Around Sahil’s 18th Birthday

Our second son, Sahil -was born on 18-Sep 2000, at the turn of the century.

Blog-30-9-18-Port Credit-7 Sep

PORT CREDIT-MISSISSAUGA-SEP 7-2018-With Nana-Nani-Mama-ji ..many lovely hours spent walking and meditating, discussing, where we have been, where we are, where we are going.

His first school of L’avenir-The Future in Gnostic Centre, Delhi. This year he passed out of Gordon Graydon Mississauga and joined Ryerson University-Toronto.


SAHIL-2002-During his L’avenir days-Palam Vihar

On Tuesday, 18 th Sep, we celebrated his 18th birthday, in a unique birthday-celebration with Nana-Nani-ji having come from Malad-Mumbai.

Ten years ago- we were staying in Malad-and studying in Pinnacle High school.






2010 12-walks-xlendi gozo

2010-Dec-Walks together-Xlendi Gozo see Friends of Bouazizi – Year End diary-2011 Meeting –Tripoli Reading Group- 2011-

In celebration –we gathered together and said some prayers, remembering our forefathers.

Remembering my Parents…Prem Narain and Nirja Bhatt

On this unique birthday, I remembered some points taught to me by my father, which would add value to their insights into different systems.

My father-Prem Narain Bhatt, an alumnus of All India Institute of Medical Sciences-AIIMS-Delhi-1958 batch and Armed Forced Medical College-Pune-MD Anesthesia-1972 and Christian Medical College-advanced training in Cardiac Anesthesia-1974, was a veteran of the Indian Army Medical Corps, and also participated in different community programs in the hills of Garhwal, from where our family originally is.

In the past year, some members of our family transitioned from High school to Professional training. And hearing them and their struggles I remembered my own struggles and how a professional course is so much different from a high school study.

So I sat down for some time, and tried to summarize some of the things which my father taught me, in his own gentle ways. Though he is not physically present with us, his teachings are a living presence


BROAD OUTLINE-The five steps for higher studies

1-Study Topic beforehand

2-Prepare Revision Flash Cards

3-Have a study-buddy

4-Have a study-revision plan

5-Prepare for Co-op

A FEW DETAILS..On these five steps

1-Study Topic beforehand

Try to study the topic before the lecture, so that you gain more by the lecture, and can even clarify the points which are not clear.

2-Prepare Revision Flash Cards

Higher professional studies are more difficult than school level studies.

Try to make Revision flash cards which you will review briefly for around 15 minutes every day, and for a longer period-around 90 minutes at the end of the week.

This technique I first saw my father use when he was studying for his Doctorate in Anesthesia in 1971-72- he had many flashcards with the drugs, their usage, indications, contraindications, which he would revise regularly

3-Have a study-buddy

Study Buddy-Joint revision with a study partner will really help.

If one has a peer group-one can mix and match-study and come to know which classes are held where, and then revise the concepts together.

4-Have a study-revision plan

This is a refinement of the above three points, but takes it a step further by having self-preparation questions, and also reviewing the long questions and short questions of a particular subject from beforehand, so that one knows what will be tested, and how, and what will be expected of a student in the coming exam at end of term and course.

5-Prepare for Co-op

In Canada, in-house training is known as Co-op.

Though in India, we do not call it co-op, we have many such experiences, when one has to walk along with a practitioner and he introduces you to the concept of the subject, as it is practiced in the field.

This may take the form of taking rounds of a clinical ward and then sitting down and analyzing one of the cases in greater detail- right from the presentation and history to the findings, treatment plan, and follow-up. Or in the case of Medical Radiology, I benefited immensely from seeing the reports of my mentors, then going back to the books and studying the case again, and refreshing the points which were covered in the reports.


Birthdays are a time to reflect and look back at one’s experiences as a family, group and try to see where we were, where we are going and how best to integrate the different threads of family life.


See blog

Gerard Hopkins, in his work The Child Is Father To The Man, reflects on both the relationship of a man to his father and the relationship of a man to God. It provides commentary on the human aging process and also allows Hopkins to think spiritually about the divinity and humanity of Christ.


Non Profits and Voluntary organizations – to build Functioning communities

The writer Peter Drucker said that the predominant need in our culture was for individuals to make their lives useful to themselves and others, and he believed that non-profit organizations were best suited to do that.

According to Peter, non profits organizations were most effective in establishing “the functioning community and functioning democracy of tomorrow”.

This year, through a deeper touch with some such voluntary organizations which impact culture, like Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto Zoo, Ontario Science centre, Peel Art Gallery and Museum Archives, YMCA, Art Gallery of Mississauga, Riverwood conservancy, we explored the themes of Functioning community.

See Blog

For more nuanced examples

2016- Walks with Divya

Blog-30-9-18-Divya notes-Oct 2011

DIVYA-NOTES-OCTOBER 28,2011-On visits to Purana Quila, Khan Market and National Museum-Delhi


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

2017-Birthday Musings

The home is the lens, through which we get our first look at marriage and all civic duties. It is the clinic where , by conversation and attitude, impressions are created with respect to sobriety and reverence, it is the school where lessons of truth or falsehood , honesty and deceit are learned, it is the mould which ultimately determines the structures of society

Perry Webb-quoted in Today Matters-by John Maxwell

See blog


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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..

Blog - retreats.jpg-1

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.


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.



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


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.


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


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.”


There was a reason  for all this suffering.

Ellie Weisel


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

blog-book club.doc-2

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


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

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-


 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.



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.

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.


blog-book club.doc-5

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-

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-


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

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.”

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.”


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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.


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.



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.


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



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.




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.



See blog

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


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


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


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-


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 Gangopadhyay’s –Sei Samay-Those Days



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


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.


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


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 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.


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



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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.


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


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


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.



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.


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


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…for further nuances…People who built parts of the Canadian identity

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