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Song Recommendations are back, after a hiatus. And here’re the songs you must listen to:

  • You know you’re right – Nirvana
    • It is the last released song of the band. The death of Kurt Cobain put the ownership of the song in jeopardy, sparking a tussle between his widow and his bandmates. The song was finally realsed 8 years after its recording.
  • Lay down Sally – Eric Clapton
    • Eric asks the girl not to ‘leave so soon’, rather ‘rest in’ his arms. A sweet song that reminds you of late 60s music in Hindi cinema as well (remember those Shammi Kapoor, Joy Mukherjee, Shashi Kappor songs ?). Oh BTW, the song’s title is grammatically incorrect.
  • Lay Lady Lay – Bob Dylan
    • Its interesting how so many great songs aren’t recognised at the first instant. When Dylan submitted this song to a studio, it failed to make the cut with the director. Dylan released it as a single and it went on to become a great hit. If you listen the song carefully you would find a marked difference in Dylan’s voice, which he owed to his quitting smoking.
  • Glory Days – Bruce Springsteen
    • An achiever looks back at his ‘glory days’ in the song.
  • Crazy little thing called LOVE – Queen
    • The beauty of the song is – it was composed withinh 10 minutes. Also, you wouldn’t find too many songs that mention any name of its creators. This song does. Try to find out who is that.
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The much dreaded F word. No, not THAT word dear, I mean F for FINANCE. Passing out of college, you started earning some real good bucks. After a year of working, and hectic spending, you compare your finances with another guy and find yourself in a mess. Danny earned more or less the same like you, yet after 3 years he has a decent portfolio and you’re still struggling to understand words like ELSS, 80c, PPF, SIP, Term plan. Several of young turks face a similar situation. Situation, that could’ve been averted by careful and easy planning right from the day you get your first salary. Start right now, if not already yet. Here’re some quick tips on how you can manage your finance and start building a balanced portfolio. The list below is no way exhaustive, but definitely tries to summarize the need and the way to build a balanced portfolio.

Life InsuranceIf you don’t have any dependents (parents, spouse, children etc who depend on you financially), don’t go for life insurance . In case you have dependents, insuring your life should be your top priority. It will take care of financial needs of your dependents even when you aren’t around anymore. Ideally, death benefit of your insurance policy should be 3 times your annual take-home. Life Insurance plans come in three forms – Term Plans, Endowment Plans and ULIPs. You agent will pester you for ULIPs all the time, but a Term Plan is suggested. Why, later in another article. Further, you also get tax benefits under section 80c of Indian IT Act.

Savings Account

Have some liquidity. Keeping a target to build a fund of 45 days of your salary, start building this fund with 10% of your monthly take-home. This will ensure that at the end of15 months, you would have enough liquidity to take care of any emergency like medical exigency, no-job period etc.

Mediclaim/Health Insurance

OK, you’re young. But that doesn’t mean you’ll never have medical emergencies. Mediclaim takes care of your hospital bills (of course subject to some conditions) while Health Insurance by several agencies insure you against critical illness like cance, diabetes etc. Further, you also get a tax benefit (currently, max INR 10000) on this.

ELSS

It means Equity Linked Savings Scheme, and is the only equity-based tax saving instrument. It offers twin benefits of tax benefits and capital gains. Considering the projected growth in Indian economy in the next few years coupled with strong corporate performances, ELSS  is the most lucrative of all tax saving schemes. It has a mandatory lock-in of 3 years, which is beneficial since you are saved from short-term volatility. Best way to go for it is through a SIP (Systematic Investment Plan) route. Essentially, it means you invest a fixed amount in ELSS every month. This will average your costs in the long run (i.e. when market are low, you get more units. And when market is high, you get more units. Thus, the total cost you incur is averaged).

Debt Repayment

Pay your debts on a regular basis. At the very onset, deciding the timeframe in which you want to repay the debt helps. Educational Loan interest repayment is tax-free (section 80d). For home-loans, principal (section 80c, limit: 1 lakh) as well as interest (section 24b, limit 1.5 lakh) can be claimed tax-free.

