Dec 16, 2010
John too had gone to Mumbai soon after obtaining a degree in commerce with the burning desire to convert aspirations into reality. His wish had come true with an instant stroke of luck. A job in central government’s Food Corporation was like winning a gold medal. The friends jealously reacted and said ‘lucky you’. He commuted from Kalyan to work in company’s office at Ballard Pier. The dingy place to stay at Kalyan was his perpetual cause of melancholy. An apartment at Kurla was his dream. He was not keen on bank loan. However, the mismatch between his savings and market value of an apartment was immensely vast. He remained single in chasing his reverie. His classmates and friends working in Gulf countries had built villas in their hometown. Some of them had found their soul mates and had joined in the wedlock.
John was caught up in the tedium of city life. The never-ending monotony had made him insipid. Once the passport was done, he too knocked the doors of employment agents for Gulf countries. His efforts continued without any useful result. Though his struggle remained, somehow he felt better while coming across Richie at Mumbai VT station. He had known Richie from his hometown. Richie was his classmate in grade 3 while studying in a convent school. Richie was unsuccessful in passing grade 3 and subsequently he had taken more than one attempt even while passing some of the other grades. John had shifted to Mumbai soon after his graduation and last he heard was Richie had discontinued his studies after failing twice in grade 8.
“Hi. How are you?” John recognized and invited him for a cup of tea at railway canteen.
“Not so fine.” Richie was down and depressed. “3 months passed. I am struggling without a proper job.”
“What’s your qualification?” John’s false pride woke up.
“My father didn’t allow me to continue further after failing twice in grade 8. I dropped out.” Richie sipped his tea.
“Where do you stay? What do you do for living?” John sounded mockingly compassionate.
“I am living under bed space terms at a filthy place in Thane. In the mornings, I distribute news paper.” Richie dispiritedly continued. “I do have a second class railway pass. At times, I kill the time by commuting back and forth from VT to Thane. I have met so many known faces from our hometown during such purposeless journey. I am yet to come across someone who could help me. Could you place me at a right place?”
“My friend, one needs a trade to survive in this world.” John placed his hand on Richie’s shoulder. “That is not all. The skill should be supported with a certificate to prove your specialization. What do you have? You are nothing. You should have done at least some technical course.”
“……….” Richie’s did not utter any word as his spirit came crashing down.
“Have you heard of Warren Buffet?” John teasingly questioned him.
“No.” Richie helplessly shook his head.
“He is one among the richest in the world.” John ridiculed. “You know, as a boy Warren Buffet too was distributing newspaper. He saved from his petty job and invested in stock market. Rest is history. He crossed the horizons of wildest imagination and reached lofty heights.”
“Really?” Richie turned inspiringly curious.
“I think you should follow Warren Buffet’s foot steps as you are also specialized in newspaper distribution.” John looked at the train, which was inching closer at the platform. “Please don’t feel bad for poking fun at you. I was joking. Write down my number and call me whenever you find time.”
John patted his back and ran towards the train. The success stories from his friends from Gulf had made him to live with a sense of defeat. Today he had found someone weaker than him. Richie’s plight gave him a source of satisfaction. He derived pleasure in discovering himself in a far more superior position than Richie.
They remained out of contact for next few months. Eight months had passed after their last encounter. One afternoon Richie called him on his office number during lunch break.
“Hi. Richie boy, how are you? Did you find any new job? Are still distributing newspapers?” John contemptuously taunted him.
“I still distribute the dailies in the morning.” Richie replied. “You know something, I have been appointed as an office boy in Mehta & Co.”
“Mehta & Co? Are they the stock brokers?” John had heard of them.
“Yep. Now I believe my good times are not very far.” Richie’s voice was galvanized by the newfound enthusiasm.
“Why do you think so?” John turned grim-faced.
“Listen, I had total savings of about five thousand rupees from my newspaper distribution job.” Richie explained. “About six months back I invested that amount in stock market. You know, now the same shares are worth more than fifty thousand.”
“Lucky you! Now I am busy. Let us catch up some other time.” John felt dryness in his throat. He was visibly upset while placing the receiver down. Richie’s accomplishment had unnerved him.
A grade 8 dropout had converted his five thousand into fifty thousand. He was irritated by the revulsion within. The inadequacy bothered him. It seemed as if he was wasting time and lagging behind. John was impressed and inspired by Richie’s money multiplying tactics. He had always lived with the preconceived notion that only the Gulf employment had the financial edge over others. Richie had proved him wrong. John knew his educational strengths and hence could not digest the feeling of falling behind Richie. The very thought of failing to keep up pace with a grade 8 dropout did not go well with him.
Richie did not call him again, perhaps was too engaged in stock market’s money making game. John called Mehta & Co’s number couple of times, however failed to reach Ritchie. John had saved about slightly more than hundred thousand and had kept in bank’s fixed deposit scheme. He did not thing twice, withdrew a large amount, contacted a stockbroker and bought shares with an anticipation of high returns. The market behaved indifferently against his investment. At times the value shot up close to two hundred thousand and on occasions, it plummeted to the negative side. He cursed and carped looking at the lackluster upshot. St. Ignatius’s message on ‘active indifference’ perhaps, stayed beyond his realization!
John strived desperately to achieve, but was saddened at the outcome. His father had passed away during his college days. On the 10th year of his service in Mumbai, his mother breathed her last breath. He visited his hometown for the cremation and there after did not feel the need to come back. After serving for 20 years in Food Corporation, he managed to buy a studio apartment in Kurla. Now he decided to break free from his single status. He turned back to his hometown after a gap of 10 years in quest of a proposal.
