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D.Muthukrishnan (Muthu), Certified Financial Planner- Personal Financial Advisor

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Archive for the ‘Life & Spirituality’ Category

Experimenting it this way

Posted by Muthu on April 8, 2015

For those of you who know us for long would remember me sharing a lot of general things in the past. Slowly I moved towards sticking only to investments and personal finance. It happened that away.

Today I feel like sharing with you what I wrote 3 years ago.

First I want to share a response I received to that piece. This great gentleman subsequently became our client.

“Mr. Muthu,

A well worded article. It touched me because I have gone through the phases which you had described – especially the pain and endurance and acceptance part. I am a cancer survivor and not long ago I was on my death bed supposedly. Up to that moment I was fighting cancer and was fighting for my life, thinking that I would win over cancer with my drugs, doctors and positive thinking.

But one day when my heart nearly gave up and I was lying on the bed connected to the machines with the doctors at my side waiting with the defibrillators to revive if my heart gave out completely, realisation dawned on me. The truth that death could take me any moment it wished to and nothing could stop it. That was a moment of acceptance. Strangely that was the moment I made my peace with death. Immediately after that, an enormous amount of peace engulfed me and I was totally relaxed for the first time since my treatment started.

And Ironically, death did not chose to take me away that day. As I read somewhere, “Death taught me to live”. Today though I have overcome my malady, I know I am living on borrowed time but I am living my life with a sense of gratitude and appreciation.

And yes I have been to Arunachala and have sat in peace atop the hill at the Ramanashram cave. I don’t know if you had been to Himalayas, but if you had not been there, please do when you get a chance. The Himalayas will never fail to make an impact on you. I guarantee that you will come back a changed man, for the better.

Wishing you all the best Sir !”

Now please read what I wrote:

I’ve been experimenting with few things for a while in my life. When my wife pointed out certain changes in me yesterday, which she considered positive, I thought there should be some truth to it:-) As Tamil writer Sujatha used to say, no man can be a hero to his wife:-)

I do not know whether any one gets benefited by my writings; though some say so. One person who is immensely benefited by this is none other than me. For the last 2 years, putting things in writing has made my perspectives clearer and stronger. I feel I’m becoming a better investor because of this clarity.

Even you may want to try this. Not everyone needs to have a blog or share things with others. Whenever you don’t have clarity, confused, very much worried, just write it. Since you’ll be the only one seeing it, you can be absolutely candid. Putting things which concern you in writing and reading it as a third person brings better clarity. Since these would be very personal, type it, read it and then permanently delete it.

I’ve been visiting Thiruvannamalai (Mount Arunachala) for the last 2 decades, from my college days; though for last few years I’ve not been there. I always tried to meditate but it never happened and I assumed meditation is a thoughtless state. Then, I was poor and used to have money hardly to pay for transport in government bus. When I go to Arunachala for 2 or 3 days; I sometimes used to thrive on meagre food and since lodging was not always affordable, if there is no place in Ramanashram, I used to sleep in temple corridor at nights.

For some reason, the mountain used to and still attracts me. There are many times I’ve visited only the mountain and not the temple and came back. By nature I don’t follow any rituals and the only thing closest to ritual I’ve consistently done is ‘Giripradakshina’ (going around the hill).

Once when I was sitting for long and doing nothing in Ramanashramam, meditation automatically happened for the first time. I had an instinctive feeling that meditation does not necessarily mean the absence of thoughts, but having a space inside you despite thoughts. I found that keeping the attention on breath is a useful aid. Subsequently many years down the line I learnt that this is called ‘Anapanasathi’ in Buddhist tradition. When I first experienced the meditation, I got a feeling that everything in this life is pre-destined and this feeling instead of making me sad, gave lot of peace and sense of freedom. This lingered for a prolonged period and then faded completely.

