Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Choices and Effects

Recently I wrote a post about my views on abortion. There were a number of comments with various views on it. But a discussion with a friend of mine about that post led to a question of how much an individual's choice would affect the society as a whole. He asked how can a parent be sure that the embryo that they are destroying cannot grow up to be one of the scientists that make breakthrough inventions? How can the parents know what will happen in future? In truth, you can never be sure of the future. That is what makes life interesting to live through. If we knew how things would turn out, there would be nothing to look forward to and we would be bored soon.But, how to decide if a path chosen by you would affect the society and by how much?

I am very pro-freedom. I feel that everyone should be allowed to choose their paths in life than being affected by others and the rules as long as it doesn't affect the society much. True, any choice taken by an individual will have rippling effects on the society. But this is true for ANY choice and not just the choice wanted by the individual. Allowing and denying a choice path to an individual depends on the severity of the rippling effects and time difference between the action and the results. So, if a person's choice is not severe not time-sensitive, why not let the person do it as they wish rather than forcing them to do it by rules?

For example, say I decide to buy a car. I have a choice of electric, non-electric and hybrid. Say I'm very conscious of the environment and the world and hence decide to go electric. However, though electric cars have lesser impact on the environment, they don't have a zero impact. Also, they cost more and I have to come up with more cash to cover it. That leads to my giving up some comforts till I get the money or if I can't wait till then, I have to find someone who can loan me money. That brings in another person and his/her views on the whole issue. Also come in the parameters of performance, usage possibilities, etc.

Say, I don't care much about the environment and want the maximum bang for the buck. Then I go in for the non-electric choice. This, as predicted, has a higher impact on the environment but hurts my pocket less and gives better performance. Third case is when I am trying to find a balance between caring for my pocket and the environment. But for it, I need to pay more money again.

None of these three choices that I have before me have a zero impact on the environment. So, any choice I take, I affect the environment, adversely or not. So, my choosing any of these choices finally doesn't make a big difference. If adding one more non-electric car would cause the world to disintegrate(hope that situation never arises), then my buying a non-electric car would have far severe effects than getting a hybrid car. Also, say buying an electric car would help me recuperate my costs in lesser time than buying a hybrid. Then an electric car would be more attractive.

So, I would say that every choice has both good and bad in it. All man can do is to choose the least-negatively-impacting and most-positively-impacting choice and move on with life. That is the only impact of man's intelligence in this whole system. That is where rational thought and wisdom come into picture. There is also where a person starts thinking of himself(remember, my electric car choice when I could get back money faster? I did it more because it helped me as an individual rather than the love for environment) and other forces like fear, greed, etc. come into picture. But even under the best of circumstances, one day this world would end, right? We would just be reducing the speed of destruction instead of accelerating it and giving Mother Earth a chance to recuperate from some of the damage caused by us. Do you think it is possible to stop Earth's destruction?

150, 2008 and more!

The numbers in the title of this post might sound weird. But they form the crux of the post.

First things first: This is my 150th post in this blog. I took a trip down the memory lane and found that it was a very interesting path so far. From the first post to my 149th post, I can see that I have grown in many ways, had different experiences, met some very interesting people and gone to different places. Also, my writing style has changed a lot(hopefully, for the better!). Going by the numbers, here is a report(I'm in the mood for reports after writing a dozen of them):

Though I'm happy that I got to write so much in these past two and half years, I'm not happy to see the oscillations in the graph. My writing has gone on like a sinusoidal curve touching the trough a lot of times and peaks lesser times than I want it to be. True, nobody can have a steady writing speed. But I fear that the average number of posts is less than five, with some months going down to zero posts. Though the breaks were due to good reason, I feel that I could be a better manager of time and effort and post regularly. I'm hoping for the writing speed to be good for the coming year.

