Take Pleasure in beautiful things, to defeat the sadness and sorrow of life-
Year End Journal-2018
So I nod again, I try to recall an earlier time, before Grandpa arrived, a time when the world was so safe and small and manageable- my parents were in charge of it, and nothing could go wrong.
Rohinton Mistry-Family Matters
If death’s a man-let him come close to me
That I can clasp him tightly to my breast
I’ll take from him a soul, pure colourless
He’ll take from me a coloured frock, no more!
As I look back at some experiences of 2018, I review three accountability calibration partners with whom I have kept regular correspondence over the years.
The year end journal,2018, made me look back at some walks-journeys taken with the grandparents of my sons-Indian citizens on whose passport the birth place is written as Karachi.
This year, they visited Mississauga, and saw their grandchildren grown up.
When they had left Mumbai, in 2010 for Malta, they had been in secondary school, now both are attending University.
When they parted from Mumbai for Malta, their Nani-ji had told me-in a sad refrain- “Give them so much love, that they never miss me.” It is an impossible task to accomplish fully, but a credo worth trying to live by, even if one falls short, it will be good guiding star.
In the Canadian phase, I met and talked closely with some of our Pakistani brothers-sisters and came to know some whose families are from Purani Dilli..Old Delhi.
“You are from Delhi, I told a colleague.”
She said- “No, my mother was from Delhi.”
To that I pressed her- once from Pyaari Dilli..always from Pyaari Dilli, and told her about Karims, Golcha, Nizamuddin and then many Galis of Dilli.
In the same way, I talked to my father-in-law and he recalled his childhood in Karachi, which is a sister city of Mumbai
In September 2018- while on a retreat to Ganonoque –Thousand Islands area- I had tried to answer the question of –What is the use of writing it all down. In that blog had written about letters, logbooks, journals, day timers –the review and reflection on them.
For a more nuanced version- See blog
The Year End notes-of yesteryears
This year marks the tenth year I have been keeping this blog-since 2008
The earlier perspectives have been recorded and the links can be found below, of many discussions, journeys, and perspectives gained from not only visiting places, but also staying in different countries across four continents. Every life has a philosophy which defines it, and refining and re-defining these has been a quest which makes one look back at the year gone by.
In 2015-Reading journal…From that year, I have separated the Reading journal from more personal entries related to family and friends. There still is an overlap, and the work to streamline these is an ongoing process.
Year end notes-2018.
Windows into Canadian life..
In gathering perspectives, I tried to record some conversations with persons who were born and brought up in Canada, rather than those who were born in other countries and adopted this country, and were accommodated in the system as landed immigrants.
Through my work, I meet such persons who I would not usually meet in my social setting.
I met Canadians who live in Farm areas in places like Milgrove or even in Trailer homes in national parks. They find cities like Burlington very congested, and cannot even think of living in a place like Mississauga or Toronto.
Having an accountability partner is a great way to reflect and grow.
In this year, I continued regular correspondence with two personal and one professional accountability partner who have known me for decades.
The intention of having a Calibration appointment, and then reviewing what we discussed, what we planned, how was the execution of the plan different from what we had expected, leads to many refinements.
Poems from Delhi.
While many of the things we discussed in those letters-Calibration appointments are private, one of the accountability partners has a way of writing poems –which tell many things between the lines.
He wrote to me about the histories of Delhi through the ages, the traditions of Buddhism originating and developing-evolving in modern day Bihar-North Indian plains, Mathematics in Medieval India and the concept of Paradox a- comparison between the Greek and Indian concepts.
In these letters, in which he told me that he has seen me from the days of my primary school, when he first taught me to keep notes, we used to read the children’s books- Enid Blyton, which I would collect from the Libraries in Main Street-Pune Cantonment. Later as I grew, I was introduced to biographies –which my Nana-ji gifted me- on my 15th birthday, -Of Nehru and his letters to his daughter from Prison, and the stories of the hills written by Ruskin Bond.
My Mausa-ji never directly told me to return. But in his letters, the many milieus and situations in life, which we have worked and journeyed together, he taught me many things, which make me wonder at the many roots, associations, possibilities which one has in one’s own country, and how a foreign society, may give many opportunities, but also takes away many things.
