Friday, January 31, 2014

JaGo Investor by Manish Chauhan

Yesterday, I completed reading "16 personal finance principles every investor should know" (formerly called as Jago Investor) written by Manish Chauhan. 

Manish Chauhan has become authority in personal finance field. His blog Jago Investor is full of informative articles. Moreover, he also has separate page for Forum. This page exclusively deals with the doubts that general people have. Manish and Ashal helps each and everyone and with a personal touch. Just visit his blog and see how people are full of praise for Manish.

Coming to the book. It starts with a wonderful story. The story is like a person who goes to heaven and becomes white face when God showed him what he was entitled to get and what he perceived.

Manish Chouhan


Below are the chapters and the points which comprises of the book.

Burning the jungle: This chapter describes how procrastination of investment is killer. For a particular goal, what could have been x amount of investment today becomes 2x or even 3x few years down the lane. The factor 2x or 3x depends upon the inflation and ROI expected from the investment. If one starts early, compounding comes to our aid. This leads to the age old saying: Time in market is more important than the timing the market. This highlights on how we can cut down on unnecessary expenses and start investing that money, today, now...

Protecting the garden: The title of this chapter is based on some story. The important take away from the story and the title is we must protect our loved ones from the financial distress in our absence. It also demonstrates how term insurance is the real insurance.

Goal Setting: It shows the importance of line: Unless you know which port you are sailing, no wind is favorable.... It shows how one must select a product bases on his/her goal. Without goal setting, no financial product can be used to its fullest capacity.

Busting myths: It deals with the common myths that people have about money or to be precise about their financial life. Common man (no gender bias) always thinks that equity is risky, debt products are safe, FD has government sovereignity and our money is safe, inflation is for rich to worry, rich people need financial planning, i will start investing when i have 1 lakh, etc, etc...
It also highlights how one’s portfolio should be changed i.e. re-balanced as per one’s age and milestone in life.

Change your relationship with money: It highlights how we ourselves must take charge of our financial things. FP, CFA, advisor, online blogs are all here to help us. However, unless we be proactive in reaching out to them, we are leaving everything to chance.

Simplifying financial life: Manish has highlighted what simplification of portfolio means, what is diversification, what is over-diversification with apt examples.

Seventh chapter tells wonderful 10 things to do, to make our financial life simple and awesome. These 10 things are very efficient and very important.
Saving 10% of salary, avoiding careless spending, avoid instant gratification and focus on budget and real returns are some of those points. He has aptly described each point to make our financial life wonderful.

Overall the book is must read for a person who is starting his career. It can help him create wonders. However, the ground is not lost for the people who are in 30s and 40s. They can read this book and implement the take away. If not, it will certainly help them stay away from toxic products. The examples are used with simple mathematics and images. This simplicity has always been a hallmark of Manish and his team.

Note: I am in no way connected to Manish. This is just for information. However, since I liked the book, I thought of sharing it with you guys. Visit his blog and it can turn your financial life from good to better.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Couple Story -- Part 1/3

Place: High Court:

A 73 year old man and 62 year old women (hereafter referred as couple) charged with murder of their 25 year old daughter-in-law. The public prosecutor presents the case as open and shut case. He has total 3 witness. Doctor who conducted autopsy on the victim, watchman of the housing society in which the couple lived and the third one was…. Their own son – husband of the victim.

The hearing begins.

Doctor’s statement is : Victim was first tortured by beating her with wooden stick. Particles of wooden stick are found on victim’s body. Then she was killed using her own dupatta. Then her body was chopped and finally burned in a nearby jungle. The gunny bag in which body was carried, wooden stick, kerosene container has fingerprints of the couple

Watchman: On the fateful night at 1 am, watchman saw the couple take gunny bag, put it in car and drove off. They returned after 3-4 hours. The couple had blood stains on their clothes. They were looking scared and behaved suspiciously.

Their son: My wife had called in the day time and had told that the couple had beat her and also bought kerosene. However, I could not suspect any link between 2 activities and told her that we would talk when I reach home. When I came home, couple told that she had gone to visit her friend’s place for party.

Public prosecutor stated that apart from the witness statement, circumstantial evidence also points that the gruesome crime is committed by the couple.

The case was deferred for 2 days.

Within 2 days, the case spread like wild fire. The media was all over it. People took to streets, candle light marches were organized. Some media house even announced what should be the quantum of punishment awarded.

Once the case was resumed, the judgment was faster than anticipated. The defense lawyer tried to counter the circumstantial evidence saying no CCTV had captured the image of the couple carrying gunny bag and leaving by car. The couple’s car was not having any marks of mud or loose soil from the jungle. The public prosecutor argued that since the couple stayed in the society for more than a decade, they knew how to dodge the cameras and might have washed the car or wheels. The object was over-ruled.

