dowry…

a while ago, a few old classmates of mine were playing a guessing game and trying to guess how much dowry i would be getting when i get married. well, being a brahmin, i’m not entitled to any dowry… that aside, i started getting a few thoughts on how dowry might have come about…

let us assume that women don’t work at all, so they don’t bring in any money by themselves (in certain areas of India, while ‘fixed deposit’ refers to a non-working wife bringing in a huge amount of dowry, ‘recurring deposit’ refers to a working wife with a much smaller dowry; more about that sometime else). now the debate is whether she belongs to her father or to her husband (let’s assume she marries exactly once) or both.

if she belongs solely to her father, dowry is justified as it is a lumpsum given by her father so that her husband can take good care of her. if she belongs to her husband, then ‘bride fees’ is justified. the husband pays his father in law at the time of marriage for having taken such good care of his wife. in case she belongs to both, however, it is the father taking care of her for the first part of her life and her husband for the second part.

marriage age was fixed long ago as half of average life expectancy. however, life expectancy has moved but marriage age hasn’t so the woman ends up spending more time with her husband. if people still believes that the woman is split exactly half-half between her father and her husband, her father should pay a small sum of money to her husband to take care of her for the first few years of her marriage when she actually belongs to the father! in this regard, the younger a woman gets married, more the dowry. the more a woman is expected to live, more the dowry!

In the Punjab, i heard it’s commonplace for a man (typically NRI) to get married, take the dowry and then quickly desert his wife, get married again, take dowry again, etc… i was wondering why this doesn’t happen in Gultland (according to me the heartland of dowry in India).

then a friend told me that in Gultland dowry is mostly in kind (land, gold, etc) and they’re all in the bride’s name. so if her husband ditches her, he won’t have any of the dowry money, so he won’t ditch her arbitly! gults are smarter than i thought they are (good performance in entrance exams (which gults are extremely adept at) doesn’t necessarily mean one is smart).

anyways, conclusion is that a large part of indian society believes that a girl belongs to her father, so he has to pay a large amount to her husband at the time of marriage so that he takes good care of her for the rest of her life.

lazy…

2 weeks in office without much work has made me way too lazy. i’m now even too lazy to write on one of the many oh-so-interesting-to-write-about topics i came up with last week. too lazy to do anything.

first couple of days of this joblessness, i hoped that someone would give me some work so as to kill boredom. but the kind of work that was given enhanced boredom rather than killing it. right now, i’ve become sooo lazy that i would hate it even if someone would now give me the most interesting piece of work to do. all i want to do is to sit around… be vela… somehow get through the next 2.5 weeks… work can happen after that…

i just had another look at the topics i had listed out… looks like all of them require considerable thought – which i’m not prepared to do at the moment. right now, i’m comfortable sitting at my desk, staring at the monitor, looking as if i’m doing some great work and not waiting for people to give me work… and i’m being paid equivalent to about 8000 rupees a day for doing this….

yeah, coming to better things, after a month and a half of i-banking i don’t seem to be the hardcore capitalist i used to be when i came here (‘capitalist’ is an oft-misused word, so i may not have interpreted it correctly). of course i still believe in free markets, and i think they rock big time, but i don’t believe in the idea of doing something just because you can make money out of it – which i think forms the base of capitalism.

i believe that the investment banks are making an obscene lot of money and paying people like me a lot of money for hardly any work only because of the skewed demand-supply equation. probably if there were a hundred more new investment banks which could enter the market and slash prices, even i-bankers would start earning normal amounts. unfortunately the barriers to entry seem to be too high… (i’m actually using some arbit ‘frameworks’, wow!). maybe it’ll be insightful to do a porter’s analysis of this industry… i’ll probably do it on some day when i am actually willing to think. when i do, i promise you that i’ll write about it… no enthu to type more now…

update

weekend was kinda unusual… didn’t go out of london… most people seem to have lost the enthu now…

saturday was anusmaran… here in london, we had three times as many alumni as interns… some takeaways… in 1996-97 100 people registered for int-fin. this year the course wasn’t floated due to lack of students… people used to stay 2 to a room in the first year… thank goodness we weren’t subjected to such horrors… then there was this funda of water parties where there would be music and all people would do was to throw buckets of water on each other…

