NURTURING -Lessons my aunt taught me


Has anyone nurtured you?

Put ‘learning nurturing’ on your list of exercises to see what lessons and teachers Life brings

On reading this exercise in a workbook- I remembered my aunt, my mother’s younger sister.

When I was in secondary school- my aunt taught me about different ways of imbibing lessons.

Remembering by writing, is different from reciting, and that is different from explaining to a study partner. Learning by reading is different. The same subject will look different when seen in written, spoken, sharing, reading form. This master class has stayed with me in many ways over the decades.

Those were the times when my aunt used to come to our house from her University campus in Sagar-Madhya Pradesh-Central India. I used to study in St.Vincent’s high school, Pune (established 1867). St.Vincent’s is the school where I studied from Grade 3 to 8.

The teachers were then introducing us to concepts of science, and we even had not separated the three main sciences- biology, chemistry, physics. The mathematics teacher taught us the importance of learning the multiplication tables.


In the journeys of learning, I imbibed this lesson to write the summary main points of a particular subject.

So, when science teachers- made charts about the classification of organisms and the concept of genetics,  I came to know about Carolus Linnaeus in a bit more detail. And how these giants are related to Darwin (Evolution) , Mendel (Genetics)

Our modern understanding of how traits may be inherited through generations comes from the principles proposed by Gregor Mendel in 1865. However, Mendel didn’t discover these foundational principles of inheritance by studying human beings, but rather by studying Pisum sativum, or the common pea plant. Indeed, after eight years of tedious experiments with these plants, and—by his own admission—”some courage” to persist with them, Mendel proposed three foundational principles of inheritance. These principles eventually assisted clinicians in human disease research; for example, within just a couple of years of the rediscovery of Mendel’s work, Archibald Garrod applied these principles to his study of Alkaptonuria (1)


The speaking of points learned, took a different level when my Hindi Grade 9 teacher told she will give 100 marks to anyone who will memorize 500 lines of poetry for the Hindi language project.

This made me try this venture- and got me introduced to poets whom I was not familiar with, as I had come into the Central board curriculum- Kendriya Vidyalaya Southern Command-KVSC-Pune (1981-82)  after spending 8 years in the Maharashtra board, in which they did not have that level of depth in study of the Hindi language.

I did not get 100 marks, but I was given in 90 plus for this project.

My aunt is a professional historian and teacher. Though she never told me directly, maybe somewhere the interest in the history of the subject, the way the knowledge has evolved -the theory of knowledge has become one of my methods to study a subject in deeper manner.

So I read books on the history of medicine, and came to see the way concepts of lab medicine, imaging medicine, and the marriage of computers to medicine helped push the level of knowledge to a different level.


My aunt gifted to me the biography of Gandhi-The story of my Experiments with truth, when I was studying in Medical school (Maulana Azad Medical College-1985 batch-Delhi). This was a significant addition to the home library, my grandfather had presented me with the Autobiography of Nehru in November 1982- (my last birthday gift from my grandfather-he passed away in March 1983)

On self denial and self fulfilment- the relation of Tolstoy, Gandhi to Sermon on the Mount

Both Tolstoy and Gandhi considered themselves followers of the Sermon on the Mount from the New Testament, in which Jesus Christ expressed the idea of complete self-denial for the sake of his fellow men. Gandhi also continued to seek moral guidance in the Bhagavad-Gita, which inspired him to view his work not as self-denial at all, but as a higher form of self-fulfillment. Adopting a philosophy of selflessness even as a public man, Gandhi refused to accept any payment for his work on behalf of the Indian population, preferring to support himself with his law practice alone. (4)

Gandhi-My Father

Recently we saw the touching movie-Gandhi -my Father

Gandhi My Father paints the picture of Gandhi’s intricate, complex and strained relationship with his son Harilal Gandhi. From the onset, the two had dreams in opposite directions. Harilal’s ambition was to study abroad and become a barrister like his father, while Gandhi hoped that his son would join him and fight for his ideals and causes in India.

