Retreats –What is the use of writing these down?

Retreats are a change of pace to re-think and re-visit the same things once more.

Blog - retreats

While other persons on the trip made themselves busy with trying to catch up with the one-other-site to see I took some time off to Re-think on some of the points on which I have been working upon in the past year(s), quarter, and project into the coming months.

TEN YEARS OF THIS BLOG..evolving from letters, logbooks, diaries, journals.

I started keeping this blog around ten years ago, as an extension of my diaries, logbooks, and letters which I have kept since 1975.

Letters..since 1975

I first started writing letters to my grandfather-Dr.Ganesh Prasad Uniyal, who was a teacher of political science in Banaras Hindu University. He was in Moscow at that time, and I would describe to him, some of the way things are in Pune and he would write back and do some corrections and suggestions on grammar and content. I recently was sent a letter-message by my sister-Sonal- which had some letters-memorabilia of my grandfather from the 1930s/1940s when he was studying in London. He used to be active in the students union, was a student of Professor Harold Laski and spent life as an overseas student during the World War 2 days.

Letter from Essex-1941..

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Logbooks..since 1970s

Logbooks were another way of keeping track- which I started keeping as a record of the hours studied, subjects –topics to be revised, and the distance run- when I would be studying in Army Public School-Dhaula Kuan, and were staying in Pratap Chowk-Delhi Cantonment.

Diaries..since 1983

Diaries- were an extension of these logbooks- in which there are a bit more nuanced view of the numbers and hours studied.

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

Journals..evolved from letters, logbooks, diaries

These evolved into Journals- which are a bit different from diaries/logbooks/letters in that one looks at one particular theme-topic and tries to see the lessons learnt, mistakes made , how to build to next level, what to do, and not to do. How to reduce the clutter, improve the focus.

WHAT WE ARE AS A GROUP OR PEOPLE..

Work, family , friends, carried me to different places, and there I met persons from different lands, who expanded my way of thinking, and helped commune with travelers who have gone through these paths before.

LANDOUR..MUSSOORIE..Garhwal Himalayas..2014

I have come to this region many times over the decades, ever since my uncles and father introduced me to the Himalayas- in 1970s…
 

GULHANE PARK-SULTANAHMET..The Historic Constantinople-2016

 

 

 

DRUMMOND HILL CEMETERY…Lundy’s lane…26 August 2018

As I went through some of these saved playlists, daytimers, and was challenged by a fellow-traveler-

What is the use of writing these down ?

I retrieved some notes from just a month ago, and  read and went over them once again, in a shared manner.

Shared thinking is the ability to include the heads of others, to help thinking ‘over your head’ and achieve compounding results. As I had written down what had been said, by whom, it helped reflect- in this case –jointly- a way to revisit the past and gain further perspective and thinking with understanding.

Consciously building with expatriates- who live-work in faraway lands made me evolve the meanings of diaspora in a deeper way..From the Food cultures of different civilizations in the churches of Tripoli to the Reading journals-clubs which made us revisit events like the Cultural Revolution of China or the Fall of Communism or the Arab spring-through the lens of great works of literature.

 

AS LIFE IS…

Last week, I went for two walks to further think through and think ahead.

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Thinking Places are spots where one goes to think …and revisit the talks, plays, themes, schema one more time to see whether one can get a further understanding or insight from an experience.

RIVERWOOD-MISSISSAUGA

Have been coming to Riverwood –over the years, this season watched some birds and the flow of water with music.

1000 ISLANDS-GANONOQUE

Early morning, before the tourists and sight-seeing people come, a whiff of fresh morning breeze

 

 

…Hope going through these notes, helped answer some parts of the question

What is the use of writing these down…

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Why a Reading Journal?

“The novelist is a poor imitation of the Creator God.”

G.Lukacs

There was a reason  for all this suffering.

Ellie Weisel

WHY A READING JOURNAL…

Keeping these notes has helped shape many discussions with fellow-travelers over the years.

