© Santosh Subramanian – Some rights reserved - Under Creative Commons

Friday, October 24, 2008

When it hits hard...

Off-late, lots has been spoken about the world economy, how it behaved when the Wall Street tumbled and how people had lost money. Worse to come, banks are collapsing attributing to a lot of people losing money and as the panic spreads, people are pulling out their money out of the markets based on the fundamental factor that – during a crisis, the man with liquid cash in hand always comes out smiling! At the same time, it is also a known truth that a bear run is the best time to invest – if you know where to invest wisely.

There is a fear that is gripping the market which is preventing people from investing and spending and that is one of the reasons why the crisis is slowly spreading into other market segments. Sales are low, cash flow is very poor and you will never know when one of your biggest customers is going to declare bankruptcy… There are shadows of layoffs looming around and everyone is scared! It is difficult to smile through tough times, but there are some observations that I feel worth recording.

I spend a lot of time in office everyday (not by choice, but attributed to my schedule)… coming into office around 7:30 in the morning and leaving back home at 5:30 – I used to find the parking lot 25% filled up when I come in and when I leave at 5:30, mine would be one among the 10% of the cars left in the parking lot. In the last 3 weeks, I find it lucky to find a spot in the parking lot in the morning and I have to park my car in the “pit” (Another parking lot which is a 5 min walk from our building) and today – being a Friday, when I left office I still have more than half the lot filled up. Usually, the parking lot gets half emptied by noon on Fridays…

When I got transferred to the head quarters in the US during last year June, I had seen that there were direct trains that ply from our city to New York every day. And my wife takes that train daily to work. There are 3 stations that are closer to where we stay: - (Morristown --> Convent --> Madison) – in the same sequence while going to New York. So depending on the timing when we get out of the house, we decide on which station to target so that she can catch the (7:14 AM --> 7:20 AM --> 7:24 AM) train. I had noticed that during March this year, the peak hour train was upgraded to a double-decker train. And as on today, there are 3 double-decker trains running on this line. This had been our regular routine until recently when my wife told me that she has to catch the train from Morristown lest she would not find a seat. She was mentioning that she would be lucky if she gets a seat from convent and she would end up standing all the way until New York if she gets in from Madison! So, double the capacity on 3 trains and it is already brimming!! What does this tell us – given the fact that though the gasoline prices had gone up, now they have come down significantly?

I feel that many a times, there is no point talking about food wastage to a person who has more than sufficient food to eat 4 times a day. But when you start feeling the pinch of what hunger means… not by watching UN videos in the comfort of an office, but in reality… that is when it really matters. You need to really feel the “Call of the hunger” to really start appreciating the resources that we get. I tell my wife sometimes that hunger is not that feeling that you have when you refuse to eat food by picking on something but it is that feeling when you really want to eat something and you don’t have anything nor have the money to buy anything…

I hope we start to learn to share – A first hand experience is always helpful!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Tsunami - And how many types!

This must be a little funny.

The first time I heard the word tsunami was way back in May 2002. Yeah, a good 2.5 years before the Dec 2004 tsunami created havoc in the coastal India, Thailand and Malaysia. I was working with a giant investment bank then on a migration project and we had staffed up using a man power consulting company in Bangalore called tSunami Infotech (The spelling is not a typo, that is how they spelt the name). I used to pronounce the word with an additional stress on the 't'... trying to say it as t`sshunami... and had tried to find out the meaning of the word. Google wasn't as famous as it is now and worse, we did not have internet in office... All I could figure out was that it is a japanese equalent for a big wave...

And I am pretty much sure that the common man never heard of such a thing until a real one knocked down houses, killed people and created big time havoc... The kind of damage that such a wave of water could bring in was much more that we could comprehend - somthing beyond words, beyond explanation.

In the post Dec 2004 world in India, I have seen this word being used synonymous to many things that has a hard hitting effect - In India, the media in particular. The first time it was used in American politics was when the Democrats had a sweeping victory over Republicans in the US house of representatives and the US Senate during the mid term elections in Nov 2006. And later the same term was used to refer the Republicans sweeping over the power from Democrats in the mid term election of 1994.

In the malayalam media, tsumani had been used to connote a lot of land-slide effects in political, social, cultural and recently the economic scenario.

And what prompted me to make this post here is a recent malayalam news in a famous newspaper that the "ecomonic tsumani" is all set to hit the indian markets... Ohh wow! That is really a wrong statement to the common man who normally does not follow the dynamics of the international economics (not politics) and he starts stocking up food supplies expecting that the great depression is going to hit him again!

The crisis in the US is primarily caused by incorrect lending practices by the banks and poor risk management. It is well understood that the economies are interconnected and they all would face the ripple effect of this "bubble-burst", but I feel that the media should behave upto a minimum responsibility.

If somebody is keen on knowing what really happened in the US market, see this simple illustration below created by Market Place.

And another one here...

The credit crisis as Antarctic expedition from Marketplace on Vimeo.

References: -
Wikipedia - About tsunami political usages in the US
Presentation Zen - Link to Maket Place presentation
Market Place - Presentation Videos

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Monster at Home!

Finally this had to come...

I was amused, feeling funny and at the same feeling guilty about myself after what happened at home last night.

Amiya had been listening to a lot of stories at school offlate as a part of her Language skills training and one of the stories include the one that has a Mermaid, a Monster and a King. (I forget the name of the story... poor me...). It was her birthday party last weekend and we had taken a lot of photographs and video which I bundled together into a Video CD by adding some background scores and stuff like that.

I was doing a play-back of this video last night while Amiya was sitting next to me on the couch. She suddenly turned around, touched my paunch and made this statement...

"You have a big kumba pappa... so you are the monster at home and I am the mermaid!!"

I was stunned for a moment by hearing that statement before breaking out into a laugh... I just couldn't control myself and I laughed my heart out... So, finally it looks like my kiddo is trying to tell me that it is time for me to check out my body & get back in shape...

Note: Kumba = Pot Belly in Malayalam