Top 10 Travel Movies!

Life would be a hollow lane if one wasnt given a window to travel. It would be montonous to the core, if there werent entertaining stories/ anecdotes in it.

Without spending much time on the intro, I intend to combine the two pleasures and create, possibly, the BEST EVER list of travel-movies to you. As the proud author of travel-fiction series The Roadtrippers ; I assure you that below list is as much researched as my book(s), and is of the highest quality.

Also the list is thoughtfully forged and focuses on movies where travel is an essential element of the story — and not used to only lend beautiful backdrops. So read the list, watch the movies and continue spreading love for travel —

(1) Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara

The original, or should i say, baap of travel-movies for Indians. Lets just also say, it is a cult-movie for travel when it comes to bollywood. There were four main protagonists here; Hrithik, Farhan Akhtar, Abhay Deol and Spain!

Yes, Spain was captured breathtakingly (minus Barcelona and Madrid though former’s iconic airport grafitti did make an appearance) and the country soon emerged as one of the most sought-after tourism destinations from India.

But the movie didnt just include travel for the sake of it — their road-trip helps our “buoys” rediscover their bond and re-ignited themselves for this life which happens to you only once.

(2) EAT, PRAY, LOVE

This movie is the epitome of travel for global viewers, because of its popular main lead (Julia Roberts). And rightly so too.

This is the journey of a woman which exists in every single one of us — we expect so much from life and yet when we get so little, are disillusioned and looking for an escape. Well, she does just that and goes to Italy (eat), India (pray) and finally to Indonesia (love).

The movie is feel-good, divided neatly into three parts and each of them depict beautifully (though slightly cliched) of what is promised from the title. I was especially charmed by her Bali escapades, and it featured its beaches very soothingly. Once again, travel was a big hero.

(3) Into The Wild

I think of this movie and i think of the word “quintessence” to speak of it. This is the film where spirit of travelling, living a nomadic life and importance of journey is shown in the right way. Or should i say, the best possible way. Except for its ending.. (not giving away anything at all here!)

So this lost over-promising boy, decides to dump everything to live a minimalistic, gypsy life and goes hitchhiking through US, Mexico and to Alaska. His adventures are risky yet fascinating. His trip is almost a delusion, yet some of his fundas do make sense, “I dont need money, makes people conscious.” But in the end of it all, as he inscribes — Happiness real, only when shared, you realize the folly of his plan.

Wait no further and watch it if it can be the only travel-movie you could see.

(4) The Beach

This is my personal favourite (although in no way saying that it is the best of this list — the list is in no particular order) movie because of its simple, yet all encompassing message for searching-souls.

It showcases a mystery beach in Thailand (possibly Koh-Samui) and Leonardo DiCaprio (shown as a thin-pin adventure seeking guy). He and a French couple go there in search of a paradise which is isolated from the rest of the world, and breeds on a culture of its own.

The movie beautifully shows how we humans are looking for that perfect place (it could be a place for real or as a metaphor) and in its quest are willing to by-go everything that makes us ‘human’ in the first place. Yet in the end, we realize the emptiness and shallowness of it.

The gorgeous scenery is a big plus ofcourse.

(5) Dil Dhadakne Do

Only Zoya Akhtar really makes movies in India that have travel as an important element (few exceptions, nothing major there). And thats why the second entry on my list is also a movie by her.

She portrays bohemian people here, born to business families. She shows a dysfunctional family. She shows a cruise through scenic Mediterranean destinations. She shows Istanbul. All that works. (though what doesnt work is the title — the movie promised that it will be about letting people chase their career passions, but ends up begging for freedom about their life partners).

Still a deserved, worth-watching travel movie.

(6) The Way

I must admit, I found first twenty minutes of this movie quite boring. But by the latter half, i was amazed at how the simplicity of this feature-film had captured my spirit.

A simple storyline of a father who goes on a pilgrimage foot-journey to Camino Santiago in Spain (again Spain!) to honor his dead son, who died due a storm on the same terrain. He makes few friends and shares amazing memories with them, and by the end decides to dedicate his life to trail-walking.

There is fewer noise in this movie, less words spoken yet something magical about the whole portrayal that keeps you binding. And by the time THANK U song appears, you actually start feeling grateful for the life you’ve got.

(7) Under the Tuscan Sun

Initially I was skeptical, Americans have a strange obsession with Italy and Italians after all. But the movie has so much to offer.

So there’s this recently divorced lady who goes on a gay-group tour to Italy and ends up buying this abandoned mansion in Tuscany to start her life afresh! Where does she gets so much guts from! i ask myself (before quickly realising its a movie).

Anyway Italian sights are gorgeously captured. And so is her life hereon. Its a light, feel-good movie and very watchable for the travel alone!

(8) Honeymoon Travels pvt. Ltd.

Okay strange things first — all 3 bollywood movies on my list have a common connection, Reema Kagti. While the previous 2 had her as co-writer, this one also has her as Director. Kudos to her!

