Exploring Collections-Connections-Communities

Each place one visits, has many energies,currents. Interest based groups form an important part of 21st century community feelings. Saw this lovely exhibit at the Pearson international airport, installed in collaboration with the Royal Ontario Museum.

Pearson  international airport exhibit-in collaboration with Royal Ontario Museum

Pearson international airport exhibit-in collaboration with Royal Ontario Museum. The display captures a moment when a small herbivorous dinosaur is attacked by a larger dinosaur, an event which probably occurred around 150 million years ago, in Western United States region

This morning we went to Toronto Botanical gardens- Edwards Gardens-Leslie Street. Watching different activities..Tai chi, gardening, studying the evolution of public gardens. There is a good library which has many books related to garden societies for people of different tastes and levels of interest and education.

Our next stop was the Myth busters special exhibition in Ontario Science centre. Like the previous two special exhibitions on Science of Rock and roll and Brain, this one too was a delight and opened many windows into the world of science. Before reaching the level 6 exhibition hall, we went to the right of the stairs to see the roots of a tree donated to the museum, which had been studied as part of a 1971 thesis.

Sounds of forests, and many interesting exhibits which re-affirm the assertion- Science is everywhere

The many lovely aspects of Science, ranging from the sounds of forest, the nature of soil, to the science of military, Chris Hadfield’s space mission, the reactions of human body to extreme conditions like high altitude are beautifully exhibited through interactive exhibits…Visitors should go to level 5, right side above the Human body gallery to see the gallery on cultures..usually if one goes straight to Special exhibition hall, one may miss this very interesting gallery- where different cultures, interviews with different scientists, the evolution of farming are among the interesting exhibits (above the canteen)

Could Empty Space Exist

Remembering Otto Guerike- The Magdeburg Hemispheres

In the 17th century, Otto Guericke began exploring the question – “Could empty space exist, and is heavenly space unbounded?” This led him to experiments regarding vacuum, and sealing, and the Magdeburg hemispheres around 1650. Guericke was the mayor of Magdeburg from 1646-1676 (hence the name). References state of an experiment in 1854  by the Reichstag and the Emperor Ferdinand III in Regensburg, where it was found that 30 horses, in two teams of 15, could not separate the hemispheres until the vacuum was released. (for those interested in further reading..see http://www.eoht.info/page/Magdeburg+hemispheres

The OSC did well to introduce  these concept to visitors, especially children in  a very interesting ways

Other posts of Interest Darwin’s dream ponds


Every season, we become a member of one such institution around our home and explore the different exhibitions in depth. This has added a richness to life, and brought connections with different trends of humanity. As one curator once said- Collections make Connections. The Polar bear cub was one year old on November 9 (2014) … Adopt a zoo animal..it will add many dimensions to life.

Museums with Children http://prashantbhatt.com/museums-with-the-children/

My father first introduced me to the richness of museums in the early 1970s… Over the years, the seeds  sowed , are bearing fruit in different interesting ways.

Walks in Malta again http://prashantbhatt.com/2010/10/29/walks-in-malta-agai/

Artists must never express the sense of an age: They must give a sense to that age. These words of Conrad Fiedler come back to me in many different ways, in the galleries of the Caravagisti of Malta, the sculptures of Antonio Sciortino

Communities of interest.

In modern urban societies, the traditional old community links undergo many strains and changes. In such milieu, interest based groups such as Historical societies , Nature groups, Reading groups and other forms of Civil society are the community of the 21 st century. Walking through Toronto Botanical Gardens, and Ontario science centre, made this feeling even more intense and clear.

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Dharamshala trip

On asking my nephew Master Mayank what he liked about Dharamshala visit, he sent to me a video of cows coming out of a labyrinth of foliage. I encourage children to write a few lines about their visits. When one writes, one has to think about the issue in a much different manner. I remember my own visit to Dharamshala in 1998 , (ages ago. walks to Tushita monastery,St John in the Wilderness and Bhagsu Nag temple. They represent three important spiritual traditions of India.


Once again..

