I’m on my way back to the States but before I get there, my parents and I have a 3 day layover in Malaysia. We flew into Kuala Lumpur (KL) on Tuesday morning and checked into the JW Marriott, which is located in the heart of the shopping district. Once we got all settled in we visited the Petronas Twin Towers, it’s the home of Malaysia’s national oil company – Petronas. The building was completed in 1998 and is 88 storeys, at a height of 452 meters it’s the tallest twin towers in the world. On the 41st and 42nd floor they have a skybridge which is open to the public. It has an amazing view of KL and worth the wait to get the tickets. After visiting the Twin Towers we just walked around the city. Once we got back to the hotel, we went down to the basement level of the mall next door – Starhill Gallery. There they have the Feast Village which is like a mall food court but all 15 restaurants are unique sit down dining areas carved out with walkways connecting them all – very cool. On Wednesay we hired a taxi and headed to Genting Highlands, which is a resort area 6000 feet above sea level. You get to the main area via a cable car which takes 15 minutes to get to the top. After walking around for a bit we left and headed for Batu Caves, which is over 400 million years old and has a Hindu Temple near it. It also houses the largest statue of Vishnu found anywhere on earth. Then we headed to Royal Selangor – the worlds largest pewter factory. On the way there, I noticed a Mercedes S320 passed us with no licence plates, I asked the driver why that was and he said it was probably the king or queens car. Once we got to the factory I realized the Malay’s know how to market – they turned a relatively lame piece of material (pewter) into a 30 minute factory tour that was not at all boring. Finally, we reached the hotel and once again i noticed another car with no license plates, this time the Mercedes S500 had some sort of insignia on it. The doorman said the Queen of Malaysia was there for some event and that was her car. The event was for Batik, which is a technique used to make clothing that many Malay’s wear. We decided to go down to the lower lobby and check it out, it was a hugh event and the guard at the door let us in after asking where we were from. We sat down and watched about 20 minutes of the fashion that highlighted 5 designers that use the Batik method for creating garments. After scarfing down some food and getting some complimentary Batik’s we took off for the hotel room. Pics from trip

Indian Entrepreneurs

One of the issues I have with the Indian media is they focus so much attention on a select few that many of the great success stories never get heard. The following PDF does have the usual suspects such as Ambani, Bajaj, etc…But, also covers: – Ekta Kapoor, a television producer/writer who single handedly turned around her father’s company (Balaji Telefilms) and changed the landscape of TV shows in India – Kishore Biyani of Pantaloons who is currently the leader in the Indian retail revolution – Jignesh Shah of Financial Technologies, they are riding the equities boom via their trading platform. If you trade Indian equities or commodities then you’re probably using there program called ODIN to trade. In addition, Financial Technologies is a backer of India’s largest commodity exchange the MCX (multi commodity exchange), which just announced plans to IPO very soon Although the PDF may seem large at 144 pages, it’s broken up in sections for each individual and very easy reading. A must read if you are planning to do business in India. download [pdf, 144 pages, 1.7mb]

Going back to Cali, Cali, Cali

In the words of LL Cool J, I’m going back to Cali, Cali, Cali. After having landed into Bombay on Oct 1, 2005 sadly my 6 month stint is coming to an end. However, since things are going so well on many fronts I’m heading back to Bombay in June for a longer term stay. Several weeks back I spent some time with my dad in Indore and we were joking about how most of his peers were trying to get to the US (brain drain) and now many of the kids are trying to get to India (brain gain). It’s been quite an adventure from a business and personal standpoint. I’ve learned so much about doing business in India and also had a chance to really get to know the city. From a business perspective, there is definitely a disconnect between what the press reports and how things get done. I know several people that are trying to do business and spend 2 weeks in India and then 6 weeks outside India. It sounds great on paper and probably meshes well with someone’s work/personal schedule. But, what I’ve realized is that if you really want to succeed you have to be on the ground in India full time. There is Murphy’s Law: If something can go wrong, it will. Then there is India’s Law – It WILL go wrong. Personally, it’s been one of the best times of my life. One of my cousins hooked me up with a social networking club called “Friday Club” – just as the name suggests people get together at a bar on Friday and mingle. I’ve meet some very cool people in Bombay from all walks of life and all parts of the globe. I didn’t get to spend as much time with my cousins from Pune, but did hang out much more with my Bombay cousins. It was really fun having friends and family coming to Bombay around Dec/Jan and being the tour guide for the city. I will admit, I can’t wait to get back to Redondo Beach and just chill at the beach, drive up PCH/Highway 1, chill at 217 and eat tons of Mexican food.

Happy Holi

I celebrated my first Holi in India and it was pretty cool. I went to Lonavla with a cousin of mine and threw colored powder at each other…yeah it sounds really lame but it’s a great way to get back at people under the guise of an Indian tradition that goes back thousands of years!! Holi is an annual Hindu spring festival, predominantly celebrated in North India and Nepal. It takes place over two days around late March or early April. As per the Hindu calendar, it falls on the last day on the month of Phalgun, which is a Purnima (or Pooranmashi, Full Moon), and on the first day of Chaitra. It is a celebration also of the Hindu New Year, as Chaitra is the first month of the Hindu Year. It is also called the Festival of Colour. Pics from Holi More info on Holi from Wikipedia

Budget is out and so is the commentary

The budget was announced on Tuesday morning and all eyes were glued to CNBC-18 and NDTV, who were providing live coverage of the Finance Minister P. Chidambaram who went through some of the highlights. Over the next 24 hours, all the financial research houses sent out their reports on the impact of the budget. I’ve collected 11 such reports for you to review. Mostly all are the same: more than 20 pages, broken down by sector and can cure insomnia. This time I didn’t get a chance to read any of the PDF’s, hopefully some of you can download them and provide feedback via the comments section.
Motilal Oswal [940k, 40 pages]
Merrill Lynch [272k, 11 pages]
Man Financial [208k, 26 pages]
Ernst & Young [812k, 74 pages]
citigroup [172k, 11 pages]
Kotak [216k, 32 pages]
ICICI Bank [84k, 9 pages]
CRISIL [768k, 119 pages]
CLSA [280k, 25 pages]
BRICS [204k, 29 pages]
Ask RJ [116k, 18 pages] Sharekhan [364k, 59 pages]