Sunday, November 30, 2014

Never compare

Mr and Mrs Sharma were living an envious life. Mr Sharma was a CEO of an international company. He retired 4 years ago at the right age of 55. Mrs Sharma was with PSU bank and took retirement last year. Now, she would get good benefits and Mr Sharma got good fat bulk money during his retirement.

Sharmas have two children. Mr wanted a girl child and Mrs wanted a boy. God obliged to both of them. Once they were blessed with a princess while second time they were blessed with baby boy.
Both of them were academically good students. They completed their engineering and did their masters. The boy settled in US while the princess decided to stay back in India.
Sharmas lived in the plush locality of the city. They had a good shining bungalow in the heart of the city, off course, mortgage free. People wondered what else could a person want if they had Sharma's life. What many did not know was a basic principle of life: Each and every human being has his own share of gifts and problems. The people who were jealous of Sharmas did not know of their share of problems.

Mr Sharma was the fifth and youngest child of Senior Sharma. Both the Senior Sharmas died when Mr Sharma was five years old. He was brought up by their eldest brother. However, he too had his limitations. He could afford only matriculation of all the siblings and rest he left them to fend for themselves. Mr Sharma had the attitude of taking the problems head on. He worked part time and studied in the evening while attending night college. Many times in a month, Mr Sharma would skip dinner. Sometimes, it was due to sheer lack of energy to cook and many times it was to save funds for his own education. He survived this grind and completed his bachelors. He got full time job in a good company. However, after one year in job, he realised that he could not grow in that company with the same set of education. So he went ahead and applied for part time masters in management. He completed that in next three years and got opportunities opened in his own company (Note: this story has no dates. It would date back to 2002 or 1992. So do not think that MBA has a ticket to opportunities, at least in current scenario).
After his PG, he decided to stay with the same company for few more years. The company periodically rewarded his loyalty and Mr Sharma periodically renewed his aim to stay with the company, extending it by some years, only to retire in the same company. However, the designation on which he left was a dream come true for most of the people.
In the meantime, he got married with a beautiful girl. Mrs Sharma belonged to a rich family. However, her parents saw the integrity and determination of the boy and agreed to their marriage. Mr Sharma, too, did not disappoint them. First he gave his wife complete freedom of thought and living. Mrs Sharma too reacted positively. Rarely, the fought, too. However, those  moments of fighting just increased their bonding. Sub-sequently, they got kids too.
 
Suddenly, one day, his eldest brother died. The brother did not have any insurance and his son's responsibility was left to his non working wife. Mr.Sharma rose to the occasion and took the responsibility of the child, monetarily. During this tough period, Mrs Sharma stood rock solid behind her husband. This would have been a huge drain on their finances. However, they decided to bite the bullet. Mrs Sharma was thinking of two things: 1. Taking help from her parents in this tough situation. 2. How would she react, if the same thing happens with her. Even though, she had a good job, it would not be sufficient to support three children. Collectively, they decided against point number one. For second point, both of them bought life insurance for themselves. Their health insurance was available from their respective employers. God smiled on Sharmas and they could successfully complete the education of all the three children and as per their likings. They never needed those life insurance policies and they thanked God for that.
 
During the last market crash, almost 80% of the Sharmas investment were wiped off. They were living paycheck to paycheck. Mr Sharma being in private company was hit badly. His salary did not increase for three years. Mrs Sharma being in PSU, her salary went up marginally each year. However, all was still paycheck to paycheck. As they say, when the going gets tougher, the tougher gets going. Mr Sharma did not panic and sat on his portfolio throughout the market crash. His male ego was not hurt when his wife was driving their livelihood. Mr Sharma had the brains to understand that market behaves in cyclic manner. Although, he could not add anything to his portfolio, he never sold his any of the investments. He was rewarded for his patience after three years when market began to rose. His portfolio grew 22% YOY.
 
Jr Sharma wanted to study after masters. Mr Sharma supported him and sent him to US. After his one year of study course, he decided to work over there. Initially, Mr Sharma thought that after a brief stint in US, Jr. would be back home. However, that did not happen. Jr. expressed his interest of settling in US. Although heartbroken, Sharmas did not oppose him. Jr. tried very hard in convincing Sharmas to migrate to US. However, they did not want to leave India. Jr. was disappointed with their decision. As the father - as the son, Jr. too respected their decision. They mutually agreed to meet each other every six months. This was revised to once a year and soon it became once in every five or six years.
 
Princess Sharma had decided long back to stay in India. She completed her masters and got a good job. She got attracted to a very handsome guy and got married against Sharmas wishes. Mr Sharma realised that the guy was good for nothing and was just a showcase item. Princess too realised this. However, it took five years of torture, beatings and mental agony to realise that Mr Sharma was right. It was too late then.
 
Mr Sharma tried to bring his daughter back home. However, princess wanted to pursue her marriage and make it a success. She could not. She got divorced, heart broken, bruised and now is in mental asylum for recuperating from the pain. Jr. stayed in India with Sharmas during this tough time. However, his company felt that two years were enough for difficult time and called him back from his work from home schedule. He had to rush back to his house.
 
