Home-a physical place but also a community

“You want to help me change my life?” Mom asked. “I’m fine. You’re the one who needs help. Your values are all confused.”

Rose Mary Walls-telling Jeannette

Using literature as a lens to see some family dynamics, I went through the discussions of the  February 2020-book club meeting in Courtney Park Branch of Mississauga.

The Glass Castle-by Jeannette Walls brings forward the theme of home and responsibility in several ways.

The evolution of the characters-the relation of the daughter to her dysfunctional parents comes through a in different phases of her life.

As a child- Jeannette goes along with her family-her parents running away from bills and minor infringements with the law. Then at a more mature stage, she finds her parents in squatting in a New York subway- fifteen minutes away from the apartment which she calls Home.


As an immigrant- I find that home is not only a physical place but also a community.

A school newspaper. A poster.

The group which you make friends with over say a Book Club meeting.

We build memories around these.

Remembering Community around our schools-Pune-1970s

We stayed in Pune-Maharashtra -Western India through our childhood and both brother and sister still have fond memories of the schools in Pune Camp (St.Vincent’s and St.Anne’s) where we spent many of our formative years.(1970-1982)

One of our Grade 6 geography projects was to build a poster of communities in a city.

This concept set me thinking of a community library, a place of worship, roads, city hall,schools, running clubs, stamps, and the different maze of human activities. This was the period when I spent summer holidays visiting the British Council library, studying books on chess and we also went to our ancestral home in Upper Kaithu Bazaar-Shimla and got a sense of the family as we lived around 70 years ago.(first quarter of the 20th century)

Parks have been a part of this concept over the decades.

In Pune area we used to go to the Parvati temple-which overlooks the city. This was a place where the concept of museums and heritage was imbibed in me.

Later , whenever I used to visit Pune from hostel in Delhi in 1980s, I would go to pray at St. Vincent’s and Parvati temple.


PUNE OF 1970 s….My father and I would go for morning walks in the hills of Lullanagar. And that wonderful gift of the morning hour, which my father gave me, lives on.

Through these walks I have come across wonderful people and many lovely hours sitting on hill tops, becoming one with the universe.


Collections make Connections- Palam Vihar-Momentoes-From Nagaland-1980,Egypt-2004 and a pot decorated  for dear Big Mom-my mother-Memories of the times gone by



The Church of Dahra-Tripoli and the communities around that

The San Francisco church of Dahra-Tripoli,  has been run by the Franciscan order priests for over hundred years.  It gives a sense of the expatriate communities who made Tripoli their home.

The Cemetery is in the Mansura district of Tripoli, 2.5 kilometres west of the city centre. It is located off the western end of Sharia Jamahuriya, close to the major roundabout at Bab Gargaresh

For earlier perspectives- See blog- …thoughts on the passing away of a veteran expatriate originally from Pakistan,in 2014-September, who made Tripoli his home.

Parts of his family still stay in Tripoli, Libya.

Interacting with this family , made me remember the words of Gabriel Garcia Marquez-in   One hundred years of Solitude

”We have still not had a death,” he tells her. “A person does not belong to a place until there is someone dead under the ground.” To which his wife replies, “If I have to die for the rest of you to stay here, I will die.”

INTIMATE LINKS-2014-September


2008-Sabratha-Libya-walks in Pre-christian Era Roman time cities -meditating in these temples by the Mediterranean sea

After the rituals, I walked through some of the other parts of the Italian cemetery of Mansoura and the Commonwealth war Graves commission section.

Today..with the families of Bettuchis, Ostuni.who lived here over a century ago..a Pakistani family-of Isaac Almaas will have a very intimate link with the Italian cemetery of Mansoura




Catholic cemetery-Gargaresh-Tripoli-Family relics-they stayed here in 19th/20th century

Father’s Day-2012-Malta

Every journey has it’s surprises.

Our family stayed in Malta for two years from 2010-12.

We used to stay in Sweiqi, near St.Julian’s. The Indian community of Malta would gather for Satsang in San Gjwann.

