[2006-2015] Resident Alien of Calcutta, Wordsmith, Rennessiance Club

This is the concluding section of the auto-biographical post I have been commanded by my colleague and friend  Mr. Sushobhan Mukerjee  The first part of the series – Metropolitan Man, Muffsil, Train of Time  covered a long stretch. This part covers the period which I call, The Hibernating Decade  ———————————————————————————————- In 2002, I came to Calcutta as a man with some six years of working experience, bachelor but betrothed, working in a corporation and ready to start the process what in Calcutta is called : settling down. I did settle down, first into the chair of the office and then into the great confusion of the city. I frequented heritage house – not only for the attraction of the house but also for reasons I dare not speak now. I started to search for the Calcutta I have lost twenty years back (when the 2nd Howrah bridge had a gaping gap in the middle and Lighthouse Bar with its blue lights not extinct) but became a wanderer. Wandering into the great city like a lost soul, I have become like Jekyll and Hyde. During the day, I was a middle manager of a mediocre corporation and in the night – like Dickens, was trying to lose myself in the city’s bars, pleasure joints, boat-houses and underpass smoking joints. It continued for a year and like all my wanderings, I did alone and hence no witnesses. In 2005, I boarded a British Airways flight (now extinct) bound for London while coconut trees of Jessore Road seemed like close relatives waving and in the previous afternoon I read Madhu-kabi’s epitaph and then found that many leaders of young Bengal’s resting place now receive nitrogenous waste from young Bengal. I concluded that the dead poets (Derozio for example) now cannot get votes or investment and hence does not feature much in the schemes of things. Cut to 2006 – I returned back from England – now a father of a young boy of one year, no job, no house to stay and effectively –  completely un-settled. I was retired by that time and rented a flat in Salt Lake area and having settled the family in the flat, I had become a pure loafer in the city.  I frequented old haunts – Chota Bristol for example with the only difference being that I had the whole day to me. I remember once, in a summer day, I was asked by a young boy to keep the thread of his kite but I could not, my finger missed and the kite flew away. I apologized as being quite drunk, truthfully enough and he looked at me with eyes of innocence and wonder ! It was during this time, I read Orhan Pamuk’s Istanbul  and in a moonless night, while I was crossing from Howrah to Armenian Ghat, a great desire to write something for Calcutta was born. My wife, showing no less patience and indulgence for her husband than Henrietta did for madhu-kabi and did not whip me to earn more money and think for the future etc as is the fate of most of married men of Bengal.  I was drifting and in this fatal period, she was the Lakshmi and Annapurna of our house. I was well aware of the fatal nature of the drift and it was all the more dangerous because of herself thinking this to be some kind of great hiatus for a great man. Poor soul! I read, translated and drifted and this was only broken while I received my CPF and gratuity from my previous employer and again felt to be a monarch of all I survey. I immediately started buying books, started to plan some summer trips to Bolpur and in short, lengthening the loafer life. 2008- in the next one year, due to our household Lakshmi’s understanding of Lakshmi in the form of money being restless, most of the money was used to buy a small flat all cash deal and then I was in trouble. An invitation in Oxford to present a paper and also to attend alumni meet (with some dakshina included) made me travel in Dickens’ London and Wordsmith Communication became more of a genuine business.  The whole story is documented here in a small book called Wordsmith Book of Business 

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My first business book and a good friend and earner

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This is in the same period of wandering – now in front of Oxford’s Bodliean Library after paying tribute to Nirad C Chauduri in Lathbury Street with Oxford blue plaque

In 2008, the business stabilized, I thought of keeping a mistress in  the tradition of previous Calcutta citizens of yester years. I figured out that this is not possible – legally and practically and launched an online magazine : http://www.pentasect.com. The mistress started demanding as all mistresses do, more time and effort. I kept her in good humour and then kept a distance. It was also the same time when the demon of writing a Cultural Glossary of Calcutta took hold of me. Till 201o, in these 4 years, I had no connection with Calcutta citizens except with their grandparents in National Library and old books and older authors. I did not care to read news-papers. My wife, now performed the role of an Annapurna and kept feeding me delicacies at times and took care of our child, leaving me enjoy the life of a sperm-donor father. She also did take care of the business in a considerable manner in my physical and mental absence.

