Monday, January 18, 2010

The train station

My tryst with fiction continues.

Renuka looked around. No, Neel was not to be seen. The train had started leaving the station. It was now or never. If she had to ever leave this place, it had to be now. But how could she leave without Neel? How could she live without Neel. He was her knight in shinning armour. Her very own boy toy. A smile crept on her face as she remembered something about the boy toy.

But where was he? They were supposed to meet at the railway station half an hour ago. How can he be so careless?

Oh, the train is picking up speed. Should I stay onboard and wait for him to come to Delhi, or disembark here itself and wait for him to get to the station? I - I am eloping because I want to be with him. Whats the point of going alone. I would rather stay here.

As she set down her luggage, all of one college bag and an airbag, she was wondering - what could have kept Neel from coming down to the station. Had he got caught? But in that case She would have been hunted down too. So atleast he has not been caught. Thats a positive. Or is it? Because it means that worse things could be true.

To take her my off the other (seemingly worse) possibilities, Renuka turned her attention towards other people waiting at the station. A playful five year girl was running all over the place. Her parents would calm her and force her to sit down every few minutes. In response she would flee to places that would be difficult to spot. Amused at this game for sometime, Renuka drew an immediate parallel with her own life. Though she was not fleeing in a childish reaction - Or was she? A lot of her actions now seemed to be more reactionary than otherwise. Like the time she bought a scooty pep even though she did not like it very much. Or when she increased the intensity of her "friendship" with Neel after her father reminded her that she was only 16. Oh, My God! Would I have loved Neel the way I do if it were not for father's opposition?

Just then a local train stopped at the station. hoards of school and college students got down. There were samples of every type of student in the motley group. From the "serious" students who seem focused and took long swift strides as if to reduce time wastage, to the carefree group who cared more about chatting than anything else. Then there were couples who seemed oblivious to the world around them. Renuka evaluated herself against the people rushing past her.

I am definitely prettier than her. Look at the handsome guy she is with. Dont know what he sees in her.

Her earrings are so cute. Wonder where she got them from. Maybe it is from the new shop on Valabh Road. If I stay here, the first thing that I will do is check that shop out. Hold it, why am I thinking of staying here? I was supposed to have fled from this place an hour ago. Cant fathom what happened to Neel. What could have..

Hey, that girl is wearing the same shoes as mine. Bet she has a good taste. Somehow she looks nerdy, very career focused and all.

These focused people would probably have a good career. Hold it, I can focus hard - Why am I not thinking about my career? I have decent score in my 12th boards. Its been about an year into economics college - and granted that I havent done all too well till now, but that does not mean I cant make up for it. I heard there are good jobs for an economics graduate in Delhi. Hey, Sheela is in Delhi, doing economics - I should call her and ask ... I can actually ask her for colleges and admissions too actually. I can continue/ start over my studies, once in Delhi.

Why would I be in Delhi? Oh, Neel ! That stupid guy. I bet he did not have the guts to elope. He just wasn't man enough. Man! Dad. He has always been such an image of strength. But we havent talked for a long time - dont know what happened... Maybe I should call him.

Hey Dad, how are you?
- Hi, Beta, everything ok?
Haan papa, everything is fine. Just that we havent talked in some while now, so I thought that maybe we can talk.
- Sure Beta, tell me whats going on?
Papa, I want to BE someone. I want to build and live an independent life, have my own world.
- Great, My beta is growing up ! great! Beta, we are always there for you. We always wanted you make your own choices. Just that as a parent, we are a bit worried for you. So that you dont make wrong choices.
(Long Pause) Can you come and get me at Railway station, platform number 5? I have thoughts about moving to Delhi. There are better colleges and job opportunities there. I would like to discuss it in detail with you and mummy.
- (slightly startled) Yes beta, I am coming over. Just wait for me.

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Saturday, January 16, 2010


My first attempt at fiction, so if you feel terribly uncharitable, this might not be the best read.

