The Palimpsest of Sawbones Surio

Pessimism of the Intellect, Optimism of the Will

Archive for February 2010

Planning early retirement with 1.1 crores corpus fund

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Namaskara, gentle reader. I am still chewing the ends of my pencil-tip :x, trying to write a post that is at least as good as some of the blogs that I frequently visit :-?. So, while my post is still in press, why don’t I share a very instructive article that was published in the Sunday edition of The Hindu BusinessLine (07/02/2009) on this blog.

Small Excerpt:

I am Gulshan, aged 42. My wife, aged 39, is a home-maker. We have two children, aged 12 and seven. I worked abroad for some years and am now settled in India. I decided not to take up employment but lead a retired life with my savings.

Are you interested? I sure was! 🙂 And for those in a hurry, here’s the executive summary of what Suresh Parthasarathy, the newspaper journo recommended.

Gulshan's portfolio at present (L) and BL's recommendation (R). Note: I have increased size of the image to twice the original image size. Image watermarked to indicate correct copyright. Please leave a comment if you feel this is wrong, and I will take it down immediately.

Gulshan's portfolio at present (L) and BL's recommendation (R). Note: I have increased size of the image to twice the original image size. Image watermarked to indicate correct copyright. Please leave a comment if you feel this is wrong, and I will take it down immediately.

The complete article can be accessed from here, and the printer-friendly version (loads quicker) is here. Let me know of your thoughts on this please. One of the things that interested me in the article was the person’s clarity in expecting Rs. 1 lakh returns on the equity market every year based on his portfolio of Rs. 8 lakhs. What are your thoughts on the article in general?


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Response to TIPblog’s post “Long Term Investing”

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TIP Guy recently posted an article titled “What does Long Term Investing Mean?“.  Quite well written, as always. My takeaway from the post/comments:

  1. The fundamental definition of investing was teased out, by juxtaposing it with trading.
  2. Instant gratification Vs. Delayed gratification. Getting Rich slowly. And benefits of the same.
  3. Not so positive influence of media that encourages feeding frenzies, resulting in losses to masses.
  4. As an aside, some stock tips were also traded, but strictly on off-the-cuff basis.

So, while the post itself and comments around it was quite insightful, I was quite bemused that in despite the proliferation of so many finance portals, there was actually a need to point out the various insights that the post does. Time for a small side note.

One of Bill Gates’ famous observations with Thomas Friedman goes like this.

In China, if you are one-in-a-million, then remember that there are 1300 people just like you.

Therefore, I tread carefully and humbly when it comes to the Indians and the Chinese. After all, does that aphorism not hold true for us also? We are 1 billion people as well, No? Therefore, even after accounting for the not so bright ones, I always go with the assumption that the other person is as smart as I am, if not more :-).

End of side note. Therefore, I was quite convinced that the post is surely redundant. Then the comments came and hit me full broadside! So, I went ahead and shared my thoughts/surprise on the matter, quite literally on-the-fly.  Seems like my writing style wasn’t entirely clear to people. So, I’ve decided to expand it into a post with rationale laid out clearly, FWIW. HTH 🙂

1. Concurring with the TIP Guy’s (TG) approach:

Well, well… what do you know, I actually hold a position in Praj [Hooray….feels good :-D ] for quite a while now. I remember the lengthy discussion over nights with the missus about that industry, its growth potential, the future/projected earnings from present trends, and lastly collecting a lot of news articles on the company before deciding on the amount to put in ;-]. And all this was before Google Finance, so there were no ready-made market index curve with A, B, C, D and E indexed on various points…. So effectively the comment and your post made me jog down memory lane… I also had VST tillers tractors at the same time and in a moment of madness, sold this stock when the price dipped one too many one day. Today it is trading at 200% over my last sell price and I kick myself to this day. I am thinking of re-entering a position with VST. What do you think?

