Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Bankers vs. Lawyers/Accountants

I had to put this one up. This is an email exchange between a group of lawyers and a group of bankers. Albeit they are all a big bunch of happy friends, one Friday evening, at the end of a long week, they decided to take a dig at one another. While those who had had a tough week joined the banter, the others were silent witnesses. I do hope that each one of you will take this exchange as it is – simple humour. If anybody is offended, it is at their own peril. I do not take any responsibility for the same. I hold accountants, bankers and lawyers all responsible for their actions, none superior to the other.

Banker 1:
PPL, I understand that we all are on for drinks this evening...some getting there by 7...balance by 730ish. Are there any thoughts on which place we should hit at?

Banker 1 (after 5 minutes of minutes of thought):
Happy hour sangrias too :-)

Lawyer 1:
cool but it's got this comment, "It gets so loud that conversation with your companions becomes hard work " but we can walk on from there if it gets too loud....

Banker 2:
Hmmmm…….Lawyer 1 what is the intellectual discussion on the agenda?

Lawyer 1:
The 10 differences between bankers and lawyers/accountants ;-)

Banker 2:
Bankers are profit centres, accountants and lawyers are cost centres ;-)

Lawyer 1:
Surely you mean- Bankers are loss centres, accountants and lawyers are sanity centres ;-)

Banker 2:
Is that the reason that lawyers and accountants are at the beck and call of bankers?? So much so for being sane!

Lawyer 1:
We do reject more than half of those who approach us for our service. Hardly slavery? Though I must admit, it sucks getting 0.5% of the meat……..sigh….i should have been a banker…..

Banker 2:
I rest my case. You admitted that you would rather be a banker. So much so for lawyers making a case!! ;-)

Lawyer 1:
I only said that to make you happy. Us lawyers know their audience ;-)

Banker 2:
You lost a case to make an audience happy!!! I thought lawyers hold on to their stand and win the case. You threw in the towel buddy, that too in writing and with numerous witnesses. That is what makes bankers different. We fight and we win. If not on the buy side then on the sell side

Lawyer 1:
What makes bankers different is that they love to think they've won ...even when they've not. What makes lawyers who they are is they know they've won, they don't need to shout it out, they keep the money, smile and go on to the next client. Not everyone though, cause some of them only take on the most discerning....

Accountant turned Banker:

That’s exactly the point. Lawyers keep far toooooo much money

Lawyer 1:
Say there Sir….you are coming now….when I the fort needed your help..you absconded eh!

Banker 1:
Hey I didn’t think lawyers needed help to hold the fort…that’s what the money is for!

Lawyer 1:
But most of the money goes to the bankers…that is the problem you see ;-)

Banker 2:
And they do not even have to work as much as the lawyers do! Now no wonder bankers are profit centres and lawyers cost centres ;-)

Zoltan, his perceptions and misconceptions

My weapons’ mystery stands resolved. Thanks to Mr. Cold Caller, who very graciously read my blog on Monday morning and decided that before the day starts I should be sorted out. Now, what would I do without friends such as him or Zoltan for that matter! Zoltan who would like to be addressed so, as he likes the Eastern European name and wishes that this was his real name. Zoltan who believes he has an answer for everything. Zoltan who would like to tell me that I am wasted in the world of finance. Zoltan who loves food and is a hard core non-vegetarian. Zoltan my dear readers is the reason for my next post.

The questions now are: who is Zoltan and why am I writing about him? Well, Zoltan is a pretend banker who I have known for most of my time in London. Banker because he works in a bank (as if that was difficult!) and pretend because he is different than most other bankers I know. So you want proof. Here it is. He is well read, is a star tennis player, is a good cricketer, is great at work, knows how to salsa and is not very materialistic (or so he would like everyone to believe). Now to answer my next question, I am writing about him because he has perceptions and misconceptions about cricket, about life and about everything around him. While he would like to argue that he is right on all counts, now that there is a forum, I decided that I will let an impartial audience, my blog readers, take the call. He is fully aware of this and is looking forward to the open jury.

