The Perils of Rupee Appreciation and Metro Construction

The rupee hit a new high against the dollar today. The interbank rate was 39.3188 INR/USD when I quoted rates to customers in the morning, and it had gone up by 3 paisa more when I checked the news feeds just after lunch.

While the rupee was hitting new highs, the shit was hitting the fan. When importers see news of new highs, they demand to know why their rate is still so high (it remains the interbank rate plus the default margin, but that’s another story). When exporters are quoted the INR rate for their realization payments, they demand to know why the rate is so absurdly low (their rate is also the interbank rate minus the same margin they’ve had for the past year). Meanwhile, exporters who you were trying to convince about the virtues of forwards and options six months ago suddenly panic, land up at office, and demand that their forwards limit be set up by the end of the week. The end result is that both exporters and importers are unhappy about the price of dollars, and react by shooting the messenger who brings them the price. Guess who the messenger is?

Faced with such a situation, the naïve fresh MBA reacts by trying to reassure customers that their margin remains at the wonderfully low levels it has always been, and that the interbank rate is really out of his control. This is a mistake. Customers then demand that their FX margin be reduced, more so if they are Gujew customers. Unfortunately, after ICICI has made a mockery of net interest margins, banks are determined to squeeze every possible rupee out of their FX margins. FX is a new focus area for cross-sell, and 10 paisa is the lowest margin a customer can expect. Confronted with this brutal truth, customers react by shooting the messenger who presents it to them. Guess who the messenger is?


I feel it is important to point out that The Rembrandts were wankers. “It’s like you’re always stuck in second gear,” indeed. Hah!If you arrive at Trinity Circle at 9:50 a.m., you realize to your horror that the turn from Airport Road to MG Road has been barricaded off. You are then forced to drive ahead instead of turning left, going past the Park, and turning left into Ulsoor Road instead. You then spend the next twenty five minutes stuck on Ulsoor Road (which, incidentally, can’t possibly be more than two kilometers long from Trinity Circle to Dickenson Road). The red light on Dickenson Road, meanwhile, has caused traffic to back up along the length of these entire two (or less) kilometers, and moving on Ulsoor Road is done by shifting between neutral and first gear. Second gear is a distant dream. Meanwhile, you are seriously reconsidering your celebrity crush on RJ Malavika after she plays Christina Aguilera and Justin Timberlake in succession, and then follows up by talking about how excited she is about the Spice Girls reunion. You also mentally abuse your flatmate for refusing to take an apartment in St. John’s Road for the purpose of saving seven thousand rupees of brokerage (this, incidentally, is the same flatmate who feasts at the Oberoi buffet and buys imported breakfast cereal at 300 rupees for 220 grams), and wonder if that apartment is still available, and what the rent on it would be now if it was.

When the light finally clears, you gain all of thirty seconds of movement at faster than ten Kmph before you end up stuck behind a Government of India Ambassador which has chosen that very minute at stall. After ferociously blowing your horn for forty seconds, the Ambassador finally moves. Unfortunately, Rocinante is a Palio, and has a large turning radius. Few things are comparable to a Palio’s turning radius, though the radius of J. Lo’s backside comes close. It takes another fifteen seconds before you have space to overtake. Once you have overtaken, and are back in the outside lane, you have to hit the brakes again to avoid mowing down a motorcycle rider who has at that very second decided to climb onto the footpath, and found that he can’t do it at all. By the time you hit Dickenson Road, the light has changed again, and you’re stuck for another seven minutes, during which time RJ Malavika plays Robbie Williams (but, in the first stroke of luck you’ve had since reaching Trinity Circle, also Fallout Boy). You then face another jam at the turn onto Residency Road, caused by autos trying to make a U-turn through the gaps between police barricades, and BMTC buses trying to change lanes.

You park at 1045, and walk into office at 1100, a little over an hour after you reached Trinity Circle, which is a five minute walk from office.


I am closer than ever to becoming a smoker or a regular drinker. Yes, these are merely forms of escapism, but I want to escape the crap I’m going through. Gujews bitching about the weakening dollar, ten minute traffic halts, small scale industrialists becoming frantic about their forwards limits- what have I done to deserve this, I ask.

However, I don’t believe in spending money on bad habits. So if I take up smoking, it’ll be beedis, and if I take up drinking, it’ll be country liquor. This will hasten my death, but right now I am in agreement with Legodeath: death will be sweet release.

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