then, most people who attended had switched jobs at least once, sometimes into a totally different sector and totally different job profile. actually provides hope for me just in case i make a wrong choice on that set of fateful days next march when i have to choose a career and get a good job in my chosen path…

one thing i noticed was that even though the event was scheduled to start at 12, i was among the first to arrive at 12:30. most people trickled in by two… a few started guzzling the cobra and kingfisher which were on sale at the venue for ?5 per pint… and one guy from the batch of ’04 was already sloshed when he walked in…

event ended as people dropped in their contributions towards the lunch (?16.50 per head, no subsidy for interns) and collecting (albeit broken) momentos (made, incidentally, by olympic sports, bangalore and which arrived in london only on the night before the meet).

nothing else interesting happened in London over the weekend… no masala whatsoever for Twisted Shout… went to woodlands yesterday evening and ordered a ‘mysore masala dosa’. maaajor letdown… they make better dosas than this in delhi!

and gandhi and i had this discussion yesterday as to how upon return to india we might end up overspending as we would convert all expenses back to pounds!!

more later… have to attend some arbit meeting now… and of course , i’m as vela as ever in office…

things to write about…

has been an extremely jobless week in office. today was especially jobless (mainly because i didn’t receive too many emails). one associate in my team is out for the week meeting clients so i have to stay ‘just in case i’m needed’ and postpone my tour of other departments. but there’s no work for me here. so i’m forced to sit at the desk and do nothing (not too much business for our desk this week). today i got so bored that after reading a few dozen blogs, i even went to the extent of reading my own old blogs! all i’ve done this week is to attend 2 meetings, model 2 swaps, one google search and fetching one round of coffee!

feeling too bored to write now… this is already my third post today… have a lot of things to write about… will do so when i’m jobless and not bored. about cricket… about the investment banking myth (this will be written upon my return to India)… about the association of descendents of my grandfather’s grandfather… about the importance of marketing (yeah, no mistake there)… about life, the universe and all that… about emails… phone calls… long conversations… the loos here… another look at IIMB… how i think i’ve made all the right career decisions till now… my mom’s gyaan (sometimes extremely insightful, sometimes weird)…

remind me from time to time to write about these things… else i’ll forget and a lot of things will remain unsaid…

investment banking stuff…

investment banking is truly a volatile industry. i was talking the other day about the guy who recruited us leaving. today a fellow-intern (from IIML) lost his entire team. in other words, EVERYONE he was working with left the company today and moved elsewhere. poor guy now has nowhere to go… similar case with the other guy from IIML also! his MD has quit and his team is being disbanded. he doesn’t know if he’ll be asked to come back next year…

i was asking an MD today at a meeting regarding exodus of people from our company. he said, “our retention rates among junior and middle levels are the highest in the industry. i’m very happy about that. yeah, quite a few senior guys left but they weren’t doing much work anyway!” fundoo… this guy apparently left the banking industry in 1999 to start his own dot com company but after it went bust 2 years later, joined JP Morgan!

staying on the topic, i suddenly started wondering what would happen if a team suddenly quit en masse, like the L guy’s team left today. the team in question was a marketing team covering the middle east. which means that by tomorrow morning, there should be someone who should be there at the desk handling the phone (after all it’s a marketing desk and important ‘orders’ can’t be missed). they can’t leave an intern alone on the desk (mostly they’ll find a new desk for him), so someone else from some other position has to be moved in. marketing to the middle east requires knowledge of arabic and persian, since few clients know english. and marketing derivatives means that the person should know derivatives well and should be fluent with the modeling techniques!

i was just asking my VP what one does in such a situation. he simply said that he hasn’t thought about it but it WOULD be a tough problem for top management. and he added that though such events are common in the investment banking industry, there is no set practice as to what one would do. in all probability all the business that desk had would be gone forever!

(reminds me of the IT heydays when Infy and Wipro used to maintain a ‘bench’ – just in case there was an exodus or business picked up too rapidly)

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made upma once again yesterday. came out damn good. approximately as good as the best upma my mom makes… ate it slowly with curd…. was simply awesome… feeling hajaar proud of myself…