I started keeping this blog- in 2008-Tripoli, as an extension of my diaries (kept since 1983-Delhi) to keep in touch with my sons –Sagar and Sahil- who used to stay in Mumbai then, and imbibe in them the spirit of learning and discussion, which has been part of our family through generations.

When the weather allows, I also like to go out into the open, and sit and read, reflect on what has been written in open places. This year- I found a quiet spot near Lake Huron

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WEEKLY DISCUSSIONS-Every week we read and discuss some literature..March 2018-Tim Horton-Dixie-Mississauga

ANOTHER BOOK CLUB YEAR-2018-19

As the next year of the book club is going to start, I looked back at some of the tools/courses which I have taken to enhance the Reading habit.

In 2017, I took a course on Life lessons from Great books by Professor Rufus Fears.

In Life Lessons from the Great Books, Professor J. Rufus Fears of the University of Oklahoma—a marvellous storyteller with deep historical knowledge—shows you how some of Western civilization’s greatest literary masterpieces can speak to you and provide guidance in your life across the gulf of time and culture. Rich in historical perspective and infused with layers of meaning, these 36 lectures reveal the wealth of insight these enduring works can provide in your life. You’ll come to see that each of these works—whether written 2,000, 200, or 20 years ago—remain relevant to all of us.

 

What Makes a Book “Great”?

According to Professor Fears, four characteristics define a Great Book:

  • Its focus on great themes such as love, courage, and patriotism
  • Its composition in a noble language
  • Its ability to speak to readers across the ages
  • Its ability to speak to readers not as groups, but as individuals

https://www.thegreatcourses.com/courses/life-lessons-from-the-great-books.html

In this course he talked about what makes a great book – (1) Theme (2) Language (3) Speaks across ages. (4) Speaks to readers as individuals.

Using this prism, I tried to see whether any of the books in the 2017-2018 year in our Courtney park book club would speak across ages. Three books came across as possible candidates.

1-The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

2-Requiem- by Frances Itani

3- Do not say you have nothing- by Madeliene Thien.

While I highly recommend going through the course by Professor Fears, in summary the Great Lessons which he got as an individual from the books, which ranged from Addison’s Cato to Lawrence of Arabia’s book on the Arab Revolt to Ellie Wiesel’s -Night-

Synopsis:

 blog-book club.doc-1

Night — A terrifying account  of the Nazi death camp horror that turns a young  Jewish boy into an agonized witness to the death of  his family…the death of his innocence…and the  death of his God. Penetrating and powerful, as  personal as The Diary Of Anne  FrankNight awakens the shocking  memory of evil at its absolute and carries with it  the unforgettable message that this horror must  never be allowed to happen again.

 

Review:

In Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel’s memoir Night, a scholarly, pious teenager is wracked with guilt at having survived the horror of the Holocaust and the genocidal campaign that consumed his family. His memories of the nightmare world of the death camps present him with an intolerable question: how can the God he once so fervently believed in have allowed these monstrous events to occur? There are no easy answers in this harrowing book, which probes life’s essential riddles with the lucid anguish only great literature achieves. It marks the crucial first step in Wiesel’s lifelong project to bear witness for those who died.

https://www.abebooks.com/Night-Elie-Wiesel-Stella-Rodway-Translator/11794920419/bd

Great lessons as an individual (adapted from Professor Fears course)

1-See myself through the Eyes of others

2-Stepping back and look at the follies

3-Stop before a mistake turns into a tragedy

4-Connectedness- Are we really in need of this email?

5-How to make our life choices

6-Find and Follow your Destiny.

JUNE BOOK CLUB SELECTION PARTY

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JOURNEYS-THROUGH READINGS…Blue Mountain region-Ontario

As we met for the Yearly book selection party on 11th June, 2018, I looked back at my Reading Journal of the previous year, and the many discussions had over lovely books.