So here are 6 honeymoon couples to Goa, in a bus especially designed and chauffeured for them. How they explore each other (as is expected on a ‘honeymoon’) and their complexes in a funny+convincing way, form the core of its story.

The movie works for me for its simplicity. A bit over-the-top too, but relationships can be wild and what better place to get your first te-ta-te with them than your honeymoon 🙂

(9) A Good Year

Spain and Italy ticked. So how can France be left behind?

This not-so-hit movie has Russel Crowe, an unethical, cocky investment banker from London temporarily moving to France to take control over his late uncle’s vineyard. There he brushes with the resident vine-maker for years, his family, uncle’s illegitimate daughter and a feisty cafe owner in neighbourhood. He ends up realizing how life’s beauty lies in simple, small pleasures and chucks his high-profile brit-job to settle in this French town.

Again a sappy, feel-good/not-real kind of a storyline but it consumes you. No less because of a beautiful estate house in France, with a huge vineyard. If only I too had an uncle living there…

(10) Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Okay, I have saved the best for the last. Firstly, this is the third movie on list with Spain in it — officially explaining why i am travelling to this country asap.

Ofcourse the movies main parts are given away in the title itself. Where it worked for me was in showing love-relationships in a totally new light! Guy loves girl, girl is confused, her friend loves guy, guy loves her friend, girl loves guy, her friend loves guy’s ex-wife, ex-wife loves guy and friend, it goes on and on. And no, i am not making its fun at all! I am just giving a glimpse of this relationship paradox!

The movie must be seen if you are looking for something totally out-of-the-box.

But the biggest take-away for me was — how travelling to a new place (Barcelona here. Japan in another movie, ‘Lost in Translation’) can spoil you and suddenly corrupt your senses into this make-belief world that often doesnt exist.

— — — —

As the list ends, I know I couldnt possibly finish this post without mentioning a few more names. I thought long and hard about them, but finally couldnt include in this list atleast. they are —

Thanks for reading. please add your comments with your favorite travel-movies too.

ps: i love to be criticized and argued with, for my choices;)

10 things I would do if I had more time?

We all suffer from it, don’t we? We all are pressed on time — the most valuable resource we’ve ever had. Sometimes I wish the scenario in the movie In-Time was for real…

Anyway there is always “time” to sit back, relax, maybe pop open a can of beer and deliberate — what if i had more free time? What would i do?? (corollary. because i have all the time, i also have all the resources i.e. money, health etc… oh come on, its a fun exercise!)

(1) Pack myself in a bag and keep travelling.

The most cliched and over-used statement (ever!) on any blog, article or book of this kind. If you agree, then you must identify that perhaps, travelling is the most sought after leisure of all humankind.

Well, one must space it out wisely otherwise they risk a burnout. So if i had all the time (and no obligations), I’d keep travelling for a couple of weeks — every two months, and to a new place each time. No repeating.

(2) Watch all of IMDB’s top 100 movie lists.

There’s some old-world charm in sitting in front of the ‘idiot’ box, and watch bestest-of-the-bestest movies. Films are often a source of inspiration, values, culture (other blah blah too) — but i choose them for entertainment alone, and they are worth it.

(3) Stop trading Intimacy with Familiarity.

Okay honestly I am of that brigade that says, “we are done with social media.” At the same time, I have to resort to it from time-to-time because ironically, who has the time?

(4) Learn and play more music.

Because music is bliss. Pure, unadulterated.

Unfortunately though, you gotto have a ‘tunnel vision’ to learn and play it with panache. And that basically means more time at your disposal. But yes, the joy you get with this trade-off is unmeasurable too (damn you, numbers!)

(5) Write more often. Read more often, too.

I hate to admit it but my writing pace is quicker only to airtel’s network in my area of residence!

AND i last read a novel without any interruption when I hadnt become a father!

Enough said.

(6) Play video games like there’s no tomorrow.

I have often analysed video-games (read Roadtrippers 2.0 in 2020 to know what i am talking about) and almost always reached the conclusion that we adults stop children from playing them — because they are fun! and because we are not able to afford them ourselves! (in terms of time)

I remember winning the world-cup 2003 on my videogame as a revenge-act to Australian cricket team (the ‘real’ world cup final was lost only last month by our team) and its a pity that i didnt have any crackers to burn that evening…

(7) Teach my son some real world values.

There is a lot he will learn with time, but the process could have been expedited if only his busy pop (who is killing time currently by blogging) could spend more time with him. I really dont know how to describe this point here.

(8) Try some untried ‘sins’ of life.

I am sure almost 99% of you reading this post have tried alcohol. Or even cigarettes. Or even some nasty weed. Drugs. One-night stands. Skinny Dipping. Some other ‘harmless’ sins (as compared to the original ‘seven deadly sins’).

