How it feels to be a 30-something…

As I approach the end of yet another year in my 30s I explore how it feels to be 30-something and beyond.

  1. Your are more focused on accumulating more wealth in the 30s by putting your reputation and leadership to work than your talent.
  2. You are more health conscious and make daily exercise and healthy food choices a norm in your daily life.
  3. You like to spend more time on hobbies and grow your interests outside of regular work.
  4.  It’s the right time to put the theory of lost talents to work from time to time.
  5. You prefer focusing on quality of time spent than quantity.
  6. You prefer stability and clarity in your personal life.
  7. Your vacations are always more planned than random.
  8. You prefer to hang out with only those who enhance your career and business interests and distance yourself from others.
  9. You expect more respect without giving back the same amount to others.
  10. You prefer to have an experienced and wealthy identity in society even if you are not.
  11. You don’t want any surprises to your personal life, financial life or your daily routines.

And the list goes on….

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Tax benefits from Budget 2017 for those close to 5 lakh taxable income range and above…

This year’s budget has done a small change in the personal income tax rate which could hugely benefit those near the 5 lakh taxable income range. Here’s a summary of the change.

  • The tax rate applied on taxable incomes between 2.5 to 5 lakh has been reduced to 5% from 10%.
  • This means if your taxable income is 5 lakh say after exemptions and making 80C and other eligible investments your tax will be reduced by Rs 12500.
  • Remeber the existing tax code already provides a rebate of Rs 5000 under Section 87a if your taxable income is below Rs 500000. This rebate is also being changed a bit (which I have explained in the latter part of the blog).
  • This means if you are marginally falling out of the 5 lakh taxable income range it becomes more important for you to reduce your taxable income below 5 lakh by making investments and gaining the tax benefits.
  • In fact even if your income is somewhere near 8-9 lakh range it is possible now for you to gain from this change by availing all possible exemptions and tax saving instruments to reduce your taxable income to below Rs 500000.

The above benefit if applied to 3 lakh incomes with the new tax rate reduces the tax liability to zero with the existing rebate of Rs 5000. To avoid the duplicate benefits this rebate has been changed from Rs 5000 to Rs 2500 applicable only to incomes upto Rs 350000.

In summary the only tax rate modified is the 10% tax bracket which has been changed to 5% and other changes are purely new rebate offerings and an additional 10% surcharge for incomes above 50 Lakh which pays for the Rs 15500 crore reduction in revenue due to the new tax reduced tax rate in the 10% slab. Makes good sense in terms of progressive taxation policy for income redistribution.

So wake up now and take your tax planning seriously for the coming fiscal year to avoid unnecessary losses.

Source : http://www.news18.com/news/business/in-i-t-rate-revision-taxpayers-hit-a…

Passengers (3D)

Passengers.It’s hard to miss this movie as it has been all over twitter for the past 2 months. What was the last Hollywood film I watched ? Sholay ? Such is the scenario for Hollywood in India in the age of Dangal unless you do some serious marketing. Never even knew this was a 3D movie. All I knew know was that it had an interesting story line and two characters played by Chris Pratt and another lady whose name I cannot recollect. They should have cast Jennifer Lawrence instead 🙂

The movie like most other Hollywood films has a short runtime but a high impact story and action sequence. What would you do if you are given 5-minutes to pitch a business , sell a product or market your CV ? How much impact can you create with a 5-minute pitch ? Well maybe watching Passengers could help because each scene costs just 5-minutes (and of course x-dollars) to create a lasting experience. I thought each of the entire 2 hours had such 5-minute scenes packed together to give a wholesome experience to the audience.