1-Can a person like Jack Reacher exist…after reading Night School

Some thoughts…While Jack Reacher is a composite character, there are persons from agencies who go to different societies and do the ‘dirty work’ of eliminating people

2-Who has right over the tissues..after reading Henrietta Lacks

Some thoughts..It is what you do with the tissues, which counts. Right from medical school days, we were made to label each and every specimen we took from anyone, and then make rounds in the records division as part of follow-up

3-How powerful are the New Gods…after reading American Gods

Some thoughts…Technology-Twitter and Trump are part of the debate. While many Canadians do not like Trump, there must be supporters of this trend, which put him in the White House.

Synopsis- of American Gods

It follows the tribulations of Shadow Moon, an ex-convict who wanders the U.S. — Gaiman’s adopted country for more than two decades — alongside a mysterious con man named Mr. Wednesday. Along the way, Wednesday and Shadow link up with ancient gods from an array of Old World pantheons, all of whom are living in obscurity in the hidden corners of a decaying America. Wednesday, who may or may not be a god himself, recruits them all to fight a war against the New Gods: media, technology, and the like.

Suggested Further Reading-

http://www.vulture.com/2017/04/neil-gaiman-american-gods-is-frighteningly-relevant.html

THE 2018-2019 Selection

Having 10 books to read and discuss over the year, is a great way to enhance one’s intellectual, emotional and even spiritual horizons. Each book club member has a personality of their own, and I have had many valuable insights and alternative ways of looking at things , while listening to the different takes on the same book.

This year-in Courtney Park Library – we will discuss

1-A Wrinkle in Time- by Madeliene L’Engle

2-Dead Wake- Eric Larson

3-Heart of Darkenss-Joseph Conrad

4-You are a badass- Jen Sincero

5-The Husband’s secret- Liane Moriarty

6-Animal Farm- George Orwell

7-A house in the sky- Amanda Lindhurst

8-15 dogs- Andre Alexis

9-When breath becomes air- Paul Kalarith

10-Underground Railroad- Lolson Whitehead

See link- http://www.mississauga.ca/portal/residents/courtneyparklibrary?paf_gear_id=9700018&itemId=103300381n

THE BUILDING OF THE HOME LIBRARY

Having a reading habit, and building a reading life, go a long way into deepening one’s humanity.

The Book club gives a window into works which at least I would have not generally read. It also introduced me to works for further reading.

For example, after Reading the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks I went through –Siddhartha Mukherjee’s- The Emperor of All Maladies.

It also made me re-read my notes of books on similar themes which we had discussed in a previous year- 2015-16-in Tripoli , we had gone through the book –Voices from Chernobyl-by Nobel Laureate Svetlana Alexievich

On April 26, 1986, the worst nuclear reactor accident in history occurred in Chernobyl and contaminated as much as three quarters of Europe. Voices from Chernobyl is the first book to present personal accounts of the tragedy. Journalist Svetlana Alexievich interviewed hundreds of people affected by the meltdown—from innocent citizens to firefighters to those called in to clean up the disaster—and their stories reveal the fear, anger, and uncertainty with which they still live. Comprised of interviews in monologue form, Voices from Chernobyl is a crucially important work, unforgettable in its emotional power and honesty

https://www.amazon.ca/Voices-Chernobyl-History-Nuclear-Disaster/dp/0312425848

Looking forward to another year of readings and discussions at Courtney Park

Suggested links of book discussions of past years

2013….A relook at Edward Said’s Orientalism and reflection on the words of G.Lukacs –

“The novelist is a poor imitation of the Creator God.”

https://prashantbhatt.com/2013/08/11/on-our-independence-day-part-1/

https://prashantbhatt.com/2013/08/13/on-our-independence-day-part-2/

2015… As a Ukrainian university instructor in Texas put it, reacting to the news about the Nobel: “my students do not weep when they read Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago, but when they read Alexievich’s Voices from Chernobyl—then they do.”

https://gracereadings.wordpress.com/2015/11/04/nobel-literature-2015-svetlana-alexievich/

 

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Changing pace-in multigenerational setting

 

Do not be economically astute, intellectually bankrupt

Paraphrased from an interview discussion of Bishop T D Jakes, in GLS 2018-as he talked with Strive Masiyiwa

As the grandparents visited Ontario, we went for some walks. Riverwood and Port Credit areas of Mississauga are some of the favorites.