To start with is a misconception. In Zoltan’s views, Indians are emotional about cricket without really understanding cricket and are bad losers. When the Indian cricket team got kicked out of the world cup, I had a discussion with him. I said I would not support the Indian cricket team till such day that it played five consecutive one day matches (one each against Australia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and England) and won at least four respectfully. Soon after that India won the twenty-twenty. I was not thrilled with that particular victory. In my view it was not a major achievement. So there went my dear friend on how I was so harsh on the team and I was a sorry loser etc. Like I said, I wanted the team to display consistent outstanding performance and only then would it get my support. To this day the Indian team has not shown that it has what it takes to be a star team and it does not get my support. Hence Zoltan holds on to his grudge against Indians. Now he can question my ideology but he thinks all Indians are like me. Now that is a misconception and no one can disagree! While I am on his misconceptions about Indians, Zoltan also believes that Indians are very materialistic. And in the larger scheme of things, he has never been to India. Any comments, anyone?

The next one is his perception. His perception of Sachin Tendulkar. I cannot more than agree that the man in question is a legend and an absolute genius with the bat (Zoltan, this is not you my friend). However, lately the legend has been often injured and hence off the field, has not scored well consistently and on some occasions has been embroiled in controversy. There is a lot of talent that can do with his guidance and his place on the team. So I think, he should quit while he is in form and can do so gracefully. Zoltan disagrees. He thinks I am being harsh and unreasonable. Since the man is a hero, he should play until such time that he is either kicked out (or treated like a certain Bengali cricketer) or his injuries render him useless on the pitch. I am not convinced about this God like perception of Tendulkar and would like my readers to vote for or against Zoltan. Zoltan will be thrilled to see his perception being debated. Humor him please!

Zoltan made a number of enlightening remarks on Saturday when I met him for lunch, some of which I have forgotten. However, one thing I do remember him saying is “everything happens for a reason”. How can all things happen in life for a reason? If there is a reason for everything then explain, why did I get stuck in the DLR last Monday? Why is it raining today? Why is London so cold in April? Ok, I am trivializing things and on purpose. That is because my friend, while I do believe that life takes it own course and things happen for a reason, I also believe that one needs to take life as it comes and not so seriously. However, I do agree with you that we should all take lessons from our past and then move to the future. There you are spot on! I could go on and on about his philosophy on life. However, I am sure you get the whiff of it anyway.

While I might have said things in a lighter vein which might have implied otherwise, Zoltan is a nice guy, good company and can be a good laugh. On the face of it he is quiet but when you give him the opportunity he has a lot to share. He even had views on one of my favorite books – Emma! And yes, you will not be a genius if you guessed that we both agreed to disagree!

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Made in or made up?

Just a quick question. Do weapons have a "made in" tag like clothes, watches, shoes etc.? The reason I ask is because I read in the newspapers this morning "Weapons made in Iran found in Iraq". Now if the "made in" tag exists then this is could be a worrying situtaion. However, if not, then are these "Iranian" weapons as real as the "weapons of mass destruction" that Iraq was developing a few years ago?

I will be highly obliged if my dear friends, you can help me steer myself out of this confusion.

Cheers until I log on next.

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Is it the sunshine or is it just me?

I love London and I think that now is an established fact. However, what never fails to surprise me is how this city changes with a little bit of sunshine. It becomes a different place altogether!

Yesterday, I had to go for a business lunch. It had been a tough morning and I was looking for some respite. With the sun out there, I thought walking to my lunch destination might be a good idea. And well I could walk without my overcoat after ages! That was tempting.

I stepped out of the office and was greeted by warm rays of sun stroking my cheeks and a light breeze blowing through my hair. I looked around me and everyone was in high spirits (some more so because of the spirits they had been consuming!). People were all trying to make the best of this day and I guess work was not paramount on most minds. I wondered if I could, for once and just this once, sneak away from work myself. I would love to sit in a café, listen to music and watch the city folk go about their business. What fun it would be, if I could just have the chance to be in the buzzing city and absorb it all rather than having to add to the buzz. Well, as we all know, there is a time and place for everything, and so I walked away engrossed in my thoughts, smiling and hoping that one day I will get this opportunity.

