After 34 years

Four siblings decided to take a holiday together without their spouses or children to reconnect and see if they could revive and reconnect with the sense of the family of their parents and those times . This exercise led them to rediscover many interesting things about themselves and how they remember, feel about their childhood and adolescent years. 


Downtown Toronto

It also made them reorient and relook at some aspects of their current identity and families.

So when Raghu, my friend from High School years ( Army Public School- Dhaula Kuan- Delhi -1985 batch) told me he will be coming to Toronto area I made it a point to meet him , and meet him alone , and reconnect with those times and days. 

Reunion-Toronto-2019-APS 85 batch


We spent some magical hours recalling those high school years, our teachers, class mates , classes, and the atmosphere of the school. 

We spoke intimately and had a good laugh at some of our ways then. My apprehension that sometimes friends who were close in a different period of life, when they meet after many years are not able to connect or find common themes to talk about was laid to rest as we spoke freely about ‘ Every secret thing’ … those I cannot put on a public blog. 

Then I spent some time reviewing my jottings of yesteryears ( decades) . It was in the early 1980 s – around the year of the 9 th Asiad that I started keeping diaries, logs of how much we ran, who we talked to,which movie we saw.


We remembered our projects. I had done a study of the plants of the Delhi ridge area. He remembered how his soldering did not work in the first try.


Then there was the day when one of us kept a lizard( toy) on the teacher ‘ s seat. The Chemistry teacher said he will report it to higher ups if the person who did the prank would not come up. ( that is how I remember the incident) . Our classmate owned up. He was a person of character. He later joined the Defence forces( NDA) . Then he passed away. 

These and many other sweet sour memories came alive as we talked for hours in downtown Toronto.

There had been a freezing rain alert , but I drove from Stoney Creek Hamilton to meet my good friend Raghu. 



We used to go to see movies at Chanakya cinema from APS. When many students missed class to see the movie To Sir With love, the school decided to make it official. The many nuances of literature and life taught by our English teachers kindled a love of trying to see between the lines. We had nicknamed our English teacher Mrs Majumdar – Mata. 


Raghu went into Engineering , I went into medicine, but the love of the written word remains. 

It should probably read – To Madam With Love.. the English teacher who kindled this life long habit which has enriched life on so many ways. 


How the movies like the Cult classic- Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron – formed part of our identity



How the movies like Heat and Dust made us relook at the influences of British Colonialism 


We talked about our parents, the life in India in the 70s, 80s and then about our children who now grow in North American society. Being from services background, when we came to civil life, we did find that things work in a different way .

Over the decades, we now , sitting in a cold freezing rain day in Toronto, went the memories of events which shaped our identities and those of the previous and next generations.

Thirty four years is a good enough time to meet and have a wide angle view of life, societies and identities 

Thanks Raghu , for everything 

Posted in life | Tagged | 2 Comments

Year End Journal-2018

Take Pleasure in beautiful things, to defeat the sadness and sorrow of life-

Year End Journal-2018

Blog-Nov 2018-Clock Tower near Historical Post Office-Gananoque


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.

Blog - retreats.jpg-1

LETTERS – Reviewing old letters give great insights into life, vision, possibilities- a letter written in 1941 from Essex to my grandfather -Ganesh Prasad Uniyal -then a student of Professor Harold Laski

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.

Earlier Perspectives

2008- Passport lost and found in Delhi

2013-lodhi of our Thinking Places-over four generations

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-

2011- The Civil War in Libya- witnessing a 21st century revolution

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 2011-feb-17-revolution-of-libya.jpg

“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?


See Blogs

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) the Tim near 1 Eva Road-where we gave our different licensing exams.

Posted in Diary | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Around 51-Looking back

The home library, parenting,walks marked some ways to further inroads into North American society this year.

Refined the Thinking places- and used two park – areas for walks for this purpose in an intentional manner. Apart from Riverwood, Port Credit areas of Mississauga, Wilket-Edwards-Central Don river area of Toronto and the Dundurn area of Burlington Heights-Hamilton were some of my favourite thinking places.

DUNDURN AREA OF HAMILTON..A lovely thinking place


The Global leadership summit conference of 2018 introduced me to the works and thoughts of the restaurateur Danny Meyers.