He was not mad. Atleast he dint think so.

He just lived differently. He did not believe in the societal definition of good and bad. He wanted to feel the bliss, the excitement, the energy. And he couldnt find them in ways that the society found great. Not that he dint try - He had being trying for 17 odd years when he enrolled in the best engineering college of the country. It took him 2 years to realize that he did not want to do engineering afterall.

He dropped out of college voluntarily. It created a furor in his friends and family circles. He tried his best to explain that he wanted to "live" life, but to no avail. He gave up on them.

He got fascinated by the numbers on the stock market, and took up stock trading. He was good at it - Made a lot of money. There were silent words of praise for the "madman" who had left an institution that many are ready to die to get into.

One fine spring morning, He abandoned this too. By now, he had got bored of this work. Again, for sometime he had no clue what he wanted to do. Again, there were sounds of what a fool he is to relinquish such a well paying "career".

He then took up writing as his "vocation". It pleased him to write - about humans, about fantasies, about nature. But pretty soon, he was bored of it too. He wanted to break free, again. And break-free he did!

He took up wild life photography next. At least thats what he told people the last time he met them. He is untraceable for more than a year now. No one knows what he is doing right now. Maybe he is too engrossed in the beauty of the wild to wish to come back to the "civilized" life which has never failed to disappoint him in keeping him interested.

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Banks deserting Mutual Funds?

Last fortnight of 2009 saw Indian banks pulling out as much as INR 104K crore from mutual funds - the largest in any fortnight.

It could be due to the fact that RBI had been urging banks to lend rather than park money in mutual fund investments. The central bank's advice is warranted because such activity adversely affects small sector industries and personal loans are undertaken by the banks.

But whether this change is for real or an eyewash remains to be seen. Banks could have taken such steps to improve their results for the quarter ending in dec. By investing this money in short term loans, banks can appear more compliant than they actually are.

Another reason for this act could be a fear of a W-shaped recession.

But I think that a major incentive to pull out could be their plans for the road ahead.
There have been news of SBI looking for some merchant acquisition joint ventures and Union bank looking for some acquisitions in Indonesia. Canara bank has been trying to acquire the state-run Dena bank. Country's biggest bank, SBI's Chairman has openly stated that to provide world class services, Indian banks will have to go on the consolidation route. This pile of money, freed up in the last few days can be an indicator to the big things these guys are planning.

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Adam Smith on academia

Below are some excerpts. Text in black is my own.

In The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith developed an incisive criticism
of academia (pp. 758-81). He at least touches on all of the following familiar
criticism of academia:

• Academic societies  are  organized “not for the benefit of the
students, but for the  interest,  or more properly speaking, for  the
ease of the masters” (764).   In other words, an industry where customer is not the king but the people working in the industry. So this industry has incentive to produce goods that conform to ideals of the people in the industry rather than the ones paying for it.
• They self-organize as self-validating societies, in which members
indulge each other’s conveniences (761).  By mutual indulgence and appreciation, they stand to gain in stature. Trading thoroughly replenish-able resources they can increase their "value" - which is based only on trade volumes. Read trade can make everyone better off.
• Academics tend toward an esoteric language  that  excludes
outsider participation (765).   The esoteric language is one of the most potent arsenals available to project and protect an image of elitism.
• Democratic decision making by professional units fails to make
individuals accountable for their actions within the process of
collective decision making (779). It wasn't ME !
• The clubs are prone to groupthink and the lock-in of foolishness.
They were sometimes “the sanctuaries in which exploded systems
and obsolete  prejudices found shelter  and protection, after  they
had been  hunted out of every other corner  of the world” (772).  I belong to this special group of people, I know what to believe.
They  have generated sciences  that  are “a mere  useless and
pedantick heap of sophistry and nonsense” (781).  Knowledge and thinking are important goals in themselves. How are ordinary mortals to fathom the importance of figuring out the number of angels that can dance on a pinhead?

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