Enroute I had to cross London Bridge. As I came to the center of the structure I paused. The view of London on this beautiful day with clear blue skies was breathtaking. I looked at my watch and realized that I had some time. So I stopped and waited there. The wind was still blowing and the sun was still warm. I looked at the skyline with St. Pauls Cathedral, the Gerkhin, Tower 42, Tower Bridge, Canary Wharf all existing side by side in absolute silence. Golden silence. This has to be the only city in the world with contemporary and historic architecture gelling together and creating such a picturesque view! I was just stunned and humbled by the city once again.

My lunch destination, offices of a prominent city law firm, stands next to one of the oldest landmarks of the city, a beautiful cathedral. While the legal folk go about their trials and transactions, the tourists come and enjoy the splendor of the cathedral. The river walkway is a congregation of photographers, busy restaurant tables and chattering teenagers. It was a perfectly shot scene from a wonderful movie.

We had lunch with a view overlooking the river. The sun had apparently lightened everyone’s mood. There was business talk, there was good food, there was talk about views, travels and opinions. It was a nice lunch. I walked away with new information, new contacts and a new thought. Maybe summer is finally here and this year to stay!

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Is it time for a career change?

Till I started blogging, I was not aware that I could enjoy writing so much. While spreadsheets and mathematical models have always enticed me, I have always procrastinated presentations and memos. While in school, I always focused on mathematics and science. At business school I opted for strategy electives only after exhausting all finance alternatives. I once even owned a coffee mug that said “I love spreadsheets”! It is sad, I know!

In light of my past, my current attempt to write and communicate is evolving into a fascinating experience. With sluggish markets, maybe this is my opportunity to do a part time course in journalism and try my hand at financial journalism (a marwari baniya, I do not think finance can ever be absent from any part of my life!). With all due respect to Indian financial dailies and their staff, I think all of them have a long way to go. Well structured articles are lacking and intricate topics are written about without being researched.

Take for example, an article in Economic Times (most widely distributed and read Indian financial daily) on 20th April 2008, on the low retail participation in Sensex stocks (
http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/Market_Analysis/Retail_investors_hold_meagre_share_in_majority_of_Sensex_cos/articleshow/2965952.cms). This article was simply a list of stocks and their respective retail holdings. I am not sure what the purpose of the article was. Was it trying to state that retail investors should have more participation in the top 30 companies of the country, or that their participation has decreased over time? By the sheer nature of wealth distribution, institutional investors have more investing power than retailers. So was the article not stating merely the obvious? There was no sector split, no historic data presented and no comparison made with holdings in mid-cap stocks or for that matter patterns in mature economies. It was an uninspiring and flat piece, almost like the story which ends even before it started. I am still scratching my head on this one!

Moving on, I am just reminded of a recent headline “Indian listed AIM stocks beat the Sensex”. AIM, is the Alternate Investment Market of the London Stock Exchange. This is predominantly a platform for global small and mid-cap growth stocks to make their debut. Sensex on the other hand, is an index of the top 30 companies in India by market capitalization. Is this not in itself a comparison of apples to oranges? Also, I would like to ask the journalist to remove the two top performing AIM listed Indian stocks, KSK Power and Eros International and then see the pattern. Is the growth still as stunning? Articles such as this often cloud minds of individuals in India who are slightly far removed from the reality of the markets. In this case one fact to be noted is that the liquidity and free float of AIM stocks is lower than that of Sensex companies. Hence any single trade done on AIM has more of an impact on the stock price. AIM in itself is a great platform for Indian firms as it offers them an incremental investor base, a place among peers (rather than being on BSE and NSE and getting lost with the larger names from the same sector) and more importantly an international setup which allows easier future debt or equity fund raising. However, comparison with the Sensex is not the right measure. If a statement such as this needs to be made, then I think the comparison needs to be done over a period of time to justify the claim. Only then can there be solid merit in the reporting.