2. Voicing my observations on how the retail investor never had it so good in his favour:

Your post also made me realise how liberating it is actually, to be a retail investor as on date. Although, there is no end to the amount of stock portals in the market, Let us take the most common ones for this particular comment.
1. Rediff Money provides for each stock, exhaustive list of various fund houses that presently hold a stake in the stock. Straight away, this could form an important yet rapid indicator if the certain stock is trading on hype or substance (for those who want a quick overview at the most).
2. Google finance presents a stock price curve whose every ’single’ contour is indexed with press releases about the stock. One can easily look at the market reaction to certain news items and learn on the essentials to concentrate upon (A little time-consuming, but highly educative).
3. Yahoo! finance provides historical EOD data in easy to use ASCII CSV format for 2-4 years for FREE. With a basic Excel literacy one could easily gather average stock price, price movement if any, just to name a few (This EOD data is a TA person’s wet dream, I can tell ya!). And this would also help in deciding if it is better to enter or wait a while.

3. Summarising from the observations made in “2” above, about why I had “Greater Expectations” from the general public:

I will restrict myself to these points only, and one can see that it is not necessary to subscribe or spend any extra money for “inside” information. All this information can be got for free [assuming office internet surfing at lunch-time ;-)], and so one [read as “I” :-?] would expect that your post ought to be redundant if not obsolete.

4. Dawn of realisation and some final comments:

However, after reading some subsequent comments and responses I decided to speak to some colleagues over the points raised (I am normally a ‘quiet investor’). It was unnerving that nearly 100% decide on a stock from TV channel reccomendations… 😯 OMG! The horror! Trades are executed based on ‘tips’ from friends with no regards to the fundamentals. After a few minutes of this conversation, I actually felt depressed.

So it is true: Common sense is not so common and the “very obvious”, does indeed needs to be fleshed out into an insightful blog post for the benefit of readers stumbling to your blog! The expression, “A Mad World, My Masters” [-Thomas Middleton] immediately springs to mind.

Ho hum, etc.

I hope the points I wished to make are clearer now? As always, gentle reader, I eagerly solicit your comments on the post. 🙂

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Posted in Uncategorized

Ja gut, but what’s it all about then?

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This is a real-life incident. Dramatised for effect. Some minor characters have been exorcised to keep the situation crisp. The scenario has also been modified to remove further resemblance to the original setting. All characters are real-life stereotypes that many of us can emphatise with. We will introduce the (major) characters in turn.

1: Ex-PSU dude in late 50s, now in second lease of career in private sector (PSU50)
2: Been there done that dude, mid-40s, really been there done that! (BTDT45)
3: Dude on a roll, in late-30s, you know the type when you see one (DoR35)
4: Dude in 30s, still coming to terms with his future (DD30)

Scene 1: (Four colleagues of a blue-chip organisation are waiting for the lift outside of their offices. PA system in the foyer is belting out yet another Kenny G tune to the annoyance of everyone and for the benefit of no-one).


DoR35: We were taking interviews today. It was a hoot, I tell you. The answers some of them gave for the question “Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?”! Classic and priceless.

PSU50: Yes. I know, that is always the highlight of the interviews.

BTDT45: Some of them do have a sense of purpose, though. Not all, but some do.

DoR35: Well, come to think of it, you are right. Some of them do.

BTDT45: And that’s what separates the “Men from the Boys” (words to that effect)

DoR35: Is that so? Then let’s ask ourselves that question, shall we? (Directly addressing PSU50 now) Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time then?

PSU50: (Completely startled. Hadn’t anticipated the turn of events). Well, ….er….ummmm…. well, I suppose I will be still around here doing what I will be doing then, I suppose. That depends on the company, if they want to give me an extension? (presumably alluding to his crossing of retirement by then)

DoR35: Oh! Still here, Eh? (wry smile. Smirk almost. Now addressing DD30 directly). You then! What about you? Any bright sparks? (DoR35 and DD30 are good friends, so the tone was almost teasing)

DD30: You know the happenings of my life. You should know better (Frowns at him for putting him in a spot.) than that. I don’t see major changes in my life in the next 5 years. (It puts DD30 in a spot)

(DoR35 laughs heartily at DD30’s expense and slaps him on the back. PSU50 looks relieved. After all, Misery loves company, right? BTDT45 shoots a quick, symphatetic glance at DD30 that clearly says, “I’ve been there, done that one too, my boy” and clears his throat subtly to break the discomfiture of DD30)

DoR35: (Now facing BTDT45) Ah, well. What about you then?