Pain and suffering is inevitable part of life, at least for most of the humanity. So I don’t want to claim any exclusivity on certain situations I faced and events which happened in life. When we write our story for others, we invariably want to project ourselves as a victim or hero and ‘others’ as root cause of everything. Many a times this is not fully true but it is difficult to avoid when we tell our story to others. So I don’t want to tell my story, which would certainly be biased 🙂 But what I’ve observed is many a times when we hit the lowest in any aspect of life, after going through lot of pain, suffering and resistance, when you feel you cannot sink any further and accept, there is a tremendous inner shift and peace which happens because of acceptance, even if it is temporary.

Anxiety, Quick temper and trying to be perfect in what I do have been some of my strong negative traits. These three are deadly cocktail and can make one feel utmost miserable.

For quite some time, I’ve been consciously trying to do what I usually did only when the life situation was tremendously difficult and I felt almost hopeless as if there is no tomorrow – accepting things and developing a conviction that things happen in  the way they are meant to happen not in the way I want it to happen.

Though my above negative traits have not left me, I feel calmer and there is mostly a sense of peace despite whatever agitation or conflict happening in the mind.

I try to be sincere in what I do but am no longer tough on myself when some mistake happens. I only see what needs to be done to correct the same.

Accepting things doesn’t mean careless. I think there is a fine difference being careless and carefree. I still lock my house while we go out and do not share my passwords with anybody:-)At the same time I realise that someone can still break open the lock or hack my account.

When I feel guilty about something which I’ve done, instead of wallowing in guilt, I try to see what amends can be done. If amends are not possible, I can genuinely apologize. Beyond that there is no point in holding on to guilt. One need to forgive oneself as much it is necessary to forgive others. Looking back I observe that repeatedly feeling guilty about certain things ended up only in the repetition of behaviour. May be feeling guilty is one way justifying the same behaviour again:-)

Likewise in certain relationships, when someone makes me feel guilty constantly by being bitter and complaining, however logical they make it sound, I see it as a tool to manipulate me. Relationships are not based only on logic, being at ease with each other is equally important. I refuse to bite the bullet any longer. I minimize such interactions to the extent required not beyond.

I don’t think and act as if I’m the centre of universe (may be Stephen Hawking knows what the centre of Universe is:-)). We take ourselves and others very seriously when we are the centre of universe. This has developed a sense of humour in otherwise a very serious personality, that’s me! Whenever I take myself very seriously, many a times a spontaneous smile happens inside.

No one wants pain or suffering. I’m no exception. At the same time I realise that pain is something which cannot be avoided and suffering is also something which cannot be avoided but can be reduced, because suffering is mostly mental.

Looking at one’s life and others, there is a deeper understanding of fragility. However concrete something looks at this moment, life can break it next moment. So there is no need to wait to be happy based on some future event or achievement in life. It may not happen or we may not be even there. Being happy with small and little things in life looks like a better and easier approach. As I get up early in the morning, looking silently at the very old big tree in front of the house itself gives joy. The ‘Adaai’ cooked by my wife, every new thing my infant son try out each day, conversation with a friend, reading a book, listening to Illayaraja songs… there are lot of things which can make us happy everyday if only we don’t take our mind and its constant chatter and worries seriously.

I’m not saying one should not plan, as it is my profession:-) But there is no need to postpone our happiness for tomorrow. When we tie happiness based on outcome of an event or attaining something, it does give happiness for a while and then a sense of emptiness creeps in. So another future event and attainment is set as goal for happiness. Happiness need not be tied to external things – this approach increases the probability of being happy.

Also there is no need to feel guilty while feeling happy:-) I’ve seen that in myself and I see it in others too. It’s perfectly fine to have leisure or not do anything without feeling guilty about it. Getting worried whether happiness will last is the surest way to be unhappy immediately:-) Let it last as long as it lasts.

Since I told about some of my negative traits, there are some traits I consider as positive. I don’t envy any one. Envy arises very infrequently and even when it happens, it fades off immediately. I’m absolutely fine with what I am. I’m not ambitious or aggressive. Though some of my friends say that I’ve given up on life by not having ambitions, I don’t feel that way. We can do what we like without feeling feverish about it. Success or failure becomes relative and lighter when you like the way you are and what you do. Being comfortable with oneself is the key.

Though I like certain identities and roles I have, I realize that any major health issue or some unexpected events can rob me of that identity or role.

