Tuesday, December 14, 2010

[Review] Increase of maximum size of Retail IPO/FPO portion to 2 Lakh - Follow up

The following are the details from MOIL (first ipo after the rule came into effect) basis of allocation

Total no of Retail Applications : 13.02 Lakh
% of applications requesting 1 -2 Lakh : 39.95 %
% of shares allocated to such applications : 87.89%

Above statistics is as per our expectation and clearly smaller size of (questionable) retail investors are blocking a huge chunk of IPO. Gradually those investors who have capacity to invest only small sum of money will be driven out of this process. Hence this rule change has morally defeated its sole purpose "increasing the participation of retail investors".

From Prem's

Thursday, November 25, 2010

[Review] Increase of maximum size of Retail IPO/FPO portion to 2 Lakh

Recently SEBI amended the IPO norms to change the max limit for retail investors to Rs 2,00,000 from the existing limit of Rs 1,00,000. Reason stated was to increase the retail participation and to enhance the returns of the retail investors.Looks like a investor friendly step taken by SEBI.Isnt it ?.Lets try to dive deep into book building process and try to understand how its going to affect retail investors based on two large recent book building process - Coal India & PowerGrid.
In Coal india IPO there were total of 16.26 Lakh application from retail section. Among them 8.89 Lakh applications were for 1 Lakh and in total they received 81% of the total shares reserved for retail investors.Remaining 7 Lakh investors has to be content with 19% of the shares. The numbes were similar in PowerGrid FPO too .
Total Retail Applications 14.18 Lakhs
Applications for 1 Lakh 7.94 Lakhs
Total shares allocated to this segment 80%

This is not a unfair distribution since the shares are distributed in the ratio of the total shares they have bid for. Lets now consider the situation in which max limit is increased to 2 Lakhs. This is not going to affect investor who apply less than a lakh .But investors who used to apply at 1 Lakh earlier MAY increase their application size up to 2 Lakh ,depending on their affluence. Lets consider that 50% of them are affluent to invest 2 Lakh in a ipo and see how to demand graph changes

Application for 1 Lakh and above will corner more than 85% of all the shares available in retail section.This leads to a situation that investors who can invest less than a lakh (50% of total investor base) will have to share 15% of shares. In most of the cases this will lead to lottery based selection. Eventually these small investors will lose interest in this process (IPO/FPO) which will be dominated by a more affluent section. If this is the situation for large issues like Coal India (15,200 Cr) and Powergrid FPO (Rs 7440) , the deviation will be more pronounced in smaller issues of size which are more frequent to hit the streets.

Now this decision doesnt sound much investor friendly right ?? If SEBI's aim was to increase activeness of retail investors it should have maintained status quo in the max limit.




From Prem's

Friday, November 5, 2010

UnProductive Employee Unions

    Historically employee unions are formed with the aim to protect the rights of the employes and that too particular of those in the lower strata, whose voice normaly never reach the corridors of power. To achieve their aim, union leaders normaly have to confront the management in decision which are not employe friendly , call for protests ,strikes etc. But later these unions have deviated from their original path and now consider that their only work is to oppose the management on whatever decision they take.They have evolved similar to those in the category of oppostion parties in India. It might be due to their communist friends who are always in the oppostion bench ,barring couple of states. 
    Here lets take case of recent ipo of coal india and see how the employees were affected by sheer stupidity of the union leaders. As with any public sector company looking  for disinvestment , coal india too faced strict oppostion from the unions. But they couldnt defend their stand for long due to pressure from finance ministry and agreed for a ipo. Even though they couldn't stop the ipo they didnt stop opposing it. They ordered all their members to stay away from the ipo , as step to show their disaggrement. Lets see how foolish this decision have turned to be.
        This IPO was well received by investment community around the globe and based on subscription it turned out to be a block buster. There was demand for 15 times of share in offer ( ie 15 people were ready to buy a share in offer) .Retail segment was subscribed by 2.4 times. Some 15 Lakh retail investors applied for shares.But employes didnt take active part in it .Among the 3.97 Lakh employees ,only 25,000 applied for shares and employee portion was undersubscribed by 0.1 times. These 25,000 employees should have been from the middle/higher management of the company who dont mind about the union's decisions.
        Shares got listed and it moved from Rs232.75 to Rs340 on day one , a mind-blogging returns 46%. A employee who would have applied for 1 Lakh (the max he can apply) would have gained Rs46,000 on day 1. When 15 Lakh retail investors (including me) had gained around Rs15,000 and foreign investors by billions of dollars , the employees who have build up this company stands to gain nothing. Investment bankers (FII)in New york or London should be be enjoying a sparking Diwali whereas the poor employees searching for micro credit agents to fund their Diwali purchases. Rich gets richer and poor stays poor , but this time due to their foolish decision .

    Comming to the argument , these unions should leave back their age old communist policies which good to read in history books now rather than to follow it in principle. They should have used the collective argument power to get more incentives for employees. They could have asked for a 5% more discount on share price for employees than retail investors.  Most of 3.97 Lakh employes should have their monthly salary in the range of Rs10,000 .They cannot mop up 1 Lakh and start a demat account just for this . Union could have argued for special previalages by which a employe benefit trust can get all the shares allocated for them ,without paying upfront money , sold them in open market and redistribute the profits to all employees equally. Surely company management & SEBI would have wholeheartedly accept for such a demand. Such a move would have given Rs16,000 as bonus for each and every employee. Unions should start to embrace capitalism and find innovative methods to benifit their stake holders. In essential adapt to the changing (economic) climate are get ready to become extinct.
   

Thursday, November 4, 2010

My Home

From MyHome


I kept on postponing this writeup as it would be very lengthy one but now finally decided to pen it down. A old adage goes on to mention "Building a Home" and "Getting a marriage done" are the toughest jobs to accomplish.This might not be entirely true in current scenario ,where you can get everything done by outsourcing.But still these two items commends a lot of planning & management.The main reasons could be that these are jobs you execute very rarely and also it has high degree of dependence on external factors.
All this started a during late 2007 when my parents wanted me a build/buy a house.Their main aim was to suck out the liquidity from my current accounts so that i would have less to spend ( same reason why RBI increases CRR :) ). Moreover there is social stigma attached to home ownership.I decided to stick to my native town.It took almost six months ,around early 2008 , to zero down on the land to buy.
Land prices were on high side of my budget . One ground ( 2400 sqft) for quoting for 16 Lakhs [ Rs 666 per sq ft] in prime locations.Finally i chose a plot of 1500 sq for 5.6 Lakhs [ Rs 373 per sq ft]. 3 months back when i checked, it was quoting at 4.5 Lakhs. At that time i was not that interested as we have to cross a old unplanned settlement to reach that spot from the center of the town. But later i could see that for the price point i was comfortable , i could get only 10 KM from the center of the town.But this spot is barely 500 mts from the center.


View Prem's Home in a larger map

I have tagged my home in this map.You can see that its surrounded by paddy fields on one side and a irrigation canal which flows nearby.

