Wednesday, May 16, 2012

JP Morgan and Working Moms

As a working mom in India, I avidly read stories of the great fall of  great financial institutions and figures all around the world.  Why? Well, the intricacies of rise and fall of men is always interesting to read simply because, it shows me that human nature never really changes. We are a hungry greedy roughneck species. No amount of education and globalization can really mask our caveman instincts. The Hugo Boss and Armani suits can’t really stop our greedy hands from trying to invest money that is not ours, into assets that are hugely suspect ,and then when all falls down, to go running to the big mama of the business of the world, ‘The Government’ to save us – capitalism be damned!!!

So how do these stories affect my daily life in any way- well it is because everything that I buy is an investment and some of these investments are dubious too. Like when I buy branded shoes for office wear. I am hoping the shoe will last a while and be able to bear the wear and tear of office working. But two months down the line, the buckle falls off and I am back at the mall looking for   another pair to replace it.  But I actually should be outraged right? I spent a good part of my hard-earned money on it and it barely lasted and its not like I wore it every day. But its almost like I am relieved that the damn thing fell off because it gives me an excuse to buy another shoe. I mean back in my childhood, we bought Bata shoes and they never ever broke. One had to literally throw them away before we were given new ones.

But now, life is all about being able to buy and buy more and see and hear about other people buying and then do some more buying. So, can we really blame our financial wizards for wanting to wake up every day  and go to work with the sole agenda of  being able to play with their shareholders/investor’s money ? Whats to stop them? And more  importantly why would they want stop? They want to live in bigger houses, drive sleeker cars, date prettier women or men, and spread the bonhomie of being a suit at Ivy League schools. And most of them succeed. JP Morgan may have laid a big fat egg in this quarter but does it mean that Jamie Dimon is going to stop doing what he does? Of course not. I mean he has the audacity to tell the government not to regulate, spend money on lobbying for the same and then turn around and cause $2 billion to disappear …. And then prepare for a carefully orchestrated apology on prime time TV. I mean the implications of this whole drama just takes my breath away. And is he really going to pay for these sins? Most likely not. In fact the shareholders are not even demanding his head on a platter over this fiasco! Why? Because  they don’t understand how the market works and they rather have a known Dimon than an unknown Dimon handle the finances. I mean they are probably thinking  how much worse can it get? Six months down the line he will be forgotten and so will his actions and it will be business as usual . I mean close to home, what have we ever learnt from the Satyam crisis?

So , like it or not people are going to try and steal our money , fool us into investing into stuff that we have no idea about and basically rip us off on a daily basis. So , STOP BEING NAÏVE. The media can go ballistic over the why and hows of this financial tragedy but honestly, by now we should not be surprised if so-called money spinnning experts  fall spectacularly on their faces and take the world down with them in flames!!

What we new gen moms with independent money strings should do is,  well for starters stop thinking that men know more about numbers than we do and more importantly teach our children how do manage their own money from day 1. Give them money to go buy milk or junk food and ask them to do the actual transaction themselves. We also need to get the schools to teach children how not to just minus and plus but how to buy and sell with real money. The problem is that we tend to deprive our mites of any actual money in the formative years and then flood them with the same in the post teen years and expect them to know the value. I don’t think that works.

And what should we as parents do to guard against bad investments and unscrupulous financial experts- nag them routinely , check your bank account regularly for transaction fees and READ THE SMALL PRINT ON ALL FINANCIAL documents. Then one day may be in the near future we will be able to breed a  generation of human beings who want to give you super cool financial services rather than try and deprive you of your life savings because they know you are smarter than them !!!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Yes I am!!

It is confirmed now - all the hours my mother spent in the puja room fretting over our lack of religious fervour has borne fruit. God got fed up and granted her mod children the power of religious bond though subtly and quite late in the day. I realised yesterday evening standing among a melee of  Bengalis in CR park , with the strains of Rabindra Sangeet wafting in the air along with the smell of delicious egg rolls,  that this is who I am. A hard-core non-veg Bangali!!The pursuit of happiness in a soul-sucking city like Delhi has not been able to kill my Bengalipana. The atmosphere in CR Park actually  transports me back to my good old Cal days. We used to go pandal hopping after 10pm and every durga mata murti and intricate lighting arrangements just fascinated us.

