At Moti Virani
Source: Spot Billed Duck
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
― H. Jackson Brown Jr., P.S. I Love You
Blame it on some of these quotes that I have read, they have had such an effect on my mind that I can’t stay put. Nothing, I mean nothing now fuels me more than the desire to move about, to travel, not even cricket matches deter me now, I don’t even bother to look at cricket schedules before planning a new trip!
I now completely understand the meaning of the term “Wanderlust” and exactly no other word but lust could do justice to explain this feeling! Its greed you know, everyone wants you to buckle down, you just had a vacation, you just went there, you just came back! But hell, what has that got to do anything with me wanting to go somewhere now, again!
Another quote that explains my situation is this :
I’m more obsessed with the idea of vacation than any one particular vacation spot. I love to explore new places and cultures. ~ Candice Accola
It doesn’t really matter where I go, at times, yes, certainly I want to go to certain places, sometimes they require too much time and on others they require too much money and no, I cannot wait and gather either, I must keep on moving, I must make the in between time by moving about, more than the destination it is about the journey now, its like I just have to be on the move.
“To be standing together in a frosty field, looking up into the sky, marvelling at birds and revelling in the natural world around us, was a simple miracle. And I wondered why we were so rarely able to appreciate it.”
― Lynn Thomson,
I read that quote at Cedo centre in Moti Virani in Kutch and it made me stop and think, the world is abundant of things to marvel at and revelling in ain’t it? If you want to that is, if you are able to stop for a moment, pause, breathe, think and let it dawn upon you! How busy have we become in our routines that we have just stopped noticing so many wonderful things around us. Let us endeavour to just give things one moment more, let us soak up things around us, find the joy of small things and I am quite sure they can make us so much more thankful to this world around us! :)
Man : Listen you woman, we are lost!
Woman : All thanks to you!
M : Whoa… my folly?
W: Who else??
M : You made me lose the way…
W: Well had you actually asked that villager we met at the last bend we would have known the right way…
M : But well that turn we took was right….
W: Yea and you were confused there after at the very next fork…
M: But that turn was right.
W: So you mean coz you were lost at the fork and I suggested this way, its coz of me??
M: I should have gone with my instincts. Your female sense of direction sucks!
W: You and your male instincts, you were unsure, really lost and so you heard my opinion!
M: Whatever, thanks to hearing your wise opinion we are now tired, thirsty and lost
W: I have a bottle of water in my back pack!
M : Oh wow!
W: But its for me.
M: Awww… come on, sweetheart
W: Keep walking.
M: But I am thirsty you know.
W: I couldn’t care less.
M: A man could die of thirst you know.
W: Look there is our camp!
W: Here you can have the water.
M: Sigh… You were right…
W: Well you were right about the bend too!
Shiyade sorath bhalo…
Chaumase vagad bhalo..
Mujo Kuchdo Bare Maass
English Translation of the above :
In winter Sorath(Saurashtra)’s better..
In summer it’s Gujarat
In monsoon it’s Vagad
My Kutch all 12 months..
The above lines are said in praise of my native land, to be fair and honest, I never visited there till two years back, which was my first trip, even after my first trip, which largely involved temples and some over populated tourist places that too in the peak days of Diwali I wasn’t really a fan of the place. I always wondered if poets were just being patriotic to their native place and would have just sung in their own deep love for the place.
I believe in most cases first impression is always the wrong impression, give everything/everyone another chance and so it happened again. In the company of more knowledgable people and getting to know the right places to see and also getting so much information about the land I am pretty much a fan now! I confess this here, today, now!
There is so much to discover in this one district that it amazes me!
Can you imagine how the ocean would look like if all the water from it disappeared??? Well this land was under sea once!
Wouldn’t the floor look a tad like this??? Those who have done snorkeling or scuba can surely relate!!
What if you could walk on the ocean floor devoid of all water and discover fossils left right and centre??
What if you could discover the remains of an extinct volcano and see it for yourself???
Well, not telling you everything right away, but well if you are intrigued remember Kutch! Any time of the year! :D
Honestly, till before I bought my camera, I was never inclined in watching birds or identifying them, I did know a few species that were common but nothing more than that. Its the camera’s advent in my life and simultaneously friends like Shail, IHM and Sangeeta that I slowly but surely started identifying the birds. Once into the identifying thing, I realised how little we took notice of such pretty creatures, even though some of them were so near us we knew so little about them. After beginning to identify thanks to these buddies, internet and FB Group like the Indian birds, I have noted that as many as 19 different species visit my garden!!!! I never knew so many different fella’s actually came about to take a look at me every year!
