bengal sweets bengali market

I finished meeting an investment advisory firm owner-partner, where we agreed to work together. I felt good about it as I got up from the odd looking chairs in his conference room. Odd because the handles were abnormally wide apart. He said they were just made that way. I thought maybe he had very portly clients. As I walked down the stairs I remembered his intention to be a lone star firm, where there would be junior partners but mainly to execute, all the relationships would largely be his. I thought he would explain his stand which contrasts with modern day philosophy of democratic firm building. But he had no qualms about it being a one man show, and that he intended it to be that way in the future. Well is there any empirical evidence on whether lone star firms survive better? Ambit, JM, DSP, Avendus, Mape, the big 4, JP Morgan, Goldman etc. I leave you to do your own analysis. My view however is that lone star firms can probably lay claim to some form of specialization, service or discretion but they can’t house great talent. Though you may argue that great talent will seek to be on its own. So given my anti lone star views, I was a bit deflated and I walked I reached the Bengali market roundabout and I remembered the Bengal Sweets sweet boxes that my father brought from Apollo Tyres shareholder meetings nearly 20 years back. I think they later banned giving gifts at AGM’s. So I walked into the store, salivated at the khoya based sweets and chola bhatura and then decided on gol gappe. I will rave about suji ke gol gappe and rant about the crap they call pani puri in Bombay some other time. While I was gorging, I saw an old portly man dressed in pyjama and the kurta of the baniyas in chandni chowk which is like short and has a pocket. He was standing behind and more than an armslength away. So the guy had to turn back and reach out to serve him. His demeanor and a couple of remarks suggested that he was probably the owner. When he left I asked the guy and he said that he was the owner and he never came when it was busy and always stood away from the customers. So I started my interrogation. The maalik was a great man. The guy had been working there for the last 23 years and so also most others. He said we have no coupon system (which is a centralized billing and collection system)because the owner trusts us and the customer can be flexible. We go to the owners house to keep the cash. We don’t ring the bell and we don’t need to ask the owner to take the next days cash. I thought this was extreme. You could see his pride in his owner and the importance of the trust that his owner reposed in him. He came from his village many years back and is not very literate. I guess its the choice between scaling up and being only one store. Is the chain of Haldiram and Bikano’s any better than Bengal Sweets or other such singles. My romantic mind says no but Mc Donalds and KFC makes me think otherwise. So maybe the lone star thing is more of a personal choice and its not to be confused with institution building.


taxi driver lessons

Cold Iron can cut hot iron but hot iron can not cut cold iron. I am not sure about the metallurgical accuracy of this statement made to me by a fresh looking autorickshaw driver in Bombay but it sounds logical. He made this comment in the course of an animated discussion we were having on why there is no point in road rage. He told me about how he was an angry young boy from Jaunpur and now he is a mellow middle aged man with a flat in Nallasopara on the outskirts of Bombay. Is there any merit in thinking that he has two autos and a flat in Bombay because he has controlled his anger. Probably. By the way his investment in that flat is a fairly good investment. He invested Rs. 1.4 lacs in 2009 which is now Rs. 2.4 lacs odd and commands a rental of Rs. 2000 a month. Thats 17% return pa. I am wondering why not buy five flats and etc…The road rage thing makes me wonder did we have this much of road rage when we had bullock carts running around on unpaved roads. Does the speed of macadamized roads lead to a desire for quick results and reduce tolerance to hindrances. Also what about research on how chemicals in the food chain make people hyperactive and etc. Research suggests that there is a link between organophospate pesticides (OP) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children. A 5-year study at the University of Wisconsin in Madison found that water contaminated with low levels of the common agricultural pesticides atrazine and aldicarb altered thyroid hormone levels in the bloodstreams of mice. Researchers found that ingesting various combinations of these chemicals (which are often found in water supplies in farming regions) caused increased aggression as a result.   Britain’s Global Environmental Change Programme found that lead, PCBs, biphenyls and radiation are harming the intelligence of people around the world. That’s a lot of research…But maybe we instinctively always knew it. The word leaden derived from lead also means Dull, heavy, or slow. So lead was always associated with low intelligence from hundreds of years. We just proved it scientifically now. We probably need to slow down, because mathematically a graph which goes up constantly will soon run out of paper, but cyclical forms will go up and come down but stay within the paper. So our desire for endless growth…will be addressed some other day….

