Diary as a Looking Glass


The diary is a looking glass. At first it reflects the diarist.

But it ends by revealing the reader

Stefan Kanfer, in Introduction to Penguin Book of Diaries.

Selected by Ronald Blythe

* * * * * * *

What would a family member have written about a day trip- fifty years ago?


As we roamed around in Riverwood , Jack Darling, Rattray Marsh areas of Mississauga, and I showed Hardik and Aarti, the many places where we have read and walked in Riverwood- this question made me think of the many journeys done by different sections of the family over time.


The Yellow Trail is different from the Red Trail. Then we walked towards Erindale park and sat on a bench where we have come many times over the years and read-reflected on works of literature. Today, (20.5.18-Sunday) we went through the introductions and some thoughts on the Penguin Book of diaries from our home library.



Hardik told of the day he managed to get an interview with a university representative in Churchgate area and how he drove in his Splendour Motorcycle from Bhiwandi.

That trip has now evolved into many journeys, and he visited Niagara to see the Sound and Lights on Victoria day.

Now he goes to New Jersey to visit his uncle, who once gifted him a tennis racket- and there were some of his colony friends who commented that this was a strange type of badminton racket.

Hardik has come a long way from the time he would think of setting up a Gaming company or help his father with the pharmacy.

Learned many things regarding the running of two branches of the Car Rental Enterprise company, from the Business model to the time when a colleague told his Manager-(Mr.Hardik)…

“ I am closing the branch in five minutes and leaving. There is an emergency in my daughter’s school.”

The Manager has to think fast.

“Can you wait for fifteen minutes while I try to arrange something?”

He could not let his Branch close down in the middle of the day.


These places are also part of our Reading journal –Thinking place exercises.


Rattray Marsh-Port Credit-Mississauga-One of our Thinking -Reading places

What does a particular work of literature or art tell us about humanity? With Appu, who had come from Vasai-Malad, we had discussed Howard Zinn’s- A People’s History of United States and browsed through some pages from Teresa Albuquerque’s- Bassein-The Portuguese  Interlude.

This Sunday, while walking through Riverwood’s –Yellow Trail, I told Hardik about the last book we discussed in the 2017-2018 year of the Courtney Park Book Club.

In the pre-discussion entry of Anthony Doerr’s book-see blog  https://wp.me/p5YX3a-mm I felt that some characters like Von Rumpel- the gemologist, who may have not been the main protagonists start developing a stronger voice than Werner or Marie Laure.

What new insights were gained through the Book Club discussion

Reading and then rating a book out of 10 can be an interesting exercise. This had been mentioned in the previous blogs- discussing Jack Reacher’s

Then the members give their comments and rating on the books- this is followed by discussions on the characters, plot, genre and what we can get out of this particular work of literature.

See blog-  for a detailed discussion  https://wp.me/p5YX3a-mb on what makes a character like Jack Reacher so durable, can such a character exist, what other types of wars exist.

Some interesting insights after discussions on Doerr’s novel

  • As a genre I do not like reading war novels….
  • What about the French Resistance Kangaroo courts…
  • Bildungsroman novels- Sunil Gangopadhyaya’s –Sei Samay-Those Days

While those many discussions are probably best not made directly public, the discussion did make a setting to explore whether Doerr’s Pulitzer prize winning novel- could fall into a coming of age –Bildungsroman –novel. Maybe I am biased, but I feel that Sunil Gangopadhyaya’s novel –Sei Semay- is definitely a more nuanced historical novel than Doerr’s work.


Set against the backdrop of the Bengal Renaissance and the rebellion of 1857, the novel revolves around the lives of great men including reformers like Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Debendranath Tagore and his father Dwarkanath Tagore, and also poets like Michael Madhusudan Dutt. Originally written in Bengali, Those Days was translated by Aruna Chakravarti and combines history with fiction in the perfect manner.

Was the Bengal Renaissance the seed-time of nationalistic fervor that culminated in the Swadeshi Movement? Was it more in the nature of an enlightenment? Or was it a form of religious revivalism or Hindu nationalism, the betenoir of the secularists?

In Gangopadhyay’s world of the Bengal Renaissance, there are the good Europeans such as David Hare and John Bethune, sympathetic to the Indian cause just as there are bad Englishmen who comprise the bulk of the trading and missionary classes.

There are plenty of bad natives too: servile, decadent and collusive.(1)




The many walks in Lodhi gardens-Delhi, where four generations of our family have walked, or the hills and rivers –streams in and around the Rishikesh-Dehradun, or the hill temples in and around Shimla region would be the setting of some day trips of the family- if they had been written fifty years ago.

In the case of Buddhdeo family – many nuances of the journey which his father and grandfather took, the family having migrated from Karachi of what was then British India, came alive.

