December 9, 2007

Six months

Its been a long time since I had written on anything except my job-related activities. My life revolves around my job. And there are very few things outside finance that I have a genuine interest in. I have had a couple of hobbies in the past - playing cricket, watching movies, writing poems and stories, TT and a few others. But lately, I have been thinking and living only my job life. It may be more due to the fact that I have been traveling so much that I haven't had the time to settle at a place, and plan my activities. Everything has been relegated to the future tense.

I have a lot of plans for the immediate future. After I set up my home as well as office in Mumbai, I would then start with a few things I had long planned -

1. Making an album of things I have been doing, and places I have visited
2. Reading 'Atlas Shrugged'
3. Reading 'Traders: Guns and Money'
4. Watching LOTR and Harry Potter series, as well as reading the books
5. Reading the autobiographies - Richard Branson, and a couple more
6. Learning Standard Mandarin
7. Learning and Playing Tennis
8. Try my hands at Guitar
9. Visit Goa, Kerela, and Darjeeling
10. Watch the Olympics at Beijing
11. Play AOE, and other computer games

These are a long list of things to be done, and would take me around an year's time. But hopefully would be able to do them.

November 29, 2007

Life after Manila

'Those were the days', people always refer to the past as if it was the best thing to have happened to them. When compared with the present, past always appears brighter and so much more cheerful. May be, its the human brain, we don't remember the bad moments, the worries, but only the wonderful times we had spent. May be, its because we store those moments in form of photographs, and allow the 'theta' to take care of the unhappy moments. And a couple of months down the line, we just remember the awesome times we had.

Manila was one such experience of my life - started with zero (in fact negative) expectations, and turned out to be truly wonderful one. In the beginning, it was 7 long weeks, but as time passed by, it turned out to be only 7 weeks. Manila would always remain in memory for so many reasons - the classrooms, the lunch and the dinner together, the presentations, class participation, my insincerity in the class (people there must have believed that I was the most insincere guy around), and all the good friends.

Made some really friends there, and hopefully, we would remain that for time to come. Life after Manila would be different, I would be going to Mumbai next, which promises to be fun.

October 6, 2007

Last two weeks

We have almost reached the end of the training program in Manila. It was quite a good experience, much better than what I had expected. I came here with no expectations, and had even wanted to go back during the first couple of weeks. Life had slowed down, and I felt that I was wasting my time here. Then slowly and slowly I started enjoying the free time we had here. I found a lot of time to do things I wanted to do.

I read a couple of books - after a long long time I read novels. Then, did see quite a few movies late in the night, and slept all day in the classes. There are another 15 odd days here in Manila. Need to do some shopping before leaving the place. Till now, haven't purchased anything here. Will go shopping on Sunday. Also, will be watching Harry Potter and LOTR this weekend. Have been delaying the same for too long now, and should see it before leaving Manila.

Exam tomorrow, and haven't read a word, as usual :)

September 15, 2007

Manila, Accounting and Black Swan

Manila is a different experience for me. Its more like an international school, where you have people from different countries and different cultures. Its quite fun talking to them and understanding their views.

I will be here for another 5 weeks, and will be covering 5 more subjects. Week 2 was quite boring as far as studies are concerned, and we had to deal to numerous balance sheets and income statements. It was quite frustrating we well, doing same analysis again and again, and giving the same comments at the end of it.

I have started reading novels again. Finished with 'The curious incident of the dog in the night-time'. It was a different kind of novel, very similar to 'The Little Prince'. Very simple and very sweet, making fun of human beings and their irrationalities in a subtle manner. Am now reading the 'Black Swan', and its absolutely awesome. Not exactly an easy reading book, but very different and simply mind-blowing. Going by the start, it might change the way I think, much like what the course of 'Game Theory' did. Its not another book, but another way of thinking, and a different take on the world.

Hopefully would be finishing it by next weekend.

September 10, 2007

MAGIC Program

First week in Manila was a mixed bag. Was very unhappy when we came, had great fun for the first few of days, and then finally went back into my 'hate-everything' mode for the second time in the last 3 months. I had some issues with the HR, and it was taking a lot of mind-space. Thankfully everything has been sorted out.

We went to Old Manila on the weekend with a large group of MAGIC-mates. There are people from all parts of Asia - Hong Kong, Singapore, India, Korea, Japan, China, etc. Its great fun being in the same class as all these people. They are much better than me in presentation skills and hard work. Would need to catch up on that.

Here are my first pictures from Manila.

