Revisiting Algorithmic Trading


The screen capture above is of PERSISTENT across the 23rd and 24th of December. When trading in a volatile environment, the rapid change in prices are a challenge. In the first trading session of 23/12 market price moved from 4,537 to 4,647 (closing). The next day, they crossed 4,770 within seconds. Prices were much calmer through the rest of the day as the market settled into a more bearish stance. If opportunities were to be found it was for that brief period. In such situations having a machine at your side is invaluable.

India is in the midst of a huge bull-run in IT stocks. Not new, it’s been the case since mid-2019 and perhaps early 2020. Even though we hit a speed bump in March ’20, it only served to hasten the rise and maturity of technology stocks and investing. IPOs of Happiest Minds, Latent View, MapmyIndia, Nykaa, Paytm and were the culmination of this bull-run and it isn’t over yet. There’s more in the pipeline. If IPOs are one aspect, new opportunities are created everyday and the screen grab is just one instance. It begs to be repeated, these opportunities are created every single day.

I recall listening to an investment relationship manager in the early days of the 2009 depression. As she faced a crowd of irate investors who were watching their capital invested sink daily, she was at a loss for words. A few weeks ago, the market had been consistently delivering record returns. All the profits had vanished with the large institutions that had dumped their holdings. “You should learn to book your profits in time” she hollered pointlessly. It’s hard to follow this advice in a bull run.

Market values can fall just as rapidly as it goes up. Since it’s peak in October, the NIFTY has touched lows of mid-16,000 fluctuating rapidly after being rejected by mid-17,000 levels. All this havoc is reflected in market prices of the major scrips RELIANCE, HUL, INFOSYS, none of them escaped unscathed. Like most people, I was convinced that the good times would continue. So hard-earned savings sat and stagnated. What was missing was the clarity and resolve to follow reality, to change when the outlook changes. Algorithms enable both qualities in abundance.

Amongst other things, I’m playing with Algo-trading platforms to understand how to navigate such volatility with ease and peace of mind, to find and exploit opportunities every day. There’s a good amount of technology out there that makes it possible for an individual to work with machines without having to write code (or otherwise). Machines allow you to sit back, remove emotion from our financial decisions and to participate in opportunities that were otherwise closed to the individual investor.

Talk to me on twitter:

Cycling through Pashan

We’ve been having a strange run of weather. Through the day the skies remain overcast, the temperature remains in the mid-20s and there’s little rain. The reduced rainfall will almost certainly have consequences in the summer of ’22 and I’m not sure if the catchment areas are dry too. However, it’s great weather for outdoors and for cycling. Due to the scarce rain the roads remain dry and bicycles don’t pick up much muck no matter where you’re going.

There’s an absolutely verdant green route that I frequent on my bicycle. I start early from mid-city and ride towards Pashan. Once University is behind you, the usual city traffic thins out and the green cover improves. This is the way it stays as you pass the National Chemical Laboratory, the NCL Innovation Center all the way to the Necklace Garden. It’s about 8.5 km one-way with a testing climb that starts at Pashan chowk.

On the way riders first pass the Loyola High School and Junior College. As a junior college student, my first day there fell in the middle of the monsoon (June-July) of ’94. The path up to the college was drenched and overrun with green on either side. Since the area predominantly belongs to the Maharashtra Police and other institutions, it has successfully resisted being overrun by concrete and has kept it’s green cover.

Beyond the Necklace Garden are favorite destinations of Pune cyclists- the National Defence Academy and then further beyond are Mulshi lake, Pirangut, Lavasa and so on. I hope to gradually increase my cycling range to touch these points soon.

My ride is a Schnell Sierra hybrid. Today’s ride was smooth and hassle free thanks to the expert team at Cycleologisst ( I’ve included a mention here because their work on my bicycle has improved my ride considerably. Pune cycling is seeing an explosion of riders right now. Paradoxically, it’s still early and uncertain days for dedicated bicycle shops like this one. We had a very recent closure of a landmark, premium retail and service center which might tell us something about the RoI from the bicycle services business. Perhaps this local industry could be close to it’s ‘uber’-moment.

Echoes – II

Echoes – I.

I find the news about Tom unacceptable. I was unsure of what to make of it. I wasn’t alone. There were so many who felt like this. The furtive exchange of messages on various forums were a testament to the opaque and tragic nature if the news. I know that some of us who felt the loss turned to his blog to reaffirm his presence. He had raised his writing over the years and had been regular. Every story narrated with that seasoning of personal experience. In everyone’s mind Tom had been a brilliant personality. His writing will endure and reflect that brilliance in a small way.

Echoes – I

It’s difficult to gauge the impact people have had on you. This blog was much livelier at one point of time. Why so? I think it’s an easy answer to give. At the time I was surrounded by individuals who drove me to think and write about things. When they moved on a lot of that motivation and flow went along with them. Now I’m trying to teach myself to understand and work with the void. Before the reader can exist, I think I have to learn to write for myself.

At one point when this blog just existed, I did write with a lot more freedom. It’s a whole lot easier that way. Somehow that conversation doesn’t seem to exist any longer. Like a flickering light bulb it brightens and then dims unpredictably. That training to just come here and write seems to have vanished. That training to focus for extended periods of time in writing seems to have gone.