The closest I have personally seen/known someone like Danny is Ismail bhai of Safir restaurant Tripoli, and remembered the many meals and discussions we had in Safir.

The talk about –Setting the Table- by Danny Meyers, which I saw in the Portico Church of Mississauga, in August this year led to his book, which gives many interesting insights into the world of restaurants and hospitality. Anthony Bourdain’s-Kitchen Confidential is another addition to the home library, which adds many valuable insights into the world of hospitality.


One of the first books of the current home library, which I started gathering in Tripoli in 2004, was –Quest for adventure- by Chris Bonnington.

Having been part of formal and informal book and reading clubs for almost thirty years, I found the Everest Analogy a very useful tool to explain some things to a friend from a different civilization and cultural background, who is finding roots in North American Canadian society.

While the conversations are private, the analogy of Everest did work out well to drive in some truths.


This year, my younger son Sahil graduated from school.

See Blog- For a Few moments more

Parenting is an activity, which helps one evolve into a better long term thinker.

After 18 years, one is not very sure whether one’s boys, having grown up in different parts of the world have the skills to navigate the many mazes of Canadian society.

Weekly Gazette ..I use this weekly write-up as a tool to define the frameworks under which we can cooperate and grow together. In this we discuss many aspects of family life. Many of these are private and sensitive. This month-and year, mark the 100th year since World War 1 got over.

There was a special article on the history of St.Edward’s college-the buildings were a military hospital which treated the wounded from World War 1.

My boys studied in St Edward’ s college, Cottonera, Malta for two years ( 2010-12)


Blog-Nov 2018-4


The article also told about Sister Violet Briffa, who later became matron of the college till 1965.



Is there a magic about a designated thinking place?

Not really.

But if one has a designated place to think and one takes the time to go there to think, there is a better chance that one will go beyond the clichés and I-am-fine-thank-yous and see the underlying processes, nuances and details which deepen one’s humanity.

Grief is a Journey…Went through this book by Keneth Doka, and it has many interesting points for application for persons who are going through any major transition, transformation or change.




This evolved with trips to 1000 Islands where we stayed in the historical post office. The post man would visit the residents of the 1000 islands and was an important person during the wars of 1812-14 as he knew the place very well.

Blog-Nov 2018-Clock Tower near Historical Post Office-Gananoque


Blog-Nov 2018-6

THE HISTORICAL SOCIETIES..reminded me of similar societies, Reading Groups and Every day History Societies we used to run in collect, preserve, disseminate objects relevant to local history. The Diaspora in Arab world


Blog-Nov 2018-Jones Shovel Company-Gananoque

Here, we walked, talked through important family issues with three generations and their own unique takes on the way they see life in North America.


The Day we ferried in 1000 islands area-the American flags were at half-mast in memory of Senator John McCain. Listened to the BBC podcast-the life and times of John McCain,





This tool –has been further refined over the years.

This year, I often wondered what my parents would have told me, in a situation and country which does not easily recognize foreign educational credentials.

But I held on, as one can later re-integrate many things.



Blog-Nov 2018-2

ITALIAN WRITER-LEONARDO SCIASCIA …Born in Racalmuto-the sister city of Hamilton-Leonardo Sciascia  published Gli zii di Sicilia (Uncles of Sicily), which includes sharp views about themes such as the influence of the U.S. and of communism in the world, and the 19th century unification of Italy.


The sculpture of Italian writer Leonardo Sciascia.
Reminded me of the statue of writer Manwel Dimech-of Malta, in Valletta


Walks will continue, as one learns to work around various issues









Posted in Diary, life | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Around Sahil’s 18th Birthday

Our second son, Sahil -was born on 18-Sep 2000, at the turn of the century.

Blog-30-9-18-Port Credit-7 Sep

PORT CREDIT-MISSISSAUGA-SEP 7-2018-With Nana-Nani-Mama-ji ..many lovely hours spent walking and meditating, discussing, where we have been, where we are, where we are going.

His first school of L’avenir-The Future in Gnostic Centre, Delhi. This year he passed out of Gordon Graydon Mississauga and joined Ryerson University-Toronto.


SAHIL-2002-During his L’avenir days-Palam Vihar

On Tuesday, 18 th Sep, we celebrated his 18th birthday, in a unique birthday-celebration with Nana-Nani-ji having come from Malad-Mumbai.