Since our clients come only through referrals or self referral (coming to know and contact us); with many the relationships set well. Some choose not to work with us and since they never tell the reason, I don’t know why. May be they should have some valid reasons:-) In some cases, I tell people to look for someone else. This happens when I feel I may not be comfortable working with them. There is no point in feeling bad and work with someone; for that I would have continued in employment itself:-)

As on date, I do reasonably well in profession. Some of my professional colleagues think there is some formula to it and wants me to share. When I say there is none, they feel that I don’t want them to achieve things:-) I’m doing well because you chose to be my clients. For some reasons, if you choose otherwise too, I would accept the same. In a market economy, you do well professionally when people want your services and don’t do well when it is otherwise. My self esteem is not dependant on whether my services are wanted or not. If and when I’m not wanted, I would not feel bitter, will accept the decision and shut the shop. Life doesn’t end till one dies. It is not that difficult to survive in this world as our mind makes it to be.

And may be my conviction that things are pre-destined may not be even true. All convictions and experiences are subjective. I’m perfectly fine if you feel exactly opposite. I accept that as well:-)

Whenever I fall in this experiment, I would rise again even if takes it time. The only way not to fall is not to experiment. Wanting not to fall or fearing about the fall is sure way to fall immediately. We only fall to rise and we only rise to fall again:-)

If you feel I’ve written something sensible, fine. Even otherwise, there is always a trash folder!

Posted in Life & Spirituality, Muthu's Musings | 7 Comments »

Just Keep Planting

Posted by Muthu on February 2, 2014

I was surprised by many mails I received for the Moso piece.

We are all able to connect better to stories than essays:-)

I’ve saved couple of stories or forwards I’ve stumbled upon and liked them too.

Some of these are very relevant for us as investors.

I’ll share these with you in the course of time.

I’ve always tell you that the most important thing in investing is staying the course.

The journey would be full of ups and downs and the down times can be very testing. But the reward of financial fulfillment and independence is worth the journey.

I can vouch for this from my personal experience too.

Please read one of the favorite inspiring pieces I came across:

“Paul Rokich is my hero. When Paul was a boy growing up in Utah, he happened to live near an old copper smelter, and the sulfur dioxide that poured out of the refinery had made a desolate wasteland out of what used to be a beautiful forest.

When a young visitor one day looked at this wasteland and saw that there was nothing living there — no animals, no trees, no grass, no bushes, no birds…nothing but fourteen thousand acres of black and barren land that even smelled bad — well, this kid looked at the land and said, “This place is crummy.” Paul knocked him down. He felt insulted. But he looked around him and something happened inside him. He made a decision: Paul Rokich vowed that some day he would bring back the life to this land.

Many years later Paul was in the area, and he went to the smelter office. He asked if they had any plans to bring the trees back. The answer was “No.” He asked if they would let him try to bring the trees back. Again, the answer was “No.” They didn’t want him on their land. He realized he needed to be more knowledgeable before anyone would listen to him, so he went to college to study botany.

At the college he met a professor who was an expert in Utah’s ecology. Unfortunately, this expert told Paul that the wasteland he wanted to bring back was beyond hope. He was told that his goal was foolish because even if he planted trees, and even if they grew, the wind would only blow the seeds forty feet per year, and that’s all you’d get because there weren’t any birds or squirrels to spread the seeds, and the seeds from those trees would need another thirty years before they started producing seeds of their own. Therefore, it would take approximately twenty thousand years to revegetate that six-square-mile piece of earth. His teachers told him it would be a waste of his life to try to do it. It just couldn’t be done.

So he tried to go on with his life. He got a job operating heavy equipment, got married, and had some kids. But his dream would not die. He kept studying up on the subject, and he kept thinking about it. And then one night he got up and took some action. He did what he could with what he had. This was an important turning point. As Samuel Johnson wrote, “It is common to overlook what is near by keeping the eye fixed on something remote. In the same manner, present opportunities are neglected and attainable good is slighted by minds busied in extensive ranges.” Paul stopped busying his mind in extensive ranges and looked at what opportunities for attainable good were right in front of him. Under the cover of darkness, he sneaked out into the wasteland with a backpack full of seedlings and started planting. For seven hours he planted seedlings.

