should think on matters that are beyond their direct universe. This post is a simple output based on many such biases I have observed and witnessed in the world around me. I cannot change the entire world, but I can surely insist myself to be more fair, more balanced, more unbiased and more non-judgmental about a lot of issues and matters. Also, I hope to influence few more active minds in the process.

Each issue in life is separate from the rest. Hindsight bias makes us believe that what has been true to most will be true to all. If educated beings like us take this view, then what good has been the education and wisdom been? In any situation, howsoever difficult it may seem, a clear mind must be able to make impartial assessments. Assessments that are based on rationale and not biases...

January 9, 2009

New nursery rhyme!

Raju Raju
Yes baba

Cheating us
No baba

Telling Lies
No baba

Open the balance sheet

My empathy with investors and employees of Satyam. There is not a lot they can do in such a situation.

January 2, 2009

My new finance blog

As I had mentioned sometime back, I have been considering starting a new blog to post matters relating to financial markets and economic issues. And so, during the dying moments of 2008, I created the blog page for finance. The url is http://www.finthoughts.blogspot.com and I have already posted something on it. The endeavor is to utilize that page to talk about markets and economies including concepts relating to the same.

I will be very happy to include topics and concepts on demand from the readers of that blog. The idea is to use that page to share thoughts and add value.

Happy reading!

January 1, 2009

The Mantra!

Realize that true happiness lies within you. Waste no time and effort searching for peace and contentment and joy in the world outside. Remember that there is no happiness in having or in getting, but only in giving. Reach out. Share. Smile. Hug. Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting a few drops on yourself! - Og Mandino

I sincerely wish and pray I could live the rest of my life with this mantra.