This thought made me recall conversations with senior family members, about their swimming in the waters of Nandprayag-Garhwal or the times when they would go to Benares-to visit their Jijaji and Didi (My grandfather-GPU-used to teach in BHU..see blog..https://prashantbhatt.com/family-photographs/


The family day trip, through nature trails, opened up many aspects of nature, family, reading journal and our home library. Later, when we returned, I showed them some pictures and relics, the momento given to my Father, on his retirement from Indian Army, after 33 years of service-on April 4,1996, which we have in our living room in Mississauga. These opened up other conversations and many nuances of family histories and associations with different institutions.


References- Suggested Further readings


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Ophir-to-Bassein: Some discussions from our Home Library

The marathons of adventure are to Himalayan peaks, to the Poles, and across the oceans

Chris Bonnington-Quest for Adventure



EXPLORING LOCAL HISTORIES-Vasai-Bassein-mentioned in Bible as Ophir

Having a home library is a step different from being part of a public library. Over some discussions and readings, we evolved this concept a bit further. Here are some illustrations which form a part of our intellectual adventure and family legacy.

Over the years, I have developed some journals-individual and joint- through readings and re-readings of books in our home library. As Appu visits from Mumbai, we had the opportunity of going through some books of the home library, and I showed her and read some excerpts from the first book in the Home Library at our Mississauga home-the Autobiography of Jawaharlal Nehru- which was gifted to me by my grandfather-Professor Ganesh Prasad Uniyal- on my fifteenth birthday-in 1982-November.

I invited Appu to read from any of the many books in our home library and was glad that she zeroed in on-Howard Zinn’s- People’s history of the United States.

She is finding the book interesting- and we discussed some parts of relatively recent history-25 years ago- the bombing of Yugoslavia during the Clinton Presidency years-and I told her of two countries with whose people, I have stayed and had many conversations-who have been affected by NATO’s Nation Building- Yugoslavia and Libya.

For refreshing memory- here is a video of a Reading from the Autobiography of Nehru in Riverwood-area-discussing his evolution of the concept of Non-cooperation through readings of Charlie Andrews and discussions with Gandhi-ji and Tagore.

Quest for adventure

Appu has been to many parts of the world, and this is her second visit to Canada, and she is the first person from our family from India to visit our new home in Mississauga, having come here earlier when we used to stay in 905 Ovation, near the Celebration square.  Now, in Candlestick, we have a Naturalization zone close to our house, and we went there in the morning and read excerpts from some books – One of them being the history of Bassein-by Dr.Teresa Albuquerque of Bombay Local History Society.


Tim Horton’s-DIXIE-Mississauga-Book discussions -2018-4

The Marathons of Adventure-…in his book “Quest for Adventure” Chris Bonnington talks of the marathons of adventure and compares them with different levels –ranging from a sprint to a marathon. The 100 yard dashes of adventure are activities which are very intense but of short duration. Take a short afternoon trip to Riverwood area-or Port Credit or even a two day trip to Niagara.

Taking such local excursions in and around the place you stay-say Mumbai-from where we can go to Vasai fort or Manoribel or for a trip with Bombay Natural history society-to have Breakfast with butterflies- is different from going to see local areas in a far off country like Canada- where through this and previous visits-we saw together the Toronto zoo- one of the best zoos in the world-or explored the nuances of the Natural history and Local history of Credit river area-

Toronto Zoo-2014-October


We walked to Naturalization zone, where we discussed many nuances of the way our family life has evolved in Canada, with the children who came here from two years in Malta- to join Middle School and have now grown into senior High school and even First year university.

And for the home library- we chose to read some excerpts from Dr.Teresa’s book on Bassein which tells of the history of this area –ranging from the times of Solomon- where Sopara is mentioned in the Bible as Ophir –today a disused port on the outskirts of modern  Bassein

To refresh memory- here are some readings in Naturalization zone area near our house.

From where we got that book

This is another interesting aspect of having a Home Library.

Where did we get this book from-what were we doing

For Example

Autobiography of Nehru-

Was gifted this by my grandfather-Professor Ganesh Prasad Uniyal-on my fifteenth birthday-1982-Nov

We used to stay in 9 Pratap Chowk-Delhi Cantonment at that time.

Chris Bonnington’s-Quest for Adventure-

Got this from the Annual Fair of ISM International school-Tripoli, where Mr.Francis –the English teacher had put up a nice stall, with many interesting books….2004

Mr.Francis taught us many things-over many discussions in Ben Ashor and Gurgi -still remember his introductions to Iago…”There is no villain like Iago in all of literature” or the nuances of Lahiri’s novels and short stories-The Interpreter of Malladies.

Basein-The Portuguese Interlude-by Teresa Albuquerque

Was gifted this by Father Ubaldo of Father Agnel Church-and Ashram-Mumbai…..