Second: I had one blogging resolution for 2008. To average out atleast one post per week. Since I have 55 posts so far this year(including this one), I'm barely across the line. Yet, I've crossed it and that's what matters. Further, I see that I have blogged more this year than the two earlier years. I've reduced my inhibitions about blogging and have discovered more of a professional attitude towards managing life. Yup! Slowly making the transition from a college goer to a professional. There are a few people in my life who are very professional in all that they do and its a treat to be with them. Also, this year, I've had major changes in life as said in my previous post. I achieved some parts of my wish list, failed at some others, gained a wee bit of wisdom, gathered different experiences and had loads of fun doing it all. In all, this 2008 was memorable to me in lots of ways.

Third comes my fervent petitions for 2009: Its similar to 2008, but this year I aim to finish what I started and finally start off in the corporate world. I also have a few plans for my business and am waiting to see if they would materialize. If they did and if I succeed in those endeavors, I would be really happy for they would tie my dream and fun together. Because, if they fail, then I would decide to pursue my dream. Though my dream has a big fun component in it, it is not the type of fun I know so far. And hence, I'm hesitant to let go of what I know and step into the unknown world. Though there are people to guide me through each step, the unknown is still unknown and I'm reluctant to jump into it without reason. So, this year would be a testing plane for my ideas. So, lets see....
Other than that, my wish list still remains, with some entries crossed off and some entries added on to it. That is the beauty of life, you always have something exciting to do.

What is your wish list for 2009?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Multi Level Marketing - what crap!

[Note: No flames please! This is more a discussion than a war for/against MLMs. So, any comments, if they are thought to be inappropriate by the blog owner, would be removed immediately.]

Imagine what would you do if you got a call from a girl whom you've spoken to over phone only once asking you if you wanted to make money at 1 am in the night when you are busy with your final project? I got such a call yesterday and started laughing as soon as I heard this question. But I was trying to be courteous and didn't really want to laugh before her. That girl thought I was interested and gave her phone to another guy (her senior partner) who again bunched out a total load of shit!

I asked him some simple questions and he broke into a sweat and gave me really stupid answers. Finally, I got totally pissed off and asked him what exactly did he call me for. Finally, this is what I could salvage from that discussion.

There is a site that combines social networking and ecommerce. He said that I had to register in a site of theirs(like orkut, facebook, etc) and ask all my friends to join too. And, say if I had put on my profile that I liked a movie like "The Dark Knight". If one of my friends sees it and wants to watch the movie, he/she clicks on the link. It opens a site of a seller(like Amazon) that is registered with their network. That site has dvds of Dark Knight for sale. It seems that I would get some money for initiating this deal. Since that girl brought me into the network, she would also get some money. The guy(the senior partner) introduced the girl to the network and hence he would get some money as well. I immediately understood that it was e-Amway. Even in the first conversation, I could find a number of problems;
1) Why the hell would I join the network and make a way to give money to others for my hardwork?
2) First, why the hell should I give money to join this network? Its not as if this network is already well known and I have profits joining it, right? The network is just being established and they should give money to people to join, right?
3) Also, why should I ask my friends to join this network and get products only through this network? Wouldn't it be like controlling them?
4) I'm a person who feels that buying unnecessarily is a waste. Most of my friends feel the same too. Would I, of all people, go and ask my friends to buy?
5) Further, isn't it wrong to use your friend's interests to make money off them? Where have the ethics of business world gone??

That guy mumbled something and gave the phone back to that girl who called me. I couldn't even tell her that she was getting into a spiral trap from where very less people have come out successfully. I told her I'm not interested in it. If the issue had stopped with it, this blog post would not have come at all. But, the call came again...