A well-known marriage broker invited him to join for coffee at the shopping mall. While sipping the coffee, he saw a stylishly dressed man waiting at the elevator. Most unexpectedly, Richie had emerged from nowhere.
“I know him. He is Richie.” John appeared eager to meet him.
“Do you really know him?” Marriage broker expressed his disbelief. “He is rich and famous in this place. A lucrative stock brokerage and consultancy is under his ownership. He is also into shipping, construction business and chain of restaurants. How do you know him?”
John ignored the marriage broker and sprinted across to meet his pal. He entered the elevator and stood right in front of Richie.
“Hey, John.” Richie greeted with a smile.
“Where were you? I am so happy to meet you. I heard of your success story.” John controlled his breath.
“I am still a small fish.” Richie tried to be modest.
The casual conversation continued until they reached the basement car park. John was stunned as Richie’s saunter came to a halt beside a Mercedes car.
“I will leave you home. Please sit inside. Where shall I drop you?” Richie occupied the driver’s seat.
John informed his address and pulled the seat belt. He had abruptly left the marriage broker at coffee shop. At this moment, it was trivial. Richie’s success story had left him in a state of bemusement. The puzzle had to be cracked. His accomplishments seemed similarities with Warren Buffet triumphs, however in a lesser scale. John had remained ordinary despite of his educational background. Hence, he wanted to go to the bottom and find out how Richie became rich. The car gathered speed as John hesitantly remained quiet.
“You must be wondering at the transition in my life.” Richie confidently opened up.
“In a way yes….” John agreed.
“I had no knowledge of Warren Buffet until I met you at Mumbai’s VT railway station.” Richie honked. “Plenty of reading and research on Warren Buffet inspired me to step up the course of my life. It was not easy for a grade 8 dropout. Somehow, I managed to get an office boy’s job in Mehta & Co, the renowned stockbrokers in Mumbai. I observed the game by keeping my mouth shut and ears open. Once I turned confident, I invested my all savings and bought shares worth five thousand.”
“Are you telling me, you became big by just investing five thousand?” John was not convinced.
“I a way I learnt many of the secrets of trading during my tenure with Mehta & Co.” Richie remained focused on the street. “Their game plan was never based on buy and hold. I picked up companies with money and ideas. I shunned companies, which were not making money. In other words, I went after companies with large profit margin, little or no debt and strong cash flow.”
“That is how you became successful?” John hurriedly concluded.
“That technique did not work.” Richie applied breaks on sight of the signal. “The value of shares worth five thousand jumped to fifty thousand. I turned greedy and invested all amount on an IT business services company. The luck smiled and the value of my stocks shot up to two hundred thousand. The stock of the leading global IT consulting firm was flying high until a corporate fraud broke out and value dropped back lower than fifty thousand. I learnt my lesson and decided not to block funds in one or two companies. It is advisable to invest in 6 to 16 stocks. You earn in peanuts when you make too many picks of small investments. Of course, all depends on how much money you have.”
“Dammit! I was never aware of these tactics.” John scratched his head. “I invested in more than 30 companies. That is how my money did not grow.”
“There is something more.” Richie pressed the accelerator. “You can beat specialists and whiz kids if you know how to make a chart, study the index based on 12 months moving average of any given stock. Then you can select investments wisely and conservatively based on dynamic companies that reflect from the market indicator.”
“Hats off to you.” John nodded. “I bet you learnt all the real secrets of prognosticating from Mehta & Co.”
“Shall I tell you the truth?” Richie exhaled a long puff of breath. “None of these techniques worked and I failed in all strategies. I did not gain much by trying different methods. I remained where I was, still distributed newspapers and worked in Mehta & Co to earn my daily bread.”
“Tell me Richie, how did you get rich?” John was left mystified.
“Do not invest to get rich.” Richie sounded truthful. “Believe me, this is the spiritual side of stock investment. Those who play in thousands will gain in thousands, those dabble in millions are expected to win in millions and if you invest in crores, you will earn in crores. There could be some flashing exceptions, some must have made huge from small bucks.”
“…………………” John remained silent.
“In that way all boats go up in the rising tide and even fools look good when they strike massive in gambling on an odd day.” Richie philosophically elucidated. “Despite being a grade 8 dropout, I accepted Warren Buffet as my role model and researched heavily to understand Warren Buffet’s style of investment. Buffet’s formula of value investment based on future earnings power looks simple. However, simple does not mean easy. Once I realized the hidden truth, I liquidated all my shares and had a sigh of relief.”
“You have not told how you became rich!” John’s voice overwhelmed with urgency and anxiety.
“By then I had found the road to get rich.” Richie slowed down and parked the car. “Eight years back I returned to my home town to start a stock brokerage and consultancy firm. I am also available on the internet where paid members follow my prediction. This has become a roaring success.”
“Why do they trust you?” John looked with disbelief.
“Don’t you trust the expert opinions? “Richie smiled. “There is enough population in this country who invest their hard earned savings with heavy dependence on third party judgment.
I am their savior. I use the same techniques for prediction in which I had failed during my real time. My customers are happy as they find hope in my prediction and I am more than happy as I am paid to predict. By the way, I should thank you.”
“Why should you thank me?” John was shamefully embarrassed while remembering his brief encounter with Richie in Mumbai. He was the same Richie whom he had maliciously derided at Mumbai VT station.
“You set the tone of my life by comparing with Warren Buffet’s initial struggle in life.” Richie sounded emotional. “The spark was ignited by you and I braved the ambition. Otherwise perhaps I would have been still distributing newspapers in the outskirts of Mumbai !”