The Oxford Park - the green of the grass, I was told by a gardener there : it can happen only after 800 years of regular watering, care and scholarly walks

The Oxford Park – the green of the grass, I was told by a gardener there : it can happen only after 800 years of regular watering, care and scholarly walks

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Oxford College – Light and Shade – University of Vidya and University of Avidya

In 2009, in this field, a strange feeling to write a history of Bengal(which I used to  write to pass time ) seized me. I started taking notes and I felt as if the sunlight and the green are mixed up and entering through my eyes, nose, ears inside and creating a suffocating sense of being in-inseminated.

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Mayapur, Isckon – where this photo was shot by my sister-in-law Indrani.

I took notes in the bus to London and reached Hammersmith as if under some drug. I took the manuscript and started writing and within 3 days, with some bread, butter and gin-tonic and some 100+Mayfair cigarettes, the manuscript was more of less complete and published. Few Chapters of the book are available here in summary form Till 2012, I have continued my exile in Calcutta but Calcutta was also working its magic on me.

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Sankhadip Sengupta – the only poet of my generation whom I know , kindly gave a photo shot by him. He gave me two immortal lines for me while I was making my return to Calcutta – jobless and helpless : Calcutta has place for everyone. She will have have place for you. She did.

In the Intimate History of Bengal, I posited 2 thesis – a) Bengal is the Eastern Terminus of Europe of the living b) The only miracle in South Asia after the birth of Buddha in Nepal was the renaissance of Bengal in the high tide of 1860 – 1920. In 2012, the urge was born to publish the book I visualized on Calcutta and notes collected during my loafer days some six years back. The manuscript matured and with the 2nd boy child arrived a year back and Lakshmi and Annapurna needing help, I became a baby-sitting CEO. It is in those baby sitting sessions, spent mostly in the small park of 206, Salt Lake, I typed and retyped the first draft of Calcutta Culture Glossary. The book eventually got published and snippets are available in Pentasect.com.   An entry from the glossary with the illustrations  by Ms. Rupsha Bhadra for the illustration of the lady with the bicycle     product_thumbnail

The Young Girl in the Bi-Cycle Almost everyday, I see a young girl in a very nice-looking bi-cycle in the area where I commute. She must be between 16-17 years old but has the dignity of a lady. I had seen her in yellow, blue, sage green and crimson red dresses and she looked equally commanding in all these colours with her impeccably clean bi-cycle. She has an imperious look and reminded me of Estella of The Great Expectations by Dickens. One blessed morning, as I was crossing the KS Canal from the Saltlake side, a balding, middle-aged man as I am, I gave her way to pass with her trusted companion – the bi-cycle. She looked at me and gave a gracious smile. I became Pip and the last few immortal lines automatically sounded inside: Her indescribable freshness and radiance is gone but a mellow sweetness remained….

4In 2011, I also started teaching online – how to lead a time rich cash poor life and this resulted into Wordsmith University  – a tol of Internet age where teachers teach and students pay dakshina and it morphed slowly into People’s Business School. In 2013, after almost seven years being a resident alien of Calcutta, I was pulled into mainstream by Mr. Sushobhan Mukerjee, the same friend whose command made me write these posts while I am in my summer hiatus at heritage house. I was almost sucked into mainstream – a PhD student in IIT, Kharagpur, Mr. Gobinda Roy, another noble friend and colleague and also an alumni of the institution. It is only the extreme weather of Kharagpur that saved me almost the doorstep of being inducted. Mr.Mukherjee, a successful business owner and CEO himself, as if pulled me out of my self-imposed exile and I started to get acquainted with the polished society of Calcutta in person (previously I only met their grand-fathers in books and old histories). This resulted into my visitations and meet with business magnates, entrepreneurs, policy makers and many men and women of my generation based in Calcutta. It was like a Rip Van Winkle waking from the dream and as if I was asking them : ‘Tell me Sire, what are all these commotion here in the streets and why are they so anxious and angry mob-mob-like. I am, my noble Sire/Madame, a humble subject of Her Majesty” The collaboration with Mr. Mukherjee and many other noble planets in his orbit enriched me and provided me with contemporary and flesh and blood experience of Calcutta. Like Srikanta, I felt, Calcutta is Rajya-Lakshmi for me – she did not allow me to come close but did now allow to escape her orbit. I became like a satellite, trapped and charmed in the orbit of the City. The Collaboration gave birth to one object and one institution : a book and a Club. The book Mr. Mukherjee so kindly allowed me to co-author is Fool’s Walk – A journey of two fools and duly published on 1st April this year.
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Another one is founding of Renaissance Club which is a Club which is based on the idea of production first and then consumption of tasty delicacies. Every member has to read / write / present an original work, followed by consumption of quality eating material.  A complete session of Renaissance club is reproduced from the archive