That guy had the nerve to call me again and talk about it. I asked him some simple questions like
1) what is the profit?
2) what is the rate of profit per hour?
3) how is the network supported?
4) who started this all?
5) is there someone reliable/trustable behind all this? (when I asked this question, that guy said that Microsoft, IBM and Comp arch are endorsing it. A simple Google search showed that Microsoft has explicitly stated that this business was just a customer of theirs and that they were not endorsing it! That showed this business's level of truth! Finally, when I asked him about it, he accepted that the big companies never supported them except as customers. Had I just accepted what he said, he would have continued his story of them endorsing this site!)
6) who are the sellers in this network? (there was not even one big seller. True! Amazon and Ebay are not stupid enough to support this method!!)
7) when does a person break even?

Sad to say, that guy was not able to answer any of them well. He sounded like a cult person who was taught to talk the same thing. When I tried to ask more about it, some of the answers that I got were:
"These are confidential. So we can't disclose it" (Oh! So they want my money but can't disclose what they are going to do with it??? what BS!)
"Join the network and you'll know it all" (Oh! Should I give money to know what your site is all about? What if it turns out to be BS? Do I get my money back? It reminded me of a saying in tamil "Paithiyam thelinja kalyanam nadakkum, Kalyanam nadantha paithiyam theliyum" (To get married, you need to be sane. To be sane, you need to get married). Both are not possible! Total Vidhandaavatham!!)
More questions about the business model made him ask my personal info (as if I would tell it to some unknown person! Mind you, the girl through whom this entire thing came was my friend's ex-girlfriend's friend. I haven't seen her at all! Then, what made them think that I would accept it all?)
I finally told that guy that I wasn't interested enough to join the network by paying for it and that guy got such a shock.
He said that he'll send me "convincing" material to change my mind. He even offered to come and meet me with his wife!! What nerve! Seriously!! How did he expect that I would accept such a request?

Coming to the point, I felt really sad for such people. If alone they could open their eyes and see, they would be able to see the holes in this system. However, googling for more info showed that people lose their minds to such MLM schemes in the aim to become rich and happy and important. There are better ways to achieve them than this junk MLM schemes. Wanting to become wealthy and happy is a good aim to have. But trying to get them without really working hard is akin to trying to cross the Pacific Ocean in a small dingy. Its not impossible but the probability is very very less.

If you are a person who is part of MLM, just think about your marketing system and see if you really "sell" products or buy them yourself to reach the target. Also, see if you are earning enough to atleast break even, if not make a profit. Further, think what would be your ROE if you spent the same amount of time, money and effort in some other business model/job. If you can sit alone(without pressure from others) and get these answers, do some self analysis. If you are happy with the answers, carry on with this life for you have the skill set needed in this system. If you are not happy, start looking at other alternatives too. For, after all, you are not there to build someone else's dream of social network + e-commerce site. Check if there are ways of building your dream. Because you have only one life! If you don't worry about your dreams, no one else will.

If you are a person who is pro-MLM, I welcome your views on it. For there might be something I have missed (for the guy who spoke to me might not have been a good-enough salesperson). You can help me see your viewpoint. I'm interested to really learn about it.

If you are a person who is anti-MLM, I welcome your views as well. I would like to know if there were any points I missed and should have considered. I'm sure that more the experience, the better and wider is a person's view of analyzing something. Adding the experiences of all of us, you and me, would make things clearer.

What is your view on MLMs? What do you think about the ethics and business longevity of this model?

[PS: I really didn't want to write this experience down, for there might be some who are happy with MLMs and I didn't want to hurt their sentiments. But there are two reasons for this post: First, if I can make even one person understand the good and bad reasons as to why they are in this system and chose it as part of their dream, it would be a good deed. And second, this is the first time I got to really check out a business model and find the good/bad in it without anyone's help. So, I would totally welcome any and all viewpoints related to it.]

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Rebuild India Campaign

I was sent a link to this campaign by a friend in the wake of 26/11 in Mumbai. Though there has been lots spoken on the blogosphere and the media about the acts themselves and the actions needed after that, I have both hope and skepticism regarding the entire issue. However, its best to try something out rather than sitting back and wondering about it for even if we don't reach the "Dream India" of ours to 100%, even a 50% improvement is way better than what we have now.

