Year End Diary-Notes-2015


Tripoli Skyscapes-Dec 2015

A view from Corniche-Near Mahari-Tripoli evening walks-December 2015


The pace and complexity of life in this day and time sometimes make it very difficult to get back to a place in our mind and spirit where we are able to get back to place in our mind and spirit where we are able to access all that we are and need to be. There is no substitute for good and old-fashioned hard work, informed preparation and clearly thought out coping strategies for difficult times.

Dr.Phil McGraw

Not a day without a line- said Pliny the Elder.

Yesterday, in lieu of writing the year-end diary I went through photo-diaries and notes of yesteryears and saw the truth in the words of John Lennon

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.



The second memorable night was when my uncle sat with me, as I spent a night in Palam Vihar after a long time. After the bravado, dinner with old friends was over, I returned to my home. Of all the places I have been to around the world, this is one place I can call home and come back to.

No place to come back to as home.

This feeling is something which can be very defeating.

My uncle went through this night –recalling the time when he was a boy of ten, and had to go to the banks of the Ganga to do the last rites of his father. “In our custom, a person whose parents are still alive cannot accompany you to the banks of the Ganga to do the last rites. So my school friend, who was accompanying me after the principal had called me and told me to go immediately to my home told me at a fork in the road- now I will be going my way, and you go to your house. The principal had not broken the news to the boy. He had just told him that he is urgently required in his house. When the friend parted, the little boy understood and walked that lonely road alone.”

We sat together for a long time, talking about the shape of life, families and generations.

He has lightly rebuked me at times for my wandering ways, and the related dynamics. A mathematician, he was the person who taught me to make notes, and do deep thinking.

In Dr.Phil’s book, there are many lessons given about “Real Life”


Reflecting on the note of Dr.Phil- “There is no substitute for good and old-fashioned hard work, informed preparation and clearly thought out coping strategies for difficult times,” one long term expatriate worker in Tripoli pointed out recurring non resolved themes in life due to the dynamic of staying away from family.

This is a sort of blended family, as dynamics change. There are stresses when one goes back to the life one left behind in one’s own country. People grow in their own ways, while you are developing your own life.

Sometimes there is a cacophony of voices- each trying to pull-push in a particular direction, and each trying to prove his or her point of interest to be right.

What does one do and more importantly, what does one not do in such situations.

“You are not a strong one” one person said on the use of Silence as a tool.

“Sometimes silence, stepping back can be a very useful and powerful thing,” the other person responded.


Home is not a place to stay, as a physical space, but also a concept. A place where the family memorabilia are kept , shared . In that way, many working people have made their homes in Tripoli region, and collected memorabilia and artefacts from different parts of the world. In a picture album which I keep near my place of reflection, there are photographs of different family members in different phases of life. These are symbols of continuity and links between a past, present and future.


In “Whole will cry when you die” the writer-speaker Robin Sharma tells about the difference between a diary and journal. A journal he says is one of the best personal development tools one can have. In this private space, one can reflect and refine on what we do, why we do it, and what lessons we have learnt.

Spending “One to One Time” to develop identity and bonding was one theme I developed in the past year.

In the Journal format, answering specific questions

What we do?

Went for walks to museums, archives.


Why we do this?

Spending time in a local archives is different from a museum.

Went with my son to see how the place where we live in has changed over past 100 years. In this historical societies, which look back at the contributions of a place during major events is an eye opener.


  • Peel Arts Museum and Archives,PAMA-Brampton,Mississauga


There were specific exhibitions on the contributions of Sikhs in the two world wars.

This exhibition made me relate to the family relics which we have in our own house relating to the long years of service in Indian Army which my father had. I showed my sons the Ashoka Emblem, the different medals in a new light, after having seen that unique exhibition in PAMA


  1. Ontario Science Centre

Special exhibitions on Myth Busters, made us look at the science behind some daily things.Earlier we had seen the Science of Rock and Roll, and Brain.

These exhibitions help us reflect on the way science has changed our lives.

The societies with specific interests make us try to refine our experiences, rather than just living in a struggle-survival mode, which becomes the narrative of many immigrants and diaspora.

Looking back at walks in yesteryears-Manori Drawings, Western India coastline-2009 August

What did we learn?

Trying to answer –What did we learn- in the three specific situations namely (1) A talk with my uncle in our family home in Palam Vihar (2) Walks through PAMA-seeing the exhibition on Sikh participation in the World Wars and (3) Consciously trying to be part of societies- with specific interests made us learn

  1. Night talk in my family home: One to one conversations Develop identity and perspective

Using the stepping back-Silence theme helps one make a sense of the whole.