I’d spent a great number of years writing here for the web. At the time blogging was still a pretty new concept. Nobody really read my blog, but then again anybody could read it. I didn’t really understand the idea so well. I started the blog as something I thought would just stick with me and it did.

A colleague who first found my blog remarked that I was writing ‘so that I would remember my experiences when I’m older’. That was prescient. In a way what we write will live on even beyond us.

I wrote through my first job, I wrote through my post-graduate years and then later I wrote some more. Altogether 6 years worth of writing existed. I compiled it all together on this place when I decided to move to India.

Back home, I’d begun working with a colleague closely. Let’s call them Tom. I recall we got together and reviewed my blog going through each post. I remember it being in a professional context, but my writing was personal. The review may have had something to do with the fact that the blog was very visible when someone searched for me. I’m certain that colleague got the idea of why something like that needed to exist. On the other hand, the implications were awkward to spell out. Should we hide some of the posts? I was uncomfortable with the idea that every word that I’d put up here was being scrutinized.

I respect those who can write about their work in a commanding and engaging manner. If you’ve been able to get to that point, it couldn’t have been easy. Writing about someone can help boost them, or it can hurt them irrevocably. I’ve been at both ends, as the writer and as the written. It can also be beneficial. Imagine a single founder plugging away their experiences on a blog. An outlet for the frustrations they’re grappling with. Here the line between personal and professional doesn’t exist any longer.

Later Tom and I moved apart. I like to think he took something from here. He began to write for himself at a very different level, mastering the medium. I loosely stayed in touch with him and his writing. The void rolled in as time went on.

This afternoon, I was with my toddler when I received a text ‘Did I know the news about Tom?’ I did not. I hadn’t spoken to him in a while. I learned through friends that he had passed away in a freak accident. The unpredictable nature of life had hit hard. Remember that void I spoke about earlier? I felt it right there. There was nothing else to go by. I found some time for myself and I looked up their blog. I started to go over Tom’s writing. In an abstract way, he was there for that little bit, narrating his experiences.

Echoes – II.

5 May Snippet

On my mind: How can deAzzle help home chefs, bakers and other home businesses?
My coffee dose: Mysore Nugget Bold from Kumaradhara traders.

A cause I want to share: “Mission Vayu” by MCCIA. Maharashtra has been hit hard by COVID19. Mission Vayu helps by providing Oxygen concentrators and more to the worst affected districts of Maharashtra.

Stay safe!

Obscured from View

Sunday morning mist clings desperately to the trail.
WA, September 2005.
Santosh Dawara.

Mist rolls down the hillside.
WA, September 2005.
Santosh Dawara.

At last! We’ve reached our destination.
WA, September 2005.
Santosh Dawara.

Fellow trekker and companion. A well behaved boy throughout.
WA, September 2005.
Santosh Dawara.

Moka Pot Brews: Key Variables

The Moka Pot is an unusual device and not exactly easy to decipher. I’ve learned a lot about brewing coffee with my 3-cup Bialetti in the last few weeks. This is a real short version of what I believe are the key variables that change the brew taste. The post assumes you already know basics of Moka Pot brewing.

Heat application: This is in my opinion the number one variable. Can be controlled on a stove top by getting a good steel heat diffuser which prevents the pot from being directly exposed to the heat. It also needs to be cut off at just the right time to prevent steam rushing through the pot’s lower chambers and scalding the coffee. It really need not be constant throughout the brewing process and is tightly connected to the next variable:

Brew Time: I didn’t realize how important this was until a friend pointed out that my brews were taking too long (8 – 9 mins). On cutting short the brew time (< 4 mins) using pre-boiled water, the sour taste in the final product was noticeably lower. The running theory is that in longer brews the lower temperatures of the water leads to extraction of the sour flavors from the coffee.

Grind Size: The Moka Pot can brew with a wide variety of grind sizes from medium-fine to fine. I believe the finest you can go is when your coffee grounds literally start getting through the upper metal filter in the Moka Pot. Grind size does make a noticeable difference to the taste of the final brew. It’s worth controlling and experimenting with. I’ve found it difficult to go finer if you can’t control the Heat applied. In my early trials where I’d exposed the pot directly to the flame, finer grinds would sputter violently. Once I had the diffuser in place those same brews had a consistent flow.

Other variables include Roast (medium, medium-dark and dark), water quality, coffee dose (the grinds must swell to fill the basket for best results), water volume in the lower pot – all play a role. The coffee quality too is worth mentioning. I was truly startled by Ethiopian Yirgacheffe (medium-dark). It had light qualities I couldn’t find any of our Indian SO or blends I’ve tried so far.

That’s all for now. This post ought to morph into something much more detailed later on.


I’ve been brewing Red Earth’s Espresso Blend beans in my Moka Pot. I skipped the brew for 2 days and my mornings were noticeably duller with cravings. It’s official, I’m hooked! I have the espresso-like coffee with 3 parts milk, no sugar. I enjoy the caramel, dark feel to the coffee. Who would’ve thought it’d be addicting.

There’s something oddly satisfying about watching coffee percolate.