Chris Pratt as Jim Preston wakes up in the middle of a transit journey to planet Homestead from Earth in a spaceship. What would a man do when you are woken up in a spaceship which is supposed to keep you in deep sleep for 120 years in a hibernation pod till destination – Homestead ? Chris Pratt is such a man newly born out of a malfunctioned hibernation pod. Chris Pratt meets Arthur -The robot bartender who serves alcohol and also provides good company to him. Chris Pratt cannot talk to humans, cannot go back to hibernation and cannot message or talk to friends on Earth. Bored, irritated , frustrated and vexed Chris Pratt tries everything to break free from a lonely journey to planet Homestead. I mention the name Chris Pratt again and again because the man’s attention span is completely stolen away once lady Aurora enters the screen. (Whoever that lady was, they should have cast Jennifer Lawrence instead:)

Lady Aurora is a gold passenger in the ship forcibly awaken by Jim Preston to beat his loneliness. The two of them spend enough time to explore the ship together and also further their dating plans. Jennifer Lawrence turns up enough heat on screen with some sizzling wardrobes to send your popcorns spilling out of the way originally destined to your mouths. ‘You are one of the most beautiful women I have ever met in my life’ is probably the dumbest thing you could ever say to Jennifer Lawrence because who doesn’t love Jen in this world. At least I will make sure I hold a gold passenger ticket like Chris Pratt before I say this. The movie has some super sexy scenes in the middle of the sky. How cool is it have some privacy in an outer space journey when each of the other 5000 passengers except two of them are asleep? I am sure that is enough to arouse the demons inside you 🙂

Overall Passengers is almost a Titanic experience. Is it the Titanic ? Not really. It is upto to the modern day teens to make that judgement. I was super-inspired by Titanic in the 90s. ‘Passengers’ shows small shades of the Titanic by way of a beautiful love story and a ship adventure. But I would still call it a simple movie with minimal characters and a short runtime. Passengers can be called the Titanic only with some machine sauce and space nuts 🙂

Dangal….

Dangal Dangal…..Probably the last movie I wanted to watch this year unless some miracle motivates me to go for one more…My movie count for 2016 is nearly 15 which is historically the highest ever…Never been such a movie freak but I think some of the best movies have released this year and most of them have been worth watching.

Dangal the movie is yet another Aamir Khan grandeur who is most likely to become the most ‘Ameer’ among the Khans this year after this movie. Not to forget Salman Khan’s ‘Sultan’ and Sharukh Khan’s ‘Dear Zindagi’.The Khans are wrestling it out but Aaamir will easily win the best wrestler award for Dangal. Dangal simply deserves appreciation for it’s central theme – The sport of wrestling and need to do a big screen bollywood promotion for the sport to inspire millions of Indians who are better influenced by bollywood than watching the real sport. Wrestling as a sport could  not have been interesting for many of us before watching this movie. But after watching Dangal the sport is sure to gather more attention in future as the movie has travelled deep into it’s  length and breath.

Having watched PK and Lagaan I feel Aamir is striking a legendary chord among villagers in his own style and has been really successful at doing so. Be it the 5 am wake up call for training his daughters to wrestle or the perfection of the village accent his ability to connect with the Indian village audience and connect with them frequently is gaining new heights. Aamir is a father and a wrestling coach to his two daughters who would have otherwise been married off at a young age as per village norms. Geetha-Babita are indeed as cute and sweet as their name combo sounds. The childhood girls bring such a great charm to the stage with their innocent days as a wrestler and first half of the movie is about how two young girls with their village father learn the art of wrestling in the male dominated world. Not to forget this is based on a true story it is indeed a huge sacrifice to spend your childhood learning a sport with great dreams and unknown heights to reach. I could totally relate to the cruelty of a village father to ask his daughters to cut their hair short for the sport and also the feelings of the girls in response as I myself never ever thought of going short on my hair in my lifetime. Those were some of the scenes which is sure to have moved the audience. But not all hope is lost for short haired girls as there are scenes which show that girls can look even more beautiful with short hairs. But anyway the real deal is not about girls being made to forcibly play a male sport but it’s about making it to the national team and then of course go international.

The Geetha-Babitha girls are soon ready to hit the national stage after a few successful village bouts. Trained in family , gained in village competitions and finally one of them is now heading into the real world outside the villages – The so called ‘National Academy’. It is true that in India most sports have long ladders to climb before hitting the national level and wrestling is no exception. The National Academy coach is probably the only villain in this movie who is strategically opposite to the father coach. Talking about strategy in a world where even nonsense is projected as a strategy this movie has gone great depths in learning and applying the intricate techniques involved in the sport.  The best feedback can only come from the experts who themselves I am sure would have been mesmerized at the level of detail the movie shows about the sport.

