Let's re-learn!

A long time ago in a place far, far away, I used to have an interesting friend. One Friday evening, like any other Friday evening, we were chilling at our regular Theka, when suddenly he made an interesting proposition. Though in a very businesslike but suspiciously hushed tone. Only because I was his close friend, he wanted to introduce me to a business idea, where I just need to invest a small amount. The good part about his plan was that the returns would start flowing in in less than a month. The even better part about his idea was that soon after, I will have to do nothing and the so-called business will run on auto-pilot mode and I would be a sit-at-home millionaire!

investing 101
Photo by Jimi Filipovski on Unsplash
I am very sure that the audience of this blog is smart enough to understand that his business-idea was the infamous Multi-Level Marketing scheme, and of-course that conversation is one of the key reason why the first line of this blog says, ‘I used to have an interesting friend.”

But this post is neither to discuss MLM schemes, nor about old friends. This post is about a simple question that I usually ask anyone giving me an investment idea or as it is better known as 'tip' – if your idea is so commercially viable, why do you want to share your riches with me? Why don’t you mortgage your house and invest in the business? If everything goes well, soon after, by just sitting in your mortgaged house, you will be the proud owner of 100 such (mortgaged?) houses! 

This is probably just one example, and that too a very crude one. But the deeper you dive into the field of investing the more examples you will find of people and even companies misselling and promising (mostly?) unachievable returns. And that’s where my friends, this line of thinking is helpful. If the cost of capital (plus transaction charges) is less than the promised(!) returns, it is probably time to ask some hard questions.

Although, I must warn you, that probably I am from the older generation where people thought about businesses which were profitable or had a break-even point, and did not plan to run on ‘funding’ till someone bought them over. But I digress…

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A new Journey


In not so distant past, till I decided to quit my full-time job and pursue my MBA, I was quite engaged in investing as well as trading. However, to fund my education, I liquidated almost all my investments, and even spent a couple of years under heavy debt! Yep, the infamous student-loan!

As the loan was paid-off and closed recently, I am re-learning the process of investing, while getting acclimatized with the new realities of the trading world. As I learn, digest, think and process, I will try to jot down some of my thoughts here on this page.

May the bulls (& bears) be always with you... ! 

The one where it snows in Paris

In what should be a non-event for most of the people, it snowed in Paris this week. Oh boy, and it snowed heavily than what I have witnessed in past 4 years in France. And it wouldn't be an overstatement if I say, I have never seen Paris look so beautiful in my life!

View from my balcony

Being born and grown up in harsh, hot weather of Delhi, with blinding-foggy winters, I have had only a few brushes with snow in my life. My first encounter with snow was when I used to work in Romania. That got out of hand, pretty quickly. The whole town was covered in snow for over 3 months! Suffice to say I believe I finished the quota of snow-days for 24 years of my past life in those 3 months! 

The little town I lived in, Timisoara, had a different charm in the snow. Having an apartment and office in close to each other helped me a lot to discover new snow-covered ways through parks, central squares, near rivers and over the bridges - all while walking back and forth from work. Though I didn't realize it at that time, but the sentiment snow evokes in me is something as close as love as one can feel! 

The yearning I had, over the years, to see and feel fresh layers of snow never went down even a notch. To add to it, I don't remember where, but there was a scene in a movie (or a TV series?) where the actor opens his mouth to taste the pure taste of snow, as it falls, made me add that to my bucket list! 

And, I tasted snow! ...as it fell by buckets, in the shape of tiny feathers from the sky! 

I left for work at 5.30am couple of days ago, and it was snowing lightly. Though I hate to get up so early, not to mention venture out of the house at such ungodly hours, but what I felt was surreal that day.  While the world (and the Mrs.) were tucked in their Razais, I was the lone soul walking outside, with an ocean of snow in any direction I saw. Only to be punctuated by some iconic Parisian buildings. I was creating fresh footprints in the freshly laid snow, with no sounds except the one I was making while stepping on the snow clouds! 

To put it briefly, I witnessed and felt pure magic! I can write pages to describe what I felt early morning that day, and still feel that I haven't conveyed my feelings properly. But instead...

... I will take a pause here and wish everyone reading this to feel - every single day of their life - the happiness and magic I felt that day. 

THE YEAR THAT WAS: 2017

As I sit in the familiar comfort of my Razai with a warm cup of Chai in my hand, I couldn't help but notice that it has been 12 months since I smelled the aroma of a cardamom Chai mixed with Delhi's fog! We say this every year, but didn't 2017 just whiz by faster than we could imagine?

2017 for me can only be defined as the year of big transformations. The year that brought with it momentous changes, of positive nature, in both personal and professional aspects.

time, year end, clock
Photo by Szűcs László on Unsplash

Professional Updates

After completing my MBA last year, I toughed out 6-odd months in an internship, then 6 more months in a temporary contract (known in French as Contract Duration Determinée or CDD). However, at the beginning of this year, I was finally able to secure a full-time contract (known as Contrat à durée indéterminée, in short CDI) in a leading global firm. 

Having worked in India for the most part of my professional life, all these contract types were very alien concepts for me. In my previous jobs in India, the process flow was as follows - a company hires you (usually from the first contact to final offer, I have never spent over 4 working days), and then you continue working there till you retire, or you leave by giving a 30-60 days notice. The company can also fire you if they don't like your performance by giving you same notice or compensation for the same. 

However, from what I have gathered, it is quite hard for even private companies to eliminate positions or fire employees due to labor protections in France. For all practical intent and purposes - it is deemed nearly impossible unless there is gross misconduct. Hence, large companies usually require you to go through a trial period of internship or a temporary (fixed duration) contract before they can trust you enough to give you a full-time contract. 

While there is protection for employees (which a surprisingly high number of millennials in France seek), this whole process makes employers very cautious while hiring new people, leading to lack of liquidity in the market. Therefore, you will see people sticking around in the same company or companies having to keep the same people around for decades, even if there is a visible mismatch. Plus making it hard for new talent to get hired properly for a job fitting well for their profile rather than in a firm which is willing to give them a CDI. 

However, having decided to have built my career in France, I am adapting to the prevalent system, and happy to report my CDI contract to you guys. 

Personal Updates

This is the big one - After ~2 long years living on our own, while spending Friday and Sunday nights in Eurostar to travel between Paris and London, the wifey has now relocated to Paris! As some people are calling it - The Khannas Reunited! :)

With that, we have now commenced The Grand Tour of Europe! As our weekly shuttles between London-Paris have come to an end, we have decided to spend our travelling budget on visiting a new country every alternate month - or simply 6 or more new countries every year! 

In terms of cities, this year we visited the regular London, Paris, Delhi, and Hyderabad, along with new additions of Prague (Czech Republic), Copenhagen (Denmark), Champagne (France). Ghent (Belgium) and Lille (France).

We also spent a lot of time exploring the streets, museums, and gardens of Paris. On that note, I think we should cover the Parisian expeditions in a separate post. Something similar to Sahil's post on Paris hall of fame

Onwards! 

For 2018, instead of making several small resolutions - which almost no one ever keeps - I have decided to do six '30 day challenges'! I first heard about the concept in this Ted Talk and was quite intrigued by it. With several small life improvements and personal projects that I am working on in parallel, I think dedicating a month to each of them would be quite interesting as well as productive!

Keep watching this space for more info! Till then...

Wish you and your family a happy and prosperous New Year 2018!

I should probably write more of these year-end reviews: THE YEAR THAT WAS: 2014