So i decided to buy this plot.Another interesting factor of this plot is that its govt guide line values is 9 Lakhs .I had to register for this high value and pay tax for entire amount.I took a realty loan from SBI and they provided 80% of the guide line value.So i was able to cover the entire cost of land in the loan itself.
Interestingly this plot has appreciated to 9 Lakhs since then [ Rs 600 per sq ft] in a period of 2-3 years. But the prime area which was quoting Rs666/sq ft 3 years back are still around Rs700/sq ft.I feel that parcels of land which are cheap ( can be due to many reasons , like lying in the outskirts of city) tends to appreciate at a faster rate that what is quoting at a premium price.Hence if you wish to invest in reality go for outskirts for greater rate of return.

Next process is to get the approval for construction. For this we need to hire a Engineer ,prepare a plan for the home you are planning to build and get it approved from govt authorities. Ironically this wont be plan you will execute in 99.9% of the cases.This is because of some stringent govt rules regarding the buildup land and overall land available. The rule is that you have to leave 5 ft on adjacent sides and 10 ft on front and back.If you follow this rules a plot of 1500(30*50) has only 600 Sqft( 20*30) of buildup area..So what to do ??. Just get the approval according govt norms and build according to your wish and be ready to pay a token fine for the deviation.
The fine which i had to pay came around Rs300 for a 6 months period.

My plan as per govt norms comes around 1250 Sq.But my actual plan was around 2000 sqft. One issue which will raise because of underquoting the buildup area is that you will be able to get loans according to govt approved plan only.SBI was ready to value the construction cost as Rs1000 per Sq ft and offer loan of 85% of the total amount.There were able to sanction a loan for Rs10 Lakhs.

Next was the actual planning.This is the most critical phase as errors or suboptimal decisions made here will haunt you for ever. So spend as much time as possible by continuous review and brainstorming. Literally i should admit that i dont have creative skills or prior experience needed here. Luckily one of my friend , Sangeetha , had then recently finished the entire process of building home right from scratch . When i gave my plot sketch and my requirement , she gave outline design in a day. My plan was to have 3 BHK duplex model of 2000 sqft .To much of my surprise this plan remain the same(almost 95%), even though i tried many more possible combination for around 6 months. So better approach a right person. Another reason for spending 6 months is due the recession in West and its effects in India.Due to jittery around the layoffs i had to postponed start date for few months.Also the cost of building materials was coming down which provided a compelling reason to wait and watch.

Financialy my aim was to execute the plan with under Rs 1100 per Sq ft ( 22 Lakhs for 2000 sqft) and also be ready for a overshoot of 10% in budget. A Labour contract @ Rs150/Sqft was arranged with a contractor. According to this he will take care of arranging labour and he will be paid approx 3 Lakhs for the entire construction. We had similar deals for wood work , Plumbing & Electrical. Final cost came to around 25 Lakhs. Initial plan didn't include compoundwall , watertank , ornamental work etc. Considering all this it can be said that project did completed within budget.

Pie charts which represents various costs are given below. This doesn't include woodwork(cub boards) and final painting.

From MyHome

From MyHome

From MyHome




More photos can be seen in the following album

MyHome

Monday, October 18, 2010

Immortals of Meluha

"Whenever there is a sucessful business proposition in India hundreds of companies used to jump into it but only a few leaders last long" - VP Nokia India , when asked about the increasing competition faced by his company. Similarly once Five point someone made it to bestsellers there is evergrowing no of novelists from IIT or/and IIM background , trying their hands in writing . Recently i was recommended by a friend to read "Imortals of Meluhah" by Amish , an IIM-C alumni.

Author tries (still 2 more books are expected in this series) to create a epic ( or a miniature of it ) by taking characters from the Hindhu Mythology and forming a story line around it.He seems to believe that current GODs are lived as mortals hundreds of years back and got immortalized by their exceptional behavior.

Story starts with the introduction of Shiva , an unconquered tribal leader and his horrible enemies from whom Shiva is entrusted to save his tribes. Whenever you want to potray someone as a hero , introduce a curel villan. When goes off cycles of war and peach , there comes a messenger from a neighbouring kingdom who offers them land ,freedom & peace. He takes the risk to move his entire tribe to Meluha. It happens to be a exotic place where people bath daily , use soaps , wore neat dress & use toilets. In a secret test , Shiva turns out to be a Nelakanth ( or messiah) whom the Meluhans have been waiting for thousands of years. Immediatly he is sent to capital of the kingdom. Meluhans also called the suryavamshis (or worshipers of Sun) haven been in long cold war with Charavamshis.

After initial hesitation Shiva accepts to be Nelkanth and leads the war against chandravamshis due to a series of terrorist attacks , in one which his wife was targeted.Yes meanwhile he fell in love with princess and marries her. The chandravamshis were initialy thought to be behind the terrorist attacks.The story line more or less in expecteded lines until the war ends. But the twist happens when he interacts with Chandravamshis.Contrary to popular beleif in Muluhah ,charavamshisis are not cruel as depicted by Meluhan King .Rather they way of life is different and they too were waiting for the meshaiah to save them. Book ends here giving enough scope of building two more books.

This book happens to be a page turner though the story goes in a expected line mostly. Author has taken painful efforts to glorify the caste system of ancient. He gives some modifications to the actual system to make this possible. Its not clear if his aim is to glorify past Indian history or he himself is a fanatic supporter of caste system.Anyway it was a nice read ,without giving any credence to the story line.But when it comes to mythological stories you have only two options , either to accept it or not .Its hard to ignore it.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

[Trek] Amedikallu

                     We started as a group of 8 [ Varun,Rama,Devesh,Krishna,Abhishek,Sudhir ( Rama's room mate) , MohanRaj ( Vishal's friend) and Myself ]. Mohanraj is from satur ,did his graduation from REC Trichy - 2004 passed out and after small conversation we could identify a lot of common friends , very small world indeed .We have booked Rajahamsa bus from Majestic to Dharmasthala .Since this platform (No:23) is near to the exit , buses started right on time.Else buses starting from interior platforms from majestic used to be delayed atleast 30 mins to come out.We reached Dharmastalla at around 5 AM in the morning and this famous pilgrimage spot seems to take 10,000 visitors per day. But it was clean showing no trails of such a large population. Quality Food and accommodation are provided free of cost and it is also a excellent hill town. Why the hell will anyone hesitate to come here then .

From Amedikallu Trek
      During the previous treks ( lot smaller than this one) i had knee pain and so i assumed will get it here too. So my strategy was to "Pray for the Best and Plan for the worst" .I had taken iodex spray and also a new backpack (Rs 2200) .This seems to distribute the weight lot better than ordinary ones and even though the luggage weighed several times than the previous ones ( as it is a 2 day trip) , it was lot easier to carry .Thanks to Devesh for getting this.Apart from common rations have taken couple of extra chocolates and RedBull so as to continue without disturbing the team. I insisted on carrying Tang juice instead of mineral water which was ruled down by the central committee . Actually the strategy to push to the limits and resort to external help only when warranted . As it has worked previously i too followed it. Took a strip of pain killers to use in case of emergency.