Images and their interpretation
Over 25 years ago, I first joined a medical college (KEM-Seth GS-Mumbai) in a line which is about reading and interpreting images, putting them in a clinical context and trying to help the patients. Imaging sciences took me to different places- starting from Mumbai in 1993.
This was after eight years of graduate study followed by house jobs in medicine,psychiatry and teaching posts in Microbiology in Delhi University- (MAMC-Delhi-1985 batch)
In this phase of Canada, I have kept regular monthly calibrations with a mentor who has seen me through the immediate post graduate period, and we discussed many aspects of imaging, teaching, market conditions, the universities and their rules, the registration bodies and their bureaucracies, which impact persons at different phases of their life and career.
He wrote to me of the way Imaging sciences were organized in the 1990s, and this reflection made me look back twenty years further, to the times when my father had first done specialization in Cardiac Anesthesia, how the twining of institutions- (Armed Forces Medical College –Pune and Christian Medical College Vellore)-led to the development of departments and a specialty in several institutions.
In my own case, he helped me through basic interpretation to organizing a department , how to weave a team together to how to talk with clinicians. Many of these things I applied and developed in my own way while working in Tripoli-Libya (LSMC).
Many a time , when I talk about the limitations of the scope of work in Canada for an internationally trained doctor, he tells me about seeing the bigger picture and also the phase of life of the family.
During some of these discussions, one senior mentor/calibration partner told me to take in positively
“It is good that you have the opportunity to serve people, in a field which you have been trained, in whatever capacity the system of Canada accepts.”
Contents and Style
Writing accountability and calibration notes to these two mentors of mine, and then reviewing their inputs, and also a third accountability partner who is not directly a mentor, but has known me for long, made me see how the same content can be interpreted in a different way.
Exploring the parks..The walks to hill temples like Parvati in Pune, or Jakhoo-Tara Devi in Shimla region have evolved into walks and reflections in cemeteries and prayer houses in Hamilton region. Around two months ago, I again went walking in the Dundurn region of Hamilton and exploring a bit more of the city- I came to know of the story of Richard Beasley
Richard Beasley was one of Hamilton’s first settlers who came to Canada from New York in 1777. Beasley occupied Burlington Heights (now the site of Dundurn and Harvey Parks) in 1790 & was granted land by the Crown in 1799.
As I walked from Barton street towards James street, I came across Beasley Park. Earlier in the day, I had walked from Art Gallery of Hamilton and had overshot Barton street, and walked almost right up to Lake Ontario. Every journey has its surprises- this overshooting led to Immigration square of Hamilton, and the statue of Leonardo Sciascia, the writer and activist from Sicily –Italy, born in Racalmuto-the sister city of Hamilton. Mangalore of India is also a sister city of Hamilton.
These walks reminded me of the many walks I have taken in and around Delhi-Meerut region –alone and sometimes with some friends who will brave it to some of these lonely beautiful places, where sometimes dogs can growl very ferociously. It also reminded me of the Commonwealth War Graves cemeteries in North Africa- where I have walked (alone and with some close friends) in Tobruk, Benghazi, Tripoli and Byzantine –and Roman/Greek time churches and temples in Eastern Libya-like Shahat and Susa and Western Libya-Sabratha and Leptis.
The Third accountability partner.
Through letters, and calibrations, this accountability partner, who has followed many of my different walks gently reminded me that as the years advance, one has to decide once and for all how many places one can develop in and follow-up with justice.
We have explored through letters, the bird-chirpings of Landour of Mussoorie region to the walks in Dundurn region of Hamilton.
While going through these notes and letters, and related reflections, I looked again at the following lines of Rohinton Mistry’s novel- Family matters (gifted to me by my cousin sister-a University level History teacher)
All those things were gifts from Grandpa, she smiles, Aren’t they gorgeous?