No? Then how about trying some of them with no-strings attached condition

(9) Drink like a fish.

Okay, much like above (8), drinking alcohol is more fun when you know you arent going to be blamed for/ accounted for — hangovers, drunk driving, ugly incidents of misbehave etc.

So if i had all the time in the world, all I’d probably opt for is have a big bottle of icy chilled beer with a large straw dipped in it.

(10) Drop ambition and not chase goals.

Lets be honest — ambition and goal chasing is self destruction beyond a point. Because it is an endless chase, where the goalpost keeps shifting. Also it ends up making you selfish, mean and often uni-dimensional. So if i had an unlimited supply of time (in the broader sense, as defined in introduction) — i’d not waste it chasing emptiness.

 

 

 

Thats it for this post. please post some interesting ideas to pursue if you had all the time too! It will get you thinking, and probably give some grey hair but it will all be worth it in the end! And yes, please read my book here – The Roadtrippers

Top 10 Food-Fan Moments!

I respect what i eat, food is one of the few pleasures of life which stimulates all senses — taste, smell, look, feel and sometimes hear too (ever heard the sound of coffee machine in action?).

So food deserves more attention that it gets, due to our chaotic lives and pompous egos.

Here is a list of my top ten food dishes thoughtfully created, amply supported by visuals. This is a ‘list of personal favorites’, more like my homage to them and doesnt necessarily feature any newbies/ wow dishes.

Read it, see it, and like me — rush out for your second dinner for tonight!!!

(The list is in no particular order. Distinguishing good food on basis of ranking is a crime, after all)

This humble looking dish can set you back by a thousand bucks!

(1) Dal Bukhara — ITC

Every North-Indian kid grows up eating his rotee with dal makhani; isnt even a news anymore. But once you taste the real blood.. err.. dal makhani from god’s home (ITC Bukhara, Delhi or ITC Peshawri, Agra/ Jaipur); you understand the phrase — “the difference between lion and wearing lion’s skin”.

Their dal is so delicious, i often end up eating their packeted-versions at home (with all its preservatives etc). Pity that these superficial five-star-restaurants do not allow kids for dinners anymore, else I’d be spending half of my income on Dal Bukhara every month!

Domino’s garlic bread with jalapeño dip

(2) Garlic Bread — dominos

Poor Domino’s Group and their management wouldnt even think in their worst of nightmares, that somebody living in a remote Delhi house could actually think of cheating them, ransacking their premises or lie point-blank to their home-delivery staff to eat their garlic bread+ dip combo! I have no shame to admit that i have done it, and will do it again and again (if need arises!)

I dont want to end up with legal bills here so wont reveal what had happened. But to sum it up, i can eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day of the month.

(3) Alkauser’s kakori kebab roll

Its funny but a self-proclaimed food connoisseur (me) hadnt even heard of this place till a couple of years back. But having “found” it during a random conversation, I couldnt help but ending up there every other day to gorge-up their super-spicy, soft kakori kebabs.

It is said that Indian gods are vegetarian, and christian gods are not. I dont know about who’s who but certainly the former are missing some real stuff! I am agnostic anyway 🙂

Singapur Chowmein- Hot Pot, Rajinder Nagar

(4) Singapur Chowmein — Hot Pot

This is a true story. A Singaporean was once having a work-conversation and I ended up telling him about “Singapur Chowmein” and how is it different from “Hakka Noodles”. Believe me — we did not do any work for the rest of that day and he fell nano-meters short of booking his India-ticket to try out this chowmein version!

Above dish is sold at a food-truck near my abode, the place is so tacky (to some) that conservatives may not even try their food. But try reasoning this to folks who have tasted their singapur chowmein, and they will tell you the difference between living and breathing.

Sushi Platter

(5) Sushi — Wasabi by Morimoto

Japanese food is the latest craze in upmarket Delhi food scene and rightly so. Their food is light on the stomach, simple and super-healthy!

But beware of the fakes. Again going by Dal Bukhara example here of separating real lion from the unoriginal one. And so before sushi becomes the bread-pakodas of 2035; try it out at Wasabi by Morimoto.

Any gratitude will be accepted by me in form of food vouchers…

samosas — local patel nagar

(6) Samosas — local East Patel Nagar market halwai

I tried real hard on google; then Zomato; Swiggy; EasyDiner; Burrp; and 58 other food-sites (i almost ended up creating one of my own after this search!) but couldnt find the REAL NAME of this shop.

never mind, this halwai has been selling samosas before British came to India. Actually before Mughals. Lets just say, the samosa is still the same. and so is the chutney. And so is his shop set-up. We’d be happier if price was the same too…

But the samosas are worth every penny spent!

Image not attractive, the food is!

(7) Fish in Lemon Butter Sauce — Amici Cafe

Pardon the image here. I couldnt find anything better. If anglicised fish is your scene, Amici is the place to be. They have two versions, Lemon Butter Sauce and Pizzolia Sauce. It is difficult to pick a winner of the two (thats why i said — it is unfair to compare good food).

