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.

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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

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    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


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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- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catharine_Parr_Traill

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  ..https://www.canadapost.ca/cpo/mc/personal/collecting/stamps/archives/2003/2003_sept_library.jsf

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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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.

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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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