He did it again a week later.

And every week, he made his secret journey into the wasteland and planted trees and shrubs and grass.

But most of it died.

For fifteen years he did this. When a whole valley of his fir seedlings burned to the ground because of a careless sheep-herder, Paul broke down and wept. Then he got up and kept planting.

Freezing winds and blistering heat, landslides and floods and fires destroyed his work time and time again. But he kept planting.

One night he found a highway crew had come and taken tons of dirt for a road grade, and all the plants he had painstakingly planted in that area were gone.

But he just kept planting.

Week after week, year after year he kept at it, against the opinion of the authorities, against the trespassing laws, against the devastation of road crews, against the wind and rain and heat…even against plain common sense. He just kept planting.

Slowly, very slowly, things began to take root. Then gophers appeared. Then rabbits. Then porcupines.

The old copper smelter eventually gave him permission, and later, as times were changing and there was political pressure to clean up the environment, the company actually hired Paul to do what he was already doing, and they provided him with machinery and crews to work with. Progress accelerated.

Now the place is fourteen thousand acres of trees and grass and bushes, rich with elk and eagles, and Paul Rokich has received almost every environmental award Utah has.

He says, “I thought that if I got this started, when I was dead and gone people would come and see it. I never thought I’d live to see it myself!”

It took him until his hair turned white, but he managed to keep that impossible vow he made to himself as a child.

What was it you wanted to do that you thought was impossible? Paul’s story sure gives a perspective on things, doesn’t it?

The way you get something accomplished in this world is to just keep planting. Just keep working. Just keep plugging away at it one day at a time for a long time, no matter who criticizes you, no matter how long it takes, no matter how many times you fall.

Get back up again. And just keep planting.

Just keep planting.”

Posted in General, Life & Spirituality | 2 Comments »

Updates, Enough and Club 99

Posted by Muthu on November 20, 2012

You would have been hearing about ‘Fiscal Cliff’ in US. I read a nice joke about this in the net. To quote: “We are heading for a fiscal cliff with a guy whose campaign slogan was forward”. 

Theoretically both US and India have the same freedom of speech guaranteed by constitution. But look how 2 girls were harassed by Maharashtra police for an ordinary remark. I could not stand watching the TV on Sunday. Death doesn’t make some one so good and extra ordinary. In India, popularity or crowd is never synonymous with quality or substance.

You would have been receiving communications (inbox flooded:-)) about change in KYC norms. When you did KYC earlier, we told you that it is once in life time. Now they want to it be done again for people who did KYC before January 1’st 2012. It is now said again that this is once in life time:-) Multiple identification proofs, address proofs, different requirement for different agencies… this is how India would be.

Firstly you ignore the flood of mails and sms on the above issue. This will not affect your existing investments, SIPs, future redemptions etc. Any new investment in the existing funds or fund house also would not be a problem. Only if you want to invest in a new fund house (which is not part of your existing portfolio), then this new KYC procedure is must. This rule is effective from 1’st December 2012.

However as a matter of caution and wanting to be pro-active, we would like to initiate this procedure for all our clients. We would start this some time in December and want to finish it for all clients before the current financial year, March 31’st 2013. Either me or my colleague Partha would co-ordinate with you in this regard.

Fidelity is being fully absorbed into L&T and the whole process would get completed by this month end. As we mentioned earlier, we suggest continuing your investments in the Fidelity (now L&T) schemes.  There has been no performance detoriation during the transition period. With a strong fund management team now in place at L&T, we believe that good performance would continue in future too. At the same time, we are closely monitoring these schemes just to be sure that there are no unpleasant surprises for our clients who have invested in Fidelity schemes.

