Saturday, September 25, 2010


I met her couple of years back. I was hesitant to be friends with her at first. I was acquainted with couple of her cousin sisters and was more interested in them. But there was some special bond between us. I still remember the first date. It went very well. I was very shy and didn’t open up in the beginning, but she probably knew instinctively how to get me talking. I was thinking about her all night and even next day. Experienced people told me that it is ‘normal’ and it happens to everyone. I had really enjoyed the first date and was very keen to know her better but there were relationship gurus everywhere giving me gyaan on ‘how to take it slowly’ and ‘not to scare her away’. But I knew that this relationship was something special and as always I will make my own rules rather than trusting and accepting the norms.
The disappointing part was that couple of my best friends were not really impressed by this relationship. They tried hard to convince me that this relationship won’t take me anywhere. Her big brother is a cool guy and was very happy to see us together. But my friends even hated my friendship with him and basically wanted to keep me away from the entire family. The worst thing happened on eve of New Year when couple of friends of mine, she and I had gone out. I could see that she was trying hard to clear the misunderstandings but my friends were very stubborn. It was one of the very rare moments when I saw her sad and depressed. This incident however, made our relationship stronger. My friends eventually gave up for sake of our friendship but were still advising me to take it slowly.
A year later, I was selected in one of the prestigious MBA institutes in country and had to leave job and the city. When I told her, she immediately said, “I will accompany you; I promise I won’t be much trouble.” I checked with some people who had studied there and they told me that it is perfectly possible to take her with me. I was very happy. The first year was fun and we did many wild things together. A small private detail: she really goes down very well. It is an art and she is a master. Gradually, we have settled into a more mature relationship, but the fun and crazy part is still there.
The best part about her is that she brings out the best in me and she also brings out the worst in me. I can share any problem with her and amazingly, she has solution for every problem. No matter how many different professional streams I have selected or will select, at heart I will always be a philosopher and she has been a major reason behind this.
Of late, I am reconsidering our relationship. It hurts to even think about it, but I thought probably it is for greater good of both of us. When I shared this with her, she laughed. She was not at all angry. Probably she is too sure that I won’t do so or probably she doesn’t believe in the shallow concept of ‘break-ups’ and believes in the age old concept of ‘made for each other.’
I am relieved. I too have stopped thinking too far in future and instead concentrate on enjoying our time together. There is no one like her on this earth. When she is around, she is the world for me. She is my lovely Scotch whiskey.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Things as they are and things as they ought to be

I had started writing something on this topic few months back but stopped abruptly. While writing, my argument was in favour of how things ought to be. The context was each and every field, right from politics, philosophy to student life and the purpose was general gyaan on how things ideally should be. But in the end, I thought that it is not wise to go on advising the world and instead I should look after what I do, like the famous saying ‘be the change you wish to see’.

But few days back, I was having an interesting argument with a friend on John Nash vs. Adam Smith and in the course of discussion, my friend said, “theories are meant to explain how thing are, not how they should be.” Though my initial reaction was “nooooooo”, later I had to question myself because this friend almost always talks sense. Was I being too idealistic? I did quite a bit of brainstorming on the topic as I felt everyone, knowingly or unknowingly answers this question to himself/herself and more often than not, it decides course of his/her behaviour. Probably the contexts in which we both were talking were different, but still the question demanded answer. What should be the approach?

The logical answer seems to be seeing things as they are. That means getting hold of reality and acting accordingly. But what if the reality is not what it should be? What if it is based on wrong premise? It might be moral issues like, ‘it is almost impossible to get things done in government offices without bribe’- a common belief among people. It might be small issues like college administration making a big deal of ‘registration’ at the beginning of each term which is nothing but a signature on a piece of paper. (As if a student who has paid 10 lakhs is going to run away in between the course!!) It might be issues like business practices or company’s production line or introducing new financial instruments in market. It might also be about economists forming theories based on so-called reality, like Keynes. I read on Greg Mankiw‘s blog where he said, "The sad truth is that we economists don't know very much about what drives the animal spirits of economic participants. Until we figure it out, it is best to be suspicious of any policy whose benefits are supposed to work through the amorphous channel of 'confidence." I don’t even see the point of ‘understanding animal spirits’. Whereas not optimising production line will hamper only that company’s progress, wrong economic policies and wrong decisions in financial markets can hamper global economy. There is no point in discussing the recent global crisis again here, but if we continue to scoff at the basic premise of human beings as rational animal, and form policies saying, “Nothing is right or wrong, see the reality and act accordingly”, be rest assured that this so-called reality will change often. It will be a vicious cycle.

The other day I was reading ‘The Toyota way field book’. If Taichi Ohno would have left things as they were, probably we would have never seen ‘lean manufacturing’. Toyota way suggests that failing and correcting the shortcomings is a way to improve results in long term. Taichi Ohno had a vision how things should be and he patiently worked towards it and got the result. He surely didn’t bother about the concepts like ‘bounded rationality’ or ‘animal spirits in human beings’.

So, I think my friend is right in saying “understanding things as they are is very important.” It would always be the first step, no matter which field it is. But after that, reason and ethics would be the tools which would help in comparing with things as they ought to be and identify the gap. In the end, in my opinion, the ultimate aim should be striving for things as they ought to be.