The Birds of Indian Subcontinent (book), internet amazingly aided in the keen interest that was not developing. In fact since I started noticing these birds and I am thankful once again to my lovely friends Shail, Ihm and Sangeeta for this I have realised that every step I take outdoors is now so much more interesting than before, that so many of these fellas are there to be looked at, identified and noted albeit in the mind!
The day my friend Nitinbhai sent me the details of the Bird Conservation Society of Gujarat’s program of bird watching in Kutch I had decided that I was going to go. It was a total no-brainer, I knew that perhaps the best season is probably still about 50 days away but I wanted to find out the places where to look more than anything. What I did not anticipate was the fact that I was going to be amidst a crowd of hard core bird watchers (read lovers), Ornithologists, Botanists, Conservationalists and Environment activists!
It was fascinating to listen to these folks either when I asked them something or whilst they conversed with each other. To be frank I felt tiny, there was so little I knew about the world around us and I wondered what the hell was I doing all this while? So many questions never arised in my mind about how what happened and why? The finer details of all things around us amazed me and that there are so many people who actually look out for these things and appreciate it and try to understand solve the puzzle is surely something to be appreciated.
I also met one very senior bird watcher, Mr Shantilal Varu, apparently he has been keenly into bird watching and record keeping since over 50 years!!!! I found it quite staggering really, in an age when no such bird books were available as easily, there was no internet how this gentleman went about watching birds and identifying them. Fortunately for me, he was in our jeep at all times during this trip and I absolutely was amazed by the amount of knowledge the man had gathered about birds from so many years of observing them, he could tell us their traits, flight patterns, their call types and so much more. Also he would just not guess any bird unless he got a clear sight of it. Everything thing he saw, he would carefully note it down in small writing pad he had at all times. He then regularly transfer’s all this records into a diary that he maintains which could be useful for bird record keeping! Quite intriguing to me how much a man can love something and how dedicated and disciplined he becomes thanks to it. Simple pleasures of life I guess are just around us, its only about when do we realise them!
All in all I must confess I am falling in love with this activity, yes, perhaps I will never be as dedicated to this one thing or be very disciplined about record keeping and yet I must say this bird watching is enthralling. :)
Since we are onto the bird watching theme, here is one passage migrant, a first timer for me, Red Backed Shrike, that Mr. Shantilal helped me identify. This Red Backed Shrike is a carnivorous passerine bird of the Shrike family, also known as the butcher bird for the way it consumes its prey. You can visit here to see how it holds its prey and eats it. This bird breeds in most of Europe and western Asia and winters in tropical Africa. Whilst it makes its journey to Africa for about a month in September you can spot them in Kutch! Amazing traveller these birds are I tell you! Here are a few shots of it that I managed to capture! :)
Every day, every moment of this life, I realise how little I know, so many new things just keep on cropping up I cannot quite fathom how will I ever get to know it all! Perhaps, that is too vague a wish to have, but, then life is so intriguing that I cant help but want to know more and more and more, too bad its too short!
Just finished a three day early migration birding trip in my native land, this time in the company of ornithologists, botanists, environmentalists, naturalists, conservation minded and nature loving folks of BCSG (Bird Conservation Society of Gujarat) the experience I hope will stay with me forever and I will not forget so much I learnt about this world of ours in these last three days.
The fact that it was just my second visit to Kutch, my ancestral native land, the so called desert made me feel how occupied I have been in so many trivial things in life where as I had such a great opportunity so nearby to visit a wonderland of information, natural treasures, history and yet I have constantly ignored it. Hopefully this is just the beginning and more forays into this very interesting world will keep on going.
Most importantly, the company you have is of extreme importance. Mr Jugal Kishore Tiwari of CEDO (Centre for Desert and Ocean) is a virtual walking encyclopedia about the land, its history, its ecology, he was our host and guide this time round!! Every question you would ask him would be answered to utmost satisfaction! He also featured in this documentary on Discovery and I would recommend all of you to watch it. For me I am certainly going to visit him again with loads of questions and also to hear his stories and his experiences!
