Yet each man kills the thing he loves,
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The koward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!"
                     oscar wilde , the ballad of reading gaol

When was the last that I thought of you...I know not...but am I the one who goes alone on this path...and should I but care only a little for the souls that follow or those as march ahead?

Mode C is a way of life, perhaps my way of life: C for Cool, C for Cold, C for Chaos, C for Calvin. Ultimately, all of it boils down to the way you look at things. Are they not how they are but just how they appear?? No...and yes...Almost all the seriously critical fundamental concepts of life...aren't they just the bogies under Calvin's bed that he is afraid of? Miss Wormwood, Susie, Mom and Dad, and of course above all, Hobbes...aren't they all merely the means that he uses to attack these bogies?

Reflecting on 'living the Calvin way', I have started to believe that life and our reaction to it can only be explained by a number of Calvin and Hobbes strips combined together. The philosophy, as I like to call it, is to know that you are not alone. It is not just my perspective alone that is going to help me fight my bogies. I will be able to inch towards the Calvin way only when I perceive the other perspectives on my way.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Exploiting Market Imperfections and a visit to the scientist

I have been wanting to write on so many things over the past week or so but now that I finally sit to write, I can't recollect anything at all. Hopefully, now that I have started to roll, things will come back to me as I keep on writing and deliberating and moving ahead thus. So, before the first of these topics hit me, let me place it on record here on this blog that I am not that disappointed with Mumbai. In terms of roads, green cover and infrastructure, in general, the city obviously does not show even a light to the grandeur of say, a Delhi. However, in all other respects, it is not too bad. The work culture is professional enough (not to say that it is in any way much better than Delhi), people smile here, too and at times, also have time to exchange pleasantries. Taxi drivers are a pleasant lot and generally tend not to cheat you off your last penny (though the same can not be said of the auto rickshaw drivers at all). Traffic is bad but coming from the congested NH-24 in Delhi, that does not seem too much of a bother either. Trains, of course, are bloody efficient even though they are perenially crowded, smelly and sweaty.

Speaking of smelly and sweaty, it reminds me of last Saturday, at the end of which, I was in a pretty bad shape myself, thanks to some fair bit of travel across the city during the hot and humid afternoon in open taxis and autos. Starting off the day was the memorable trip to meet a SCIENTIST which happens to be one of the things that I have been wanting to write about. The trip was based on an interview on national television done with a certain scientist who has been credited with treating some supposedly incurable diseases through his herbal medicines. My Mama had seen this interview and wanted me to see this person for my nerve problem (a fallout of the accident I had last year). So it was that Priya and I reached this scientist's place in Versova on this hot Saturday afternoon. In the last few minutes of his sitting time, the scientist heard me out, barely trying to stifle his yawn while telling me at the same time that I should start the medicine and that the medicine will cure me totally. To top it all, this was done without even glancing at a single report of a single test conducted for this problem of mine. So much for the science part! All this was still ok till the time I was told that there was only one medicine that he provides for all ailments, whether it is cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, paralysis, or a nerve disorder like mine. To assume that this one-stop-shop for treatment of ailments will turn out to be better than all the specialised treatments that I have considered and decided against because of their inefficacy, was a long call to take. But I did take this call alongwith Priya and my Mama, and for all my so called education, I can not but hope for a miracle from this exceedingly highly priced herbal medicine (15 doses for a freaking 15 grand).

The incident I described above does not conform to any of my thoughts about such things and yet, I acted in this non-conformist manner. To claim that I did this only to please my family members would be a lie to myself since at some corner of my brain, I wanted to believe in this treatment, however fantastic it seemed. Having all but lost hope from so many other 'scientific' quarters, and almost designated to lead a life with this disorder as a permanent part of my being, I reached out to this ray of hope, however bleak it may be. Doesn't it show somewhere that despite all the rational thinking that we are capable of, faith comes out the stronger in cases where logic and reason are not fast enough in their action?

On the work front, things are turning out to be quite a haze, what with me having to dip my hand in almost everything that presents itself for dipping hands into. I will try and write about all that I do in some other post but for now wish to share with my readers something of a management insight that I gleaned from one of the senior management meetings that I had the good fortune to be a part of. This meeting was called to discuss a new vertical that the company is going to launch and was aimed at kick starting the design of the operational and marketing framework for the new business. While discussing some operational aspect, a senior member remarked how and why we should not try to be perfect in all that we do. His logic was that there were imperfections in the market and the intelligent player is one who exploits these imperfections till he can and at the same time, is the first to find out when those imperfections are starting to get corrected. This is when the intelligent player makes the switch from playing to an imperfect market (and making his moolah while he does so) to initiating and setting up a perfect setup for a market that is fast on its way to removing its imperfections.

A perfect example was ICICI Bank, India's largest private sector bank, which chose to play along with other credit card companies in charging annual and joining fees for credit cards till the game was there and available in the market. However, as soon as the bank realized that this was a temporary phenomenon that was about to go and that the customers were very soon going to be very demanding, they decided to act as destroyers in the market and pioneered the concept of Free-for-life credit cards. They had the last laugh since not only did they lap up the revenues till they were there for the taking, but once they realized things were changing, they were proactive enough to build a large market share by removing the market imperfections faster than the market itself would have been able to manage.

Needless to say, I was quite impressed by this line of thinking and though this does not reflect too well on the Indian markets and the players involved, it still is a very practical strategy. It still leaves the question, however, that if everyone tries to exploit the imperfections, doesn't it tantamount to the market and the customer always remaining imperfect, with no body breaking the shackles? In reality, however, this does not happen and the efficient market hypothesis takes over at some stage or the other and the trick is to be able to predict this point of inversion.

Posted at 11:33 am by Nitai

May 22, 2008   04:00 PM PDT
Simple economics dude...When Supply<Demand, demand your price, when demand>supply, price to the demand.
May 22, 2008   04:10 PM PDT
Not that simple dude! The trick is to understand that it is demand and supply of quality of service that we are talking about and not the product or service per se. Secondly, the trick lies in being able to appreciate that at present, the supply (of quality again) is less than demand and at the same time, be intelligent and proactive enough to predict and act upon the inversion.
June 4, 2008   09:49 PM PDT
dude, its not the supply. its mkt information. in an imperfect mkt, info flow is slow, so u can capitalize on it. but ven barriers to entry r low, u attract a whole lot of competition, which will nt only eat away ur share but also impact ur margins. n if u dont act swiftly (ie fail to predict the pt of inflexion), u will become one amongst a crowd with no clear strategy. in othr wrds, dead meat....
June 29, 2008   03:53 AM PDT
@rational thinking
The power of placebo is not to be underestimated. It is sometime the belief that helps heal rather than the 'medicine'.

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