In the ongoing clash between FM and RBI, I feel what RBI doing is appropriate. FM represents the voice of the ‘captains’ of Industry. RBI has to equally think about the rest 99% of the population who are being chocked by the inflation. Despite making EC a 3 member body (as Narasimha Rao couldn’t stand Seshan), it is functioning effectively and impartially. Undeterred, the Government wants to now make CAG a 3 member body. Who knows? Irked with RBI, FM may consider changing RBI in such a way, it has multiple governors:-) 

In general, our community, financial services industry, especially planners and advisors scare you a lot. Magazines, journals and blogs try to scare you as how nothing is enough for our future. Many readymade calculators would give that we need some thing like Rs.30 crore for retirement etc. While calculating, the school fee would be Rs.10 lakhs per annum, the higher education cost would be that of Harvard or any other Ivy League institute, cost of daughter’s marriage would be Rs.50 lakhs at current cost etc.

The assumptions are mostly exaggerated. Even now many good schools in Chennai charge only 30K to 50K a year. When you question the planner, they may quote the cost of  studying in an international school and having extra curricular activities like Polo. Ivy League is not the only place for higher education. Even accounting for inflation, the higher education cost assumed by planners are hugely over stated.

In a middle or higher middle class household, one doesn’t need Rs.50 lakhs for conducting marriage today. Going forward, in the decades to come, cost of marriage for parents of daughters may be nothing and parents of the son may have to shell a fortune to get a girl of their choice:-)  I feel that all my savings and wealth accumulation would just be sufficient for Vedu’s marriage:-) 

Our earlier generation had little of what material wealth we have now but still took care of us well and gave us a good education. You know how much I encourage savings, investments and not having debt. Once a person has life cover, medical cover, emergency fund, savings what is possible for him is good enough. There has to be a balance between current spending and future saving. I feel that a minimum of 25% of one’s income needs to be saved. The percentage would go higher for high income people and lower for the low income ones. The rest of the money is for current spending and EMI:-) 

‘Growth’ and ‘More’ is the way of our life. People with net worth of Rs.10 or 20 or 30 crores also tells me that when they achieve X amount which is usually 5 times more of their existing net worth; they would feel contended and happy. If some one is not contended at Rs.20 crore net worth; it is difficult to assume that he would say ‘enough’ when he reaches Rs.100 crores. 

The more money we have, we want more. There is a frightening thought that moment we feel contended, we would start to decay. And we never question these assumptions.

 I’m not against some one aspiring for more. But that has to be with the feeling that “what I have is enough and if my effort to earn more doesn’t fructify, I’m absolutely fine with my present situation.” Once we’ve enough, we some time take unnecessary risk for more. Adam Smith has put it so well:

“Examine the records of history, recollect what has happened within the circle of your own experience, consider with attention what has been the conduct of almost all the greatly unfortunate, either in private or public life, whom you may have either read of, or hear of, or remember, and you will find that the misfortunes of by far the greater part of them have arisen from their not knowing when they were well, when it was proper for them to set still and to be contented.”

Incidentally our client Mr.L.Suresh shared the below story with me which very well connects what we were discussing above.

Once upon a time, there lived a King who, despite of his luxurious lifestyle, was neither happy nor content.

One day, the King came upon a servant who was singing happily while he worked. This fascinated the King; why was he, the Supreme Ruler of the Land, unhappy and gloomy, while a lowly servant had so much joy. The King asked the servant, ‘Why are you so happy?’

The man replied, ‘Your Majesty, I am nothing but a servant, but my family and I don’t need too much – just a roof over our heads and warm food to fill our tummies.’

The King was not satisfied with that reply. Later in the day, he sought the advice of his most trusted advisor.

After hearing the King’s woes and the servant’s story, the advisor said, ‘Your Majesty, I believe that the servant has not been made part of The Club 99.’

‘The Club 99? And what exactly is that?’ the King inquired.

The advisor replied, ‘Your Majesty, to truly know what The Club 99 is, place 99 Gold coins in a bag and leave it at this servant’s doorstep.’

The King did as advised by his advisor.

When the servant saw the bag, he took it into his house. When he opened the bag, he let out a great shout of joy. So many gold coins! He began to count them. After several counts, he was at last convinced that there were 99 coins. He wondered, ‘What could have happened to that last gold coin? Surely, no one would leave 99 coins!’ He looked everywhere he could, but that final coin was elusive. Finally, exhausted he decided that he was going to have to work harder than ever to earn that gold coin and complete his collection. 

