Saturday, December 06, 2008

Yet Another Write-down

Conference room, HR, letter, handshakes, relief. Years of dedication and moments of trepidation, starry dreams and insomniac nights, CAT* calls and rat races, Finance 101s and HR one-on-ones later I'd finally been anointed as an Investment Banker, a member of that elusive coterie that resides in the highest percentile of human achievement!** This moment would change me- the stride became triumphant, the swagger precocious and the head skywards. The suit now resided familiarly on my frame as if it had always been there, the cab was nonchalantly hailed and the eyes assumed the permanence of an intellectual look.

But no no, I wasn't just a mere investment banker, the icing on the cake was the appellation against my name- Interest Rates Exotics Trader. I revelled in it, mulled over it and doted on it- it sounded so interesting, so.....exotic! Rarely does this happen, but the job title had taken precedence over the name: my business card could well have read Interest Rates Exotics Trader, Sumit Mehta.

Which I would have dismissed as an unthinkable, 6-sigma event 18 years ago, when I had fallen in love with my name, etching its preponderance into the house walls, school desks, sister's certificates and- Freud, summoned! - my history textbooks. Or in the summers of adoloscence when I romanced over how different girls pronounced my name differently and broke the suspense by announcing my support for the eeeee version. The name has always been for me, more than mere identity- it represented my identity.

But for now, it was resigned to the support cast as the Exotics thingybob took centrestage, at alumnous rivalries and banker parties, and even at family functions and pick-up lines! You might say I was towing a dangerous line, but cmon! I wasn't a Convertible Equity Sales ("What's the hottest car model you are selling nowadays?"), Commodities Trader ("So basically you peddle oil? Why do you need to wear a suit for that?") or a Vanilla Options guy ("Naah, defo not my flavour"), so I was unfairly confident of being greeted with an agape mouth (the figurative entry point), followed by a whimper of a "Wow". Get in!

Credit here must be given to the esoteric image of banking, its magical money-making ways unknown to the populace, its entry-barrier jargon too overpowering in this information-crazy age. But don't blame us, we were only inspired by lawyers (atleast some good came out of their exorbitant fees!), those Masters of Jargon, who added several letters to every word so that the reader ran out of patience, who, when Legalese was deciphered, sprinkled tons of Latin into it! @"£*&! You see, we only followed the law.

But the law of winlose was soon to follow us. For Credit and Crunch were to tag-team us into recessionary submission, and it is testimony to the virulent success of their publicity-seeking, that we stand where we stand, which is in a precarious position, our magic revealed, our prestige spotted, our benefit-of-doubt in serious doubt.

For we are now part and parcel of mother-,father- and grandfather-tongue, of worried "Hope your son is ok with all this subprime nonsense" exchanged between mothers, of Breaking "More writedowns to come!" News and stage comedian scripts. We have entered the dictionary and spread through it like wild fire.

And hence nowadays the business card is hidden away carefully, the name is back in vogue, and when asked "What do you do?", it is inferred as a pleasant inquiry of your hobbies....and Exotic, Structured and Derivatives while being freely available on everyone's lips are confidently absent from mine. :)

*Common Admission Test- the entrance exam that is the gateway to get into India's top postgrad institutes the IIMs.
**Meant to be very sarcastic- don't get your daggers out!


Anonymous said...

This blog entry is a bit obscure and hard to understand what you're talking about- not upto your usual standard!

Atticus said...

hey Anon, sorry, I agree the gist is not v clear, thanks soo much for your wonderful feedback!

will work on visit again in 1w for the revised version!

Irene said...

Anon 1 and Atticus,

I enjoyed the colourful descriptions, humour and musings of all things along the road to just being Sumit - until the next upturn, anyway. ;)

A simple conclusion but the road to such conclusions are rarely that!

Anonymous said...

My blog which I never blog on anymore...

Atticus said...

Irene! thanks for reading and glad you enjoyed it....ah, didnt know you blogged! going to read it now....

Anonymous said...

when is your next blog coming out big boy xx