Friday, July 18, 2014

Rising Tide

Rising Tide

Shipwrecked on the shore,
I found the will to build a boat,
Awaiting the rising tide to take me to new shores.

People never cease to amaze,
Some change the way you live,
Others break the images in your heart and mind.

Your life is like a storybook,
A new chapter at every turn,
Some prologues and other epilogues.

I'm never ending this story,
It's with me till I die,
Writing the next chapter is today.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Quarterlife crisis

The world as it looks today is not much different from what it has been for millenia.
A new world order has arisen. A new form of slavery has come into existence.
A delusion of freedom exists in most countries. In reality we are but slaves to our economic situation.
You work at a job. You earn money. You spend it to maintain the lifestyle of your peers.
Money from corporation goes to buy goods made by corporation.
The profit off the labors of the people go to the oligarchy at the top.You run the endless cycle of work-pay-buy-work.
I've joined the club. I'm an young professional. Get a better lifestyle and maintain the oligarchy.
The oligarchy changes from time to time. But the status quo remains with a new oligarchy in place.
It's 1984.
There exist but 3 classes of people--- the rich(the oligarchy), the poor and the middle class which contains the seeds of the next oligarchy.However, rich in this context implies not only monetary wealth but power to control wealth as in the case of political power.
In the midst of a quarterlife crisis I question my existence in this world order.
Is anyone truly free? The oligarchy---slaves to the system, the middle class---slaves to the oligarchy, the poor---slaves to everything and everyone.

Written - circa 2008

Options Basics

Options are a contract between 2 parties where one party has the right (but no obligation) to buy or sell an underlying asset at a fixed price at a future date.

2 types:
Call - right to buy an asset at a fixed price
Put - right to sell an asset at fixed price

There are 2 parties involved - the buyer of the contract and the seller (option writer).
The fixed price is called strike price/exercise price.

American option: Can be exercised on any date up to and including the expiration date.
European option: Can be exercised only on expiration date.

Option writer is "short" on the contract
Option buyer is "long" on the contract

Stock options:

Price of buying the option: Option Premium
By convention, all traded options expire on the Saturday following the third Friday of the month.

At-the-money: Current price of stock = exercise price of option
In-the-money: Payoff from exercising an option immediately is positive. More positive ones are called Deep-in-the-money.
Out-of-the-money: Payoff from exercising an option immediately is negative. More negative ones are called Deep-out-of-the-money.

Stock option prices are always written on 100 shares of the stock.
Option prices are however quoted on a per-share basis.
Therefore, an ask price of $3.30 implies that you would pay 3.30 x $100 = $330 for the contract.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Oh home country


Oh home country,
change comes naturally to you,
As it does to me.
Some of the old is lost,
While the new flourish.
Creative destruction
Of ancient ways to give way to the new.
Passing time shifts the cultural landscape,
Snapshots in time from my visits remain.
Matching the picture to the reality,
Matching the past to the present.
Oh home country,
Some change is good,
Some change is necessary
And some change is sad.
Nostalgia Nostalgia,
Screams the sarangi.
The dholak beats away,
While the rockstar rises.
Sweet moments,
Sad moments,
Oh home country,
Thou shalt not be forgotten.
A part of me,
Always, always.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Notes on my reading: Securing Your Financial Future by Chris Smith


Chapter 1

1.Compounding is the most powerful force in personal finance. It is slow at the beginning, picks up speed in the middle, and is super fast in the end.
2.Compounding works for you in investing and against you in borrowing.The two important factors are interst rates and the number of periods of compounding. Remember the rule that it takes (72/interest rate) for your money invested/borrowed to double. Hence it is very important to look at the rate of interest and the number of periods that you have.

Chapter 2

1. Net worth measures your financial health = assets - liabilities.
2.Bathtub example. The water level in a bathtub only rises when your faucet is pouring in more water than the drain is letting out. Drain control is key.
3.Save at least 10% or more of gross income

Chapter 3

Building high net worth comes from controlling your spending, not from earning a high income. Although a high income can help grow net worth, the main source of building net worth is the concept of spending less than you earn year after year.