None of the 3 hours were boring and the real reason could simply be the interesting wrestling matches played on screen with some good  commentary and audience. MS Dhoni was a similar attempt and should say the movie did have some interesting matches too but definitely at a lower level of excitement. Dangal is more of a grassroots movement than just a series of female wrestling  matches. I am sure Dangal’s non-commercial success can be measured by the new wrestlers that emerge out of inspiration from this movie. Songs are great and the performances are brilliant and nothing could have been more perfect for Aamir and co in this movie. A perfect movie way to end the year with. A ‘Must Watch’ rating for sure.

 

Ude Dil Befikre…

Ude Dil Befikre – Could have been a much better title. But who cares. Should say this movie is highly underrated both in the literal sense and otherwise. As I walked towards the ticket counters to get my ticket my mind was calling out for Dangal. With all the hype and buzz around the success story of Dangal Befikre could have easily slipped out of my must watch movies list. But after watching the movie I felt I had made yet another right decision.

As mentioned earlier the movie is definitely underrated. Censor board has given a ‘U/A’ certificate but the movie is much beyond that. Maybe a ‘Z’ certificate is more appropriate because the ratings really don’t matter in my view. None of the ‘A’ certified movies seem to have enough adult content and none of ‘U’ or ‘U/A’ movies seem to have limited themselves to less adult stuff.

Befikre is simply a free ride in wonderland for young couples. A desi dude from Delhi steps into the land of Paris and meets a French woman raised by desi parents. Couldn’t have been much better. The two of them have no rules to flirt, dance, kiss and fcuk. They own each other in the movie with one important caveat of being completely non-committal to any form of long term relationship. Who would not enjoy such a free ride when it comes to women. Both of them are united by limitless fun and  romance but separated by their idea of long term relationship.

Ranveer Singh as Dharam and Vani Kapoor as Shyra (can rather call her shy-less) are two souls who cannot live without fun and humor which obviously means nothing should be taken seriously  until the talks of marriage are initiated . It is hard for anyone not to confess ‘I laughed’ or even ‘laughed aloud’ for most of the scenes in this movie. The humor was genuine and the characters were fun. The seriousness is reserved until each of these two decide to chalk out their own paths of ideal marriage. It takes a couple of dates with a banker for Shyra to decide her life partner while Dharam’s flirting skills lands him with a French blonde. Only one of them probably really knew what they were actually doing or both of them were out of their minds. Shyra’s dominance and Dharam’s freedom are at battle with each other. Shyra neither stops ruling nor gets ruled while Dharam seemed to be more sensible to me in choosing his freedom over obsession with a non-existent  long-term relationship.

It is not new for a woman to spend her best time with someone and end up marrying an unknown man just after a couple of dates. Most women want both these type of men in their lives but this movie clearly lays emphasis on choosing one over the other without doubt. One of them had to give up and it is important to not take any form of ownership in terms of personal relationship thereafter. The movie is meant to be funny but seriousness is left to introspection. Can money buy happiness ?  Not always. Money can surely buy money while happiness can buy freedom and also the ability to live with the love of our lives without much thinking.  In fact I felt the movie ended with a perfect message when it said to fall in love is to do a bungee jump without any fear. Nobody can plan a lifetime. Although some amount of planning is needed life is meant to be lived and not planned and I would never be happy with someone who is always planning for a relationship instead of being committal.  Whether it is a party, an eat-out , a one night stand or a marriage commitment is required in which only marriage qualifies as a long-term commitment.

Overall the movie is fun and there is no lack of dating tips. Sometimes things works out on the first date itself while others take time to blossom. Most of the music is good and in fact I found some of the work to be genius when it comes to background score especially the piece that plays out when Kyra and Dharam discuss their serious bits outside a private party after Dharam decides to marry the French blonde. Try to catch this if you can. It’s beautiful. As said earlier this movie is not to be missed for sure.

