Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The indecisive future

Shashi was distraught. His constant state of misery was forcing him out of his current happiness. It may seem like a paradox, but, that's how he was. If he got a salary hike, he would worry about inflation. If he won a lottery, he would worry about the tax. If he got a promotion at work, he would worry about the extra hours he would have to put in. So, in a way, his worries were endless and as a result, he ended up thinking about his future every single moment. Shashi, like every other individual on this planet, was pummeled by the monotony of daily life, and tried every possible trick in the book to escape from it.

Every now and then, he would tell his wife, "I have decided that am going to day trade from today. That's where the money is, and that's as easy as it can get to become a millionaire."

His wife would turn a deaf ear to his over the top suggestions, and both of them would head to work, as though nothing ever was spoken between them in the morning.

The suggestion would change to something dramatic within the next couple of days. Well, of course, it had to be due to the result of the stock market crash, ain't it?

Thank God, Anandhi, people like us have day jobs. Imagine, relying on the waywardness of the stock market to move on with our lives. It can be living hell.

Come on, Shashi, you just bought that stock two days ago. Obviously, it is going to fluctuate. What profit do you expect to make in a couple of days? And, by the way, who is asking you to sell that stock. It is not that we are in dire need of money. You can wait for the market to stabilize, and then capitalize on the gains. Anyway, the government has come up with breakthrough economic reforms. Things cannot change overnight. Patience!

But, I heard some rumors today that the market is going to witness a massive slowdown in the next couple of months. I don't want to hold up our funds for such a long time. After all, we can invest in something else, and make money.

I thought, somebody just said that he was going to quit the stock market.

Well, well, I don't want to take any hasty decisions. You never know what fate has in store for us.

Anandhi allowed him to ramble further about the ramifications of all the futile things and as always was in the least perturbed by his out-pourings. Just like the way his ramblings fell on her deaf ears, she knew that her concern towards him would also be met with the same effect.

So, have you decided at which school our son/ daughter will be commencing his/ her education?

What are you talking? Shashi, the baby is not due until the beginning of next year. And we still have three more months to go this year.

Yes, yes, but from what I read in the newspapers, it is a very complicated process. I believe there is a big interview process for the parents as well as the kids, and the applications have to be submitted well in advance to get an interview appointment. It is supposed to be crazy.

OK, I have had enough of this. You can go meet the principal tomorrow and fix up an appointment for a kid that is going to join school in the next four years. Let us see how they react.

Don't get worked up now. I just want you to be careful about all these deadlines.

What are you watching on the television? Can you see why Sahana is crying? I am busy in the kitchen.

Coming, coming! I am just seeing this great man Nelson Mandela become the President of South Africa. You should also come and watch this. If you miss it today, you can't watch it until tomorrow in the morning news. It is an event you just cannot miss.

I agree it feels like a dream that he was able to achieve what he achieved. With due respect to him, can you please see why Sahana is crying?

How is your stock market coming along? Are you still making any money out of it? What did your esteemed share broker say? You know what, I don't trust him a bit. What great market reading abilities does he have to suggest when to buy a stock and when to sell it? I have my doubts on that guy. I think with these many years of experience, you should be able to read the market much better than superficial brokers like him. You will be able to give advise others better than him.

Mmmm! OK, I have to go now. I will meet you after a couple of hours. One last time, I will meet this share broker and see what he has to say.

I am going to be really busy the whole of next month, Anandhi. The World cup is being held in the sub-continent, and this is really the best chance for us to win the cup. I am sure Sachin Tendulkar will win it for us this time. The thirteen year wait will end this year. I don't want to miss a single ball of cricket when I am at home. You will have to manage the household without me for a month.

Yeah, right! Look who's talking. I thought that was the case whether world cup or no world cup. I don't even expect you to wash a normal cup after you have tea or coffee. I can imagine how things will be.

This guy is a genius. See the way he is timing the ball. I am sure he will break all possible records one day. He is undoubtedly the find of world cricket this decade. Thank God he is playing for India.

Sahana, will you come with me to the police station today?

Why do you want to take her to the police station, and that too, at such a young age? Why can't you just lodge the complaint on your own? It is not such a big thing by the way.

Oh, come on, police station is not such a bad place. Moreover, our friend, Mr. Murthy, will be there. It will be interesting for Sahana to know how a police station looks.

Right, in so many years of my existence, I have never stepped into a police station, and you want my little daughter to go with you to one. First of all, I don't understand why you are going, and on top of that, you want to take her as well. I am not going to allow this.