Fascinated and hooked I hope to share a lot of what I learnt in Kutch in the last three days here and also hope I will be frequenting the place and learning more about it myself! :)
Like I said I have just seen a ray of light in Kutch! :)
When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity. – John F. Kennedy
With that as the start I thought I must pen down some of my thoughts as we stand at the beginning of an interesting period in India. India can boast of a GDP that is pushing over 7%, a domestic demand that is ever surging thanks to a population that is young and hard working. Inflation is finally under control and thankfully the world crude prices have halved. For the first time we actually maybe looking at a situation of Current Account Surplus! Sounds like a term unheard of in my generation.
As an investor though, this is a precarious time, as an Indian investor even more so, traditionally the most loved options of Indian investors have been Fixed Deposits, Gold and Real Estate. They have always found them safe, secure and better return yielding. However, they are about to face a pretty peculiar situation in another 12-24 months time.
Lets look at the Repo Rate trend first :
Source : RBI
The rate trends here clearly show that the interest rates have peaked, I am sure almost everyone has heard or read a clamor for RBI guv to reduce rates to fuel growth. In my humble estimates we could possibly see another 100-150 bps reduction in the Repo rate in the next 18-24 months.
This will mean that the Indian Retail Investors favourite vehicle, the Fixed Deposit will have to be renewed at a significantly lower rate than today, although the real return of the FD is always about 200 bps above inflation, the Indian investor has never understood that. This means that after a year or so, FD will be a little less popular for the retail investor than it is today.
Next lets take a look at the Gold Chart, another favourite of Indian investors :
Source : Gold Price
We have all indulged, wow-ed when it touched 32000 per tola in India and are unable to fathom what is happening to gold in the last two years. With US Fed expected to raise rates in Sept or December, Gold seems destined to fall further.
This leaves the Indian investor with a peculiar situation, where he might find Gold cheap but three years of depression in the prices will play heavily on his mind, plus in the last few years Indian’s have actually bought a lot of Gold so probably they have a fair bit of investments in gold which is actually in a loss.
Third favourite for high earning Indian’s is real estate, its all fair to buy a home for yourself, or one home for renting out, but, when people go overboard, when black money makes the prices seem unreasonable or inexplicable by commerce, somewhere the pain is to be borne :
Source : Moneycontrol
The chart above clearly shows a trend, in another year or two thanks to low demand we might see further down rating of prices in real estate.
So this leaves the Indian investor with a hangover of 3-4 years where Real Estate prices have not gone up, Gold has come down and FD interest rates for his FD maturing in the next 6 months to 24 months will be at a far lower rate. He will be faced with some of his known people to have surely made money in the stock markets, as the last 3 years have been relatively good, particularly the period after elections to January 2015, which will make averages look nice.
Will like 2008, the Indian retail Investor come to the equity markets only when they have topped, are overbought and expensive? Will he again come and become a scapegoat or will he actually look a little further ahead and actually get ready for tomorrow. After all when we invest money we are planning for what we get tomorrow, however, we never take the pain to actually picture a few things and keep going the uninformed way.
At present the markets are witnessing volatility, China has just initiated a currency war this week, US Fed was expected to raise interest rates, however, currency war may prevent it, Parliament in India is not working and GST reforms are probably pushed back atleast by a year. Expect even more volatility in the next 4-5 months. Remember crude prices have more than halved, yet, petrol/diesel prices in India have gone down by about 20 odd percentage points, the Govt is raking in the moolah via taxes, India looks all set to actually have a Current Account Surplus by the end of this quarter.
Can the Indian investor actually bite the bullet today, when there is still value in the market, whilst it is not overbought or not extremely expensive? Or will he come when the time to buy would have gone, strangely, when the time will come to invest in FD, Gold or real estate, he will go for stock markets and when it is time to invest in stocks he is still finding fits in FD, Gold and real estate. The behaviour of the retail investor has always been weirdly foolish and always works on the memory of 3 years, as if it cannot remember what happened before those 3 years. Sometimes to have a vision it would be wise to look back at history, half the problem can be solved there and then, whether the retail investor will learn or become the sacrificial lamb again like in 2008 only time will tell.
However, as of now, brace for some volatility as the world adjusts to a new way of life, if you are smart, you will look a little ahead of the tide and spot the winners.
Like Warren Buffet said :
“After all, you only find out who is swimming naked when the tide goes out.”
Source: Letter to shareholders, 2001