English:why tough is better

Its of course the most popular language in the world. Chinese and Hindi are big in number but spoken only in a few geographies. So too Spanish and Arabic. But let us not get into number of geographies. Hollywood is all English and rules the world. People want to learn English in all parts of the world. Ok that is an unsubstantiated statement. So be it. Some years back I was on a train from Delhi to some place in Gujarat. Two guys were talking about the superiority of Indian languages because they are spoken exactly the way they are written. Written in hindi would be RITN. No double t’s no silent w and other crazy rules. So that should mean it’s a superior easy to use language. I have pondered over it at different times in the past few years and then I came to a preliminary conclusion after I saw how Cursive writing is treated in North America and also the evolution of spellings in English in just the last 200 years.
Cursive writing is derided in North America, there is some funny primitive thing called printing. Why in f….’s name would you want to print when you can write much faster using cursive. That is when I made my own realization that there is no equivalent of cursive in any of the Indian languages I know. When I wrote Hindi not only did I have to use printing but I also had to use a line that goes on top of each word. So after I print RITN I have to draw a line touching the top of the letters from R to N, like I am telling them that here is a roof above your head, or here I am protecting you or here I am setting your boundaries or limits. Of course the line does serve to distinguish between some words. But very few of them. Maybe just one of them. I can’t remember now. The heavy version of B will sound like M if I put a line on top of it….Other than that the line on the top is largely redundant. Of course other Indian languages don’t have this line thing. I should find out why Hindi has this top line architecture. So here is the theory. Civilizations which used cursive were more fond of writing and therefore had a much better chance to develop and store their knowledge in accurate forms. Learning cursive also meant that not only did you have to deal with complex rules of spellings but also learn to write alphabets in nearly two ways besides the mental faculty you need to combine the words. The decline of cursive in North America presages its decline. Young people don’t want to learn the complexities of cursive because they are getting lazy and believe that everything is there on the computer. This is accompanied by a general decline in arithmetical abilities. Stupid [that is the only word I can use] teachers and administrators who brought out common core in the US and ‘no rote learning’ in North America have such a binary approach. Rote learning is bad but getting completely out of it is also bad. You dont have to learn the tables anymore, just understand the concept of multiplication and addition, you have computers and calculators anyway. I think the brain gets better and smarter when you practice its memory. Anyway Common core philosophy is probably why we also have an age of empty inventions like Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Uber, AirBnB and the fiction called the Shared Economy and its resident apps and websites. Ok let me get back. That is for another day.
Languages which are spoken exactly the way they are written lead to people who were not very creative. People who could only conform. Maybe even people who could only see the obvious. Like you have to figure out when to use Threw and Through…both sound same. Or Since there’s no time like the present, this is the perfect time to present the present. Ok let me stop there. So English speakers don’t conform, can see beyond the obvious, have greater flexibility and are creative. Relatively of course to languages spoken as they are written.
I have a view on the French too. I was sitting in generically the same room that Archimedes was sitting when he got his Eureka moment and which is where I get many of mine. Understanding the French is inévitable in Canada. In the room where I was sitting I was looking, like everyday, at the bottle of hand soap. Bilingual labeling on everything for sale is de rigueur in Canada. So hand soap translates to savon pour les mains in French. Savon sounded like Sabun which is Hindi for Soap and I thought well we must have got the word from the Arabs / Persians and then I made the wild connection that the French and the Spanish and the Italians are closer to Arabia anyway so probably that is why they are closer to Sabun [Savon, Jabon, Sapone]. That is for another day. For now the conclusion I want to draw is how languages like French and Italian based on their translation for hand soap are unwieldy and inflexible today. The german for hand soap is handseife. Efficient.
In conclusion, English is the language of the people who are creative, see things in multiple ways and keeps absorbing new words into it. Is that good? I don’t know. The world is becoming a ecological hell hole though improving in many other aspects, so maybe people of other languages serve as checks and balances to the the ever changing English speaker.

