My week of wealth

VEENA VENUGOPAL | Updated on August 14, 2014


Everything seemed to be falling into place. The Sensex was up and I was living my future even before it had arrived

On Friday I came by a small fortune. I had been nipping around the stock market for a couple of years without really having anything substantial to show for it. Some months I would make a few thousands and then spurred on by that moderate success, throw in some good money after bad and stay stuck for the next half year or so, until the tides turned for reasons unknown to me. But with an eye on the political, and a vague notion that there might be a last spike in the market before the election results come out, I’d been religiously logging into my online account for the last 10 days. On Friday, seeing that the Sensex was up some 150 points and that my forecast had indeed come true, I calculated grandly, added ₹20 to the trading price of the stocks I had, logged my order and set off to work.

By the time I reached office, I had made nearly ₹2 lakh in profit and lost nearly ₹30,000 in additional profit, money I imagine I would have made if I hadn’t sold in haste. Sensex was up some 500 points. I had to delay the editorial meeting because every second my loss of imaginary profit was inching up. By 3pm, I was down some ₹50,000 in imaginary profit and it showed no sign of slowing. I had the worst headache of my life and decided to abandon computing personal wealth and get down to the business of editing this paper. I won’t tell you the final loss figure, it still makes me want to weep a little.

Anyway, over a few drinks that evening, I decided I was going about this all wrong and should only think of the money I actually made. Since I wasn’t a supporter, at first it made me feel a little awkward that I made this money on a Modi rally. I considered registering a couple of Likes on some of his Facebook fan pages as a token of gratitude, but then decided I should just give a part of the money to charity instead. Thirty per cent seemed fair.

That left me with ₹1.4 lakh, nothing to be sneezed at. Now I know that I wouldn’t be able to make ₹1.4 lakh in the market every day. But surely, I could make ₹14,000. How hard would that be? And if I made ₹14,000 every day, I could retire before 40. This whole edit meeting, deadline-chasing gig was getting tiring anyway, and this would be a perfect escape route.

I told a couple of friends about my jackpot; in hushed tones, now that I was rich, the tax guys wouldn’t be far. They both suggested I buy a cottage in the mountains and start a business. I wasn’t sure about that, I am a city girl. I like to keep a distance from nature and only wish nature would keep its distance from me. But the rest of it was perfect. I could live in the city, where I would never be far from a wi-fi, and help other people make some money in the market as well. Because this was generous and charitable of me, I figured I should have no qualms about putting that 30 per cent back into my kitty.

Then I called my mother. “You should sell too,” I told her. She had only small profits here and there, but I told her to sell everything off and wait for my instructions to buy again. She agreed. I even had my first client.

On Monday, I drove to work. I didn’t think taking the Metro befitted my new station in life. I started several phone conversations with “my view on the market is that…” Everything seemed to be falling into place; I was living my future even before it had arrived.

When I reached office, the Sensex was up another 400 points. This was bewildering, I had to admit. I expected it to be down by that much. My loss of imaginary profit was threatening to overtake my actual profit. I told myself not to panic. Any minute now the market would crash and I’ll buy.

Mother called to say she had followed my instructions and sold her stocks for a low four-figure profit. And the prices had climbed significantly since. I told her to calm down. Maybe I was yelling. She sounded like she might cry. The pesky minions at work kept coming in with story ideas and page layouts. It was all too much.

Monday evening, I decided to watch the business channels just to hear what my contemporaries in the financial services world were saying. Everyone seemed bullish. There was no talk of even a possibility of a fall in the markets. Modi was coming, development was assured. Capital goods, automobiles, banks, they said, you can’t go wrong with these. Maybe they were right. The only way the market could go is up. I wondered whether I should tell mother to buy but decided against it. It wasn’t like she was paying me for advice.

Tuesday morning, I skipped the gym. I’d rather be rich than fit, anyway. As soon as the markets opened, I bought stocks by the armful. I threw in everything, including my profits from Friday. I logged in sale orders too, to square off my positions. Stocks were shooting up. I was making thousands of rupees by the second. I contemplated which car I should upgrade to. I called mother and insisted she buy too. At office, everyone seemed especially annoying. When I managed to get around to checking the market, I was shocked to see that things were more pale pink than bright green. My stocks seemed to be shedding some gains. I was going to wait till 3pm and then modify my orders and still sell them for a profit. Come 3pm, some work nonsense turned up and I lost track of time. By the time I looked up, market was closed and my stocks were deep in the red. Tragedy!

Wednesday morning, Sensex is down 40 points. My stocks are bleeding a dark crimson. Actual profit is now down to high four figures. Even imaginary profit is at a loss now. Refreshed the site every minute but it is only getting redder. At last count, I had ₹700 left from my jackpot on Friday. Blocked mother’s number on the phone. Off to an editorial meeting now, we’ll toss around some story ideas, define some deadlines, talk about a book or a movie. The team is great, the wi-fi is free, this is a lot of fun actually.

Published on May 16, 2014

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