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.
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.
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).
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.
KEY POINTS ABOUT READING PLACES-HOME LIBRARY
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.
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.
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.