Out of your skin

What are we supposed to get out of this (story, poem, play)?
While the formal reading group meets once a month, I read and discussed the same pieces of literature in different locations informally.

Burlington Plaza-Cafe-

BURLINGTON PLAZA-BRANT STREET, ONTARIO- Mai-orignially from Taiwan-now living in Hamilton, runs this cafe with his wife. A lunch time Reading -Thinking place , we discuss and learn many things about life, work, community in that break

In the previous book club discussion-(February-2018) on Madeliene Thein’s- Do not say we have nothing- the members had varied responses.

1-Madeliene Thien

One experienced reader said that he stopped at Page 127, the characters were too difficult to keep track of, and the historical context of the Cultural revolution was not clear. Another experienced reader said that she went through the whole book- to Honour the memory of the people whose struggle the book tells about

Another experienced reader said that she went through the whole book- to Honour the memory of the people whose struggle the book tells about

An Alternate Memory

The book ends on the note by the author- Not everyone who supported and strengthened this story can be named. To my beloved friends in Shanghai, Hangzhou,Beijing, and Danhuang, thank you for accompanying me through the book of records and an alternate memory of history. Remember what I say- Not everything will pass.

The book takes us inside two talented families musicians of China , lives of two entwined generations- Those who weathered Mao’s Cultural Revolution, and their children , who became the Tiananmen Square protestors.

What are we supposed to get?

In their introduction to the pocket anthology of literature, Gywnn and Campbell write that if you have really savoured the full experience that good literature offers, then the first thing you should get “out of” will be your own skin- when you do that you will answer your own question. For a few moments you lose your own identity and see through the eyes of an Elizabethian Englishman, a modern Nigerian, or a contemporary Canadian woman, and you may just find that in some significant way your own manner of looking at the world will never be quite the same again.

Some books which got us into different Skins – The Reading list


Robert Sawyer’s-Calculating God-made us discuss the meaning of ultimate reality. The book takes place in the present day and describes the arrival on Earth of sentient aliens. The bulk of the novel covers the many discussions and arguments on this topic, as well as about the nature of belief, religion, and science. Thomas Jericho, a paleontologist working at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, makes the first human-to-alien contact when a Forhilnor, a spider-like alien from the third planet of the Beta Hydri system arrives on Earth to investigate Earth’s evolutionary history. The alien, Hollus, has come to Earth to gain access to the museum’s large collection of fossils, and to study accumulated human knowledge in order to gather evidence of the existence of God. It seems that Earth and Hollus’ home planet, and the home planet of another alien species traveling with Hollus, all experienced the same five cataclysmic events at roughly the same time. Hollus believes that the universe was created by a god, to provide a place where life could develop and evolve. Thomas Jericho is an atheist who provides a balance to the philosophical discussion regarding the existence of gods.(source-Wikipedia)


March 2018-Readings- Riverwood

Going to open places to read- gives an interesting twist to the reading experience.

This morning, went to Riverwood and read again- about the Inmate Shadow from Neil Gaiman’s –American Gods. Shadow is released early from prison as his wife Laura dies in a car crash. He meets Wednesday and goes into crime. The use of language by Gaiman helps expand, and going by the experience of “Getting Out of your Skin” the author gets the reader into the mind-frame of different characters.


Shadow remembers his carousel ride as a child in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco –on his first trip to the States and the sound of music makes him wish as though the last 36 hours had never happened (when he gets out of jail and goes to his wife’s funeral) , as if the last three years had not happened (his jail term).

Riverwood-3-3-18 –American Gods-Neil Gaimon



Perspective Note
Keeping a Reading Journal enhances the reading experience in many ways. Going to different-“thinking places” to read adds another twist. Different reading member groups bring different flavours to the reading experience. In this quarter we discussed-read three books-which bring out concepts of Faith, Community, life in different ways.

Posted in Reading Journal | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Around Family Day-2018

A  home library consists of unique books- with related notes- and picture library, and journals-diaries which provide a great resource to gaining and building perspectives.

As it becomes a bit warmer, I did my first walk and reading of Riverwood- of this season.



RIVERWOOD-MISSISSAUGA-One of our Reading-Thinking places     There are many facets to this beautiful zone.
One of them is Nature. Then there is Visual Arts Mississauga where there are interesting art programs. I use this area as a Thinking-Reading place, where we have discussed many interesting books-ranging from Stories of Libyan writers to Essays of James Baldwin to Writings of Nehru, Amartya Sen to business-management books.   A Reading Habit can have many interesting facets which add to one’s humanity.