The CR park pujas do not have that kind of glamour - but what they lack in that department they make up with a crowd that is actually holding up the Bengali tradition lock, stock and barrel. They have no fear of long queues both outside the pandals and in front of the food stalls. They dance to the dhaker bajna and just revel in the fact that they are Bengalis. For a brief moment I feel sad that Shayan will probably have no clue what I am talking about - but then i turn around and see him standing in front of matadi with his hands closed in prayer and eyes shut tighttly. There is hope yet!!

Will be going to the GK and Noida pujas in the coming days. Hopefully will have more to share. Do check out the Shib Mandirer puja in CR - the white idol just takes one's breath away.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

ANJIE'S BLOG: Am I still a Bengali?

ANJIE'S BLOG: Am I still a Bengali?: For all those following my gym trials - well I am still struggling with inertia and leechy men but the good news is that the weight is defi...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Am I still a Bengali?

For all those following my gym trials - well I am still struggling with inertia and leechy men but the good news is that the weight is definitely going down.

On a completely different note , I just realised with a jolt the other day that my children are getting cut off from the culture that I grew up in. And although we were pretty secular(My dad went to the Brahmo Samaj and Mom was the quintessential hindu rajmata) my brother and I were pretty iffy about our religious inclinations. We both prayed fervently for 10 secs on the day of the examinations and we quite rightly felt that we had done our Godly duty.

Cut to the present. My son is 6 and daughter is 4. The former follows the dad to the tee- so he can spout the Gayatri mantra and seems to like having a chat with God before he brushes his teeth in the morning. He knows that Diwali means crackers galore and any other festival means that he gets new clothes and we eat like there is no tomorrow. But thats not all of it , is it?

So this Durga Puja I have decided to (a.) Tell him the story of Durga mata in the simplest Hinglish possible. (b.) Drag him to the pandals at aarti time and try and put the fear of the lady goddess in him. Shreya is still too small to appreciate all these efforts of mine,  but I am sure the sweet prasad will please her to no end.

So to all the Bengali gals who have married into other cultures hoist high the flag of  the Bengal Spirit minus all the negativity, with great pride!!!

Pujor hawa laga!!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Day 3 and 4 - Losing 40 kilos and definitely losing my mind

Day 3

Went to the gym pumped to the core. Had a day's rest.  I made a resolution when i got onto the walking escalator - Tune out the world, tune into the music and just walk. Its easier said than done - but i needed to remain positive.
Pinky the trainer/tyrant was in full form. 3 minute walk , 3 minute running - she barked. Before i knew it i had spent 20 minutes on the treadmill. When i later lay down on the mat , i actually felt hot air coming out of my ears. I am never eating junk food again, i promised myself fiercely. But there were more sinful tortures awaiting me outside the gym.
It was a holiday for the kids , so we ended up going out and landed in Nirula's. There began my gastronomic torture- the Shammi kebab on the visual menu was calling out to me- eat me , i am delicious, it was saying. The chocolate sundae was saying i am delicious-how can you resist me? God , food was talking to me. I was on the edge of hysteria. Then suddenly the phone rings. Its the exercise mafia moll. She of course does not believe in social niceties - Madam, she yells, khane pe control!! Is she phone stalking me/? Whatever, but her call brings me back from food heaven's door. I grab the kids , jump into the car and drive to Top Breads. There i eat salad and corn croissant-whatever that is. I mean i don't even eat corn , let alone corn patties!!

 Two learnings- you don't need to starve if you go to the gym- eat home food, avoid junk and cold drinks- and you are safe.
if you are temtped , just close your eyes and think of all the sweat you shed , in the gym- it will kill all food urges.

Day 4

Today was a bad day. Woke up with a severe back ache.  Pinky was unsympathetic. Exercise kar lo , baad mein thik kar doengee. But i was really tired and actuually dragged myself through the floor exercises. But she kept her word. After , the push ups on the mat, she actually massaged my back properly. I felt much better .

In between all this sourness  and pain, some local stud, switched the music to some romantic sunil dutt and sadhana song. My BP rose by several notches. I mean, we are exercising man- we need pumping music not whiskeywaley gane. He was probably trying to impress someone in the gym or was a majnu!! The head trainer , who is quite petrified of me, put on FM hurriedly. Then he walked up to me and said, Madam, close mouth and exercise. Ok boss, i get it , breathe in and out through my nose. Open mouths are not wanted here!!

One learning: Don't be scared about falling off the wagon. You will.  But once you do, you have to pick yourself up and soldier on. Dar ke agaey jeet hai!!!