PPF

People with low-risk appetite can opt for Public Provident Fund. It gives annual returns of 8% (compound interest), is a tax-saving scheme and the returns are tax-free as well. This means, when you invest in PPF you get tax rebate, and when you withdraw your profits are again tax-free. The only rider – you cannot withdraw your invested money before 15 years. But in a sense its good, since you have something as forced-savings. Also, this is exempt from wealth tax. This means that  if you declare bankruptcy and are not able repay your debt, this money cannot be taken way from you by any court. My suggestion would be invest 5% of monthly take-home in PPF per month.

Rest

The rest of money you can put in one or more of these asset classes – Gold, Mutual Funds, Equity, Realty etc. It depends on your risk appetite and of course, quantum of money available. I would talk about these in some later article.

Summary

Here is my suggestion of an ideal mix, as a percentage of total take-home.

Insurance -5 (lesser, if term plan taken)

Mediclaim -2 to 5

Debt Repayment – 10

Saving Account -10

ELSS -15 (lesser, if take-home more than 40K pm)

PPF – 5

Rest – 25 to 50 depending on your expenses

I would discuss each of the above heads in separate articles in due course of time.

HAPPY PLANNING

Update: Keeping the current recession in mind, building a fund that takes care of 6 months of expenses is required. So, save more aggressively than ever before. Accordingly, the figures in this post would change. Thanks Himanshu for the suggestion.

Disclosure/Prologue: The below entry contains a lot Hindi. So, non-Hindi speaking folks can find it difficult to understand.

1107 hrs
Other side: Namaskar, Kalyan Banerjee ji bol rahe hain?
Me: Jee.
OS: Main Delhi TH Court ka munshi AR bol raha hun. Aapke khilaf aaj dopahar 2 baje is court mein Indian Penal Code ke tahat case dayar kiya ja raha hai.
Me (Fumbling): What the Fuck?
AR: Kya?
Me: Ji, matlab. Aisa kaise, maine kya kiya?
AR : Ji, main yeh to nahin bata sakta magar aap agar 2 baje ke pehle is court mein aa jayen to mamala tal sakta hai.
Me: Aaj? 2 baje ke pehle? Magar main to Bangalore mein hun.
AR: Oh ho. Phir to shayad court apko summon kare Tees Hazari Court dilli mein.
Me: Arre, magar case to bataiye.
AR: Janab, main to munshi hun. Mere paas kewal itni hi jaankari hai.

Try to imagine the scenario. You are working in office to meet an important deadline (couple this with the tension of another impending certification exam) and you get a call saying that 3 hours later you will be charged of some illegal activity and that too 2400 kms away.

Me: To phir main kisse baat karun?
AR: TH court ke advocate DK se baat karen. ( Then he gives the number. I’m not disclosing the number due to confidentiality reasons.)
Me: Jee shukriya AR saab.

1110 hrs:
Me: Namaste, DK ji bol rahe hain?
OS: Nahin woh abhi busy hain, aap thodi der mein baat karen.
5 minutes later
Me: Namaste. DK ji?
OS: Yes. Boliye.
Me: Mere paas court ke munshi AR-ji ka phone aaya thaa ki mere khilaf aaj 2 baje court mein mukadma dayar hone waal hai. Aap bata…
Dinkar: (Snapping midway) Aap mere assistant DB se baat karen. (Gives his phone number and puts down the phone)

In less that 15 minutes, my world seemed topsy-turvy. A few minutes earlier, my Diro was patting my back due to the CUSTOMER DELIGHT i procured in the earlier project. And now, I was on the verge of being the first person in my entire family tree to be on the wrong side of the court.

1120:

Me: Namaste, kya yeh DB ji bol rahe hai?
OS: Jee.
Me: blah blah blah..
DB: Haan. Apke khilaf Telecome Regulatory Authority of India aur BA ne mukadma kiya hai.