      We didnt have time to visit the temples here.We refreshed in the public rest rooms and had breakfast. 6:30 AM was too early to have any food and had a light breakfast. We need to reach a village called Shishila which is 30 Kms from Dharmastala. One bus was schedulled to leave at 7 AM and we boarded it.Though there was only one passenger apart from us , driver started right on time and we reached Shishila at 8 AM. We had called up Gokhale ( a contact in shishila whom u can read about in many blogs) to prepare breakfast and varun went to collect it. It was cute little village with not more than 10 shops.Hardly could 100-150 families live around.

Once Varun returned we started our trek right from Shishila busstop at 8:30 AM.We need to go through a proper road for around 4 KM from where we have to enter the forest cover. Its a high probability you can miss this entry point if you are not backed by a guide. There was stream with a small temple (nothing more than couple of statues on a platform). Entry point is next to the temple and there is a stone with mark 2 on it and the road sharply turns to the left.

From Amedikallu Trek

It was exactly a 9:30 AM when we reached this spot.Had 2nd breakfast here and entered the forest.First section of the trek is through a not so dense forest and it was not so steep and path was visible. Nothing challenging here except for the red soil which is very slippery some occasions and abundant leeches.There were couple of water streams in this stretch and crossed the other team from Citrix in the second water stream.Fill up the bottles with water since after this we could see only one place where we could get water and that was also risky one.This area is also highly infested by blood thirsty leeches.

From Amedikallu Trek

One curious point to note is that i have never seen leech stuck to my skin so far in the past and this time too .At max when i look for there will be few of them trying to ascend my shoes and i will get rid of them.Adding to i havnt taken heavy precaution either. Anyway its good to know that my blood is not thier favourite dish :).But Varun was on the other end of this spectrum that leeches were so fond of them. One logical reason could be is that he used to lead from the front and might be making him a prime target for leeches.

From Amedikallu Trek

At around 11 AM we entered the grass land and this section of grasslands are completely mesmerizing.whenever we went out of energy we would have Tang juice , 5 stars etc .It was quite refreshing to walk through to this serene surroundings. Weather was awesome during this .It wasnt too sunny and it wasnt raining either. Both of this could make the conditions worse extract much of you energy for same given task.

From Amedikallu Trek

After the grasslands comes the steep hills with grass cover alone its was quite a bit of task to climb them.There was steep rock section which very difficult to scale . Later came to know that the other group could manage this section with a rope.It started to drizzle once we scale this rock and we decide to have our lunch here.Bread with peanut butter and jam.During the previous section i have lost my rain coat , which was held at the top of the backpack loosely with the strings . We couldn't find it on the return either :( .

From Amedikallu Trek

After this point the task is getting harder and harder.After short 20-30 mins climb we could reach large rock providing rain shadow region.This seems to be the best place to camp and there is water source near by.But it was already occupied by a group and discussed with chennapa who was guiding them on which place was good for to tent. He asked us to go up and that there could be more camping site .When asked for routes he gave some fuzzy answer and we decide to test our luck on it.

After climbing steep path for another 30 minutes we were left clueless on the further course to take , for there was not single path on these steep hill. Varun , Rama , Mohanraj went up more locate the path and others stayed behind. There was feeble mobile tower available there and Devesh was interested in scraping a "We are lost" message in FB though his mobile. Whiled of 30 mins by talking of Hollywood stories in which heros was lost in a unmanned island or forest without any help.

From Amedikallu Trek

3 people who went to find out the path returned back without any conclusive answers. All of us trek down for 20 more minutes reached the camp site where chennapa was stayed and asked him to accompany us to find a new camp site (off course by offering some money).Devesh and Krishna stayed back to communicate with the other citrix gang. He agreed and took us to a camping site some 30 mins climb up and it was almost 4 PM now .The actual turtle and stove was still 1.5 hours climb up.Now Varun & Mohan again went down again with chennapa to bring back Devesh and Krishna back and also got some kerosene from chenappa.We erected two tents .One was safe surrounded by rocks but another was on a slope and barely 10 feets after the tent ends there was a steep valley.

From Amedikallu Trek

Myself and Sudhir went to collect some wood for camp fire and without any exception everything in the forest was wet.We collected few logs and everyone was involved in the process of igniting the camp fire. We used papers,plastics,couple of match boxes ,dry grass ,camphor tablets for around half an hour and we couldn't ignite the fire. After expending all that would burn we called off the efforts.Then attention turned towards dinner. Everyone deserved a hot dinner after a tiresome day . Myself and Varun started of the efforts with two camphor stoves.After around 15-20 mins , 12 maggies were made and was shared for 8 people. Any food served hot would be delightful in that climate.

From Amedikallu Trek


After dinner or so @ 8 PM Varun & Mohan went to sleep in one tent and other tent was made into club. Three torches were hanged down from the top of the tent and they swayed in air making a disco light efforts which was precisely suited for our card game. Devesh / Abhishek pair was invincible in the games and after around an hour or so i left to the other tent for sleeping. Tent was not placed in a smooth surface and more than all it was in slope as well which was not that convinient for sleeping.At around 5 AM it was too much inconvenient and all of us in our tent woke up and came out and checked. The whole tent was moved down the slope due the weight of bags and we were very close to the valley. There was small rock which prevented the tent from further movement else we would have all thrown out of the cliff. We kept the bags out rearranged and tried to get some more sleep.

Early morning Varun,Rama,Mohan & Sudhir joned with the other gang lead by chennapa and went to explore the top .Rest of us stayed back and continued our sleep.This gang returned by 9:30 AM and then we prepared hot MTR and started our return journey by 10 AM.Within 5-10 mintues of the journey while climbing down a small rock i twisted by ankle.I had severe pain initially and it gave away once i sprayed iodex. I was lot of careful for the rest of the journey and one injury can spoil the entire gang.Though i had a little pain i resisted stopping and kept on walking.We didnt have any rest more than 10 minutes and reached the bottom of the hill at around 1 AM .

From Amedikallu Trek

Initially we had booked return tickets starting at 10 PM but now it was planned to take a bus as soon as possible and reach bangalore in night and have a good sleep at home. Some of us were interested in sticking to the original plan and to enjoy some waters around dharmastala. Soon after coming out of the trek there was small stream and as soon as i saw it i removed by backpack/shoes and lied down in that stream .It was amazing and refreshing.Since we were running out of time i left the stream half halfheartedly in 5 minutes and started on foot towards shishila. After arournd 1 hour we reached shishila and meanwhile varun has bargained a jeep to carry us to dharmastala for Rs500. There was small restaurent in the bustand we bought out all the fish fries there.Then had lunch in Gokaley's house and left for dharmastala.The thing i dislike the most about karnataka the most is their sambhar.Atleast i know what to expect , Sudhir ( from Andhra ) was visible agitated to find a sambhar without any dhal and meals without any chutney :).
      Our entire gang spans across the whole india ( Tamilnadu , Andhra,UP,Delhi ,Nepal) & hence Hindi was the binding language here. Though i couldnt get the core meaning of some funny dialogues i could enjoy it.தமிழ் மக்களே காலேஜ்ல subject படிக்கலனாலும் பரவாயில்ல ஹிந்தி படிச்சிருங்க . எழவெடுத்த அரசியல் கட்சிகள் பேச்சை நம்பாதிங்க.


