Chapter 21 - "Lessons From India" - The Incompetent Investor

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Thursday, January 16, 2020

Chapter 21 - "Lessons From India"


G’day all,

Hope you had a great New Year and you are ready to kick some goals for 2020. I’ve received quite a number of personal messages over the festive season in relation to the blog.

I really appreciate you all reaching out. It is nice to read that you are enjoying the blog. It gives me a little bit more motivation to hit the keyboard after a long week of work, kids, dogs, exercise, and other hobbies in between.

In this article I am going to share with you some updates on what has been going on in Darwin (very brief re my wife) and also how my trip went up in India. The post will contain important lessons relating to financial independence, self-care, gratitude and health.I will also add some random photos throughout as well which are not necessarily related to the topic being discussed. 


Sister's Henna (forgive me with the shoe in the bottom left lol!) 

India

My cousin on my mother’s side had an arranged marriage set up with a lovely girl in India. While India has been an important part of my upbringing in terms of culture and identify, I had never been to an Indian wedding given I was born and raised in Australia. As you could suspect, I was very excited.

With the lack of notice (given it was an arranged marriage and my cousin is based in Melbourne with limited leave) I had to book my tickets overseas relatively quick. Unfortunately, I’ve always had a bit of fear for flying. I would habitually envision being stranded in the middle of the ocean. As the known safety officer in the family I immediately considered all the risks I could potentially face!

You’ve got sharks, whales, sting rays, freezing water, massive waves and more. Strewth!

Turbulence also freaks me the heck out! In the end I had to settle with Sri Lankan Airlines. I’ve never flown with them before. I’ve always travelled with Singapore Airlines. Sri Lankan Airlines was the most cost effective and direct route. I did my standard googling on their reputation and how safe they were. Regardless of my findings, the tickets had been booked, and I was locked in.

All was well until I took my seat. I looked up and to me it appeared the plane was falling apart….


Ha ha. But to their credit, despite the ceiling looking like it was going to fall on my head, they did a great job. The customer service and food was wonderful.
   

Any of you been to Singapore airport? Man, it was sick! They had a cinema, pools, a gym, gardens, a food court, foot massages, and Krispy Kreme donuts.

Given I had a 10 hour stop over in Singapore I made good use of the electronic foot massages. I was a bit sickened with the thought of how many feet may have passed through the unit, but I just went for it. Not sure if it was a coincidence but I returned to Australia with tinea in between my toes.

I did witness a classic long-term play that could be replicated in the stock market. There was an older man, aged in 70’s (I think) who lay on the floor against a large pillar which was within close proximity of the reclining chairs. The fellow looked like he was full of wisdom based on his general expression and appearance.

These chairs were hot property! These were the only reclining chairs that I saw. They may have been more. But I counted 6. They were always occupied.

This fellow sat there for over 2 hours. Every so often he would get up and stretch out his back. He was adamant on getting himself a chair! And that he did, he sat patiently, like a long-term investor waiting for the perfect moment.

In the end, he got his opportunity. The moment one of the ladies moved, he bounced up like a 20-year-old athlete on steroids. His carry-on bags were practically off the ground as he flung them along with his body as he moved towards the chairs.

How about that? I was perplexed initially but I saw how patient this fellow was. He waited, and waited, and then he got his chance. Perhaps there are some lessons here within the investing world?

I finally reached India after a relatively easy stop over at Singapore. The moment I entered the bustling streets of Mumbai gratitude kicked in quickly.

5 People on a bike in Pune

The Air Quality was significantly worse than Darwin (mind you I believe some parts of the East Coast in Australia were recorded as some of the worst in the world with the fires) and the traffic was chaotic! I already knew the air quality and traffic was chaotic, but India will always have a special place for me. It does however remind me that we are incredibly lucky to be living in Australia!

I’ve been to India many times, however, with my old age, I felt a bit more attune towards how Indian’s differ to most Australian’s on average.

I picked up the following from speaking to many family members (perhaps over 100+). Not a huge sample size relative the overall population of India. Nevertheless, I believe it gives us some ideas on some of their habits and beliefs.

Key Learning

1) Food is never wasted. If food must be thrown out, it is given to animals on the streets.  



2) Possessions are valued. They regularly are cleaned and maintained them.


3) An 83-year-old grandfather who meditated 3 times a day and walked daily. He explained meditation as being in thoughtless awareness. In other words, in a world where are continuously worrying about bills, social media, employment, and much more, switching off is actually very beneficial for the mind and body. 

4) I did not encounter one person who complained about their jobs. Their jobs ranged from being a personal driver, taxi driver, cooks to running motels in Mahableshwar (a town within Maharashtra which is a state).
  

·       5)You should be the best you can be because it is extremely competitive in India. Like I mean extremely competitive!


The Most Important Lesson


To conclude this blog post I would like to share perhaps the most important lesson I learnt while I was on my trip. As I’ve mentioned a few times, my wife’s mother is quite unwell.

They both (husband and wife) worked in the Middle East for over 25 years. They worked tremendously hard. They had ruthless bosses who had the audacity to question personal leave so she could visit her first grandson (our now son).

They worked up to 3 jobs to support their children to attend good schools both in the UAE, India and Australia. The wife’s dad worked in the desert as an electrician. He is a tough guy. Battle hardened. His been in multiple accidents and somehow survived them. Ironically, he is in amazing health today.

Fast forward to their retirement, they were forced to leave the UAE as they were no longer working which meant they had to return to India. They were initially a bit reluctant returning to India after leaving the country many years ago for a better life. It happens quite often in India. Many people work in the Middle East, earn their money, and then return to India during retirement.

Anyhow, only a few years into their retirement, as my MIL went to sit in a rickshaw, the driver sped off which left my MIL needing a new hip replacement and a new knee. Since the hip and knee replacement, which was compounded by dialysis, her health has deteriorated significantly. It is really sad to see. She has basically been on a bed for almost a year. Her only opportunity to leave the house is to the hospital to have dialysis done. The FIL is basically my mothers 24/7 support worker. Given he is extremely loyal and loving, he does it. But you can see he is very tired.

Wedding Photos

What does this mean? Well, I think we all need to remember that tomorrow is not promised. Thus, I would argue the importance of living in the present and not being too fanatical about financial independence. Save more than you spend, but also learn to enjoy the present, go on a holiday every so often, and spend a little bit on yourself.

Go and buy good quality food if you can afford it. Invest in a gym membership. Get yourself a massage every so often. Jump onto iherb and invest in some good supplements that are good for the joints.

My FIL is aware I am quite connected to financial independence and he gave me two very simple scenarios which were:

-       Retire at 40 only to be broken at 45 due to neglecting your mental health and physical health due to overworking and spending little time on self-care?
-       Retire at 45 years old whilst having experienced a holiday every so often while investing in good foods, supplements, gym equipment and personal hobbies. In the end you will have a strong body and mind along with lots of memories to look back on.

Goa - Cousin stayed here for his honeymoon. 

For the record, I am not telling you to adjust your approach towards FIRE. I am simply suggesting that you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself. Also be careful about becoming too fanatical about the whole FIRE concept. Slow and steady. Enjoy life along the way and look after your body!

Punchgani - Hilltop Station

Darwin News

My wife is in the process of obtaining a new role which requires a security check. In the interim she had a temp role (which was just a bonus). She was released from the temp role on the day she got robbed. No joke. I was in India at the time.

We had to change the locks in the home and the car. To top if off, they threw out her drink bottle and coffee cup without any consultation. So bizarre, particularly for an organisation that works within the Community Services sector. Yet again, a prime example of why financial independence is important!


Peace!



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