A Plan for a Punch and a Bitten Ear
January 16, 2016 4 Comments
“What should we do now?” asked Swami, as my broker friend Jigneshbhai sipped his coffee when we had our first meet of the New Year this weekend.
“Now that markets are back to their levels before our PM Modi came in, all my long term investment plans seem to be back to square one. So what’s the plan now?” Swami was unusually less aggressive today with my broker friend, specially given that markets were down so much, almost pleading for this attention.
As usual, Jigneshbhai kept reading – this time he was reading a sports magazine. Looking up at me and Swami, he smiled and read out. “When Mike Tyson was asked by a reporter whether he was worried about Evander Holyfield and his fight plan he answered; “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
“And the market is punching us in the mouth” Swami cried out.
“It is almost 20% down from the top of last year, and they are giving all kinds of reasons from Oil to China to Europe to whatever. So what’s the plan now?” he continued with his question.
I watched as my broker friend kept listening while he sipped his coffee.
“Those are all punches that the market is giving you. You can avoid them or get out of the way only for some time. Eventually they will get you” said Jigneshbhai non-chalantly.
Swami was in an irritable mood. Falling markets have this effect on him. Earlier he used to get angry. This time he did not seem angry, but still looked dismayed, as if he was helpless. And here my broker friend wasn’t even pretending to offer any comfort or solace.
“All that is fine – punches and all. But people are saying it is like 2008 again. That’s not a punch, it’s a knockout!” Swami responded in dismay, on the one hand worried in thought if that happens, but on the other hand, almost happy with himself that he had spoken in Jigneshbhai’s language.
My broker friend was also surprised and looked up in amusement.
Almost sensing that he had got Jigneshbhai’s attention due to his metaphor, Swami repeated his question, “So is it going to be a knockout? What’s the plan then?” this time with a mischievous twinkle in his eye.
“I have no idea what’s in store” insisted Jigneshbhai, and then also said “But you better have a plan.” After this brief talk, he got back to his nonchalance, his coffee and his magazine.
In fact, he read out from his sports article. He said “You should read what Tyson said a few years later when asked why he said that.”
Jigneshbhai continued reading from his sports article.
“People were asking me [before a fight], ‘What’s going to happen?,’ ” Tyson said. “They were talking about his style. ‘He’s going to give you a lot of lateral movement. He’s going to move, he’s going to dance. He’s going to do this, do that.’ I said, “Everybody has a plan until they get hit. Then, like a rat, they stop in fear and freeze.’ ”
No sureshot answers irritate Swami no end. “Why does your friend change the topic?” he asked me in dismay. I had no clue and looked back trying to figure out what’s next.
Just as Swami was almost ‘getting ready to get angry’, I noticed that the wealthy man in the sprawling bungalow had come in and was sitting on the table next to us listening.
As we finished our coffee, the wealthy man walked to me and Swami, took the sports magazine from Jigneshbhai, and left us with some words on what looked like boxing, but left us wondering nevertheless.
“Whether it is a knockout is up to you. But if you have a planned for a few punches on your mouth and keep going even as you may end up with an unplanned bitten ear, who knows – you could still end up winning the fight – twice – like Holyfield eventually did!”