The defense lawyer also requested to conduct second round of autopsy. The police surprised everyone by saying that the body was already handed over to the family and they had conducted the last rituals. However, since the doctor was on court’s panel and serving in Government hospital, his statement was considered final.

Judge deferred the case for 2 more days.




Sunday, January 26, 2014

Plastic Bottle

I am into the habit of using used aerated drinks and bisleri bottles as water bottle for my office. Even if I do not drink aerated drinks, my family happily gulps down these colas (years of cajoling is waste). 

However, recently my friend pointed out to me that this practice is extremely dangerous for our health in long run. These plastic bottles are not made for long run. They are from US and with US culture of use and throw away.

Plastic used is generally of low quality as these companies assumes that people will gulp the liquid and throw the bottle rather crush it. However, Indians are tradditional savers.

I researched on it and found that the plastic components gets added in our colas or water that we store in it. This happens during the transportation of bottles. The molecular structure changes, when the sun rays interact with them.

If you google it little, you would find various articles linked with type of plastic used (names like polyenthylene would be thrown at us), the rating given (like 1, 2, 3...). Some say certain numbers are good for reuse, some chemical combination of plastic would not harm us, etc...

Whatever be said, everything that gets in media today is 80% paid views. So better avoid reuse of plastic bottles for drinking water. We have steel, earthen pots, aluminum bottles to store water. They may be little inconvenient but definitely good considering the harmful effects that plastic bottle has on human body.

I have stopped, now it is upto you.

Note: the action and contents of this post are inspired from my friend Pradeep Dalvi.


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Stay Happy

Recently, read article of Nona Walia in Times of India on Regaining your life.

She is spot on when she says that many times person who is stuck in cycle of doom tends to give up easily. Instead, he should get up and get in charge of his life. However, it is easier said than done. During 'that' time, we are not in a frame of mind to recollect such things (which we had read long back).

Some people may advise you yoga, chocolate therapy, shopping, music therapy, etc.. There are few ways Nona has mentioned which may prevent a person going into that perennial doom mood.

I remember one story which had 2 ways to act. One was reactive and other was proactive or assertive.

The story goes like this:

Once on breakfast table, a toddler by mistake pours some soup on his father's trouser.

Situation 1: Father gets angry. Slaps the child. Child cries for half an hour. Wife starts arguing and fighting with husband for such an irresponsible act. In the process, they spoil their mood. Husband gets late, on the way curses conductor, lift man and so on. Has little concentration on work. Day spoiled.

Situation 2: Father changes his trouser and tells his child to be careful next time. Story khatam :-) Day as usual, business as usual.

The difference in above 2 situations was created by the attitude of father towards a small mistake.

The take away from the above story is we chose to be happy or otherwise. So why choose unhappiness, rudeness, dull day, frowns.
Instead, choose happiness, wonderful day, all smiles. 

Be happy and stay happy.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Advantages of shopping with women

After reading my earlier posts on shopping with women, I got few threatening emails and 1 letter asking me write at least 5 disadvantages of shopping with men or else face mahila mukti morcha. I could not think anything on those lines, so came up with advantages of shopping with women.

Women can go to next article. Men please continue reading.
Here are few advantages of going on shopping spree with women:
  1. You get to know who is the boss. It keeps your ego in check. In office, you may have 50 sub-ordinates but tell your wife that she already has 30 kurtas and she does not need 31st one (btw, 18 of those 30 still have price tags on them) and you get to know who is the boss.
  2. You loose thousands of calories in an evening. You move around so many shops looking for that peach colour dupatta, or chutney colour sandals or green apple colour belt or ... enough of examples. These are the exercises that your wife knowingly, intentionally with good will does for you.
  3. You get to see new trend among women ( and new women too)
  4. You make new friends. When 2 husbands (or 2 men) stand outside changing rooms holding ladies purse/wallet, they ought to talk to each other and share few thoughts.
  5. You get to learn that spending / shopping is sort of therapy in which your cupboard becomes bulky and wallet becomes weak.
I could think of few more but 5 was what I was supposed to write :-)


Shopping Festival

After my earlier 2 posts on shopping, I got few emails asking me to do a post on shopping during festivals.

Most shopping sales are centered around festivals. Reason: The regulars shoppers anyway shop irrespective of sale. However, there are few people who want to buy few items but wait to get 'better' deals during the sale period. So now a person (no gender attached :-P) who wants to buy an extra trouser, wait for sale.

Lets see how it goes. This person has a budget of 1200 for 1 trouser. He goes to shop and finds most trousers are greater than 1200. So he thinks, " I would buy during sale/festival".
Come December/Jan and woo-whoo shopping festival. He goes to shopping with his wife (oops). Assuming they go to trouser section (after buying skirts, pull-ons, jhunkas). He sees the price as 1500 with 30% flat discount. Now that trouser costs 1050. He thinks that its cheaper and saves 150. Nothing wrong till here. However, the story does not end here. He gets so overwhelmed by saving 150 that he buys 2 more (thinking that saving is 150 * 3). So the total cost is 1050 * 3 = 3150.