In our family home library- we have many books collected from different locations- and have made jottings on where I first got that book from, or whom I read it with, or with whom we discussed it. Recently I went to a bookstore in a Village in Mountain locations in Hamilton- the Pickwick Books.



PICKWICK-BOOKS-Waterdown-Hamilton-Reminded me of many lovely evenings spent browsing through books in Aurobindo Place Market-Delhi


This reminded me of the many lovely evenings I spent in Delhi’s Midland book store- Aurobindo place market, with my mentor Dr.Sandeep Kawlra- and how we would eat chaat next to the Free Church of Greenpark.  I got hold of a book-an anthology of literature- and quickly went out- as I would otherwise start buying more books.

The first story I started reading was “Interpreter of Maladies” by Jhumpa Lahiri, which is featured as one of the great writings of the past hundred years. In the introduction, the editors write about Lahiri’s sense of exile created by being connected to but not to fully belonging to three different continents- a theme of much of her work.


Gifted to me by my grandfather-Dr. Ganesh Prasad Uniyal- this is the first book from our collection in Mississauga. I have kept similar family library collections in Palam-Delhi region and Fornaaj-Tripoli region (which I will recover some day-when I return to Tripoli).



TEEN MURTI BHAWAN- DELHI-INDIA..The lawns make for a nice Reading place. There is a nice canteen which serves very reasonable good food.


While there is much talk about the recent visit of Canadian Prime Minister- Justin Trudeau – to India and the concept of Indian nationhood, we went through some pages of Nehru’s autobiography and also Ramachandra Guha’s –India after Gandhi- in which Guha has written about the Unnatural Nation –where the forces that divide are many, but there are also forces that have kept India together, that have helped transcend or contain the cleavages of class and culture, that- so far, at least- have nullified those many predictions that India would not stay united and not stay democratic.


As this blog enters it’s tenth year, I looked at the different Readings-Travels-Discussions-meetings which have shaped our journeys.

Three things which make a Unique Home library

Books- in which there are jottings on where one acquired the book- or with whom did one discuss or where.

For example- the Autobiography of Nehru was acquired by us- as a gift from my Grandfather, when our family was staying in Pratap Chowk-Delhi Cantonment- in 1982.

I have kept this book with me in our home library of Mississauga- as the first book of the collection.

The book-India after Gandhi-by Ramachandra Guha- I acquired in Mumbai- and this book has been discussed read in Tripoli Reading Group, in post-revolutionary Libya, with several Libyans who are still trying to come to terms with their Nationhood after the overthrow of Gaddafi who ruled for 42 years.

Tripoli Skyscapes-Dec 2015

A view from Corniche-Near Mahari-Tripoli-Libya…a beautiful place to read and feel the Mediterranean breeze


These build perspective as to how life is, who we are, and what we can become.

I have kept joint journals with different family members, and another unique section is –Letter to a Loved one who has passed away. In these collection of letters- I have written to different family members who have passed away, and this is a great way to build long term perspective.

As writer –psychologist-Dr.Phil McGraw says in his book-Real Life-  that when a loved one passes away physically our relation with them does not end, but becomes a spiritual relation. This point has been written in different ways by Coach John Wooden and Viktor Frankl- (Man’s search for Meaning). These books form part of our Home Library collection.

Following the cues of these writers- I started writing a monthly letter to my parents-and for now three years running, I have found many interesting changes in family life and perspectives due to these writings. I also write a monthly letter-with a book summary to my grandfather-Dr.GP Uniyal- he was a teacher of Political science- and though I am a medical doctor this exercise of writing book summaries-made me think on what would be interesting or noteworthy to my grandfather. This made me look at books in a different way. Recently in Courtney Park-Book Club- we read and discussed Madeliene Thien’s -Do not say you have nothing- which tells about life in China during and after the Cultural revolution. Writing a letter to my grandfather-summarizing that book- was a great perspective building exercise.


Each family has a unique collection of photographs, (and in today’s world-Videos) which add to the uniqueness of that Family. The blog is a great place to keep these in one place, to be able to look back and reflect and mine those experiences.


22 Xlendi Gozo

GOZO-XLENDI..It is very peaceful here, especially in off season winter time- to read and walk



one can look at the same experience (Reading) with different “Thinking Hats”

As a diary entry– It was drizzling in Riverwood on the morning of February 25,2018, there were some sections of Ice, which made it slippery, but the experience of reading in a forest was unique

As a Reading Journal entry– As we went through the different books we have on Indian Nationhood-from Nehru’s Autobiography to India After Gandhi-by Ramachandra Guha, to India in Slow Motion by Mark Tully to The Argumentative Indian- by Amartya Sen, we had some lively and in-depth discussions on the different facets of identity.