On father’s day -2012, one of the veterans of the community-Mr.Vaswani, graciously invited us for lunch. After that we went for a short walk through the cemetery at Floriana and remembered, paid homage to community forefathers.


Community walks- Mr.Vaswani- guiding us in a lovely walk through Floriana-remembering and paying homage to community forefathers-2012-June

See blog https://prashantbhatt.com/2012/06/19/fathers-day-walk/


Our home in Mississauga carries in it, the memories of  four continents

The momento which my father -Prem Narain Bhatt- got on his retirement-on April 4,1996, after 33 years of service in the Army Medical Corps of India sits in our house in Mississauga, Ontario as a proud reminder and inspiration of the dedicated years of service and many community associations.

The schools where my sons studied and the parks, themes around them have been a way to feel home.

School projects in Glenforest-from writing an extended essay in Grade 9- which Sagar wrote about turtles (which reminds me of the tortoises of Tripoli) to the essay on -The Handmaid’s tale -which he wrote in Grade 12 have been markers.

Our book club discussed -The Handmaid’s tale in 2019-December.



2018-July 5- Three generations of the Karia family in Kariya Park-Mississauga.


But as a parent, I saw the movie of his school days come across me, in a few magical moments. I remembered the times he told of his school trips to Stratford, in 2016, on the 400th birth anniversary of Shakespeare. Or the times when he would go for live-Ins in St.Edward’s college-Malta.



In discussions with other immigrants from different parts of the world, the concept of home and home country tends to differ with age. There are many seniors who prefer to go back to their home country in the more mature years. There are others who are firm that now, this is their home country and they will pass away here.


CHESS..2018-September-Sahil and Bharat-Nephew and Uncle- Bharat bhai told us how to dig deeper into Clubs- “Once you meet stronger players, get defeated, your level will improve. Note down the moves and study the patterns.” Bharat has been part of chess clubs in Maharashtra and New Jersey areas

Looking back -around a year ago- our community had met after the passing away of Parveen bhai- an Indian origin family who had settled in Tanzania-Eastern Africa. Parveen bhai had shifted to Canada in the mid 1990s. We used to occasionally meet in the Mississauga Ram Mandir. In a memorial at the MRM-around a year ago,(2019-March)  his sons played the mouth organ – and told about Parveen bhai’s love for music. It was a touching moment, where all the community came together remembering a kind soul, caring father, and loving grandfather.


Monthly Letter 2015 9 Brigadier General Bhatt Army Medical Corps India

My father’s medals. Brigadier General P N Bhatt, Indian Army Medical Corps-1963-1996


Using Wall’s book- we had an interesting look back on the years gone by, the various ways different immigrant communities develop life in faraway places which they call home.

The poster on communities project which my geography teacher gave in Grade 6 -St.Vincent’s Pune, India, lives on in different ways.


Benares-the Ganga-the river of Indian civilization-which reminds us of our victories, defeats, communities, hopes. The story of India cannot be written without the story of Ganga. My grandfather-GPU-stayed in Benares taught in the BHU in 1950s. to 1973. The garden which he planted in the campus is still thriving..my aunt told me after a recent-2020 visit there.


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Lock-down notes

As the COVID19 related lock-down becomes a reality in Ontario, Canada, we tried to develop some more creative ways to engage.We remembered previous times when we were in such situations to isolate, did some readings from our home library and went for a ride after dinner.



2011-Revolution in Libya-Wall Art in Tripoli

Last time I went through this type of experience- was in Tripoli-2011-February to August, when the mobility was limited. Our family was in Sweiqi Malta.

One incident which I remember from that period is when Sahil came back from school- St.Edward’s Cottonera, and cried

“ Why did you not tell that situation in Libya is so bad that people will start praying for them? Today, our class prayed for Robert’s uncle, who is in Libya.”

Mamta tried to answer to her best possible, and asked whether he told the class that his father too was in Libya. Sahil said, though he did not tell anyone, he silently prayed for his father.