Ten years ago- we were staying in Malad-and studying in Pinnacle High school.






2010 12-walks-xlendi gozo

2010-Dec-Walks together-Xlendi Gozo see Friends of Bouazizi – Year End diary-2011 Meeting –Tripoli Reading Group- 2011-

In celebration –we gathered together and said some prayers, remembering our forefathers.

Remembering my Parents…Prem Narain and Nirja Bhatt

On this unique birthday, I remembered some points taught to me by my father, which would add value to their insights into different systems.

My father-Prem Narain Bhatt, an alumnus of All India Institute of Medical Sciences-AIIMS-Delhi-1958 batch and Armed Forced Medical College-Pune-MD Anesthesia-1972 and Christian Medical College-advanced training in Cardiac Anesthesia-1974, was a veteran of the Indian Army Medical Corps, and also participated in different community programs in the hills of Garhwal, from where our family originally is.

In the past year, some members of our family transitioned from High school to Professional training. And hearing them and their struggles I remembered my own struggles and how a professional course is so much different from a high school study.

So I sat down for some time, and tried to summarize some of the things which my father taught me, in his own gentle ways. Though he is not physically present with us, his teachings are a living presence


BROAD OUTLINE-The five steps for higher studies

1-Study Topic beforehand

2-Prepare Revision Flash Cards

3-Have a study-buddy

4-Have a study-revision plan

5-Prepare for Co-op

A FEW DETAILS..On these five steps

1-Study Topic beforehand

Try to study the topic before the lecture, so that you gain more by the lecture, and can even clarify the points which are not clear.

2-Prepare Revision Flash Cards

Higher professional studies are more difficult than school level studies.

Try to make Revision flash cards which you will review briefly for around 15 minutes every day, and for a longer period-around 90 minutes at the end of the week.

This technique I first saw my father use when he was studying for his Doctorate in Anesthesia in 1971-72- he had many flashcards with the drugs, their usage, indications, contraindications, which he would revise regularly

3-Have a study-buddy

Study Buddy-Joint revision with a study partner will really help.

If one has a peer group-one can mix and match-study and come to know which classes are held where, and then revise the concepts together.

4-Have a study-revision plan

This is a refinement of the above three points, but takes it a step further by having self-preparation questions, and also reviewing the long questions and short questions of a particular subject from beforehand, so that one knows what will be tested, and how, and what will be expected of a student in the coming exam at end of term and course.

5-Prepare for Co-op

In Canada, in-house training is known as Co-op.

Though in India, we do not call it co-op, we have many such experiences, when one has to walk along with a practitioner and he introduces you to the concept of the subject, as it is practiced in the field.

This may take the form of taking rounds of a clinical ward and then sitting down and analyzing one of the cases in greater detail- right from the presentation and history to the findings, treatment plan, and follow-up. Or in the case of Medical Radiology, I benefited immensely from seeing the reports of my mentors, then going back to the books and studying the case again, and refreshing the points which were covered in the reports.


Birthdays are a time to reflect and look back at one’s experiences as a family, group and try to see where we were, where we are going and how best to integrate the different threads of family life.


See blog

Gerard Hopkins, in his work The Child Is Father To The Man, reflects on both the relationship of a man to his father and the relationship of a man to God. It provides commentary on the human aging process and also allows Hopkins to think spiritually about the divinity and humanity of Christ.


Non Profits and Voluntary organizations – to build Functioning communities

The writer Peter Drucker said that the predominant need in our culture was for individuals to make their lives useful to themselves and others, and he believed that non-profit organizations were best suited to do that.

According to Peter, non profits organizations were most effective in establishing “the functioning community and functioning democracy of tomorrow”.

This year, through a deeper touch with some such voluntary organizations which impact culture, like Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto Zoo, Ontario Science centre, Peel Art Gallery and Museum Archives, YMCA, Art Gallery of Mississauga, Riverwood conservancy, we explored the themes of Functioning community.

See Blog

For more nuanced examples

2016- Walks with Divya

Blog-30-9-18-Divya notes-Oct 2011

DIVYA-NOTES-OCTOBER 28,2011-On visits to Purana Quila, Khan Market and National Museum-Delhi


And the times when I would sit in Jasola, and tell her to write joint journal together. Of the times we went walking to Purana Qila- and then saw the Company school paintings of Thomas Daniels, which she also saw in the National gallery of Modern Art.