Remembered visits to Taj Mahal and his father’s college. I nudged him towards awareness of different architecture trends. I have a photograph of the family in front of some Indo-Sarcenic Gothic architecture in Mumbai region, visits to different museums.

“The last time we went on a train trip was with Mummy” my sister told me over remembering the pilgrimage to Vaishno Devi April 2011. One year before in 2010 they had visited Shimla.

See blogs



What will the mouse Stuart Little do if he is in Delhi? This question sparked

an interesting journey with my nephew Mayank.


Still waiting…

I am still waiting for Master Mayank or his busy sister Divya to write a few lines about their personal experiences of the trip to Dharamshala. Meanwhile I re-read the Autobiography of Dalai Lama (presented to me by Dr.Rajiv Tandon..when he was in Tripoli and became a member of the reading group).

The book is a window into the life of Diaspora and can be read at many different levels , wearing different hats.

WESTERN SOCIETY…Dalai Lama’s comments on Western society are worth thinking about.

“Overall I found much that is impressive about western society. In particular I admire its energy and creativity and hunger for knowledge. On the other hand , a number of things about the western way of life cause me concern. One thing I have notices is an inclination for people to think in terms of ‘black and white’ and ‘either, or’ which ignores the facts of interdependence and relativity. They have a tendency to lose sight of the grey areas which inevitably exist between two points of view.”


The trips made one remember similar trips of yesteryears

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Musings with Tortoises

“ A process journal is not a diary, which means instead of recording history, I will use it to plan, record meetings, explore –store-reflect on ideas and work is well illustrated at the different stages of the project.”

From the process journal of my son-who did a project on Chelonians.

Following a project over a period of time makes one examine an issue in greater depth from different aspects.  This made me ask whether he has met a practicing naturalist.

A true conservationist is
a man who knows that
the world is not given by
his fathers, but borrowed
from his children.

– John James Audubon

South Peel Naturalist Club http://www.spnc.ca/Index.html

Other questions which came out of reviewing the process journal are

1.Go through the process journal again, and see how this project  changed your approach.

I know that I should not do work just before it’s due because then I will have too much to do at a time and not do it very well as I will be in a hurry. Reading the process journal reinforced this to me.

  1. Name any project have you participated in before this?

Invention Convention.

  1. In future, if you take part in a project, what points will you improve upon, based on the changed approach, having gone through this experience.

After reading the process journal, the idea that you should always choose topics with care was reinforced to me to avoid changing the topic repeatedly.


The petition has got over 800 signatures.


The legal battle started when Gilead Power Corporation, a renewable energy development company, received approval from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment to construct a wind energy park in Prince Edward County. Naturalists from the area weren’t happy with this decision, because Ostrander Point, where the wind energy park is planned to be built, is a place the Blanding’s turtle, a species that’s already endangered, calls home. The Environmental Review Tribunal supported them and overturned the Ministry of Environment’s decision, but the corporation was supported by the Divisional Court of Ontario. Gilead Power hopes that a decision in its favor is reached soon, so that it can start its inhumane destruction of an untouched land that’s greenery has been enjoyed by many, and of an animal that’s lived there since before humans ever existed.



Mathew gave me the first tortoises..when he was going on a holiday to India-2008

Whenever I see them, my thoughts go back to the  many times I have spent with my friend Mathew, the trip to Gharian searching for the Anti-Gravity point  (which we never located), the trip to Ghadames, (2004) watching sunsets over the Sahara, the fishing at Tirq Shaat feeling the gentle Mediterranean breeze.

The lovely chicken curry he makes-Farnaaj and Ghadames evenings. The Pakoras at Bengashir. The desert tortoise which he has given to me, to keep in my back terrace.


 2004 sunset sahara

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Joint Journals -March 2015

How would a family journal like this look like in a 100 years from now?

To answer this question, one can try
Looking at how a family journal
would have looked 50 or 100 years ago.