This time is different as we are in Ontario, Canada and this is a biological emergency, and all the population is advised to distance, isolate.



GOZO CITADEL-Malta-2016- A walk through the Archaeology museum 

I went to the Halton area for scanning. There is uncertainty, and no one really knows the answers. It is said to be the worst crises ever faced, by humanity and many world leaders, ranging from PM of Canada-Justin Trudeau and PM of India- Narendra Modi have expressed concern.

One of my strategies is making sketch studies of paintings and seeing the history behind these paintings. Art Gallery of Ontario has helped going more in-depth into art movements . In the last quarter of 2019, we had seen the paintings of Peter Paul Rubens in a special exhibition.

In the day time, I made a sketch study of The Flight of Lot and his family from Sodom 1613-15, concentrating on the figure of Lot and the daughter just behind him, and also drew the hand of the guiding angel who is in front of Lot.

The Biblical theme of  Lot-was source for paintings and moralizing undertones during the Counter-Reformation. The story of Lot was often used as a symbol to renounce carnal pleasures and to preserve one’s soul for eternal life. Most painters-including Rubens- often chose to depict Lot and his daughters eating and drinking in a cave, as it afforded painters with an excuse to depict sensual female nudity. In that biblical passage, Lot’s daughters, afraid that they are the last humans on earth, intoxicate their father with wine to lie with him in an attempt to produce progeny.(Source-Carolyn Mensing essay-in Early Rubens-edited by Sasha Suda and Kirk Nichel)


2020-3-Port Credit-Snug Harbour-Lighthouse

2017-Lighthouse-Snug Harbour-Port Credit-Mississauga

We drove past the Celebration square area, went to Mr.India Grocer ,  the Father Michael Goetz memorial school and then past Ovation where we used to stay for four years-2012-2016. As a family on the move, we have seen four continents- and this phase of past eight years saw the children go through from secondary school through high school to University.

While talking during these rides we connected with our past years and phases of life.

Thinking question- If you had to relive a past five year phase of your life, which would it be, and what would you do differently.


Blog-Nov 2018-3

IMMIGRATION SQUARE-Hamilton-Walk through a city-2018-October

In a weekend which is said to be crucial in the fight against COVID19, we looked at some notes from yesteryears-how a child of 11 saw Libya from Malta, now he sees Ontario and the world, through the prism of an engineering student of Ryerson.

The home library has evolved. In the Mediterranean region- I had started collecting history of art books (2007). Now going in-depth into the workings of Counter Reformation has been a time to reconnect the dots in a different way.

Five year phase thinking helped us see the different dynamics, remember some people who walked the journeys with us and how their lives shaped up. In this phase- writing a letter to a loved one who passed away, has been an exercise which has helped. I remembered my father telling of the time of partition and independence in 1947-48 and the Delhi of that period.


SKETCHES-NATIONAL GALLERY OF MODERN ART-Jaipur House-Delhi-2016-December.Many lovely hours spent in these galleries





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Sagar-Around 21..Exploring Cathexis

Recently my son Sagar completed 21 years.

Around this time, we went for a walk to the Art

Gallery of Ontario-AGO- and explored the special exhibition of Rubens.

Going to Museums , exploring different cultures was imbibed in me by my father.

His father-my paternal grandfather- used to take the children to Garden Tombs

of Delhi, special exhibitions and trade fairs.



Last year, Sagar went to China-as part of a university exchange program.

He walked the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden city, explored the

Gardens and waterways of Shanghai area. We have been long term members

Of the Royal Ontario of Museum, which has sections on all major world cultures

The Chinese civilization culture is on the First floor-as we enter- on the right.

It was gratifying to know that Sagar has personally gone and seen the places

In China, about whom we had known just by seeing the Museum collection of ROM.


A diary by the Sea- The Mediterranean at Sabratha-Libya-2009-May




Last year, we also saw the special exhibition on Impressionism.