From that day, the servant’s life was changed. He was overworked, horribly grumpy, and castigated his family for not helping him make that 100th gold coin. He even stopped singing while he worked.

Witnessing this drastic transformation, the King was puzzled. When he sought his advisor’s help, the advisor said, ‘Your Majesty, the servant has now officially joined The Club 99.’

He continued, ‘The Club 99 is a name given to those people who have enough to be happy but are never contented, because they’re always yearning and striving for that extra 1, saying to themselves: ‘Let me get that one final thing and then I will be happy for life.’

Thank you Suresh. I enjoyed the story and would like to share your (email) signature line here. “The best way to have your friends get in touch with you is to get famous. For losers, there’s always Facebook.”

Posted in General, Life & Spirituality, Muthu's Musings, Mutual Funds | 4 Comments »

My visit to Cancer Institute

Posted by Muthu on June 25, 2012

All of you may know about the renowned Cancer Institute in Adyar. I’ve been a resident of Adyar for last 8 years and would have crossed this place thousands of times. Till last Friday I’ve not stepped into the institute once. As you read through, you’ll know why I went there. 

The road I live is called L.B. (Lattice Bridge) road. Government renamed it long ago as Dr.Muthulakshmi road and still we call this only L.B.road. If you say as Muthulakshmi road, even the auto drivers or courier guys would not know.

Who is this Dr.Muthulakshmi? 

She is the one who founded Cancer Institute, Adyar.

You can imagine a girl born in 1886, father being a Brahmin and mother an Isai Vellalar aspiring for higher studies. The place she was born in Pudukottai in Tamilnadu and after finishing her schooling, there was no college to study.

The Maharaja’s college was for men only and she was denied admission. Then Maharaja of Pudukottai, a forward looking person, allowed her to study in the men’s college. Again imagine a single woman studying in an all men’s college around 100+ years ago.

She went further and studied medicine at MMC (MadrasMedicalCollege) becoming one of the first woman in the India to become a Doctor. She also did higher studies in medicine at England.

Seeing the pathetic situation of women inIndia then; especially what was then considered as low castes and Devadasis, she represented WIA (Women’s India Association) and went into Madras  Legislative Council. Not many may be aware that she played a key role in abolishment of Devadasi System; bringing a legislation into effect. This was staunchly supported by Periyar and opposed by Congress led by Sathyamoorthy.

She is the first one to propose the minimum marriageable age of men and women as 21 and 16 respectively. This was radical at the time child marriages were the norm.

When people did not even realise that they were dying due to a disease called cancer, she saw the need to establish an institution for research and treatment of cancer.

A person by name S.K.Puniyakoti Mudaliar donated 9 acres of land for this purpose and the institute was started by Dr.Muthulakhmi in 1954.

Dr.Muthulakshmi married Dr.D.T.Sandara Reddy. Again a woman marrying at the age of 28 someone from a different caste and language was very unusual.

One trivia: Muthulakshmi is the aunt of famous Tamil film actor Gemini Ganesan. 

Adyar Cancer Institute is now considered as one of the best state of the art cancer institute in the world today. Around 1.25 lakhs patients are seen and treated here every year. Out of which around 65% to 70% of the people are treated free of cost. People come here from all overIndia and even parts ofAsia. Where else a poor person can go for a quality treatment for an expensive disease? 

Many popular corporate hospitals do not have the kind of Doctors who specialize in various forms for cancer as in Cancer Institute. 

Someone told me about a cancer patient from a middle class family where a popular hospital suggested spending Rs.30 lakhs. They came to Adyar for a second opinion. On checking the patient, the family was informed that the patient has only few months to live and the treatment suggested by the popular hospital is not only useless but would also eave them in severe debt for a long time. They were asked to keep the patient happy and suggested medicines to reduce the pain for rest of his remaining life. The patient died in few months. If they have listened to the first hospital, in addition to loosing their kin, they would have also got into irrecoverable debt trap.  

 The main problem faced by the people traveling from rest of India to Chennai for treatment was food and accommodation.