You find me a better angrezi-fish and I will end up treating you there!

Baihtak’s Navratan Korma

(8) Navratan Korma — Baithak

This one is for personal nostalgic value. It must have been the first restaurant I’d have frequently visited as a child and so their dishes stuck to my five senses ever since. I will reserve any eloquent description here, as they may not be pioneers of this dish. But again, this one is for memories.

Murgh Lababdar Biryani — Moti Mahal Delux, Rajinder Nagar

(9) Murgh Lababdar Biryani — Moti Mahal Delux, Rajinder Nagar

Haha, caught you! Now if you have read this far, you‘d know that a foodie’s list wont be completed without something out of his own den.

But again, the Murgh Lababdaar Biryani (with yakhni) cooked at our kitchen is like none other. I can tell you that the secret lies with spicy-sweet yakhni, or the caramelised onions, or the “dum” our chefs put in while preparing this one. But all this is crap.

We actually pick our chicken with great love, tender and care. We make sure that livestock is well-fed and is appropriate for slaughter, and then preserved along the right temperatures… Tell you what — all that is crap again.

The biryani is real good. period.

Tiramisu — Bigg Chill

(10) Tiramisu — Bigg Chill

All good meals end up with dessert. I could probably choose 10 other reasons (and dishes) to dine repeatedly at The Bigg Chill, but if i was 89-year old, confined to my bed and waiting for death to take me; I’d ask my nurse to get me a bite of this pastry.

Enough said…

Okay, i started out this piece with my personal top 10, but there’s always scope for more. So i include (11) Hazelnut Cappuccino from CBTLTechnically, its not even a dish. Its a drink. But its a drink that beats whisky, beer or rum for me. And all heavy meals usually do end up with a coffee which is often the case here…

Hazelnut Capuccino

Thanks for reading. Please spread your love for food by commenting with your fav dish and its source too. And yes, continue reading The Roadtrippers.

 

******* EDIT ******

From last 4-months I have turned into a “vegetarian” by-choice. The list however is reflective of my food experiences over last 34 years of my existence. I intend to do a re-post soon, an exclusive-veggie one!

******* EDIT ******

Life’s Simple Pleasures

Some say “There are no free lunches in life”, and maybe they are right too. I am forced to critique however, and remind them of an afternoon meal at a gurudwara, comprising of dal, sabzi and rice (pity if you havent had it ever..)

 

The point is — Best things in life often come for free.

 

Again cynics might question it, but our creator didnt put a price-tag at the stars. It is we who made star-gazing with a hi-fi telescope, from the top of a hill, in Tuscany, a “task” to sought-after, without which watching the stars wont be worth “facebooking” about.

So here’s a humble list of five life’s simple pleasures that actually are thrown-in complimentary. They are gifts of life which come without their wrapping-paper — now it is upto each one of us, individually, whether to retain them or to throw them away. But recognize we must.

(ps: like all other blog-posts, i request everyone who reads it to contribute and add those simple pleasures of life that make it beautiful)

 

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(1) Flirting or Romancing someone with your eyes.

I hope everyone has been to school. And been attracted to the opposite (or same) sex. And have had encounters where the above has happened. It comes without even asking for it.

The sudden charge of emotion, the wave it sends down your spine — is inexplainable through words. But is totally, totally worth enjoying again and again and again.

 

 

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(2) Hearing the right song.

There is something therapeutic about music, and if you are denying that — then either you are lying or you haven’t experienced bliss yet. Please excuse yourself the quest for any greatness from your job and try it out. It works when you are upset, angry, in love, remorseful or even in search for solitude.

 

 

 

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(3) A long walk in beautiful weather.

I just hope parks are used for more than make-out spots. I really do.

But a long walk in the neighbourhood park especially after a light drizzle, and misty bushes, with flowers blossoming and a bit of a chatter around — it all becomes food for soul. Unpaid for.

 

 

 

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(4) Reminiscing about old times with friends.

This one is my total favourite. And its a pity I get to enjoy it less often than I should. And i end up realizing its value more often than not, after such a session.

I think we mistake the term “experience” by referring to the value they bring to our work or our job. But true worth of this term is when we get to look back at that game of pool with our college buddies, or looking back at how our first date went etc. Walking down the memory lane doesnt cost a dime, but gives pure pleasure.

 

 

 

(5) The feeling after a healthy workout.

Our body is our true temple. And if we are not treasuring it, its going to cost us dearly sooner or later.

Anyway for those who are, they exclusively get to feel what I am talking about here. That workout could be at the gym, at the sports, or any other ‘noble’ form. But that giddy feeling of self-accomplishment it brings post-workout is undeniably good.

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Now I have deliberately kept this list short. Because this list could be quite personal, in the sense, there may be totally different five activities for you and I havent realized them yet. If only we could all spare some time and consciously create such lists for ourselves…

Keep reading The RoadTrippers Series.