“What I seek above all in a picture is a man and not a picture,” wrote

Emile Zola in 1866. “ Make something…individual and living, and

I applaud more strongly”

This theme was conveyed in many ways, as the lived reality of the times

was displayed, not only through the factories with smoking chimneys

That stood as symbols of progress but also the women who sold the

textiles that were made in those factories, and those who ironed

shirts for the men who ran them. The glimmering facades of the newly

constructed boulevards in Paris were shown along with the men

Who laid the groundwork for those streets and the families that were displaced

to the city’s margins.



Last year, around Mother’s day,(May 2019)

we went to Dundurn Castle of Hamilton.

The guide took us through the different rooms, and brought alive the

Different facets of the family McNab who developed and lived here.

The touching diary of Sophia McNab was gifted to me, by Sagar,

From the first pay he got -working at Oceans supermarket of Hurontario,


Written in Dundurn Castle in 1846,at the age of 13, at the urging of

Dear Mama (Lady Macnab) and the prodding of dear papa (Sir Allan)

It tells the poignant story of her mother’s long and painful illness from

a lung disease.Sophia commenced her journal at Dundurn on Saturday

The 17th day of January, 1846. On Friday May 8th, the day of her mother’s

Death, the entry read, “I can write no more.”

In a very real sense this marks the watershed in Sophia’s life, so bound up until that

moment with that of her beloved young mother.

Rebounding with the resiliency of youth, however, she continued her

journal with an enchanting account of the recuperative voyage to Montreal and Quebec

prescribed by Sir Allan, who had already returned to Montreal to resume his

duties as Speaker of the House of Assembly of United Canada.






2010-Oct-Upper Barrakka-Malta

2010-OCTOBER-MALTA-Upper Barrakka Gardens

2010-Oct-St James Centre of Creativity-Malta



2015-TORONTO ZOO-DR FRANK SCHOFIELD MEMORIAL PARK-He was born in England in 1889, moved to Canada in 1907 to study veterinary sciences, and then moved to Korea to work as a missionary and educator

2015-Zoo-Giant Pandas

2015-TORONTO ZOO- Giant Panda section


2015-Ontario Science Centre-Sahil



As we had a relaxed meal together, we looked back at some journeys

And how our home library has expanded over the past year.

We have books, and personal journals and photo-albums, all of which

Give a sense of who we are , and what we can become.

As part of this exercise, I went to Forks of the Credit area at Caledon

For a walk and reading. Here is a recording of the concept of Cathexis

As explained by M Scott Peck

CATHEXIS-Page 95-The Road Less Traveled

..when we extend our limits through love, we do so by reaching

Out, so to speak, toward the beloved, whose growth we wish to nurture.

We are attracted towards, invest, nurture, an object beyond the boundaries

Of self. Psychiatrists call this process of attraction, investment, and commitment

“cathexis” and say that we “cathect” the beloved object. But when we

Cathect an object outside of ourselves we also psychologically incorporate

A representation of that object into ourselves.

.. What transpires then in the course of many years of loving, of

Extending our limits for our cathexes, is a gradual but

Progressive enlargement of the self, an incorporation within of the

World without, and a growth, a stretching and a thinning of our ego




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Exploring Microcosms-Expanding into Macrocosms

But less obvious is the fact that the most important part of our culture is our particular family.The most basic culture in which we develop is the culture of our family, and our parents are its ‘culture leaders’. Moreover , the most significant aspect of that culture is not what our parents tell us about God and the nature of things but rather what they do- how they behave towards each other , towards our siblings , and above all, towards us.

In other words, what we learn about the nature of the world when we are growing up is determined by the actual nature of our experience in the microcosm of the family.

The Road Less Traveled- M.Scott Peck

A new psychology of Love, Traditional values

and Spiritual Growth

On January 30, was the marriage anniversary of my parents, who were married in 1967-in Benares, India. My aunt-my mother’s younger sister-Abha Mausi-ji the one amongst our whole family who probably misses my mother the most- rang up from Delhi and told how it had been “Basant Panchami” in 1967 on that day and it is Basant Panchami again on the same day this year -2020. My parents are no more, but their legacy lives on.

