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Showing posts from August, 2009

Can Social Networking be Perilous?

Elizabeth Bernstein has written an interesting piece in Wall Street Journal (WSJ) on how Facebook can sometimes ruin relationships and friendships. Apart from quite a few parallels that we get to see on social networking ourselves, I think a bit of it is also extended to online chatting too, where people put up 'status' messages and update them on an hourly basis with a status of what s/he is doing, stopping only short of "going to the toilet". I have seen people write all sorts of gibberish on their Facebook profiles. I admit I don't mostly understand much of it, but I think I am proud of this lack of understanding, for a change. What can be more irritating, is that you have hordes of people actually responding to such gibberish and making it sound like as if it's the most absorbing conversation currently on.
Anyways, enough said by me. The link articulates it much better. Enjoy...

Beware of Mumbai airport taxis

The back and yellow taxis of Mumbai are at it again. Yesterday on my way back home from the domestic airport at Santa Cruz, I took a prepaid taxi (non A/C, black & yellow; B&Y).
The airport authorities, for some strange reason, have driven off the radio taxis (Meru, Mega, etc) away from their usual parking lots and into some far-off corner of the airport complex (near Sahara hotel), but have installed phone services inside the terminal. The phone service is a new facility. There are four phones available, one each for 4 services presently available in Mumbai (Mega, Meru, Forche and Priyadarshini). As soon you claim your baggage from the baggage carousels, and just before you come out of the terminal, you pick up a phone and place an order for a radio taxi. So, as against earlier when these radio taxis were given a parking space near terminals, now they are merely allowed to pick up passengers from there, not park their cars. Parking space is a bit far, near the Sahara Star Hot…

go-go-goa

I am just back after a much-needed relaxed break to India's favourite beach destination - Goa. I can be a bit of a contrarion when it comes to travelling, so while most of us rush to Goa during Christmas, I've always wanted to visit the place in monsoon. Goa is not much of a beach place in the monsoon, but I've never really been a beach person. Give me mountains anyday. That said, I find beaches extremely soothing and relaxing, as well. I can sit by the sea for hours and just bask in the breeze and loose track of time. Anyways, so after a bumpy and turbulent flight that gave me a few goosebumps here and there, we landed amidst heavy rain at Goa's Dabolim airport. The airport is still primitive....It was fun, though, getting wet when we got out of the airport coach and ran towards the airport terminal.
I was visiting Goa after a little more than 10 years. The place has changed a lot. Lots of development can be seen everywhere, but thankfully the place is still not as po…

The Elephant Lord Is Here

The festival season has officially kicked off in India, more so in Mumbai, with the onset of Ganesh Chaturthi. Ramzan has also begun. Man may create umpteen divisions but nature has its way of setting the balance right and so we have two festivals- that are as different as night and day as are those who celebrate them- coinciding their beginnings on the same day. It's a strange but very welcoming confluence of festivals across cultures. Me feels closer to Ganesh Chaturthi though and it remains one of my favourite festivals of the year.
Mumbai looks the best during these 10 days. You can see colourful Ganapati pandals all across town with Ganpatis of all shapes and sizes; the taller they are the more awe-inspiring they appear to be. Almost every locality has a Ganapti pandal. There's hyper activity around each and every one of them and all very lit up. There are themes and motifs and lots of creativity that goes into setting up of some of them. They are awake 24/7. Infact I have…

Gullible Investors or Gullible Agents?

That Indian mutual funds (MF) are not supposed to ask for a no-objection certificate (NOC) from us if and when we change our broker and transfer our existing MF investments to a new broker, is a fact that is not well known. Although I have written on this in the magazine that I work for, more than once, (read here and here), many of us aren't aware of it. And MFs and agents are only too happy to exploit this.
A couple of days back, I had called for my stock broker, who is also an MF distributor. Since they offer online MF buying and selling, I wish to open an online MF account with them and thereafter transfer all my existing MF investments to them. I already have a direct equity account with them; an offline mode though presently, wherein a broker executes trades on my behalf. To this, now I want my MFs. This will enable me to get a consolidated statement, one that will give me a summary (as well as details) of all my equity and MF holdings.
Much to my surprise, my relationship m…

Do I Smell A Rat?