The most frustrating article published recently, personally for me, was on Foreign Currency Convertible Bonds (FCCB) and how the upcoming redemptions of FCCBs would erode corporate profits. I am just amazed on how reporters can write such articles. FCCB is basically corporate debt, which at maturity can either be paid back in shares (if the share price is above a predetermined level) or it can be repaid in cash. Arguably the current state of equity markets implies that a number of FCCBs are trading below their predetermined equity conversion levels. However, most of them also have 2 – 3 years to go before they are due for redemption. In such a scenario, market movements and industry cyclicality plays a crucial role. The reporter ignores the same. At the same time, there is no analysis done of the money saved for the issuing company as FCCB debt is cheaper than raising straight debt. While the article raises a good point about prudent accounting for FCCBs, it is incomplete and not thoroughly researched as far as FCCB financing goes. Having lived and breathed FCCBs for the last four and odd years, I can say this with conviction.

If my writing seems too aggressive, it is because I would like to read meatier stuff in India financial dailies. Articles that educate and elucidate. With our capital markets growing, Indian corporates becoming global, global interest in India multiplying and RBI and SEBI making policy decisions too quickly, financial reporters have a crucial part to play in bringing about awareness. I am missing the buzz which the Indian economy is witnessing. I want to feel the pace of our growth in our journalism. I want us to debate policy decisions. I want to wake up reading my morning newspaper and not sipping on a cup of coffee. Maybe here I am just being a little too ambitious and I should stop! I do not think there ever will be a day when I will wake up without my morning café latte! Some habits just cannot die!

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Beer, Beer, Beer and more Beer

One day of the weekend is what I need to recharge. A day when I am doing nothing but sitting in a cafe with a book and just doing what I want to do. This weekend, Saturday was the chosen "me day". So when Chandler called to say they wanted to meet for lunch, my instantaneous response was, "come over, I will cook". I was in no mood to take the Tube, wait in a long queue, sit in a crowded place, eat and then take the Tube back home.

As I was leaving to buy groceries, I was instructed to buy Beer for Chandler. We had to ensure that we were being good hosts. Now, you see, that is quite a challenge for me. Selecting wine I can handle (a tip here: try the South African Pinotage. It's different). Picking liquor is easy, right! But beer................................

Anyway. What had to be done had to be done. So after picking my veggies, juices and herbs, I made my way to the beer aisle. Now, kindly note here that I have never considered beer as something which is worth consuming. Hence, the beer aisle was always meant to be ignored, till I was forced to acknowledge it yesterday. A full length of an aisle packed with beer was a somewhat of a shock to my system. To start with there was light beer, then there was beer with 4.5% alcohol content, then there was beer with 5.0% alcohol content, then there was imported beer, then there was Mexican beer and to top it all there also was a Blonde Beer!!! Oh, how can I forget the very inconspicuous Indian beer!

Now, I had to focus. What do I pick? I thought of an easy way out. I called Chandler. Very sweetly I explained to him that I was buying beer for him and would like to know his preference. His response was not helpful at all. “Sweetie, pick what you like. I am not fussed at all.” No amount of cajoling got him to tell me what he wanted. That meant I had to select one out of all these varieties in front of me, all of which seemed equally bitter and unpalatable.

I was walking up and down the aisle, trying to absorb the variations when Mr. Tesco (how I would like to refer to the supermarket attendant) passed me by and gave me looks as if to say, “so you did not have enough to drink last night did you!”. “You moron, I did not even touch the pitcher of Sangria last night (took some effort though I must admit) and I am trying to pick something for a friend”, I felt like screaming in response to his snigger. Well I kept my cool and went on and about with my task.