Now, at this point I understood everything. Never in my life I have been able to evade in evade-able financial transactions. The only instance when I did, at least I thought I did, failed. I didn’t pay BA’s bill when I shifted from A to B.

The rest part of the story is obvious. I paid the bill ASAP and let the Asst. of the advocate know the bill receipt number. I got a call from him 15 min later that the case will not go to the courts.
Moral of the story

  • Your past actions can come back and hit you. Anytime.
  • Pay your bills: phone, ration, dudh, grocery, credit card on time. If not on time, at least pay them before you are dragged to court.

I am now going to review my entire non-payment history and outstanding history in the next week. Warna pata nahin, kitni baar dilli court jana pade.

Epilogue


A worried friend of mine -J called me a few min back to know the situation. Now, he tried to show another angle of the story. Here’s it. The entire drama might be scripted and enacted by BA guys. Since they weren’t getting any payment from my side even after months, a little role-play on phone wouldn’t hurt them isn’t it?

Now when I tried to see the phone number of the first call from the so called Munshi of TH court, I see the number doesn’t start with 2 but with 3. A government body (Court I mean) using a private company’s network seems highly improbable. So, was the number of BA guys? I check back the broadband number at my earlier city and see that it starts with 4.

Can you solve the riddle?

P.S. Remember Rajesh Khanna’s line in Anand: ” Jeevan mein kuchh bada paane ki asha mein hum pal pal ki chhoti chhoti khushiyon ko bhul jaate hain.“. This drama is just another attempt to DRAMATIZE MY OWN LIFE. And again, its based on true story. The names of entities (characters, places and business entities) have been changed though.

Here’re this week’s recommendation:

  1. Tear You Apart : She Wants Revenge
    • The movie – The Number 23 – has this song in the background when Jim Carrey and a girl have sadist style sex. The lyric is violent and portrays the feelings of a guy for a girl he has a crush on but couldn’t get her. Most violent line is “I want to fucking tear you apart”. Juned recommended this song once.
  2. Take it Easy: Eagles
    • It was Eagles’ first single, released in 1972. A wonderful song, asking you not to get stressed.
  3. The Girl of my Best Friend; Elvis Presley
    • After his Army discharge, Elvis came with his album ‘Elvis is Back’, featuring this song. This is song about a guy who falls in love with his best friend’s girl. He cant take his eyes off her, and hence he dilemma. Again, thanks Juned  for the recommendation.
  4. Afterglow: INXS feat Sona
    • A song by Australian band INXS, it is a tribute to the late ex-lead singer of the band. This song has two versions – English and Indian. In the Indian version, there is some part in Hindi as well by Sona. Lyrics and music will touch that cord of your heart. You can find the video here. Thanks Sudeshna, for this link.
  5. Born to Run: Bruce Springsteen
    • It was Bruce’s third album and a smash hit. It is impossibly romantic hyperrealistic, where the mundane easily becomes fantastic. It touches the ideas of escape and abandon equally.

Update: This post is Google’s favourite when you search for “Durga Puja in Bangalore“. The post was written 2 years back but is still as relevant as ever. Recently, I’ve joined hands with Sudeshna in launching Durga Puja Food Festival. Just send in a Puja recipe and if your entry is selected, you will be featured in a Puja Barshiki eBook and may even win a Prize. Here’s the event competition announcement.

Durga Puja Food Festival

Durga Puja Food Festival

Jayamahal Durga Puja, Bangalore

Jayamahal Durga Puja, Bangalore

Here are a few places I would (and you could, too) visit in Bangalore this Durga Puja.

Koramangala

If you come from FORUM Towards National Games Village , after crossing Raheja Archade , Bangaliana just in front of the AIRTEL office, you will fing this Puja on your left side. For junta coming from SONY WORLD crossing, come straight towards National Games Village and take a left turn before BLUE SPICE Restaurant, come straight on the right hand side and you will find this pandal . Thanks Sudeshna for her mail.