There are a number of issues that plague the growth of India. Some of the questions on this survey were ones that I would have discussed with friends. Though I still remain skeptical as what this survey might achieve, I encourage everyone to check it out and answer the questions. For, after all, even a small step forward is better than standing at the same point, right?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Drinking and feminism - one feeds another?

I recently came across an article in NY magazine. I started reading it as a general glance through but slowly got interested. By that article, it says more and more women were drinking and those that drank, are drinking more. Since I'm a woman, I started applying it to my friends and other women I've seen.

When I was in school, drinking was a big no-no and very few(barely 5 or 10 out of 100 of my friends) did it once(maybe two, not more). Moreover, those drinking experiences were more a part of an experience or a wager with their brothers and cousins and friends. None was done for the sake of drinking.

Then came college. As far as I know, some of my friends were regular drinkers(not alcoholics). They drank because it was part of their house culture. So it was not a big deal for them. But most friends tried it out just for the heck of trying it out. Even then, the percentage hadn't crossed 20%.

Then came (pseudo)work life(I know, it was a short 6 month stint, but still corp life). Even here, it was not a big percentage. I had a few friends who frequented the bars of B but they knew when they had to stop and it was more a social reason(going to the bars and hanging out with friends) rather than drinking for drinking's sake.

My masters life saw a huge jump in the percentage to 90-95%. This was mainly because I went from a culture that frowns on it to a culture where people didn't mind about it. Also, the people I knew here were more willing to try out things and felt that drinking was just another habit. A good or bad connotation to it was stupid by their thoughts. Some of my closest friends drink moderately. One of my friends' dreams is to try out all the different types of drinks and to taste the best known concoctions. I know that she saved money through her internship to get a bottle of fine wine that came to $500. Yeah! She spent $500 for ONE bottle of wine. I'm not sure if it was worth it but she said it was and she was on top of the world for a week about it. I'm happy that she loves it but I also know that I wouldn't do it. Also, here, I started seeing people who drank for drinking sake. I also saw people who treat it as a hobby and invest in expensive stuff for it. My friend above was one such person. She tells me that her house in future would have a well equipped and well stocked bar and that she would take great pride in it. And I'm sure she would do too.

Further came my internship time. My company regularly hosts beer parties and freshly brewed beer is served there. I know that a lot of my friends love it and that it is part of my company's culture. When I think of how well I'd fit there once I go back as a full time employee, I'm not sure about the beer parties aspect. I don't really care about all this stuff as long as I'm not forced to drink. Its not that I think drinking is bad or good, its just that I don't want to do it because of a personal reason. As long as my friends don't go overboard, I know that they understand the risks and returns of their drinking and wouldn't force them to stop. True, I discuss about it with some friends, but in the end, its their call. But, going back to topic, I found that the percentage of women drinking in the corporate world was a bit lesser than the percentage of women in college. This might have more to do with the corporate setting that I've seen most women in the corp world than the actual numbers. College, having a more relaxed and friendly atmosphere, is more apt to drinking with perfect strangers. Who knows? Once I start work, I might find that the women in corp world actually drink more, albeit in a non-corporate or semi-corporate setting.

It also shows a big difference in the cultures, the one I was brought up in and the one I live in now. So, is cultural difference the only thing to blame? Or, does misguided views of feminism, more stress for women, social acceptance problems, etc also play a part? Also, does drinking induce one to feel more feminist? And being a feminist implies that one should drink? This seems like a recursive loop with no way out. However, I love that women get to choose in this country, whether to drink or not, and if so, by how much, when, where and with whom? True, people pay different prices based on their choices. But the freedom to choose, ah! That is true liberation!!

Monday, December 08, 2008

An Angel's visit

Oh! she sat
She waited
The angel said, she will come

She saw
She worried
The angel came, in a different form

She started
The angel asked
"You want me, or my form?"

