Journeys together

Today was the birthday of my father. In the morning, I explained in my own way, the journeys from Garhwal, to Shimla to Delhi,which one of our forefathers-Rama Bhatt undertook in later part of the 19th century. His son Brahmi Dutt Bhatt , had three sons and a daughter. The middle son, Bhawani, was my grandfather.



Yesterday, after taking some pictures of the West Caucasian Tur, Bactrian camels and exploring the Frank Schofield Memorial Confucian park, we went through a cultural album I have been building. Toronto Zoo is a sister zoo of Seoul Zoo





Then we went through some Albums of Yesteryears..walks in Ghadames-on the ancient caravan routes of Sahara, Egypt- Masr-the mother of civilizations, Chicago,Turkey-walks on Bosphorus, Istanbul and Konya.



Earlier perspectives

Evening walk in Rome-2011


Walks in Turkey-2014

Ganga Aarti-Rishikesh-2014


My father instilled in me a love of gardens, museums and culture (see blog- Museums with the children..

While Meditating on the Ontario Waterfront, remembered some of those journeys together and felt his spiritual presence.


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Remembering Upper Kaithu-Shimla-Father’s Day-2016

The phone to India , remembering our family, parents, and talk to my sister, made me recall the times when we used to go to Shimla- to Upper Kaithu Bazaar. Played the following song of Dost-1974….Gaadi Bula rahi hai-Chalna hi zindagi hai..

Movement is life, the train is moving on.

It was one of my father’s favorite songs. As we watched Tara devi station, I remembered walks there in childhood and later as a medical student, an intern with the family. The talks of the Durand Cup of Football, in Anandale ground, the songs my father used to sing there..Panthi hoon mein, us path ka…





The Durand Football Tournament or Durand Cup is a football competition in India which first held in 1888. It is co-hosted by the Durand Football Tournament Society (DFTS) and Osians. The Tournament is named after its founder, Sir Mortimer Durand, Foreign Secretary in charge of India from 1884 to 1894. Sir Mortimer was recuperating from illness at the leading hill station of British India, Simla in northern India. Having become conscious of the value of sport as a means to maintain health, he decided to present a prize to encourage sporting competition in India.

SHAPE OF FAMILY –Through the years

As I reflected on Father’s day, watched this video of our walk in Gjantija temples Gozo, in December 2010.

Gjantiga temples is one of the oldest free standing structure known to man

Ġgantija (Maltese pronunciation: [dʒɡanˈtiːja], “Giants’ Tower”) is a megalithic temple complex from the Neolithic on the Mediterranean island of Gozo. The Ġgantija temples are the earliest of the Megalithic Temples of Malta. The Ġgantija temples are older than the pyramids of Egypt. Their makers erected the two Ġgantija temples during the Neolithic (c. 3600–2500 BCE), which makes these temples more than 5500 years old and the world’s second oldest manmade religious structuresafter Göbekli Tepe. Together with other similar structures, these have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Megalithic Temples of Malta.

(source –wikipedia)



This year, we tried to shape the Reading journal together and take it to another level.

We read about Harry Potter, and why this Whistle Blower hero has been such a success in the 21st century.


Earlier perspectives

Remembering Malta –Father’s day walk-2012…

It was an interesting day with many memories, talks about identity and the journeys taken by different community members in different phases of the past century.


But the best part of this unique Father’s Day was yet to come.


As we crossed Floriana she pointed out to the Non-Catholic cemetery.

Kariya Park-Mississauga

The writer-legendary Basketball coach John Wooden introduced me to an interesting concept about writing a letter to a dear one who has passed away. He would write a letter to his beloved wife, and file it away, every month. Over the years, this became an interesting repository of a joint spiritual journey.


Remembering Grandfathers

My paternal grandfather passed away when I was too small to remember directly.

Through stories told by cousins, I know that he used to love taking children to the garden-monuments of Delhi. He has instilled similar trends in me. Our family has been in and around Delhi region for over 8 decades and four generations


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Walks with Divya


Was remembering my niece- Divya on her birthday.

And the times when I would sit in Jasola, and tell her to write joint journal together. Of the times we went walking to Purana Qila- and then saw the Company school paintings of Thomas Daniels, which she also saw in the National gallery of Modern Art.

My teacher asked me how I knew about Telly Kittle and Thomas Daniels, and I told of our trips together to National Gallery of Modern art, India Gate, Zoo, Sri Aurobindo ashram and many other sites of Delhi region.

Now she is 18 and maybe a bit too old to be told to sit and write about what she saw in Lodhi gardens or write a brief summary of the play we saw together in Sri Ram Centre.

But those memories will remain fresh


Other posts of interest

Writing Workshops with Mayank




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Our weekly book discussion

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live”

Joan Didion

In our house , we have a collection of books from different phases of our journeys.


2009 khadra forest

2009-Walks in Khadra Forest-Tripoli

On weekends, I urge my sons to just browse through some of them. The personal collection reminds one of the different places where the books were acquired and read. A commentary on the Gita, by S-Radhakrishnan, gifted to me by one Mr K L Sabharwal of Bali Nagar-Delhi. He was originally from Multan in British India, in what became Pakistan. “You will understand and appreciate this book more than my sons” he said, giving me this personal special edition, not for sale. “I am advanced in age, and I do not want this book to rot with my relatives who will not go through it.” Mr.Sabharwal taught me the value of reading-some wisdom literature, for even five minutes a day. He built this in his daily schedule, without fail, five minutes in the morning, five minutes in the evening.

Heritage walks.

A few years down the line, I had the good fortune of making some friends in Tripoli region, who showed me their country in a way which a foreigner will not be able to appreciate. We saw the Medina with it’s two thousand plus years old history and walked through the cafes which reminded us of travelers of old.