Basant Panchami- is the festival which marks the end of the winter and heralds in spring, is dedicated to goddess Saraswati.


One of the first memories I have of childhood is the home library which my parents started building.

This was before I even started formal school in Pune-Khadki Cantonment area. They got an Encyclopedia for us, and over the years, I went through those volumes.

Later, my grandparents also gifted a collection from Benares, and we went through those too, and compared  what was said in the two sets-giving a great sense of the world in its different dimensions.

The home library which we have in Mississauga, Ontario is an extension of that first library which my parents started around 1970.

When I decided to stay in Ontario for good- in December 2016, I carried with me the book gifted to me by my Nanaji- Maternal Grandfather-Professor GPU (Ganesh Prasad Uniyal) -The Autobiography of Jawaharlal Nehru – which he gave to me in 1982- the last birthday gift he gave us, as he passed away the coming year in 1983. Three books which he gifted- A dictionary, Glimpses of World history by Nehru, and Autobiography of Nehru have enriched our life in many ways over the past decades.






As I went through the book- The Road Less Traveled by M Scott Peck- which I have been reading as a comparative study with “Man’s Search for Meaning” By Viktor Frankl which was discussed in our Monthly Book Club- I came across Peck’s assertion of -Religion of Science- in which he interrogates the world of spiritual growth and its relation with science.

See blog


In the case of my parents- I first saw revision flash cards used by my father-again even before I started going to formal school.

My niece Divya-ji -who is going through medical studies -the third generation of our family to enter medicine, often asks me what my father PN Bhatt would have advised her. I told her, how my father had a more gentle patient approach- something which I have tried to imbibe over the years- but have still got a long way to go. (Whenever I am impatient with my sons and nieces-nephews- my sisters gently remind me- Have you forgotten your own days Bhaiya).

In the early seventies my father was giving the MD Anesthesiology exam from University of Pune. He had many revision flash cards, of different drugs, their main actions, interactions with other drugs, the main side effects and the contraindications.

I tell who ever asks for advice of study -especially for Professional courses- to make Revision Flash cards, which will be the essence of the course- points without which you will not be given that degree or license to practice.

In a way-science is a religion- practiced by our family for many decades.

In Grade 12- high school (Army Public School-Delhi-1985) I did a science project on the plants of the Ridge of Delhi. My mother had done Masters in Botany.

I was influenced by my father and uncles and followed medicine. Over the decades, have made many different sets of flash cards. These have helped navigate through the different mazes of medicine and their applications.



My parents, grandparents and uncles inculcated the love of walking -especially in the magic hour when night turns into day- in me. We first started going for walks in Lullanagar area of Pune in the mid seventies. Over the decades we went for walks to the Hill Temples in and around Shimla region and Rishikesh Regions of India. In those hills- my father told me about his own family- their origins from Pauri Garhwal and how they shifted to Shimla region in around 1890s, and built a house in Upper Kaithu Bazaar Shimla. As a medical intern, my father took me to those same areas again, and many childhood memories came alive. We climbed up to the Jakhoo Temple of Shimla, which legend has it- was one of the places where the God Hanuman stopped when he came to bring medicines for Ram’s younger brother Laxman.

See Blog- Walkers at Lullanagar



Work and life, took me to different continents. I could not -for many reasons and failings- take my own sons for a walk to the hills of Shimla region -in their younger days. But in the same spirit of walking and exploration we did go to temples of Malta and Gozo area , and Sabratha-Leptis areas of Libya-North Africa and explored many walking trails in Mississauga and Southern Ontario area.





Its no good to spend all your time reliving the good ol’ days .

But there is a lot to learn if you can let your memories take you back to a truer you.

Dr. Phil McGraw- The Self Matters-Companion

On the anniversary of my parents wedding- (1967) – I looked back at some of the things they taught and imbibed in us. We went through collages of the home library systems, our journals and looked at the walks of the decades gone by.





