Nothing is Impossible
July 8, 2016 Leave a comment
“What’s up? Where have you been?” asked Swami, when we finally met after a long gap over coffee last weekend. It was indeed a long time since we had met our broker friend Jigneshbhai. “So many things have happened, and you have disappeared!” Swami repeated while sipping his coffee.
Our broker friend had a sly smile as he looked up from his coffee at Swami and I. “Indeed, the more things change, the more they remain the same” he said in typical nonchalant style.
“How can you say that?” Swami revolted as usual, waiting for our broker friend to react. But all he did was keep sipping his coffee. So Swami continued.
“So many things have happened in the past few months. The Fed increased rates, Modi government finished two years, our RBI governor left, Europe got bombed so many times, Britain exited the EU – so many things, and you say they remain the same?” Swami clearly had gone through the newspapers of the past six months in detail as he listed the significant events of 2016.
Jigneshbhai and I were quite pleasantly surprised by Swami’s listing. But he wasn’t done.
“And then PSU banks wrote off so much debt, Oil prices and gold prices rose again, BJP won in the state elections, a good monsoon is happening, new policies and a cabinet expansion were announced, and Trump may actually become US president!! So much has happened, we had so much to do, and you have disappeared for the past few months!”
That was indeed quite a list of happenings, I thought. I looked at my broker friend, and he was smiling too. I wasn’t sure whether it was because of the scale of events itself, or because Swami actually managed to list them out. But beyond the smile, he wasn’t speaking much as usual. After a brief silence waiting, Swami finally spoke again.
“We have missed doing the right things in the past six months. So what should we do now? Are we on the cusp of a new bull market? Is it time to get into the thick of action?” he asked excitedly, waiting for our broker friend to answer.
After a couple more sips of coffee, finally Jigneshbhai said “I don’t know. Ideally do nothing.”
That left Swami dumbstruck. He looked at me as if to ask “what’s wrong with your broker friend?” How can he say ‘do nothing’? Isn’t it time to act? And how does he – supposedly an expert – say I don’t know? Does he really ‘not know’? Maybe he doesn’t want to share his secrets. Those were the lines of Swami’s thoughts.
I was equally surprised. Both of us looked at our broker friend waiting for him to elaborate. After waiting in silence for a few sips of coffee, Jigneshbhai seemed to have sensed our discomfort at his answer and finally relented.
“That’s the reason I disappeared. I had nothing new to say”, he said with a sense of resignation. “Honestly, why say anything if you have nothing to say? And moreover, in response to all of those events you listed, my answer was still the same. Stay Put and Do nothing. Nothing to say and nothing to do. How can I say ‘nothing to say, stay put and do nothing’ in different ways?”
Swami and I looked at each other in mute surprise on hearing Jigneshbhai’s explanation. Swami was probably thinking whether our broker friend had ‘lost his edge’. He was probably wondering what’s the point in meeting for these coffee’s if the advice from our broker friend essentially remains the same – nothing to say, stay put, do nothing. If the advice doesn’t change, probably change the advisor. Maybe that’s what Swami was thinking.
Just as we were sitting in silence (actually doing nothing!), the old man in the sprawling bungalow (who always spoke cryptically) was listening to our brief exchange from the adjoining table, and came over to our table. As we finished our coffee, he spoke and left Swami and me in further confusion, and our broker friend Jigneshbhai with a grin on his face.
“Your broker friend has told you the secret. It is (doing) nothing. Nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day!”