The real big bull

My father was so scared of losing his meagre savings through banks collapsing that he divided the amount equally among five nationalised banks. I inherited his genes of financial conservatism.

Early in my career I was invited to a lot of soirees at five star hotels. I was quite a misfit among the chiffon-clad, diamond dripping society women and the Christian Dior suited men. I was happy standing at a corner nursing my tomato juice till it was time to make a quiet exit. One day I saw an ad in the newspaper for a course in ‘The art of small talk.’ I went through sessions on how to integrate with people whom I thought were more sophisticated than me. I was taught to read up on a subject just enough to start and hold a conversation. My focus was on some person called Harshad Mehta who was referred to as The Big Bull.

I devoured all the information available on the financial pages of dailies and magazines and was soon ready to be let loose on an unsuspecting P3 crowd. At the next party I joined a group of five people who were discussing the stock market.

One worthy was talking about FMCG stocks. I butted in and said, “The future is in banking stocks. Harshad is very positive on SBI.” This immediately had the attention of the group. As the evening progressed I harped on the profits to be made on stocks in the metals and pharma fields. By now my audience had swelled to half the guests.
This continued for the next few years long after the worthy Mehta’s empire collapsed. By now I was clued in about Futures & Options, too. Invitations to parties increased manifold. At one gathering I distinctly heard a Hugo Boss suited gentleman whispering, “There goes Bangalore’s Big Bull.” Thanks to the new TV Business channels and the Internet, information was spouting out of both my ears and I switched over to another flavour of the season.

At the next party a Neiman Marcus clad gentleman asked my opinion about shipping stocks. As if on cue I pontificated, “Stocks are passé. The direction to go is commodities. The rain forests in Paraguay are being denuded. There will be a global shortage of mentha oil. There are millions to be made trading on that.”

My wife is paranoid about speculators sending goons after me to recover their losses. I have not put in a paisa of my own in any of these activities all these years. I still live in my modest apartment. And, yes whatever little money I have saved is safe and sound in the nationalised banks.

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