She wondered
She decided
"I want you, not your form"

The angel laughed
The angel winked
"You'll get me, and my form"

The Voice listened
The Voice was proud
"She made a choice, the right one!"

The Voice understood
The Voice was happy
"I taught her, and taught her well"

The Voice said
In a emotion filled tone
"Thanks for it all!"

The angel smiled
The angel cared
For both were in need of her

Her and her services
Her and her love
Her and her magic, all thru her

She'll do her best
They deserve it
But for now, this form is fine

She and the Voice
Comforted by the angel
Comforted by each other and their choices

They went to sleep
The angel went to work
All was quiet, peace with the world.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

A "personal finance" dish

Writing the previous post, I started thinking more and more about personal finance. Is it the need of the hour, what with more and more people losing jobs and the ones that hold them not yet sure as to how long the entire recession would last? Oh! personal finance has been around ever since man started commerce and brought in the concept of individual wealth management. But it has gained more and more spotlight in present times.

It may be due to the course I'm taking or due to the recession that is unfolding right before my eyes, but I've started taking some interest in finance finally. There are a number of finance guides and people who are great with finance that help people in trouble. Also, there is more openness about finances than before(or may be there were earlier and I am aware of them only now).

Recession in some far away city puts you in a cocoon and you don't really care much about it. But recession in your neighborhood is a different game altogether. So, to improve the health of the US economy and the people of the world, I'll show you how to make a dish out of personal finance. Yeah! Eating(doing) this will surely nurse your finances back to robust health. Some of the ingredients are:

1) Spend less than you earn - In a nutshell, don't spend what you don't have. And, keep some saved for the rainy day! Absence of this ingredient led to the mortgage bubble burst and it shows what has happened to us right now. This ingredient is the base of the dish. If this is absent, then any ingredient or tool used would be useless.

2) Earn more than you spend - In a nutshell, try to earn what you want to spend. And, don't touch your rainy day savings. This ingredient might sound eeriely similar to the above one. But it is not so. Say you have $10. Say you spend $5 and save the rest. Now your savings is $5. Say you increase your earning to $20. Then you can increase the spending to $10 and still save $10(an increase of $5). Or if you decide to stick to old spending ways, then you save $15(an increase of $10). That is the difference between both concepts. This is yet another important ingredient without which your dish size would never grow. It is like yeast is to bread and cake risers to cakes. However, you can add as much of this ingredient as you want to the dish(unlike yeast or cake risers). The more of this ingredient, the better is the dish.

Now add generous mixtures of the above two ingredients and add a good amount of patience, confidence and determination. Let the dish sit for some time. Do not add ingredients like debt, new credit cards, loans, etc. These ingredients will make the dish go bad! As you stir the mixture and start eating(using) it, there would come out of it, vapors called "more money" that would chase away the debt ghosts(like how real food chases away the hunger ghosts). These vapors can be seen using special tools like budgets, spending plans, etc. Further, the dish can further spiced up by tools like high interest rate accounts, couponing, deal watching, thrift store shopping, etc.

To magically increase the quality and quantity of the dish, you can use the investing tool to stir the dish from time to time. However, if overused, this tool can even spoil the dish. So care should be taken when using this tool. The author recommends that this tool should be used only by advanced cooks or by beginners under the guidance of an advanced cook. If a beginner wants to try it, he/she should use it only sparingly and can slowly increase the duration and speed as time goes by.

Voila! You finally have a magical dish that can not only chase away debt ghosts and keep them far, far away but also give you benefits of financial health like good credit score, enough money to achieve your dreams(isn't this what all of us aim for?) and most of all, a peaceful sleep at night without worrying about paying bills on time(what else is needed in life?). Eating(doing) this all through your life gives you a long lived robust financial life as long as you live and makes things infinitely easier for your kids and others. Now, don't you want to make your own magic dish from this recipe?? :) Let me know if you find this dish yummy and useful. I'm sure you'll soon send me a postcard from Hawaii thanking me for your robust financial health and hence remarkable mental and physical health.

