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.
..My friend BJ is angry and there are many reasons and details which feed his anger. Almost a hundred years down the time when Hemingway took part in World War I- I see the details of the life of a man negotiating through different layers, in war torn Libya
In the follow-up to our discussions on Management Challenges of 21st century,we had an extended discussion on ways to involve in the community, which will give a better belonging to the community which nurtures you.
In his book- Half Time- Bob Buford talks about the need to reset one’s priorities in second half of life and move from success to significance. In some discussions I had with expatriates in Libya, their mindset was one of trying to save more and send back and it was difficult to find someone who wanted to give-belong to the local community here. Trying to listen to their story, from their point of view, while nudging them towards trying to see areas where they can contribute with significance, rather than just be a money-making machine has been an uphill task.
THE MUSEUM SOCIETY..ways to stretch the mind
The subgroup of museum walks has one great member, a fellow radiologist, who has a taste for arts, music, performing arts, and appreciates with sensitivity the different nuances of these works. Getting to know the impressionist painters better, in a walk through Art Institute of Chicago also helped us know each other better. That was the year when the British Museum had loaned Caravaggio’s famous painting-Supper at Emmaus to AIC. We heard the in-depth discussions on the moment when those having dinner realize that the person with whom they are sitting is Christ. We then walked to Fullerton Hall, a place of great significance for Hindus as this was the hall where Swami Vivekananda addressed the World Congress of Religions in 1893. We attended a poetry session in which Lord Tennyson’s poems were being recited. These experiences made us a bit closer to different currents,
Recalling Emily Dickinson’s poem
HOPE’ IS THE THING WITH FEATHERS
‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all—
And sweetest—in the Gale is heard—
And sore must be the storm—
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm—
I’ve heard it in the chilliest land
And on the strangest Sea—
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb—of Me.
THE WALKS …to walk through the debates
Mentoring is a complex form of volunteering which can help give back to the community which nurtures you, and also deepen one’s humanity.
“I am not Bill Gates” came a reply to a suggestion that there are many ways in which one can contribute, and even a non-medico if he takes interest, can start learning about public health issues like Polio and HIV.
“Can you be a good friend to ten people? That does not take much money, but will definitely need a commitment of time and application-attitude of trying to understand the situation and perspective and not to try to superimpose one’s own views or to use their story to take off for one’s own.” These are issues in self management, relationship responsibility which will deepen one’s perspective.
In the follow-up to this, we decided to help a child write an essay.
How did trying to teach the child change you?
This was a mentoring question which I asked, trying to elicit a response out of the routine talk of work, money transfer or security situation which tends to engulf the content of thought of many expatriate workers.
The answers were enriching.
While initially the knee-jerk response was – I don’t know, on being told to talk about anniversaries like Independence day, or tell one folk tale from one’s culture or help write an essay on a prominent figure of the country (Like Mahatma Gandhi of India or Kwame Nkrumah, of Ghana-former Gold Coast).
Nkrumah- An influential 20th-century advocate of Pan-Africanism, he was a founding member of the Organisation of African Unity and was the winner of the Lenin Peace Prize in 1963. He saw himself as an African Lenin.
EMPTYING THE CUP
These were some of the discussions, leading to an attempt to –Empty one’s cup- so that something of significance can be filled into it.
This year I had some interesting walks.
Three regions where I walked were –Rishikesh-Landour region of Garhwal in spring, in Toronto-Niagara region in Fall and in Istanbul-Konya region in beginning of winter.
SPRING…ALONG THE GANGA
Walks along the river Ganga have been part of a family tradition. Walking beyond the suspension bridges of Laxman Jhula, Ram Jhula, returning to attend the evening aarti at Sri Paramarth Ashram was a different experience from the walks in Fall which I would take later in the year. Writing to a friend now in Malta, got a cherished letter in which he remembered such trips to the Ganga as a child. Walks around Rajaji national park region make for many intimate memories, our family having been associated with this area for several decades.
The Mussoorie-Landour area have a distinct difference in culture, and the feel of the Raj days, stories of the haunted Savoy, or walks in Landour to the Kellog Memorial church(established 1903) gave a different flavor of the mountains.
FALL..GARDEN SOCIETIES OF TORONTO
Many lovely hours spent in Weston family library of Toronto Botanical Gardens , located in Edwards gardens made me familiar with evolution of thoughts concerning the garden societies.
The Burra charter of 1999 – groups and individuals with associations with a place as well as those involved in its management should be provided with the opportunity to contribute to and participate in understanding the cultural significance of the place.
The difference between the manicured Edwards gardens and the adjoining Wilket Creek park which preserves the natural contours is an illustration of different approaches to conservation.