  1. An Archive- this is different from a museum, though having similaraties.

Made this relate to some family memorabilia more meaningfully. The visits served as a point of reference. I have been consciously collecting memorabilia to give children a sense of the family.

Gave my son, the song book of my father, written in 1989.

He told me that it must be very dear to me.

I said, Yes, it is. That is why I am giving it to you, his grandson.

  1. Societies

We brought back a Giant Panda and Blue Jays from the Toronto zoo and the Toronto Botanical Gardens.

We also went through the special book taken out by St.Edward’s college-Malta commemorating the 75th year (1929-2004)

These serve as memories and links.

Discussed about the way volunteers have added the dynamics of that place.


This were some year end notes 2015

Happy New Year 2016

You can download the file with some photo-diaries of previous years by clicking on the link below.

Year End diaries 2008 2015



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Readings and walks

Tripoli notes- This year, I separated my Reading journal

into a different website. (links are given below

Letters– In the past year, I consciously developed the theme of –Write a letter to a loved one who has passed way-and every month review those letters. These deepen my connection with many currents.



Remembering parents and times gone by- 1970


Here  I am reproducing in part a letter I wrote to my father- who passed away in 1999, on meeting his old friend and colleague from Army medical Corps in August 2015


MEETING SURI UNCLE- In August , when I went to India, I met Brigadier Suri. He talked affectionately and told about many intricacies of life, how it developed after his retirement, the business he is doing with his son-Muneer. As we sat on that evening in Palam Vihar, my mind’s eye went to the times in the eighties in Pune when I used to come from medical college, and stay in Chest diseases hospital of Golibar Maidan-and prepare for the next semester. The studies of Pathology and Pharmacology in the second professional, the intense studies of Medicine, Surgery in Final professional. The trips you used to make to visit me in Old Boy’s and New Boy’s hostel of Maulana Azad. I cherish those trips we made together, the one-on-one time we spent, the times we went to Golcha and Regal cinemas, the times we went for a trip to Shimla.

In such letters, I also write about books and related thoughts

SPIRITUAL MATTERS- Have been reading the book on the Quest for Historical Jesus, which go through the debates between spiritual, mystical, supernatural, rational, mythological , esthalogical aspects of the life of Jesus. Did Jesus know that he was the Messiah- the Son of God, or did he think he was a prophet. Different writers, ranging from Strauss in 17th century to Schweitzer in 20th century have written about these issues from different perspectives. For me, going through these debates and issues makes me closer to different spiritual trends- and I think about our own Hindu-Indian mythological tales- the Ramayana and Mahabharata, their association with real geographical places like Ayodhya and Indraprastha – and how these shape the consciousness of living humans.


Walks– Previous year-Walks..through parks, museums. Here are some photographs and walks of the year gone by and some yesteryears.

July-saw Blue Moon over Niagara, and tried to capture it in night.

Walks in Kalemgdon Park-Belgrade,-the historic place where first world war started. (Are we living through World War III?)

And some friends and family, from different places.




Links to recent posts of


Dialogue and Freedom-Nobel Peace 2015

Authority and the Individual

Nobel Literature 2015- Svetlana Alexievich

Recalling 19th century debates

What’s wrong with Whatsapp

On Gandhi Jayanti

Remembering George Orwell



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Walks- with Sahil

On 18-September, Sahil will complete 15 years.

This year, Sahil became taller than me, at 14 years 6 months age.

On this occasion, I looked back on some walks together

The writer Peter Drucker said that the predominant need in our culture was for individuals to make their lives useful to themselves and others, and he believed that non-profit organizations were best suited to do that.

According to Peter, non profits organizations were most effective in establishing “the functioning community and functioning democracy of tomorrow”.

This year, through a deeper touch with some such voluntary organizations which impact culture, like Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto Zoo, Ontario Science centre, Peel Art Gallery and Museum Archives, YMCA, Art Gallery of Mississauga, Riverwood conservancy, we explored the themes of Functioning community.

We also looked back at some past years-walks through Libya, Malta, India and the different communities like BNHS-Bombay Natural history society, Museum of Fine Arts-Malta, The Sukh Sagar Indian Community centre-Malta and reflected on how such organizations shape our perspective.

Through readings- Like Chris Hadfield’s experience on Life , seeing movies like -Namesake based on Jhumpa Lahiri’s novel of the same name, we explored in depth, the Art of Reading themes told in the course by Tim Spurgin.