How can extremely poor people who are affected with Cancer and come to city along with their attendant would be able to afford accommodation and quality food 3 times a day?

Mr.Mohandevi Hirachand Nahar built a 4 storeyed Dharmasala in the (Old) Cancer Institute campus for the same.

Though the building was ready, the next main issue was taking care of poor patients, feeding them, provide them other amenities, administer the daily functioning and above all rise funds for the same.

A retired Indian Oil employee, Mr.V.Krishanamurthy took up this cause and formed ‘Sri Matha Trust’ for this purpose.

The trust was formed in August 2000 and so far they have taken care of over 2 lakh patients.

It is surprising to learn what all they do. For all the inmates (patients and attenders), a good cup of coffee is served as the first thing in the morning. In the afternoon, they provide typical South Indian food – rice, 2 vegetables (Poriyal & Kootu), Sambar, Rasam and buttermilk. Again tea is provided in the evening. For dinner, it is one mixed rice or Kittachadi, plain rice, poriyal, rasam and buttermilk. Pure RO water is provided to all.

On an average, 300 to 350 people are served every day. Since they do not know how many new patients may be checking in a given day, the kitchen functions continuously from 5 a.m to 9.30p.m.

A group of few volunteers under Mr.Krishnamurthy manages the whole thing on 24/7/365 basis.

House keeping by professional contractor, continuous water supply and cable TV for entertainment are some of the salient features of this Dharmasala.

Before setting up of this Dharmasala, people who can be cured (in the first 2 stages of cancer) would not continue their treatment for want of money to pay for stay for food and go back to their native only leading to advancement of disease and death.

Because of the above facility, now they stay and take treatment. So I honestly feel that these patients are provided life by Matha trust.

Many poor people come here would not even have clothes for change and the trust gets them the same. PET scan usually costs 30K to 40K. The trust in understanding with institute sponsors such patients by paying 10K from their corpus. So the patient gets PET scan free of cost.

There are babies and children with blood cancer. For certain kind of these cancers, an injection costing 7K per week has to be administered to these kids. Since there is no way, the parents can afford 7K per week for 52 weeks, the trust sponsors the same.

I heard about some one going for cyber knife treatment for brain tumour which cost Rs.50 lakhs+ and got cured. Cancer is curable but treatment is expensive.

A single Chemotherapy sessions normally costs 45K (with less side effect- Rs.1.5 lakhs). Some one in a stage 1 or stage 2 of cancer need to spend Rs.12 lakhs to Rs.15 lakhs for treatment alone to get cured. Cancer institute and Matha trust take care of these with almost free or negligible cost for poor and needy.

All these are made possible by contributions from people like you and me.

In my opinion, Money or Wealth basically has three primary functions 1) Current Consumption – spending for our life style 2) Savings and Investments- for our future safety or ‘rainy days’  3) Giving- what we spend for others. Most of us focus either on the first or second or both but completely ignore the last one.

At some point of time in future, I plan to allocate either 25% of annual income or  25% of my financial assets into a trust and channelise it for giving. So far I’ve focused on feeding the poor and sponsoring education. I’ve decided to add 2 more to the list- helping for medical treatment and fund spreading of financial literacy, which can really make or break a person’s life.

Giving by our family is so far mainly tied to occasions like birthdays, marriage day, in memory of deceased elders etc. I’ve visited Cancer Institute for giving for one such occasion.

Charity is not merely cutting a cheque. Unless there is a compassion or empathy for a cause, charity becomes very shallow. Warren Buffett is doing the largest charity in history so far. The beneficiaries include many people in ruralIndia. None of them may know Buffett or even Gates & Melinda foundation which administers the money. I feel there should not be any publicity in charity and it should not become one more avenue for showing off. I’m amazed to see temples walls covered with the name of donors starting from Rs.1001/- and even tube lights are printed with donor names so that there is very less light:-)

As much we are diligent and account for money while spending and investing, the same diligence needs to be applied in giving. We need to ensure that the money given by us is properly spent and accounted for.