       There was bus leaving to Bangalore at 4 PM and we canceled our old tickets and boarded this one.By this time my ankle pain has grown up. After a funny trip we reached Bangalore jus before 1 AM.Next day went to office as usual and after some walk the pain has still grown and got swollen too. Got checked with Apollo clinic and it seems to be a ligament tear and had to take complete rest for a week and 2-3 more weeks of rest for it to be able to walk again. Hurt but not Retired. Looking for the next trip .

From Amedikallu Trek

     In short to describe the entire trip as in Krishna's words "Majja Aaggaya" :).For more photos visit my picasa album

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

BSNL 3G DataCard

             Having abandoned BSNL landline broadband connection ( in tirunelveli ) i was franticaly looking for alternatives. Though there were few wired options available ( airtel etc) i looked for a wireless option as i could carry it any wherever i travel. Wireless broadband was hard to find by as 3G / BWA spectrum was allocated only this month. The only carrier providing 3G based datacards was BSNL and once again i was at their mercy :(. 

            What would you expect when a corporate has monopoly over a business. Conventional wisdom states that they should boast thier monopoly and penetrate market with their service before competitors steps in , availing themselves a strong first mover advantage. But any management principle miserably fails before BSNL. Jus vist their home page bsnl.co.in and you'll get feel of how bad can a website be designed. There was absolutly no clarity on their schemes and how to get a connection. When i tried at thier office in Tirunelveli it was surprise to find that they dont have enough equipment ( usb data card ) on stock. I had to wait for 3 weeks. When it arrived i had to use the recommendation of my relative working there to get the equipment [ ]. It seems they get only few cards every month and they were taken by employes and their relatives.


           Once the equipment arrived i could get administrative work done in a hour ( atleast they have improved in this area) .Just insert a 3G enabled sim on the card and its up. According to thier website there are 2 types of card one working with 3.1 Mbps and another on 7+ Mbps , but employes were not techicaly capable of understanding the differences. The equipment cost Rs2500 and i have to give deposit of 1500 for a post paid connection.I took a post paid account costing Rs999 + taxes per month for 10 GB download.

     Data card internaly had a ROM which stored a driver . I was able to install and make the connection up and working in few minutes on my laptop. Speed was pretty okay .I didnt do much speed testing in Tirunelveli.When i carried the card to Bangalore it was working seamlessly without any issues.Speed was good here too.To test the max speed which we can expect on this i tried torrent through it. As torrent algo are designed to make maximum use of the available bandwidth i did it .It gave me almost 350 KB/s which turns out to be 2.8 Mbps which was pretty much fine.I guess the same sim can be used in 3G enabled phone for video calls, mobile browing etc but i havnt tried it .




From Prem's

Some drawbacks .
There is no clarity on if the same equipment can be used a across different carriers ( when they are availble ).I am also not sure of roaming charges , Jus waiting for the first bill to confirm things. There is no online login to check the usage amount . Driver some with a screen which shows the usage but its not accurate . After downloading a movie of size 700MB and after 1 month of usage it showing the total usage as 529 MB.

If you are higly mobile you can get this connection else you can wait for a couple of months when schmes from mulitple 3G playes/ Broadband wireless access player will pour in which will you lot of options to chose from .

PS: I am personally interested in the pricing point when Reliance Industries comes with their schemes.Its going to be destructive for current playes ( BSNL , Airtel etc) but will be constructive for endusers.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Fooled By Randomness

Fooled by Randomness - Nissim Nicholas Taleb

       Once during my college days we had a brain storming session [
படிக்காம வெட்டி கதை அடிச்சதா தான் இப்படி managerial language la சொல்றேன் :) ]  on what could be the reason behind Dhirubhai Ambani's rags to richness history. One section attributed it to his enterprenerual skills and this is the widely accepted version.But few radical elements (including me) didnt like the argument that his business skills ( including unethical ones) where the only the factor and they claimed that apart from it , there was strong current of luck on his side.I dont remember what we concluded on this discussion. 

       This book provides a more scientific answer for above discussion topic.Its one of a refreshing read which stand alone from the heap of books trying to teach you How to win , How to be success in Business etc. It introduces a factor called Randomness. There is a bit of randomness in every aspect of life. Some of us view it as luck , some as s God's Grace , karma from previous birth , fate etc. Taleb proposes that hard work and skills bring in average success .But wild success can be attributed only to Randomness. His view is that anything can happen & we can only estimate the probability of such events."Nothing is impossible". Insurance is classical example .We hope to live(for ever) ,but we insure to make sure family is not destabilized by our sudden death.

       Human brains are not trained to understand this random behaviour and we try to infer some rules from the observation we see. Even Einstein was not spared from this . At an age of 27 amazed the world with the General Theory of General Relativity , which grew into Quantum Mechanics. But Einestein was not ready to accept the random nature of Quantum mechanics , he quoted "God does not throw dies". He tried unsuccesful till his death , to develop a unified theory which encompassees both General Relativity & Newton's Gravitational theory. Might be he was trying to find order in a place where there was complete randomness.[Disclaimer : This example is not provided in the book .Its based on my understanding on physics and Einstein .Comments are welcome  ]
 
     Being a option trader most of his illustration revolve around the stock market where this theory has more relevance than anywhere else.During my initial days of investing in stocks ,i used to feel the adrenalin rush when the stocks which i have bought soar to new heights and gets nervous when they fall down.I used to attribute success & failure to my stock selection ,but later understood that its more random than i believed it to be. Later i got solace when i saw many( or most) people (who are especially new to market) behave the same way . 

      Taleb claims that people who have made striking success such as Bill Gates , Warren Buffet need not to be THE BEST ONES in their field rather technically sounds ones in their own areas and its the survivourship bias which makes them great ones.

      Paul the octopus is another example. Many of us by now should have forgotten who won the golden boot , but we invariably remember paul .Its a classical example of survivourship bias .Paul became internationally famous for correctly "predicting" the winner of Germany's seven matches at the 2010 worldcup, as well as the final.

           Lets see what is the probability of this event . Each match  has 2 possible outcomes - win/loss [ he didnt guess draw].Probability of successfully guessing  is 1/2 . Probability of guessing in 8 continuous matches is  1/2 * 1/2 ... 8 times = 1/256 . Say if the same guessing game is played with 2560 street dogs of Bangalore ,at least 10 of them will end up guessing all matches correctly. Similarly there would 100s of people guessing the results all over the world and finally few end up guessing everything correct and we are surprised by their 7th sense ,failing to use our common sense.

Following lines written thousands of years back depict this

....................................................மின்னொடு
வானம் தண்துளி தலைஇ, ஆனாது
கல்பொருது இரங்கும் மல்லற் பேர்யாற்று
நீர்வழிப் படூஉம் புணைபோல, ஆருயிர்
முறைவழிப் படூஉம்' என்பது திறவோர்
காட்சியின் தெளிந்தனம் ஆகலின், மாட்சியின்
பெரியோரை வியத்தலும் இலமே;
சிறியோரை இகழ்தல் அதனினும் இலமே.

