“It is easy to see the beginning of things, and hard to see the ends” Joan Didion
Hegel (1835-38) speaks of “the conflict between the poetry of the heart and the opposing prose of circumstances and accidents of external situations” as the constitutive features of the novel. Frank (2008) talks about the conflictual tension between an individual yearning for meaning and completeness and the contingent world into which the individual is cast, which prompted Hegel to refer to the novel as the “modern popular epic” and Lukacs to describe it as the epic abandoned by God.
RATHBURN ROAD MIDNIGHT WALK
After returning from New York City in July (2022) I caught the bus from Billy Bishop Toronto to Square One Mississauga. The return journey had been a bit tense as on reaching Newark airport, I saw that my flight had been cancelled! The airlines did manage to get all the passengers of the cancelled flight into another flight. Waited for around half an hour for the Bus of Route 7 N to come to be able to reach Eglinton-Kennedy Intersection. When the bus did not arrive, I thought I better check when is the next bus. It turned out that on Monday mornings there is a 1 hour 50-minute gap around the midnight hour. So instead of waiting for the next bus at 1.50 am, I decided to walk back home.
I saw some rabbits on the way, as I walked on Rathburn Road towards Central Parkway. Remembered the first time we came to Mississauga around ten years ago in July 2012 from Malta. The time when we caught route number 19 S to reach Cooksville and walked to Camilla
Road school to start the Canada phase of their educational journeys.
Ten years later, after having graduated from Glenforest (Sagar) and Gordon Graydon (Sahil), and finished their Engineering at Ryerson (Toronto Metropolitan University) Sagar is staying in Hamilton Place, New York and trying to find his way there. As I crossed the underpass below 403 on Central Parkway I remembered picking up Sagar one late night, as he returned from Ryerson in his first-year university. The Village Crescent-Shipp drive crossing of Rathburn reminded me of the many lovely hours of discussions over tea with fellow immigrants with whom we discussed Imagination and Integration of the In-between realities of the Canada journey.
SALAD PROTOCOL FOR THE FOUR Is of IMMIGRATION, IMAGINATION,INTEGRATION, IN-BETWEEN REALITIES.
“It is easy to see the beginning of things, and hard to see the ends,” Joan Didion wrote in her essay Goodbye to all that in which she remembers with clarity when New York began for her but could not lay her fingers upon the moment it ended, to cut through the ambiguities and second starts and broken resolves to the exact place where one is no longer as optimistic as one once was (Didion, 1968)
Immigrants who favour the salad bowl versus the melting pot assimilate into the new world culture but retain cultural practices of their old world (Mahfouz, 2013). The In-between realities have been dissected over many cups of coffee, book clubs, walks and visits to different retreats, cultural centres, museums, and places of worship over the years. Our family came to Mississauga after two years in Malta. Through the cultural centre in San |Gjwann, we got a window into the life of immigrants from the Indian subcontinent. Through walks in Gozo and Valletta, we got an idea of how life has been for persons whose families have stayed here for centuries. Through connections with professionals who worked in North Africa-Middle East, we met a sub-culture of working people who carried with them different experiences and learnings. These experiences helped us make Sense of our realities, through Associations, learn new Lessons, and work towards Aspirations. Through the lessons learned column, we also made a list of things we would do Differently. (SALAD- Make sense, Associations, Lessons, Aspirations, Do Differently).
Applying SALAD to the Four Is (Immigration, Imagination, Integration, In-between realities) in discussion with some fellow travellers led to the opening of new horizons.
SAGAR RETURNING TO MISSISSAUGA-REMEMBERING BEGINNINGS AND ENDS
As Sagar completes his Airbnb phase in New York and shifts to a one-year rental, he decided to use the transition phase to visit Mississauga for a few days. I remembered the Rathburn road midnight hour walk of July 10-11, 2022, the many memories and associations of Mississauga and the new horizons he is exploring. The In-between realities of dealing with disappointments and challenges have led to acceptance and growth.
