Gate D 63


Destiny. My destiny!


Droll thing life is-

that mysterious arrangement of merciless logic for a futile purpose.

The most you can hope from it is some knowledge of

yourself- that comes too late- a crop of unextinguishable regrets.


                                                                        Joseph Conrad

                                                                        Heart of Darkness



If one boards from one gate, others shut off.


This obvious thing, which flight to catch, which direction to take, come back in life several times. In the blog –Shadows- we had examined one of the definitions of maturity as the closing off of possibility.

There are many such transits and directions one has to take in life. As I sat in Gate D 63 Vienna,  returning from Canada to Tripoli, many past journeys came to mind, of my parents and grandparents and their efforts to shape the life of the family.




            The first person to initiate me into the art of writing letters was my grandfather. He would write letters to me from Moscow. I would write to him  andhe would return them after correction.


            This was my first initiation into the process of realizing the power of words to convey a reality from a distance. The fracture of his hand when a window sill fell. The way Russian life was organized in the seventies. Differences of food and weather.Small lessons which have expanded into many rich themes.

See blog-Letters -windows to other worlds




            Before leaving Mississauga, we had an interesting discussion on Maximalist and Minimalist styles of writing, with examples of Hemingway(minimalist) and Faulkner (maximalist).


Why does Faulkner write in the way he does, in long convoluted sentences. Is it because he is from Mississippi, the south where history is always  alive. There are persons whose forefathers were slaves, and others whose forefathers were slave-owners. Faulkner believed that the Past was never dead. The past is always alive in the present context, if one sees the deeper beyond-the-surface meanings.


Let us examine this concept a bit further through a conversation I had last October at a terminal in Heathrow…a chance encounter with many interesting themes.




            Transit zones of airports are interesting learning zones.The collection- In Transit at Dubai International gives some more nuanced narratives. Meeting travelers from different countries, backgrounds , on the move  open up interesting themes.


Last October at Heathrow, a talk with a person who said he was working in the prison systems of Connecticut opened several interesting themes.


He gave interesting insights into the way the criminal justice system works in his part of the world, how for some persons, it becomes very difficult to come back into the routine system.


“There are persons whose fathers are serving time with them. There are some who have got into the habit of credit card fraud,” he said.


As some persons associated with the Church of Iceland (in Transit to their yearly visit to China) came he said that he was a priest, thus revealing an interesting aspect.


 “My father did not like it when I converted from Judaism to Christianity. Our family was originally from Russia.” Discussions went on to the persecution of Jews in Russia around a hundred years ago, how some major Russian revolutionaries were Jewish, most famously Leon Trotsky.


“I went to meet a cousin who was put on a boat to South America. My grandfather was put on the boat to United States. Now our family is all over the place, but whenever I get a chance, I try to meet and see how they are.”


..Here , the maximalist approach appears appropriate.




            My grandfather’s letters, written in the 1970s came alive in strange intimate ways, as I listened to the experiences of a family around 70 years earlier at the turn of the 19th century.




For persons with an intimate relation with Africa, Conrad’s words on “Destiny” come back in many interesting ways.


One terminal closes off other opportunities and directions for you, while developing in a particular direction.

The communion with letters with my grandfather in Moscow around 40 years ago crossed my mind’s eye, as I recalled the talks at Heathrow last October.

 Reflecting on these conversations with travelers is enriching.

Which gate are you waiting at today?

* * *

Also see blog Conversations on Faith and Belief


 * * *



Part of the 500 words a day challenge by writer -Jeff Goins.   

For a diarist the interesting thing will be being selective


For those interested in reading further see the following blogs


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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