My teacher asked me how I knew about Telly Kittle and Thomas Daniels, and I told of our trips together to National Gallery of Modern art, India Gate, Zoo, Sri Aurobindo ashram and many other sites of Delhi region.

Now she is 18 and maybe a bit too old to be told to sit and write about what she saw in Lodhi gardens or write a brief summary of the play we saw together in Sri Ram Centre.

But those memories will remain fresh

2017-Birthday Musings

The home is the lens, through which we get our first look at marriage and all civic duties. It is the clinic where , by conversation and attitude, impressions are created with respect to sobriety and reverence, it is the school where lessons of truth or falsehood , honesty and deceit are learned, it is the mould which ultimately determines the structures of society

Perry Webb-quoted in Today Matters-by John Maxwell

See blog


Posted in Parenting, Professional experiences-Canada, Reading Journal | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Retreats –What is the use of writing these down?

Retreats are a change of pace to re-think and re-visit the same things once more.

Blog - retreats

While other persons on the trip made themselves busy with trying to catch up with the one-other-site to see I took some time off to Re-think on some of the points on which I have been working upon in the past year(s), quarter, and project into the coming months.

TEN YEARS OF THIS BLOG..evolving from letters, logbooks, diaries, journals.

I started keeping this blog around ten years ago, as an extension of my diaries, logbooks, and letters which I have kept since 1975.

Letters..since 1975

I first started writing letters to my grandfather-Dr.Ganesh Prasad Uniyal, who was a teacher of political science in Banaras Hindu University. He was in Moscow at that time, and I would describe to him, some of the way things are in Pune and he would write back and do some corrections and suggestions on grammar and content. I recently was sent a letter-message by my sister-Sonal- which had some letters-memorabilia of my grandfather from the 1930s/1940s when he was studying in London. He used to be active in the students union, was a student of Professor Harold Laski and spent life as an overseas student during the World War 2 days.

Letter from Essex-1941..

Blog - retreats.jpg-1

Logbooks..since 1970s

Logbooks were another way of keeping track- which I started keeping as a record of the hours studied, subjects –topics to be revised, and the distance run- when I would be studying in Army Public School-Dhaula Kuan, and were staying in Pratap Chowk-Delhi Cantonment.

Diaries..since 1983

Diaries- were an extension of these logbooks- in which there are a bit more nuanced view of the numbers and hours studied.

Pliny the Elder said-not a day without a line.

Journals..evolved from letters, logbooks, diaries

These evolved into Journals- which are a bit different from diaries/logbooks/letters in that one looks at one particular theme-topic and tries to see the lessons learnt, mistakes made , how to build to next level, what to do, and not to do. How to reduce the clutter, improve the focus.


Work, family , friends, carried me to different places, and there I met persons from different lands, who expanded my way of thinking, and helped commune with travelers who have gone through these paths before.

LANDOUR..MUSSOORIE..Garhwal Himalayas..2014

I have come to this region many times over the decades, ever since my uncles and father introduced me to the Himalayas- in 1970s…

GULHANE PARK-SULTANAHMET..The Historic Constantinople-2016




DRUMMOND HILL CEMETERY…Lundy’s lane…26 August 2018

As I went through some of these saved playlists, daytimers, and was challenged by a fellow-traveler-

What is the use of writing these down ?

I retrieved some notes from just a month ago, and  read and went over them once again, in a shared manner.

Shared thinking is the ability to include the heads of others, to help thinking ‘over your head’ and achieve compounding results. As I had written down what had been said, by whom, it helped reflect- in this case –jointly- a way to revisit the past and gain further perspective and thinking with understanding.

Consciously building with expatriates- who live-work in faraway lands made me evolve the meanings of diaspora in a deeper way..From the Food cultures of different civilizations in the churches of Tripoli to the Reading journals-clubs which made us revisit events like the Cultural Revolution of China or the Fall of Communism or the Arab spring-through the lens of great works of literature.



Last week, I went for two walks to further think through and think ahead.


Thinking Places are spots where one goes to think …and revisit the talks, plays, themes, schema one more time to see whether one can get a further understanding or insight from an experience.