I finally picked up four bottles of Becks (other than Carlsberg, this was the only other familiar name around). In a hurry to get home and start cooking, I decided to go to the self service check out tills. Diligently I scanned each item and placed it into the carry bag. Then came the tomatoes. Damn, I did not see if I had picked the vine tomatoes or the beef tomatoes! Well, I punched in beef tomatoes and suddenly Mr. Tesco sneaked up from behind my shoulder. With another giggle he says, “My dear, these are not beef tomatoes. These are vine tomatoes. You should look twice next time. Beef tomatoes are much more expensive” He cancels my incorrect entry and moves on. His looks tell me, “better to stay away from all that beer..giggle giggle giggle”.

I was not a happy camper! I picked the four pack of Becks and scanned it. Nothing. Tried again. Still Nothing. So I placed the pack, admittedly a little too forcefully on the scanner, and damn! One bottle broke! There was beer everywhere! Now I was in a rush, not happy and embarrassed!

How could Mr. Tesco miss my embarrassing moment! So he came once again with his smirking face. “You should ask for help my dear. Don’t worry, I will wait here and you get another pack. Or do you want me to get a replacement for you.” I felt like retorting, “Mr. I am very capable of helping myself so keep your snide remarks to yourself!”

I went back to the aisle and this time picked a pack of four cans of Stella Artois. I did not want to break another bottle and there were no cans in Becks. Stella also seemed familiar. Now why did I not think of buying the cans earlier!!!! Slowly I made my way back to the waiting Mr. Tesco. I scanned the cans and very graciously Mr. Tesco approved my purchase (all alcohol purchased in the UK needs to be approved to ensure that the buyer is of the right age). He did think I was over 21 did he not! Idiot! Moron!

With my beer expedition over, I came home and cooked. Chandler came home. Helped me cook. Enjoyed the grub. But did not even touch the beer! So much so for all the trouble! Now I have four cans of Stella in my refrigerator, sitting there hoping to be opened someday by someone. Any takers?

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Is the State justified?

A few nights ago over dinner, a colleague mentioned how difficult it was for him to explain "death" to his two young sons. True, I thought. How do you explain to a little one what the inevitable is? It is a strange concept at the tender ages of four and six. Today, I found it impossible justifying the death penalty to myself. I am an adult and understand that what is born must perish. Yet, the act of taking what cannot be returned is a difficult one to digest.

The US Supreme Court today passed a ruling upholding lethal injections. This injection is a combination of three drugs. The first one, sodium thiopental, is an anesthetic intended to render the condemned unconscious. Next is pancuronium bromide which is supposed to shut down the lungs and paralyze the body. Finally potassium chloride is administered to induce a lethal heart attack. Just reading this made me quiver in my stomach and a chill went down my spine. What would those individuals, who are subjected to this, be feeling just hours before their last breath? What would be going through their near and dear ones? How can the state justify making the last moments of a person’s life absolutely so horrific and difficult to endure?

Chief Justice John Roberts believes that the state has put in place enough measures to ensure that in the first step, enough sodium thiopental is administered to ensure that the convict is sedated. He also believes that any inmate challenging the execution process, must be able to demonstrate that the method creates “substantial risk of severe pain”. The method does create severe pain. Pain for those who have to witness their beloved suffer through his/her last hours. Pain for those who probably are already half dead with the knowledge that of how death will take them away. Pain for those who are screaming out for a last chance at life and an attempt to redeem themselves. And what about the pain for those condemned wrongly?

A long time back, I argued against capital punishment for crime against women. While I do believe that crime against women is amongst the most sinful deeds committed, I also am convinced that capital punishment is not the answer. For one, the woman lives with her agony while the condemned forgets it the minute he goes. The b@*$@*^ who committed the ghastly act should rather be c^%$@*@^& and kept in isolation. Next, I still cannot justify taking a life. Each one of us commits our own set of sins. Who are we to judge another human being to the extent that we make his existence extinct? How can we be so hypocritical that on the one hand we let high profile men (including armed forces who are supposed to protect and preserve) charged with rape roam free but on the other hand send some others all the way to the gallows? That to me is not justice.

Would I recommend capital punishment to those involved in the 7/7 bombings was a question I was recently asked. Definitely not. I stand by that. An eye for an eye would make the whole world blind! Life is beautiful and precious. Only if we could all see it that way!