Common sense is to either buy whenever you need or by only how much you need. So for saving 150, he had to spend 2000.

It is high time that we understand that shopkeepers attract customers by this single word 'sale'. It is their business to employ new tactics (this is however an old tactic) and generate revenue. It is up to us to think before buying.

Note: Please do NOT think that I am telling not to buy anything at all. Even if you think which is not related to the topic, please post the love letter on the blog itself. Else, be prepared to get another post which has your comments highlighted as winner :-)


Losing weight

While most of us aspire to lose weight and be healthy, this desire is always short-lived. No sooner we start the process we lose interest in it and abandon it altogether.

The reason is human psychology. We always set unreasonable expectation at the start. These are not achieved and we feel de-motivated and we abandon it. Example: Will a child have eagerness to learn SSC portion in 2nd standard?

The solution to this is set small achievable goals. Most of the time, the targets set are like: in one month, I will lose 2 kg of weight; in one month, I will reduce 2 inches of my waist; or in six months, I would be slim enough to fit into college clothes.

Instead of such targets, have some thing like below:
From today, I would eat 1 roti less, I would reduce consumption of rice at night, I would consume 1 cup of tea, etc.. These small targets are achievable and over the period of time, compounding would come into picture and your weight would be reduced.

This is like investing in equities, you have to be patient and dedicated.

Note: Aerated drinks, cheese filled pizzas, fried snacks, almost all the office canteen food are the most fat increasing products. Try to stay away from them.


Bhajani mandals in our local trains

Most of us have seen bhajani mandals singing devotional songs in local trains. 

Till few months back, I was impressed by their dedication towards God. No matter how much rush is there in train, they always make a point to chant God's name. They also carry their own tabla and dholki.

However, I witnessed one incident which changed my perception towards them. They generally block 2-4 rows of seats for themselves and their friends. These friends would get into the train on next station or so. They do not give seats to other people and keep their belongings on the seat to block it. One visibly old man went to them and politely asked them to remove their belongings from the seat (reserverd for their friend). They not only shoved him away, they also insulted him. Even after the man had left, they kept on giving bad words to him.

After 5 minutes of so, they again got into chanting of prayers. I wonder what punya they would get by insulting an old man and then chanting of prayers.


Tax Planning with Charity

While we are always searching for new ways of tax planning, many of us forget the section 80G.

80G gives us tax exemption for the amount that we donate to NGOs, charities, etc.. We must have the receipt of the donation and that receipt must have mention that the donation is valid for 80G deduction.

While many may argue that 80G is like 'hit-wicket' in cricket as to get benefit from tax, we are donating that amount itself. While this is true, charity is also one of the must to do for all the humans. We must try to give back to the society. While roles of NGOs is surely under scrutiny, we must ensure that we give it to the one we trust.

Rich dad - poor dad, Richest man in babylon all talk about charity. When we give, we receive... law of nature.

There are various places in Mumbai which are really helping society. I select any of them. Few examples would be a widow ashram in Matunga, school for special children in Dombivli.

Many banks allow money to be donated to NGOs from their internet banking. It feels good while donating. Try it.

Note: This year, I am giving it to an known aunt, who works for benefit of cancer striken children. If anybody wants to know more on her, do let me know.


Getting married... Response received

In response to my previous post of Getting married.... I received lot of feedback on mails.
Few people were with similar thoughts on marriage expenses like my post. Many of the readers mailed me to tell me how I was wrong in that article.
Below are the love letters:

  • As the name of your blog suggests, you are really not special. While I must admire your wife who still stays with you, I am of opinion that you are complete jerk. Can't you understand your parent's emotion when they say "you are my only child"?
  • Dint you know that pickles are always complementary and not paid? You should have asked your caterer before writing this stupid post.
  • Why you think its wrong when your parents say that they are entitled for X amount of money to be spent on your marriage?
  • Different types of sweets are necessary as many people have different taste and not everybody likes the same sweets.
  • Orchids really looks good in decoration. You have no taste in this matter.
I got few more, however, the above 5 are the winners. I wish they had posted the comments on the blog itself. Instead of replying them on email, I thought of doing another post on it.

I really appreciate reading my blog and giving me feedback. However, I want to tell you guys (the winners and the consolation prize winners as well) that you missed the point completely.

The point was never apple juice or kalingad juice. Paneer kofta or paneer makhanwala. The point was parents must first cater to their own retirement and then spend on their child's marriage.

I have no problem if a person with 6 crores in retirment fund spends 10 lakhs on marriage of his/her child. I also do not (read do not again) have problem if a person with 10k salary and 5-8 lakhs in FDs, taking 2 lakhs personal loan for child's marriage.
 

It is your life. You decide.