As a Library Inventory note- We discussed the different sections of the home library, and how our sense of community grew out of the books we carried with us, through our journeys across Continents. We had a re-look at some collections of essays-and remembered how we had gone through essays on Identity like those of James Baldwin- Alas Poor Richard and Notes of a Native son- sitting in Malta.




Posted in Reading Journal | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Our trees still grow in Palam

This month, my sons visited the house in Palam where they stayed as toddlers.

I was thinking of writing this post for some time, but today, I thought I should make an attempt to connect the dots of this important trip, with many facets and layers.

Ten years ago, when I used to come to visit the children from Tripoli, they would be studying in Pinnacle High school-Malad, and we would go for trips to Manori, Marve, Mindspace, Aksa and attend programs by Bombay Natural History society at Sanjay Gandhi National park.

Another decade before that, when I used to study in KEM –Parel, we had a view of the world, before starting a family, the priorities were different.

Now, after having stayed two years in Malta, and five years in Canada, the children returned to visit their grandparents in Nirlon colony-Malad and we had a revised new version of the Family photographs.




2-Jan-2018-A POEM BY THE SEA-AKSA BEACH…Arabian sea…Happy Birthday Nani


Of the many photographs of the pujas, get-togethers, reunions, this one on the shores of Aksa stands out as a symbol of the many currents which flow across generations.

In taking this Canadian immigration journey, we gain something we lose something.

As my friends from Juma Saaga-days of Tripoli used to say- Juma Saaga- where we formed many concepts and revisited many issues- Everything has a plus and a minus.e

This picture is a small poem by the Arabian sea…a monument of love of grandchildren to their dear Nani-ji. When they first came to Malta in 2010, their grandmother had told me in  a sad voice-

“Give them so much love that they do not miss me.”

It was a tall order, which no one can fulfill, but even if one falls short, it is a good goal to try and measure oneself to.

The love of grandparents is so much different from the love of a parent. But there are some things, which have to be done, the way they are.






So the children moved from Pinnacle Malad to St.Edward’s Cottonera and every family has their secrets, ups and downs but they saw a different vision of the world, civilization and society.




2018-January- NANA-JI -with Grandsons..Many lovely hours spent walking by the Arabian sea


4.4 playing in sand in Aksa.Bombay may 2006






BROTHERS…Mayank-Sagar-Sahil…January 2018…see blog https://prashantbhatt.com/2010/06/29/children-growing/ for earlier perspective


Earlier perspectives…Walks in Lodhi


Dusk at Lodhi

LODHI-July 2012-Shailu-ji, Mamta-Divya walking towards Bada Gumbad. Four generations of our family have walked in Lodhi Gardens. Mayank-met Snuggy dog here, one morning- when i showed them the gate on which is inscribed- 9 th April 1936..the day Lodhi gardens was established…Do you know on which Gate of Lodhi this inscription is?




VASANT KUNJ- The many notes and things about life which I learned from my Dear Mausa-ji, from Lullanagar Golibar Maidan Pune to the Walks in Lodhi Gardens and Palam of Delhi region came alive in many interesting ways in this great reunion.

My mother’s sister Abha Mausi-ji also celebrated her birthday around the same time. This reunion had many layers of emotions, as a sister remembered the days when she would visit Palam from the University campus in Sagar.

“I sometimes stand on the road facing Mahipalpur and think how it would have been if she had been there with us physically,” she says, being the person who probably misses her the most



DADI-JI……….Saraswati Bua-ji…the many evenings we used to spend in B Block park as toddlers

This picture with Saraswati Bua-ji, reminds us of the days when the boys were toddlers and would play in the B Block park of Palam in the evenings. The park is still there. I went and sat there for a while with my aunty, and felt the spirits of persons gone by.


DEVRAJ-BHAI…The family grows..This year-his eldest son Mudit got married. And he wrote to us – You have been a part of us..do come.. Many memories came alive from Kankarkhera Meerut to Waterworks Agra to Palam Gurgaon


The two rooms in the first floor of Palam Vihar house has got pictures of five generations of our family. Framed and looking down upon us, are our ancestors, the many nuances of life in Garhwal in British India, to Shimla in the 1930s/40s and the way the family evolved through Benares and Delhi.


The boys saw their pictures of their first birthdays, and the many connections we used to have in that period of stay in Palam. We stayed for six years in Palam, and that was the foundation of our many journeys.