Chapter 4

1. Personal finance is a long term play ~ 50 years or more in length.
2. Right brain dynamics/short term thinking will prevent you from realizing those long term plays unless you guard against them.
3.Right brain dynamics causes us to think of small, automatic expenses as small expenses whereas they can add up to be big ones over time.
4.Follow a structured, decision process for financial matters and you'll allow yourself not to be controlled by the right brain's impulsive nature.

Chapter 5

1. Rule 1: Save at least 10% of your income.
2.To accelerate: increase savings percentage OR increase income at same savings rate OR both.
3. Active income: job income, portfolio income: investment income, passive income: rental property income/business income.
4. Diversification into all sources of income is important as you grow up.
5. Simple but most effective way to increase net worth: Increase your income in all the above ways while keeping your lifestyle the same.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

It's just today

No meanings to attach
The day flows like a stream
Up and down the rocks and sand
It's just today. 

Watching it move 
Sometime it seems long;
The years pass by quicker every day
But today, it's just today. 

The sun shines and the clouds pour rain
The birds chirp and the people chatter
The cars on the road take people places
Things are in motion just like the day,
Thoughts come and go;
People too,
But it's just today. 

Thinking of the future and planning
Holding on to the past and waiting
Losing the moment while it unfolds
Dreading change that's coming 
But it's just today. 

Games people play
Memories that stay
Desires that grow
And dreams that flow
But it's just today. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

SDA Bocconi School of Management

This is where I spent 2 months of my exchange studies. Only after arriving in Italy did I realize that Bocconi was one of the most renowned business schools in Europe and the top business school in Italy. The university is the "Harvard" of Italy. The President of the University, Mario Monti, recently left to take up his position as the Prime Minister of Italy to help steer Italy through the current sovereign debt crisis. Like any self-respecting MBA student, I quote the most advantageous rankings here from Forbes which puts SDA Bocconi at number 4 in the world among 1-year non-US business schools.

At Anderson, the rigor I was subjected to was more intense than I experienced at SDA Bocconi. However, the opportunities that the full-time students received in terms of campus interviews was definitely top notch within Europe. Also, the size of the class (less than 100) and the duration of the program (little more than a year) definitely contribute to the experience. It is a faster MBA and preferred by some who weigh the pros and cons of a two year versus a one year MBA.

Being exposed to a diverse class, especially from all over Europe was a great experience. Each student, many of whom were from other countries, brought their unique perspectives. It was entertaining to see a Greek and German sit next to each other and talk while their countries were locked in sovereign debt crisis.

The school has a major focus on fashion and luxury brand management. Milan is a top fashion hub in the world and the school has capitalized on this. We were exposed to such celebrity businessmen as the CEO of Ermenegildo Zegna while studying there.

Finally, the professors and classes were informative. Each professor made a lot of effort to organize their classes and materials. I definitely learned some new things including the influence of politics in business, how companies pursue innovation and development of new products.


Rome, Tuscany, Paris, Berlin and Barcelona

Rome - there is nothing like visiting a city with a person who grew up there and loves it. Danilo was my nocturnal guide through the alleys of Rome - a city that is ancient as it is new. The key was to see the city at night when the crowds were not at each and every piazza. My first memory of Rome will always be the demonstration that took place across Rome and especially around the Collosseum to protest against economic inequality and the growing influence of global financial institutions like the IMF - truly historic times.

Tuscany - my favorite city in Italy was Florence - the center of Italian renaissance. With Shiva, we took a road trip through the rolling hills of Tuscany, stopping at Siena and San Gimignano for a day each. We also had the chance to explore a winery in the Montepulciano region further south. Tuscany food was my favorite, only second to Sicilian food. The wild boar stew and the Bistecca Fiorentia are something that one should not miss.

Paris - the Palace of Versailles had the most impact on me. It is a standing proof from history of extreme income inequality, a phenomenon with which we are only too familiar today. Spending time with Shiva was another highlight, exploring some of the districts of Paris.

Berlin - A city that is best enjoyed with friends. Teeming with bars and clubs, this city has life like no other. Exploring it with another fellow traveler was fun to say the least. I was also relieved to realize that Germans are one of the few Europeans that speak English well.

