Of Quotes and Learnings, From Investors and Hindi Movies

“The problem with famous people and their quotes is that I don’t understand which one to apply when.” Swami remarked, as he walked in for our coffee meeting with a disappointed, confused face. He had a book of quotes with him.

“Is India a leaky boat?” he asked suddenly. Surprised, I looked up to my broker friend for a reply, as I did not understand the question.

But Swami continued. “I read in this book that Warren Buffett once said that if you perennially find yourself in a leaky boat constantly fixing patches, it is better if you devote energy to changing the boat rather than fixing the patches. So I was wondering with all our problems currently, is India a leaky boat?”

Jigneshbhai, my broker friend, maintained a studied silence.

On getting no response, Swami peeped into his book and read out. “He also said that when a management with a good reputation joins a bad business, it is the reputation of the business that stays. So is India a bad business?”

Again, Jigneshbhai maintained a studied silence, perhaps not quite sure what to say.

Meanwhile, Swami was in his own world of quotes and learnings.

He continued. “But he also says that we only attempt to be greedy when others are fearful, and fearful when others are greedy. So is it time for me to be greedy or fearful?”

Swami’s questions were relentless. Jigneshbhai’s silence was unending. Swami continued.

“And there is also a quote where he says that it is better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price, rather than a fair company at a wonderful price. So in the current situation, which one is India and its companies? I am getting confused.”

laugh2He was just not stopping and Jigneshbhai was just not speaking. His studious silence was not making things easy for Swami.

Just then, I noticed that the wealthy man in the palatial bungalow who lived next to me was also sitting in the coffee shop. He must have heard our conversation – actually Swami’s monologue – for a while. We had known from earlier interactions that he speaks little, and whenever he does it is cryptic.

He had probably finished his coffee, and while leaving, he walked up to Swami and smiled.

“अब इन्हें दवा की नहीं दुआ की ज़रूरत है. So wait for the miracle.”

As he walked away, I could see that the wealthy man and Jigneshbhai were looking at each other and sharing a smile.

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