Pattabiraman Murari

In our lifetime we meet all sorts of people. Some are mean, honest, rude, selfish, bold, shy, etc.. There is one breed of people who are fast disappearing. This set is called as selfless people. There are people who help us selflessly; no matter how we behave with them, do we know them, do we owe them...

One such person I met is Pattabiraman Murari. He is fondly called as Pattu. To get a glimpse of how he is, just visit his site: www.freefincal.com . He has hell lot of calculators over there. All are absolutely free to download. These calculators are life savers for many people. They help us make sound financial decision in personal finance. Over and above, he listens to all people who comment over there and replies them patiently. Many times he has customized / created new calculators just on the request of his readers. Amazing.

To talk about his honesty, he has explained his background in detail on his blog. He has also done a post on how he does his financial audit (http://freefincal.com/personal-financial-audit/).

Then he does another task of guiding people like me who asks him anything and everything. Believe me, I have asked him to review my own little calculators and he obliged. My calculators would be amateur for him. It is like Nokia 3315 (second hand model with scratches on screen) versus Samsung Note II (with latest apps). Still he took pain of reviewing them. Then I also asked him few personal finance questions on email and he replied them too! Then I bugged him with queries on blogging. He obliged again.
Look at his modesty. He calls himself an idiot in his own post (http://freefincal.com/imbibe-implement-ignoresuggested-new-year-resolutions-investors/). 

Subramoney does not reply to all the comments on his blog. But I have not seen a single time when Pattu commented and Subra did not replied. Ashal always has praises for Pattu. That speaks volume of his creditability and respect that he has earned.
Start interacting with him and you can get hooked. 

Sincere thanks Pattu.


Buying MF - not in SIP

For most of the people buying Mutual Fund in SIP is the best way. 

However, there are few people who are not comfortable with SIP. They argue that I have 30 days to invest, I will decide when to buy. These people smartly buy each and every month whenever market falls by some points and gets the benefit of market volatility.

Make no mistake, these are highly motivated and disciplined set of people. They get market updates at-least once before 2pm. As they say, "do not copy if you cannot paste", if you are not confident of initiating a transaction in mutual fund whenever market falls, each and every month for almost 15-20 years, then SIP is better way for you.
This post is not about SIP vs. bulk buying. This is about how to or rather when to initiate a transaction to buy MFs.  The cut-off for MF purchase is 3 pm. So any transaction initiated before 3 pm will be purchased with today's NAV or else it would be bought on tomorrow's NAV.
Suppose, you have monthly target of investing 3k in MF. Divide it into few smaller parts (not more than 3 or 4). Track market daily. If any day, you feel market is falling by some points, punch a transaction of 1k. Follow this 3 times a month. There could be few disadvantages of this approach for the people who are not so dedicated and driven by greed:
  • Some may keep waiting, thinking that tomorrow market will fall more and will purchase. In this process, you may miss the bus and even the target of 3k.
  • Procrastination is a killer and could defeat the whole objective.
  • You have to keep track of market on daily basis and act (last 2 words are important).
If followed with intelligence and common sense, this approach may give 1-2% more returns than the average SIP. This is nothing but using market volatility to our advantage.
However, I prefer SIP way. This is the best way for common man.


Alcoholism

There is an old saying: First the man takes the drink, then the drink takes the drink and finally, the drink takes the man....

For some, drinking problem equals to drinking in desu daru bar and hitting your wife. While this strongly qualify for alcohol problems, this is certainly not the only one.
As they say, charity begins at home; alcohol abuse too begins at home. Children whose parents have drinking habit, tend to start drinking at much younger age. Tender age, hot blood and excess booze is a lethal combination.
Youngsters with low paying jobs sit at bar with friends to forget the things and consume alcohol. Alcohol comes with a price. So many times we hear cases of women working as labourers being hit and robbed by their own husbands for alcohol. Elderly mother dips into her retirement corpus to quench her son's thirst of alcohol. Younger brother with average job and living in a joint family have to bear the cost of alcoholic habits of elder brother and dad.
I know a friend who is not ready to start a SIP of 500 due to tight financial condition and sits in bar for some drinks ( I hope he reads this and make amends).
Well to do families too face alcohol abuses. Husband ignores child's education and retirement to fund his alcohol investment.
These are just social and financial implications. We have health implications too. Many of us know that alcohol increases the fats in our body. Still we consume  it. We all know inebriated state of mind will make us to do things which we would not have done in conscious mind.
Many episodes of crime patrol have been originated from alcohol and alcohol abuses. Son killing alcoholic father, wife killing alcoholic husband, guy killing grandmother for want of money for alcohol....
Think. Act.


New Year Resolution

During the year ending phase, I was thinking to write a post about New Year and resolutions. 