Why giving is important because there is a tremendous amount of inequality in the world. I’ve written in the past a lot about this inequality.

World Bank economist Branko Milanovi has done a lot of research and wrote a book, The Haves and the Have-Nots. This is how the income break-up is for the whole world

Top 50% earns $1225+ (Rs.61,250) a year

Top 20% earns $5000+ (Rs.2.5 lakhs) a year

Top 10% earns $12000+ (Rs.6 lakhs) a year

Top 1% earns $34,000+ (Rs.17 lakhs) a year

Top 0.1% earns $70,000+ (Rs.35 lakhs) a year

Half of the world population (3.5 billion) earns less than $2 (Rs.100) a day. 90% of the people in the developing world (including India) earn less than $10 (Rs.500) a day.

 For ease of calculation, I’ve assumed $1= Rs.50/-

Wealth or money is not infinite but very finite. Since we are lucky to be in the better slab above, we also need to think about the unfortunate.

Since I’ve written about Cancer Institiute; few lines on Cancer. Cancer in stage 1 and stage 2 is now completely curable if identified and treated in time. Movies either make fun of cancer or depict a person having cancer facing imminent death. Nothing can be farther than truth.

Cancer can come to anyone at anytime in life. It has nothing to do with one’s habits or lifestyle though avoiding certain habits like smoking and having a healthy life style may decrease the chances. Cancer is not contagious. Just because a friend or family member has cancer, it would not spread to us. Thinking, speaking or writing about cancer would not cause cancer. The awareness of this disease is very low and hence it would help if we can talk about it.

Since lot of people think cancer is contagious, they even kick their near and dear out of the home as disease progresses. That is the reason why Sri Matha Trust is planning for a Hospice centre in Chennai. This would be a palliative care centre for terminally ill patients to help them have painless, hunger less and peaceful death including conducting last rites as per their belief; all free of cost. They are unable to get land for this purpose and have been petitioning government towards the same. Hope their plea is heard.

Since this social cause should go on smoothly, Mr.Krishnamoorthy has already chosen and grooming Ms.Vijayasree as his successor. Ms.Vijayasree and her husband, both very young, have quit their career and is working full time for this trust on a voluntary basis.

I would like to thank Mr.Krishnamoorthy, Ms.Vijayasree and Ms.Rama who educated me on the above and took me around the center so that I can see things myself.

Those of you interested may contact Sri Matha Trust at +91-044-24420727 or +91-044-24404950.

Posted in General, Life & Spirituality, Muthu's Musings | 8 Comments »

A note from a young widowed Chartered Accountant

Posted by Muthu on June 15, 2012

I came across this piece which is moving and thought would be useful for everyone to read and learn from the same.

We should thank her for putting this in public domain for all of us to learn.

“We always believe we will live forever. Bad things always happen to others.

Only when things hit us bang on your head you realise… Life is so unpredictable….

My husband was an IT guy…all techie…And I am a chartered accountant…Awesome combination you may think…

Techie guy so everything is on his laptop…his to do list… his e-bill and his bank statements in his email… … He even maintained a folder which said IMPWDS…wherein he stored all login id and passwords for all his online accounts…And even his laptop had a password… Techie guy so all the passwords were alpha-numeric with a special character not an easy one to crack…Office policy said passwords needed to be changed every 30 days…So every time I accessed his laptop I would realise it’s a new password again… I would simply opt for asking him ‘What’s the latest password’ instead of taking the strain to memorise it.

You may think me being a Chartered Accountant would means everything is documented and filed properly… Alas many of my chartered accountant friends would agree that the precision we follow with our office documents and papers do not flow in to day to day home life… At office you have be epitome of Reliability / Competent / Diligent etc but… at home front there is always a tomorrow…

One fine morning my hubby expired in a bike accident on his way home from office…. He was just 33…His laptop with all his data crashed…everything on his hard disk wiped off…No folder of IMPWDS to refer back to…His mobile with all the numbers on it was smashed…But that was just the beginning… I realised I had lot to learn…

(Read fully at: http://thingslearntaftermithun.blogspot.in/)

Posted in General, Life & Spirituality | 1 Comment »