எட்டுத்தொகை நூல்களில் ஒன்றாகிய
புறநானூறு. 192 - பாடியவர்: கணியன் பூங்குன்றன்

Full poem and its translation can be read here

Since life goes like a wooden log in a water stream ,dont be surprised by people who have succeed . More importantly dont criticize people have who failed in their endeavors .

Classical words in a classical Language 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Incremental Visa costs - Nth dimensional inference

Normally Software Engineers luv work on technical assignments but not on boring jobs ( documentation , bug fix ,reporting,code revamp/review etc) even if they know that it has a substantial intangible benefits. But when it trickles from the top ( அதான் பா மேனேஜர் ) we do it with a grudge
( இவன் என்ன சொன்னாலும் பண்ணுவான் ரொம்ப நல்லவன் ).
From Prem's

Its more evident in service industry where the work is more routine.The same industry is now forcibly given yet another un ceremonious work to accomplish. Software Engineers reaching US from India are given a new assignment of high National Security recently by US lawmakers. Yes they are suppose to take care of notorious US-Mexican border.Interesting isnt it . A extra levy of $2000 for all L1 / H1B visas , proceeds of which will be directed to border security. I am sure that people still prefer this fees rather than some boresome work :).

Coming to the point , this news has triggered a lot of alarm bells in India . Everyone considers it as a unfair trade practice and a unethical one.External affairs ministry promises to object it in WTO if the bill passes through to become a law.

Let see in reality how much will this fees will affect Infosys ( the ideal role model of this industry) and the industry as a whole

AS per FY2010 financial reports of Infosys
Renvue 22,000 Crores
PBT 7,900 Crores

Assuming that Infosys will apply for around 5000 visas per year( actually last year it received less than 1500 ) at a extra cost of $2000 each, total incremental cost will be around 50 Crores.This will affect PBT by a margin of 0.63% or 63 basis points which is not so significant. On the large scale the entire levy is suppose to add $200 Million extra cost to the Indian re software industry has a revenue of $60 Billion.Here too the impact is paltry(0.33%) . If you keep a close tab on software sector you should be aware of the fact that even 15 paise depreciation of rupee against dollar can offset this.

Now it doesnt sound so bad compared to when you read it first on the news paper right ?

Even now if you are not convinced lets see what happens in other sectors. Recently India has slapped anti dumping duty on imports to tires from China/Thailand as high as $99 on a set of TTF (tyre/tube/flab) ,based on the fact that imports of cheap tyres are affecting Indian tire Industry.Doesn't a software engineer deem 20 times premium than a damn tire :)

Lets come top another side of the coin. Predominantly we have grown up hearing news of type that World Bank ,US etc providing aid to improvised south east Asian countries (including India) to help them eradicate poverty, epidemics, natural calamities , AIDS etc. Now the wind has started to blow in the other direction , albeit slowly. Now its the turn Big bother who wants our resources ( although forcefully) to solve his issues .US's position as single global superpower has been weakening slowly.Still its the single most powerful nation by any counts,no doubts. But it has reached its tipping point. Second World war (and dropping of Fat Man/Little Boy to be precise ) marked the start of an new era ( commonly called as cold war) during which superpower tag moved from Great Britan to USA. Might be the recent Financial crisis could be one of such once in millennium trigger to start an era for another leadership change.

From Prem's

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

BSNL's DownFall

Most of the bestseller in business category invariantly portray stories of a successful enterprise.Rarely we look into failures deeply to ascertain why it failed.In this blog i would go through my personal experience with BSNL and a comparison of financial performance BSNL & Airtel and checkout what lies in future for them.

I used to have a broadband connection with BSNL in home town ( Palayamkottai ) which i used for work from home and it used to work fairly well. Last month when i was there i faced a peculiar problem.Connection came up but it went down every 2 minutes and a new ip got negotiated and this process continued endlessly.There were no issues in making calls though. I called up customer care to fix the issue after giving detailed description of the issue .For the next two days they used to call up once in a day and check if the issue is solved.How the hell will it go off when no fix was done ? When i replied in negative ,on the 3rd day they sent a person to check for any line fault. If there is any line fault how could i could i make phone calls. That smart guy checked the line (made a call from my landline to his office ) and made a great discovery ie) the line was proper. Couldnt he done this sitting from his office itself ?. He left saying that a internet specialist(!?!?!) will attend my line. After waiting desperately for 2 more days i decided to get rid of the connection. All through this episode i was in a opinion that my connection alone was at fault and BSNL was not able to rectify it.But recently when i visited my native i had to access internet in my uncle's home and to my suprise i found that the same problem is there too.It means a vast no of connections were affected by this issue it was not solved for a month atleast.Tragic isnt it.

From Prem's


Having closed my landline broadband connection i was looking for wireless service with broadband speed and BSNL 3G was the only service which can be used both in my native and in Banglore.So i decided to take up a BSNL data card . இவ்வளோ அடி பட்டும் உனக்கு அறிவு வரலையான்னு நீங்க கேக்குறது புரியுது .When i checked that out, it was mentioned that they were out of stock and it would arrive soon !!! And this reply continued for 2 weeks ( what a consistancy).After heavy recomendation from insiders ( my aunt is working there) i was given a insider information that a small batch of cards( 30 nos) would arrive on a particular day.On that evenful day after waiting for 2 hours i could finally get it.I remember that this was the case with BSNL sim 4-5 years back. It was sold in black market
due to improper management of stock and now its pushed to 6th position in 2G segment. Probably the same is going to happen in 3G and broadband segment too.

This incident made me look into the financial performance of BSNL . Though i have read articles that its getting worser, since its not in listed space we couldnt get detailed info on that. I tried to compare the financial performance of BSNL & Airtel and difference in performance was quite startling. Between 2005 to 2010 BSNL's profit diminished from 10,000 Crs to -1,823 Crs ( ie loss ). Remember that this is the golden era for Indian telecom industry where we customer base increased from few crores to 50 Crores.In Contrast Airtel's profit grew from 3,832 Crs(2006) to 14,767 Crs(2010).No prizes for guessing the reason . BSNL is digging on its heels by arrogant customer care. This is inspite of paying their employes almost 10 times than Airtel.




What lies in the Future
Even though BSNL has started making loss , its cushioned by the huge cash reserves accumulated over the years before it had to compete with private telecom players. This reserves would help them to postpone but not avoid facing the chaos of bankrupty. BSNL was given 3G spectrum well ahead of others but it was not able to capitalize on this monopolistic opportunity too .3G penetration is dismal . Last year their best performace came from the broadband area and it was due to the monoploy it enjoys till now.But its honeymoon will end soon when private players start rolling out 3G and Broadband wireless plans later this year.Deep pocketed players such as Reliance entering BWA sector will put the final nail in their coffin if they fail to make a turnaround in their behavior. Lets hope something miracle happens so that BSNL doesnt turn into next AirIndia.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

IRDA - Return of the prodigal son ? & its consequence on ULIPs

Drastic changes have taken place in the Insurance sector since the post criticizing the structure of ulip and IRDA in general was wirtten . Some key events in chronological order

  1. SEBI locked horns with IRDA stating that since ulips are similar to MutualFunds and hence it will take the control of ulips .
  2. SEBI banned all the insurance companies barring the PSUs in taking new premium which was later stayed by high court.
  3. Pranab Mukarjee asked both of the regulators to get the issue solved with High court .( I find this action not so appropriate. This is a policy decision and should be taken by finance ministry probably discussion with the cabinet.)
  4. Both SEBI and IRDA refrained to approach the high court for settlement and were waiting for directions from the government.
After this point actions stopped in public view but should have continued behind the screens probably under the supervision of Finance Ministry . Atlast IRDA decided to do firefighting(or might be forced to do so). It brought the following changes with effect from September 2010 on ulips.