ON FIRST BIRTHDAYS- Sagar and Sahil with a picture of their father-Prashant-with his grandfathers-Ganesh Prasad Uniyal and Bhawani Shankar Bhatt-Nov 1968

AS TODDLERS…Many smiles at Palam


2003- Sagar- when he used to study in L’avenir -Gnostic Centre

4 phone to guddi aunty

2003-SAHIL…Making phone to Guddi-aunty…the Bisht family who stay in front of us, Mr R S Bisht-his mother originally from our ancestral village of Uphalda-Srinagar -Garhwal-Uttarakhand. ..Sahil would run to their house, knock on the door and ask for Goodies






Our trees still grow there.


OUR TREES STILL GROW IN PALAM..Seeing my sons with the trees planted by my parents gave rise to many mixed feelings. Remembered Richard Holloway’s words-in Leaving Alexandria-…I know now that roads choose us and what they unfold before us is not the person we want to be, but the person we already are, the person time slowly discloses to us.

Posted in Diary, Mentoring | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Here’s to our High School Days-Year End Diary-2017

The diary-keeper is an interventionist, the transmuter of what would be normally perishable into what must last. Without a diary, almost everything we do or say or think or feel slips very quickly into oblivion. The born or natural diarist-he is a special being and not like the rest of us- cannot bear that this should be so. It cannot be egotism which makes him write, “Saw Price the grocer uncrating oranges, “ or “Rain shakes the line of poplars”, but a kind of spiritual craving for holding such actions in his personal vision forever, or until the final entry.

Ronald Blythe-Penguin book of Diaries

* * * *

This year, my son Sagar, passed out of High school (Glenforest-Mississauga). My niece Divya-joined Medical school to become a third generation aspirant into the field of medicine.

Where-ever one goes, one finds some aspects of the local community which are interesting and worth learning from and imbibing.



Central High School-Brant Street-Burlington


After acquiring some limited licenses to work in North America, work carries me to a place around 40 km away from my house in Mississauga, and there, I found this written on a wall of Central High School-Brant Street Burlington.  There is a quiet park- on Baldwin street- next to this school. During lunchtime, I sit in the Tim Horton’s at the junction of Victoria-Baldwin street and Brant street and browse through my yearly journals and letters of 2017.


Wellington Park-Baldwin Steet-Burlington




“I would have passed this exam in one week’s preparation”

A remark of an aunt who has never passed any academic exam after High School-to an international medical graduate (IMG) trying to carve his place in the system here.

* * *



TIM HORTON DISCUSSIONS..From Victoria Park Avenue-North York, to Falstaff Road, to Eglinton-Kennedy-Mississauga to Brant street-Burlington..                                                                                 many nuances discussed over cups of coffee and soups


When two or more people come together in harmony- a third invisible intangible force comes into being. Many wisdom writers have written about this. I had long conversations with a young man in his late twenties, trying to carve a space for himself in the Canadian system. I learnt many things from this young man, who sometimes in his frustration and aspiration, wonders how I know these things. I then remind him that I too was some time –long time ago- his age.

As I reviewed the many notes –kept in a private journal- about the dialogues and dynamics of his family, his interactions with the different interviewers (some of them are very sweet- but they never get back with the job offer…to which I told him to be on guard with persons who are “very sweet” and make you off guard and get out the information) to the times when he has been going early in the morning to draw samples from nursing homes where Elderly people resist his attempts in different ways.

Sitting in different Tim Horton cafes from Falstaff road (Where I told him the story of Falstaff- the great character of Shakespeare’s history plays- King Henry V- and the tavern life which he represented, and was rebuffed when Prince Hal became the king)…to Victoria Park Avenue- where we would gather after the preparatory classes (where the instructor would explain around 10 MCQs in 3 hours, repeating the points again and again..and we realized how – sitting in a class which is uneven, with people of different levels of reading- one has to be very patient) ..to the Tim near 1 Eva Road-where we gave our different licensing exams.

What was she thinking?

“I would have passed this exam in one week’s preparation”

What was she thinking? …He gave me windows into worlds which I would never have come to know, different facets of Toronto life..what was his aunt thinking about this exam. As I told this young man to be patient, he told how people who do not know the spelling of Paediatrics try to teach him the immunization schedules.


As we did our rounds of Ryerson University and the introductory sessions tried to give us a window into the  University life of Toronto –Canada, my mind’s eye went back to the conversations I would have with my father, when he described his pre-medical study days –in Gol Market-Delhi and then the times when he became a medical student  (AIIMS-1958 joining batch).  That time, the family used to stay in Sarojini Nagar. Then I thought of my own times when I first entered university (MAMC-1985 batch) and the nuances and differences between the Delhi and Mumbai universities (Radiology-KEM-1993 batch).