Harilal finds it unbearable to live in the enormous shadow of his father. Gandhi is assassinated before the two can reconcile and Harilal attends his father’s funeral virtually as a stranger, almost unrecognizable to those around him. A short while later, he passes away, alone and in poverty, having failed to find his own identity.(5)



Has anyone nurtured you?

As I thought about the many direct and indirect lessons I imbibed from that master-lesson which my aunt taught me- learning by writing is different from learning by reading, speaking or sharing with someone has had so many manifestations over the decades.

Using this theme – my mind’s eye went back to geography projects in secondary school, to plant classification projects in high school. Now, as I look back, from doing portfolios in photography, to the discussions of books in a reading group, I smile at the many manifestations.


1-MENDEL- 1865- Eight years on Pea plants- Pisum sativum


3- Earlier Perspectives-Discussions in the Tripoli Reading Group


Readings from “Notes of a Native Son”

“But as for me and my house” my father had said, “we will serve the Lord”. I wondered, as we drove him to his resting place, what this line had meant for him. I had heard him preach it many times. I had preached it once myself, proudly giving it an interpretation different from my father’s…..All of my father’s texts and songs, which I had decided were meaningless, were arranged before me at his death like empty bottles, waiting to hold the meaning which life would give them for me. This was his legacy: nothing is ever escaped. That bleakly memorable morning I hated the unbelievable streets and the Negroes and whites who had, equally, made them that way. But I know that it was folly, as my father would have said, this bitterness was folly”




His daughter Emily Raboteou mentioned her father Albert in a most eloquent way in her essay –Searching For Zion-

“Tamar’s father was an expert in medieval Jewish history, while mine specialized in antebellum African American Christianity. Both men made careers of retrieving and reconstructing the rich histories of ingloriously interrupted peoples. Both were quietly angry men, and Tamar and I were sensitive to their anger, which was at once historical and personal. I was acutely aware of the grandfather I had lost to a racially motivated crime under Jim Crow, though my father didn’t discuss the murder with me. He didn’t need to give words to my grandfather’s absence any more than Tamar’s father had to give words to the Holocaust. There were ghosts in our houses.”

see blog




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Art to Art- Notes-COVID19 musings

So, Michelangelo’s Last Judgment is a first-hand derivation from the narrative present in the Bible, the written document on the history of Christ, known by every Christian. Yet, its unique intoxicating potency lies in the tactility that a historian can never endow with his analysis of facts. Tactility is a peculiar condition and singularity of art, and as Baudrillard once defined it, it is that register of sense which is of the order of contact, not of physical and sensual contact alone, of course, but rather a sort of communication between the work and the receiver, achieved through individual perception

                                                            Art to Art/Art against Art

                                                            Adrian Bartolo-

                                                            In the collection -Reinterpreting Preti

                                                            Contemporary Works by Maltese Artists

                                                            National Museum of Fine Arts-Valletta, Malta

                                                            Exhibition organized to commemorate the tercentenary of

                                                            The death of Mattia Preti in Malta, January 1699.


On many walks through the streets of Valletta, starting from 2007, when I first visited Malta from Tripoli, I came into first-hand contact with European artists. This was a development of the interpretation and re-interpretation of art works, which had reached a different level after having been associated with the School of Fototechnik-New Delhi.

In these six months, the instructor Tirtha Das Gupta, took us through the different facets of photography, and how it can be used to re-interpret the works of life, art, living, daily living and much more. He introduced us to the zone system as first refined by the photographer Ansel Adams.

This made me look at the Temples of Pre-Christian era in North Africa-Libya and the Temples of Luxor and Karnak (Egypt-2004-11) and the pyramids of Giza in a different way.


To the left of Christ is his mother, Virgin Mary, who turns her head to look down towards the Saved, though her pose also suggests resignation. It appears that the moment has passed for her to exercise her traditional role of pleading on behalf of the dead; with John the Baptist this Deesis is a regular motif in earlier compositions.[10] Preparatory drawings show her standing and facing Christ with arms outstretched, in a more traditional intercessory posture

By Michelangelo – File:Lastjudgement.jpg, Public Domain,


2009-Andrea Vaccaro’s painting “Salome Receiving the Head of the Baptist”


In the Tripoli region- of Libya, Franciscan priests have taken talks on the paintings and frescoes at the Church of San Francisco- Dahra. They tell of the different points in the life of St.Francis, which made us relate to the life of St. Francis, and the history of the Church in Libya in a more intimate way.