READINGS IN PARKS
Till the weather allowed, spent long hours reading in the gardens. Nadine Gordimer’s –Burger’s daughter, read in Betty Sutherland trail, sifting through the nuances of the struggle against apartheid. Can a white man have an ideology which will make him the supporter of the black cause? The personality of Lionel Burger came through in different ways, through the experiences of his daughter. Loosely based on the life-family of Bram Fischer the novel is described as the most moving and political of Gordimer’s works.
Before submitting the manuscript to her publisher, Gordimer gave it to Fischer’s daughter, Ilse Wilson (née Fischer) to read, saying that, because of connections people might make to her family, she wanted her to see it first. When Wilson returned the manuscript to Gordimer, she told the writer, “You have captured the life that was ours.”
After Gordimer’s death in July 2014, Wilson wrote that Gordimer “had the extraordinary ability to describe a situation and capture the lives of people she was not necessarily a part of”. (Wikipedia)
The tombs of Jalaludin Rumi, Shams of Tibriz in Konya, Anatolia, Turkey were a place for pilgrimage in the early winter months. The association of Rumi and Shams is one of the most fascinating in spirituality. Walked through the city of Konya, in night (having missed the train at Pendlik-Istanbul, only to catch the next one-3 hours later) and in the day time, going through the different museums and dioramas created by the museum curators.
Seeing the traditional musical instruments brought back memories of similar performers in Balkans. The history and culture of Anatolia and Balkans is intricately linked with many connections through the generations.
The trips also made me further the concept of Retreat. Dividing themes into three lines-personal, family, professional, one can try to see indepth some aspect of one’s life. Caught in the day-to-day routine, one does not get this chance. Association with persons like Rumi encourage one to keep a spiritual diary. Thinking through concepts of aesthetics, education, and spirituality, in the context of scholars like Rumi, made me think of the non-profits which have become a very big employer in the advanced world. (will elaborate on this concept further –based on readings of Peter Drucker and Bob Buford)
Taking walks, reading in parks, trips, and maintaining journals based on these have enriched my life in many ways. Looking back on 2014, I remember these fondly.
Other blogs of interest
2008 Theater Manoel
2009 Museum Imaging
2010..Walks in Malta Again
2011 Year end diary
Writing workshops with Mayank
Walks by Alaknanda
What is Satsang
2012..Father’s day walk
Remembering George Eliot
Winston Smith of George Orwell’s 1984 is a most unlikely hero.
The phrase Orwellian Nightmare is known to all of us.
We encounter many enclosed universes. The same event or organization can be looked at from different perspectives. All managers face such issues every day.
As a preview to the year end meeting of our Reading Group in Tripoli we discuss the narrative devices of Don Quixote by Cervantes. In the context of -Management Challenges of 21st century, in post 2011 Arab spring countries, one can learn a lot from these narratives.
The Reading group has helped us shape perspective, enrich our lives through many discussions of local contexts. It has also helped me evolve a Reading journal, which helps to keep in touch with friends and family around the world… There was something comical, something tragic about him. In some way, each worker in a foreign land faces these issues in some ways, issues of renewal of contract-visa, of money transfers, or getting their gratuity.
Orders and declarations signed, but not followed up by concrete action.
Or to put it in perspective of Don Quixote- the great influential work of Cervantes as Professor Shippey concluded in his lecture.
“We all start by laughing at the Don, we end by recognizing ourselves in him.”
In our year end meeting (2014) of the Reading group in Tripoli, we will discuss some management challenges. Over the years, we have discussed different aspects of literature, The reading group has also helped me evolve a –Reading journal- which has helped me keep in touch with friends and family across the globe.
“Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it” Mark 8: 34-25
Listening to the sermon of Father Vasihar on the occasion of Thanksgiving service and Harvest festival in the Anglican Church, Tripoli and his call to see our portion in God, one reflected on the life of Albert Schweitzer-the doctor who made Africa his life. Last week, (28-11-14) Thanksgiving service came alive with the choirs of Nigeria, Indian subcontinent and Egypt.
In the coming week, in our department, while organizing awareness programs -as part of “partnership with patients” on breast screening and dialysis we also went through the photographs and discussed the work of Albert Schweitzer which still lives on in Gabon. He understood and lived the significance of service, the lasting legacy of love, and the power of a promise given two thousand years ago.
Other blogs of interest
Remembering St.Augustine of Hippo
Vigil Mass-Tripoli http://prashantbhatt.com/2012/12/09/candle-light-vigil-mass-tripoli/
Negro Journeys http://prashantbhatt.com/2013/01/22/negro-journeys/