Mayank and Divya-Making Notes

JOINT DIARIES-2011- OCTOBER- Making notes together-Writing Joint diaries, reflecting on visits to Jim Corbett National park, the visit to Mussoorie-reading Ruskin Bond’s “Panther’s moon” and remembering the Aarti at Ramjhula Rishikesh where the environmentalist Sunderlal Bahuguna was also present the day the children attended


Being a medic, I do not know much about the intricacies of the Introduction to Engineering course which my son-Sagar is doing from Ryerson. All I can help him with is, sometimes picking him up when he returns late. However, it is different with my niece Divya- who  this year, joined Medical college and is trying to get to know the terms  of different subjects of medicine.

My father was a great mentor to me, and I wonder what he would have said , how he would have guided his grand-daughter. One of the meditations – I once got from a writing instructor was- Speak or Write in the voice of your favourite writer.

            Following this theme, I tried to tell Divya about what lesser mortals like us- who do not have “Photographic memory” (as some claim ) – do to pass Medicine and then get into specialist training.

The issue of repeated revision, mnemonics, and having a study-buddy- cannot be stressed more.




LODHI GARDENS-Sheesh Gumbad-many discussions over the years


As I pass by the Central school of Burlington, and think about this writing on the wall- To our High School days- I remember the many schools my children studied, in the year, when my elder son passed out of school. Starting from the play school of L’avenir- Gnostic centre, it has been a journey which made me look at systems, talk to different educators about their concept of education. Some teachers just go through the rounds, but some teachers do something extra, which sticks to the mind. I still remember my teachers Mr.Augustine Lobo of St.Vincent’s high school-Pune (1970s) and the English teacher Mrs.Majumdar of Army Public School-Delhi-1980s..who taught us students to look beyond the routine curriculum, appreciate the finer details which make life.

As I remember my talks with my sons-nephews-nieces- I felt happy remembering that my niece Divya was the only student in her high school class who could answer about the paintings to Thomas Daniels and Tilly Kettle of the Company period , and when her teacher of Birla Vidya Niketan asked how she knew, she told about her uncle who takes her for walks to the Purana Quila- Old Indraprastha fort and National Gallery where these are discussed and displayed.


As the year 2017 draws to a close, I browsed through some of the home and work journals. Some IMGs asked in an exasperated tone- “What does this system want from us?” To which there can be answers which can fill libraries. One instructor –Mr.Luciano –tells to be patient- not to rush and always remember- There is something inside me- that is stronger than the resistance outside me.

That could be a nice one-line answer to what this system wants..testing the strengths inside.

For those stuck in the mechanistic underemployment which many professionals find themselves in Canada, the one-word answer is –Worksheet.

The system here has tick-boxes on a worksheet. If you fit into the Tick-box of the Worksheet, you are through. If not, then you are out.


For Notes on Thinking Places- See blog-






Retelling the Stories of our Community-Museums as Thinking places



2017 8 Huntsville-Trans Canadian trail



For Notes from Reading Journal-See Blog

Outside the Frame


Readings in Riverwood



2011- In the year-end Diary of 2011 we pondered over the following statement

While many thinkers have  mused over how to start a revolution,

 not many think of how to end it.

…now in 2017-December-still thinking about the complexities.




TRIPOLI-LIBYA…Walls-2011….While many thinkers have  mused over how                                    to start a revolution,
 not many think of how to end it.


2014-Association with persons like Rumi encourage one to keep a spiritual diary.




HAGIA SOPHIA..SULTANAHMET-ISTANBUL…The historical Constantinople


Posted in Diary, Mentoring, Reading Journal, Tripoli Reading Group | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Outside the Frame-Notes from my Reading journal-2017

“It’s – just – light a little candle”

Nurse-Una Brownly- a nurse from Livingstonia Mission, Malawi

In Paul Theroux’s –Dark Star Safari-

Overland from Cairo to Cape Town-page 311

“Many an object is not seen, though it falls within the range of our visual ray, because it does not come within the range of our intellectual ray.”

Henry David Thoreau

“This is how I want to get old,”said Lena, “with spirit like Miss Carrie’s. Connected, engaged. With people of every age,. Even the ones who are dead”

The Character Lena- in Frances Itani’s book- Requiem which was featured in Mississauga Library system- as part of One Book-One Mississauga, discussed in Central Library-on Sep 25,2017 as part of Canada 150 celebrations.


A reading journal is a great place to go back to, and refine expand shape our thoughts.