I got some old black and white photographs (collected from Palam Vihar)

and made a file. Then sat with my sons and labeled them- the year (approximate)

for old photographs, the persons, place, and themes. Seeing old photographs

made us get the perspective of what has happened in the lives of these persons,

and their children, grand children over the decades

BHATT BROTHERS...1967. A 20 year window gives us many nuances of how life shapes up

BHATT BROTHERS…1967. A 20 year window gives us many nuances of how life shapes up

1958... My grandfather, in Karachi days, Ministry of External affairs, India

1958… My grandfather, in Karachi days, Ministry of External affairs, India


Seeing the different phases of life, through the lens of a child growing made

for another theme in our joint journal.

“Who will take me to the zoo” said Mayank in 2008, the only one disappointed

that I had found my lost passport and could now travel

2004 ..Grandchildren are the future which we will not be able to see physically

RAWATS 2004 ..Grandchildren are the future which we will not be able to see physically

2003 Jasola Delhi

2003 Jasola Delhi

WALKS …Indian diaspora

The joint journals have nuances and discussions regarding Walks and readings done in different regions.

Looking back at some characters through post colonial perspective, or putting on

a feminist thinking-hat helped make for rich memories of walks done over yester years

2012 JUNE- FATHER'S day walk..Many currents across generations of the Maltese Indian diaspora community

VASWANIS 2012 JUNE- FATHER’S day walk with the Vasvanis .Many currents across generations of the Maltese Indian diaspora community

Maltose Indian diaspora  The Yoga Group with their certificates-Sukh Sagar Indian Community Centre, San Gjwann, Malta

Maltose Indian diaspora
The Yoga Group with their certificates-Sukh Sagar Indian Community Centre, San Gjwann, Malta


Another joint journal theme we kept was- Art as a way of life.

Went through some guitar recordings and memories of Orlem-Malad


Memories associated with schools give a flavor of different aspects of life


Have a reading at the end of the day..(and also in the beginning) is a wonderful

way to enrich one’s life.

These were some of the themes on which we build four separate journals

sitting together in Mississauga, last month

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Lost Generation

That is what you are. That’s what you all are …
all of you young people who served in the war.
You are a lost generation.”

Gertrude Stein telling Ernest Hemingway

“Is tomorrow a holiday,” one of my staff asked.
“Why” another countered.
It is Sabatash February.


One of my engineer Libyan friends is worthy of respect.

Middle aged, highly educated from many universities, but having the humility
to accept that he has not got all the answers.

“ I will study and let you know,” is his answer to many queries.

When I first heard him give this answer, it was a welcome change to some local friends who confidently say-

“I know everything.”

Only the fool knows everything, I think in my mind, but do not bother to correct these –I know everything – types.

Recently I sat with him, and thought about the coming anniversary.

“There is nothing you can hope from people who have become stunned by the continuous war. Why should I point to others, one of my own nephews has become totally damaged. He cannot sleep without drugs. If he sits still, the memories of what has happened disturb him. So he goes for another round of violence. It will end only with his life. What are we going to do with this generation?”

Made me remember the above remark of Gertrude Stein, which she had expanded for Hemingway.

When a young mechanic failed to repair the car quickly enough, the garage owner shouted at the boy,

“You are all a “génération perdue.”


Last week-I reviewed my Reading journal- and had a relook at the Character Kamal of Cairo Trilogy.Many years ago, my friend Ibrahim Gomari gifted the Trilogy to me, as a special gift from Cairo where he stays. Many a Tripoli afternoon, I have spent reading the pages and enjoying the nuances , which are relevant even today.

The Trilogy is a panorama of Egyptian life rising out of British Colonialism.

The Martyrs...In the Cairo Trilogy, the character Kamal gets into an emotional debate on whether the martyr Fahmy died in vain.... As one staff thought of taking a holiday, I smiled and said..No, we will have a special reading session, remembering all the Fahmys we knew

FEB 17…The Martyrs…                                          In the Cairo Trilogy, the character Kamal gets into an emotional debate on whether the martyr Fahmy died in vain….
As one staff thought of taking a holiday, I smiled and said..No, we will have a special reading session, remembering all the Fahmys we knew

It follows the story of Ahmad Jawad and his family through three generations.

In the third part of the Trilogy-Sugar Street- interesting interplay between forces in society in the context of the rising forces of nationalism come through.

