Good food

Why is it that restaurants advertise that their food is as good as home cooked food while one of the best way to compliment someone’s cooking is to say “its better than what is served in a Restaurant”
All this makes me wonder what is the definition of good food


Tractor vs Bus

Recently I had a debate with a friend over what is good for the society multipurpose machines or vehicles or efficient specialized machines and vehicles?
My friend’s assertion was that society is better off if we use experts, specialists, machines and equipment. 1 bus for commuting, 1 truck for transport, 1 tracker for ploughing the fields would consume less fuel, time, give more comfort and be less costly for the society than having 4 tractors doing all the above purposes. A tractor is a multipurpose vehicle which can do almost anything under the sun, but that does not mean that it should be regularly used to do it. After all its common sense that the wheels designed to function in mud and fields would consume more fuel on tarred roads.
My assertion was that there are 2 costs associated with any machine Capex and Opex. It is well known that most agricultural families might have needs that require them to work in the fields, transport produce and passengers. However they might not have the financial means to own 3 different vehicles for these specialized tasks. Also even if they can, they won’t be able to fully utilize them and hence making it expensive for the society.
For Opex, one has to take a leaf from the Queuing Theory. Multipurpose vehicles can adapt to the needs of the day. They can be deployed on the fields on one day, as trucks on another and as busses on the third. This way there will not be shortage in any of these varied areas and hence the rental that a farmer has to pay for these equipments would also be manageable. Finally the cost to the society is rental + operating cost. End of the day it’s the economics that guide these decisions in life. As long as village economy feels that their needs are not so large to justify specialist vehicles they won’t have one.
The debate could not be conclusive because soon we drifted to the professional services space. We questioned that for a company/team/project is it better to hire generalist or specialist. When is the tussle between expertise and flexibility which of the two should be given precedence.
Hence I am writing this post to ask for opinion from the readers.


Crisis vs Bankruptcy

A very proud moment had been when the Asian Tiger crisis of 1997 had no impact on India. Now even in this sub-prime crisis, when people were having Doomsday prophecy, India continues to grow by leaps and bounds. However recently I have started questioning Indian policies and whether the country is better/worse off due to them.
I have had the fortune to visit Europe during the sub-prime crisis and 3 countries in SE Asia after the Asian Crisis. People were unanimous that times are bad and they are poorer than what they earlier were. However they were not poor, the infrastructure is better than what is found in India, people have better skills and spirit. Hence no wonder within a few years of recession, it’s going to be prosperity and business as usual.
On the other hand, India in 1947 was economically better off than Japan, Europe or any country in the SE Asia. Over the years these countries witnessed several cycles of boom and recession while India has had nearly 7 decades of stagnation where the people were deprived of a decent standard of living.
Failure is the cost of dreaming and the recession is the cost of progress and development. Its high time that our policy makers realize that. “I have never met a rich guy who hasn’t lost a dollar, but have met several poor people who have never lost even a dime” – Rich Dad Poor Dad.


Why I do not use sms

I am not technologically challenged, but still I refuse to communicate via sms. My reasons are simple:
1. It takes a lot of time to type a sms, in caparison a simple short telephone call is more effective both in terms of time and money.
2. Then to have a meaningful conversation, one has to send sms back and forth. A phone call on the other hand is a 2 way medium where you get the acknowledgement of the message as well as its feedback immediately.
3. A stream of poorly framed text without any good punctuation or spelling can never represent me correctly. Tone, voice modulation, pauses, decibel level etc. say a lot the feelings of the speaker and how well it’s received and is missed by the emotionless sms. Chances of being misinterpreted are also higher on sms.
4. My email box has advanced spam filter which saves me from the agony of sifting through spam. SMS does not filter out all the advertisements or stupid jokes and forwards that seem to clutter my phone.
5. I believe that in life somebody or the other is constantly judging. Nobody gets impressed by a good sms, but a well drafted mail or a professional phone call can.
All said and done, I do sometimes use sms to pass forward postal address or telephones.


Stock Lending

This nice article lists the various tax, procedural and legal problems associated with the current stock lending program



A friend of mine requested me to analyze this FPO and I go by my usual style:
There are always a 100 analyst reports which will tell you why one should invest in the stock. Hence I try to find out red flags, or reasons why one should not.
1. Please don’t look at the pre existing price of the stock because the govt share-holding is 98.36%. Which basically mean that there is hardly any shares for trading.
2. The company has made other profit of 884cr which has increased from 105cr over the past 5 years. This constitutes more than 10% of sales (not profit) Hence its EPS figures are under question.
3. When a company engaged in mining makes a profit of 4.3 thousand cr on a sales of 7.5 thousand cr, I become suspicious about how sustainable this high margins are
4. In a capital intensive industry like mining, the company has depreciation of less than 1% of sales. This raises question of how old the machinery is and how long will the company able to operate.
5. The company has 9.7 thousand cr of cash in its balance sheet. Which is more than 1 year of sales. WHY?????
6. PE of 39.22 of a company which has no plans to buy/operate new mines in the near future?
All this makes me think that the price of NMDC is unsustainable in the long term. One might still invest in the stock for listing gains.


Feeling Lucky

A friend of mine recently forwarded me a nice article which lists down the differences in attitude of lucky and unlucky people. The author believes that by changing one’s outlook towards life one can also be lucky.
You might not have to agree completely to what the author says but the article has a lot of merit. So do give it a read.


Review: Taj Bengal

Yesterday I was invited for dinner at Taj Bengal, one of the most expensive restaurants in this part of the country. To my surprise, the chef had added artificial green colors in the Palak Paneer.
Holi is round the corner but that does not mean that I should start eating artificial chemical poisons. I oppose the use of colors because of these 3 reasons:
1. These are chemicals which are harmful for the body
2. One sub-standard and poor quality food articles are adulterated with artificial colors
3. It cheats the consumer because colors give a false impression of quality and enable the merchant to charge extra for the sub-standard products.
All packaged food item need to carry a health warning if they contain colors, preservatives and other harmful substances. I think its high time that restaurants esp. the ones that charge exorbitant costs also need to carry statutory warning for their malpractices.