In the previous blog-we looked at some museums and galleries which we intentionally  developed as “thinking places”, ranging from Bradley Museum of Port Credit Mississauga, to the Art Gallery of Hamilton, to the galleries and many fine special exhibitions of Royal Ontario Museum

See blog https://wp.me/piL5Q-1hM

Retelling the Stories of our Community-Museums as Thinking places

On reviewing my Reading Journal of 2017, in which I have kept reflective notes on the courses seen together with my sons, the thinking places and museums we visited to shape –refine our thinking and the reading places- like Naturalization zone near our house, Riverwood- Port Credit-Edwards Botanical gardens where we went and read and discussed, I remembered similar discussions we used to have in Tripoli under the auspices of Tripoli reading group.

A Reading Journal is a fine way to develop Big Picture thinking.

In his book –Thinking for a change- John Maxwell writes that Big picture thinkers realize there is a world out there besides their own, and they make an effort to get outside of themselves and see other people’s worlds through their eyes. It’s hard to see the picture while inside the frame. To see how others see, you must first find out how they think. Becoming a good listener certainly helps with that.  So does getting over personal agenda and trying to take the other person’s perspective.


Reading a Novel- Novels have great lessons to teach about life. The reading of a novel is like the knowing of a person, place, situation, and helps develop long-term strategic and big-picture thinking.

If one intentionally keeps a Reading journal- to see what life lessons specific to one’s context are there in a piece of writing, the returns of reading are compounded exponentially.  As I attended the Book Club meetings of Mississauga Library system, I found that some veterans who had been attending such meetings for over a decade, saw me keep notes, and lamented the fact that there were no such notes of their many meetings over the past ten years. The Book Club members are very well read, and I found that they could add very interesting insights and expand one’s way of looking at seeing a literary work


The March discussion was on Paul Theroux’s – Great Railway Bazaar. Many people consider it a classic in the genre of travel writing. The first part of the route, to India, followed what was then known as the hippie trail. It sold 1.5 million copies upon release.

In 2006, Theroux retraced the journey, finding that people and places had changed, and that while he was famous for his earlier work he was not recognised in person. His account of this second journey was published as Ghost Train to the Eastern Star. (Wikipedia)

I expanded my own participation in the Book Club, by going through another work by the same author. For this I picked up –Dark Star Safari-Overland from Cairo to Cape Town.

In the book club discussion on Great Railway Bazaar, we had asked each other if we had been to any of the railway stations described in the book. I remembered my own trips to Istanbul from Tripoli. In my childhood, I have been on the narrow gauge train from Kalka to Shimla many times. Our family used to stay in Upper Kaithu Bazaar, Shimla, before shifting to Delhi region.

In reading –Dark Star Safari- I remembered my own trips to Cairo, and having lived in Africa (Libya) for long, the note on Nurse Una Brownly struck a deep chord.


It’s just-light a little candle

  Theroux met many interesting and important people in his overland journey through Africa.

Blog 2017-12-26-1

Theroux writes about his admiration for Nurse Una Brownly, a long-term medical worker in Africa for her humility, one of her greatest virtues being that she was unaware of how virtuous she was. She had not uttered a single word of sanctimony

(Sanctimony- pretended, affected or hypocritical religious devotion, righteousness )

She had no idea that I was a writer. Her sympathy was tempered by realism, yet she had not complained about her fate. No Malawian nurse or doctor would have gone near this public bus, nor taken a 3 day trip from Livingstonia to Lilongwe.

My soliciting her opinion on charity work in Africa seemed to amuse her, for it is a characteristic of the long-term expatriate health workers in Africa that they do their jobs without complaint or cynicism. (Page 311- Dark Star Safari-Paul Theroux)


On being pressed that so little had changed, this is practically the same country I left 35 years ago, maybe worse, the government doesn’t even care enough to help you, she replied

“It’s-just –light a little candle”

This was too broad a subject, she said with what seemed like hesitation but something that was actually a statement of fortitude..It’s just – light a little candle”…she went back to watching the road ahead, for we had entered the outer villages of Lilongwe District.

PERSPECTIVE NOTE- Having worked in Health sector in Libya for long, I came across many expatriate overseas workers who engaged with the local communities and served them for long. The Churches of different denominations in Tripoli –Benghazi region provided a platform where workers from different institutions could meet and exchange notes. The work of some businessmen in keeping the supply lines of medicines and reagents to run Dialysis centers gave a different window into the many facets of reality.

While we used to stay in capital Tripoli, where things were better, some of my colleagues opened my eyes to more harsher conditions in the interiors, where the facilities were worse and the rule of law was not existing even in more stable times of the previous regime.