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Early Rubens-Year end Diary-notes-2019

Early-Rubens- The Fallen Christ- Art Gallery of Ontario

Having a designated thinking place, and scheduling the time to go there, helps shape thinking. Over the years, have tried to follow this practice-individually and jointly -with different groups. 2019- marked the third consecutive year, when I stayed in Ontario-Canada. We went for a walk to Art Gallery of Ontario- and saw a special exhibition of paintings of Rubens- his works reflecting the changes in Europe during the 1400s- and the many currents with Reformation and Counter-Reformation.


AGO- Many lovely hours spent exploring themes

Being part of an Art museum is different from say a science museum, zoo, or general museum.

Over the years we have been part of a General Museum- (Royal Ontario Museum) , a zoo (The Toronto Zoo) , a science Museum (Ontario Science centre) and the Art museum (Art Gallery of Ontario, Art Gallery of Hamilton).

My father -Prem Narain- first took me to museums, in the early 1970s, just as his father Bhawani -took him to different trade fairs and museums. We also prayed in some of the temples where our forefathers have prayed- the Jakhoo temple of Shimla region, the Bilu Kedar and Dhari-Devi temples of Srinagar region-of Uttarakhand and the Hanuman Temple of Connaught Place-Delhi region and the Parvati templ of Pune region.

As we read the narratives of Rubens stay in Italy and then his shift back to Antwerp, we recalled the journeys of Caravaggio from Italy to Malta. Or the Dr.Bhau Daji Lad (formerly Victoria and Albert ) and Chatrapati Shivaji Sangrahalya (formerly Prince of Wales) Museums of Delhi region- in which there are very interesting dioramas of different travelers and migrants from distant lands -like present day Iran, Greece, Portugal- who made Western India their home.

Huntsville-Algonquin -2017-August

See blog-https://prashantbhatt.com/museums-with-the-children/



One of the paintings of Rubens, which has been analyzed in great detail is-Massacre of the Innocents.

Different painters have interpreted this Biblical theme- in which Kind Herod massacred all male children when he came to know that Christ has been born.

As a thinking exercise- the curators have sourced the original images which served as an inspiration for Rubens for this figures in the paintings



George Brown House-Beverly Street-Toronto..It was home to father of Confederation, Reform party politician, Publisher-George Brown – He was killed here in 1880- shot by a disgruntled dismissed employee of the Globe newspaper- which he had established. .

In the past year, we have added some books from the Tom Thomson collection (My father communed with objects- his son writes in the introduction- and how he developed many interesting relations due to these communions). We went granular on the Impressionism in the age of Industry exhibition of AGO, and saw different constructions going on in the GTA region in a new light due to this exhibition. The highway expansion at Ford -QEW-403 junction-between Mississauga and Oakville is one such area.

On art themes-the book-The Anatomy lesson of Dr.Tulp, by Rembrandt-and the novel by Nina Siegal, in which she traces the life of the subject-Aris Kindt and the methodology and philosophy of Rembrandt-is an addition to the home library.


In the winter break- we went to see some special exhibitions- (Wild life photographer of the year-ROM to Early Rubens- AGO) and remembered some of the other special exhibitions we have seen in 2019- (Age of Rembrandt-ROM, Jodhpur-ROM, Ipressionism in age of Industry, Brian Jungen-AGO.


See https://www.nhm.ac.uk/press-office/Wildlife-Photographer-of-the-Year/gripping-action-shot-wins-wpy.html


It was also a time to look back on similar gallery walks in Malta, India, and develop our home library.

Action point- We sat together and revisited some heritage walks- like Peterborough area-Sep 2019, Thousand Islands-Gananoque- 2018, Algonquin -2017, or going back even further-Xlendi-Gozo-2010.

Yester years- A town is its peple. Gananoque – 2018-September walks

Over the years we have walked through different areas- and explored local histories


SLEIMA-MALTA-2011- We did not inherit this earth from our ancestors, we borrowed it from our Children..Native American Proverb
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Tuesday-Janry 20th-1846

Mamma told me to note down what we were all about on the 4th of January 1846.