On little thinking and from my own experience I did not do that. The reason was simple: most of the resolutions do not see the light of 2nd January (2nd January is mostly spent in getting out of hangover :P )
So I decided to do a post on resolution in early weeks of January. So here it is.
I had a private poll (amongst my friends) on new year resolutions and here are the results:

  • I will exercise tops the chart
  • I will not smoke
  • I will do charity
  • I will be soft spoken from 1 January
  • I will manage my financial things better
  • I will spend more time on educative blogs and sites
  • Less amount of time to be spent on social networking sites
  • I will reach home on time
Believe me, none of the above resolutions worked for anyone. Some resolutions are just dragged from one year to another and to another (like our Kapurbawdi flyover).
I always wonder what rich or talented or proficient people make resolution and how do they follow it.
After reading Pattu's post: http://freefincal.com/new-year-resolutions-2014/ I understood that they do not do different things, they do the things differently (Shiv Khera line). They do not wait for January. 

They simple decide to inculcate good habits and follow it right away.


Controlling wants

How many of us can clearly distinguish between a need and a want? 

There is a vast difference between a want and a need. Let me try to describe it. In layman's term, a need is without which we cannot live and a want is our own desire. However, people blindly interchange words and we hear sentences like:

  • I need a car because waiting at the bus stop is so boring
  • I need a plasma TV cos the old TV consumes lot of space
  • I need a bigger car since I am due for promotion in next month
You got the crux, right? There could be many examples but examples are irrelevant as they belong to other people. Find your own examples and try to distinguish between a need and want among your examples. 

Nobody can distinguish between your want and need. Four wheeler could be a want for a college guy while it may be a need for a women staying in remote place with pathetic public transport. So the object does not matter, the reason for buying those objects will distinguish in most of the cases.
There are ways to control our wants. Some are easy to follow, some are not so simple. Let us see them below:

  • Defer your purchase. I 'needed' a pair of jeans and I 'wanted' another as a spare. I deferred buying till I understood that there is no need of a spare.
  • Discuss your plan with your family/spouse. Long back, I wanted to upgrade my vehicle from Scooty to Wego. Had a conversation with my family and understood that there were few more things to be bought before that upgrade.
  • Mathematics. Do the math yourself. Visit the site www.freefincal.wordpress.com . There is a huge collection of calculators on this wonderful site. Do the calculations there. Example: if I take a loan of 'x' amount for car, with an EMI of 'y' and have retirement amount of 'z', will I be able to meet my long term goal? This exercise can be scary.
  • Invest money before you can touch it. Various books like Richest man of Babylon, Rich dad poor dad, Retire rich with 40 per day.. all will tell you to pay yourself first. Give SI/ECS to bank for auto-debit for some RDs, FDs, MFs or try auto sweep option as well.
  • Some experts suggests to open different accounts and earmark them as per your goals. Example: You would be tempted to make payment for Plasma TV from your SB account. However, you may not dare touch an account earmarked for your daughter/son's education.
  • Always try not to go for EMI option. This makes the things looks affordable
  • The golden and age old formula: Pay by cash and not by plastic card
Work out your own strategy or use above.


VSTS 2010 - Rig Configuration

For the people who are not aware of load testing, it is a testing type  wherein, we check what is the system response with X number of users. 

Controller is the console who controls (i.e. run/start/stop/pause/collate results) and Agents are the machines which actually put load on the application.

Rig configuration is the process wherein we establish a distributed testing harness for load testing. This means, one machine (Controller) would be connected with several machines (Agents) and the test would be run from these several machines i.e. Agents. The Controller would instruct Agents which scripts to be run, how much time, how many users and other general settings. Controller would also collate the results from all the Agents and will store the results.
Below are the steps to have a Rig Configuration. This is nothing but testing on distributed system:

  1. Identify  the machines which would be acting as Controller and Agents
  2. Download Controller and Agent software from Microsoft site: www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=1334
  3. The above link will download an image of a disc
  4. We need virtual cd drive like Daemon or Alcohol 120% to load the image
  5. Start installation by right clicking on the set up file and run as administrator
  6. Download the Controller software on the machine identified for Controller
  7. Click on Next till the set up gets completed
  8. Click Configure button. Better to have login as network service. Check configure database and give SQL Server instance where SQL database is created for VSTS. Example: MyDBServer/SQLExpress
  9. Click on Apply button
  10. Now, login to the machine which has been identified as Agents.
  11. Download Agent software by repeating steps till #5
  12. Select the Agent to be run as Service in background
  13. Select network password option
  14. Do not forget to register the Agent with the Controller. The string is "machinename:TCPIP port". Example: Mymachine:6901
  15. 6901 works with most of the machines
  16. Follow the steps from #10 to #14 for multiple Agents installation and configuration
However, we need to have subscription key to run the Rig. For this, go to the Microsoft  Subscriptions and get the key. Start Controller configuration in the Controller machine and enter the obtained key.


We are ready for the action.


Jai Guruji (Part of 2 of 2)

Continued from Part 1

Guruji also printed a magazine of himself. This magazine highlighted his achievements. Out of curiosity, I picked up a magazine from my neighbour and found it extremely creative and interesting piece on this earth. 

