Alex was a smart lad. We all envied him during our graduation years. Our institution being a famous catholic management college in the city that admitted only academically brilliant folks, we assumed that Alex secured his admission because of his financially brilliant dad. But that was not a thing to look down at him, but added to our envy. The only thing challenged Alex was *The Law Of Diminishing Marginal Utility.
Every time the professor tried to explain the theory, Alex would be busy counting the seconds in his wristwatch that made a meager tik tik noise while his eyes skillfully stayed staring at the professor. He nodded his head occasionally to convince the professor about his attention to the topic. Simultaneously, his hands involved in multiple recreational activities like pulling the hair of an innocent, Diminishing Marginal Utility focusing classmate etc. But nobody complained since Alex was doing them a favor. If not he, they would have pulled their own hair in agony trying to digest the theory. Almost when 2 minutes remain to end the class, professor would customarily ask if anybody has any further questions. Alex always raised his hand and said, ‘Prof. I didn’t understand a thing, if you could please explain again in the next class’. When this happened a few times, professor himself started looking confused about the theory. In total, Alex was a hero for all of us who never understood one important theory in Economics.
Prof. Omnipresent, (we all called the professor with respect 😉) who explained The Law Of Diminishing Marginal Utility, was also involved in many extra-curricular activities and represented our institution at state level. That summer, he was heading a 30-member team for a 10 days wildlife camp. Under the strict supervision and guidance of the forest officials, we were all set to spend 10 days in bamboo cottages in the middle of a tiger reserve. Forest officials looked happy to see a group of notorious guys to talk to for the next 10 days rather than their regular chit chat with the animals. Notorious guys were thrilled that they were far away from the city and what happens in the forest, stays in the forest. Possible that there was another group happy. Any guesses?
As instructed by the forest team, we got up the next day early morning and set to walk in the forest. All of us were in fact scared. Professor strengthened us and said, ‘It is difficult to see a tiger even from far. They will move away soon they smell human. Nothing to worry’. Gaining confidence from those words, now we are walking in the middle of a tiger reserve. Visibility is very weak due to the heavy morning mist. There were 4 forest guards with us carrying old wooden guns that even they are not sure will work if needed. Since the gun looked very familiar from the Richard Attenborough’s 1982 movie “Gandhi”, some of us searched for the before independence British East India Company’s logo on it.
The situation was all set for a horror crime thriller. Tiger being the alien and we the ‘fighting for survival’ earthly beings.
Suddenly one guard walking in front of the team spread his hands and stopped us. He pointed his fingers to a direction, hinted us all to be extremely quiet and murmured, ‘look behind that tree, do you see something moving?’. Before the guard finished murmuring, we all heard a loud noise and a suppressed cry of someone. Like something was holding his neck and he is not able to breath. Horrified from the thought that it could be another tiger followed us from behind and probably snatched one of us, nobody moved. Tigers are skilled hunters. They might use strategies to knock down their prey. May be one was showing its face in front of us while another one attacked from behind. In a fraction, all the sins I’ve done till that date flashed in my mind. I confessed and asked forgiveness to the Almighty. After a minute, some of us gained strength to turn back. There, in the beauty of that silent and heavenly forest, Prof. Omnipresent was lying in the muddy puddles, unconscious!
While carrying the professor back to the cottage, we all cursed the spotted deer jumped and ran from behind that tree.
During the breakfast while everyone still giggling, Alex took the additional share of a boiled egg from Prof. Omnipresent and told the ‘half cooked’ man, ‘Sir, you anyway wouldn’t need this since you have already achieved the marginal utility. Anything you eat more will cause a Diminishing Marginal Utility’.
We couldn’t read from the professor’s face whether he was happy that Alex finally understood what Diminishing Marginal Utility is OR his eyes were searching for the forest guard who ‘spotted’ the tiger!
In both cases, long live the Practical Economics.
* The Law Of Diminishing Marginal Utility explained below in burger language 🙂