Have been coming to Riverwood –over the years, this season watched some birds and the flow of water with music.


Early morning, before the tourists and sight-seeing people come, a whiff of fresh morning breeze



…Hope going through these notes, helped answer some parts of the question

What is the use of writing these down…

Posted in Diary, Everyday History | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Why a Reading Journal?

“The novelist is a poor imitation of the Creator God.”


There was a reason  for all this suffering.

Ellie Weisel


Keeping these notes has helped shape many discussions with fellow-travelers over the years.

I started keeping this blog- in 2008-Tripoli, as an extension of my diaries (kept since 1983-Delhi) to keep in touch with my sons –Sagar and Sahil- who used to stay in Mumbai then, and imbibe in them the spirit of learning and discussion, which has been part of our family through generations.

When the weather allows, I also like to go out into the open, and sit and read, reflect on what has been written in open places. This year- I found a quiet spot near Lake Huron

blog-book club.doc-2

WEEKLY DISCUSSIONS-Every week we read and discuss some literature..March 2018-Tim Horton-Dixie-Mississauga


As the next year of the book club is going to start, I looked back at some of the tools/courses which I have taken to enhance the Reading habit.

In 2017, I took a course on Life lessons from Great books by Professor Rufus Fears.

In Life Lessons from the Great Books, Professor J. Rufus Fears of the University of Oklahoma—a marvellous storyteller with deep historical knowledge—shows you how some of Western civilization’s greatest literary masterpieces can speak to you and provide guidance in your life across the gulf of time and culture. Rich in historical perspective and infused with layers of meaning, these 36 lectures reveal the wealth of insight these enduring works can provide in your life. You’ll come to see that each of these works—whether written 2,000, 200, or 20 years ago—remain relevant to all of us.


What Makes a Book “Great”?

According to Professor Fears, four characteristics define a Great Book:

  • Its focus on great themes such as love, courage, and patriotism
  • Its composition in a noble language
  • Its ability to speak to readers across the ages
  • Its ability to speak to readers not as groups, but as individuals

In this course he talked about what makes a great book – (1) Theme (2) Language (3) Speaks across ages. (4) Speaks to readers as individuals.

Using this prism, I tried to see whether any of the books in the 2017-2018 year in our Courtney park book club would speak across ages. Three books came across as possible candidates.

1-The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

2-Requiem- by Frances Itani

3- Do not say you have nothing- by Madeliene Thien.

While I highly recommend going through the course by Professor Fears, in summary the Great Lessons which he got as an individual from the books, which ranged from Addison’s Cato to Lawrence of Arabia’s book on the Arab Revolt to Ellie Wiesel’s -Night-


 blog-book club.doc-1

Night — A terrifying account  of the Nazi death camp horror that turns a young  Jewish boy into an agonized witness to the death of  his family…the death of his innocence…and the  death of his God. Penetrating and powerful, as  personal as The Diary Of Anne  FrankNight awakens the shocking  memory of evil at its absolute and carries with it  the unforgettable message that this horror must  never be allowed to happen again.



In Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel’s memoir Night, a scholarly, pious teenager is wracked with guilt at having survived the horror of the Holocaust and the genocidal campaign that consumed his family. His memories of the nightmare world of the death camps present him with an intolerable question: how can the God he once so fervently believed in have allowed these monstrous events to occur? There are no easy answers in this harrowing book, which probes life’s essential riddles with the lucid anguish only great literature achieves. It marks the crucial first step in Wiesel’s lifelong project to bear witness for those who died.

Great lessons as an individual (adapted from Professor Fears course)

1-See myself through the Eyes of others

2-Stepping back and look at the follies

3-Stop before a mistake turns into a tragedy

4-Connectedness- Are we really in need of this email?

5-How to make our life choices

6-Find and Follow your Destiny.


blog-book club.doc-5

JOURNEYS-THROUGH READINGS…Blue Mountain region-Ontario

As we met for the Yearly book selection party on 11th June, 2018, I looked back at my Reading Journal of the previous year, and the many discussions had over lovely books.