No doubt that SRK is a big star. But for him to paint the town red with his celebrity status after he was detained at the Newark Liberty international airport was going a bit too far. He was all over the media saying the US immigration authorities treated him "shabbily" just because his last name happens to "Khan". Hey guys, guess what is the name of his upcoming movie!!! It's called 'My Name is Khan' (directed by Karan Johar) and it is all about racial profiling in the US, post 9-11, and how minorities (read Muslims) are looked at. And speaking of Karan Johar, he seems to be feeling upset and terrible. Oh, how touchy!
It is true that you get profiled in the US if you either happen to be from one of the so-called watch list nations or have a 'funny' name or anything that may arouse their suspicion. Last year when I went to the US, of the six times that I was at their airports, my mother and I were profiled twice. Of course we were not taken insi…

Come Clean

Open recently carried a well-written story on the recent controversy surrounding Indian cricketers' refusal to accept the whereabouts clause of Wada (World Anti-Doping Agency). Various others sports like Tennis, football, cycling and so on have confirmed to Wada rules. The International Cricket Council (ICC) too has subscribed to its norms, but the Board of Cricket Council of India (BCCI) and Indian cricketers are resisting. That they claim to abide by the Wada rules, except the whereabouts clause- which states that every cricketer, at the start of every quarter must inform their whereabouts of one hour every day for the next three months so that they are available for ant-dope test- is hardly giving away much. Some cricketers have also gone to the extent to claim that cricket has to be treated differently than other sports because cricketers have to travel much and are hardly at home for a few days here or there. Hence their privacy must be respected.
Privacy of celebrities is a…

MUKTAD

As the Parsi-Zoroastrian calender draws to it's year-end, leading to the Parsi New Year (somewhere around 21 August), the final days of remembering of our departed loved ones, popularly called as Muktad, have started. I am going to give you a very layman description of what this is all about. Neither am I am priest nor do I possess any exceptional knowledge of my religion that almost every second Parsi these days claims s/he has. I cannot give you an ultimate guide to what the Muktad prayers are all about. But nonetheless, all this is my observation.
The final 10 days of the Parsi calender year are the most colourful days, literally if not metamorphically, of the year. Muktad is a tradition in our community where prayers are held over a period of 10 days (the last five days are called the Gathas) in prayers and jashan prayer ceremonies in the memory of our dead and the departed. Why do I say it is colourful? Because each departed loved one has to be dedicated a vaz made of silver …

Things I Want To Do

All my free time is consumed by the ever-increasing office work load. But I guess in these days, so long as you have work, small or big, is a boon. But my point is, I am not getting enough time to blog, except on weekends. But I am trying to get a few things done. First and foremost, I want to digitalise all my photo albums. I must be having dozens of photo albums (in physical form) but I've been wanting to digitalise them forever. I finally started the process today. But Rs 10/- per picture is a bit too much. In just 2 albums that I gave today and a few loose pictures to add, I would be burning a decent-sized hole in my pocket. But what the heck! These are life-long memories. And pictures...clicking, storing, you name it, I love. I really don't know if Rs 10/- is good enough, but if you come to know of a cheaper rate, please enlighten me. I have a scanner in my office, but obviously I do not have time to do all that myself. Outsourcing is the way to go for me, atleast in this…

New Rules of the Mutual Funds Game

These are interesting time in the Indian mutual funds (MF) industry. The market regulator, the securities and exchange board of India (Sebi) has been acting in a most proactive manner, quite unlike anything we've observed in the past. I've seen the regulator acting in the past too, but the way it has responded, post October-2008 crisis that delivered a giant blow to the MF industry, is a bit, you may say, admirable. As you must be knowing, after 1 August, entry loads are abolished. These were upfront charges- usually 2.25%- that were levied on you at the time of investing. So if you had invested Rs 100 in a MF, Rs 2.25 (2.25% of Rs 100) was deducted as entry load and the remaining Rs 97.75 was invested in the market. The entry load was eventually passed onto the the distributor as his commission.
Now Sebi has said that you- the investor- will have to sit with your agent and jointly decide the amount you'd like to pay him. You will need to account the quality of your distri…
Ok, I can't miss an opportunity to shoot a video of my flight either taking-off or landing. This is the first time I shot a video of landing and to my luck I landed on New Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport's new runway; they say it's Asia's longest.
Delhi is hot and this time I had little time there. It was intended to be a quickie. But no matter the paucity of time or whatever it is, I think I seem to be a regular at Khan Market now, can't recollect the last time I was in Delhi and didn't land up there for dinner or lunch. I just can't enough of this place. Great shopping centre, but hardly anything that suits my budget, but what I am most interested here are its restaurants. I have already tried the Kitchen, Blanco (my favourite) and the Big Chill (absolutely must, if you like desserts) and Sidewok. This time too, Himalee and I went to Sidewok.
You should see how she drops requests to the Maitre D'; watching her do her stuff is funny now…