We were all standing round dear Mammas bed talking to her about her being sick.

What will we all be about the 4th of January next year

                                                Wednesday-Janry 21st , 1846

Mr Ambrose came and I took my music lesson and Minnie went to her lessons with Mr.Thomson..


Remembering my mother Nirja Bhatt nee Uniyal ,  I recalled some of the things she taught me. I will go through three of them in a bit more detail.

Around this time, our family made a visit to the Dundurn Castle, Burlington Heights, and I came across the beautiful diary of Sophia MacNab-written around 1846, which is the best living document of life then in and around the castle.





In 2016, when I visited our home in Palam, Delhi region India I went through some of the drawers and lists she had made over the years, when she had done maintenance projects in the house, invited relatives to live and done the different shiftings which a military family has to make.  This habit of making lists, I have tried to imbibe from her, and refined them into making points of Tracking.


My mother was my first teacher. Right from the days I started going to pre-school of Mrs.Lawrence on Bombay-Poona Road of Khadki Cantonment of Pune region, she would help me with my homework. She helped me in the major transitions from different school districts-Loyola Pashan area to St.Vincent’s Pune Camp area, from the boards-Maharashtra board to Central board-Kendriya Vidyalaya Southern Command. The level of Hindi taught at Central board level is different from the Maharashtra board.

She also helped us transition-during high school from Pune to Delhi. That was the year of the 9th Asiad games. We also came into closer touch with our extended family. And I started going for walks in the Rishikesh Mussorrie regions of Garhwal.


SISTERS…Visiting Benares-India-2017 …
Earlier Perspectives-

In a series written in 2013, remembering and telling about my father to my sons, I told of Benares-  a place where my father got a feel of the family in a different way.
 His own mother had passed away when he was less than five years old.
After his marriage in 1967, he first time came to have a sense of the family –in a more integrated way- when he associated with the Uniyal family of BHU.

Recently my mother’s sister-my aunty shifted house. She is the one , of all our relatives who misses my mother the most. In 2015, when I took her to Palam from Vasant Kunj, she requested the tenants to see the insides of the first floor where they were living. With great emotion she said-each corner of this house reminds me of so many things.  One year on- my mother’s sisters again wanted to go to Palam to pray in the house of their Didi. We made the pilgrimage again, and went through family memorabilia and albums.

When my mother passed away in 2011, I gifted the eye cleaning glass of my grandfather to her youngest sister. This is a family relic which belongs to her. In 2013, I went to visit my father’s sister, and gifted to her the Buddha bust, which I had gifted to my mother in 2009-when I last saw her physically.


As we went through the lists, homework diaries and sisterhood nuances, I thought of the richness which comes into life through these associations. I have been a diary-journal keeper for over three decades. The home library which my parents first started for me in 1971-by buying an encyclopaedia has grown over time.  

In that library-I added the Diary of Sophia Mcnab around Mother’s day. Dundurn Castle overlooking the sparkling waters of Burlington Bay, dominated Burlington Heights in 1846. Those Heights the Duke of Wellington remembered to be the crucial defensive bastion of Upper Canada. From those Heights, Colonel John Harvey, deputy adjutant-general to the forces in Canada, led his mixed force of British regulars of the 49th and 8th King’s regiments and Canadian Militia down Hamilton’s York and Main streets to the Red Hill, to attack and force the retreat of the American invades at Stoney Creek in the ‘wee sma’ hours” of June 6,1813.

But this diary and each room of the castle also remind us of the many flavours of life, which will inevitably come the way of a family.  The guide told about the great aunt, aunt and daughter all named Sophia. Dear Mamma, Lady MacNab nee Stuart, eldest daughter of Sheriff John Stuart of the Johnston District and Sophia Jones and grand-duagher of the Reverent John Stuart, the first Anglican rector of Kingston, had married Allan Napier Macnab as a girl of nineteen. She died in 1846 less than two months after her 34th birthday


As I discussed some aspects of my mother’s life, her journeys and associations and the richness of her habits of daily disciplines of keeping logs, notes, accounts, with my sons, the mind’s eye went back to the last picture of my mother with her grandsons Sagar and Sahil- around June 2010, taken in Bandra-Mumbai region.

