Sunday, April 14, 2013

Maybe someday

There is a part in Ayn Rand's 'Atlas Shrugged' or 'Fountainhead' that I have been thinking about. I think it is 'Atlas Shrugged'. This character goes off in search of a big scientist or engineer. She (or he) can't him. All addresses are checked out, referrals interviewed, traces backtracked and follwed, but the scientist cannot be found. The character gets tired and decides to walk into a diner for lunch. She orders a sandwich thinking about her future course of action.

The chef starts making the sandwich and the character is amazed at the way he works. His method is precise, clean, and uncluttered with confusion. There is certainty in how he shakes the salt-shaker or dices the tomatoes.

The sandwich arrives.

It is the best sandwich she has ever eaten.

Bread is soft and properly buttered. Ham is sliced thin and tasty. The right amount of pepper and dill flavours the stuffing. It is superb.

She knows she has found her man.

The scientist (or engineer) was disillusioned with the world. He found the world too corrupt with moral codes that appease the mediocre. He decided to give up his metier and instead use his skills to do something else. He therefore, made up his mind to use his skill and training for another activity that he would excel at. Like making sandwich. The girl asks the man whether he feels he has wasted his talent. He asks her, "Did you enjoy the sandwich?"

She answers yes. She says it was the best she had ever eaten.

"Then, no, I have not wasted my talent."

I have forgotten the details of the story. I remember feeling quite liberated though. That you can take the best of yourself and apply it to someplace else, some other area where you are competent and you like it but it is not related to your training or your profession.

So I think I will stop writing in a few years and do something completely unrelated. Like work in daycare for babies or work as a salesperson in a clothing store. I think I would like that. And maybe I can use all my skills as a writer here. (I'm not sure what they are - maybe observation of people, trying to get into their minds and figure out what they really want and not just what they say they want, understanding discrete pieces of information to figure out a pattern, putting things together, creating a bigger picture out of this, and making up a story with meaning, some kind of meaning.) Actually, I think I could be a guide somewhere. I'd like Agra. I love that place. Or of course, Bombay. That's superb. Delhi or Pune, not sure. Delhi - maybe I could be a different kind of guide - like if you are in the city for only one day and you are free for only one meal, I could take you out someplace that is memorable. In my last trip to Delhi, I really fell in love with Sadar Bazaar. It's punched in with interesting characters - people in colourful clothes, long pathanis and wearing sports shoes. Peeking through the crowds and messes of shops and lanes is a wee strip of a Metro-line or a flyover. Or you know, I'd love to be those guides who take you out to breakfast to interesting places. I'll get the breakfast and then at 4 a.m., I'd drive you to Haji Ali or the docks. Or with a nice egg sandwich and a thermos with masala chai, we could go to Lodhi Road or the Osho ashram or the Teerath park or even just scout around Baner for some fun stuff. That would be cool.

I'm thinking about doing something like this. Let's see.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

But those are secondary characters.
john galt who is the primary protagonist revolts against the entire system so he can do what he wants.you are a good writer.please don't quit.Ayn rand writes about a world in which characters have superhuman strength and belief. the scientist(the chef) believes he can work as a scientist after the revolution.this world doesn't behave like it.As i said earlier you are a good writer please don't quit

Mukta said...

Hey! Thank you, Anon! Although I wasn't going to quit just yet. By the way, you know what story I am talking about. Who was the character who went looking for the scientist?

Bohemia said...

Mukta, The story is Atlas Shrugged, Dagny Taggart goes looking for Dr. Robert Stadler...(check spellings)

She finds a half done machine with a great promise in an old factory and tries to find someone who could possibly complete it for her.

Bohemia said...

I agree with Anon, please, never stop writing. :)

sup said...

and now i will third the request that you never stop writing ... especially here :)

one of my favourite books, thoughts and lines from which have settled under my skin, also has the protagonist becoming a consummate sandwich maker and attaining (if i remember correctly) some kind of seer-like status among the people he settles with :) ... Douglas Adams' Mostly Harmless, specifically that one from his 'trilogy in 5 parts'

Anonymous said...

Why ever not? Quit writing when you need to, do something new... our talents are supposed to expand our choices not limit them! Personally I think, it isn't what we do but why we do what we do that matters.

Anonymous said...

hi actually Robert stadler is not the scientist after whom dagny went. stadler became a sell out .It was Hugh Akston who is the other teacher of John galt ,who works as a chef. and bohemia is right its from atlas shrugged.
Hey anon above me i don't think you understand what she is saying.I think she wants to quit because she is feeling that she may not be doing justice to writing.writing is just not a talent. it is a way of life. and she may be feeling that when she is not performing well or something else is making it difficult for her to stay true to writing.Then it will be better to leave writing than betraying it. I think mukta respects writing more than anything else. but i may be wrong (then i am sorry mukta).i think it would be better if you take things lightly on yourself.because only the world you are creating in books matter. that is yours and you will always be true.(if you think im completely out of the area, ignore it but please don't quit)

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you that a person should do what he or she likes , but u write damn well so please never stop writing , at least for the people who love reading ur blog, have a great day,