The evolution of the barber and the dentist - The Honest Truth By Ajit Dayal
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Investing in India - Honest Truth by Ajit Dayal
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11 SEPTEMBER 2009


Life was simple in the good old days.

I went to my barber near Churchgate station in Bombay and sat on the waiting bench. When they said, "Next" I strolled up to the barber chair; sat down and waited.

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Once on the high chair with my feet dangling in the air, the barber would walk up to me, wrap the starched white sheet around my thin body, and look at me.
I would say, "Medium".
What that meant was: not too short, not too long.
If you wanted a really short hair cut, a crew cut, the term was "uda do". That would be the equivalent of "Knock it off, baby!" in today's language.

And after the haircut the barber would bring the mirror to show me what my hair looked like from different angles. I would nod my head sideways in agreement, slip off the chair, and proceed to pay the cashier.
When I got home, I would have a shower with some soap or shampoo and go back to doing whatever we did as young boys and men.

The visit to the dentist was a little more adventurous.
That is, if you equate pain with adventure.
The act of sitting on the dentist's chair was like being asked to sit on one of those electrocution chairs one sees in movies. But that was the price for all the chewing gum and all the supari and all the Cokes and Fantas that I consumed.

What made the trip to the dentist a little more enjoyable was that Aunty Meenu was a family friend. She would come over once a week to our place and have dinner with my parents and other friends. I was allowed to stay awake till late and sit with them on those wonderful nights.
They would discuss things they had read in Time magazine (there was no internet and no TV - black or white). What I heard and learnt at those dinners was more educational than what I was being taught in school.
So the visit to the dentist was an opportunity to meet a family friend.
(Of course, all that rational explanation I just gave you went right out the window as soon as the shrieking sound of the dentist's drill bellowed in my open mouth.)

Be that as it may, I went to the dentist, got my bad teeth fixed, went home and drank a Coke.

The new barber; the modern dentist
But the barbers of today are different.
Firstly, it is rarely the same person who cuts your hair twice.
You sit on the chair and the barber run their finger through your hair.
"Your hair is dry - would you like to use this Special Hair Conditioner For Dry Hair?"
Uh, I think to myself, another barber at the same barber shop had told me one month ago that my hair was "greasy".
Once they will say my hair is "thick".
The next time I am told it is "damaged"

After I politely decline all the bottles from brand names I cannot pronounce, there is silence for a while.
"Would you like a spike in your hair? I can give you the gel that you need to keep it that way".

I decline - you see, I don't really like spikes.
All I wanted was a haircut, really.

Like the barbers, the dentists have also chosen a new profession: how to make your teeth look good.
Don't get me wrong, they do fix it. But they seem to spend 90% of their time telling you what else you can do make your teeth more white; more straight; more rounded and less pointy.

"What is the difference" asked my colleague, "between a heart specialist and a dentist?"
The answer: The heart specialist has one heart to fix; the dentist has 32 teeth to fix.
That is a lot more bills.

Simple journey for your investments
Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against doctors.
My father is a doctor.
Many of my cousins - who are far more intelligent than me - are doctors.
And they are really nice people and very professional.

But, in general, the doctor of today has changed.
As has the barber.
As has the financial advisor - or bank branch manager.

Everyone is looking to "originate" a transaction.
Creating something where there was nothing required.
In the USA, they spend an estimated USD 200 billion every year on medical tests that were later determined to be not required at all.
A shampoo bottle is no longer a simple shampoo bottle.
A stock is no longer representative of what the business of the company earns, but is a financial instrument which you can "short, long, or hedge".
It is the fastest spun device that outlasts the spin on a Las Vegas roulette wheel.

All this billing and product creation adds to someone's economic activity.
It adds to GDP - the measurement of economic activity.
But does it add to your happiness?
To GHP - Gross Happiness Product?

So the financial world has made life so complicated sometimes I wonder, did we create all these products to look after your savings - or to look after our income?

Is the doctor there for your health - or his wealth?
Is the barber there to cut your hair - or shave you silly?

Investments - and investing - is actually very simple.
Many financial companies have made a business of your confusion from their jargon and complex language. The blow up in the financial world was because the creators of the instruments themselves had no idea what they themselves were creating. And, if a few did, they kept quiet - because of the money they earned in the process.

Come, hear what we have to say as we start our Path to Profit journey in Bangalore on September 12th at 6 pm at Hotel Shelton Grand (this is the new venue; please note there is a change of venue in Bangalore).

Take this simple journey for your investments.
The good doctors and the good barbers exist.
Let us show you how to find them.

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Quantum Long Term Equity Fund Quantum Gold Fund
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Note: The Honest Truth is authored by Ajit Dayal. Ajit is a Director at Quantum Advisors Pvt Ltd and Quantum Asset Management Company Pvt Ltd.. Views expressed in this article are entirely those of the author and may not be regarded as views of the Quantum Mutual Fund or Quantum Asset Management Company Private Limited. To write to Ajit, please click here.


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21 Responses to "The evolution of the barber and the dentist"

vishal

Sep 14, 2009

Its called the KISS principle: Keep It Simple, Stupid!! We talk to hundreds of people, who either are trying to sells things or themselves. Keeping it simple (as this article of yours)helps us connect to your clients and customers. But, as you said, this world has changed and the virtues of simplicity forgotten. Thanks for reminding us!!

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Mukesh Tandon

Sep 13, 2009

dear mr dayal
straight from heart and straight to heart. i am a finance person and can fully endorse your views that all those guys that you mentioned are only interested in generating a transaction to bring you in the TRAP and, once there, you take a long to get convinced that you took a wrong call. By the time you are able to decide convincingly that you need to get out of the mess, the CONSULTANT has already made merry with your money. Have been an Equitymaster follower for nearly a decade now and find your analysis reasonably good though there have been some miserable assesments at your place too. If you wish, i can tell you some of your research reports. Would not like to quote them here as the calls are likely to go bad sometimes.
I am looking forward to your visit to Lucknow/around and meet you in person. Do plan.

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Dr Khan

Sep 12, 2009

Its like reading Warren Buffets annual reports minus the pizzaz

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Kshamata

Sep 12, 2009

Your article is quite pellucid and convincing. It would be great to have you here in Hyderabad.

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Jal S Mahimwala

Sep 12, 2009

Would love to see you in person and hear you talk. So, in the future if you do anything like The Path to Profit in Bombay,please let me know.By the way, have always enjoyed your insightful, humorous notings, like the barber & the dentist. Kudos for saying it like it is.

KInd regards

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mahesh nadgaudi

Sep 12, 2009

Have a lways enkoyed and learned from your articles which are immensely insightful and lucid.

Regards.

Mahesh.

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ashim

Sep 12, 2009

After a long time, a beauty of an article ... humorous and wise! Keep it flowing.

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KHALID

Sep 12, 2009

Dear Mr. Dayal,

Great writing and absolutely the truth, you can call it the HONEST TRUTH.
Keep up the good work.

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Mot

Sep 11, 2009

That was a six!!! Nicely written.

The problem is they "the new barbers" have enough money to make sure no body else takes their customers mind share with any good stuff.

Good thing is that there is your "Honest Truth"

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Sanjay

Sep 11, 2009

Hi,
When is your trip to Pune.I am follower of EM since last 5 years. How come you get such woderful anologies? It will be delight to meet you in person. Keep the good work going...
Thanks
Sanjay

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