© 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!

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