A CHANGE OF PACE

Blue Mountains area of Ontario is a great place for a getaway for a short trip, to have a change of pace. We saw videos together of the times when we went for walks to Manori, Aksa beach regions of Mumbai or attended the various programs of the Bombay Natural History society- that was around ten years ago. The children used to study in Primary school then. Now , having gone through secondary school, high school and entering college-university education, they are in a different season of life.

THINKING PLACES-BLUE MOUNTAINS

THINKING PLACES-RIVERWOOD CONSERVANCY

Having stayed in Tripoli, came to know closely , professionals from different parts of the world. They introduced me to their music, and chants, spiritual practices, and traditions. How the calendar of the Orthodox church is different from the Catholic calendar.

KARIYA PARK

An evening at Kariya Park, which we first visited in July 2012, now six years on, the three generations came together here.

 

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On Tracking and Clubs

Write down all the moves, this will help improve your game

Bharat bhai-on Tracking

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Chess-moves-Tracking

As I saw Sahil and his uncle-Bharat Mama play chess, I remembered many such games I had played with my father, uncles, and grandfather in the 70s/80s, and how this was- along with the walking clubs, reading groups, one of the first clubs I became part of, informally, which added a great richness to life.

WALKING CLUB

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KARIYA PARK-MISSISSAUGA-July 2018

Around Father’s day, we had gone for walks, to Kariya Park area, and remembered previous walks-over yesteryears-with Father Figures of the community in Malta-2012, where we had even gone to the Cemetery at Floriana and paid respects to seniors of times gone by.

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FLORIANA-MALTA

See blog https://prashantbhatt.com/2012/06/19/fathers-day-walk/

The first ever walking club I remember was of the Pune of the 1970s when we would go for early morning walks – See blog-

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

WALKS-RAS AL HILAAL-SUSA-JEBEL AKHDAR-Green Mountains-Eastern Libya-2006

https://prashantbhatt.com/2008/08/19/walkers-at-lullanagar/

BOOK CLUB

When asked what gift I want from Mumbai, I told to bring Those days-the translation of Sunil Gangopadhyaya’s novel-Sei Samay- by Aruna Chakravarti.

We read some parts of the novel in Riverwood…

 

In the year 2017-2018 we had discussed –Anthony Doerr’s novel-All the

lights we cannot see

READING JOURNAL

I integrated some parts of my Reading Journal into the Reading-Walking Diary I keep –especially in Summer months- going out to open spaces like Riverwood, Port Credit, Hamilton mountain locations and sitting and reading/discussing

See Blog- https://wp.me/piL5Q-1li

 

Some interesting insights after discussions on Doerr’s novel

Blog-FU-AD-Those_Days_(Sei_Samay)_cover_page

 

  • As a genre I do not like reading war novels….

 

  • What about the French Resistance Kangaroo courts…

 

  • Bildungsroman novels- Sunil Gangopadhyay’s –Sei Samay-Those Days

 

END NOTE- FAMILY WALKS..

This was a unique visit of Bharat bhai and family with parents visiting from India

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KARIYA-PARK- 2018-July ..Many journeys remembered.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A few moments more

Perfectionism is a dangerous state of mind in an imperfect world. The best way is to forget doubts and set about the task at hand…if you are doing your best, you will not have time to worry about failure.”

Robert Hillyer, Poet and Harvard Professor

as quoted in John Maxwell’s book-The 360 Degree Leader

28 6 18 Gordon Graydon Graduation-2018

On the morning of the last day of school of my younger son Sahil, I went with him to Gordon Graydon memorial school to collect his last report card. We drove past Cawthra road to Ogden Avenue and memories of the first time he had taken me to this school four years ago, came alive. The accepting spirit of the staff here came alive in many ways over the years, as they guided my son through the high school grades.

“I see a future college university level student in him,” his French teacher in Grade 9-  Mr. Spanier had told me encouragingly as I had attended the first Parent Teacher meeting session in Gordon Graydon in 2014, a bit worried how he will transition from Camilla to Gordon Graydon.