Barcelona - the influence of Gaudi, the architect, over this city is unmistakable. The warm weather in November is a bonus. The city is known for its party hostels, one of the most famous ones being Kabul.




Exchange sketches

My exchange trip was not only an opportunity to travel abroad but meet new people, learn from them and enjoy their company. The opportunities were plenty. I recount a few of those that stuck in my mind.

Gus - one of my two roommates. You can learn the art of of being a good listener from him. Our morning cappuccinos were something I still miss.
Susanna - my Italian language teacher. Taught me how to generate enthusiasm in the subject being taught - a wonderful teacher.
Nikki - my other roommate. Her ability to maintain good relations with everyone was worth learning from.
Shanif - my exchange mate. He can show you how to put loyalty to friends above petty self-interests.
Bianca - my exchange mate and travel buddy. She was the master of teaching you how to be respectful to others and yourself.
Armin - a man of few words. He can teach you how to be reliable. He was also good at execution of various "project" during our stay showing his versatile skills. He fit my stereotype of a German in some ways though not all!
Parth - this man is a gem. Full of positive energy - he appreciates the good things in life and has a knack for finding them. He can also teach you how to be polite and considerate of other people.


Adventures in Italia

Living for over 3+ months in Italia has opened my eyes yet again to the possibilities that the world has to offer. I would happily live in Europe, especially Italia, if given a chance - like a work-abroad option by my company. There were a few things that I found particularly attractive about Italian and European culture. I present them below in no particular order.

I enjoyed the warm nature of Italianos - from north to south, they are very friendly and especially so in the south of Italy. I visited Sicily, a large island in the south of Italy, where the landscape was gorgeous, food was delicious, and the people were very warm. Italians are also very passionate, talkative, and emotional people. Food and cooking is a big part of life. Families are close and mothers really spend a lot of time on their children, so much so that Italian sons don't want to leave home and some remain lifelong bachelors! Italians also like to spend money on good clothes, good food and nice things in life - sometimes even if they don't have any!

One of my favorite things to eat were the bread that is served at the table before you order food. Taking some good quality balsamic vinegar coupled with olive oil and dipping the bread into it, creates a wonderful taste.

I had the pleasure of staying with some Sicilian girls while visiting Torino, the seat of the royal family of Italy. Sonia from Sicily was my host in Torino.  At Sonia's home, I was treated very warmly and felt a genuine sense of hospitality. Sonia treated me with some fish on the first day - a sign that I was a guest of honor. Funny story is - I was polite and did not mention that I did not like fish the first day but she found out anyways - we had a laugh while I recounted my childhood fish stories.

My Italian language teacher, Susanna, was always very warm and affectionate towards me - she reminded me strongly of my mother in many ways - as a matter of fact - she was my "Italian Mamma" while studying abroad.

All this reminded me culturally a lot about home - Bengali families in particular are very close with a lot of love, the mothers pamper their children a lot, there is generally a strong focus on good food and cooking. People are passionate and emotional. I come from a very emotional family and have definitely not deviated a lot from it. On a side note, mafias have risen in Bengal just as they exist in Italy!

There were some aspects that took more getting used to. For example, one of the first things that struck me about Italy in particular and Europe in general is how ubiquitous smoking is unlike in the US. There are local stores called "Tabacchi" everywhere you go in Milano. They are tobacco shops but they have diversified into other products like phone cards and jewelry. A lot more women also smoke here in Europe than in the States or for that matter in other continents.

Language is another challenging aspect for a new person. If you are visiting an European country other than Germany, it is best to learn some basic local language before you head out. This not only makes it easier to understand what's going on but also elicits a much more positive response from a local person. It shows that you took the time and effort to learn their language.