The heritage walk, made me sift through some old photographs, and make this slide show

Septimus Severus-the Grim African ,

Lucius Septimus Severus was born in Leptis Magna in AD 145 and spend his formative years in a city that was already one of Rome’s great centres. He quickly progressed through the military ranks and was declared the governor of a far-off province. After the assassination of the Roman emperors Commodus (at the end of AD 192) and Pentinax ( three months later in AD 193) Septimus Severus was proclaimed emperor by his troops. Emboldened by the fierce devotion of his army, he marched on Rome where he swept all before him to assume full imperial powers in AD 193. A military man first and foremost, he waged a ruthless campaign to extend the boundaries of Rome’s empire. By this stage known as ‘the Grim African’ the feared emperor won a further victory over the Parthians in AD 202-03, temporarily dispelled all challenges to his power, and ushered in an era of relative peace. It was in this period that he returned to his native city with a grand vision of turning Leptis into  a centre to rival imperial Rome. He built a new forum (and thus shifted the centre of the city) ,  basilica, the Great Colonnaded Street and greatly expanded the port. His fellow citizens did their part by hastily constructing their own monument to their emperor- the exquisite triumphal arch that bears his name. By AD 207, Rome was once again at war with its neighbors and in 211 Septimus Severus was killed in battle in England.

29 AGM Sahmat 25 y (1)

SAHMAT- 25 YEAR..Art Gallery of Mississauga- Teaching the next generation ..Our Legacies…Told Sahil about Safdar Hashmi..remembered those days of 1980s..

 Cesar’s return

This short story by Meftaw Genaw is derived from the fact that at some point during the Italian occupation, ( 1911-1951) the colonial authority moved the statue of Septimus Severus to Martyr’s square.
“Cesar looked around him. Everything was different. Chaos and destruction sopped up memories wherever they might be. He remembered friends from another time, and wondered in silence as he crossed the square: perhaps ‘the Girl with the Gazelle” would still be in her beautiful fountain, arching her back towards her companion as she cradled his neck gently in her arms. Caesar remembered how, during the blazing hot days of summer, he had envied the girl her spot, bathed by a continuous stream of water and a soft breeze from the opposite shore. He, on the other hand, was forced to stand atop his perch in the square, perspiring in his heavy costume.”

The story is a commentary on the way things have shaped up in this region. The ending of the story sees Tripolitanians were astonished to see the two metal figures standing at the head of a long line before the offices of the Libyan Maritime Transport company , waiting to buy tickets to Malta.

An unlikely Literary figure

The interview with Meftah Genaw traces his journey from being an aeroplane mechanic in the former Czechoslovakia , the boredom which he felt, and how he turned into a lawyer a more verbal profession.

He summarizes his aeroplane mechanic days beautifully.

“Everything is according to notecards, you never see the bigger picture. This is not a creative activity”

Source-Translating Libya- by Ethan Chorin
See blog- Women in Libyan Fiction

Discussion points

amitav ghosh

From seeing the approach of persons like Mr. K L Sabharwal who made it a point to read some wisdom literature for at least five minutes a day, to trying to relate to the history of a place, and then find it’s living traces, and the approach of writers like Genaw – who want to see the bigger picture rather than just have a notecard to tell them what to do, we learnt many things to apply. I suggested to my sons to find out the history behind the fishing village of Marsaslokk-Malta or the 100 years of Royal Ontario Museum-ROM, and relate it to some personal memory after seeing the videos.


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Around 17

Around his 17th birthday, I had some discussions with my elder son Sagar.  Then we went through some processes regarding education, society, life –currents and the shape of life of friends-family over the  decades-generations.

Xlendi- The tower guarding the mouth of the bay was built by the Grandmaster Juan de Lascaris-Castellar on 29 June 1650.

Xlendi- The tower guarding the mouth of the bay was built by the Grandmaster Juan de Lascaris-Castellar on 29 June 1650.


“The family meal is not an institution”, my younger son Sahil argued with me.

That made us all think.

In the past week, we had some revision of the definition of Institution.

Institution-Formally means- an organization founded for a religious,

educational, professional or social purpose.

Informally- a well established and familiar person or custom.

(Source-Oxford Dictionary of English)


As I searched for meanings of institutions, I went through this discussion we had about Walden pond, next to the small lake in Tripoli zoo…(Now closed)

Walden Pond Walden (/ˈwɔːldən/; first published as Walden; or, Life in the Woods), by noted transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau, is a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings. The work is part personal declaration of independence, social experiment, voyage of spiritual discovery, satire, and manual for self-reliance.





The Arch of Marcus Aurelius is a Roman triumphal arch in the city of Oea, modern Tripoli, where it is found near the northeastern entrance to the Medina.

It is a quadrifrons trumphal arch, surmounted by an unusual octagonal cupola,and was erected (entirely in marble) by Gaius Calpurnius Celsus, quinquennial duumvir of the city, to commemorate the victories of Lucius Verus, junior colleague and adoptive brother of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, over the Parthians in the Roman–Parthian War of 161–66.




My father instilled the love of cultural walks in me, when he would take me to museums and temples. The Parvati temple of Pune ,  was a favorite. The main temple, as it stands today, was built by the third Peshwa, Shrimant Nana Saheb in the year 1749 A.D.

See blog-Museum with the children


And Family photographs


END NOTE…As I refined my understanding of the meaning of Institutions, through the dialectic of discussion with my sons, I remembered one more great family institution (established practice or custom)…the historical walks and morning walks

As part of giving them a lesson on this – I told them of a living present custom which I follow-

Walks in Abosita-Ferasiya-Tripoli


..and we will talk about these, around the Family meal (without TV-I hope)



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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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