“ He is a bit quiet but does his work. In building a life and room for ourselves in this society, new immigrants sometimes are not able to cope up with some aspects of parenting. This is internalized in many different ways by students-who themselves are transitioning through society, life, adolescence. This may lead to some children becoming very quiet.” Ms.Anton, the Physics teacher told us in the last Parent Teacher meeting we had, summarizing many currents.

THE FINALE-PRINCIPAL JEFF SCHUST ADDRESS

It was an emotional Graduation ceremony, as the class of 2018 will be the last graduating class of this school as the school closes its doors after 61 years of service to the community. Speakers with long-term relations addressed their relation to the school and its legacy, the tradition of education.

 

THE ADULT LEARNING SCHOOL- Valedictorian story

The story of the moth, needing time to grow out of the cocoon, was told very movingly. This has many lessons for all of us, in whatever stage of life we may be in

The above-quoted words of Robert Hillyer-on perfectionism in an imperfect world, matched the story of the moth and the cocoon, with struggle being the basis of growth, freedom, and flight

A FEW MOMENTS MORE

As we finished the ceremonies and the refreshments, we started walking back towards the car. Then Sahil gave us another nice memory and lesson of the day, as we parents in our haste to get on with our other commitments were told- I want to stay a few moments more.

Sahil stood quietly on the lawns of Cawthra school, where this final graduation ceremony of Gordon Graydon was held. He did not mingle with the crowd, but just stood on the side and watched the energy and enthusiasm of the students and staff. I do not know what exactly went through this young man’s mind, as he is on the threshold of a new chapter in his life.

But as a parent, I saw the movie of his school days come across me, in a few magical moments. I remembered the times he told of his school trips to Stratford, in 2016, on the 400th birth anniversary of Shakespeare. Or the times when he would go for live-Ins in St.Edward’s college-Malta. Or the times when he won the three-legged race in Pinnacle High –Malad-Mumbai (see blog- 2009-March- A three-legged race https://prashantbhatt.com/2009/03/02/three-legged-race/). He started his educational journey in play school in L’avenir –The Future- a school run by the Gnostic center, Delhi. As I thought of the different teachers and institutions who in their many creative dedicated ways shaped the identity of Sahil, a feeling of gratitude came across.

AFTERTHOUGHTS IN ARCH OF MARCUS AURELIUS-TRIPOLI-2009-MAY

In your actions, don’t procrastinate
In your conversations, don’t confuse.
In your thoughts, don’t wander.
In your soul, don’t be passive or aggressive.
In your life, don’t be all about business
Marcus Aurelius, Stoic Philosopher

The Stoics counseled that perfection and contentment could be reached through reason, simple living, indifference to pain and death, and social equality.

To the Stoics, a wise man was one who played the cards that were dealt him, uncomplainingly and with dignity, whether a slave or a king

Keeping reading journals and using literature as a framework has been a quest over the years.

Earlier perspectives- See blog-Readings in Riverwood

AUGUST 2015 https://prashantbhatt.com/2015/08/15/walks-and-meditations-around-riverwood-mississauga/

OCTOBER 2017 https://gracereadings.wordpress.com/2017/10/13/earlier-perspectives-readings-in-riverwood/

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Around Father’s Day-2018

Our family comes originally from the hills of Garhwal-and in Nov 2016, I had the good opportunity to pray and reflect at the Dhari Devi Temple where our family has prayed for generations.

This Father’s Day, 2018, I sat with my sons over a quiet meal and showed them some momentoes of the family- the Medals my father got over the decades of service to the Indian army. This year, I tried to guide my son Sagar and niece Divya into higher education, and try in my own way to explain the difference between school education and professional education.

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AROUND THE GANGA-Our family comes from the villages of Garhwal Himalayas, before the Ganga is known as the Ganga- at Devprayag..This is Alaknanda- around Chamoli area.Nov 2016

BE AVAILABLE-BE CAPABLE

Wilket Creek is one of my thinking places, and here, I have come over the years and try to break down complex issues into manageable parts , think through them and then create new possibilities and realities.

