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Showing posts from February, 2008

End of a famous grunt

“COFFFFAAAAAAEEEEEEEE” “COFFFFAAAAAAEEEEEEEE” You are forgiven if you think that’s someone wanting a cup of coffee. That evening of May 1990, watching my favourite player Steffi Graf crumble against the might of an unknown and gawky pony-tailed girl who was all over the court and just wouldn’t stop shouting COFFFFAAAAAAEEEEEEEE on hitting each shot, I was heart-broken. To watch my idol loose like that, I had never expected. But one thing was clear. Determination just got itself a new meaning. For that was not any ordinary call. That was a spectacular release of energy – experts call it a grunt – that Monica Seles was accustomed to while punishing her opponents, repeatedly. That was a determination to win quite unseen in anyone else. That was professionalism that had the urge to block out everything else when on a tennis court – even an unfavourable crowd in the stands – and to turn adversity into advantage and set sights on that trophy. That was the start of an illustrious career that…

Not Quite There, Yet

MFs are now transparent and cheaper, but agents will now push Ulips harder

Part of the privileges I should enjoy by tracking mutual funds (MF) for so long is to avoid paying agent fees, isn’t it? After all, why should I pay the agent just because he gets me a form, when I decide on the funds that I should buy. My wish finally came true when, effective 4 January 2008, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) abolished entry loads for direct MF investments. On 31 January, Sebi banned closed-end MFs to charge and later amortise initial issue expenses on the back of an NFO fever that saw 42 closed-end schemes— as against 34 open-ended ones— launched since amortisation in open-ended schemes was banned on 4 April 2006. Prima facie, informed investors and Outlook Money readers benefit as we already shortlist schemes for you.

Should agents be avoided then?
No. The uninformed investor still needs the agent’s help. The reality is that MFs need agents to grow. At present, MFs don’t have th…

Postcards from Parwanoo

My office's annual offsite just ended and I returned from a long and exhausting trip to Parwanoo, a serene hill-station in Himachal Pradesh. We stayed at the Timber Trail Resort (TTR) for 1 night and then moved further up in the mountains at the Timber Trail Heights (TTH), a 3-star resort nestled around 6,000 ft above sea level. On a clear day you get to see as far as Chandigarh from here. You first go to TTR, that is at 3,000 ft above sea level and then take their cable car atop the opposite mountain to reach TTH. Since the cable was not working the first day we reached, we had no option but to stay at TTR.


The place was good and well-maintained, though knowing the bitter cold at Parwanoo in the winter months, the heating facilties at these hotels were very inadequate. The winters are more severe than the summers. Yet, there were 2 split air-conditioners in my suite, but only one small rickety-rackety heater that would - at best- heat up an area of about 2 square meters! I had to…