Can Money Buy Happiness?

I will start by sharing a little bit about myself, and how my ‘buying’ behaviour went by.

A little self-loathing is always a good start at unmasking self to truth.

“The more you make, the more you want,

The more you have, the less it counts…”

These lines have especially been true for myself. There was a time, right at the beginning of my career when making 1-2 lacs/month seemed like a big deal. The figure quickly became 10lac/month+

Till about 6-years back, I was targeting a semi-retirement for myself at 5-cr liquid net worth, which promised to bring (at-least on paper) a neat 5-lac/month – double than my expenses!

Currently I am sitting at 4-5 times of the ‘targeted’ net worth, and obviously not retired. Needless to say, the “norm” monthly income has increased from what it was. There is a term for this behaviour. It is called the hedonic-treadmill

 

I used to have a Honda-City. I upgraded to an Audi A4. I used to fancy a convertible. Recently I bought a Mini-Cooper along with upgrading A4 to an Audi A6!

No I am not showing-off my fleet here. They are enviable, without a doubt, but no longer give the same thrill anymore. EOD, they just give a comfortable ride from point A to point B. One needs a good a/c, nice music, auto-gear, power steering – all of it comes in a top-end Volkswagen hatchback too!

Sometime back I was actually considering changing the A6 to a Porsche in 2019, before I identified my typical hedonic-treadmill behaviour here too!

 

There is another negative money trait…

After our basic needs are met (okay, a little more than just basic too), we really don’t care about the more money we make. All we care about is how much we make in-comparison to our peers, our neighbours, our relatives. A famous writer once said, “the happy man is the one who makes 100$ more than his wife’s sister’s husband.” In all honesty, he was hundred percent correct! We just broaden his base to a whole lot of our herd.

Observing my own behaviour, I conform the above to be accurate. I mean I do feel a bit of envy when I hear of a friend’s distant cousin owning 3 luxury yachtes in Dubai; or knowing a local boy from neighbourhood who sold his e-startup for 1000 crores. Those tinges of jealousy are still there. But they don’t last beyond an hour.

What really matters to me is how my contemporaries are doing. I am being brutally honest here but the biggest insecurity I have is to wake up one day and find that my brother zoomed ahead and made a huge wealth for himself while I lost everything I ever earned! I know it is stupid, but it is there. Without blaming anyone, lets just say that it is down to my own shortcomings.

But the point is – your penchant for comparing your own money-worth is a deeply-rooted human trait, and there is no point in lying about it to yourself.

 

So how do you use money to fund your happiness? With the above ‘limitations’ identified, I assemble below pointers which contribute maximum to our own individual happiness and how money can play a role in them –

 

Family/ Spouse/ Those ‘4-5 special people’  You need to have a set of 4-5 people in your life who are your “go-to” people. These may be (not limited to) your family, your friends, your colleagues, your associates, your school/college mates, your kids – and most importantly, your spouse (if you have one!) A healthy marriage is a big happiness booster. Use your money to go out for meals with these special people, hone your relationship with them, help them out, buy gifts for them, etc. This is the BEST investment you can make for YOUR OWN HAPPINESS.

 

An antidote to Comparison Yes there is one! We all know of it. We all practise it too, in our own ways. But we almost never realise its healing effect to our habit of comparison. It is by praying & being grateful for what we have. I am not a fan of religion (any of them, being a Hindu by birth) but I like some of their sayings. So sharing something out of Islam below.

“Look at those who are below you in the Worldly Life and be grateful” – Hadeeth

Yes, through trial-and-error, I found out above to be the most valuable lesson of my life. It is the only way you can fight your inner demon called jealousy. You end up realising that while there are 10-20-50 people to be jealous of; yet there are countless others who are so much worse off than you in every aspect.

 

Experiences/ Doing things While the name says it all, generally people tend to think having experiences is only limited to traveling. While exploring new places or holiday retreats etc are indeed a great way to gather experiences; there is more to this part. Playing or learning to play music, Cooking your favourite cuisine or eating at the new chic restaurant, playing a game of snooker with your old buddies, mentoring a 12th grader for his career to come, writing your book/ blog – the list is endless.

The thing with experiences is that their value do not diminish over time – infact they tend to increase with the time gone by ! You always cherish your school time when you bump into your mates 10 years later, dont you? Unless of course you have the Alzheimer’s 🙂 And yes, the more money you can shell out – the better sense of experience you can create (paying to a good guitar teacher just improves your prospects of playing it better!)

 

Buy Time. Because we are all materialistic people here, I use the term ‘buy’ here. The real way of looking at it would be a trade-off. Yes, just trade-off the money to get you more time for yourself.

