Jan 23, 2011

An IIT alumnus talk and the bet that I lost

A special lecture on "India's second war of Independence: Making Infrastructure happen" by Srivatsa Krishna, an IAS officer organized by IIT Madras alumni association recently, was held in our institute auditorium. I was not attending any lectures of recent owing to my work pressure and other issues, and so I decided to opt out of this one too. But my friend insisted that I should attend it for he believed the talk would be an inspiring one.



In order to make ourselves available for the talk, we decided to advance our Friday Research Scholar Group (RSG) meeting at 2 pm. A talk on "Turbulence: What is it?" was given by my friend Prasanna in this week's RSG meet, first in our seminar hall, and then in our research scholar's room, to allow the class to be conducted in the hall. After the forum discussion on various aspects of turbulence, my friend and myself had a cup of tea at campus cafe, and headed straight to the auditorium. The time then was around 4 pm. We do not remember at that time if the talk was  arranged at 4 pm or 4.30 pm. But seeing only handful people inside, we found at once that it can't be 4 pm. Well, but here is the catch. 4.30 pm IST stands for IIT Standard Time, which is equal to Indian Standard Time + minimum of half an hour, I told to my friend. So we are wasting our time by coming so early, for if the meeting is suppose to start at 4.30 pm, they are going to start only by 5 pm!

I don't know what made my friend to contradict me, for he usually agrees with what I say based on my past experience. In this case, he was pretty confident that the meeting will start on time for the speaker is an IAS officer. I am sure my friend was pretty impressed with the speaker's qualifications, nevertheless, he is an Indian government officer, and an IIT alumni. How could he possibly come before 4.30 pm, and start the talk on the dot? Asking this question, I challenged my friend for a Cafe Coffee Day (CCD) bet that the talk will not start before 4.45 pm. However, even before I finished my bet, we found a man in his late thirtieths walking on the aisle towards the stage, with his Mac and was copying his presentation on to the system. The time then was 4.15 pm!

Moment before, I was so confident that I am going to win the CCD bet. That the speaker arrived fifteen minutes earlier and was ready to deliver his lecture on dot was a surprise to me! The 90 plus slides lecture started at 4.30 pm and ended promptly at 5.30 pm which surprised me, and most of the audiences. During his lecture, Srivatsa covered the current scenario of Indian infrastructure policies and ground happenings, and compared our position with the Infrastructure development in other countries.

The talk was pretty impressive, however, I felt that there was nothing intellectual in it. Much of the facts he presented were already known to us, either through media or through some other source and so I was disappointed not to get enlightened after the talk. The tea organized by the alumni association was very refreshing after an hour long lecture, which was followed by a panel discussion on future IAS aspirants which I promptly didn't attend. Now what is pending is to pay the bill my friend is going to produce next time we go to CCD.