Note: Longer the exposure to this dish, better becomes your health. So, use it more and use it often!

Personal Finance: some observations

Recently, I was thumbing through a personal finance magazine while waiting to meet someone. I was amazed at a number of things:

1) Usually, when I visit someone's office, all I see would be general magazines or news magazines. Nowadays, more and more personal finance magazines are seen everywhere(I saw THREE magazines in just one week! And I live in a university town!). Goes to show how deeply recession has affected the US common people, aka "Joe the plumber".

2) One of the coffee shops where I drink coffee regularly is run by a smart and pleasant woman. She manages the entire shop with help from her sons. I've been in awe of her workmanship, the quickness with she serves the orders and her pleasant manner. We got to chatting the other day and she said that lesser people were buying coffee or other drinks. Most people have started asking for water with their sandwiches and meals. Even those that order drinks are switching to smaller cups and less fancy fare. Usually, if 100 grandes were sold, only 50 or less grandes are sold now. And, people are asking for regular coffee in place of the fancy and costlier lattes. She was worried about the recession. As more and more people tighten their belts and start cost cutting, one of the first things to go are drinks like coke, coffee, etc. So, what is going to happen to the coffee shop I so love?

3) I got the chance to read an article about credit card debt and what can be done to reduce/remove them. That got me thinking. Not many friends of mine have huge credit card debts. Most people I know make full payments every month and do not let the credit card debt in any one month go over 50% of their credit card limit. But this could also be due to the fact that most people I knew were Indians. Even among my non-Indian friends, not many had huge credit card debts. But they tend to make minimum payments to the card balances rather than the full amount. There were a few who did the math and knew that letting balances grow would lead to them paying more than they expected. They paid the balances in full but most didn't.

4) Most students had student loan debt. Indian friends usually came here with a loan from banks and plan to repay it once they get a job. Non-Indian friends have a similar structure. I know of American friends who were paying down their student loans even when in college because they knew that letting the balances sit would definitely harm them later on. But most Indian friends I know wait till they get a full time job to start paying their student loans.

5) Most Indians do not feel comfortable discussing finances but most Americans are happy to discuss them and show where they are exactly with their goals. This might be due to the fact that most Indian families do not discuss finance with the children when they are growing up. I did know much about money and how it is handled as long as I stayed with my parents. But I know, from my friends in US, that a growing number of American families are very open and honest about the finances with the kids. It makes such a difference when you get to understand these things when you are young. The kids are more confident because they learn how a key part of the adult world works.

One of the jokes I heard at a party went like this:
If you give $10 to a Japanese guy, he'll save $9 and spend $1
If you give $10 to a Chinese guy, he'll save $7 and spend $3
If you give $10 to an Indian guy, he'll save $5 and spend $5
If you give $10 to a European, he'll spend $10
If you give $10 to an American, he'll borrow $5 and spend $15.

Are these differences in spending structure and loan repayment due to differences in their culture? These are just my observations based on the people I see around me. I'm sure there are all kinds of people all over the world and I personally know of Americans who are very good at managing their finances and a Japanese guy who is neck-deep in credit card debt. This post is not for or against any country. I'm just comparing two cultures I know and trying to make sense of it all. Have you seen any such differences in spending and saving habits of people because of their culture, region, upbringing, etc? I'd love to hear your views.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

One of the lasts!

One of my last classes was today and I felt sad about it. The professor is a very knowledgeable and interesting teacher. He used to crack jokes exactly during the middle of the class. There are lots of such memories, big and small about this course. I've enjoyed every class of this subject. Though I would continue to work with him, I'm not sure if I get another chance to sit in a class taught by him. Yup! He is my advisor. He is one of the best people in my field and I'm very lucky to get a chance to work with him. I so am going to miss his classes. But I'm glad that I got to experience what a pleasure classes are when they are taught by exceptionally brilliant professors who know how to really teach students.
God bless such great teachers!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Finance, my new interest!!