  1. Minimum holding time was increased from 3 to 5 years.
  2. Charges were to be uniform over the term of the policy rather than being in the front loading
  3. Set a limit on the surrender charges .
  4. Minimum guaranteed return of 4.5 per cent for annuity and pension schemes.
Return of a Prodigal son ?
Nope i dont think so . By its recent steps , IRDA tries to communicate as if it were a serious watchdog. But this comes only after some serious actions from SEBI. I am pretty much confident that IRDA still doesnt have public interest in its priority list and its latest reaction is just to retain its control over Insurance Industry.It should bring much more drastic changes in the current structure of Insurance Industry to be more transparent & investor friendly. Better look at what SEBI has done to Indian stock market in the last decade.

Hail SEBI and its chairman. They have done a outstanding job in bringing some decency in the system , even though it was out of its purview as per rules .This sort of scenarios are very rare in Indian Administrative system , where one regulator takes predatory steps on another regulator exposing its wrong doings. But it has worked out well and will hopefully serve as precedent in future.

In a recent press release LIC has mentioned that it wont reduce the commissions to the Agents and it will take the loss under its own books,which will later adjusted. Such a measure will further reduce transparency in the operations(which is already a rare commodity in insurace industry ) .This will inturn reduce the returns on the investment portion of the ulips. LIC should take cue from goverment & regulator and should stop its old fashioned working style of being agent centric.

All these events raise the old question again , albeit under changed environment.
Has ULIP turned to be good investment option ?

New Advantages:
  • Reduced surrender charges . But why the hell should we consider this when you are planning to invested for long term.Moreover surrender charges are very low in mutual funds
  • Reduced charges in the initial years .

New Disadvantages:
  • Increase in lock in period has also skewed the equation towards mutual funds.
  • Minimum guaranteed returns (4.5%) requirements will force insurers to deploy a large chunk of investment corpus in dept funds which will reduce the possible high returns from investment portfolio.
Conclusion :
Still i am not convinced that it will give any added advantage over a MutualFund + term insurance combo pack. Don't mix investment with insurance.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

[ Travel] Wayanad_Trek_Chembra Peak

As mentioned in the previous post i was waiting for opportunities for more adventure travel . Chance came very quick this time , jus the next week. This time a group of 5 people from Citrix Adventurers and 2 from Bosch decided to trek the chembra peak.Its the highest peak in Wayanad @ 2100 mts above sea level .

We booked a Qualis at the cost of Rs 6.5 /Km with minimal distance of 700Kms for two days. Our plan was to trek to the peak and stay there for a night in our tents and down come the next day. Rama was the first pickup and he collected RackSacks and Sleeping bags for 5 of us (Vishal & Varun had their own) from the rental agency and reached my home at around 10:30 on 11 June 2010. We went to Vishal's home picked up Vishal,Sekar & Prabhu there and on the way picked Varun @ BTM Watertank and Raghu at JP Nagar. It was already 12 when we started finally and itwas drizzling. Its a pleasure to drive in Bangalore in nights (actually only in nights ).

High way from Bangalore from Mysore though good was not free from speed breakers (unlike the Bangalore - Chennai highway which is free from any signals /speed breakers). Cab travel is not that comfortable during nights and i couldn't sleep as i was in the last row. We stopped for tea after some 120 Km travel at 3 AM and here i moved to front seat. Please note the person sitting in the front is not supposed to sleep and is expected to have a watch on the driver. Ironically this seat is the most comfortable one and theoretically we could sleep better here than in any seat. But safety came first and i kept myself awake by pinching myself and keep thinking of something....... Statistics shows that 3-5 AM is the worst for any drivers and they tend to loose concentration here. I did realize it at a instance when our driver was speeding towards a truck which was slow moving . We would have crashed into the truck if he had continued it for 10 secs or so. Luckily when i realized the danger and was about to warn him , he himself woke up and made quick turn. There after i tried to talk something to him to keep both of us awake.Remember lot of accidents where vehicles crash on to the ones parked on the side of the road. They all happen in this fashion. One advice here , whenever you are in this crucial seat think of something you dont like , say a manger who didn't give you proper hike etc , definitely it will spoil your mood and sleep. Good isn't it ?

We drove non stop and reached the Bandipur wildlife sanctuary at 4:30 AM .This stretch of road is blocked from 8 PM - 6 AM for all traffic and we joined a looong queue .We rested for about 1 hr 30 mins . Travel continued after 6 and it was the worst stretch of travel ,though it was the road through the thick jungle, due to long queue of trucks queued up either side and unruliness of our drivers .One thing is for sure , crazy driving can cause traffic jams not only in Bangalore but also in thick jungles.

We reached Sulthan Bathery a town just after the forest in Kerala and we decided to refresh and have our breakfast here .We used the public toilets in bus stand and had breakfast in a small hotel there. Food was good here .I had dosa and kappa.

From waynad-chembra-trek


One thing which caught us unaware was the frenzy soccer mania in Kerala. Every little junction had a vinyl board supporting any of the top teams .Most prominent being the bluish Argentina , Yellowish green Brazil ,Netherlands ,Switzerland etc.Whole state was almost decorated as if they are hosting the world cup. To bring the real situation before your eyes- in TamilNadu , replace posters/banners of Kalaignar with Brazil team, Jayalalitha with that of Argentina , Stalin with Netherlands , Alzhagiri with Switzerland . Contrastingly there were no political banner/flags except for very very few Red Flags.

From waynad-chembra-trek


From waynad-chembra-trek

Then we continued our travel through Kalpetta and Meppadi. From Meppadi take a diversion towards Chembra estate. There is a VSS officie (some thing similar to forest dept) where you have to take permission.They were in a dilemma whether to allow us or not as it has raining continuously .Guard there made many phone calls and finally decided to allow us with a guard after 30 minutes ..We took ticket for trekking ( RS 500 for 1-10 persons ) and for a camera (Rs 25). Our proposal for camping was turned down and we were given a option to camp at the watch tower which is starting point of trek paying a fee of Rs2500. We were not amused by this proposal and rejected it . From here it was travel of around 2-3 KM by cab to the point from where we could only walk .

From waynad-chembra-trek


We changed our dress here to trekking suits and walked towards the Watch Tower( 1 Km). Though we had racksacks and sleeping bags , we had to leave it in the cab as we dropped the plan to lay tents in the hills and carried only one bag with snacks/lunch/medical kit. View from the watchtower was good but depth of view was minimal due to heavy rains and mist. At last we started our trek at around 12 PM .