See blog

The Colonel Says

We discussed the many lessons from this book, after visits to the Ontario Science Centre

The Works of Jhumpa Lahiri- Lowland, Interpreter of Maladies, Namesake

We had some reading journal, group discussions on these works which tell many truths about the North American Indian Diaspora experiences

See Blog-

    The Greatest journeys are those that bring you home


Remembering Catherine Parr Traill…She found beauty in weeds

On these trails- we rediscovered the writings and orientations of writers like Catherine Parr Traill ,(1802-1899)  who found her path to North America through Nature…She found beauty in weeds…




Through the many journeys, the young boy makes, one sees the unfolding of new realities. The writer-psychologist Phil McGraw tells that these are the small things which make up life and we should cherish each such moment. The differences of catching the different routes of MIWAY . Last year, he used to go by shared car pool.

This year, he wants to explore the society, through Miway.

” Yesterday I took 3 E and 5 S and took around an hour or a bit more to come to school, but today when I took 26 E and 5 S, I arrived in just 35 minutes (not counting the time it takes to go to the first bus stop in either time).”

As I look back on the photographs, notes, journals we have kept over the years I remember our many journeys together.

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Work Anniversary-LSMC

On this work anniversary, I got together with some colleagues and remembered  times gone by.Here are some pictures which mark points in that journey.

Remembered friends  who helped shape my perspectives. Some food workshops, some memories of the expatriate community of Libya and some walks in the region.

Watching this collection on the work anniversary, I thought of the many facets of life which developed when I shifted from Delhi to Tripoli.

Some people have stayed with me, some moved along..

The words of the Sufi Mystic -Rumi, come to mind

Come , Come, whoever

you are,


Worshipper, lover of leaving

It doesn’t matter

Ours is not a caravan of despair

Come, come even if you have

broken your vows a thousand times.

Come- come yet again, Come.

Through these many experiences, relations, built over the years

I realize the truth in the words of the writer -former Bishop of Scotland

Richard Holloway

” The toughest lesson life teaches is the difference between who you wanted

to be and who you actually are.”


Many rich lessons along the way.

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And their eyes were my eyes.

I saw behind me those who had gone, and before me those who are to come.

I looked back and saw my father, and his father, and all our fathers, and

in front to see my son, and his son, and the sons upon sons beyond.

And their eyes were my eyes.

Richard Llewellyn

In my house in Palam Vihar, I have kept a special room for my diaries (have been a regular diarist since 1983). Over a period of time, photos, videos have added to the written word.

One Christmas card, which Carlos (A Nigerian friend) from Tripoli’s San Francisco Church (Dahra) still plays the greetings tune, many years after it was gifted.

Every man is a quotation from all his ancestors.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

I met my brother (Guddu bhai)  at Lodhi, early in the morning, before the work-day swallows life…Four generations of our family have walked in Lodhi gardens-Delhi

This is with Guddu bhai, over the years we have talked about our many journeys

together. Last year he told of his Shimla trip. This year he told of Andaman Nicobar

Many nuances of life came alive as we sat in Palam Vihar, seeing video diaries, photojournals and remembering the days gone by

Devraj bhai said – “Mummy kindled a love of literature in me.”

His father too used to write stories.

“He was a Botanist, but loved literature” Bua ji said, remembering old times.

And recalled some poems which he had learnt in childhood

This packrat has learned that what the next generation will value most is not what we owned, but the evidence of who we were and the tales of how we loved. In the end, it’s the family stories that are worth the storage.
-Ellen Goodman,
The Boston Globe

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Reading places- Gulhane Park-Sultanahmet Istanbul

Following the theme of finding nice reading places, I have been visiting

Gulhane Park in Sultanahmet -(the historic Constantinople) area of

Istanbul, whenever, I have a chance to pass by , on way from Libya

to home.



In better times, the flight connections were straight, Turkish airlines

used to operate. But now we have to stay in Istanbul, wait for connecting flights.

So one makes the most of it, by exploring Istanbul

GULHANE PARK..has different atmosphere in different times of the day

In March 2015- It was raining

In August 2015- I went for an early morning walk, and meditated by

the Column of Goths, saw Bosphorus in the early morning.

Morning calm..not many people around at that hour


This reminded me of some other reading places where I have enjoyed

the many flavors of art and literature in scenic environments

LANDOUR…Mussoorie region


PORT CREDIT…Mississauga



9 refreshing seconds at a beach…Lake Ontario

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Walks and meditations around Riverwood-Mississauga

There are many things which come out in walks in a natural surroundings

On 15-7-15 we had seen the exhibits of Chris Hadfield in Ontario Science Centre-OSC-in which he had said, we should do daily disciplined efforts so that we become the adult which we want to become, and not something which life kicks us into being but we do not want to become.