I was wondering if Guruji was the real Guru of Superman, Spiderman, Batman all superheroes. Here are few examples. Read them at your own risk. I am not responsible if you fall laughing from the chair.

  • His disciple from a country named Congo wrote that his brother died of a road accident. So he came to Guruji (from Congo to India?). Guruji travelled back in time and ensured that his brother did not step out of his house on the day of accident.
  • Another disciple from Austria wrote: he was standing in balcony. For some reason, his balance went off and he fell off from 14th floor. Guruji appeared from nowhere on first floor, caught him and kept him safely on ground floor. Amazing.
  • A disciple from Vietnam writes: he was chased and caught by dacoits in jungle. Just when they were about to shoot him, Guruji appeared there. Guruji converted their shot guns into snakes. Those snakes bit those dacoits. All dacoits dead, Guruji disappeared and disciple safe. LOLsssss
  • The magazine claimed that ACP Pradyuman copied Guruji’s style of shaking right hand fingers.
  • Guruji had a bet with Superman. The one who finishes last in the race was supposed to wear his underwear over the trouser.
  • Aliens often visit Guruji and take his blessings.
I could not stop laughing on the last one. However, I had to keep the magazine down since many of his disciples gave me angry look. I closed my eyes and pretended as if I was doing meditation.
While many were meditating, some were meeting Guruji and telling him their problems. Guruji then gave solutions. I managed to listen to one of the solution and found it so vague and general that it could suit to any problem and any person. Lovely.
Just as Vadapav or pop corn seller with tray comes to all the seats in multiplexes, Guruji’s men too were carrying trays and coming to all the seated disciples. I had a look in one of those trays. These trays were filled with pen, pencils, cricket balls, underwear, baniyan, boxers, arm bands, gloves.... and all these items had picture of Guruji on it. Believe it or not, all items were priced more than 200 times their MRP in market. Awesome cross-selling technique.

It was tempting to meet Guruji and take some business tips and learn how to get money out from other’s pocket. However, those who went and met him, Guruji kissed them on their foreheads. So I avoided that physical closeness and headed to Exit point.

Next day, I saw my friend using pen and diary with a photo of Guruji. P.L. Deshpande was right, Boovashakt is far greater than Yuvashakti in our country.


Jai Guruji (Part of 1 of 2)

Legendry Marathi author P.L.Deshpande had noted that in our country Boovashakti is stronger than Yuvashakti.

Yuvashakti is the strength of our youth while Boovashakti is the power of all the Babas and self styled God-man. I neither hate these babas nor I love them. I simply don’t care about them and offcourse neither they pay heed to small community of people like me who don’t believe in them.
However, my close friend is follower of one such baba. He forcibly took me to that baba to get enlighten. Actually, he bombarded me with his praises and out of sheer irritation I accompanied him to the ashram.
His ashram was located on the outskirts of Mumbai. I was amazed by the area occupied by his ashram. We went to his ashram by my friend’s car. Since, I was obliging by coming with him, he was supposed to bear the cost of travelling. This was the deal. On reaching there, I saw a queue of about 300+ people waiting to purchase ticket to enter the ashram. As per the crowd, this money spent was worth it as they would be getting enlighten after meeting the Guruji. I would have preferred visiting national park instead.
As per the deal, my friend paid for the ticket too. The ticket was 500 per head. Too much. National park would have been much cheaper and more entertaining too.
However, the crowd management of Guruji was top class. Crowd of 300+ was inside his ashram in 15 minutes flat and without stampede. We too went inside the ashram. Sat there for about 5 minutes and suddenly the lights went out. I thought of load shedding but my friend proudly told me that Guruji had inverter back up and these lights went out as Guruji was coming shortly. I understood that he had spent 500 many times. Bingo, Guruji was there on stage like some magic. My friend again increased my knowledge by informing that Guruji is very punctual and always made sure he is on stage within 5 minutes. I was wondering if Guruji did any other thing than counting his fortune and estate to not to be punctual on dais. Out of fear of getting lynched, I did not speak my mind in open.
Then he gave his lecture and made people understand that why other babas were dhongi and why people should not follow them. This was like an investment advisor telling his clients that endowment plans are bad; you should buy ULIP and that too from him only.
After his long lecture, all his disciples sang a song (lyrics written by Guruji himself). That song praised him almost next to God. Guruji claimed himself an avatar of all the religions. Cleverly, by saying all religions he wanted to attract people from all religions and get their 500 bucks.


Getting married .... almost happily

How much does an average middle class spend on marriage is a poll worth taking.

However, if I take average of all my friends (including mine), we spend about 8-10 lakhs in all. Generally, in Maharashtra, we divide expenses. So an average family spends about 4 lakhs (girls family may spend some extra).

