Monday, February 6, 2006
- A Big Swinging Dick of Indian descent.
It’s 12:30 AM, and Rohan Shah is lying on his bed casually flipping through his AP Economics textbook. He taps the butt of his pen against his front teeth rhythmically, then gnaws at in it frustration with the dribble. Growing anxious, he slams shut the thick Princeton Review book and eagerly reaches into the drawer of his bedside table. From underneath The Hull Book and 3 worn Playboys he bought in middle school out of the locker of a guy with an older brother, he pulls out a scrapbook.
Gently, as if handling an ancient text, Rohan turns over the cover and begins leafing through the scrapbook’s pages. A smile creeps over his face as his determination is refueled; he becomes slightly aroused. His mantra of the past 4 years comes into his mind, and he sits up straight, closes his eyes, touches pinky-finger to thumb and chants, out-loud, “I will be the most badass Indian in finance. I will be the youngest Goldman PMD, and I will start a supertight hedge-fund.”
After a moment, he opens his eyes and looks down fondly at his book. He gently caresses the embossed print on the cover, “BSDesis: Ashok Varadhan and Dinakar Singh.” As if it were the first time, he studies each of the pages—assorted newspaper clippings, print-outs, and random souvenirs. Every last detail of the ascension to fame of the two finance demigods is captured. The two come off the pages almost mythical—Ashok becoming MD in ’00 and then PMD in ’02 (at age 28), and Dinakar rising furiously through the ranks and then leaving to start TPG-Axon. Pasted-in are a bar chart his cousin told him Dinakar created in his ‘let’s make a futile attempt at getting minorities into Wall Street’-days, and a candid shot of Ashok pulling his long hair in frustration while speaking to a group of overeager Goldman trainees. Rohan runs his fingers over the image and then rereads the endless, Stan-style personal notes he’s scribbled in the margins:
Ashok, it’s me again, Rohan. My brother’s friend just told me the story about how you used to say “that bid/ask is tighter than my little sister.” That’s awesome. I said it to my Dad today while he was watching C-SPAN—I don’t think he got it.
Din, what’s up man, how’s your daughter? I think it’s great what you’re doing for Spinal Muscular Atrophy. You inspired me to give my whole allowance to the SMA fund. To be honest with you, I would suffer any disease just to be your son.
Rohan finishes examining the scrapbook and is refreshed. The AP Economics test will be a joke, he recalls. He will get a 5 to match the others and complement his 1600 and perfect GPA. He will graduate high school at 16 with advanced standing for college. His paper on wavelet-based trading won the International Science Fair, and Wharton sent him a personalized letter requesting his application (he chuckled at the glorified vocational center feigning academic pedigree). Rohan even became manager of his high school basketball team (just like Ashok was at Duke—what insight avoiding the IBD competition and investing in understanding meathead traders to eventually dominate and reign over them). Yes, Rohan remembers he’s perfectly on track to achieve his goals.
Contented, he closes the scrapbook and tucks it away in his drawer. He reclines on his bed with his arms clasped under his head and stares up at the ceiling. The room is quiet and dark save the faint murmurs and glow from the 2004 World Series of Poker looping on the television. Envisioning the hands from memory, Rohan falls into a deep sleep to the chuckle of Fossilman, wrapped in the warm blanket of certain financial security and the tangible dream of BSDesi status.