1-Can a person like Jack Reacher exist…after reading Night School

Some thoughts…While Jack Reacher is a composite character, there are persons from agencies who go to different societies and do the ‘dirty work’ of eliminating people

2-Who has right over the tissues..after reading Henrietta Lacks

Some thoughts..It is what you do with the tissues, which counts. Right from medical school days, we were made to label each and every specimen we took from anyone, and then make rounds in the records division as part of follow-up

3-How powerful are the New Gods…after reading American Gods

Some thoughts…Technology-Twitter and Trump are part of the debate. While many Canadians do not like Trump, there must be supporters of this trend, which put him in the White House.

Synopsis- of American Gods

It follows the tribulations of Shadow Moon, an ex-convict who wanders the U.S. — Gaiman’s adopted country for more than two decades — alongside a mysterious con man named Mr. Wednesday. Along the way, Wednesday and Shadow link up with ancient gods from an array of Old World pantheons, all of whom are living in obscurity in the hidden corners of a decaying America. Wednesday, who may or may not be a god himself, recruits them all to fight a war against the New Gods: media, technology, and the like.

Suggested Further Reading-

THE 2018-2019 Selection

Having 10 books to read and discuss over the year, is a great way to enhance one’s intellectual, emotional and even spiritual horizons. Each book club member has a personality of their own, and I have had many valuable insights and alternative ways of looking at things , while listening to the different takes on the same book.

This year-in Courtney Park Library – we will discuss

1-A Wrinkle in Time- by Madeliene L’Engle

2-Dead Wake- Eric Larson

3-Heart of Darkenss-Joseph Conrad

4-You are a badass- Jen Sincero

5-The Husband’s secret- Liane Moriarty

6-Animal Farm- George Orwell

7-A house in the sky- Amanda Lindhurst

8-15 dogs- Andre Alexis

9-When breath becomes air- Paul Kalarith

10-Underground Railroad- Lolson Whitehead

See link-


Having a reading habit, and building a reading life, go a long way into deepening one’s humanity.

The Book club gives a window into works which at least I would have not generally read. It also introduced me to works for further reading.

For example, after Reading the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks I went through –Siddhartha Mukherjee’s- The Emperor of All Maladies.

It also made me re-read my notes of books on similar themes which we had discussed in a previous year- 2015-16-in Tripoli , we had gone through the book –Voices from Chernobyl-by Nobel Laureate Svetlana Alexievich

On April 26, 1986, the worst nuclear reactor accident in history occurred in Chernobyl and contaminated as much as three quarters of Europe. Voices from Chernobyl is the first book to present personal accounts of the tragedy. Journalist Svetlana Alexievich interviewed hundreds of people affected by the meltdown—from innocent citizens to firefighters to those called in to clean up the disaster—and their stories reveal the fear, anger, and uncertainty with which they still live. Comprised of interviews in monologue form, Voices from Chernobyl is a crucially important work, unforgettable in its emotional power and honesty

Looking forward to another year of readings and discussions at Courtney Park

Suggested links of book discussions of past years

2013….A relook at Edward Said’s Orientalism and reflection on the words of G.Lukacs –

“The novelist is a poor imitation of the Creator God.”

2015… As a Ukrainian university instructor in Texas put it, reacting to the news about the Nobel: “my students do not weep when they read Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago, but when they read Alexievich’s Voices from Chernobyl—then they do.”


Posted in Diary, Everyday History, Mentoring, Reading Journal | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Changing pace-in multigenerational setting


Do not be economically astute, intellectually bankrupt

Paraphrased from an interview discussion of Bishop T D Jakes, in GLS 2018-as he talked with Strive Masiyiwa

As the grandparents visited Ontario, we went for some walks. Riverwood and Port Credit areas of Mississauga are some of the favorites.


Blue Mountains area of Ontario is a great place for a getaway for a short trip, to have a change of pace. We saw videos together of the times when we went for walks to Manori, Aksa beach regions of Mumbai or attended the various programs of the Bombay Natural History society- that was around ten years ago. The children used to study in Primary school then. Now , having gone through secondary school, high school and entering college-university education, they are in a different season of life.



Having stayed in Tripoli, came to know closely , professionals from different parts of the world. They introduced me to their music, and chants, spiritual practices, and traditions. How the calendar of the Orthodox church is different from the Catholic calendar.


An evening at Kariya Park, which we first visited in July 2012, now six years on, the three generations came together here.


Posted in life | 3 Comments