In this talk- father explains the Coat of Arms of the Bishop of Tripoli- Father Martinelli- who passed away last year (Dec 30-2019). When Bishop Martinelli became Bishop in 1985, he chose the words Patience and Humility to guide him through the challenges of building the spiritual community and Church in Libya



Glossary of Key Themes


Tactility is a peculiar condition and singularity of art, and as Baudrillard once defined it, it is that register of sense which is of the order of contact, not of physical and sensual contact alone, of course, but rather a sort of communication between the work and the receiver, achieved through individual perception


Franciscan, any member of a Roman Catholic religious order founded in the early 13th century by St. Francis of Assisi. The Franciscan order is one of the four great mendicant orders of the church, and its members strive to cultivate the ideals of poverty and charity. Congregations of these religious men and women are numerous all over the Roman Catholic world, and the Franciscans are the largest religious order in the Roman Catholic Church.


Mattia Preti (24 February 1613 – 3 January 1699) was an Italian Baroque artist who worked in Italy and Malta. He was appointed a Member of the Order of Saint John.
Born in the small town of Taverna in Calabria, Preti was called Il Cavalier Calabrese (the Calabrian Knight) after appointment as a Knight of the Order of St. John (Knights of Malta) in 1660.[1] His early apprenticeship is said to have been with the “Caravaggist” Giovanni Battista Caracciolo, which may account for his lifelong interest in the style of Caravaggio.

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Walks in Don river area

When you want something,

All the universe conspires

In helping you to achieve it.

                        The Old man to the Boy

                        The Alchemist-Paul Coelho, Page 42

Sifting through the reading journals over the years, we went through the places of worship, museums, zoos, nature places we have been over the years.

This theme made me revisit the Confucian Park in Toronto zoo- where we have spent many lovely hours watching the zoo mobile go by, and discuss nuances of Identity- using framework of works of Amartya Sen-Identity and Violence.


In this Nobel accepting speech -Sen had remembered Kader Mia. This theme -and discussion of places of worship -meditation where our family has prayed, made me recall some of the temples with which our family is associated.



We as a family shifted to the Toronto area – in July 2012-after two years in Malta. Over the years, we have spent many lovely hours walking the Don river area. Nature and its currents made us walk through Wilket Creek park and Edwards garden- which is also housing the Toronto Botanical gardens. From there we went through the different galleries and displays of the Ontario Science Centre.

In Michael Ondtaaje’s novel-The Skin of the Lion- talks about the people who were part of the making of Toronto in the 1930s

“ Through fragmented stories and evocative memories, In the Skin of a Lion recounts the story of its protagonist, Patrick Lewis, and his experiences as a member of the Canadian working class.

In the meantime, in Toronto, Commissioner Harris presides over the construction of the Bloor Street Viaduct.

There, workers take part in exhausting, dangerous work. One worker in particular, Macedonian immigrant Nicholas Temelcoff, distinguishes himself by his bravery and his talent.

One night, when a group of lost nuns walks on the bridge, one of them falls off and Nicholas saves her, though everyone believes that the nun has disappeared forever. While the nun, who keeps silent throughout this entire episode, tries to mend Nicholas’s shoulder, which he has dislodged when he caught her, the two of them walk to Nicholas’s friend Kosta’s restaurant. There, they share an intimate moment in the empty restaurant. The nun vanishes the next day, transforming her habit into a dress and entering ordinary civilian life” (1)


In the many walks, studies, talks in the Don river area of Toronto our family found many threads through which we built our life in GTA area. The study of the licensing exams, the many family discussions and connection with this region, which has been for around eight years.

The narratives of people who came from different lands and built parts of Toronto struck a deep chord. Looked back at some immigrants who came before us and then helped us in settling down here, through their teachings, examples and inspiration.





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