Thursday, January 01, 2009

Personal Note: The Reinvention of Nearly Everything

This is my welcome note for 2009. Thank God that 2008 is finally over. A year of miseries, most people will say. One would hope that the current downturn is only psychological, and the New Year celebrations will lift the spirit. The end-of-year will represent a clear break with the past: At the stroke of midnight hour, all the follies of last five years will be behind us. So be it: 2009, a year of reinventing nearly everything.

First, let's start with expectations itself. Many ceilings and benchmarks have been repeatedly breached in the last few years, so let's not get there. Sensex, Dow Jones, NASDAQ, FTSE - in all of that. Those points have almost become meaningless now, in the floor-busting year of 2008. If we start afresh, we shall not talk about indexes anymore. We can rather talk about simple things, like happiness and family perhaps. They are usually things we forget in giddy times, and don't have time for them amid disasters. This year will be a good time to return to these things.

Fear is another such area. We have lived in constant fear of things unimaginable. Since the day the planes flew into the tall buildings of New York. Since then, lots of people have been killed just for taking wrong trains, and even for going to hotels and hospitals. This seems to be a particular type of worship, a newly bottled religion. But we seem to be coming to the end of it: End of this life of fear. Increasingly, we know fear is being used by both sides - by our attackers to limit our movement and by our defenders, to limit our thinking. We realized we lose more by fearing than by not fearing. So, 2009 may see us marching out again, beating our fears.

Taboos need a reinvention too. This is the year of Barack Obama, remember. How would it feel to see a Black American president on TV all the time? He will remind us all the time that things change and unimaginable can happen. There are some good taboos that may be broken too. Like toying with nuclear missile launchers. Asif Zardari is a bit too naive to handle such dangerous things anyway. He came close to breaking this taboo in 2008. Hopefully, he has learnt, and keep these things stashed away somewhere.

Businesses will learn a number of things. Like the party can not go on forever. India and China have to work a bit to resurrect their pre-2008 glory. It was all downhill for China since the Olympics, and they need to do something quickly and decisively to avoid another Tienanmen. So far, they are getting too close to that for comfort.

Personally, I am hoping a better end of the year than how it is starting. I need to reinvent myself too, and restructure my life. I have spent far too long in the wrong trade, 2009 will see me shifting finally. I am almost committed to reinvent everything, right from how much I sleep to what I talk about. This would have been revolutionary, but under the current circumstances, I am looking like a laggard already.

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How To Live

"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the grey twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."

- Theodore Roosevelt

Last Words

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

- T S Eliot

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