Indians and immigration

I heard Jorge Ramos on how the demographics would change and the Hispanics wont be a minority and most importantly ‘this nostalgic view of America won’t work’. Canada, America and West Europe are the parts of the world which should accommodate, not discriminate, while Asia, South America and Africa will not be friendly with immigrants at all….For instance in our own country there is no doubt in our mind that Bangladeshis are trying to get in and we should keep them out. Its not an emotive issue. Indians who talk about the immigrant unfriendly attitude of Trump are completely ok being immigrant unfriendly in India….for that matter even within India. anti south indians in the north which then changed to anti biharis….or non marathis in bombay…So while Trump is an ugly and probably dodgy kind of guy there are real reasons why he has a support base. The reality is that there is a bunch of white people who took over the place and started making this country…a lot of others from around the world were brought in, came in, sneaked in….and now they want to have some say in running the place…which the white people dont want to give away….and why would they….Imagine its 2180 and somehow this is a Hispanic privilege country or a Hispanic Asian privilege country….it would be tables turned…and the same way you see white people reacting you would see Hispanics and Asians being immigrant unfriendly….

Steve Jobs Turned Down A Partial Liver Donation From Apple CEO Tim Cook


During the final years of Steve Job’s life the former Apple CEO was in desperate need of a liver transplant but refused his successor Tim Cook when he suggested a partial one, reveals a new biography set for release on March 24.

In the upcoming book Becoming Steve Jobs, written by Brent Schlender and Fast Company Executive Editor Rick Tetzeli, Cook reportedly went through a series of tests and discovered that a partial liver transplant was feasible, but said Jobs heatedly turned him away.

“Steve only yelled at me four or five times during the 13 years I knew him, and this was one of them,” Cook says in the book.

Read the full excerpt here and check out the April edition of Fast Company for more.

[Fast Company]

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A long—and winding—road to CEO for Credit Suisse’s new recruit


Had it not been for a coup, Tidjane Thiam would probably have not risen to the top ranks of the financial world.

For a few months in late 1999 and early 2000, Thiam— who was named as the new CEO of Credit Suisse on Tuesday—was a prisoner of the state, under house arrest, in his home country of Côte d’Ivoire. Thiam was then asked to work for the military government that had taken over control of the country. He said no. A few months after he was released, Thiam fled the country. He has not returned.

“He would only want to work with a democratic regime,” Aka Manouan, a childhood friend of Thiam, told The Telegraph in 2011. “Democracy, accountability, the rule of law, the strength of the market, these are the things very close to [Thiam’s] heart.”

And that’s perhaps why, despite the fact that he has…

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9 Subtle Signs You Could Have a Heart Problem


Thanks to more education about healthy eating and advancements in treatment, fewer people die of heart disease than in the past. That said, clogged heart arteries are still the number-one cause of death in the United States. Although heart attack symptoms can be a scary first sign of trouble (and keep in mind women have different symptoms than men), sometimes the body offers up more subtle clues that something is amiss with your ticker. The following is a list of symptoms that might be worth a chat with your doctor. But they may also be caused by a bunch of other things, so don’t freak out. (Many of these are also symptoms of anemia, so check out 15 Signs You May Have an Iron Deficiency.) Only your real doctor—not Dr. Google—can really tell you if these symptoms mean anything at all.

You’re extremely tired

This isn’t just lack of…

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Mercedes isn’t losing any sleep over the Apple Car

Andy Grove of Intel said only the paranoid survive. This kind of complacency is what has made them lose the design war to BMW


At least one major car executive is less than concerned about the idea of Apple getting into the automotive game.

Dieter Zetsche, chairman of of Daimler AG and head of Mercedes-Benz, said he isn’t losing any sleep over the rumors of an Apple Car, according to Australian car website Motoring.

“If there were a rumor that Mercedes or Daimler planned to start building smartphones then [Apple] would not be sleepless at night. And the same applies to me,” he said.

Rumors of an Apple Car have been swirling for weeks thanks to reports that the Cupertino tech giant has been hiring engineers for an automotive project. It’s still unclear what an Apple Car might look like, what it would do or if it will ever exist at all. Still, Apple getting into the car industry would be a major new entry to the sector.

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