Nimir

What makes a good movie. Everyone might have there own u

In Praise of Darkness

We are living in an era of too much light. We have electric bulbs, LED bulbs or mobile phones everywhere. We take care to lit the whole house at nights with ample lighting. Ever wondered how was life without this much lighting? How did our grandparents stay awake after the sun goes down? What was there pass time then?

I have visited a couple of forts and always wondered how staying there a night would have been without electricity.

With all bright light, there is less chance of shadows. Shadows show a different story altogether. Your knowledge about shadows makes you fall in love with paintings like the one below.

glow_of_hope-_woman_with_the_lamp_-_by_s_l_haldankar_copy_48596959-52cc-467d-b82c-7d7c565e0d12

Vishalla a traditionally styled restaurant in Ahmedabad, Gujarat had themed their restaurant to look like this. It had dim lighting which looked like there was no electricity and the whole restaurant is run with oil lamps. But the truth is they were smaller light bulbs run by electricity. I loved the whole experience. Its the place where modernity meets tradition.

WhatsApp Image 2018-08-31 at 3.20.00 PM

It’s one of my dreams to build a house similar to this where modernity meets tradition. One of my inspiration was from Dakshinchitra. They exhibit life-size models of traditional South Indian houses. Bringing modernity to these houses with probably an attached toilet is one such improvement with the traditional architecture I would love.

The Dhandho Investor

This book by Mohnsih Pabrai is a great short read on the principles of value investing. It sets a framework to invest in the stocks. The first few chapters are on how Patels became a success in the US which might not directly help you in investing. This is the framework defined in the book.

To summarise all this in one line.

Heads, I win; tails, I don’t lose much!

Framework

  1. Invest in Existing Business
  2. Invest in Simple Business
  3. Invest in Distressed Business in Distressed Industries
  4. Invest in Business with Durable Moats
  5. Few Bets, Big Bets, Infrequent Bets
  6. Fixate on Arbitrage
  7. A margin of Safety Always
  8. Invest in Low Risk, High Uncertainty Business
  9. Invest in Copycats rather than the Innovators

The first two principles are simple. Invest only in businesses you understand. Warren Buffett also recommends the same. Remember Buffett was always reluctant to invest in technology stocks. The book has suggested few sources to pick stocks which are almost for the US markets only. One of the sources for choosing stocks is the magic formula. For the Indian market, you can find a version available in screener.in.

To find the right value of a business, you can John Burr William’s intrinsic value formula and for finding how much amount to place on a particular bet you can use Kelly formula. To explore more about the Kelly formula you can read his paper “The Kelly Criterion in Blackjack, Sports Betting, and the Stock Market“.

Most of the principles explained are already part of Buffett’s recommendations or Value investing recommendations. One such principle is to find the business which has a moat and invest in companies which have an arbitrage. Arbitrage can be one of a traditional commodity arbitrage, or correlated stock arbitrage, or merger arbitrage.

Further Books To Read

  1. The Intelligent Investor
  2. Poor Charlie’s Almanack
  3. Fortune’s Formula
  4. Buffett
  5. Hard Drive

What we followers of Ayyavazhi are doing wrong collectively?

Ambedkar, Gandhi, Guru Nanak and Ayya Vaikundar had one thing in common. All of them recommended inter-caste dinners. People of all caste and religion coming together to cook and have a meal together. This is one of the core philosophy of Ayyavazhi too. That’s a no-brainer right. People of all caste, creed, religion, economic status coming together to serve a common goal to the community. That’s the whole idea behind an inter-caste dinner or Samabandhi virundhu (சமபந்தி விருந்து).

Dr. Ambedkar speaks about the drawbacks of Hinduism in his book Annihilation of Caste.

Now the Hindu Religion, as contained in the Vedas and the Smritis, is nothing but a mass of sacrificial, social, political and sanitary rules and regulations, all mixed up. What is called Religion by the Hindus is nothing but a multitude of commands and prohibitions. Religion, in the sense of spiritual principles, truly universal, applicable to all races, to all countries, to all times, is not to be found in them, and if it is, it does not form the governing part of a Hindu’s life.

His argument is any good religion should be based on philosophies and not on a set of rules which are blindly passed on to the next generation without thought. He says man’s life is more habitual and unreflective.

Now think of Ayyavazhi and what are the rules which come to your mind at first. Let me list all the rules which come to my mind when I think of Ayyavazhi and the reasoning behind it.

  • No idol worship
  • Worship mirror or light
  • No shirts inside the temple
  • Wear thalapa(headgear) inside the temple
  • Take part in samabandhi virundhu
  • Take bath in muthiri kinaru

Now the reasoning behind these rules is straightforward. It’s better to worship yourself and the people who accompany you to the temple (community you live in) in the mirror than a stone idol.

And the remaining rules were created to give a sense of oneness to the community. At a time when the high caste and low caste had different rules bringing them all together for one purpose was a way to go against the oppression by the high caste Hindus then. It was a revolution which Vaigundar had done to the society bringing the whole mass together and breaking the rules of the unjust king.

That’s the sole reason for creating rules asking every guy to go half-naked into the temple. At a time when low caste was not allowed to wear a headgear, asking them to wear one with pride when you enter a temple is going against the rules of the oppressed king, which had a point to make.

The same thing goes with the muthiri kinaru also. At a time when each caste had its own well, he suggested having a common well for the all the castes.

So now my question. Why are we following these rules blindly even today? I agree still Indian society still has the problem of caste so deep in it. But it’s not the same as in the period when Vaigundar was alive. Now no one uses a well and everyone has the right to wear what they like.