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

London: The best is yet to come!

No, I do not intend to spam blog. However, receiving the London mayor’s letter, asking for my vote in the upcoming mayoral elections meant that I had to speak out. Mr. Ken Livingston, with due respect, your time is over!

Alright, let me not be hasty and harsh. Let me at least read your propaganda. You open your letter with “The job of Mayor of London is not a joke. The Mayor manages a budget of nearly GBP 11m and takes decisions that affect every resident.” I am glad Sir that you finally realize this very important truth! Your decisions have affected us! We Londoners have paid increasing taxes (do you recollect the council tax and the congestion charge at all!) and are still worse off than before. All our roads are dug up, water supplies are unreliable and the city is increasingly becoming dirty! I am wondering what decisions were taken in our interests here?

Oh alright, let me read further. I need to give you a fair chance. So what is next?
“The Mayor’s biggest expenditure is on transport, including controlling bus services, the Tube and major roads. Over last eight years London’s bus services have completely transformed, with new buses on more routes and far greater reliability. Now we are starting to renew the Tube.....It requires a Mayor with proven record of delivery.”

I am rolling with laughter here. Thank you Sir for bringing laughter into this house after a long and hard day! You said proven record of delivery did you not! Proven record of delivering bendi-buses which could not be navigated through the narrow London streets, due to which the traffic directions had to be modified, inconveniencing everyone including the bus drivers? Or delivery of the spectacular Tube service which ensures that no one is ever on time? Or delivering assured Tube “upgradation work” on multiple Tube lines over the weekends for the last many years? Did the letter not say that the Tube is only starting to be renewed? So why exactly have we been paying increasing fares every year for the last four years?!

Mr. Livingston, dear readers, believes that London is the most beautiful city in the world! Sir, I second that whole heartedly (please read my first post if you have not). He agrees that there is a lot to do to improve the city and the best is yet to come. And to that I say yes the best is yet to come! A new mayor of London! Someone who has a vision beyond the vision for 2012. Someone who can really tackle our issues, with us Londoners in mind. Someone who can be a role model for the youngsters, sort his own life and not preach at large. Someone who will improve the infrastructure of the city before making tall promises to foreigners, inviting them to set up businesses in the city. Someone who at the end of his term can stand for re-election with the support of positive statistics and not a leaflet that points fingers at his competitors.

Grow up Sir and move on! The best is indeed yet to come!

The reason of being......

Well, the words of encouragement to my first blog have been overwhelming! Thank you all for your kind thoughts and time.

I have been asked by friends since Sunday as to why I started writing a blog. What was the driving force behind me making an appearance on the internet? Mr. Hob also severely cautioned me on using my real identity on the net (thanks for always looking out for me). Was I comfortable with people knowing that these thoughts were mine? Did I want to rethink being myself on the internet?

You see that is the point! I wanted to communicate with the world at large, be myself and enjoy being myself (as very profoundly and accurately stated by Siddhanta). That is why I came online.

Through my short life, I have had an urge on many occasions to try my hand at different things. As a child I would indulge myself. On occasions I even recorded my own songs as I believed I was a gifted singer (well that can be debated today!). At that point in time I had faith in myself! I believed that if an individual has a dream; God gives her the power to make that dream come true as well.

As life went on, I had my share of experiences and this faith began to shake. I built a wall around myself which kept most people out. I started to suppress my dreams as well. Self protection became paramount. I went on with life from one day to the next, being a “responsible” professional and adult. I lost touch with my instincts and kept many a desire at bay. Then came along someone who challenged this self preservation. The argument presented was strong and I gave in. Thinking, maybe, I was being a fool to keep myself sheltered. It cannot really be a big bad world out there! You know what, I fell flat on my face :-) ! I was just so darn stupid to take things on face value. The wall came back up!

However, lately I have begun to feel claustrophobic. I also have this feeling (right or wrong I still do not know) that most people hold back on most occasions. I guess there is an element of self preservation in every human being which colours the way we interact with the world. This in my opinion is the biggest cause of all confusions in human interactions.