The members in deliberation and production

The members in deliberation and production

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Consumption ( of the only true, authentic, first class, recession proof, elegant, sweet, heavenly product of Contemporary Bengal) and madhurena samapoyet

I think I have tried to execute the commission as entrusted by Mr. Mukhherjee and here, I take my leave as shadows linger here – in my summer home after a hot day which makes jack-fruit ripe and men listless, I take leave of my readers. Even though I have always admonished all talented men and women of Bengal to be un-Bengali but as I mature, I find a mellow tenderness for Bengal which for me is distilled as : green fields, blue sky, wide expanse of water, dark and doe-like eyes of a Bengali maiden and I again go back to one of the greatest and immortal but least understood by his countryman, the creator of Indranath and Srikanta  এতকাল জীবনটা কাটিল উপগ্রহের মতো – যাহাকে কেন্দ্র করিয়া ঘুরি, না পাইলাম তাহার কাছে যাইবার অধিকার, না দূরে যাইবার অনুমতি And also, a prayer for the City, where the City takes human form, almost a demi-goddess and Buddhadev Basu’s translation of a French poet echoes and let this be what I like to say to Calcutta, my city, by adoption : প্রিয়তমা, সুন্দরীতোমারে আমার, যে আমার উজ্জ্বল উদ্ধার অমৃতের দিব্য প্রতিমা্রে, অমৃতেরে করি নমস্কার

[1992-2015] Metropolitan Man, Muffsil Past, Train of Time

[This semi-autobiographical post was written at the insistence of Mr. Sushobhan Mukherjee. ]

In September 1992, I left my home in South Assam, then a boy of 18 years,bound for a meet with Vasco-Da-Gamma’s landing beaches in Calicut, Kerala. It is exactly 500 years after the intrepid Portuguese sailor went in search of spices in the southern tip of India. My journey was to prepare myself to be an engineer in electronics and telecom.  The journey was some 4000+ kilometer long and train (and sleeper class) was the only option.  The journey used to take some 4 days and I still remember the first journey while I was eighteen years old and I was sitting in a train and my whole muffsil past was trailing behind.

The Heritage House – human habitation recorded since 1910

I felt a deep lump in my throat and the train started to cross the North Cachar Hills and towards further West.  It was like Pip of the Great Expectations who was leaving his country home in Kentish marshes for the city of London as expectations were to be attended. For the Pip in me, there was no great expectations but it eventually came.

As the train below slowly progressed, I was leaving my adolescent, my boyish innocence and was coming of age. The track was some 80 years old, a meter-gauze line, now extinct and was built by British Colonial Government to transport one of the products of my district that went to the cups of Boston to Brazil. I am taking of Cachar/Assam tea. I was alone and in those days of no mobile, sms, internet – I felt a tremendous sense of freedom  as well. I was thinking that soon I shall be back during holidays, having little idea that a great shift has already begun.

The Tunnel Effect

The Pahar Line metre gauze train entering a tunnel. This is a great symbol – of entering into an unknown – a mobile conscious being entering a dark cavern.

Then, the process of a nomadic life ensued. In terms of  taking bath in the Arabian waters in Calicut beaches and having a dalliance with an Iyer beauty, I was coming of age. I was also creating a world within and that world sometimes re-called, while looking at the blue expanse of Arabian waters, the same waters where Vasco met God’s own land some 500 years back, the taste of our own river Barak. My skin knew its taste since I was ten years old. It was the time when boys like me learnt swimming in ponds and rivers and not in swimming pools.