Dialogue and conflict between different characters is used skillfully to portray these.

Class system-as shown in 1008-1009- while family members discuss a potential marriage proposal.

To quote-Page 1008-1009

In his forceful voice Abd Al Munim Shawkat replied

“Yes. One of his maternal uncles is a donkey driver and another’s a baker. He has a paternal uncle who is an attorney’s secretary.” Then he added as a reluctant concession. “But none of this detracts from the man’s work. A person should be judged for what he is, not for his family.”
Kamal realized that his nephew wanted to assert two truths no matter how contradictory: First the baseness of Fuad’s origins and second the fact that a humble background does not diminish a person’s value. He understood that Abd Al Munim was both attacking Fuad and repenting for his unfair attack because of his strong religious convictions.”


The character Kamal, son of the patriarch Ahmad Al Jawad, an English school teacher, writes a monthly philosophy column in a journal. He has many contradictions . In the night, he is transformed into a liberated voyager who traverses the limitless expanses of thought.

In the day time he is a teacher. In weekends he goes to pleasure houses.

Here are some samples of his intellectual discussions, which take place in the office of the Journal . Kamal discusses with a story teller Riyad who has been reading Kamal’s articles for many years, on issues of science and Art.
Riyad is the spiritual brother of Kamal.

Some literary theorists say that the character Kamal was closely based on Naguib Mahfouz himself, both are followers of the philosopher Bergson.


Kamal-(the philosopher) “What do you say about scientists who do not share your enthusiasm for science”

Riyad-(the story teller)- “We should not interpret the modesty of science as weakness or despair. Science provides mankind with its magic, light, guidance and miracles. It’s the religion of the future.”

On art-The story teller Riyad tells

“Can you live in absolute isolation? People need confidential advice, consolation, joy, guidance, light and journeys to all regions of the inhabited world and of the soul. That’s what art is.”


Elsewhere in the novel, once Kamal gets into an emotional debate remembering the martyr Fahmy.

Did he die in Vain?

The Trilogy dissects many interesting layers, exploring the concept of individualism, family, tribe, clan, nation in the context of Egyptian society emerging from British colonialism between the two world wars.


Bab Al Aziziya- August 2011. Do women and children continue to pay a higher price for this civil unrest? This question met with different answers and sometimes silent tears among different sections- both local Libyan citizens and foreign workers.

Bab Al Aziziya- August 2011.                              Do women and children continue to pay a higher price for this civil unrest?                          This question met with different answers and sometimes silent tears among different sections- both local Libyan citizens and foreign workers.

I smiled at the mention of holiday..on February 17….

No-there will be a Special Reading session, we will remember the many Kamals and Fahmys who are no longer physically present with us.

Earlier perspectives




Families celebrating in Suq Juma. This was the heart of the revolutionary uprising in Tripoli along with Fashloom. As one friend put it

“The uprising started in Suq Juma and Fashloom, was crushed here, will
rise again here.”

After the failed February uprising, many prepared
quietly for months. That day of reckoning came on August 20,2011

2015-…Many a time, we hear sounds of gunfire from Fashloom..in the night.



Peter Drucker once said, “if everyone understands and buys into the goal, if it’s a shared goal, it doesn’t actually matter how you are organized.” He also said “that if people do not buy into the goal, or know the goal, it doesn’t matter how you’re organized.”

There are many roads to the goal, but I think a good starting point is the belief that we can improve, can do better. As the second anniversary of the February 17 revolution comes we can pledge to build on the words of John Stuart Mill
One person with belief is equal to 99 with interest.



THREE YEARS ON…Examining ways of some businesses in Libya

Can an Airlines company do its own catering?
I asked this question to my friend who was trying to impress with his different contacts and abilities.
As one could not tell him directly that this is leading us nowhere concrete,(weeks of running around have nothing real to show, except for papers and papers) I asked him this Business model question.


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Around the Indian Republic day -2015, we tallied some notes.

Every organization has to have a finance manager, to tally the accounts.

On talking to some close accountant friends of Libya, one comes to know of the difficulties of accountability not accounts.


