Tuesday, April 23, 2024
HomeValue InvestingMy Pilgrimage - Safal Niveshak

My Pilgrimage – Safal Niveshak

Though I consider myself somewhat spiritual, I’m not typically drawn to pilgrimages. In fact, the last major pilgrimage I undertook was nearly 40 years ago, at age 5, when I accompanied my grandparents on the Chaar Dhaam Yatra (four places of pilgrimage) in the mountains of north India.

I still have vivid memories of that trip, not because of the spirituality those places invoke but because the mountains have always attracted me. In fact, it may sound unusual, but whenever I am in the mountains, I have an eerie feeling that I belong there. The air and the water remind me that at some moment in time, I lived there.

Anyway, forty years later, I am starting on a different pilgrimage. This time, not in the mountains, but I have this feeling that the experience shall be the same – I will feel that at some moment in time, in a previous birth, I had been there.

This pilgrimage is 12,000 KM apart from my last one. It’s right in the heart of America, in Omaha, also possibly the heart of all things value investing.

After deferring for a few years, thanks to inertia and financial constraints, I have gathered my will and savings this time to attend Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholders’ meeting, to “see” the man with whom I started and have walked through my investing journey of the last 21 years — Warren Buffett.

The event, often dubbed the “Woodstock for Capitalists,” represents far more to me than just an opportunity to glean business, investing and life insights from Warren. It is my pilgrimage to pay homage to a living legend in the world of investing and to honour the memory of his recently departed partner and one of the few people I really look up to in life, Charlie Munger.

Warren, with his legendary patience and sage-like wisdom, has served as a distant mentor to me. His ethos and life decisions resonate deeply with my values. His approach to investing — emphasising rationality, patience, equanimity, empathy, and long-term value — parallels many of the spiritual lessons I have ingrained in my last forty years since I made the first pilgrimage with my grandparents.

I saw Charlie in 2018 when I attended the AGM of Daily Journal, where he was the Chairman. That moment when I got the opportunity to ask him a question is still etched in my mind. Time stood still for me, and I only heard Charlie’s response in a video recorded by a friend.

I am sure time will stand still when I get my first glimpse of Warren on 4th May 2024. I won’t be seeing Charlie, at least not physically, but I hope to visualize his soul seated next to Warren, casually popping in See’s peanut brittle with Coke, and saying every time Warren finishes his statement, “I have nothing to add.”

This pilgrimage to Omaha marks a profound moment in my life, much like that spiritual journey I made as a child. It symbolizes a full circle of sorts, from the sacred temples of my childhood to the hallowed halls where business, investing, and ethics have merged under the guidance of Warren and Charlie.

In Omaha, I also expect to find some good friends I have met and a lot I never have, each drawn by respect for Warren’s and Charlie’s legacy. I am sure this one will be a powerful reminder that some journeys, whether spiritual or intellectual, are best undertaken with others who share our values and aspirations.

In his latest 2023 letter to shareholders, Warren described Omaha as a special place where all the three people seated on the stage on 4th May – Warren, Greg Abel, Ajit Jain – and Charlie earlier, have found as home at some points in their lives. He also wrote how Berkshire’s fortunes changed for the better when the company relocated to Omaha from New England in 1970. And then he also wrote about his sister Bertie who spent her early formative years in Omaha and, many decades later, emerged as one of the country’s great investors.

He then wrote –

So what is going on? Is it Omaha’s water? Is it Omaha’s air? Is it some strange planetary phenomenon akin to that which has produced Jamaica’s sprinters, Kenya’s marathon runners, or Russia’s chess experts? Must we wait until AI someday yields the answer to this puzzle?

Keep an open mind. Come to Omaha in May, inhale the air, drink the water and say “hi” to Bertie and her good-looking daughters. Who knows? There is no downside, and, in any event, you will have a good time and meet a huge crowd of friendly people.

As I see Warren, inhale Omaha’s air, drink its water, and meet many friends on this pilgrimage, I will keep you in my mind, too.

And, if you are also making the pilgrimage this time, I look forward to seeing you at the place where, I have a feeling, I will believe I have already been.

Value Investing Meetups in Dallas and New York: I am organising in-person meetups on Value Investing in –

  • Dallas (US): Saturday, 27th April
  • New York (US): Saturday, 11th May

If you are in or around these cities and wish to attend, kindly register here. Thank you!



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