Hello Mr. Shashi, Welcome to the Police Station. Not a great place to welcome you, but that's all we can do. Any way we can assist you? How is everyone at home?

Nice to see you, Mr. Murthy. We bought a VSNL internet starter kit for ten thousand rupees last month that gives us about 100 hours of internet connectivity through dial up. Yesterday, we realized that we were not able to connect to the internet after several multiple attempts. I have a strong feeling that our password was hacked. Can you help us find out who stole this?

Whoa, Whoa, Mr. Shashi. Calm down, calm down! I am not able to make any sense of what you are saying. If you're having some problem with your computer, you should be able to call the repair guy, and there is one I know of in the nearby vicinity. I am not sure how the police will be able to assist you in this case. Wait a minute, you told me something is stolen. Is your computer stolen?

Errrrr.....No! We are traversing in the wrong direction.

OK, what is it you have lost?

I lost my password.

So, why don't you get a new one?

I have to pay money to get one. I have lost the password, when it belongs to me, rightfully!

OK, you can file a complaint. We will register an FIR, but I am not sure what we have to find out to restore your password.

Anandhi, it is very hard to explain to anybody here the meaning of internet. One day, you see how it is going to take off. Everybody will be on the internet, and then, people will wonder, how life was without internet. For now, we have to do a lot of explaining to people and help them create an awareness about this non-animate thing.

Anyway, let me log in and see whether I can access the internet. Who could have manipulated our password?

Anandhi, look, I am able to log in. And, there's a mail from VSNL as well. They are experiencing some outage, and expect us to get no connection at all at certain times. I better call up Mr. Murthy before he registers the FIR.

Hello, Mr. Murthy!

Yes, Mr. Shashi. We still haven't started on your case. It is too early to expect any breakthrough.

No, no. I just wanted to say that I got back the password. It was a problem with the ISP provider VSNL.

See, I told you. You had come to the wrong place. I know about all these computer problems. I am sure it must have been some loose connection. Anyway, glad things worked out well for you.

Thank you, thank you!

Mr. Murthy was relieved. Shashi was annoyed. Anandhi was confused. Sahana was happy.

As always, Anandhi had to have the last laugh. I told you before itself what was the hurry to go to the police station to lodge a complaint. I am sure you didn't even have an idea as to what you were complaining about. I think you should really stop worrying about things.

Sahana and Shashi were watching television in the evening. Wow, that's a cool plane. Why are the planes hitting the building?

Must be some kind of a game, Sahana. Wait! We are watching the news channel here. Oh my God! It is the New York World Trade Center twin towers. What a disaster! Anandhi, come over, you have to watch this!

The whole world witnessed this unbelievable onslaught on humanity. It was an operation none imagined possible.

Anandhi, you never know what to expect these days. We should always be on our toes. I am sure you don't even have any idea where our funds are.

Yeah, right, as if that is so important now.

The markets collapsed big time. The pundits predicted a long time for the economic recovery. Investors were skeptical. Security was heightened everywhere. In a nutshell, it was not the best time to think about your future.

Three years later, Shashi experienced a severe heart attack, that virtually rendered him immobile. Anandhi took over all the responsibilities of the household. But, Shashi could not put up with his condition for long before he passed away one night.

Two years later, Sahana had to join college. She, like every Indian, was deciding between an engineering and medical seat. It is not easy to obtain a medical seat in a good college in India. In spite of having good marks, one also needs to have tonnes of money to enroll in a medical school. With all the class system in the society, you get to target only a handful of seats. So, in effect, you are looking at an expenditure of at least 4-5 lakh rupees per year just for the tuition fees. As mother and daughter were contemplating the choices in front of them, they were greeted by a visitor.

Hello madam, I am Raman, your husband's share broker. He was a very close friend of mine. I am not sure whether you remember, but I was there at his funeral. About fifteen years ago, I had advised him to buy 2000 shares of one little known company. Today, the number of shares have multiplied at least ten times. The price per share has multiplied at least 100 times. It was actually more than ten years ago, but Shashi was insistent that we shouldn't sell it then. When he was not well, we discussed the appropriate time to sell these shares. He told me that I should come to you when Sahana was ready to go to college. You can call it destiny or karma, but I have never seen Shashi being as decisive as he was on this issue.

I think this would be the most appropriate time for you to sell these shares and put her to medical college. These shares are worth more than 20 crore rupees today.

Anandhi was lost for words!