“Look at his profession (a welder-maintenance person)” one insider told me while talking the disappearance of an Indian in Sirte region.

R day Tripoli 2015 1

India House-Tripoli-Jan 26-2015

This Republic day –as our ambassador came in from Djerba to hoist the Indian flag, make the customary address from the President and mingle with the Indian community, it was a very different feel from the last year’s celebration. That time, we had the Indian community school choir, some poetry and songs.

Now most families have left.

The insider is very sure that the welder will return after a few days.
He is probably helping them in some civil works.
Once the work is over, they will send him back. I hope this is true.


Kernan, he said, we worship at different altars, but our belief is the same
Grace-James Joyce

Last Republic day, we had gone to Corinthia, reached early, sat in the side and seen the guests coming. Mr.Suresh-the old timer in the embassy-whose accent of Hindi (outer Delhi) reminds one of route number 578 of Delhi- the route from Safdarjung to Najafgarh, was seen greeting and directing the guests.

“We even had some members of the GNC coming. So we got late,” one senior in the embassy had said.

We had summarized the story-Grace-by James Joyce- sifting through the different types of Christians, the concept of retreat, and the way a drunken fall was used by different persons, representing different forces in society, for their own ends. The Tripoli Reading Group has helped me keep a reading journal, which interrogates different layers.

“Mr.Kernan came of Protestant stock and, though he had converted to the Catholic faith at the time of his marriage, he had not been in the pale of the Church for twenty years. He was fond, moreover, of giving side-thrusts at Catholicism.”

One day after the Indian Republic day was observed by the expatriates in Tripoli,

there wasn’t much grace left at the Corinthia.

Every faith has its nuances. The common working people are definitely bracing themselves for another round, each becoming more vicious than the previous.

“The bakeries are not working optimally.

Electricity cuts affect their work.”

Now as we re-read the story Grace, the meaning of Republic and what it means,

there are many altars and different beliefs.


Many fond memories came alive. Some veterans left for India this year in the evacuation, helped by the embassy staff. Despite all the talk about working people, internationalist viewpoints, when it comes to helping immigrant workers, they have to turn to their embassies.

One veteran-an Anatomy teacher, who gifted some books to our reading group had given this sage advice.

“Have a friend with whom you can discuss things. Life can be very lonely in a foreign country.”

See blog- Reflections on our Republic day-2014


With another evacuation, the many discussions I had with a fellow professional remain a fond memory.

Fresh leaves from a plant I got from Suaani . This was one of our first journeys outside city limits after the second Tripoli uprising of August 2011. Many discussions and memories..see blog- Notes from a Libyan camp http://wp.me/piL5Q-eq

Fresh leaves from a plant I got from Suaani in Sep 2011 .   Trips with Dr.Singh.. One of our first journeys outside city limits after the second Tripoli uprising of August 2011.                                                                                                           Many discussions and memories..                        see blog- Notes from a Libyan camp http://wp.me/piL5Q-eq

As I did another interview with him, (he was also member of our laughter club) , I asked him what he thinks of the situation here.

He said-paraphrasing Abu Shafshoofa-

“Don’t say you understand situation here. No one understands the situation here,”

Memories of veterans  Many fond memories See blog- To those of us who have everything and those of us who have nothing. http://wp.me/piL5Q-E2

Memories of veterans
Many fond memories
See blog- August -2014To those of us who have everything and those of us who have nothing.


“Now they are serving baklavas instead of Gulab Jamun for Republic day,” one old timer remarked. This is sense of the changing times, but the food culture was well represented by the Samosas.

People talk in hushed manner about the missing Coptics. Less news about that now.

We hear professionals withdrawing from Sebha region.

The people in the know (or at least pretending to be) say – Worse is still to come.

I know some Libyan accountants closely. The worlds of medicine and business make us interact closely.

“Doctor, the balance sheet has to tally in the end,” one of them said.

“The difficulty we are facing is about accountability to whom, not the accounts.”

From these Arab accountants, I learnt how to keep records, as after all the niceties and board meetings are over, they will definitely look into the records, the balance sheet.

