Things to do everyday

 

  1. Walk -30 minutes
  2. Write -2 pages
  3. Read -2 hours
  4. Enjoy the moment – all day
  5. Avoid time travel
  6. Eat the same food 5 days in a week
  7. Meditate  -5 minutes
  8. Thought experiments – 15 minutes
  9. Svadhay
  10. Say thanks -10 times in a day

Pat your back, you will have a good day.

Road trip

Takeaways from a recent 3 day visit to Deolali, Nasik – Maharashtra

Roads are impeccable. Rode 180kms in about 2-21/2hrs flat. Its a completely stress free ride

However, the instance of opposite driving has gone up dramatically. People seem to have got a lot more lazier to do roundabouts. So, one has to be a lot more careful now if wish to overtake from the left side.

Things that just hit you as you move from a 20mn+ people city to a city with 50k people.

  1. Everything is at a slow motion mode. It works magic on your system
  2. Noise level drops 80%
  3. You sleep more
  4. You completely loose track of time. Anyway in today’s life can you be far away from a clock!

Business observations

  1. Construction has gone up many fold in the last 10 years
  2. It seemed hotter in the afternoon
  3. Restaurants are in a time warp. A lot of the full service restaurants give you a feel of coming to the 80s/90s. The menu’s serve everything.
  4. Price levels a 50% lower for a lot of things
  5. Cafe Coffee Day is the only cool spot to escape from the heat.
  6. Healthcare Juice Centre on Lam Road is still cutting edge. The best juice centre in all of Maharashtra.

Conclusion

  1. Must go every few months
  2. Take loads of books. See and make sure there is no internet wherever you are.
  3. And don’t forget to shout “I love you mountain” on the way!

Public space evolution

There has been a massive explosion of creation of public spaces over the last 10 years. Growing up in the 80s and 90s I hardly remember instances of going out for coffee (fewer people were hooked on to caffeine) or ever visiting a mall. The fact is that there were none.

On second thoughts, after my recent visit to South India about which I will write later, I completely missed the role of temples. Yes, about 25 years ago, no house was complete unless there was a temple nearby. And yes, you were supposed to go there everyday. A lot of people go to temple everyday, but in more urban centres, they are soon becoming a minority.

But back then, we had a lot of fun playing cricket. Now cricket is a luxury. All the spaces are covered with cars and bikes.

Nowadays, hardly a few weeks go by when one hasn’t visited a mall. The near complete lack of parks coupled with rising temperatures, there are only few options left. Club memberships cost a fortune and traffic is a put off too.

That leaves movies, coffee shops and malls as the only real family hangout places. But these too have a lot off limitations.

Movies are very selectively targeted to particular audience tastes and require a time commitment. Coffee shops tend to get boring for children and there aren’t any apart from Starbucks and Cafe Coffee day.

With malls the only real place where the masses can hangout are their food courts the rest of the spaces require you to commit cash. Nonetheless, the large spaces that some of these malls such as Phoenix and InOrbit occupy allow people to do their evening walks in an air-conditioned, safe and secure environment which very few public spaces offer.

Starbucks would have serious limitations on expansions in India. I do not see the queues in the mornings as you see in London or New York. Rather, for a significant part the staff is busy chatting.

Cafe Coffee day has a phenomenal reach. You would find it around at every major urbanised space in India. I find the menu to be more of a food experience rather than coffee. But again, due to pricing and lack of focus on creation of a coffee habit, I really wonder if would be a money spinning business.

All this leaves me to one definite conclusion. Demand for air conditioned public space would continue at a scorching space. The space occupied by temples only a generation ago would gradually give way to merchandise and engagement.

So how do we play this story?
Direct – 1. Keep a watch on new format open spaces which blend all the above constraints.
2. Air conditioners – come what may, no public space would not work without aircon.
3. Hydraters – There is a serious lack of water based brands in India. In fact in upmarket retail outlets its amusing to find shelves full of imported non-alcoholic brands! Crazy, i thought only oil and alcohol were imported…

Conclusion:

  1. Explosion of cafe’s – but profitability of cafes is a question mark. High rents, operating costs, value for money proposition are key hurdles.