I nod. It reminds me of the time long ago when Grandpa came to live with us in Pleasant Villa. And how my world suddenly became a much bigger place, much more complicated and painful. I think of Grandpa sleeping on the settee beside me, holding my hand to comfort me. And later, me holding his when he had bad dreams. I think of the violin music we enjoyed and the words he taught me, the stories he told, to describe and understand the world.
“Remember what Grandpa said to us one day?” continues my mother, “to take pleasure in these beautiful things, to defeat the sadness and sorrow of life.”
I feel she is seeking approval for her decision to use the good china today. So I nod again, I try to recall an earlier time, before Grandpa arrived, a time when the world was so safe and small and manageable – my parents were in charge of it, and nothing could go wrong
* * *
END NOTE…Literature has a way of teaching and instructing, and when all the letters, interpretations and contexts are over, one can still go into a great piece of literature and gain a fresh perspective.
2008- Passport lost and found in Delhi
This November I lost my passport on a visit to India. There were some troubled hours, before I found it again, thanks to the railway police at Hazrat Nizamuddin, Delhi.
In all these troubled moments, many people helped me in their own ways. They congratulated me on having found my passport.
But my six year old nephew Mayank was the only one who was not happy on me finding the passport.
“Uncle, it is very bad that your passport was found”
“Why?” everyone stopped to hear his reasoning.
“Because now you can go back to Tripoli and will not be taking me to the zoo.”
Such is life, as seen through the eyes of an innocent 6 year old.
2010-A visit to Art Institute of Chicago
“She is weeping” my friend told me.
Initially I thought it was a trained actor giving a performance
but after some time I realized that she was really weeping as she
read out Tennyson’s “Idylls of the King” with the portraits of
Julia Margaret Cameron in the background.
See blog- https://prashantbhatt.com/2010/12/17/diary/
2011- The Civil War in Libya- witnessing a 21st century revolution
“He is not courageous, but there was no flight out, and he does not like to go by land or sea,” one friend summarized this year as we recalled the days of uprising-the failed uprising of February, the months of preparation and the successful insurrection of August 20,2011.
2012-Exploring Musical Cultural Memory-
Is there something like musical cultural memory.
From the answers that came alive on a cold winter evening, the answer is Yes.
2013- Diaspora who made Tripoli their home
He wed Luigia Delle Fabriche, who was born in 1866 and died in Tripoli on Jan. 19, 1931. In Tripoli, Libya, where Pietro emigrated, he formed a construction company, together with his son Pietro and daughter Margherita. He died in Tripoli on Dec. 25, 1933. He and his wife are buried in a private chapel within the Christian Cemetery at Gargarish, Tripoli.
Interacting with his descendants gave me a better feel of Tripoli through the centuries and added to Margaret Atwood’s words
“There is always more to be known about it than you can ever know.”
2014-Walks in Konya, Garhwal, Niagara
This year I had some interesting walks.
Three regions where I walked were –Rishikesh-Landour region of Garhwal in spring, in Toronto-Niagara region in Fall and in Istanbul-Konya region in beginning of winter.
2015-The Ontario Museums
Special exhibitions on Myth Busters, made us look at the science behind some daily things.Earlier we had seen the Science of Rock and Roll, and Brain.
These exhibitions help us reflect on the way science has changed our lives.
2016- On journalism and social activism in Garhwal Himalayas-India
The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.”
Amidst the downward tendency and proneness of things, when every voice is raised for a new road or another statute or a subscription of stock; for an improvement in dress, or in dentistry; for a new house or a larger business ; for a political party, or the division of an estate; will you not tolerate one or two solitary voices in the land, speaking for thoughts and principles not marketable or perishable?
2017-Nuances of Immigrant professionals life in Canada
Sitting in different Tim Horton cafes from Falstaff road (Where I told him the story of Falstaff- the great character of Shakespeare’s history plays- King Henry V- and the tavern life which he represented, and was rebuffed when Prince Hal became the king)…to Victoria Park Avenue- where we would gather after the preparatory classes (where the instructor would explain around 10 MCQs in 3 hours, repeating the points again and again..and we realized how – sitting in a class which is uneven, with people of different levels of reading- one has to be very patient) ..to the Tim near 1 Eva Road-where we gave our different licensing exams.