Why cannot we be fearless with our feelings? Why is expression of true feelings and beliefs considered a sign of weakness? What makes us communicate with such great caution every time? Why do personal lives start becoming replicas of professional negotiations? Why do we want to categorize every single person as one type or the other?

I have lost some time but do not want to lose any more. I have a lot to say and a lot to share. Be it my experiences, my views on Indian media or my extreme frustration with the Indian financial regulatory authorities. I cannot please everyone and do not attempt to do so. As long as those who matter to me know what I am doing and are ok with it, I want to live my life being the person who I am. Even if it means an encore of the very embarrassing “daaku Tanu night” at Moret-Sur-Loing!

Until next time, Auf Wiedersehen!

Sunday, 13 April 2008

The City of Bridges: London

Over the years I have heard of various European cities being referred to as City of Bridges. Some people would like to think of Paris as the City of Bridges, while some say its Lisbon and yet others strongly believe that at some point it was Lucerne that deserved the title. From where I am today, I am convinced, that if there is one city in Europe that can command this title, it is London.

London: the bridge between all thats traditional and all thats contemporary, the bridge which joins varied cultures and races, the bridge which connects the two different worlds called America and Europe and the bridge which has helped me traverse the chasm from my past to my future.

I came to London a little over four years ago without any family, without much money, no permanent job and without a roof over my head. All that I had was dreams (yes and an MBA from INSEAD. I am not a total dreamer nor a complete idiot!!!) and the determination to see them turn into reality. A few friends helped along the way and London was always out there to embrace me.

Those were tough times. Times when I thought I could feel myself sinking below the surface of the sea. Those were the times when from nowhere came Londoners to help me and make me feel precious. Be it the station master who got the Gatwick Express to make a non-scheduled stop to pick me up and drop me to my destination (evidently I had not read the train timings and had missed my last connection to Redhill. I was standing at East Croydon in the middle of the night on a desolate platform figuiring out the most economical means to get home) or be it the black cab driver who dropped me to an interview despite my telling him that I did not have the fare to pay him for the whole journey (in his words, "my dear, I want you to get this job so that next time you can pay me for a journey from the City to Heathrow!". I have yet to find him!) or be it the elderly English couple who called me home for numerous dinners and treated me like a daughter (I am sorry for not having been in touch recently and will change that starting now).

I spent many evenings standing on London Bridge thinking where I was headed. I camped out at Hampstead Heath as the view from the Heath was enough to make me feel fortunate (if not a job at least I would take cherished memories back home). I would stare at Westminster from the opposite bank and just drown in its magical charm. All these episodes made me feel lucky to be alive and experience the city.

Slowly the city started throwing opportunities towards me. It started with a few head hunter calls, some of which turned into initial screening interviews and then a fewer some into interviews with potential employers. I landed a job after 6 months of patience and hard work. (Today, it no longer seems the struggle it seemed then!) It was a job that I had wanted! I, a techie, the youngest in my MBA class, had made it into banking without any experience in the field in a difficult economy!!!!!!!

Today, after four years, I have come a long way. There a number of people I should thank for this and yes the one supreme being above who has been looking out for me. However, I cannot overlook that the city has played its part too. It has helped me discover myself. Given me my fair share of openings. Connected me with friends who I had not met in years and years together. Helped me forge new friendships which are a big support system for me today. But most importantly, this city has helped me become an individual, a professional, who today can go back to what she had left behind (my forever favourite city Mumbai!!!!!!!) at her own terms and with her held high. For that, London will always be special to me, very special!

Why am I, someone who does not likes blogs, writing this today? Because, in the recent times I have seen myslef complaining more and more about London. Be it the weather, the expenses, the mayor (he so needs to go!) or the tubes, I am moaning about London everyday. However, a short walk along the South Bank today, made me realise that had it not been for Londoners and for London, I probably would not have been who I am. And so before I forget once again, I would like to extend my tribute to this absolutely fantastic city! My City of Bridges!