Tuesday, October 21

Changes around...

Another long wait is now over

All the rumors and speculations are ending. TI announced the changes to the world. May be a few hours before that it was internally also announced. 1000 people getting laid off immediately. A large part are contractors - so they might not be jobless as such. As long as their employers can find some space for them to earn money. Another 300 people will be at the mercy of someone who can buy the spin off business.

The internal mail came around 3AM in Japan. I was glancing the mails every now and then I open my eyes. Details are not yet known. Decided to spin off so-and-so business. So many people in that business will be at the mercy of the new masters. More people will lose jobs anyways. Starting tomorrow.

Who are the people who lose their job tomorrow? What will they do? Some of them will be getting it in office tomorrow. How many is some of them? How many will come to office expecting an "early release". How many families would expect their dad come back home early tomorrow? Which all houses and cars will suddenly show up as liability suddenly tomorrow? Which all people will be "technically" able to sleep a lot more in the morning, while they actually will not be able to sleep even minimum hours in the night? None of them are getting into the new vaccum because they did anything wrong. This is just because someone at a decision making level made some wrong decisions in the past. The value of the stocks they get part of the compensation is now going down. They have to get it straight. Lay off.

Insha Allah, I want to keep believing that I am not in list that gets the pink slip. May be I will know in a day. The new org. The new bosses. The new dotted lines. The new virtual teams.

Wait is not over. It will never be over actually. Changes will keep happening. You wait or not wait.

Monday, October 20

Credit Crunch

Picture of a houseboat on the backdrop of beautiful Kerala backwaters. He and she tucked away into the scenic silence.

If you can afford this vacation today, why wait?

So says the billboard that used to catch my attention - and made me lose my temper everytime - off Airport road in Bangalore three years back. Well, why should I worry?

The second line is what I hate - the new means of "affording" luxury - xxxBank Personal Loans. No collateral needed. They will give you a loan. Take it, spend it. The resort owners also have taken a loan. So the money flow from bank back to bank has to happen through you. Economic activity. You pay for the vacation, interest to the loan you took, interest for the loan resort owner has taken, pay your part for the billboard that invited you into the deal and then the profit for the resort. The value of the vacation is probably only 20% of what you spend in total. But still they know the art of making you feel you are happy. That you just could "afford" a vacation that you "deserved".

Vacation was not a word for working class in our childhood. We had Onam vacation, Christmas vacation and annual vacation for schools. When we go to our grandparents place. That was our vacation. It used to be save, save, save for our parents. Save for your childrens education - though education was close to free. Still, save for building your house. The primary need and the most important and many times first asset.

They say its spend, spend, spend for Indians now. Take loans and spend. Buy a car - why not buy a 10L+ car? You just pay so-and-so per month. You can afford that, can't you? Buy vacations. You work so hard (yeah spending time on orkut and facebook), don't you? Buy all "affordable" luxuries. Come on, kids can wait. Before that let us see life. Swipe the plastic card when you see something good. Don't worry about your savings. You know banks are helping you a great deal. The more cards, the more you "afford". Build up the liabilities day by day. Not assets. But believe, get convinced, that you are the proud owner of all these.

Our moms saved a lot of gold. For them gold was an asset that helped them in need. Their daughters now collect more gold credit cards. And monthly statements on each one of them.

I welcome a recession now. I know its hard. Many lose jobs. (May be its me. I am glancing on my mails every 10 min for the pending reorg announcement). But I think its better than later. Better fall from a 5 storeyed building than from a 10 storeyed one. When I wrote about loans couple months back, the Generation Y did not understand. People cannot wait for that vacation. Enjoy life today. Just remember one thing - you are able to jump start your life because your parents got you a safe jumping board. Not a set of loans that you should start paying back. Never its too late. Just compare with the worse. Comfort is a comparative feeling. And so is hardship too.

Why this recession? Because everyone went on loans. Money was made as a tool for virtualising barter system. Now money itself is being traded. Money market - I fail to comprehend this level of abstraction. Someone was telling me six months back - housing market is bad, but money is still cheap. I guess it means a low interest loan. I think if these loans were not there, the overall price index should come down. Now they create customers by giving loans. When people can "afford" more, the price goes up. A vicious cycle where only the bank officials make money (banks do not - they only have paper assets. Thats why they fail)

You dont have to be forced out of loans. You can decide by yourself to remain where you are and stop pursuing more luxuries. If you know the building foundation is not really good, you should start climbing down. Not climbing up. But they don't tell you that. All of them tell you banks are still safe, they still give you money and make you pay up their salaries. Just hold off. No more loans for another 5 years. After that you probably will get used to it. And might not need loans to pay back your loans. Can we do that?

Sunday, October 19

Time to Tokyo

Time to Tokyo was 13.5 hrs when we started. When the altitude as zero.

I did not look at the screen for a long time. I had bought a Paulo Coelho novel - the Zahir - and was immersed in that.

I always go for an aisle seat on my flights. This time I could not get one. So I was stranded on a window seat. The only way to get out was to open the window and feel that I am not sitting down. The view beneath was too good to miss. A vast vast land of pure white snow. Looks like some small hills and valleys - but all white snow. Nowhere could I see a trace of life. Looked up the screen again.

Time to Tokyo: xx hrs
Altitude: 30000 feet

We are flying over Alaska. Alaska is now a fame thanks to the pageant VP candidate Sarah Palin. By the way, just checked Alaska on Google Maps Satellite map. Man, its so gorgeous! Much much more than Sarah Palin. Reminded me of the old Bombay Dyeing advertisement - a model clad in a designer bed sheet. Have a look today - around Anchorage.

I did not know Alaska was so much of ice. To me it looked like my mind. It has been so frozen for a long time. No reading, no writing. I tried hard to start jotting down at least a couple. I failed. The frozen mind stays solid. I say I am busy. Yes, I am. Doing what? What if my body and brain does a hundred push ups but my mind does not move? What I call so busy are like the small streams that flow on top of the snow. The speed of the stream just shows its ignorance. As if it is going to move the entire snow.

I want to read more and more. Today's pick was really good. Paulo Coehlo is such an inspired author. I am not qualified to understand even 10% of what he wrote. But that small percentage is good enough to do some mowing on the snow. A constant mowing is what is needed. I want the ability to mow when I think it need to be.

Ability - that's the key. Freedom is the ability to be free when you want to. For a short interval. Freedom to choose between different masters. To decide on the kind of slavery. Paulo Coelho sets out his journey to seek knowledge. What is knowledge? What do we learn in school. Mathematics - there is no knowledge. We only learn a way to solve a problem. Problems to be solved in pursuit of knowledge. Science says how things work. Basic need-to-knows when you want to learn something more. The ability to learn more. History is how mankind learned to learn. To know the footsteps that took us so far. Trace back to trails just to know how to know.

What is knowledge? Back to the Zahir..