  • So you have a shining red car which is very drivable, but its not worth driving 10-hours/week. Simple. hire a driver. Better yet, move to a location nearer your workplace, even if its a little more expensive.
  • Hire a maid/ servant for your chores. Outsource your laundry.
  • Take tickets for the rush-hour show, it is okay, you’ve earned it.
  • Keep a secretary at work! Delegate your non-core work.

The list could be endless. I could have mentioned, hire a personal chef or bring your gym at your home etc! Again it depends on your own individual situation. But the key is ‘money’ here. If you have the money and yet don’t use it to buy your time, then good luck with that 2.5-lac meal in a large community hall, at your funeral!

 

 

Financial Position as on 30th March 2018

I am not a serial-abuser but it doesn’t mean I don’t get harsh on myself.

And this month, I must! I really have ****ed up big time! My numbers speak it aloud!

For perspective, March was expected to be bad. Because of a STUPID (calling it only stupid would be an understatement!) rule of LTCG in equity introduced and applicable from 01st April 2018. I mean, our govt is so greedy that just as it sensed the capital markets doing exceedingly well; why not milk it for filling up its coffers?? This is a highly uncalled for tax and I truly sense voting-public will make them pay for it…

Anyway so the market was expected to bleed, as smaller players would book their profits. They may quit markets completely from April, but thats a different story altogether.

But I am upset with myself because of my own greedy behaviour! Having decided NOT TO indulge in any trading whatsoever, I still made an unpardonable error by allowing a broker to continue my trading-account. Not only that, I gave him a “freehand” to take calls – lying to myself that I am not the one gambling if I operate like that! Who was I kidding? When will I grow up (ever?)

 

So the portfolio is really down and to make matters worse, the month was my WORST in business over last 12-years! Match that! Lets just say, it is not the best time to be me 🙁

Now, some numbers –

Nifty50 change Portfolio change
31/01/18 11,016.00 ₹ 9,95,00,000
28/02/18 10,489.00 -4.78% ₹ 9,97,60,000 0.26%
26/03/18 10,113.00 -3.58% ₹ 9,68,06,331 -2.96%

The market slipped by -3.58% while my overall portfolio slipped -2.96%

You may say that I am over-reacting. Well, in Sidhu’s words, “Above statistics are like mini-skirts. They only reveal half the story and hide an important aspect.”

Now even though I use NIFTY50 as benchmark, the portfolio is about 50% equity and 50% debt. Which means if I were to look at my equity slippage in isolation vis-a-vis benchmark; the dip is around 6.1%! 

Now that is really criminal!!!!! It effectively means had I chosen an INDEX FUND (they are the most worthless piece of mutual fund), I’d have still fared better. This is an insult to not only mine but to my broker’s intelligence! (again who am I kidding? I am the one crying here, not him!)

 

The overall portfolio now looks as below –

Portfolio: ₹ 9,68,06,331
Equity Holding ₹4,69,45,786 48%
Debt Holding ₹4,78,22,546 49%
EPF ₹18,50,000 2%
HDFC 1 ₹1,88,000
HDFC 2 ₹1,15,000
IndusInd ₹1,07,000

 

Lessons –

  1. This broker has to be fired/ changed immediately! He bought me some ****ing PSU banks in name of ‘capitalising’. Now everyone says this is the biggest bullshit ever heard! I agree. I have been fooled – period.
  2. I HAVE TO quit trading positions/ mindset asap. I will not say immediately because these stocks are so down, that it’d be foolish to sell them now – a sort of double whammy. So I will wait for them to normalise a bit first, and then exit with burnt hands.
  3. Focus on goals than chase endless growth. Look I have to be clear to myself here. The goal with this fund is to reach 10cr and then take it on from there. If I keep chasing greed, I will keep writing such disappointing posts. I need sanctity here, and realign myself to a consistent, simple yet efficient approach.

 

A personal suggestion to every reader – please keep your goals defined. DO NOT bracket them under separate headings (retirement/ child education/ child marriage/ house). Instead consolidate them to a single figure and decide on their timelines. KISS works here (Keep It Simple, Stupid). My all short & long-term goals put together, I need a net worth of 100cr by 50. Simple. Tall order, but simple… think about it.

 

Financial Position as on 28 February 2018

Another month, another post, another confused post.. I should say…

This is my fourth-post in this series, and I am shameful to admit – but the metrics have changed every single month! This time too, I am forced to include a “tax refund” component in my overall portfolio – as it is earning debt-like interest  as it awaits clearance from govt-coffers.

But I could have done it earlier itself, isn’t it? So what does it speak of me?

Am I a confused, fickle-minded individual?

OR, am I uncertain about my overall planning here?

OR, I just love playing (with numbers) so I keep changing it?

Without looking for actual answers to above (which would otherwise give this post a ‘philosophical twist’); I simply pledge to NOT CHANGE the metrics hereafter for the next 5 years! It is a pledge worth taking. Any failure to it, and I shall discard this activity COMPLETELY!