The North Cachar Hills

A small station in North Cachar Hills. The white over then mountains is not snow. Low altitude clouds brightened by an autumnal sun

 

The river Barak is the second largest river in North East India and is some 5 minutes walk from my home (heritage house). When we were young, the river used to flood the banks and those stories – of fishing, swimming and smelling the smell of decaying vegetation. It was the days of magical boyhood or the juncture when I used to be in rapture while reading Shelley or Tagore and in the next instant was dying to have a peep at the housemaid undressing. It was an age of boundless joy and it was also an age of excruciating pain.

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River side walks. On the other bank, 30 years back there was a timbre factory and we used to see elephants picking up logs.

 

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During rainy reason, the water used to kiss the curved and downwards branches of Sirish tree touching the water surface. Under a dark sky the green became dark in the coffee coloured water

 

 

After a decade, in 2002, after many rivers and women, colleagues and friends and oceans and journeys, I came back to Calcutta, to settle. Calcutta was, for me what was London for Pip. I fell in love with the great city while a boy and I still remember vividly while a boy of ten, mesmerized by the folio volume of Decline and Fall of Roman Empire in one of the dimly-lit stalls of College Street and then telebhaja in Kalika, one of the very few Calcutta institutions which remains as it is when I was a boy. I always used to come to my country home (heritage house) in May to escape Calcutta summer. This habit and further exposure to Calcutta made me realize that I am actually emulating the previous resident aliens of Calcutta – the British officers who served the Empire and in the summer retired to cooler climes, a few to Britain itself. This habit of escape to country home in summer and also to remain a private citizen of Calcutta (by that time, I had left my Federal Government turned private company job ) and like Voltaire, made the city, my city, by adoption. The process of double home-sickness that ensued in 1992 culminated into the strange but only possible option of myself looking at Calcutta, the great city and the activities of its natives. I remained, in accordance with the convention of residency and domicile – a resident alien of Calcutta.

In 2001, the car below – now immobile became a heritage car, became the first car of my life. It was a maruti 800, already 10 years old and was procured from Kalmassery, Cochin and then me and my colleague Pradeep went to Kanya-kumari (the souther tip of Indian peninsula which translates – Virgin Girl)

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This car bore a KL 01F/6655 number. Then it got a Manipur (MN) plate. Then it was sold. Then like a company’s buy-back policy, was brought back, with a ‘heritage premium’

 

and then we started driving this car towards North for nine days and after 4000 kilometer travel and crossing all the major rivers of Indian except the Sindh and the Narmada also averting many accidents, reached the Heritage Home. A bachelor then, I thought of keeping the car in the moss-covered garage for the next generation. The next generation (my sons 11 and 5 years old took passing interest and did not get much impressed). So much for keeping memory for the next generation.

The Heritage house, by that time became old and it was decided to have a new house, Around 1999, the new house, called Purbasha (Hope of the East) was built and heritage house, in hundred years or so became un-inhabited by a Bhattacharyya.

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The Purvasha – Hope of the East or Hope in the East. The building overlooks the Heritage house in the foreground. Richer and younger, this one hardly has the elegance and grace of the old one

 

The fund for the relatively larger house came from two means, I mean the contribution of mine : Vasco da Gama like travels in all the seas of the world in terms of laying optical fibre cable for telecom networks (which eventually caused the telecom meltdown) and also from the proliferation of IP networks which eventually caused voice minutes becoming

cheaper and eventually ‘skyped’.

The time-span of 23 years loosely told above is also the journey of a muffsil man. I remember another muffsil man who came to Calcutta, the  Delhi and then passed his life in exile in Oxford. After some 70 years of living outside muffsil and even Bengal, Mr. Nirad C Chaudhuri writes : I think, after all these years, I have remained a boy of East Bengal. 

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Shot by me in a lonely summer evening in Lathbury Street , Oxford where the greatest crooked genius of Bengal – Nirad C Chaudhuri lived and worked. A foreign bird was singing and I felt that the song is coming with a Dopplerian sense of memory : Kishoreganj, Calcutta, Delhi, Oxford….

 

I think, in all these years, I have also remained a muffsil boy, a small town boy and in each May, for a month, I come back to have an appointment with my boyhood – an age which becomes larger as we grow older in age and experience.

Then, objects in the rear view mirror may appear closer than they are !