Out of all the expenses, mostly all are unwanted, not needed and out of fear. I will give my own example.
I had 3 sweets in my marriage. Does it makes sense? Absolutely NO. 1 sweet would have been enough. 2 different welcome drinks could have been 1 welcome drink. Orchids dead on stage could have been replaced with regular flowers or with roses. 3 different pickles were waste. I had 4 options of chapatti, roti, nan and rumali roti. OMG what a waste. 1 kolhapuri, 2 paneer sabjees and 1 sweet sabjee added my expenses.

Every time I protested, I got either of below gun shots in my ear.

  • Are baba, its necessary.
  • We have only 1 child.
  • It is your parents wish.
  • We are entitled for spending this much on our son's wedding.
  • Everybody does it.
  • It is our culture.
  • I will pay, you don't pay a single paisa.
  • What will our relatives say.
  • What will society say.
While sentiments are important, parents must not forget that they have their own retirement waiting for them. Please analyze your own financial situation and then spend on your son/daughter wedding. Listen to your children, what they want to have and then decide how much to spend.


Innovative mis-selling

Few weeks back, I had visited PSU bank for some non-cash transactions. I happen to visit this branch after almost two and half years. In this span, plenty of changes took place.

Earlier there were different windows for each transactions. Now, they have concept of single window. All transactions except passbook printing could be done on all windows. Mobile banking, automated machine for passbook printing, seats for customers in queue, etc..

While all these things are welcomed by customers, PSU banks are also getting involved innovative mis-selling.

Now, if you go to them for home loan, you will have to buy their insurance policy. If you go for locker, you will have to purchase ULIP or some mutual fund. If we are ignorant or we are in a hurry for home loan or some thing, one of the product would be forced upon us.
Then there are behavioral selling. I saw a big poster of happy family. Husband, wife and two kids enjoying TV in their living room. The living room was full of costly items like plasma TV, AC, jhoomer and furniture. Along with this, there was a line written below the frame "Give your family all the luxuries with our personal loans" .... Too much... Luxuries with personal loan !!! Then there were slogans like 'Secure your child's future with our XYZ insurance cum investment product', 'Make sure your child goes abroad for higher studies with our shiksha plan'  and so on...

Ashal and Manish Chouhan have stated below points which could be helpful during such mis-selling:

  • Tell them upfront that these products are not compulsion and you know that this is cross-selling
  • Tell them that you would complain to the Branch Manager (This may not work as Manager himself may tell the employees to cross sell)
  • Tell them that you would complain to SEBI, Banking ombudsman or IRDA (which ever is applicable)
  • Last option, buy it, surrender within 15 days and complain to above agencies (this is most convenient and will work, but you will have to be alert to get policy within 15 days and persistent to follow up with the agency)
As Anoop Soni of Crime Patrol says, "Savdhan rahe, satark rahe,  surakshit rahe. Jai Hind"


Certification

Last month, I gave ISTQB certification exam. For the non-IT people, ISTQB is an international exam conducted for testing professionals. Ideally, this exam is given by people with 1-2 years of experience in testing domain.

However, while studying for this exam, I thought that fresher batches who join testing stream should immediately give this exam. The reason is, this exam is theory oriented and not what is followed practically.

The syllabus teaches us what should be the ideal testing practices. When people with experience of about say 4-5 years try to give this exam, they find the things written in the book opposite to what they have followed all over the years. This confuses them. The exam is multiple choice question and the answers are so close to each other that even after studying for about a month, I could not guess which was more correct. This is the exact reason, why I thought freshers would be at advantage as their slate is almost clear i.e. they have no prejudices. So when they learn the ideal things from the book, it helps them clearly state which answer is correct and why. 

This exam could be a part of their ILP (Initial Learning Program). This would enable them to have clear picture of what should be done ideally and they can even try and implement few of those things.

Development stream too would have some theory oriented certification which could be in their ILP.

Having said that, my friend who has around 5 years of experience got 80% marks.

With the tone of the post, it would be clear to many readers that I would have got passing marks in the exam. 

Thank God, we mention just the certification name on our CV and not percentage :-)


Shopping with women (Part 2 of 2)

Continued from Part 1

Next day my friend and his girlfriend went to lifestyle for purchasing trouser for our beloved lady.

From yesterday's experience, our boy had become smart. He took her straight to trousers' section. She was more than happy to try ten different trousers of ten different brands. Boy shortlisted four of them. She picked up the rest six for second round of trial. Again his opinion was taken and discarded. 

Finally, two trousers were shortlisted by the girl and both were dumped because she thought that she was looking fat in those trousers. My friend was left speechless. Now they headed to another shop.

Some trousers length was too short, some had back pockets, some had front pockets, some did not have pockets at all.... with these genuine reasons all the trousers were rejected. This continued in two more shops. Some trousers did not have peach colour (our guy always thought that peach was fruit and not a colour), some had peach colour but in silk material, trousers in cotton did not have green colour, etc..

