22 October 2009

Specialization is for insects.

Last summer when We were on Route 9, a route with rivers and lakes and a forest of trees in New York, a route where many art studios - sometimes too small that one will fail to notice, we chanced upon a studio. We saw a very elderly man and some sculptures at the entrance and slowed down the car. There were a few minutes left for closing, and he said that we could come in.

We were entering through the back yard - What we saw were bell peppers and tomatoes and zucchinis, many kinds of ornamental plants, an apple tree - flowers every where, a japanese maple and more. He later told us that the backyard was the handiwork of his neighbor, a horticulturist. It so happened that the current studio, which also functioned as his house was a funeral parlour once.

Little did we know whom we were meeting and what was in store. We entered inside. Paintings by artists and sculptures - A-m-az-ing. The place was small. But it was packed. While I marvelled that was sitting at the top shelf and the middle shelf and the bottom shelf, hidden behind paper and wrapped inside fabric - my heart leaped at seeing them. It is not every day that you see the artist and the creations at the same spot. it so happened that his daughter also used this place as her studio and she did oil paintings and so did his current wife.

while I was left to examine everything inside the studio the sculptor and my husband were engaged in conversations. They talked physics and - stochastic calculus and more. I interrupted their conversation by saying, he had beautiful hands. He said - "my hands are under the complete control of my brain".. something to that effect.

He went on to say that he wanted to study physics in college, but since it did not have prospects as a career and getting jobs in Iceland with a degree in physics was difficult, where he was orginally from, he studied medicene. He moved to the United states almost 50 years ago and worked at the Mayo clinic in Minneapolis. But he had retired from a career where he was a Neuro Surgeon in Albany, New York. It so happens that his father was also a sculptor.

Robert Anson Heinlein said…
“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”

Currently I know a couple of friends:

A friend who studied electrical engineering in IIT Bombay plans to go to film school next year. It was her childhood dream. All the best C. Promise me, you will give me a voice over role when you make your movie.

Another friend P who also happened to study chemical engineering from IIT Bombay and a Ph.D at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor wants to pursue music some time later. He hasn't studied music, but married somebody who did. when he was doing his ph.d he would say that he would want a " music room". He plays the piano, and tabla. His wife plays the harmonium.

Another engineering student V, was an all India Radio Singer. She is trained in Carnatic music. My husband always looks forward to meeting her.

Another physics graduate G, studied physics at IIT bombay and later studied at Cornell, sings ghazals - her first performance was sometime in august in delhi.

Another anesthesiologist, could easily pass off as a fashion designer. She knitted, crotched, stitched fabulous clothes for her kids when she was doing her MD at M.S University in Baroda.

Yet another woman, if she would have been born in this generation would have been a physicist - gardened hybrid roses, marigolds (when none of this was heard in india) sewed, knitted, crotched, painted, did metal crafts and played and won chess games with her son (who topped IIT JEE with a 108 rank.

Intelligence is a gift. It is also one of the best kinds of freedom that a human being is gifted with to pursue what she chooses when she chooses to. Isn't that what Leonardo da Vinci did ? And for those fortunate who nurture their freedom and intelligence they contribute much to human kind. For them even sky is not the limit.

I had already written long comments on sraboney ghose's blog and would look like i am spamming her blog if i wrote another one, hence this post.


Sraboney said...

Don't worry about spamming my blog - you are not...I like debate and please continue 'spamming'...

Anonymous said...

Anrosh isn't it true that music and math go together? Most people who love math are also great at musical instruments.

And I agree about being a jack of all trades, and master of some :) Lovely post!!!

Ugich Konitari said...

What an interesting post ! Back here in India, concerns about holding on to a job and earning a living is a more difficult thing, given that food and lodgings take up almost all your salary (if you are not a corporate type etc). But I am amazed to see , so many well qualified doctors and engineers, taking up serious study of music,drama and films. Some of our best stage actors today and earlier have been doctors. I also know of people in mundane clerical jobs, who have a secret life as sculptors, and say, exercise consultants. As you say, specialization is now for insects. As for the rest, all I can say , is Right On !

Vinod_Sharma said...

Nice stories. Specialisation is vital for man to keep breaching the frontiers of knowledge. But those who limit themselves to that alone are insects indeed. We need wings too!

Sraboney said...

I agree with Vinod...In a world with other people and limited resources, specializing in a particular field gives a person marketable skills...This high level of skill can be used not only to earn a living but also to help others...Specialization is crucial for our survival...Imagine if everybody in this world was a generalist - who would we go to for heart surgery? Who would grow our food?
Specializing in one field does not mean that a person has no other interests...A person with blinders on is a boring person...I ideally, a person should have a small degree of skill in a bunch of areas and be incredibly skilled at a few...Eg. Mike Tyson...He was incredibly skilled at boxing but had little or no skill at anything else...

Solilo said...

An, Agree with you and commenters above. It is good to try out few things. One can be an expert in one but good at many other things too.

Chikki said...

I would always wanna see myself as 'Jack of all trades' and master of one atleast. I must say to 'master' one trade is not as exciting as becoming 'jack' of all.

"Specialization is for insects' - I loved it .

manju said...

Very interesting post- and comments too.

It must have been nice in the old days- when poets and artists could have 'Rajashraya' and be supported by the king, as they pursued their talent without wondering where their next meal was coming from!

Deeps said...

very nice post,Anrosh.We need to try out different things in life if they are what interest us.We must confine ourselves to one.

Anrosh said...

vinod, i need wings and i need them fast :)

Thank You guys - It is wonderful to hear what all of you have to say.

some have the luxury to follow their interests, some don't but if we try we still can. So the point is . "Lage Raho -"

yes, ihm - M + M = great combo.

Sraboney - mike tyson,ha - he thought life itself is a boxing ?arena !

chikki - i think logically speaking if we are better at one we would be better at others too - logical isn't it. everything arises from the brain , right /

manju - how can we forget that - taj mahal is the best case of engineering and art - so are many of the historical buildings and now we have many more avenues.

Yes, Ugich konitari - even people who have routine jobs are great artists. I guess that is because they are artists firsts and they hold the job only for bread and butter. Too many artists passing off before being recognized.

Yes Deeps and Sols.

Happy Kitten said...

yes.. the people you mentioned are inteliigent and hence they have the ability to excel in other fields too..
nd those who specialize in one field maybe less endowed?

and as you mentioned these gifted people can make this a world a little better for the rest..

arent u a gifted one too?

Anrosh said...

HK - I think all of us are

Uncommon Sense said...

super post, totally agree with the insect quote..

Anonymous said...

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