 

Dilli ka laddu : Ironies of desires materialized

Dilli ka laddu – literally a sweet from Delhi and a kind of mythical one.  It is that laddu which is told to be as such that the person who has not tasted regrets and so does the person who has tasted. Many people consider marriage as dilli ka laddu !

But this can be extended below :

1.  A film star spends some 10-15 years to make sure that everyone recognizes his /her face (by viewing the films acted in) and once he/she becomes really the star he/she wanted, she / he needs private entrances and exits, makes sure that he/she is not recognized and complains of privacy violation

2. A small business owner at the start of the business explores all options without discrimination. Every new client is an achievement. No opportunity is to be left behind. Then once these all are achieved, the business owner complains of ‘transnational friction’ and ‘too much demanding customer.’

3. A young man falls in love with a woman and then the cycle starts : wooing, courting, marriage and consummation.  After all this, as per a Calcutta philosopher : A man needs a woman only to understand that he does not need woman.

4. A young doctor starts his career and waits for patients in his mint-condition chamber. A patient seems like bright sunshine in a cold morning : a ray of hope. He works diligently and becomes successful. Very successful that it takes 2 months to receive his appointment. Money, status, fame, authority all come in due course and measure. Then, he complains of not getting proper secretary who will enforce his daily quota of patients and envies a time rich cash poor man like me !

5. A young working couple living in a metropolis, in a small flat dreams of a large home with front yard and back yard. Working hard for at least 20 years, they achieve the dream and the house becomes their own. Now they are past 50 and their children have gone to other geographies to pursue their destiny. The big house now needs maintenance and afflictions like arthritis, osteoporosis, local stick-up artists – all make the couple rethink : This large house has become cause of a headache !

6. A father who was a self-made man and made a fortune from zero mellows in his old age. He vows that his children should not be in the group of ‘have nots’. He looks at his teenage son and showers more than what is needed because when he was of such age, he struggled so hard to get bare necessities. His son gets accustomed to these privileges and considers these not as a grace but an entitlement. He gets satisfaction that his son did not need to struggle as he did. He did achieve something.  The teenage boy becomes a spoiled and entitled kid and complains that he is not given more power. He forgets that he is not qualified to handle the power. With the noble intention of making life comfortable for the son, the father, with all the good intention actually denies him the greatest gift  of being alive : to become self-reliant and to become a self-made man.

All our desires have this aspect : a man needs something until he gets it !

Satyam Computers – revisited

Today, I read in my newspaper that Mr. Ramlinga Raju, Satyam Computers Founder Chairman had been sentenced to 7 years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of INR 5.5 crore.

While working on a book on Business Ethics, I had the opportunity of studying the case. What struck me and generally goes unreported is that Satyam used to get deals at 2-3% of margin. This meant that with such a thin margin, Satyam in its peak was able to outbid competitors but it was having much less real cash at hand compared to its size.

The low-margin is an addiction. It gets into your nerves as you find your more ‘elite’ competitors defeated and there comes a temporary adrenalin rush. The reverse effect happens in spectrum auctions where the winner very soon finds itself in existential crisis. Call it by whatever name : overstretch, lack of prudence, flaw in judgment, this is an addiction. This is generally not seen as an addiction because it comes dressed up in a very holy garb : cost effective.

The psychology of a business operating at a very thin margin for growth remains very tense because of lack of buffers. Nature and any system will go into an unstable equilibrium unless there are buffers. A family which has brought the dream home by overstretching itself that it may find little left for relaxed living that the house, family or both may implode.

A business will be psychologically tense because the weapon of cost effectiveness is very potent but the venom while overused will weaken the corporate body itself. There are certain insects which die once they sting once. The sting does its job but demands a heavy price for the entity that exercised the lethal option.

A business might start its first foray into unethical and grey areas when it neither knows how to increase margin or addicted to growth while using price as the only differential.

Satyam’s Chairman Mr. Raju, in spite of all the later events was a historical man in India’s IT campaign. He was a first generation enterprise builder and he was partially responsible for bringing Hyderabad into global IT map, if not in the global map itself.

However, low margin proved to be one of the significant factors in designing the fatal course the organization took.