There are a few things that, when you do, seems interesting in the beginning but bore off at the end (how about watching shows? I've seen some TV shows that start well but drag in the end.. And I, the ever faithful viewer, still stuck doggedly to its end! An apt example is Kaadhalika Neramillai from Vijay TV. That show deserves a post of its own! There were very, very few movies or TV shows that have held my interest from beginning to end).

There are some other things that seem boring at first but becoming quite interesting as the days go by (for example, VLSI. Believe me, I used to hate VLSI when I was in my junior year. Simply because, all I saw was a chip and the big hulla bulla about it. But going to Cisco changed those opinions and I fell in love with it, prompting me to add it to the already-full list of masters studies. Now, my particular masters topic is so broad that I can work anywhere and yet so specialized that there is no particular job that suits it to the glove! And I'm loving both sides of it!!).

But there are a rare few things that you do, at first, because it is interesting to dip your toes into and captivate you with their beauty that you seem to do them all said and done(like writing, for instance. However tired I am, I write a bit every day! And I found that I cannot stop from writing - my September and October trials would show it).

Now I have found another such interest - finance. There are two basic reasons for this interest in it. First, I was always eager to know how something worked and that includes a corporation, a government and our own lives. I used to have all these questions as why one should work (come on! Don't tell me everyone in this world works because they love their work), till when should one work, what will one do if they don't have the necessity to work, etc. Lets suffice it to say that I was asking questions such that I can understand the adult world much better and safely leap into it from my adolescent and secure life. I tried to learn something about commerce from my mom but it turned out that it never happened! Guess there is something impossible about trying to teach your daughter commerce when she is always dreaming about the latest and coolest stuff. So, here was my wish, simmering under all the normal stuff I did.

Second, I enrolled in a course this semester that taught the basics of finance. When I say basics, I mean "real basics". The professor started off with what is finance, why we need it, what is credit, etc, etc. Also, the US recession(yeah! its officially declared now!) was unfolding right in front of my eyes. What better chance to learn about finance, its myriad facets and all the consequences? I also started reading on some light stuff about finance and how it applies to normal people, you and me! That showed me that man had a powerful tool, that if used, would create such wealth for everyone. And men have been using it ever since the first cave man traded one spear for another with his kinsman. Various forms and complexities, yes but the underlying principle is the same.

Earlier, I never used to bother about it all. My mom was my money-giving tree and I could ask for however much I wanted but had to have a good explanation for it. Further, my family encouraged kids to save whenever possible. My parents were no exception. And my parents were never big on entertainment(Maybe that is why I think working on sundays is not something hard or wrong? I know, from experience, that one of my friends' dad always had a clear demarcation between office work and personal life and never worked on weekends. She was amazed when I said that my dad worked and couldn't really understand why anyone would do so. Not that my dad had to, but wanted to was what made all the difference.Thanks pa for teaching me that trait! I so take after you :)). According to them, a movie per six months was standard fare. I grew up the same and continued through college(Yeah! I know, I know!!)

Now, I get to handle my finances and am able to appreciate the nuances of it all. Man's ingenuity surpasses it all when it comes to handling the wealth of the world. It is all the more interesting how the basic system never changed and though there were new methods all the time, there was some time in history when it was already done. For example, we speak so much about Travelers Checks and consider them the best ones to use when you go from one country to another. Did you know that a similar system was used by the Templars in the 12th century? And they had complex security systems to protect it all and ensure that no cheating is possible.

So, long story short, I'm in love with finance for now and I'm sure this interest would continue for some more time! Till then, my dear readers, I invite you to join me in this fabulous journey to get glimpses of clear minds, ruthless actions, deep seated passions like greed and fear and the beauty with which the world balances it all out over the centuries.

For all the grad students out there, good luck with toughing it out the last few weeks of this semester before we break up for winter.