From waynad-chembra-trek


First stretch was through the dense forest which was infested with leaches. It took around 20 minutes to cross this section and after that it was complete grass over the mountains which was very beautiful.

From waynad-chembra-trek


From waynad-chembra-trek


Throughout we were exposed to rains and winds whose velocity keeps on increasing as we moved up. Apart from us there was another gang with few girls too ( hmm courageous). After some 45 minutes of continuous trekking we reached the heart shaped Lake.

From waynad-chembra-trek



What a awesome natural creation. Guard accompanying us mentioned that its the last point till which he could accompany and above this spot the winds are off high speed and path is steep and its extremely dangerous. By the time he warned me , first batch were already out of sight. I asked him to stay there and that i will check with others and bring them back.

From here there were a series of peaks arranged in a fashion that at anytime only one peak is visible and when you scale that peak ,you could see yet another and so on. Wind was fierce and path was slippery.The other gang stopped by the lake. We decided to leave the bag which we where carrying along the path and continue empty handed. I left the my camera bag here just on the side of the path and covered it with a polythene and continued my journey. It was quite burden to carry it in such treks. After about 2-3 more short hills , 4 of us decided to stop at 2 PM and 3 unrelenting people (Vishal,Varun and Rama) continued. Four of us planned initially to wait for the rest ,but sooner we understood that standing there is very difficult due to rains and havey winds and so we decided to climb down . By this time i could sense pain in my left knee and it was more pronounced during climb down. 3 fellows who have reached the peak returned and joined us shared the success stories of reaching the peak.We had a short lunch of bread with peanut cheese & Jam , nearby the heart shaped lake.By this time i found out that my camera was affected by mist/ rain and it failed to start off. After lunch we continued our down trek and i was carrying the common bag. It was almost 4:15 when reached the cab.

There was a small shed where we changed our wet clothes and made some Maggie. Vishal had stoves (very little one of the size of a geometry box) which was fueled by camphor tablets . We made 8 maggies in 2 stoves .It was delicious to have hot maggie in such a climate. Guards offered their room at a cost of Rs100 per person. But it was not that good and we rode back to Meppadi. Vishal and Varun were ones left with energy and they found a dormitory with 8 beds costing Rs 850 and we checked in there in few minutes.

From waynad-chembra-trek


I had developed a severe knee pain by now and was completely limping. So i didnt go to restaurant and stayed back with Vishal and had MTR ready made rasam rice,pongal & sambar rice.Here too we used to camphor stove to heat it .

Next day we had breakfast in a nearby hotel and started towards Soochipara falls ( some 13 Km) .This stretch is completely within tea estates and journey was a treat for eyes.It was still raining.We changed dress and rented some caps and started walking. The path was more or less downwards measuring around 1 KM. My Knee pain has reached its peak now and i cannot bend my knees.It was painful walk. Sekar got me a bamboo stick and patiently walked along with me.

From waynad-chembra-trek


He had a knee injury in the past and had done a surgery sometime back.He gave some critical tips to minimize the pain. Falls was roaring and guards didn't allow us to get near to it. It seems till 2 days back water level was suitable for taking bath.Spent around 30 minutes there and then returned to our cab.Found a nearby shed and changed back to dry clothes and started of our journey back to Bangalore.

Group was divided on where to have the lunch , Kerala meals in Sulthan Bathery or meals at Mysore. We had a vote and Kerala meals team won by narrow margin of 4-3.Food was very nice there and even better was the courteous attendants. Unlimited meals with fish curry was Rs30.
Return travel through Bandipur was quite eventful . We could get the glimpse of lot of deers on this road.

From waynad-chembra-trek


Non Stop travel after that. Had tea at Kamath restaurant on Mysore-Bangalore road and finally reached Bangalore at 8:30 PM. Took couple of pegs of wine to kill my knee pain and push myself to sleep.

Total Cost : Rs 1900

Breakup
Travel : 1000
Food /snacks : 400
Stay : 125
Tickets : 100
Rental for
RackSack/Sleeping bags : 250

Full Album:
waynad-chembra-trek

Saturday, June 5, 2010

[Travel] Trek @ Bilikal Rangaswamy Betta

Prologue
This is the my first encounter with trekking. One my my friend did a trek last week and portrayal of that experience aroused me to try something in that line. Luckily came to know that Vishal was planning for this trek and i too joined them.

The Trek
Our plan was to start at 6 AM from BTM water tank and it was slightly delayed by 15-20 mins. We were 6 people traveling in 3 bikes. Being early morning all the petrol bunks were only partially open. Hence in future its wise to fill petrol and check air pressure the previous day. It was heavily raining the previous night and hence the weather was chill & slight drizzle even during our travel. Since we had jackets we were saved.

From Trek Rangasamy betta


Had breakfast at a restaurant on the way. We traveled almost 36 KM on Kanakapura road to a town called Harohalli. You'll see Syndicate Bank with this right hand side after which you need to take a left. From here we need to take left towards a town called Maralawadi (11 KM) . There is large bustand and a small market around it . Finish all your last minute purchases as after this we didn't find large shops. After Maralawadi bus stand two roads leave left and straight . Take a straight one and proceed towards Koonala Doddi (8 KM) .

From Trek Rangasamy betta

In this stretch we could see lot of silk worm cultivation being done. Finally road ends in a temple. Take a left before the temple and you will see a small stretch of houses . This is last point to which your vehicles can carry you. Through out the path road was good with lot of vegetation on either sides, thinly populated and had 3-4 lakes.

From Trek Rangasamy betta

Parked the vehicles and started off towards the mountain base at 9:20 AM.Its some 2 Kms from the last home.

From Trek Rangasamy betta


Pretty much from the base the path was steep , at least i perceived that way ,might be i was new to trekking. I expected some steep climbs and some walk on plateau intermixed in a trek. But here it was mostly a continuous steep path. Path has good amount of rocks providing friction for moving on , but there were patches with black soil which was slippery due to recent rain. Overall its was safe path.


From Trek Rangasamy betta


Due to steepness i got tired very quickly we need to rest every 15-20 mins. Rest of the group except myself & Hari were doing regular trekking and it was quite easy for them. Vishal has brought Tang orange juice powder , chocolates , rice balls to recharge ourself. At every stop we would make a 1 lt of juice and share it. This drinks and the chocolates provides instant energy. At a point we were tired and a long a long path still was ahead of us , Devesh mentioned the following lines "miles to go before I sleep" from a Robert Frost's poem. When we were discussing about it we thought it was from Road Not taken . But now on searching i found that both were different. During the upward journey i was too tired and didn't even open up the camera , even though there were awesome view points all through the path . At last we reached the hit top at 11:30. View from the top was breathtaking .

From Trek Rangasamy betta

It was here i took up my camera and started taking some snaps.

From Trek Rangasamy betta

Spent an hour here by taking some snaps and finishing off the the snacks. It was quite solemn there . Apart from us there were one more family who have reached through the road from the other side of the mountain.There was a temple beneath a monolithic rock.

