Saturday, March 07, 2009

Don't Bottom Pick Stocks

Did the stock market bottom out? It is a trillion dollar question. The stocks lost nearly 11 trillion in value since October 2007 and lost nearly 2 trillion since the beginning of 2009.

It started like a shower, then became a rain, then became a thunder storm and now it is a hurricane and there is flood everywhere. The March'08 lows (caused by Bears Stearns fallout) were beaten by the July'08 lows (caused by Fannie/Freddie government takeover) which was beaten by the October'08 lows (caused by Lehman fallout) and that was in-turn beaten by the Nov'08 lows (caused by GM/Citi insolvency concerns) . People thought "That was the end of it" and breathed a sigh of relief. Optimism developed when Obama was sworn in. The stocks rose in Jan'09. Everyone thought, they missed the stock market bottom in Nov 21st, 08. Then came the huge blow in Feb'09. The marked tanked another 20% since the new year. It created new bottoms everyday.

There are two sets of people - the optimists and the pessimists. The optimists think that the bottom is reached and jump-in to see themselves in a new bottom. The pessimists wait on the side lines with their money to jump-in when the 'real' bottom is reached. But, the truth is, nobody knows what the 'real' bottom is. The pessimists are going to wait for ever. So, who wins - the optimists or the pessimists? The real winner is decided by time.

Those who are still trying to bottom pick - Good luck !

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Returning back to India ...

I made one of the biggest decisions in my life on the 25th of Jan, 2009. I decided to move back to India. I have been dreaming about returning back, since the day I landed in US, 6 years ago. But, I never got the guts to make that bold decision. (Also read: First R2I Anniversary - The journey continues ...)

At first, I thought I should go back in 2 - 3 years, then I thought I should go back before I get married, then I thought I should go back before we have our kid, then I thought I should go back with a 'business' plan, then I thought..., then I thought ... there was no end to the list. Well, finally I had to pull the plug. The turn of events in my personal life made it easy for me.

It took just less than an hour for me to decide. I booked tickets for my wife/kid in the next 1 hour. I packed and sent them to India in the next 24 hours. I dropped my wife/kid in the airport on the night of Jan 26th (Monday). It was very late in the night and I was completely exhausted when I landed on the bed. The bed room was completely dark. The digital clock was showing 00:35. Normally, I go to sleep within minutes (at times, seconds) of hitting the bed. But, Jan 26th night was an exception. I had so many thoughts & questions in my mind. The biggest of all was "What should I do next?" I have to tell my current employer, I have to sell my things, I have to find a job, I have to take care of some financial obligations, I have to do this, I have to do that. I started preparing a list on my mind. I saw 02:00 on the digital clock. All my energy was completely drained by then. It was hard for me to even keep my eyes open. I think I slept after that.

The next 3 weeks were quite hectic. There was a very exciting thing about to happen in my career. I had to put an end to it, because of my decision to return back to India. I decided to move back in 3 months. I told my employer about my decision. They were very understanding and co-operative. I prepared my resume and sent it to some close contacts.

I cleaned up the house and sold most of the items in craigslist. Things sold pretty fast (Thanks to the recession. People love used items!). We spent years and years to accumulate those items. But they all vanished in days. The sweet memories of each of those items is still fresh in my mind. It is still hard for me to emotionally distance myself from those memories. I, not only felt the pain emotionally, but also physically when I sold my bed. For the first time in the last 3 years, I slept on the floor. I was wrapped up in my comforter like a Burrito. The next morning, all the cells in my body were aching. I vacated my house and moved to my brother's house on the 28th of Feb. That was another big emotional roller coaster. We spent the last 2.5 years in that house with my friend's family. It was hard to tear away those golden memories.

It is March 5th, 2009. I crossed half of the ocean. I now have answers to many of the questions that I had on the night of Jan, 26th. I found a job, I sold most of my things, I vacated my house, I booked my return tickets. I'm all set to return back.

I have 2 more months to go back and meet my family. When they were here in US, I hardly spent much time with them on a daily basis. However, I miss them now. I want to hug my little daughter, I want to carry her on my shoulders, I want to play hide/seek with her ... I'm longing to meet her. I'm counting every day & every second. I had always desired to turn the clock back and go to the past. But, today, I want to turn the clock forward and go to the future.

Returning back to India is indeed a big decision. Why did I feel so much pain in the last 5 weeks? Well, I tried to swallow a full apple in 'one go'. I should have cut it into slices and eaten as pieces.

The last 6 years taught me "Why many of the folks who come to US, stay in US ... forever". Unless folks have 'very strong reasons' to return back, they'll not. Your 'logical' mind can give you thousands of reasons to stay in US. So, if you want to really return back, you should not consult your 'logical' mind. You should ask your 'emotional' mind. It can give you millions of reasons to return back.

Many folks come to US to earn money. But, I left my company in India because they didn't give me the promotion that I deserved. I should thank them for that. I wouldn't be what I'm today, if not for them. I got a wonderful exposure both from a career standpoint and from my personal standpoint. If I had not come to US, I would have been like a tiny little fish in a stagnating pond. Today, I'm a shark, that can swim in a ocean. I know how to go with the tides and against them. I'm quite excited to return back to India and meet my family & friends. I'm going to begin another chapter in my life. I've just written the foreword to it.

Recommended Reading: Returning back to India - 25 things to do