Issue nº 53

Stories of friends and strangers

Stories of friends and strangers

A dream and reality
A friend of mine, Bruno Saint-Cast, works in Europe implanting high technology. One night he woke up in the wee small hours and could not get back to sleep. He felt he had to write about an old friend he had met in Tahiti when he was an adolescent.

Even knowing that he would have to spend the whole of the following day at work, Bruno began to write a strange story in which this friend of his, John Salmon, took a long trip from Patagonia to Australia. While he wrote, he felt a powerful sensation of freedom, as if inspiration came to him effortlessly.

As soon as he finished writing the story he received a telephone call from his mother, who had just been told that John Salmon had died.

Camus' book
A journalist pursued the French writer Albert Camus to ask him to explain his work in detail. The author of "The Plague" refused with the words: "I write, others judge whatever way they want to."

But the journalist would not give up. One afternoon he managed to find him in a Paris café.

"The critics think that you never touch on anything deep," said the journalist. "I would like to ask you something: if you had to write a book about society, would you accept the challenge?"

"Of course," answered Camus. "The book would have a hundred pages. Ninety-nine would be blank, because there is nothing to say. At the end of the hundredth page I would write: "man's only duty is to love."

In the Tokyo underground
Terry Dobson was riding on the Tokyo underground when a drunk boarded the train and began to offend all the passengers.

Dobson, who had studied martial arts for some years, confronted## the man.

"What do you want?" asked the drunk.

Dobson prepared to attack him. Just at that moment an old man sitting on another bench shouted out: "Hey!"

"I'm going to beat up this foreigner, then I'll get to you!" said the drunk.

"I like to have a drink too," said the old man. "Every afternoon I sit down with my wife and we drink saké. Do you have a wife?"

A bit puzzled, the drunkard answered: "I don't have a wife, I don't have anyone. All I have is shame for myself."

The old man asked the drunk to sit down beside him. When Dobson got off the train the man was in tears.

In the place desired
C. Martins comes over to serve our table in a café in San Diego, California. I met Cláudia in Brazil four years ago, and I tell my friends about the life she leads in the United States, getting only three hours sleep a day, working at the café until late at night and then as a baby-sitter during the whole day.

"I don't know how she can stand it," someone says.

"There is a Buddhist tale about a turtle," says an Argentinian at our table. "The turtle is moving through a swamp, covered in mud, when it passes in front of a temple. There it sees a turtle shell, all covered in gold and precious stones.

"I don't envy you, old friend," thought the turtle. "You're covered in jewels, but I'm doing what I want to."

Peeling oranges
Ernest Hemingway, the author of the classic "The Old Man and the Sea," combined moments of tough physical work with periods of complete leisure. Before he sat down to start a new novel, he would spend hours peeling oranges and looking at the fire.

One morning a newspaper reporter noticed this strange habit.

"Don't you feel that you're wasting your time?" asked the reporter. "You're so famous, shouldn't you be doing something more important?"

"I'm getting my soul ready to write, like a fisherman fixes his gear before taking to sea," answered Hemingway. "If he doesn't do that, if he thinks that only the fish matters, he'll never catch anything."

Issue nº53