 

 

CAT 2016 – Analysis

Yet another year end and yet another year of CAT (Common Admission Test) passes by and this is not necessarily only for students who are aspiring for the coveted IIM programs in the country. Somehow this love of CAT has blossomed for me to a point where I feel I am totally married and when you are married you are married for a reason no matter how many bumpy roads you face. My love for the CAT exam hasn’t diminished one bit since my graduation days and that is something which I aimed for before I chose alternate paths. My sense of purpose to write CAT after even almost 10 years past my under-graduation and about 7 years of work experience in the industry and with a Master’s degree already   in my profile is beyond explanation. But fact remains a CAT score is a CAT score and the IIMs are only out there for all of them who believe in elite education at whatever point in their lives.

It doesn’t matter whether you are a student just out of college and aiming to do a traditional full-time MBA program or an experienced professional who is looking for a  business executive program which can provide an IIM stamp in your profile  – CAT serves the purpose. In fact it is more fun to write CAT as an executive with more work experience as opposed to students whose mindset still largely remains exam oriented than life oriented. I make it a tradition to write CAT every year irrespective of the level of  my preparation and I will continue to write CAT till age 60 unless there is a valid reason to go for a divorce. By then I am sure I would have at least started, attempted  or run a business , done some independent consulting work for big companies or even started an MBA coaching centre with my own success strategies. My strategy in life is very simple.  Keep doing what you love no matter what.

Coming to the main purpose of this blog which is a comprehensive analysis of the 2016 CAT exam I have to say CAT has retained it’s trickiness to a large extent but showed that anything is possible with a decent preparation and stick to the basics strategy. Yet I feel I did neither this year. The first hurdle of course is to understand CAT pattern surprises if any and luckily there wasn’t one this year. IIMs stuck to the same pattern as last year with the new non-MCQ type questions and sectional time limits of 1 hour each. The non-MCQs are a boon to boost score levels and getting them right could launch you to the top while not getting them right is the lowest possible crime you could ever commit in your life. I sat in the forenoon session and as usual going through the exam formalities were more stressful than the exam itself.

The centre at Chennai was located at a place called Aalim Muhammed Salegh college in Avadi where computer labs were used to host the exams. Getting to the place was one hell of a ride through the defence colonies in Avadi where I got see the CRPF, IAF and other elite military unit training centres and stations . It is the same centre that IIMs use every year in Chennai and I do not see any reason why the centre cannot be changed to somewhere inside and closer to the city where a majority of the test takers are from. The number of test takers I believe is one of the highest in history this year with over 250000 candidates approaching to write the exam throughout the country which is still a miniscule number in a country like India.

Coming to the actual exam there were 3 sections with Verbal , DI and Quants in the same order with verbal section covering reading comprehension too and the DI section including logical reasoning. There were 10 juicy non-MCQs in the verbal section this year and not attempting them all can make you one of those colossal idiots (not necessarily always a male idiot :)) in life. Even if you comfortably attempted the MCQs with a high success and accuracy rate  you could still have gone all the way to attempt the non-MCQs simply because you have no other way to kill or make a killing out of the allocated 1 hour for the section at a risk free rate. If my non-MCQs are a hit then I would have made a real killing in this area.

Section 2 – Data Interpretation was the trickiest among all the sections and this was the section I felt  which needed time,  attention , pause and thinking as opposed to slogging big runs. The power of choice and accuracy is tested here and you could end up with a lower score if you made mistakes on either side of the equation. Perseverance and patience was the key and if there was a test of whether you have “CAT Cracking Abilities” it is only in this section.  Aim was to attempt 20-24 questions in this section but ended up with much lower attempts as opposed to verbal where I gave everything a shot.

Section 3 – Quants. My weakness and a weakness that won’t go away easily like fat stores in our body.   Hardwork , practice and more importantly a good preparation can help here. In fact this is the only section where I feel preparation helps. I never bothered to prepare any of the other sections and I would have hardly spent 3 -4 days preparing quants this year due to time constraints. But hey I already told you I am no student out of college looking to clear another exam for a full-time MBA program. Even those students know that CAT quants is no child’s play in spite of the pretty elementary topics used for testing the candidates. I failed and failed miserably in this section due to all the possible reasons including lack of preparation, stress, exhaustion and the ability of the mind to simply function for the last 1 hour of the 3-hour marathon. IIMs succeeded with yet another strategy to distance the toppers from others using the 3-hour format. Overall I felt basic quant experts would have made a killing in this section as there were many sitters to choose from and cut-off limits for this section could be much higher when compared to last year.

