The Personal Essay

In the previous entries we traced some beginnings of our reading group, the journeys taken by persons of different religious faiths due to their working lives and how the different aspects of community evolved through the prayer groups, schools and work-visa issues.

Maidan Jaziyer

Maidan Jaziyer-Tripoli.The mosaic of a city


In his essay “Late Victorians” the writer Richard Rodriguez detaches himself from the sentimental clichés and comforts of group identity (whether ethnic or sexual), while at the same time castigating himself for remaining an observer, sitting on the fence. I got this collection of personal essays from the Barnes and Noble book store in front of the Art Institute of Chicago.Remembering where one buys a book adds an interesting personal touch to it. Where one reads it in different times, with different people adds to the flavor. “You are a part time Christian,” my teenage son chides me, as he tries to come to grips to the projects of “Mass observation” which I have been undertaking for several years, mainly in the San Francisco church at Dahra, Tripoli. These have then extended into the cemetery at Shara Mansouri , near the Children’s hospital. There I came upon the tombs of Indian soldiers from the Second World War and introduced me to the space of the Commonwealth War Graves cemetery. But this space –the “Body of Christ” as some spiritual practitioners say goes back to the Khadki cantonment of Pune area in India where I first attended midnight mass as a 3 year old. Having studied in a convent (St.Vincent’s High School –Pune) till 8th standard is probably another link.

Rodriguez talks about ‘sitting on the fence’ and as one reads his beginning regarding St.Augustine – the mind’s eye goes back to a sermon by Father Daniel at the San Francisco church in which he talked about St.Augustine of Hippo and the Christian traditions of North Africa.

To see a fuller version read this blog

Musings around Easter-Remembering St.Augustine of Hippo

St.Augustine had interesting work in the field of education.

In present day North Africa education has become an important aspect for expatriate communities caught in the conflicts and revolutions. One veteran summed it up like this-In first year the workers will return, in the second year the families will return, in the third year the teachers will return. The community has gone back by three years.
What type of student are you dealing with? I asked one parent.

“St.Augustine writes from his cope of dust that we are restless hearts, for earth is not our true home. Human unhappiness is evidence of our immortality. Intuition tells us we are meant for some other city.”


“Late Victorians” is also a masterly portrait of a city (San Francisco) , a time and a plague. It exemplifies the mosaic technique of constructing a coherent essay from the seemingly fragmented materials of daily life. The daily walk used to be a regular feature once, but now it is better to walk within Abositta rather than go into the open spaces and arcades around Maidan Aljazier as we used to do in earlier times. The sketch of a city waking up, and also in different times of the day, is an interesting way to relate and reflect.

* * *


Part of the 500 words a day challenge by writer blogger-Jeff Goins.
For a regular diarist the interesting thing will be being selective


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 :
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1 Response to The Personal Essay

  1. Pingback: Readings in a forest | Prashantbhatt's Weblog

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