 

Time for some numbers now. Brief snapshot as below –

Nifty50 change Portfolio change
31/01/18 11,016.00 ₹ 9,95,00,000
28/02/18 10,489.00 -4.78% ₹ 9,97,62,752 0.26%

So the market was in RED. Thats bad news.

My portfolio didn’t suffer HUGELY. Thats good news.

(ps: Dont be misled by the green in portfolio value here. As I explained above, I have added some holdings which should have been there in the first place. Also I invest some SIP money every month to it.)

In-addition, my portfolio breakup appears as below –

Portfolio: ₹ 9,97,62,752
Equity Holding ₹5,00,13,298
Debt Holding ₹4,78,41,454
Provident Fund (1,2) ₹15,60,000
HDFC Bank A/C (1) ₹3,48,000
HDFC Bank A/C (2) ₹69,000
IndusInd Bank A/C ₹1,09,000

 

Firstly, it is a very comforting & liberating thought to read these numbers. It not only speaks of the luxury I am sitting on; but also the hard-work and discipline I’ve put upon myself over last 4-years (yes the entire portfolio is built from Jan2014 onwards!).

In short, I feel highly proud of myself. I really do.

 

Time for some lessons though. After all, the target is 100-cr OR INR 1-billion, so mustn’t lose sight —-

  • Direct stocks are a fucked-up game. you are trading against yourself here (emotions)! Therefore for a non hardcore-finance person, they don’t make much sense. (even though I continue to hold 5500-odd shares of RIL valued at 5.5M INR or so)
  • Just like everything in life – portfolio too needs BALANCE. I was heavy-weight on equity, but have taken a deliberate call to keep a 50:50 ratio between Equity and Debt, moving forward. I may miss out on some euphoria from time-to-time, but I’d still rather be balanced than live an overwhelming existence.
  • For Mutual Funds – one must stick to large fund-houses. I have been tricked into buying some NFO in 2015 (I dont even remember its former name!) now called DHFL-PRAMERICA HYBRID FUND which is doing so poorly – I just can’t wait its fixed-term to end and make an FD from that money!
  • Final lesson, there is more to life than numbers… More on it in my next post under Life-Musings.

 

For all readers, I’d repeat the quintessential lesson of personal finance – keep building your portfolio from a young age. This money isn’t for any particular goal (or it may be), but more than the amount or the goal – it is important to inculcate the habit of measured savings.

 

Are you also facing mid-life crisis?

The title is catchy... but its true if you are a 35-year-old who envisioned his life as X; and it turned out to be X-A+B+D*G/K ...

But isn’t that how things are supposed to be? When did life pan out as per dreams?

ITS TRUE! And thats exactly what this post is all about…

I was watching a menial indie-movie ‘Today’s Special’ yesterday on Netflix, and even though it was plain boring (even then I am being polite), a character played by Naseeruddin Shah stuck with me. Some of his unforgettable lines –

Eating your food with fork-knife is like making love through an interpreter

Somebody dies. They were unlucky. You survive. You were lucky. Don’t screw it.

His character dreamt of becoming a top-chef as a teenager. He ended up working as washer boy, a waiter, cleaner, sous chef, cab driver, carpenter, you name it! Yet as a 60-year old, he didn’t miss the trick – take life as it comes.

If we were to look back at Sachin Tendulkar’s life today; we will connect-the-dots and how he was a child prodigy waiting to succeed, and hit those centuries and make those records etc. Looking back is always a 20-20 vision, isn’t it? Check out below facts –

  • On his first tour in 1989, he was hit on his nose by a Waqar Younis bouncer. As he bled profusely, many of his team-mates sitting in dressing room thought it was his first & last tour for India!
  • “It was hurting me badly and it took me a long time to come to terms with these failures. I even contemplated moving away from the sport completely, as it seemed nothing was going my way.” – Sachin Tendulkar in 1999 after quitting captaincy. YES HE HIMSELF CONSIDERED RETIREMENT AS A 26 YEAR OLD.

 

The point is, we are all working under a grand plan made for each one of us. Looking at it in the middle is futile, but looking back at it will almost always give a heady feeling. Okay for 99% of us; the plan may not appear as substantial as Sachin Tendulkar’s, but it is there nevertheless.

Believe in it. Believe in your life story.

 

Back to the title and my own situation for now. As a 20-year old, I hoped I will have a huge bank balance, in an auto-pilot mode and swelling every day by 30. I will semi-retire then, and write books full-time. My books will be Superhit and my readers love them to the core, always looking forward to the next bestseller. When I am not writing, I’d be giving my dues back to the society and helping out in causes I actually believe in. So there will be money, fame, love and feel good…

At 30 I had none of it. Absolutely none (okay, love was there but it was sorta given in my case that I’d find it)

Even at 35, I can’t say I have it all. Yes I am way better off financially, but not in the ‘desired auto-pilot mode’ yet. I am a published author, but no-way near to the top (heck at the bottom rung!). I am so involved in my work that the plan to serve under-privileged has been pushed further by another 5-years atleast…

So I often wonder about my situation and think of it as a mid-life-crisis. I talk to my friends about it, but maybe they either comprehend it better OR hide it better. I end up feeling remorseful that maybe I goofed up somewhere. There’s tons of negativity.