[Book Review] Money – Master the Game by Tony Robbins

The book is a 600 page guide and declares in the title page : 7 Simple steps to financial freedom. The book came to my reading lens after a friend of mine loaned me and praised the book, till half read. I was hesitant but the word ‘freedom’ pulled me to read the book.

The purpose of this review is not to rate / comment / refer / critique / rebut but to do something what most people will thank me for : encapsulation of 600 pages into 500 words. Incomplete but the alternative is reading 600 pages * 500 words = 3,00,000 words and not less easier than earning the same – $ 3,00,000 !

1. The author argues that each one can achieve financial freedom.

2. Financial freedom is defined by the author as : If you need $ x per month to maintain your current lifestyle (with aspirations), then one needs to build a Freedom Fund and invest in such a way that this $ x comes each month for next 20-30-40 years.

3.  Freedom Fund is elusive because most of the people are not good investors, they do not save, they do not understand tax and inflation, do not understand active manager fee (mutual fund portfolio), do not diversify, do not balance their diversified portfolios, do not understand sequencing (timing and order) and do not take the issue of financial future seriously.

4. For a freedom fighter, 3 things are crucial : a) allocation of assets b) diversification of assets c) anticipating the future – especially inflation and tax rates  d) achieving tax efficiency. e) respecting compound interest.

5. Loosely speaking, diversification may imply for a specific individual : 30% in stocks, 40% in secured return assets, 10% in long term annuities, 10% in long term bonds, 7% in gold, 3% in commodities

6. These percentages need to be ;’balanced’ – sold and re-invested in course of time.

7. One important aspect he teaches is to associate with a fiduciary. A fiduciary is a person who has no conflict of interest in providing you financial advice. He gives a nice metaphor. If you go a meat-seller and say what is good for health, he will say : meat. If you go to a nutritionist, he will evaluate and may not say meat all the time. The meat-seller is a general financial adviser and a nutritionist is a fiduciary.

The book is a good read and authoritative because of the author is a self made millionaire and he has interviewed and relayed advice from the topmost investors and financial experts of the world.

Recommended.

——————————-    My experiment with the book’s core model ————-

I am of the opinion that in financial matters, one should immediately put all advice into test, through a model. This is not difficult because money can be quantified and the problem (with some assumptions) becomes a mathematical equation, a rough and simplistic equation but a good model. Remember Bohr’s atomic model which was simplistic but was a useful starting model for as complex thing as atom. I asked a friend of mine and built a model :

Income needed per month = MI

Rate of return = 7% ( considered averaged over next 15 years)

Rate of stock growth = 10% (averaged over 15 years, conservative estimate. This includes the entry-exit points and to eliminate this, considered  to be  kept constant)

If he liquidates his business, then valuation should be  (MI + 30% MI ) * 5 = 1.3 * 5  * 12 =  78 * MI. Here, the 30% is the tax, 5 stands something like a valuation constant (depending on profit) and 12 for the months in a year. So, I get around 75* MI less debt (which is some 6 years of income and in theory can go on reading books and fishing for next 6 years)

Hence the Freedom Fund Looks like (FF)  = 75 * MI + current value of all all liquid investments + current value of all fixed assets

I do some calculation and find that FF at this moment for this friend with liquidation looks like = 75 * MI + 20 * MI + 40 * MI = 135 * MI  – debt = 132 * MI (virtually no debt)

It means that if this happens, the friend will be able to live without working for next 10 years. Why does not he do so ?

This can be explained by the following factors

a) Fixed assets are needed because we are an embodied being. We need shelter and place to work (home and office or home-office)

b) It is not easy to liquidate a business easily.

c) Even if this can happen, the return per month for 10 years need to be above inflation and principal needs to overcome crisis like 2008.

How ?

The books explains this. This I cannot do and you need to read and absorb and act.

As for myself, my advice to you :

Do get your financial advice from your grandparents who thought long term investment as annuity, liquid investment as FD, securing future in gold, insurance as only life insurance which you do because you love not hedge funds but your family, save for a rainy day, do not take debts, living below your means as if next crisis is around the corner, live in a such a way that what you need, you will have and you will not feel the absence of those you cannot  afford. In short, you become a philosopher and money and its thought at the highest level of refinement tells you this :

The energy called Money, like all the energies of the Cosmos belong to the Supreme Lord. He creates it, distributes it and at the end it comes back to Him. No one can own or hold money indefinitely. Either the money leaves him (stock-crash) or he leaves the money ( death). However, since money is a very powerful and isotropic and pervasive energy, it is to be respected and used judiciously.  Money itself cannot teach this, had it been so, all moneyed man could have been happy and enlightened.

