Read it on my TOI Blog : Freeze Frame
Just because I have not as yet put up a post on the Commonwealth Games or the Ayoddha verdict does not mean that I am not following the stories. I am – every bit of them. But I have been too distracted to comment on the much written about (and abused) ‘management style’ of our weapon of mass humiliation at the Games – the OC – and their potential legacy on our ability to handle an event of this scale on the global stage in future or the court case that has been yearning for a closure for the last sixty years. My attention has been elsewhere – far away from milestone Supreme Court verdicts; from swelling rivers and flooded cities; even further than the chain of festivities that promise to engulf the national psyche over the next two to three months.
Like many others around the country, I have been busy with numbers. No, not the kind that I impose upon my daughter in the name of Mathematics but with numbers that dance – rise and fall every moment, every day, every week – and in their movement hold sway over the collective consciousness of our nation, and bring forth a million smiles or a thousand sighs with their every feint, dash or pirouette.
It all started early last week, on a morning when the newspaper headlines on most national dailies screamed “Sensex might hit 20,000 by Thursday”. The Bee and I exchanged looks over our cups of steaming Darjeeling. Having been wedded to the Bee for a dozen years, I knew that look. His face was a battleground of ‘Didn’t I tell you this was coming?’, ‘God, it’s Tuesday already..’, ‘Have you spoken to the PMS guys?’, ‘What does one do to find a broker one can trust in this country?’, ‘If only the online trading platform worked!’. As for me, I started to steel myself to handle the flood of tasks that I could see taking shape in his head as he poured over the daily news.
We had been here before, with every ebb and flow of the bourses in fact over the past decade and a half or so. I still remember us, a hapless newly wed couple, walking the length of two posh arteries of a Bengali-infested South Delhi neighbourhood, in the bright summer heat, in search of a decent stock-broking firm. Those were the days of when people still continued to rummage through old investment files in search of an elusive share certificate that could and would change their destiny. And we, like many others before and after us, had missed the proverbial bus. Thereafter, for quite some time, we happened to be away in a foreign land, and all we could do was to stand on the veritable sidelines and watch in envy as the Indian markets soared, flapped and continued to rise to higher peaks on the wings of growing investor confidence.
This time, however, we were here and we were determined not to miss our chance. The POA was simple, activate accounts, deploy funds, trade online and book profits. With the POA in place and the PA thus instructed, the Bee packed his bags and left for yet another trip around the country with a sweet, ‘You know I’m remain tethered to my Blackberry, so do call me, send me a mail or a text message, as soon as you are done. Remember, we can’t afford to sit out on this one’. Visions of a legendary Old Spice ad flashed before my eyes even as we said our goodbyes.
In hindsight, how I wish that the execution of the POA was as easy as the POA sounded! For the past two weeks while others have been busy anticipating landmark judgments, bringing down the CWG roof, running sting operations and generally living through the daily chaos and excitement of our wonderful country, this PA has been focussing on numbers, or making certain numbers work, to be more precise. On a day when the Rajdhani’s civic authorities shooed away domestic help and made life miserable for residents of a posh New Delhi suburb, I was busy watching the dalliance of the bourses and praying for the revival of certain scrips that I had set my heart on. While a certain Australian channel’s sting operation claimed that they had been able to breeze in through security gates at the Games venue with a strolley full of explosives, I was busy breezing in and out of online trading portals, waiting, buying, watching, selling, ruing, smiling and at times, heaving a huge sigh of relief.
I am still on this number watch, biting my lips, hands clasped in prayer, wishing that the numbers would show some spurt of life, some drama at the stock markets would breathe life into the gasping scrips – all while the country reels under yesterday’s verdict, trying to fathom implications, dissecting it and starting a process of accepting the judgement. I remember the Bee telling me about a former senior colleague of his, who would say that numbers told him a story or allowed him to paint a picture. Well, I humbly submit if the performance of the Sensex, the number of text messages and the buzz on the social media regarding yesterday’s landmark verdict and the much needed focus on our national economic priorities and inclusive growth are anything to go by, then they do tell a story don’t they? So I am still holding my breath and waiting for the numbers to tango.