By the next year, they were in Malta, and within that year, she had passed away physically

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Thinking through Letters-Sagar around 20

In a previous article this writer told about his realization that what he had before him was not the dish he had ordered for his forties

        The Crack Up – F Scott Fitzgerald

    from the anthology of Best American essays, in our Home Library in Mississauga, Ontario.. got this book from Chicago in 2010, from Barnes and Noble in front of Art Institute of Chicago

                                        * * * 

My elder son Sagar completed 20 years on Feb 28. Around that time, I used Letters as a Thinking Tool – to shape our joint thinking. 


 In his book -15 laws of growth Writer Speaker John Maxwell writes that his highest highs and lowest lows both have come from his family. He writes how he has learnt to be available, but keep out of his growing children’s decision making unless asked. That can be difficult for a person of his personality, he acknowledges  

Around 10 years ago the children used to stay in Malad Mumbai 

See blog


   Then in 2010 , we shifted to Sweiqi Malta , in 2012 to Mississauga Ontario.


   One of the tools of reflection I have jointly engaged in , with my sons is to write a letter to a loved one who has passed away. Over the years, this exercise has helped shape our joint thinking as I encouraged the children to write under the following headings 

1- As Life Is

2- What we are as a group or people

3- What we can become 


   I write to my grandfather, just as I encouraged my sons to write to their grandmother, and they wrote about their classes in Peel ( Camilla, Gordon Graydon, Glenforest) and now Ryerson University and the different walks taken in art galleries, parks and museums 

Some walks in year gone by – Drummond Hill – Niagara region

THE ZERO HOUR … This is a technique to incubate and simmer various thoughts 

LEGACY … they say, grandchildren are the legacy which one will never see physically

THE HOME LIBRARY…is a resource built intentionally to read and reflect on works of literature, self improvement, art and also included in these are the personal photo-albums, and journals.


The Malta Years 2010-12.. when children were in middle school- St Edwards Cottonera , just before their Teenage years

Some Memories of Walks – Thinking places (Is there some magic in creating a Thinking Place-Answer -No
But if you create a thinking place, and schedule a time to go there, chances of your intentionally thinking and reflecting grow manifold


May 2018

IN DETAILS ( an edited version of my letter to loved one who has passed away.. my maternal grandfather GPU Ganesh Prasad Uniyal. I often use the framework of Literature to write to GPU who was a University professor of Political science ( Banaras Hindu University and Sagar University) 

… Around the 20 th birthday of my son Sagar, I write to my grandfather. The milieu of India of 1960s/70s and the campuses where we stayed comes alive. In our home library is an anthology of essays, and I picked up Crack up by Fitzgerald again . 

 The writer speaks about the dish which he had not ordered for his forties and how he and the dish were one. He described himself as a cracked plate, the kind that one wonders is worth preserving… sometimes though the cracked plate has to be retained in the pantry, has to be kept in service as a household necessity. It can never be warmed on the stove nor shuffled with the other plates in the dishpan; it will not be brought out for company, but it will do to hold crackers late at night or to go into the icebox under leftovers…..

   I studied ‘ Crack up’ again and thought of the family journeys and collections of past ten years. We have direct experiences of the Diaspora in Libya, Malta and Canada. In supporting and furthering these, one gets a feel of the shape of the family and community, the scopes, limitations and possibilities 


Using thinking tools like Home library, Zero hour, legacy, as life is, what we are as a group or people, what we can become, what are our highest highs and lowest lows.. we drafted letters to loved ones who have passed away

 This helps shape perspectives.

MUSEUMS AS THINKING PLACES-Special exhibition on Textiles in Royal Ontario Museum-2018..thinking in the year gone by
Walks in year gone by-Port Credit-Jack Darling Memorial Park-Mississauga-Ontario
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