Micromanaging Teenagers?

As a father – it is challenging and frustrating to try and micro-manage teenagers who are trying to break into the professional studies

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GOZO CITADEL- MALTESE ISLANDS..BUILDING PERSPECTIVES AND CONTEXTS…When our family stayed in Malta-I came across seniors who showed me some of the challenges ahead-About Micromanaging Teenagers- a thing which one should not try…Over walks in and around Maltese islands, going for history walks in places like the Gozo citadel, built perspectives and contexts

The more you try-the more difficult it will become, so do not try too much- One senior told me, as he recalled his own efforts a few years ago, when he tried to convince his son, a brilliant high school student to not take up a literature course in Classics, the current world requires some more practical professional degrees.

The son did not listen, and went off to study classical literature at a University level, when he could have taken any course of his choice, based on his brilliant performance in the High school level.

For this, one has to try and balance –between not going into an overdrive –while being available to revise and think through the key aspects.

One has to try not to micro-manage, and just be available if they seek counsel, and try to give it in as capable-brief and relevant manner as possible.

These are aspects with whom I struggle and try to address in my own way, and this Father’s day, looking back on the year gone by, and also the times when I was a fresh professional student- on how to give direction and guidance, while not trying to micro-manage.

 

WILKET CREEK

a place where I went back and reflected upon the different public and educational institutions of which we became a part of-as our family started staying in Greater Toronto Area-GTA.

EARLIER PERSPECTIVES

As my younger son Sahil will pass out of Grade 12-(Gordon Graydon) this year, I look back at some thoughts shared at the Graduation day of my elder son Sagar-last year-at Glenforest

OVER WALKS..

We went for walks- to talk things over – around Father’s day and I looked back on some of the walks we went this year

 

2017 8 Algonquin-Canoe Lake

ALGONQUIN…many stories about people who walked these trails before..the paintings of Tom Thomson, the efforts of Taylor Statten-II – see https://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/child-psychiatrist-dr-taylor-statten-ii-was-an-inspiration-to-young-campers/article31473457/…for further nuances…People who built parts of the Canadian identity

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Diary as a Looking Glass

 

The diary is a looking glass. At first it reflects the diarist.

But it ends by revealing the reader

Stefan Kanfer, in Introduction to Penguin Book of Diaries.

Selected by Ronald Blythe

* * * * * * *

What would a family member have written about a day trip- fifty years ago?

 

As we roamed around in Riverwood , Jack Darling, Rattray Marsh areas of Mississauga, and I showed Hardik and Aarti, the many places where we have read and walked in Riverwood- this question made me think of the many journeys done by different sections of the family over time.

MISSISSAUGA TRAILS.

The Yellow Trail is different from the Red Trail. Then we walked towards Erindale park and sat on a bench where we have come many times over the years and read-reflected on works of literature. Today, (20.5.18-Sunday) we went through the introductions and some thoughts on the Penguin Book of diaries from our home library.

 


VANCOUVER  EXPERIENCES

Hardik told of the day he managed to get an interview with a university representative in Churchgate area and how he drove in his Splendour Motorcycle from Bhiwandi.

That trip has now evolved into many journeys, and he visited Niagara to see the Sound and Lights on Victoria day.

Now he goes to New Jersey to visit his uncle, who once gifted him a tennis racket- and there were some of his colony friends who commented that this was a strange type of badminton racket.

Hardik has come a long way from the time he would think of setting up a Gaming company or help his father with the pharmacy.

Learned many things regarding the running of two branches of the Car Rental Enterprise company, from the Business model to the time when a colleague told his Manager-(Mr.Hardik)…

“ I am closing the branch in five minutes and leaving. There is an emergency in my daughter’s school.”

The Manager has to think fast.

“Can you wait for fifteen minutes while I try to arrange something?”

He could not let his Branch close down in the middle of the day.

READING JOURNAL

These places are also part of our Reading journal –Thinking place exercises.

