I was standing outside an open-air laundry yesterday (more about that in the next post) when a guy in his 30s approached me. My first reaction was that he was one of the street vendors trying to sell something, but I turned out to be wrong.
He came up and the first thing he asked was, “Do you believe in God?”.
I’ve been asked this question quite a few times recently and it’s always somewhat uncomfortable answering it. You don’t really want to get into a debate with anybody about this sort of thing on the street.
But, as it turned out, he wasn’t interested in converting me to Hinduism, so we just continued on the conversation. A few minutes into it, while both of us were observing the hard-working laborers at the laundry, he asked another question which caught me off-guard, “why do some people have money and others don’t?”
How do you answer something like that?
Because some work harder than others? That answer certainly didn’t apply when you were standing in front of a place where people labor from morning till night and get about $2 a day.
Warren Buffett once coined a phrase – “ovarian lottery“. It’s almost as if everybody participates in this lottery where you are picked from a giant hat and that determines whether you were born in a good family in an environment with opportunities…. or if you were born in the slums. Things like talent, intellect, etc. – while important, are secondary since you may not even have a chance to actually use it.
While I was struggling to find the right answer, he gave me his own: “luck, I think it’s luck.” After chatting for another ten minutes, he finally said: “I am very happy I met you”… and left. But the conversation stayed with me.