From Trek Rangasamy betta

There is a rock near that temple which was painted as a elephant . nice one.

From Trek Rangasamy betta
we took lots of photos ....

From Trek Rangasamy betta

Down trek was not that tiresome. But we need to be careful to avoid slippage as the path was steep as mentioned earlier . There were fresh elephant dung all through the path , which confirms that elephants are frequent trekkers here . But we didn't notice any of them (perhaps luckily) in our trek nor any other wild animal . I still could understand how could elephants pass through such steep paths .

From Trek Rangasamy betta

It took 1 hour to reach the base.Took snaps of the views which i have missed during the up trek.We haven't taken our lunch so started of immediately towards Bangalore. It would have been a good idea to pack the lunch and spend a couple of hours in the base the mountain .

Epilogue:
I am loving it. Will make a point to attend more trek.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

[Travel]Ooty-Mudumalai-coonoor-21-24May2010

Preparations for this trip dates back to early April.Initially 8 people were also planning to join - Myself ,Angu,Mushi,Venkat ,GP ,Bharathi,Balu & Arul. We booked a 3 bedroom cottage in Fortune Retreat at outskirts of Ooty at the cost of Rs6000 per day for 2 days. Bharathi , Balu & Arul dropped out due to various reasons.So we kicked off the trip as a group of 5 people on 21 May.Onward journey was booked in KSRTC Volvo. Majestic bus stand seems to be consistantly chaotic during 6-11 PM. There are so much scarcity for space that the buses cant reach their platform and driver comes calling for passengers from the platform to the place where he has managed to park the bus.Though the bus was scheduled at 10:15, it started well after 11o'clock.We had good sleep in the bus that we didn't realize that we were traveling through a mountain path and reached ooty exactly at 6o clock in the morning.

We called up the cottage several times for pickup vehicle and after 1 hour we were mentioned that our checkin time is at 12 PM. Its only 7 in the morning and we had 5 more hours to kill. Its too early for ooty and there were very few passengers roaming in that tiny busstand. There were hardly any buses either.We noticed a local bus destined for gudalur and pykara falls/dam was on its route. Angu checked logistics with the conductor and we decided to travel to pykara .It was almost 30 mins journey and when we reached there road side eateries were getting ready for the day. We took bajjis & bread omlette as breakfast. It was here i switched on my camera and tried some snaps but to some reasons ( not known until now it) didn't work properly .Images were blurred / distorted. I tried changing settings and eventually tried all possible permutation and combination of settings after which it started to work.



Still i am not sure if it was due to some settings or some hardware fault in this camera. After a prolooonged breakfast we decide wall down the path to pykara falls.It was some 2 km walk and on reaching the spot we were shocked to find a thin stream which falls down at a height of not more than 3-5 mts . Please don't call it falls hereafter.We cant even dip our legs there.



Until then we had one thing which we missed after that completely - Privacy . We whiled of some time there and then started walking toward the bus stand.By this time tourists have started trickling in and hereafter wherever we went it was too crowded as if a kumbamelah is scheduled in ooty. After a 30 mins travel by bus we reached ooty bus stand .It was 12 pm now. There was no pickup vehicle from the cottage and we hired a auto to reach the cottage.It was located in the outskirts towards coonoor road on a hilly terrain and we paid Rs200 for 5-6 km strech.
Location of the cottage was good with valley on one side.It had a hall and bedroom on ground floor and 2 more bed rooms underground. Balcony overlooking the valley was awesome.We were too tired by now and decided to take lunch and rest out that afternoon. This location is isolated from the main business district and there was complete privacy here.




Restaurant attached to the resort was the only one reachable by walk and we were forced to eat here.We have to order in advance as very few people using it.But the quality of food was good and price was reasonable.That day we had a grand meal with chicken curry , fish fry. We choose the section of restaurent facing the valley where cool breeze blows even in 2 PM in the afternoon.


Then had a good sleep till 6 in the evening. Spent time in the night by watching TV & gossiping .Missed to take the playing cards :(.It was on this day the Indian Airlines flight crashed in mangalore and we were hooked to the news channels. Booked the cab for next day for Dodabetta & Mudumalai Santuary.

Next day had a yet another looong breakfast (idly ,dosas,puri,tea) and boarded the Cab. 5 people to be accommodated in a Tavera is quite spacious. First we reached Dodabetta - highest peak in south India.View is good from there. We skipped the telescope.Too much rush of vehicles.Last time when i visited here, i dont remember more than 4/5 vehicles ,but now it should be atleast 30-40 in all sizes. Leason learnt : Never visit a tourist spot in India in summers months however free you are.

Next stop was Botanical Garden.Pretty much the same every time you visit here. Jam packed here too.Spent some time to take snaps. Flower show has ended recently (the previous week) and there were remains of the flowers kept for show.

After roaming here for about an hour we left for Mudumalai .It as 1 hour journey with a 36 hairpin bend in the initial part of the track. Enroute we had lunch at a restaurant in the middle of the reserved forest area. There are lot of resorts deep inside the jungle on this road.Have to try it in future.
We reached Mudumalai at 3 PM and tokens were distributed for trip inside the forest area .Our number was 114 and current token no was around 50 and our expected start time was 5:15.So had to spend 2 hours.There was a small museum where we could spend 30 mins max if you read each and every line of the descriptions on the display.Our turn came exactly at 5:15 and we boarded the van and set off into the jungle.Path was bumpy.What else can we expect in a jungle when most of the city roads are inferior to that.We got seats at the last row of the van ,which magnified each bumps.This also made usage of camera extremely difficult.We were able to see few elephants , bizons , peacock and lot of deer.



It got over around 6 and we started back to ooty and reached at 7 or so.Hire charges were Rs2000 for the cab. Driver was friendly and gave us the idea of going for a trek the next day.
Next day 4 of us (expect angu) started of for the trek.It was on the highway to coonoor. A walk of almost 3 kms on this road to a Hanuman temple and we need to climb up the hill from there.
After trekking almost 2-3 km on the steep path we reached our destination , a bigger temple in between the caves. We had breakfast ( bread,jam,pickle) which we had carried with us. There was path to go up even higher but due to time constraints we returned. Checked out of the cottage at 12:30 and started towards ooty busstand.
We had 2 waiting listed tickets ( first class & ordinary ) in the monumental train to metupalayam but neither got confirmed. So we stood in the queue for unreserved tickets and that too was finished off before our turn. All that we could get is a first class ticket till conoor . Trip to ooty is not complete without this train trip and so we decided to take it. First Class compartment was lot better than when i traveled last time.
We reached coonoor around 4 PM and our initial plan was to continue the travel towards Coimbatore. A cab driver offered a trip of coonoor for Rs500. Since we had lot of time ( train was at 11 pm ) , we decided to take that trip. We saw tea gardens , sleeping lady view , dolphine nose , sims park and reached the bustand at around 6:15.

We got into a govt bus and stood all through the travel for 2 hours to Metupalayam. From there a bus ride to coimbatore (1 hour).Had dinner at Coimbatore and then took a bus/auto ride to pothanur. Train was atleast 45 mins late but reached bangalore on scheduled time on the next day.