Last mile connectivity

Ola and Uber are changing India in more ways that the Government could never do by adding roads! The concept of last mile connectivity is almost unknown in India. As one lands at Mumbai airport, you realise, there is no public transport at the airport. The nearest train station is hardly a few kilometres away but to get there is bothersome. Compare this with Singapore and Hong Kong -you feel so relaxed coming out of these airports.

A recent ET news report stated that Ola is doing about 750,000 trips in a day and Uber about 200,000 trips in a day!

Those are massive numbers and I won’t be surprise if they grow 100% annually for the next few years. To think of something like this even 2 years ago would be unimaginable. Smartphones coupled with data plans have revolutionised way urban India moves around.

All this, has major implications and among others clearly the big beneficiaries are:

  1. Airlines
  2. Movies
  3. Restaurants
  4. Hospitals
  5. Trains

However, the impact is way beyond what I can fathom currently.

But this is one space which will continue its explosive growth year after year. The benefits are clear –

  1. No haggling
  2. Guaranteed cleanliness
  3. Safety
  4. State of the art mapping
  5. Drop off to the last point

Can’t think of a direct play on this change in habit (lifestyle). But I do think airline traffic surge of 30% in July, 2015 would have something to do with this. But airline companies have many other issues to grapple. Makes me wonder why the airline companies never thought of solving this simple problem of making their customers go where they have to. Just like, how they seem to have got it right on feeding their customers en-route.

The moral of the story is that a revolution in one space rarely ever goes without touching others.

Link

New trends

Two major trends that have come about in the last few weeks and months:

  1. Crude oil fall –

Crude has fallen very sharply from the highs of US$60/barrel (recent high) to US$41/barrel. The reasons behind such events could be plenty. Iran deal, US crude output, shale gas discovery and weak global economy are a few. But we have to remain focussed on playing the theme…

How do you play it? Airlines -Warren Buffet is well known to hate airlines, shipping companies (another complicated business), plastics etc.

Airlines are big consumers of oil and after the disastrous performances over the last few years, one cannot remain oblivious to the fact that they will be big beneficiaries. However, we would view these businesses for shorter term investments as their balance sheets, business practises are too arcane for a longer-term analysis.

2. China devaluation –

China, is different. They don’t hold elections. Most families have only one child and some tend to be spoilt. Most Chinese really follow any religion and gamble a lot (We hate generalisations, but you get the point). But they do know how to get things done, rightly or wrongly is matter of another discussion. They also call their state head – “Premier”!

The Chinese government is realising that it has a problem at hand. Among the many things it hates is “rumours” – they key reason they have banned facebook, google etc. – but smart Chinese know how to use these things through VPNs. They hate slowdowns. After years of double digit GDP growth, it has a problem at hand. They literally produce too much of everything. Their production of everything basic – cement, metals etc., dwarfs every other nation and they know how to keep costs to the minimum.

This has led to two big problems – pollution and oversupply.

During my visit to China last year, I was amazed at – 1. The massive housing construction and 2. How expensive some thing really were – such as a bottle of water at the airport costs US$2 and coffee at the airport costs US$10. 3. How every other mill was concerned about the government action on pollution and the word “Government” comes up in almost every other conversation.

They have started with simpler things such as devalue the currency. And so naturally drag the Rupee, which has been held stable largely due to capital flows. India is generous recipient of capital flows and has a rather large diaspora.

 

About life

Taking a holistic view of things and also keeping in mind our core theme which is investing.

Talking about only one thing gets boring. Will look forward to exploring ideas, stories and yes travels.

Like an interesting quote I recently read outside the loo of a backpackers hostel in the Gilli Islands, which are a 1 1/2 hour speed boat ride from Bali, Indonesia (everybody must go there once) – “Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. Throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour, catch the winds in your sail.”

-Btw i later found out that this quote is by Mark Twain.