Diwali in Tripoli.

In work and play, education and prayer

Following the life of the community.

As we celebrate another Diwali in Tripoli many previous years come to mind.

This Dushera we had a gathering in a colleague’s house in Oil Clinic area and some veterans of the Indian community gathered and remembered the life of the community here.

Regular Bhajans

“The Bhajan (hymns) used to start sharp at 10 am.” An Oil sector
veteran remembered.

“It was followed by Bhojan,(food) which was the main attraction for many”
one observant old-timer from the medical sector chipped in.

How Bhajan and Bhojan are so similar in the Indian language
came to be a topic of discussion.

Then and now

“ After the revolution it will take three years for the community to come back to its original vibrancy. In the first year the workers will return, in the second year the families, in the third year some teachers may re-start the community school.” These remarks of a veteran sum up the aftermath of a conflict which saw over half a million workers flee.

The aftershocks are still felt.

In the world of Oil

Following the theme of “Mass observation” and observing the thoughts, feelings, actions of the community at the level of a group, in the context of Libya made me remember an article by the writer-ethnographer Amitav Ghosh in which he asked “Why has the Great Oil Novel not been written?”

While some die-hard medicos stuck around, most of the workers who live in the camps fled.

Now some of their rich managers are returning and are being welcomed and even dinners are being hosted in their welcome.

But their weak links with the local community were exposed when they fled.

The world of Oil , at least for many expatriates is a world of Camps, isolated from the bazaars and mainstream of the local communities.

Hence the observation and question of the writer Amitav Ghosh..

“Why has the great Oil Novel not been written?”

In the exploration of this theme he also writes about the limitation of the novel as a literary genre as the world of Oil in multilingual while the novel is not.

Seeking answers-in Bhajans and Bhojans

As we celebrate another Diwali in Tripoli many previous years come to mind.

We will further explore the re-building of the community here, and how it relates to various officialdoms and hierarchies.

“Did your government’s neutral or ambiguous stand during the 2011 crises affect the prospects of the community?” I asked one veteran.

“This is the same old ‘non-aligned’ formula which has no value in reality of today. Non-aligned is seen as non-committed and when stakes are high such things do not add to credibility,” he continued.

One spirited viewpoint is…

“The government does not decide based on some isolated persons sitting in Libya.
These are matters of national policy.”

One common man wondered

“ Then who does the government represent, if it does not represent the views of the people on the ground. There was a sizeable Indian community in Libya and they are now facing issues in visas, government sector jobs and contracts.”

Discussions and musings on Diwali

The festival of lights provided a good backdrop to discuss some of these issues.

Happy Diwali from Tripoli.


About prashant bhatt

A psychologist, interested in mindfulness practices. I practiced medicine as a radiologist for 23 years in India and Libya as a radiologist before shifting to Canada. A regular diarist, journaling since 1983 Reading journal : gracereadings.com
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9 Responses to Diwali in Tripoli.

  1. Dinesh De says:

    Wish you happy Diwali Dcde


    • Rightly put.It will never be yesterday once more.
      Now the new formation is going through its motions of identity,
      but the overwhelming majority feel that they will deal with
      people (nations) on the basis of the stand they took during
      the period of crises.

  3. husamiji@hotmail.com says:

    Its good to know from a person like you the good bad and ugly
    situation of Libya conflict, keep it on this good work of keeping
    us informed, thanks ….Husamuddin Amiji

    • Dear Sam, It is a rich mix of nation-building, search for identity,
      and coming to terms with how to deal with the outside world.

      In the middle of these big power narratives, common people are trying
      to pick up the threads of their interrupted lives.

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