While doing all this activity, she bought two tops (equivalent to t-shirt for men), three jeans, one pair of stockings, three pairs of chappals (our girl insisted on calling them as pull-ons) and one soft toy for her sister. Then they headed for food court had dinner and left. Time spent: 6.5 hours flat.

With all the above things said, I still prefer my mom or my wife select clothes for me. Women knows it better. However, I manage to keep them in the required section as long as we buy what is needed. After that they are free to roam


Shopping with women (Part 1 of 2)

My wife does not read my blog, so I am safe and sound even after writing this post. 

Let me tell you this upfront, I hate going for shopping with women. Reasons could be many but each one of us will have their own experiences with women (about shopping).

This Sunday, my friend went with his girlfriend to a nearby mall for shopping. The girl wanted to buy a trouser. They met at mall premises at 5.30pm and left the mall at 9.30pm. Items bought was .... wait let me tell you the story....

They entered mall at 5.30 and went to first floor central showroom. Just when they were about to enter the showroom, girl noticed CCD outlet which was beside the central. So one hour was spent in having sizzling brownie. 

At 6.30, they went to central. One and half hour flat was spent in traditional wear section. Time: 8pm. The girl tried three different salwar-kameej and asked my friend how was she looking. On all three occasions my friend replied that she was looking beautiful (she is really beautiful, remember I told you wife does not read my blog). However, the girl thought otherwise and did not buy them.

After that, they went to kurtis section. She tried eight different kurtis this time. 45 minutes flat. Time: 8.45pm.
Now, the girl was little hungry. She asked my friend, "do you feel hungry?". My friend got the clue and took her to food court. They had frankies and sandwiches. Time: 9.20pm.

The girl while going home said that central does not have good stock of trousers. So she decided to go to lifestyle shop tomorrow. They parted at 9.30pm.

Continued tomorrow....


Introspection

The below issue may not be as cruel as the Delhi case, may not be as inhuman as the women shelter home case, may not be as hair raising as the injustice done on the girl in Kurla (many incidents, less adjectives available)... however it is certainly worth noting (common man like me just notes the things, cannot act on it).

Yesterday, while traveling by local train in Mumbai, I happened to witness this thing.

Our trains have 1 coach (actually, half a coach) reserved for physically handicapped (PH) people and cancer patients. The word 'reserve' implies that only PH and cancer patients are allowed to travel from these compartments. However, the meaning does not hold true in India (yes India and not just Mumbai).

At Dadar station, many not so visibly handicapped people (their chit chat ensured that they were neither deaf nor dumb) got into the PH compartment as it was not crowded. They not only cramped the already small compartment but also occupied all the seats meant for the less fortunate. The handicapped people were standing while others who jumped into the train were fast asleep. I am sure, the same people would be complaining about bad roads, load shedding, corruption, etc..

I do not know if others have noticed this. I fear that, if other people who were traveling from the non-reserved compartment starts traveling from the reserved compartment then, the PH people would not dare to travel. And i also do not know if Railway authorities are concerned about this.

After all such incidents happening around, I really wonder if we still have the privilege to call ourselves as humans.
I hope at-least 1 person traveling illegally from the PH compartment reads this post and stops it immediately. It is time for introspection.


Note: This post was first emailed to DNA newspaper. However, for some reason, they chose not to publish it in DNA or I did not buy next day's newspaper :-)


Addiction

We all are aware of the side effects, smoking has on our health. Even the manufacturer states that. I wonder how smokers continue to smoke even after watching those cigarette adds where they clearly show the side effects. Strict non-smokers like me gets scared by those adds and warnings.

However, it is easier to be on the other side and say such things. I have seen what my office friends go through when they do not get to smoke. Is it only addiction? I doubt. My take is it must be some kind of psychological disease that they have.
Yesterday, I met my friend after a gap of around 5 years. He must be around 35 years of age. However, from his health and face, it seems he is due for his senior citizen card in a year or two. The reasons are off-course well known. Eating food with lots of fats and sugar, no exercise at all and off-course the white stick (10/stick is the price, OMG). Now, I tried to reason him with how much he could save by not having cigarette (200 per day minimum), investing that money and he could probably retire early. To this he replied that with his current lifestyle (foreign word) and health, he would not be able to see his 50th year. Awesome. Our mind knows what we consume and where we are headed. When I drink half glass of whiskey, I know I am increasing my waist size. Since, I drink once or twice in a year, it is not my worry.
We all have some kind of addiction. 

Some may have about smoke, some may have that about liquor, some about pan masala, some about watching TV, etc.. I am myself guilty of getting addicted to surfing online and reading blogs and books. While I may argue that these things are good, my family obviously has complains. Many times I am so engrossed in surfing that I forget what my mother or wife told me some time back. Many times my MTNL bill screams on me for the bandwidth consumed and the data downloaded.

The key is not to go overboard and not let the things consume yourself. Try to get rid of such activities slowly. It may help or at-least the things would not turn worst (if not already).
Happy weekend.