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There has been gloom and doom in the market with news pictures of punters holding their heads in their hands, when my broker advised I should buy stocks.

The only reason I have a broker is because of shares I had bought in an Indian company that was the first ever to float an IPO to the general public way back in 1977.

I had bought 100 shares at the insistence of a colleague who said it was a good investment, at Rupees 10 (52 fils) per share and soon after I received tonnes of papers and among them were long, almost A3 size official-looking paper shares, which made me now a shareholder in this huge company.

Thirty or so years later it was decided that paper shares was a bad idea and it was a cumbersome process trying to buy and sell with stacks and stacks of paper changing hands, so shareholders were asked to demat.

I looked it up on Google and it said that demat was short for dematerialisation, and it felt like those aliens in the sic-fi Hollywood movie, Men in Black, who get dematerialised by our heroes with zap guns and sunglasses.

There was no way I was going to manage to get that demat done sitting in Dubai, I thought, so I went to a financial services company in downtown Bank Street and showed a broker my papers. The shares now looked like something you find after digging in an Egyptian mummy’s crypt and smelled just as nasty and evil, as the paper and the ink decomposed as the years went by.

Then after a lot of frantic email correspondence with the company handling the stocks in Mumbai, I was asked to submit an FIR (First Information Report) from the police stating that it was really me who has awoken after all these years and that it was not someone impersonating me and that my heirs will not go to court for these shares.

Then finally, I received 1,000 shares, not 100, as most probably they were bonus shares or whatever they are called. (By the way, you can now easily file an FIR online with any state police and you can charge people with sedition among other things).

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My broker in Dubai is not called a broker but a Depository Partner (DP for short) as it handles my demat shares that has now been placed in a depository.

It advised that I apply for the IPO (Initial Public Offering) by an online ticketing company for the Indian Railways. The Indian Railways, as you know, transports millions of people across the huge country and the online booking company also caters to these hungry travellers and it creates tourist packages for holidaymakers.

This company has no competitors and is a monopoly, so, there is no way it can go on a loss. Even if you know nothing about stocks and shares, it was just common sense that you had to get a stake in this company because you would make a killing once it got listed on the stock market.

But there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Thousands of people had the same idea of making more money by doing nothing but just waiting, so the IPO was oversubscribed the very first day and experts said there was no way everyone is going to get a piece of the pie, and that my application will be put in a lottery.

This was now like purchasing the Dubai Duty Free tickets that made everyone who bought one a millionaire, except me. I decided that making a passive income was not for me and took a holiday instead.

— Mahmood Saberi is a storyteller and blogger based in Bengaluru, India. Twitter: @mahmood_saberi