Traveling and living in Europe as a child, I never saw many immigrants. There were some, such as some in my family, who came there for highly skilled professions but never anyone who was doing manual labor or other unskilled work. I was surprised this time to see so many immigrants. The most striking ones were the ubiquitous flower sellers on the streets of Italy. I quickly realized that most of them were either from Pakistan or Bangladesh. Because I speak Bengali, I was able to converse with them and hear their stories - a very human story of migration. A number of them are brought into Eastern Europe by "agents" who charge these people around 10,000 euros. For someone so poor, this means borrowing money, using all their life savings and taking a high-risk trip to an unknown country in search of better fortunes. After entering Eastern Europe, they are able to move across borders and spread into different countries, some ending up in Italy. However, I was not convinced that selling roses in Italy was able to sustain them. It remains a mystery.

Before leaving Italy, I had the opportunity to visit one of the largest small producer fairs in Europe, in Milano, at fieramilano. It was quite spectacular and I don't remember having seen anything on that scale and quality before.

Another interesting fact that I learned that there are more Italians outside Italy than in Italy - 60 million in Italy versus 100 million outside. This is probably due to the waves of migrations in the 19th and 20th century that happened in Italy - a rural society slowly wanting to move into the industrial age.

Italy is also a country highly fragmented internally which also gives rise to a lot of unique sub-cultures.North Italians look down upon southerners. There are rivalries that exist between different sections within  a town itself. For example, in Siena, the Contrade, or districts, that exist have an intense rivalry that manifests itself in Palio di Siena, an ancient horse race, made famous in a recent Bond movie. These rivalries are so intense that I have heard stories of couples fighting over the church that they would get married in because they were from different Contrade.

I left Italy enriched, with knowledge of Italian language, food, some friends and some fashion!



Sunday, September 25, 2011

Milan and a liitle bit of life unfolds

A lot has happened in 3 weeks - a picture being a thousand words - I'll let them do the speaking - City tour of Milan, Venice Film Festival, a trip to Cinque Terre and finally a weekend of respite and dressing up (read shopping)

Milan and around

Milan is a beautiful city - the old and the new mix in very well as you stare at the skyline. Venice was everything that it was promised to be - I will return one day for the masquerade ball (the masks set my imagination on fire). The film festival was an interesting experience although I was left somewhat depressed watching the film that won the Golden Lion - Faust - such is the power of cinema. Italy is beautiful - I got my first taste of it at Cinque Terre - a string of five towns on the coast which are very hike worthy. Although hiking all 5 in a day left me sore for days - clear indication that I still have some ways to go.

Strangers no more

However, what is even more beautiful than Italy is the people I have around me and some I have met here. I've always believed that people around the world have a lot in common than is believed. When you throw in some exchange students who are not only from different parts of the world but are going to go through a shared experience, with its trials and tribulations, together - you've got a good starting point. A lot of us are searching, in one way or the others, parts of ourselves, parts of what the rest of our lives will look like while being in a very beautiful city. Some of us have different goals - of seeing places, of spending time with significant others, of recruiting since we all need a job, while there are a few who are truly making the effort to get to know other people. You know that you're having a good time when thoughts cross your mind that this will only last for a couple of months and you feel sad. Some people I've come to feel a sense of camaraderie with will disperse to different parts of the world - but a German friend once told me - we never meet anyone once - and I've taken that to heart.

A prelude to a beautiful pause

Life had been busy - really busy these last few years - an exchange program was many things to me - a respite, a growth opportunity, more wanderlust - it has been all that and more. The icing on the cake was having a job offer this week. It sets my mind free to pursue certain things that require time and space - something that has been missing from my life for a while.











The pause that led to some fires

As I walk alone - new friends by my side,
Streets of a new city remind me of old dreams.
Fantasies born out of childhood readings,
Reality is slightly different.
I am here now,
Here now,
But the streets look a little different.
It is a time to smell the flowers
It is a time to grow
It is a time to watch the beauty
Of people, places and life.
The misty morning sets my thoughts adrift
Still young in so many ways
But wiser in some.
Life's in pause - incubating in dreams, juices of life,
In moments of pure beauty, in moments of truth,
In moments of friendship.
I set myself free
When I learned a little more about myself.
So many people out there,
Poetry in lives of others.
The world goes round and round and round
While I stand still and watch.
Each person touches me in a certain way,
Some set fire to my imagination
Whose sparks sometimes lead to fire
A phoenix rises out of those ashes
A new me and a new you
We've changed now.