At the Aditya Birla scholarship function last night, I met an old professor, who happened to remember me. We were exchanging emails today and he happened to ask me about one of my classmates, who passed away last year. In reply to him I went off on a long rant about the incidence of mental illness in institutions such as IIT. Some of what I wrote, I thought, deserved a wider audience, so I’m posting an edited version here. I’ve edited out people’s names to protect their privacy.
How easy do you find it to reconnect with an old friend in a one-on-one meeting? How easy do you find it to sustain conversation beyond the first half an hour or so when you catch up on the lives of each other? Especially when you don’t have an external “stimulus” such as alcohol or sport or a movie?
It is incredible that it happens so frequently, and even with so-called really close friends. In fact, closeness of friendship may not even matter so much, as I’ve seen this happen with a large variety of people. You meet after a long time assuming you’ll talk the night away, and half an hour and pfff. Both of you run out of ideas, stare vaguely into your coffee cups, and make meaningless conversation about who has moved to which job.
The number of possible conversations grows quadratically with the number of people meeting up (or even at a higher order if you consider that strictly more than two people can stimulate conversation in a certain topic), which is why it is highly unlikely that in a group of three, you run out of ideas to talk about. And it gets better as the size of the group increases (though if it grows too large, it will split into sub-groups which maintain their own conversatiosn).
So where does louvvu fit into all this? After all, louvvu happens between a couple, and a “catalyst” (a third person or a “woh”) is undesirable. Actually I suppose sustainability of conversation is one base case necessary (but not sufficient condition) to determine if louvvu are there. After all, if you can’t sustain conversation without a stimulus for half an hour, fat chance that you’ll be able to peacefully live in the same house for the rest of your lives.
The interesting thing in all this is that there are several people with whom I can sustain online conversation (GTalk etc.) for hours together but our conversation fizzles out when either on the phone or when we actually meet up. I think the deal is that in the former case you are multitasking so not all your energies are spent in the conversation. Also the other tasks that you are doing can give you ideas to further conversation.