Murugeshpalya (Air Force Campus)

From Airport Road goto Wind Tunnel Road. If you are coming from Indiranagar direction, you have to take a right turn when you encounter a Pizza Hut on the right side of Airport Road after you pass Diamond District, Britannia, IBM and you will find Wind Tunnel road. There is an Air Force Campus to your right in the Wind Tunnel Road. It is a small puja, but homely nevertheless.

Koramangala Durga Puja, Bangalore

Koramangala Durga Puja, Bangalore

Jayamahal

Famous and big Puja. It is 53 years and counting. You’d never want to miss it. Here’s its blog.

Ulsoor Lake

Near Ulsoor Lake, opposite Ajanta Talkies there is Exhibition Ground. This puja is organised by Bengalee Association.

Indiranagar- Cambridge Layout

Again a big puja and great cultural programs. From Sai Mandir towards ESI Hospital. Please ask for directions there.

Its my first time in Bangalore during Puja. Let me see what this city has to offer.

Bong Connection

This isn’t any review about the movie of the same name or a review of ‘Interpreter of Maladies’. Neither is it my paean about how many intellectual names have Bong Connection. This is about my answers to the questions I encounter on a day-to-day on virtue of being perceived a BONG. Here we go:

  • Hey Kalyan, where did you school in Kolkata?
    • ISL, Jharia. And it isn’t in Kolkata but in Dhanbad, the coal depot of Jharkhand. This happens time and again, even after reminding these folks umpteenth time that I am born and brought up at Dhanbad and not Kolkata.
  • Oh you’re an IITian. So, how was life at Kharagpur?
    • Kindly refer to the start of the conversation. I didn’t graduate from IIT Kgp, but from IIT Roorkee. The very fact that I’m a Banerjee doesn’t make it imperative on my part to go to Kgp, dude(tte).
  • Don’t you miss fish?
    • I do, but not in the miserably way that you think. I haven’t had fish for straight 5 years, 4 in IIT Roorkee and 1 in Noida. Thank you, I’m doing just fine without fish.
  • Why don’t you smoke?
    • Is it mandatory by the Indian Constitution for every person whose mother tongue is Bengali should smoke? Is non-smoking by such an individual punishable by the court of law? The weird and funny part is, even my mom asks the same question.
  • Oh, you must sing/play tabla pretty well, right?
    • Wrong. My only tryst with tabla/triple had been way back in middle school when every guy was given 5 minutes of nirvana to try his hand at the coveted instrument by our Music Teacher Sujan Sir (Are you reading this, sir?).
  • How come you speak Hindi so very well?
    • Refer to the first question, dude(tte). A majority of my friends were and are Hindi speaking. In fact, I have very few people among my close pals who speak Bengali.
  • Left Party sucks. How come intellectuals like you support them?
    • Excuse me, when did I proclaim my support for the Red Party? Many of my surname-sakes are Red, but thats in Bengal. And I live at Bangalore.
  • It must suck, not being able to play Football?
    • My school football team selector thought the same thing. So, I got an wild card entry into class 7 football team. I haven’t played the game even at pada (Bengali for neighborhood) level and so was naturally reluctant to play. Selector assumed it to be mere modesty (After all, how can a Bengali not play football?) I was given a chance and the rest is history.

Song recommendation: 3

  • Pink Cadillac – Bruce Springsteen
    • Composed in 1983, it was Springsteen’s second song on Cadillacs. The lyrics, when applied to ‘something other’ than cars, have some very different connotation. In 2001, AOL disallowed its users to use its lyrics since they were ‘too suggestive’. Judge it for yourself.

  • All the Young Dudes – Mott the Hoople
    • British Band, Mott the Hoople, was struggling until this song of theirs released. This made them overnight stars. Later, even Ozzy Osburne sung it in his album.

  • Thank You – Dido
    • If you have read “The Hitchhiker’s guide to galaxy”, you would be able to draw some parallels with this song. If you havent, dont worry. It doesnt take PhD in Modern English Literature to enjoy the song.

  • Baba o’reilly – The Who
    • A song about waste in general, but not being wasted. Originally written for an opera, this song became a part of an album when the opera itself was scrapped.