People’s History of United States-Howard Zinn



Chicago-2009-November-Cloud Gate Sculpture-Millenium Park-Chicago-Michigan- A public sculpture by Sir Anish Kapoor-.. when we got the book-by Howard Zinn-People’s history of the United States


Summary points

Having a home library –and developing a joint Reading journal through discussions of these books-is a way to Refine our understandings.

In our discussions on the evolution of Nehru’s understanding of civil disobedience, to the local histories of Basein-Vasai region of Mumbai to evolving –expanding our understanding our concepts of Adventure-after and through readings of Chris Bonnington’s ‘Quest for Adventure’ we refined and furthered our Home library

Hope Appu reads a few pages from Howard Zinn’s book and tells about some new points which she gained from that book. Looking forward to that discussion.

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Welcome Committee

In previous years, we welcomed the family members from other countries and I told my sons to form a “Welcome committee” and try to arrange gifts, plan out places to visit, and get a sense of the extended family in an intentional way.

So in July of 2016-I had told my sons to arrange gifts for their uncle Bharat and family. I gathered books-momentoes from areas where we had stayed, Letters to his daughter-by Nehru, a plaque of the Temples of Cyrene-which was part of Greek Libya (modern day Shahat) and Symbols of the Knights of St.John of Malta, and views of Sultanahmet-(the historic Constantinople) from Bosphorus.

A year before that, in July 2015, when their aunt Appu had come from Mumbai-we had gone to Niagara falls and seen different facets, including the “Blue Moon”-a second full moon in a calendar month

Now –anticipating Appu’s visit again- I told the boys about the “Welcome Committee” and they started rolling up their eyes.

So, just posting some pictures of Yester-years-to make them a bit more motivated


2015 7 (2)

MAID OF THE MIST-Boat-ride-Niagara-we drove back pretty late that day-as waited to see the sound and light show on the Occasion of Blue Moon- July 2015


2015 7 (5)

Sep 2017- Naturalization zone near Candlestick-Bharat-Bhai-Priti going for walk together


The Naturalization zone near our house- is a nice place to Think-Discuss-Reflect


Hopefully –weather permitting- will explore some areas of Hamilton
Dundurn-Burlington Heights

And Re-visit Wilket Creek area-Central Don-Toronto

and Port Credit- Jack Darling, Rattray Marsh and surrounding areas

Maybe, will take advice of some of my well wishers- and just go for some walks

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Out of your skin

What are we supposed to get out of this (story, poem, play)?
While the formal reading group meets once a month, I read and discussed the same pieces of literature in different locations informally.

Burlington Plaza-Cafe-

BURLINGTON PLAZA-BRANT STREET, ONTARIO- Mai-orignially from Taiwan-now living in Hamilton, runs this cafe with his wife. A lunch time Reading -Thinking place , we discuss and learn many things about life, work, community in that break

In the previous book club discussion-(February-2018) on Madeliene Thein’s- Do not say we have nothing- the members had varied responses.

1-Madeliene Thien

One experienced reader said that he stopped at Page 127, the characters were too difficult to keep track of, and the historical context of the Cultural revolution was not clear. Another experienced reader said that she went through the whole book- to Honour the memory of the people whose struggle the book tells about

Another experienced reader said that she went through the whole book- to Honour the memory of the people whose struggle the book tells about

An Alternate Memory

The book ends on the note by the author- Not everyone who supported and strengthened this story can be named. To my beloved friends in Shanghai, Hangzhou,Beijing, and Danhuang, thank you for accompanying me through the book of records and an alternate memory of history. Remember what I say- Not everything will pass.

The book takes us inside two talented families musicians of China , lives of two entwined generations- Those who weathered Mao’s Cultural Revolution, and their children , who became the Tiananmen Square protestors.

What are we supposed to get?

In their introduction to the pocket anthology of literature, Gywnn and Campbell write that if you have really savoured the full experience that good literature offers, then the first thing you should get “out of” will be your own skin- when you do that you will answer your own question. For a few moments you lose your own identity and see through the eyes of an Elizabethian Englishman, a modern Nigerian, or a contemporary Canadian woman, and you may just find that in some significant way your own manner of looking at the world will never be quite the same again.

