Monday, June 21, 2010

Grains of sand in an hour clock

I believe it won’t be a task to guess this is going to be like a trip down the memory lane. But this one is a little different- it’s a walk down the memories attached to my mail box. I know- it is absurd; but I did discover something- a mail box wide open does not lie. Also, a look down the mail box was not one of my stray week end thought; it was sparked by what happened this morning.

Out of the blue today, I happened to chat with my friend Rahul Pilani today and it struck me- damn, there was a time we had at least two forwards being shared across, chat on the messenger all night and all this was after having spent the whole day in college in the same class. Today, we started from the page where we knew the name and face; but no clue what we both are doing. End result- it prompted me to run down my mail box to trace when was it last I wrote a group mail to my college buddies.

What is has done has opened up a whole journey of time travel. My mail box has actually marked events in my life along with how I have changed as a person along the way.

I discovered I have a mail id on Yahoo since 1998, something I have as my rightful ownership since junior college when thanks to my brother, we finally had an internet enabled PC in the house. Those were the day of stealing user ids and passwords off VSNL users, 28.3 kbps modems and the ‘ppp’ and ‘F6’ to get into the wonder world of internet. I had a student account on VSNL that allowed no graphics, no surprise I never liked it or used it to the full.

By 1999, I was into engineering and the new toys in hand were the ICQ messenger, Yahoo Chat rooms etc. (Sorry, I’m unable to recall some other chat sites I frequented) Its stunning to know that I was a quite a flirt. I have mails from some girls in Brazil, Australia, Latvia, Estonia… with the most idiotic hi-hello conversations- characteristic of adolescence. To my surprise, I discovered having a seemingly regular chat relation with a medical college student from Pune, a commerce student from Cuttack and an Arts student from Mumbai. I can still remember the first one is married and settled in UK; the female from Cuttack called me when she was in Mumbai, but that’s about it.

The earliest forwards was from a friend from college send me a mail titled “Type of men you meet in the Loo”, I took her case real bad coz the content was really intricate. Have a mail from my brother about what all can happen with ‘Hotel Soap’. Jokes, chain mails, pictures of Ferrari’s and cars as attachments- the list is just too long.

Somewhere around 2002, there is the first hint of me and my mail box becoming a bit serious, the first mail with assignment files on mail. The attachment is 28 kb- a word document on infra red imaging has set the stage for a lot of links of machines and technologies. By August 2003 the first CV has left the box, but not many replies to in seen. A mail in December that same year is from Team Lease; asking me for my bank details for my first pay, followed by a string of financial queries, pay slips and arbit stuff from Wipro GE Medical Systems.

In 2004, I started writing group mails to my friends, my first baby steps towards writing. The replies have been mostly critical of my typos and language errors. Never the less every single one was encouraging. There is also a new approach to flirting with me doing some research for the final project of a girl I liked, 7 mails on a subject I had no clue of... Well I somehow was confident that the way to success was to be the man around when it mattered- quite a myth as I see it now.

The next big thing was 2005, where lies my first Resignation letter. This one comes from a web site named which composed it for me off a template for the given situation. I copied this one and sent it to my boss. My Parting mail was replied back by almost all who received it. Some were encouraging my next move, some wishing the best, some summing up the 18 month journey as the start of a new one.

2005 to 2006, my mails have been a string of applications for MBA colleges, information on colleges and update from forums.

What is beyond 2006 is what I said the Gmail effect. Orkut became a hit and I shifted out to Gmail as my primary mail id. Yahoo still remained but became more of a receiving box rather than a send box. With that came a different set of friends and the old, either moved to Gmail or started losing touch.

In a way that is how advances in internet changed my life. What was once precious, became more like a storage. Like grains of sand in the hour clock, it moves from one side to the other, it settles at the bottom and sometimes gets lost as more grains come on top.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Game of Perception

Go to any motivation workshop or listen to a good orator addressing a crowd- you will undoubtedly be recipients of pearls of wisdom on how to perceive things in a positive way. The glass is not half empty, not a ‘yes’ is not a ‘no’ either etc. What we are usually taught is to change our perception away from the harsh reality

It is rather surprising that in fact there are a few businesses that actually exist and function on the basis of perception.

I was reading an article in the papers last week which was talking of a list of Billionaires out of India. More than anything else, I was more involved in understanding what these league of extraordinary deep pockets do in life. Most were Chairman, MD’s, CEO’s of industrial houses or IT firms in India. What was even better was their value was a combination of movable and immovable assets, stocks, land holdings etc.

And that’s where the question popped in my mind, is this actually a measure of their monetary wealth? So if a certain Mr A sells his stocks, cars, aircrafts, houses, land etc, he is the richest man in India. That’s amazing- but sadly not true. All this was just perceived value.

Apparently in the 16th Century, the Spanish campaigns plundered the whole of South America and brought to Europe what was precious then; Silver: about 45000 tons of it. But what this influx did was devalue silver and resulted in breakdown of the whole economy of the Spanish empire. Main reason- the influx reduced the perceived value of silver and everything linked to prices of silver came down crashing.

It is much the same with Stocks or Real estate. Perceived value in such cases over rules Real value; sometimes by shocking margin. Most stock trade on a level which is exponential of their face value simply based on perceptions built out of speculations. The moment a large chunk of stocks are sold by anyone, value drops. So if Mr A even sells 2% of his stocks, he will lose a lot more money than he would gain through the sale. So by the time Mr A sells all his assets, I feel he would be lucky if he makes even 25% of his speculated worth.

Same is the case with Real Estate. If anyone sells a flat in Mumbai, I’m sure they cannot buy back the same place for the same value the next day. Real Estate can appreciate by close to 40% between the time you book a new flat and the day you actually occupy the same flat. There is no basis on why this may happen- but the perceived value just goes up. The day the builder sells four flats, the rate is hiked by a thousand.

Surprisingly this is how it is. We are all, to some extent are both: aware and skeptic of reality. I guess that is one reason, we all love the game of perception.