At present, the dinar is trading at over 10 to a dollar.

I talked to workers who have come away from Ibn Sina of Sirte – after it was run over by Daeish.  These workers found work in Tripoli, Ras-al-Anuf, and Misrata, trying to piece together the different threads of their lives.

The way the managers of some clinics treat the expatriate health workers reflects Brinkmanship –Take it or Leave it, probably the managers assume that these workers are staying here in such difficult circumstances, so they do not have better options.

From the worker’s angle- once one leaves one’s country, one has to work through for at least some period of time, before changing course, otherwise, all efforts will be wasted and come to naught.


Earlier Perspectives

2008-Enrich your life- with a read a day


“Apart from the known and the unknown, what else is there”


                                                Lenny ..In the Home coming


Harold Pinter-Oct 10,1930 to Dec 25,2008

Click here to read full post https://wp.me/piL5Q-3S

2009- Subtle awakenings-Remembering Rishikesh at Apollonia

Recalling a 2006 Trip to Jebel Akhdar-Green mountains of Eastern Libya


Cyrene lies in a lush valley in the Jebel Akhdar uplands. The city was named after a spring, Kyre, which the Greeks consecrated to Apollo. It was also the seat of the Cyrenaics, a famous school of philosophy in the 4th century BC, founded by Aristippus, a disciple of Socrates. It was then nicknamed the “Athens of Africa”.(Wikipedia)

Click here to read full post https://wp.me/piL5Q-a7

2010-Readings of Idylls of the King-at Art Institute of Chicago


Blog 2017-12-26-3-malta

MALTA-Floriana-CEMETERY-read- blog-Father’s Day Walk- https://wp.me/piL5Q-rY

The whole work recounts Arthur’s attempt and failure to lift up mankind and create a perfect kingdom, from his coming to power to his death at the hands of the traitor Mordred. (wikipedia)Click here to read full post https://wp.me/piL5Q-bS

2011-Evacuations in Tripoli-Touch and go


Blog 2017-12-26-yasin

YASIN-Friends of Bouazizi


“ Miss Addams understood why each person had become what he was.

She didn’t condemn because she understood what life does to  people

To those of us who have everything and those of us who have nothing.”

From –Touch and Go-Studs Terkel’s Memoir

Click here to read full post https://wp.me/piL5Q-dx

2012-One year on-What is the change


One man may not kill. If he kills a fellow-creature, he is a murderer. If two, ten, a hundred men do so, they, too, are murderers. But a government or a nation may kill as many men as it chooses, and that will not be murder, but a great and noble action. 

                                                                        Leo Tolstoy


Click here to read full post https://wp.me/piL5Q-k3

2013-Kabir to Safir-Exploring Public domains

“I keep doing the same thing again and again and expect different results,”

Click here to read full post https://wp.me/piL5Q-z5

2014-Don Quixote-

We all start by laughing at the Don, we end by recognizing ourselves in him

Click here to read full post https://wp.me/piL5Q-Iy

Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery-Tripoli

2015-On her influences- Nobel Literature 2015- Svetlana Alexievich

Although Khatyn, by  Ales Adamovich was a work of fiction and Alexievich was a journalist, the method of closing one’s eyes to monument and listening to voices until the ruins underneath begin to move was the one that she made her own.

Click here to read full post http://wp.me/p5YX3a-c2

2016-Shafshoofa to Shakshooka

“We got rid of Shafshoofa, now we have Shakshooka”

Summary of the present situation in Libya

Shafshoofa-in Libyan Arabic was used to imply the Dictator-Gadhafi who had long hair-some said-full of lice. Shafshoofa Maleshi –became one of the most popular slogans of the Libyan Revolution of 2011

Shakshooka– In Local dialectic, this implies the chaos, “salaata” which has come to define our region with power cuts, hospitals running out of supplies, no proper schools,

No Liquidity-No Electricity-No Security



2016-On the 100th year of Russian Revolution-

we reviewed Animal Farm by George Orwell

Click here to read full post  Remembering George Orwell http://wp.me/p5YX3a-4k



Posted in Diary, Reading Journal | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Retelling the Stories of our Community-Museums as Thinking places

When one goes into a group experience, one goes in as an individual but the impact and growth are immense if one tries to imbibe the group personality and lessons learned.

Looking back at 2017- I recall some interesting walks -tours and interactions in the Museums and Art Galleries of Mississauga, Hamilton, and Toronto

This year-2017-I intentionally built on this theme and visited some parks and museums-art galleries and developed them as “Thinking Places”.