And yet I see such a character (read. Naseeruddin Shah above) even though its fictionalised, and I want to believe in my life story. Maybe when I look back at it, the grand plan will be visible. Maybe it will all make sense. Maybe it will be ‘X’ or even better than that!

Because there is no other way to move forward.

 

“Hope is a good thing. Maybe the best of things. And no good thing ever dies.”

— Stephen King

Financial Position as on 31 January 2017

As I start writing this post, I feel a bit grumpy with a capital G, to be honest. Because I ended up losing money, while ironically, the benchmark index (NIFTY 50) went up by 4.61% !

Like seriously??

And my portfolio went down by 0.39% !

I actually don’t mind losing money, its the rule of market. Totally okay with it (even though my broker’s extravagant calls are to be blamed here too), but how could you lose when overall market gained?

Luckily the slip is only 0.39% and I can live with it. But first lets deeply look at the numbers as they stand on 31st Jan 2018 –

Nifty50 change Portfolio change
31/12/17 10,530.70 2.97% ₹ 9,16,00,000 3.67%
31/01/18 11,016.00 4.61% ₹ 9,12,00,000 -0.39%

Another thing happened.

A chance meeting with a good advisor from HDFC Bank, ended up making me realise the overall incoherence of my portfolio. Within ten minutes, he made me realise that I had been working with too many brokers and on too many themes. I acknowledged my folly and agreed to divert all my investments to my new broker (voila!) starting March 2018 and maintain a 50:50 Equity-to-Debt balance.

Under this new portfolio, we have kept a return-target of 11-12% per annum (even though in my heart, the target is 10% but can’t be honest to the advisor and let him screw up!) or around 1% per month.

So all my subsequent posts shall be with this new/ revised target it purview.

Take-home lessons from LOSING MONEY this month –

  • One can’t always be beating the market. Infact sometimes matching the market/ index is good enough!
  • Sell your cleverness, buy bewilderment ! (quote by Rumi)
  • Choose your advisor wisely. Don’t have too many advisors! Infact 1 is good enough.

Financial-position on 30 December 2017

So the year has come to an end!

A lot (I mean it!) has changed for me personally over these last few days, and hopefully elevated me to a higher altitude – a better place. I will share more about it in separate posts.

This post is about something else. What a rewarding month this has been ! DEC2017 showed me the importance of two things –

(a) Patience – Keep your investments close and do not jitter away when market falls. My numbers’ growth below will exhibit it.

(b) Tracking – I had never before tracked my month-on-month performance. This is the first time I am doing so (and in public domain!) but the growth is exemplary !

 

End of NOV 2017, my total investment worth was Rs.8.12cr.

End of DEC 2017, it is 8.48cr. Jump of Rs.36lac! 4.5%

Seriously! 4.5% growth to a portfolio in a month is extraordinary to say the least. If it could be replicated for an year; CAGR is 54%!

 

Here’s a snapshot across Investments –

Liquid (bank, cash) —– ₹ 6,95,000
Investment —– ₹ 8,41,74,150
Mutual Funds ₹3,76,57,625
Stocks ₹2,38,68,525
Debt Funds ₹1,97,98,000
Others (gold, currencies) ₹28,50,000

 

Month-on-month basis, where did it improve? How did it fare vis-a-vis Indian stock markets? Lets see a comparison below ——-

(ps: I am going to use NIFTY and SENSEX broader values as benchmark. Financial wizards may criticise this approach, but hey, I am a layman writing this blog for laymen mostly)

Nifty50 change Portfolio change
30/11/17 10,226.55 ₹ 8,12,00,000
31/12/17 10,530.70 2.97% ₹ 8,48,69,150 4.52%

2.97% outdone to 4.52%. thats quite neat according to me. Some key points to remember –

  • NIFTY is hardcore stocks only. My portfolio is a mix of investment products and about 65% is Equity (stocks & mutual funds) and 35% is Debt mutual funds, fixed deposits, etc.
  • I make new investments to the tune of 300k INR per month into various SIPs into equity-mutual-funds.
  • I am not recommending anyone to invest in stocks or mutual funds or even debt funds WITHOUT due diligence and personal research and conviction.

 

Thats it for this post. I am hoping 2018 is going to be very very rewarding financially. Few reasons as per my limited knowledge –

  • matured domestic investors.
  • elections in early 2019
  • Modi-euphoria continues
  • no major worldwide jitters

If overall nifty is 11000+ by DEC2018; I am expecting my portfolio will be north of 10cr by year-end! that will be quite cool!