Over the years, time healed the wounds but the scars remained. Jr. too got married. Mrs Sharma chose a girl for him and he was more than wiling for an arrange marriage. Sharmas were not sure was this willingness due to his guilt of staying away from them or due his sister's condition with her love marriage.
 
Sharmas longs for their kids at home. They are jealous of the people who are privileged to stay with their kids. Mrs Sharma is eager to play with her grand children, whenever that happens. Both are now retired from the daily jobs. Few days back, Mr Sharma booked an Europe tour for him and his wife. Mrs Sharma wanted to go on a Europe tour, some ten years back. Mr Sharma felt bad that he could not buy her the tour. Nevertheless, he has now booked an Europe tour. They would be touring the Europe with little sugar, some blood pressure and lots of restrictions on the diet.
 
Mr Sharma tries to make up for the lost time and caring for his wife. On the face of it, Sharmas life looks honky-donky. However, only he and his family knows of the grind through which they all have been.
 
Moral of the story: Never compare yourself with others. We have no idea what others have been through or what they are been subjected to. We can only be motivated to reach where the other person stands.


Saturday, November 29, 2014

Things to be remembered while buying house - Part 2

Sometime back, I wrote a simple post on "things to be remembered while buying a house".
 
Few months back, my friend had to buy a new house and I had to give him company while house searching. It was basically, 4 eyes finding fault instead of 2 eyes. We did that exercise for around 2 months and then finally found something interesting. However, in the process, we also found few more points which should be remembered while buying a house. So here are few more items to list down.
 
  • Always, always remember to visit the house in day time. Chances are maximum to miss something important in night or evening light.
  • Try to reach the place by public transport. This would give a good idea of the connectivity.
  • Always have your friend or spouse along with you while viewing house. Agents can easily influence the mind of single person than two.
  • Once you reach there, some agent always seems to be in hurry (btw, our agent was really nice man. He took us there and then left us alone for at least half an hour to look at the place in peace. This he did for all the houses that we visited. To our surprise, he advised against buying few houses for some reasons that we could not spot. I am surely going to recommend him to other people. This is called as long term vision. Umm ... may be topic for another post).
  • Check if the walls have paint, wall paper or tiles.
  • If the walls are tiled, it must be due to leakage. I have not seen anybody tiling their hall or bedroom just for fun.
  • Look at the paint, are the walls newly painted?
  • Look for cracks in the wall. Fine cracks are to be ignored. They can be due to inferior quality of POP or cement used. However, large cracks are to be taken seriously.
  • Open all the windows and have a look at the neighbouring environment. One of the house had cemetery and of course, the window was jammed which was overlooking the cemetery. Nothing wrong with cemetery. The problem was deliberate jamming of the window.
  • Visit the place in weekday. You will come to know about the noise, if you have any school around. Again, for some this may be desired point.
  • Politely, ask the owners to switch off the TV. Sometimes, TV noise blocks the railway lines noise. The owners may be used to the noise and they would have even unknowingly watching TV.
  • If possible, take a walk around the building. One of the place that we visited had smoke coming out from a rubber factory nearby. This could have been missed.
  • If you are planning for a baby or already blessed with one, make sure you enquire about day care facilities around the area. Check from which age they admit the babies. Also, as discussed in last post, check for schools too.
  • Check if the building has security guards. One of the building's guard, did not let us in. He specifically needed a telephone call from the owner or secretary, although the owner was not staying in that building. That was impressive.
  • If you believe in Vaastu, check that too.
  • Ask society members about the water availability.
  • Check if any of the branches of the trees from the compound land in your balcony. If a branch can, a person too would be able to follow.
  • If possible (I know, not always it is), visit the area during any festival. The amount of noise would be a big factor, post house purchase.
  • Check if any other building or so is coming up near the compound. That would certainly block the sunlight and wind. However, in Mumbai, it would be foolish to decide on this factor. A building may stand tall between the time gap of you applying for loan and your loan getting sanctioned.
  • Looks stupid, but do consider how long your nearest relative or friend stays from the house that you are looking.
  • If in Mumbai, if possible, do consider buying a house within toll naka limits. This would avoid unnecessary toll payments and hassles. One of my friend spends more on toll than on CNG gas for his office drive.
  • Time your second visit probably in the evening or at night. This would let you know how lonely or safe that place is in off-peak hours.
  • Never to forget the NA certificate, Completion certificate, Occupancy certificate. If society is formed, check on whose name the society shares are. If society is not formed, ask for an estimate. The earlier the better.
  • If the house is newly constructed, do not paint the house immediately. Wait for at least 6-8 months. All the water below the tiles will show up on the lower levels of the walls. Let it dry. Then go for paint.
  • Buy house which has a parking space, if possible. Parking on road is never easy and safe. Reserved parking is always better than searching for parking in the night.
  • Of course, you need to check medical shops, allopathic doctor, dentist, sabji market and general stores shops. They should be in the vicinity.