They quietly keep the records, as they know some day, there will be a tally.


As the Indian community met, we exchanged notes from persons of different professions and got a broader feel of the situation. We had a re-look at the grace of togetherness while appreciating the difficult circumstances.

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Following the details, one finds out why my friend is ANGRY

Following the details, one finds out why my friend is ANGRY

Every man`s life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguishes one man from another.

Papa Hemingway: the ecstasy and sorrow

                                                  by A. E. Hotchner – Literary Criticism – 1983 – 322 pages


Mentoring questions led me to try and see how young children from the Indian subcontinent living in Libya relate to Gandhi-ji. Asking questions about Kwame Nkrumah-the African Lenin-and Senghor to children from Africa were further steps.

In previous blog we had talked about –Emptying the cup- http://wp.me/piL5Q-IV so that one can fill one’s life with significance.

The –Reading group- (see http://prashantbhatt.com/tag/tripoli-reading-group/) I formed many years ago, has been a tool to interrogate and create dialogue at multiple levels.

One such person with whom I have had many interesting discussions is an angry-middle aged man- whose life circumstances in Libya and home country-Pakistan, make for many interesting details.


Let us call him BJ-

“An employee cannot be an entrepreneur”

Having Orange juice in Ben Ashor, he had tried to get me into following his theme of building hospital franchises. When I did not go out of my “Shell” or “Fort” of running and developing medical departments, he blurted out half in frustration, half in mockery-

“An employee cannot be an entrepreneur”

I smiled and chose not to reply to this man in early middle age, but have been following his story over the years.

The said project of hospital franchises is still to materialize, with a “Revolution” and a NATO bombing and an on-going civil conflict coming in the period.

I met him again recently and inquired on his Entrepreneurship again.

“I am still trying to recover the money of the ambulances I had arranged a few years ago. They say that the money allocated in the  budget two years ago has been returned to the ministry. ”

He is still running around in circles.

And he is Angry


Following the details of this informal mentee, has added richness to life. He is not a formal reading group types. But seeing how he negotiates through various layers of society-expatriate and local, in a war torn country have many lessons.

Made me remember the life and times of Hemingway- and how these experiences were portrayed in his fiction.

Ruslan Mammadov- writes about Hemingway’s- World War 1 years in an interesting and educative manner. Around a hundred years down the line, what some people call-World War III- one sees the effects on the ground in one of the post-Arab spring countries-Libya

“ Upon leaving the US, Hemingway first traveled to Paris, and then received orders to report to Milan. A short time later, he moved to the town of Schio where he worked driving ambulances. While delivering chocolates and cigarettes to soldiers on the front, Hemingway was seriously injured on July 8, 1918 by fragments from an Austrian mortar shell. Though badly wounded by the mortar, and hit by machine gun fire as well, Hemingway worked to secure the safety of his fellow soldiers, getting them out of danger. The Italian government later awarded him the Silver Medal of Military Valor for his heroic actions.

Hemingway spent time recovering at a hospital in Milan, where he met Agnes von Kurowsky, a nurse originally from Washington D.C. She was six years older than Hemingway, but nevertheless he fell in love with her, and planned to take her home to Oak Park. Hemingway fell in love with her, but their relationship did not survive his return to the United States. Hemingway’s personal experiences would be used in his fiction.

At this point of view, we may see here how Hemingway’s wrote his early novels, like he share his own secret with his novels”


“They had a system then. There was pressure on the authorities from the diplomatic channels, but in reality I got out because my versions were corroborated by the then authorities.”

BJ remembered the days during the Feb 17 revolution when he was one of the foreigners who was detained by the authorities.

He talked about the time when he was interrogated for hours, what he said was written down and then verified. He went away from Libya for a few months after being released. But his family stayed on.


He has not given up yet. Still trying to have a maintenance company in the war torn country, trying to service different departments in hospitals and keeping the equipments running. He does not like the attitude of throwing away equipments which can be used if maintained . But some powerful people would like to buy new equipments, for obvious reasons.

My friend BJ..is angry, and there are many reasons.

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