BTDT45: (Speaking deliberately, avoiding any inflection in tone) I should be retired for I will be financially independent before that time.

DoR35: (Chimes in just as BTDT45 completes) Oh Wow! WoW!. Me too. I am working on that myself. I won’t be free by five, but I WILL be for sure before 10 years are up.

(Ding! Lift arrives on floor. Doors open wide. All of them pile in before the doors close again. The lift has mirrors mounted on opposite wall so all of them could see everyone else’s face.

1: DoR35 – The smirk on the face is now really pronounced.
2: BTDT45 – Still impassive facially. A naturally tall person, but now walks a little taller than a minute before.
3: PSU50 – Looks visibly crumpled. Looks like a house 4-storeyed house fell on him just then.
4: DD30 – Has the look of a person who’s just been pole-axed by a metallic telegraph pole.
Support cast: also entering lift – all share the same look of a person undergoing acute indigestion. [Assumption: They all eavesdropped on the chat])


That discussion above left a lasting impression on Yours Truly. Especially, the looks on PSU50 and DD30 has been indelibly carved into my mind hence (I don’t call it Palimpsest for nothing, you know ;-)). And the motivation of this blog is to chronicle the improvements in planning, thinking and execution in the time that has past since those words “financially independent” were heard and truly understood.

So, gentle reader, that’s what it is all about.

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Posted in Musings, Personal

Dude, What actually IS Palimpsest and Who IS this “SAWBONES” character, Eh?

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Namaskara/Vanakkam/Namaste/Dobry Den and welcome to my blog! Good to have you here, whoever you are, and wherever you are from. And while we are here a big HELLO to you as well. And just to be topical (just a little bit 😉 ) “Kaltxì. Nga-ru lu fpom srak?”. 😀  And if you’ve gone a little “blue in the face” reading that, then you’ve already recognised the language ;-).

This is the first post and I know the question on your mind already after reading the Title. I’ve articulated it as the title of this post. Okay, here goes. This is what Wikipedia’s got to say on what is a Palimpsest. There’s three layers of meanings and interpretations to the word immediately.

  1. The word conjures images of something like Hammurabi’s library/court with thousands of scribes inscribing his famous code to be circulated among his vast empire.
  2. Like the ubiquitous Palimpsest re-use, the human brain also faces the dilemma of having to overwrite older information with newer ones, but here’s the beauty — the information stays in the background (just as in the case of those early p…) and with little ‘recall’ the older, overwritten information can be just as easily readable! 🙂
  3. Finally, as with the architectural point of view we retain all those impressions that were created by life’s moulding process on our person, despite our best efforts to show otherwise.

From those interpretations, come my personal aspirations for this blog:

  • It is my [Ahem] humble [Ahem]  wish that the content of my blog reaches out to people in the same way Hammurabi’s palimpsests did to the erstwhile Mesopotamians. But here’s the point; the scribes did not really understand the impact they caused, did they? They were merely scribing the greater idea of someone else. Indeed, Newton is known to have famously affirmed this sentiment and this blog intends to work on the same lines. Take a good idea, work on it, and (hopefully) take it farther.
  • Like the brain and the architectural analogies, the palimpsest should retain the inscription that originally graced it, but must be willing to take on “newer” information should the necessity or situation brings it forth. In other words, life is all in the learning, so please, go forth and leave your comments ;-). Thank you all that do so!

The dictionary defines sawbones as follows:

Slang: A term used to refer to a physician.

Although I hold the title of “Dr.” I am not a medical doctor. I thought it would be a small, sly nod to the effort and time that resulted in that title being affixed to my name. Oh, and FWIW, sawbones is one of the antagonists of a famous racing game from the 90s.

Finally, the moniker “Surio” is a sendup/send up of my own name, inspired from a much more famous character.

So gentle reader, with that introduction, I am set, and so is the blog, and as the saying goes, If you build it, they will come. Thanks for dropping by. I sure appreciate it.

Written by Surio

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