September 5, 2007

Bombay Dreams

My company sent me on a week's trip to Mumbai. This was my first visit to the city, and it was an amazing experience. I met with a lot of bankers and brokers during the trip, and had lunches/dinner with them. Suddenly realized that life was changing for me pretty fast, and I have actually joined a job. I realized where I belong, and what world I shall be living in. Back in HK, life had been different with us rotating across different desks. Workload is there, but the feeling of MY JOB was missing. In India, I felt like it was my job, and these would be the people I would be staying with for a long time.

Met some of the big names in the market, and heard of their stories. Everyone working in the market has lots of stories to be told. Saw some of the most amazing trading floors, and saw the adrenaline rush at market opening. It was simply awesome.

Had some beautiful memories from the trip as well. Went around quite a few places in Mumbai, ate almost everything I could within a week, and had the time of my life.

~ random shopping is fun :)

August 11, 2007

Prisoner of Dreams

We are all prisoner of our dreams. Sitting at a park's bench, the fence separated us from the Ocean. We are happy sitting on this side, happy to keep away from the waves and face the music.

"It all started a few years back, when the aircraft pilot died. In fact, a lot of pilots die at a very young age. Even before they are eligible for a two-wheeler's driving license. Then there was the architect who wanted to design a new city. He died rather late, at an age of fifteen. The fear of blood killed the doctor at almost the same time. And now, a year later, the cricketer joined them in the heaven. The increasing burden of academics were taking its toll on my dreams and the board exams were now only a couple of months away. The matter was worsened by the team paceman, Raju, whose full pitched ball hit me on my right foot and barred me from playing for a few weeks. I never knew that was the end of it all. The cricketer died though the game lived on inside me."

Khawahishen Kaisi Kaisi

Today was a lazy day for me. Got up very late in the morning, after a long night. Went to a friend's house yesterday to have a long night chat session, cut short by circumstances. Returned back, only to feel like going out again. And then I was at the nearby ground, at 4 AM in the morning, getting drenched in the rain. It was simply awesome.

Went to the ground again in the afternoon today. The playgrounds make me wish I were good at sports. The scene of the empty stadium, with its flood lights on, and me standing in the middle, still come in my dreams. I would learn one outdoor sport someday. Mostly on my return to India, would try my hand at tennis.

July 29, 2007

Federer vs Nadal

A year back I was a great fan of Roger Federer. I always believed that there is a lot I could learn from him. He was my idea of a perfect role model. He was an awesome player with all the shots in the book, was equally strong on backhands and forehands, and finally was a very good human being off the court.

A year later I admire Nadal more. Don't exactly know the reasons, may be you always favor the 2nd best. You feel for him, want him to succeed. Nadal seems to be the guy with an imperfect range of shots, can't really match Federer stroke for stroke. And thats what makes him much more admirable. His is a story of living with your limitations, and yet strive to be the best.

I believe I can't be perfect, I can never be a Federer. But atleast I can be like Nadal, living up with my limitations, and yet never lose it.

July 24, 2007

The Flying Machine

Time is flying in HK. I had decided to maintain an account of my day to day activities, and I haven't written a word in more than a month. It only 4 more weeks here for me, and am already counting my days here. I would be flying to Manila after my assignments here, and then would finally go to Mumbai.

I'm currently working on a lot of stuff, and am usually very tired by the time I am back at my apartment. We have a meeting tomorrow in the morning to discuss some important issues, and here I'm, at 2 AM in the night writing this post. So many things have happened in last one month that I wouldn't be able to put them into words. I'm growing, am learning a lot of things, both inside and outside the office.Investment Banking is a strange world, full of caricatures. Everyone is idiosyncratic in their own way, and there is a great scarcity of normal people whom you can miss in a crowd. The trading floor is an amazing place to be, it has a pulse of its own. And when you go to the office on a weekend, you feel like you own the place. Its so silent, the contrast is maddening. 

Realized that there are three companies that drive the investment banking industry - (a) Bloomberg, (b) Microsoft (Excel), and most importantly, (c) Starbucks. Someday will write on the trading floor in detail. Have to catch up on sleep now.

July 14, 2007

Life @ HK

Life has been good in Hong Kong so far. There were a few days in the middle when I was completely frustrated with the HR and the company. Have learnt not to expect any good or sane things from them.

Now its back to normal. I have been working pretty late hours (I'm on the public side, so even 10 PM is considered late). Have been given some real good work, and usually am brain-dead by the time I leave the office. But am enjoying the brainstorming sessions with my desk. I'm the youngest guy there, and I hardly speak anything there. Most of the times they are discussing the implementation part of the problems, and given my 6-weeks-only experience, I avoid speaking there. Will be a more active participant once the work really kicks off.