Two libraries-The Frank McKechnie Centre Library of Bristol road-where we study and reflect, and the Courtney Park branch-where I attend the book club monthly meetings were also developed as Thinking places.

This led me to see a Great course-on Life Lessons from Great books-by J Rufus Fears – with my son Sahil. This year was also the 100th anniversary of the Russian revolution. Listened to the lecture on Animal Farm by George Orwell-by Professor Fears with great attention –noting the differences and dynamics of Napoleon and Snowball.

The importance of a museum is to provide an awareness of the past, while providing a spring board for the future
Mayor Bonnie Crombie-speaking at 50 years of Bradley Museum


The trips to Hamilton led me to meet Bill Manson, a local historian, who used to teach English literature and theatre before retiring around 15 years ago, and getting serious about the local histories of this town. The false fire alarm in the AGH –Art Gallery of Hamilton- led me to get talking about to this interesting person, and we discussed the transportation and roads of Hamilton. He gave a wonderful introduction into the workers’s lives in Hamilton –explaining the meanings behind the pictures displayed- the struggles of the workers in the textile mills.


Born in Hamilton to Italian immigrant parents, Sara Angelucci is well known for autobiographical work in a range of media including still photography, moving image, sonic performance and installation. With Piece Work, Angelucci’s latest body of work, she revisited her mother’s history as a garment worker, producing a new installation in collaboration with today’s workers at Coppley Apparel in downtown Hamilton.


The galleries of Royal Ontario Museum- in which we visited the Native galleries and also the special exhibition- The evidence room-Memories of the Holocast, the Blue whale exhibition , the Vikings , while having meals at Druxy’s cafe made for insights into the shape of the Canadian identity.

Walking the Diverse Galleries of ROM



Missing Chapters-A joint collaboration of Royal Ontario Museum-Art Gallery of Mississauga


Our Delhi Links- Reflections on Remembrance rituals-OUR JOURNEYS TOGETHER


Posted in Diary | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Santa Parade-2017-Mississauga

No man stands so tall

As when he stoops to

Help a Child

Shriners Hospital for Children



SANTA PARADE-2017-Mississsauga


The Santa Parade in Mississauga –Erin Mills made an occasion for many layers of discussions and reflection about the way life and community are organized in Peel-Halton regions.


“My husband became involved with the band of Burlington after my son joined the music lessons in high school” – a Scottish origin lady, who came to Canada when she was five years old told me, over a conversation in Brant street,Burlington.

For the past two months, I have been going on the 403 West towards Burlington and Hamilton and have had some interesting conversations with Canadians who are more rooted in this society than the recently migrated Canadians who have come only a few years ago.

Talking to her, made me remember one Indian-Canadian friend and mentor who had told me when my family shifted here in 2012,

“Three years is regarded as a newcomer here. It takes time to settle down.”

He himself came here around 20 years ago.

“My son is now 26, so that makes it 15 years ago when my husband started learning to play the Bagpipe. For the first two years, he was just kept to get the orientation,” she told how her husband started playing this instrument when he was in his forties, and gradually, after a few years, was allowed to play in the Burlington Band, and now has been going to different occasions in Halton region, to Guelph, Burlington, Hamilton to play on different occasions.

This conversation led me and my son Sahil to the Erin Mills area where we attended the Mississauga Santa Parade. It was an interesting mix – and yes- we did see the Bagpipers in action.



This year, we did the Great course on “Life Lessons from Great Books” (will discuss in detail in a later blog).

After the Parade- we went to a Tim Horton and discussed the books which my son has been told to read for the English project-Grade 12. The students are supposed to read and discuss one book of Classic literature, one Canadian author, and a spiritual religious book. Sahil selected- Persuasion by Jane Austen, The Day the Falls stood still by Cathy Buchanan, and Dhammapada. Later we discussed some excerpts from Naipaul’s essay – The Ghost of Eva Peron- in which he writes about the philosophy of the writer Borges.


A reading journal can enrich one’s reading in many interesting ways. In the  coming entries we will look at some of the works discussed in – Life Lessons from Great Books- and how keeping a reading journal increased our appreciation of these.

Earlier Perspective

  • Around our Independence day (Indian )- we discussed some works related to the formation of the Indian nation-
  • See blog


This national Award winning movie, directed by M S Sathyu, with dialogues written by Kaifi Azmi, based on a short story by Ismat Chugtai, shows the struggles of a family of Muslims in United Provinces-Agra region- when they decide to stay back in India





Posted in Canada 150 years, Diary | Tagged , | Leave a comment