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Rattray Marsh-Port Credit-Mississauga-One of our Thinking -Reading places

What does a particular work of literature or art tell us about humanity? With Appu, who had come from Vasai-Malad, we had discussed Howard Zinn’s- A People’s History of United States and browsed through some pages from Teresa Albuquerque’s- Bassein-The Portuguese  Interlude.

This Sunday, while walking through Riverwood’s –Yellow Trail, I told Hardik about the last book we discussed in the 2017-2018 year of the Courtney Park Book Club.

In the pre-discussion entry of Anthony Doerr’s book-see blog  https://wp.me/p5YX3a-mm I felt that some characters like Von Rumpel- the gemologist, who may have not been the main protagonists start developing a stronger voice than Werner or Marie Laure.

What new insights were gained through the Book Club discussion

Reading and then rating a book out of 10 can be an interesting exercise. This had been mentioned in the previous blogs- discussing Jack Reacher’s

Then the members give their comments and rating on the books- this is followed by discussions on the characters, plot, genre and what we can get out of this particular work of literature.

See blog-  for a detailed discussion  https://wp.me/p5YX3a-mb on what makes a character like Jack Reacher so durable, can such a character exist, what other types of wars exist.

Some interesting insights after discussions on Doerr’s novel

  • As a genre I do not like reading war novels….
  • What about the French Resistance Kangaroo courts…
  • Bildungsroman novels- Sunil Gangopadhyaya’s –Sei Samay-Those Days

While those many discussions are probably best not made directly public, the discussion did make a setting to explore whether Doerr’s Pulitzer prize winning novel- could fall into a coming of age –Bildungsroman –novel. Maybe I am biased, but I feel that Sunil Gangopadhyaya’s novel –Sei Semay- is definitely a more nuanced historical novel than Doerr’s work.

SEI SAMAY- THOSE DAYS-

Set against the backdrop of the Bengal Renaissance and the rebellion of 1857, the novel revolves around the lives of great men including reformers like Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Debendranath Tagore and his father Dwarkanath Tagore, and also poets like Michael Madhusudan Dutt. Originally written in Bengali, Those Days was translated by Aruna Chakravarti and combines history with fiction in the perfect manner.

Was the Bengal Renaissance the seed-time of nationalistic fervor that culminated in the Swadeshi Movement? Was it more in the nature of an enlightenment? Or was it a form of religious revivalism or Hindu nationalism, the betenoir of the secularists?

In Gangopadhyay’s world of the Bengal Renaissance, there are the good Europeans such as David Hare and John Bethune, sympathetic to the Indian cause just as there are bad Englishmen who comprise the bulk of the trading and missionary classes.

There are plenty of bad natives too: servile, decadent and collusive.(1)

FIFTY YEARS AGO

2013-lodhi

LODHI-GARDENS-Delhi

The many walks in Lodhi gardens-Delhi, where four generations of our family have walked, or the hills and rivers –streams in and around the Rishikesh-Dehradun, or the hill temples in and around Shimla region would be the setting of some day trips of the family- if they had been written fifty years ago.

In the case of Buddhdeo family – many nuances of the journey which his father and grandfather took, the family having migrated from Karachi of what was then British India, came alive.

This thought made me recall conversations with senior family members, about their swimming in the waters of Nandprayag-Garhwal or the times when they would go to Benares-to visit their Jijaji and Didi (My grandfather-GPU-used to teach in BHU..see blog..https://prashantbhatt.com/family-photographs/

END NOTE

The family day trip, through nature trails, opened up many aspects of nature, family, reading journal and our home library. Later, when we returned, I showed them some pictures and relics, the momento given to my Father, on his retirement from Indian Army, after 33 years of service-on April 4,1996, which we have in our living room in Mississauga. These opened up other conversations and many nuances of family histories and associations with different institutions.

 

References- Suggested Further readings

https://www.indiatoday.in/magazine/society-the-arts/books/story/19971013-book-review-sunil-gangopadhyays-those-days-a-novel-830716-1997-10-13

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