If you are really interested in financial freedom, then the energy called money is capable of providing that. But the process cannot be brought by money.

This realization – the execution comes from practice and discipline which again money cannot give.

In summary : the book touches sometimes and remains, justifiably busier most of the time with the technicalities and I am not qualified to judge and test these processes and models.

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: The Millionaire Fastlane by Michael Composto

A week back, while sitting in the TiE Conference in Calcutta, Mr. Suvrangshu Kar, Founder and CEO of http://www.erp2online.com mentioned about the book  and I had the book read in the same evening. This 15 mins conversation proved to be the greatest takeaway for me for the 12 hour conference. I did not attend it fully – rising temperature post winter, nice lunch and vicinity of my house from the venue forced me for an afternoon ‘power sleep’.

The review below is the result of that ‘power sleep’.

1. The Book declares that it is better to be a millionaire at 30 rather than at 70.

Translated : if your plan is to save, invest, speculate over a 30 year period while working, then it is statistically impossible to become real wealthy. For example, for an average worker to become a millionaire while working will take 146 years, even with the power of compound interest.  By some freak, if you become so, what is the benefit of wealth for you when you are 70 ? Your companions are not young women and boundless vigour of youth, but gout, arthritis, replaced knee, insulin vials.

2.Time is limited and is to be leveraged

Translated : Health and wealth but with locked time is worthless. If you find your time locked with your employer, your business, your enterprise and you are not able to do what you want or what you are passionate about, you need to reconsider your strategy. Kill your darlings – be it the job, business model, product or service.  Make sure you command your time.

3. Plant Money Trees 

Translated : If you observe your time, you shall find that you use most of your time for money.  The corporate workers work with 5-2 mode ( 2 days of weekend for 5 days of indentured time), a business owner’s time is spent most in getting investment, selling and collecting money. One needs to consciously mould his her business so that the business / investment works like a money tree. Consider a tomato groves. You go and pluck some tomatoes and you see that there are some more ready for plucking tomorrow after your sleep. The Money tree needs to produce fruits with minimum of your time spent.

4. Money is not scarce, time is 

Translated : Everyday 30 trillion dollars of money circulates in the economy and this is going to increase as Government is printing more money. In theory, money is in plenty while taken as a whole but your time is fundamentally limited. You do not get a single second extra than 86,400 a day. This is fixed. You can only leverage this, i.e. using a model, you can expand this time in relation to earning money. You need to select business models which allows this leverage. Otherwise, you shall remain a time indentured slave.

5. Select proper land, select proper seeds to plant your money trees 

Translated : Most of the mainstream models – business, education, investment, lifestyle are not time-leveraged. Hence, you need to select only those which will be fertile to grow your money tree. This means that you need to discard mercilessly any attachment to any ‘love to’ work, darling models. Automatize your farming of money as much as you can and with unlocked time, learn and enjoy. Do not learn for earning or having money. Learn because you need not think about money. You have your money trees.

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Afterthought 

The Book is disturbing because it challenges our mind-set and view of life. But that is the virtue of the book. It is insulting to our ‘darling’ : work hard and grow in life while becoming an indentured slave of a corporation or your customers.

It is very important for young men and women in their 20s and 30s to feel the jolt of the book.

The book will appear to be starkly and damn materialistic to an Indian reader. It is. Some will even despise the book’s admonition and more intelligent may even consider this as a mirage or will-o-the-wisp as to gather sales. That is not the ultimate point although this may be.

The book in its naked and unabashed hedonism in its subtle representation has arrived, unconsciously at the starting gate of spirituality : your attachment to your own prison cell, be it the proverbial cubicle, the business which is commoditized, you are bossed by customers, vendors and employees and sucking your time, your lifestyle which is pushing you to sell more and more of your time for less and less, your inhibition to learn new skills and to forget old ones.

In short : Highly recommended book.