Overall I left the centre with a feeling of guilt similar to the one you get after spending 100 dollars at a strip club worth much lesser. Well not exactly the same feeling but somewhat similar if you know what I mean. I have to say the support staff did a phenomenal job of handing over personal belongings to the candidates by following the usual useless system of depositing your bags at the gate.  CAT 2016 was actually just a 100 metre dash where even few seconds of a good run could take you past the finish line as the winner no matter where you were in the race. Always awesome and always fun. Waiting for 2017.

 

Aeh Dil Hai Mushkil – What to say

Aeh Dil Hai Mushklil – What to say…A movie which I ‘d call a master of heart politics or in other words love, sex and dhoka. Ranbir Kapoor , Anushka , Aishwarya plus Mr. Unknown. A stunning trio although I dedicate stunning especially to Aishwarya Rai. Friends, just friends, more than friends , in love , in a relationship , broke-up , cancer etc.  The movie literally moves in this sequence. Anushka meets Ranbir at a club and does some adult flirting and leaves behind motherly advice on how to kiss and hug. Ranbir the child learns that Anushka has a boyfriend while his unmatched girlfriend is also introduced to her. Their double date lays the foundation for a perfect break-up and a new match-up. Ranbir soon gets a comical shocker when his girlfriend is caught openly cheating on him and one relationship ends while Alizeh Khan (Anushka) enters with some serious advice on heart-break.

From her point of view Ayan (Ranbir)  has never experienced a real heart-break and what he experienced isn’t as painful as a stone literally dropped on your heart repeatedly. This was, in fact, the best act of the movie especially after it is played back to her at a later part by Mr.Ranbir. Most scenes are set in London typically a place where desis flirt beyond boundaries by speaking the same Hindi language which they use at home. Ayan (Ranbir) spends enough time to take his relationship with Alizeh Khan to the next level and ends up being considered as nothing more than a best friend. Ranbir’s blood pressure starts to increase here and so does the acting performances. As their deep friendship blossoms we have Mr. DJ Ali  ex-boyfriend of Alizeh  wanting to be accepted after years of separation. Alizeh decides to get back to DJ Ali while Ranbir is slowly shattered to pieces. Alizeh invites Ranbir for her marriage with DJ Ali where Ranbir’s pain erupts like a full blown volcano. He could neither accept her as a friend nor can he can accept her wanting to be somebody else’s possession.  While Alizeh cites his nature to be the reason for her not wanting to be in a relationship Ranbir continues to remain stubborn in a revengeful way. Enter gorgeous Aishwarya  – A divorced wife enjoying new fiery relationships. As Ranbir is taken over by Aishwarya alias Saba Khan’s sex desires it is only natural for him to seek relationships which satiate his lust for revenge. Not to mention Sharukh her ex-husband who makes a surprise visit in between all of this.

Both Ranbir and Anushka move on with their new relationships with Ranbir getting his fair share of fun with Aishwarya Rai. While sex rules the relationship between Mr.Ranbir and Aishwarya he gets own chance to prove a point to her ex during a dinner meet. The only confession to be made here is the true love expressed to a woman who considered you worthless and not the adult sex you had with someone who thought otherwise. Stubborn love and stubborn unwillingness to love – Both of them had to move on at some point. The heart-breaks are endless in this movie with songs like Bulleya and Aeh Dil Hai Mushkil.  So after a good 150 minutes I felt angry, pained and bothered with my anger mainly directed towards bollywood for projecting broken hearts in a big way in a big screen while fully knowing that every day someone’s heart is broken somewhere around the world. So what do you think you are entitled to for this super act of heart aches ? Rating of 5 out of 5 ?  Fcuk off. I am pissed and pained. Jokes apart an amazing movie with some really amazing scenes. Just watch it.