Quotable quotes

Over the last week or two, I’ve been doing a fair bit of “social networking”. I’m not talking about online social networks – if anything I’ve significantly cut down on that (I’ve taken a break from twitter). I’m talking about old-fashioned social networking, where I meet old friends and acquaintances over coffee or drinks or a meal.

Since the last two weeks were “holidays” in most of the world, a number of people happened to be visiting Bangalore and I ended up meeting a lot of people. I’ve met so many people that now it’ tough to remember what I spoke about with whom. And it’s only a good thing, for nothing gives me a bigger high than a nice long intellectual conversation, and my discretion means that I’ve only met people who have afforded me such conversation.

During a couple of such conversations I think I said stuff that is rather quotable. Since the people I said these things to don’t have active blogs, I thought I should be rather pompous and put up quotes here from my own conversations.

Last week I was talking to a friend from IIT. I was telling him about getting some change.org petitions such as “IITians against article 377”. What is the point of putting all IITians as a group, I asked. Apart from the fact that we did rather well in a supposedly tough examination, I don’t see any particular feature that sets IITians apart from the rest of the population and I find this grouping of IITians rather amusing. The conversation went thus:

“I don’t see what is special about IITians. During my time at IITM I found 80% of IITians rather unspectacular and uninteresting”
“I agree with that number but what sets IIT apart from other colleges is that it is 80%. Elsewhere it will be 95%”
“Yeah, but that isn’t a big improvement”
“Of course it is a big improvement. 80% is so much better than 95%”
“Ah, now I get it. If we have a class of 100, and if 95% are uninteresting that means there are only 5 interesting people. With 80% uninteresting, it means that there are 20 interesting people! 4 times the number of people to hang out with!”

Ok I admit there’s nothing particularly quotable in that but I wanted to talk about the concept of inverse proportion here, and hence all the build up. And perhaps this thing about inverse proportions would have made more sense on my official blog, but since there is a little bit of bitchiness involved I’m putting it here.

Coming to the other quotable quote – earlier this week, a friend was asking my why I don’t push myself harder professionally. This guy has had an exceptional professional career so far, and was pointing out the benefits of his professional focus over the last few years. This is what I told him:

“I used to be like this, but after a few years and a few incidents, I realize I don’t have that appetite for delayed gratification anymore. I’m not willing to slog it out for a while to wait for the fruits of labour later on.

“So it is 10 pm in IIMB, and you need to submit your Supply Chain Management case analysis by 8 am the next morning. this guy who is in your discussion group comes by, ostensibly to work on the case. And he says ‘one game of AoE before we start the case?’

“And so we sit down to play AoE. It is 5 am by the time we have finished solving the case. We started, in fact, only at 1 am – we were playing AoE till then.

“Now, even if we had started solving the case at 10, there is no guarantee that we would have finished significantly earlier than 5. In that case, we would still have not slept, and not played AoE either. The way we did it, we didn’t sleep but we we at least managed to play a solid round of AoE.”

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