Why Bulls, Bears, Pigs and The Big Fish don’t matter, and Cows and Goats do

“The ocean in Mauritius is just wonderful, blue-green and pristine. Truly is a paradise island”, said my South Indian friend, Swami who had just been back from his vacation. One of the few times I had seen him happy, without much to complain about. Just when I thought he was in a good mood, he said, “But I got badly tanned. Got fully blackened, and for two days, I could not get out of my house.”

“So did you do any under water activities?” asked Jigneshbhai my broker friend.

“Yes, I think that and the sun is the reason for my tan. But it was worth it. The sea life – the fish and other sea animals were just wonderful to see up close under water.” Swami remarked. Clearly, his vacation had got more positives than negatives out of him. I was glad to note that he loved the sea, the fish and the sea animals more than he disliked the seafood. And if this is what Mauritius could do to Swami, I am sure it must be really be paradise for normal mortals. Jigneshbhai and I exchanged a smile on that thought.

But our thoughts were interrupted.

“I am not interested in the small fish. It is not useful to check even what the big fish are doing.”

We just looked around to check who had spoken. It was the wealthy man in the sprawling bungalow who had just joined us. I am sure he must be frequently going to Mauritius – I hear it is some sort of tax haven for wealthy people and foreigners. So not surprised that he had a view on the sea life there.

“No, sir. I could see only the small fish, we did not go deep enough to see the big fish. But the small fish were very beautiful and interesting, sir!”, Swami remarked, trying to disagree with the wealthy man.

“No point in following the small fish or the big fish. I am not interested in either the bulls or the bears also”, said the wealthy man.

He was known to speak rarely, and when he did, it was cryptic. But I was not sure he realized that we were talking of Mauritius. As far as we knew, bulls or bears were in the safari or at best in the markets. We just stayed silent, trying not to look awkward.

But Swami could not resist continuing. “Sir, we did not go to mainland Africa, only to the island of Mauritius. So did not see any bears, bulls or other animals in the safari.”

“Well, Africa is still the new frontier. You should be more worried about the Pigs in Europe – I hope someone takes care of them.” As he said this, we were almost getting on the edge now. Swami and I were desperately trying to make sense of this conversation.

I think Jigneshbhai got what the wealthy man was trying to say now. He quietly signaled to us to stay silent and asked, “Sir, got it. Those economies – Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain are in trouble, and I understand that this is good time to ignore the bulls, bears and all the big and small fish or anyone who has a view on the markets.”

“Yes, indeed. You are right”, smiled the wealthy man, finally satisfied that someone understood what he was saying.

While both Swami and I were clueless, Jigneshbhai eagerly asked, “Sir, in that case, which animals do you prefer?” This left us further dumbstruck. Looked like he had picked up the animal language.

The wealthy man replied, “Honestly, I prefer goats and cows. They are easy to maintain, need just simple grass, and are sure to give you milk regularly. As they grow older, they almost always multiply easily. If they don’t, their meat is useful. So even if you pay a high price, goats and cows are useful, valuable animals.”

While Swami and I were wondering what happened to our conversation on Mauritius, Jigneshbhai was happy hearing what the wealthy man said, almost cheerful and thanked the wealthy man as he left back for his sprawling bungalow. And while leaving, the wealthy man turned back to us and said, “There’s a lot of animal instincts out there. So don’t go with the herd.”

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