Are these rules still relevant? Shouldn’t we update the rules and try to make Ayyavazhi a religion of love, like what Vaigundar intended it to rather than following a few rules which don’t make any sense at the current day. If this keeps on continuing how long do you think the religion will stay relevant? Won’t we be outdated soon and thrown out soon?

So we should follow the philosophy taught by Vaikundar which is equal to all fellow being rather than follow the rules blindly.

As a society becomes more enlightened, it realizes that it is responsible not to conserve and transmit, the whole of its existing achievements, but only such as make for a better future society.

As a society to reach enlightenment or maturity, its necessary to think what we pass on to the next generation as tradition. Humans are more habitual and unreflective. The common man will follow the rules given to him and not think why it was passed on to him. So as an intellectual it’s your duty to pass on the right set of rules to the next generation.

References:

  1. அய்யா வைகுண்டர்

  2. Annihilation of Caste

The Books in My Life

I discovered books late in my life. I started reading after my college days. I still miss all the time I wasted lying idle in my college days.

First Book

The first book I read completely was Taj Mahal. Its a book about Taj Mahal. I just kept reading the book, so that I can claim that I have read one whole book cover to cover. I actually still remember few facts I have read in the book. Like the theory of black Taj Mahal & the concept of how the whole Taj Mahal complex is designed like a Muslim version of a paradise. I had borrowed this book from the Infosys Mysore Library when I was a trainee there. After I finished this book, I am not sure what lead to the other books but I eventually started reading books taking recommendations from friends.

After reading The Monk Who Sold his Ferrari I made a list of things to do before I die and listed to read 100 books before I die. I am still alive and have read more than 360 books as of today. It was a coincidence that I started reading when I started making my own money. Infosys was my first job. I had kept aside a monthly budget for books and also borrowed books from my colleagues and friends.

At around this time, I discovered Kalki and his set of historical fictions. He was my guide on my tour to medieval TamilNadu. But unfortunately the later Tamil books I read after Kalki made me lose my interest in Tamil books. I felt these books were not original works, mostly copied from other language books. It took me almost 8 years to fall back in love with Tamil books again.

First Kindle

When I traveled to the UK for my higher studies, I had packed a couple of books with me. As a student felt books in the UK very costly. The only book I paid for in the UK was The Science of Self Realization. Was a very bad mistake from my side. This book had nothing to do with science or self-realization. At around this time, the all-new Kindle was released in the UK for Christmas. I wanted to buy it really bad and didn’t want to buy it form my parent’s money. I was already feeling bad for spending their money for my adventures in the UK. I took a part-time job and saved some money to buy this marvelous Kindle and I am not exaggerating if I say this one event changed my life a lot. I started reading more of the free books available on the internet on my Kindle. I read works of Leo Tolstoy, Einstein and Gandhi.

My choice of books at around this time was also influenced by my roommate who was a Socialist & Gandhian. I learned that when someone suggests me a good book, my respect, and love for them increase multifold. The same has happened the other way round also. Someone suggesting me a crappy book and they have lost credibility.

Lending Library

Back then Kindle didn’t support Tamil books and there was no way I was able to buy Indian author books also. Back after studies joined a lending library in Chennai. This again was a nice experience. Found a lot of interesting books. Even though they were not so tech savvy and they didn’t have any option to search books rather than go to the shelf and find it yourself. But still loved the whole experience. The feel you can lend any of the books around you, it’s amazing. Read some awesome books like Malgudi daysTrain to Pakistan & As I See It.

Breakup

No, not break up with books with my girlfriend. It hit me hard and the only consolation I had was my books. Made few some solo trips and read a lot about travel during this period. The Motorcycle Diaries, Three Men in a Boat and Into the Wild are few of the best during this period of my life.

Book Club

For some time I was a regular in Bangalore Book Club where we used to choose a book for a month and then discuss it in the meetup. Met some well-read guys there and as usual, some people posing as well read people. I read few books like Stuffed & Starved because of them which I would have never read it if it was not for them. The group got slowly dissolved because the organizer of the group went on to start his own startup and didn’t find time to keep the meetup going.

Goodreads

Back when I started reading books, I was looking for some kind of housekeeping software to keep the list of books I read and the data about them. Luckily I met Goodreads. Other than few books which I read before Goodreads all other books of mine are updated in Goodreads. They did gamify the habit in a very good way and I have been there fan from the first day I started using them.

JustBooks

Since I had good experience with a lending library in Chennai, I was looking to repeat that in Bangalore. After some research got a membership with JustBooks for a year. Gradually the quality of the books I read went down. They did have a website to search books online. But never was to find the book in the store. Most of their collection was targeted to young adults or kids growing up. I found it hard to find the books of my taste and stopped the membership in a year.

A Song of Ice & Fire

This book is so awesome that it requires its own section. If there are few books which take you to heaven when you read them. This series is definitely one of them. Nonfiction can never give you that kind of a feeling. Still waiting for the remaining books to be finished. Reading all the other smaller books related to Game of Thrones till the other books in the series are released.

Gifts

I started giving and receiving books as gifts. The best gift which I got to date is my colleagues had actually taken me to Landmark and asked me to choose any number of books I wanted. Till date, it’s the best gift I have got. There are few bad books I got as a gift too. My last gift to a friend was Sapiens & Influence.

With 8 years of reading books, I believe I have grown with the books. Now I have become so choosy with the books I choose. As of today, I am reading Tamil books from Sahitya  Academy list. Luckily now Amazon is supporting Tamil in Kindle and they do sell Tamil books too.

This post can’t have a conclusion, I am planning to read more. Buy a bookshelf and start a book club in office. And the life goes on.