Celebrated a friend's birthday last week and most people from our college were present. We had our dinner at the an Egyptian restaurant called 'Habibi'. Last year my boss took me there for the first time, and it was then I realised that their cuisines were very much like the Indian ones. A little difference in preparations, but the materials and tastes are very similar.

June 22, 2007

What Next?

Why is it that even after 6 years of the best education in the country, we still aren't able to decide a single dimension of our job? Why are we so option-less?

Sometimes you should be humble enough to accept the impossibility of the improbable, and let life take you where it wishes.

1. Before Sunrise

2. Before Sunset

June 17, 2007

Lantau Island

Weekend No. 2 at Hong Kong was much more fun than the first one. We went to Lantau island, one of the biggest islands in HK. Lantau is worlds apart from the HK mainland (referred to as Central). While the mainland is very fast and noisy, with people walking everyone, Lantau is like the countryside. Twice as large as the main island, this place has one sixteenth of the population. So, as a result, it has greenery all around, mountains, virgin beaches and of course the great Buddha.

The Buddha statue here is the biggest Buddha statue in Asia. Sitting 26 metres high and weighing 220 tonnes, it leaves you mesmerized. Add to that the fact that its kelp at one of the highest peaks of the region. Its a must visit tourist destination for anyone coming to HK.

We came back from the island, and went to Tsim Sha Tsui. Had dinner at the woodlands, the south Indian restaurant with an awful service. Though food was nice though, and in the end, thats what mattered to us. We had a bit of everything - Idlis, Masala Dosas, Chole Bhature and Rava Dosa.

Here are few of the pictures of the Lantau island.

1. Lantau Island

2. Bar near the ferry terminal

3. Buddha as viewed from the Po Lin Monastery

4. The Mountains @ Lantau

5. The statue from the back

6. Lovely evening view

7. The monastery from inside

8. The monastery again

9. Door to salvation :)

June 16, 2007

Macau Trip

I landed in Hong Kong almost two weeks ago. Last time It was here, the first two weeks were nightmarish. With almost no clue about the place, I slowly discovered it, bit by bit. A year later, living here doesn't eat much of your mind-space anymore.

I went to Macau on the last weekend, the place better famous as the Las Vegas of Asia. I have no idea what Las Vegas is like, but Macau certainly rocks. I went there alone and it was raining too that day. The two factors together screwed up the tour and I returned without seeing most of the places in the island. However, I did went inside a Casino there to witness the world of gambling. Everything is legalized in Macau, and Casinos are awesome there. I wanted to play a few games but didn't understand any of them (except the dice throwing one, which anyways is the game of probabilities and pure luck).

These are the first pictures of this place on this trip of mine.

June 3, 2007

First Days @ Hong Kong

Finally am back to Hong Kong. Joined the company on 1st June and had a weekend to assemble things up. The first assignment starts tomorrow and should be promising.

There are quite a few things that have changed since my last visit. A lot of new buildings have come up, new shops have replaced older ones, and even the life-line escalator has been renamed to (and aptly so) travellator. More on HK in days to come when I fully explore the place.

This time around I had a 10 hour transit time at the Singapore Airport. I had thought of various ways to kill time before boarding my plane, but once I landed on the airport, time just flew past by. To begin with, there are free internet terminals everywhere, so one can easily spend a lot of time over them. Then there are those big malls which I believe are bigger than those in Gurgaon and Bangalore. I then took a free 2-hour singapore tour where we were taken around the place in a bus (including half an hour ride in a ferry on river named 'Singapore'). Got to know various facts about the city from the tour guide.

After I came back from the tour, had my lunch at Burger King. The guys there actually made a Veg Burger on request. Then I took a 2 hour nap at the oasis lounge where there are free massage machines. And when I was finally awake, it was only 45 mins to baord the plane.

Singapore Airport is the best airport I have seen till now. It actually much better than the HK airport which I have heard is one of the better ones in the world.

March 28, 2007

New Blog

Life has never been so good. I am done with my education, atleast thats what it seems to me. I now hold a Master's Degree (in Business Administration) and a Bachelor's Degree (Engineering). And I would be joining a job 2 months from today.

I would be spending the next two months in my home, away from the computer and internet. Thats the tragedy of my life - I have never had my computer during my most idle moments. I didn't have one during my summer internship. I usually end of spending my full vacations doing nothing productive. What a waste of time!

Here, in this new blog, I shall be writing about my experiences, my days and nights, my journeys, and my musings. I shall be having a wonderful life beginning very soon, with my work taking me to foreign locations very frequently. Hoping to have a great time ahead in the coming months.