Last month, on July 9, 22, we made a pilgrimage to the statue of Dr.Norman Vincent Peale (Dr.NVP) at Marble Collegiate church, New York. I had told him about the power of positive thinking and how I had first come across the works of Dr. Peale from books I had collected in Connaught Place of Delhi, India in 1980s. As a chronic hosteler in college, with phases of uncertainty regarding placements in the phase after graduation (1990-92), application of Dr.NVP writings in the specific context of my life at that phase helped.
Sagar starts staying away for the first time. This walk reminded me of the first time I stayed in a hostel at age 19, in Delhi (Maulana Azad, Delhi, 1986) and discovered the parks and monuments of Delhi differently. My father would come from Pune, on holidays and we would go for morning walks to Feroz Shah Kotla, Connaught Place and Golcha, Darya Ganj. We visited Shimla and went for walks to Jakhoo Temple, Naldera, and Kufri. Those walks with my father in the Himalayas reminded me of my first introduction to these mountains when we would come for family holidays from Pune when I would be studying in St.Vincent’s Pune. As I left Delhi to stay in Tripoli, I re-discovered nuances of Delhi in a different way, showing the same galleries and museums, parks and monuments to my sons and nephew-niece- (Mayank and Divya Rawat). I took them to the National Gallery where I had gone with my father and introduced them to the works of the Bombay school, Company school. After my mother passed away (June 2011) I visited Delhi after the war in Libya (October 2011) and went to the Himalayas again to say prayers for her departed soul and honour the memory of my parents.
See Blog- Walks by Alaknanda-October 2011
I saw this momento of 9 Deccan Horse in which my uncle once served. His living brother and I shared some old memories, jokes, conversations. Their father, a medical doctor, came and developed this area around half-a-century ago. He was a brave soul to walk, where even today, tuskers roam around in the night!
Celebrating a life-Exploring the seeds of time Oct 2011
As I tried to explain to my sister who says, she still feels that she will see her mother walking around, that all people have to go, we sat down and celebrated her life. But there are times when philosophizing, reflecting and words fail us. The last time we sat together it was hearing Raag Yaman on Sitar, after a beautiful day at National Gallery of Modern Art.
A GENERATION BEFORE- IMAGINING THE INDIA OF THE EARLY 1960 s
My father first left Delhi after graduation in medicine (AIIMS 1963) on duty to the North East. As I reflected and tried to imagine those times, memories of what it was like being told by his sister (Savitri bua-ji) came alive. The army institution binds India in a way which civilians will find difficult to understand. A few months ago, I had a unique reunion with two school batchmates (Army Public School-Delhi-1985) and we talked of the India of the early-mid 1980s and the Ridge in those years. Writing a thought diary of those days is an interesting addition to my habit of writing diaries.
LESSONS LEARNED-DO DIFFERENTLY
On a memorial tree in Richard Memorial Park, Port Credit, in memory of my mother are inscribed the words of the Buddha “Do not depend on others, work out your own salvation”. As Sagar builds his NYC city phase, memories of beginnings and ends came to mind. How Delhi was for our family- when my father studied there in the 1950s-60s, how it was different after his tours of duty to the North East. How Delhi was different for me, after returning from the Libyan war following the passing of my mother in Oct 2011. How we stayed and discovered facets of Maltese life, through the Indian community, professional diaspora from other countries and interactions with local Maltese helped build our perspectives in Mississauga, Canada. Now as we explore NYC, carving a new phase, I look back at the many lovely discussions over tea and walks with fellow-immigrants. Some of those conversations came alive in my mind’s eye, as I walked past Village crescent -Rathburn Road in that midnight hour.
Didion, Joan. “Goodbye to all that.” Slouching Towards Bethlehem (1968): 225-238.
Frank, S. (2008). Migration and Literature: Günter Grass, Milan Kundera, Salman Rushdie, and Jan Kjærstad. Springer.
Mahfouz, S. M. (2013). America’s melting pot or the salad bowl: The stage immigrant’s dilemma. Journal of Foreign Languages, Cultures & Civilizations, 1(2), 1-17.