Sahil said that this was similar to many wisdom literature themes which he read in SECRETS. This book was given to Mummy by her Yoga group in Malta.

In the morning we saw a movie- IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOON- in which there were many interviews of the astronauts who were part of the Apollo program. This program was started by President Kennedy. The political theme was to beat the Russians to the moon. The scientific program involved putting a man on the moon, and return safely by the end of the decade. The 60s was a very turbulent time in US with Vietnam-anti war movement, the Civil rights movement, Women’s liberation movement. If there was a script writer who would have to cap it off, there could be nothing better than landing on the moon.

Later we went to Riverwood, and while returning went to Mr India Grocer, Christo Rei Church, and YMCA.

In Christo Rei we read the Proverbs- 17-6

Grandchildren are the crown of the aged

and the glory of children is their fathers.

As continuation of this conversation, they talked to their grandparents-Nana Nani in Mumbai

20 7 15 – The Anniversary of Man’s first landing on the moon. Went through the narratives relating the Niel Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Mike Collins of Apollo 11.

CHRIS HADFIELD..In a bit more depth.

We went through the nuances as described by Hadfield. The weekly meeting in which pilots discussed candidly what mistakes they did in the past week, which could have killed them. This sharing and conversion of mistakes into Teachable Moments is key to the educational culture at NASA


We went through the narratives related to the British Emigrant to Canada- Catherine Traill. Following her story of how she found the way of nature to find her path to North America was educative. Catherine Parr Traill’s herbariums are part of the ROM 100 years collection – Every object has a story.

She described her new life in letters and journals, and collected these into The Backwoods of Canada (1836), which continues to be read as an important source of information about early Canada. She describes everyday life in the community, the relationship between Canadians, Americans, and natives, the climate, and local flora and fauna. More observations were included in a novel, Canadian Crusoes (1851). She also collected information concerning the skills necessary for a new settler, published in The Female Emigrant’s Guide (1854), later retitled The Canadian Settler’s Guide. She wrote “Pearls and Pebbles” and “Cot and Cradle Stories”.(Source-Wikipedia-

Her many albums of plant collections are housed in the National Herbarium of Canada at the Canadian Museum of Nature.On 8 September hi 2003, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the National Library of Canada, Canada Post released a special commemorative series, “The Writers of Canada”, with aign by Katalina Kovats, featuring two English-Canadian and two French-Canadian stamps. Three million stamps were issued. Traill and her sister Susanna Moodie were featured on one of the English-Canadian stamps.


Here is what Canada post wrote while issuing commemorative stamps in memory

of the two Strickland sisters  ..

SUSANNA MOODIE (1803-1885)

Susanna Moodie (née Strickland) and her sister Catharine Parr Traill are two of Canada’s most important 19th century writers. Born in England only 23 months apart, the sisters became precociously engaged in writing after the death of their father in 1818. The two immigrated with their husbands to the backwoods of Ontario in 1832, where they recorded and interpreted their experiences as pioneers, writing until their deaths. Moodie’s Roughing It in the Bush (1852) is her best-known work, which combines her steadfast moral vision and fascination with differences in character – with a generous measure of wit and playfulness. The book, along with its sequel, Life in the Clearings (1853), formed the basis of her reputation as an author.


Pioneer writer and botanist Catharine Parr Traill (née Strickland) is most famous for her bookThe Backwoods of Canada (1836), an interesting factual and scientific account of her first three years in Ontario. With pragmatic and optimistic vision, Parr Traill wrote using the kind of realistic detail that has become a tradition in Canadian literature.


In our generation, many persons from the subcontinent who are fresh immigrants are either unemployed or employed in a field which they are not trained for, or underemployed in the field which they have training. For us, as we had not taken the direct route to Canada, but having stayed in Libya, Malta for some years, we have some idea of the international scene which helped shape our perspective. Riverwood has been a place where we go for long walks to reflect and not get caught in the many marketing traps which await new immigrants. Of course, as we tell persons who try to seek justification in their path by forcing it down others throats, thus revealing their insecurities, that there is no one right path, no one standard medicine which will cure all issues, no single dress which will fit everyone for all occasions. While walking in Riverwood, we also remember the many walks taken in historic and natural parks of India, Libya, Malta.


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