Postscript : A personal anecdote 

1996 – 2004 : I was a corporate employee and 2920 days worth of time was sold for money, not a large money but  subsistence money.  Even selling 2920 days in a row, I had to again work for a nominal lifestyle. I invested mostly in building 6 flats in my ancestral house. These are rented now and is one of the money trees.

2005 – 2010 : Left job to build a business (www.wordsmithcommunication.com) and which forced me to automatize in a way to free more and more time for me. I had fired clients who demanded more times, endured revenue loss but continued and did build two businesses which were completely automated. These businesses sold videos, tapes and books of other people. The business did not boom but high automation and no demand on my time made sure that I can learn more skills. The automated businesses were the money trees.

2010 -2015 : Attempts to automatize more and more and looking for fertile grounds with a plan to retire in next 10 years to pursue a passion : Plain Living High Thinking  till death. The project itself can be considered as a long term preparation for death.

 

How does a wordsmith work ?

Winter in a predominantly tropical city like Calcutta restrict outdoor activities for me. So, I thought of narrating not a very typical day in my life. A wordsmith work is more like a craftsmen and a craftsman’s life does not vary much even if you go thousands of years back. A technician needs many tools and machines, a craftsman’s tools are simple and ancient : words, chisel, brush, potter’s wheel, knife and so on.

2 years back I wrote a diary – Daily Diary of a Freelancer.

Let us see what did I do today

I translated some 700 words into Bengali in the morning. The translation was related to a medical report. Then I helped some clients getting some 6000 words worked in six languages spread in all the continents. I wrote couple of marketing letters – an assorted salad like and sent to various leads.

Wrote a short summary of a foreign language learning programme and had this sent to a DTP team for design.  One of the languages was Greek and then watched a 40 min documentary on ancient Greece in youtube  – the age of Pericles and that reminded me reading a book by HDF Kitto entitled The Greeks. It also reminded me that our Rennessiance Club meetings are little like Greek Symposium by design where one meets, eats and discusses – not about stocks and trades, vacancies and profiteering, office-woes or celebrity gossip, mobile update or facebook victories.

I prepared a dish after reading this in a blog post where the author teaches how to fry a sliced aubergine and then preparing a paste made up of yoghurt, pepper, cardamom, fenugreek and aeostifedia. It tasted great.

Finished and proofed the translation and delivered. Client, a Briton acknowledged with a terse ‘thank you’ and then wrote a blog post. Read two wikipedia entries : Themistocles and  and Sophocles – whom the documentary mentioned. I learnt from the ancient thinkers that greatness is so ephemeral that a nation can sink to rank mediocrity within a generation.

Followed up with some previous projects and alerted a client that our delivery will be delayed 24 hours due to reasons I cannot control. Client solaced me and comforted by this, I thought of watching another report on Geopolitics which tells how geography is, one sense destiny. The same report told me why Russia from Czars till today wants to expand because in the East, between the last frontier and Moscow there lies no natural barrier and only plains. The only natural obstacles are winter and fatigue of enemy troops. Both proved fatal for Napoleon and Hitler’s armies.

Then made a call to a friend who is a co-presenter in a workshop for translators on 17th January – Job, Career and minor global fame being a translator or interpreter workshop. He told me that one of his friends need some voice recording in Bengali and then called a studio owner here – a small business and they started conversing.

Checked with a friend’s friend who had access to some fine illustrators and sent an inquiry to that effect. The illustration is needed for a book I had long written but not published formally – The Calcutta Culture Glossary  and waiting for reply

As it became evening, the air became chilling and drank some tea and thought of watching another 40 mins movie. Napoleon and the defeat in Russia kept my mood sombre and Darjeeling Tea also could not lift it up. So watched The Adventure of Napoleons of Sherlock Holmes and got delighted (once again) by the great tablecloth trick by the great detective and the great actor who played the role – Jeremy Brett.

The detective in London stimulated me and I thought of again attempting a long pending translation from Bengali to English and progressed considerably. After 1000 words completed, I felt tired and feet became colder. Resigned myself to the bed and checked the mail box to see that except some harmless promotion and received, there is nothing.

I conclude : my work-life, in a general sense is exceptionally boring. I am trying to inject some steroid of excitement into it using association of ideas and through a make belief of work.