Some books which got us into different Skins – The Reading list


Robert Sawyer’s-Calculating God-made us discuss the meaning of ultimate reality. The book takes place in the present day and describes the arrival on Earth of sentient aliens. The bulk of the novel covers the many discussions and arguments on this topic, as well as about the nature of belief, religion, and science. Thomas Jericho, a paleontologist working at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, makes the first human-to-alien contact when a Forhilnor, a spider-like alien from the third planet of the Beta Hydri system arrives on Earth to investigate Earth’s evolutionary history. The alien, Hollus, has come to Earth to gain access to the museum’s large collection of fossils, and to study accumulated human knowledge in order to gather evidence of the existence of God. It seems that Earth and Hollus’ home planet, and the home planet of another alien species traveling with Hollus, all experienced the same five cataclysmic events at roughly the same time. Hollus believes that the universe was created by a god, to provide a place where life could develop and evolve. Thomas Jericho is an atheist who provides a balance to the philosophical discussion regarding the existence of gods.(source-Wikipedia)


March 2018-Readings- Riverwood

Going to open places to read- gives an interesting twist to the reading experience.

This morning, went to Riverwood and read again- about the Inmate Shadow from Neil Gaiman’s –American Gods. Shadow is released early from prison as his wife Laura dies in a car crash. He meets Wednesday and goes into crime. The use of language by Gaiman helps expand, and going by the experience of “Getting Out of your Skin” the author gets the reader into the mind-frame of different characters.


Shadow remembers his carousel ride as a child in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco –on his first trip to the States and the sound of music makes him wish as though the last 36 hours had never happened (when he gets out of jail and goes to his wife’s funeral) , as if the last three years had not happened (his jail term).

Riverwood-3-3-18 –American Gods-Neil Gaimon



Perspective Note
Keeping a Reading Journal enhances the reading experience in many ways. Going to different-“thinking places” to read adds another twist. Different reading member groups bring different flavours to the reading experience. In this quarter we discussed-read three books-which bring out concepts of Faith, Community, life in different ways.

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Around Family Day-2018

A  home library consists of unique books- with related notes- and picture library, and journals-diaries which provide a great resource to gaining and building perspectives.

As it becomes a bit warmer, I did my first walk and reading of Riverwood- of this season.



RIVERWOOD-MISSISSAUGA-One of our Reading-Thinking places     There are many facets to this beautiful zone.
One of them is Nature. Then there is Visual Arts Mississauga where there are interesting art programs. I use this area as a Thinking-Reading place, where we have discussed many interesting books-ranging from Stories of Libyan writers to Essays of James Baldwin to Writings of Nehru, Amartya Sen to business-management books.   A Reading Habit can have many interesting facets which add to one’s humanity.



In our family home library- we have many books collected from different locations- and have made jottings on where I first got that book from, or whom I read it with, or with whom we discussed it. Recently I went to a bookstore in a Village in Mountain locations in Hamilton- the Pickwick Books.



PICKWICK-BOOKS-Waterdown-Hamilton-Reminded me of many lovely evenings spent browsing through books in Aurobindo Place Market-Delhi


This reminded me of the many lovely evenings I spent in Delhi’s Midland book store- Aurobindo place market, with my mentor Dr.Sandeep Kawlra- and how we would eat chaat next to the Free Church of Greenpark.  I got hold of a book-an anthology of literature- and quickly went out- as I would otherwise start buying more books.

The first story I started reading was “Interpreter of Maladies” by Jhumpa Lahiri, which is featured as one of the great writings of the past hundred years. In the introduction, the editors write about Lahiri’s sense of exile created by being connected to but not to fully belonging to three different continents- a theme of much of her work.


Gifted to me by my grandfather-Dr. Ganesh Prasad Uniyal- this is the first book from our collection in Mississauga. I have kept similar family library collections in Palam-Delhi region and Fornaaj-Tripoli region (which I will recover some day-when I return to Tripoli).



TEEN MURTI BHAWAN- DELHI-INDIA..The lawns make for a nice Reading place. There is a nice canteen which serves very reasonable good food.


While there is much talk about the recent visit of Canadian Prime Minister- Justin Trudeau – to India and the concept of Indian nationhood, we went through some pages of Nehru’s autobiography and also Ramachandra Guha’s –India after Gandhi- in which Guha has written about the Unnatural Nation –where the forces that divide are many, but there are also forces that have kept India together, that have helped transcend or contain the cleavages of class and culture, that- so far, at least- have nullified those many predictions that India would not stay united and not stay democratic.


As this blog enters it’s tenth year, I looked at the different Readings-Travels-Discussions-meetings which have shaped our journeys.

Three things which make a Unique Home library

Books- in which there are jottings on where one acquired the book- or with whom did one discuss or where.

For example- the Autobiography of Nehru was acquired by us- as a gift from my Grandfather, when our family was staying in Pratap Chowk-Delhi Cantonment- in 1982.

I have kept this book with me in our home library of Mississauga- as the first book of the collection.

The book-India after Gandhi-by Ramachandra Guha- I acquired in Mumbai- and this book has been discussed read in Tripoli Reading Group, in post-revolutionary Libya, with several Libyans who are still trying to come to terms with their Nationhood after the overthrow of Gaddafi who ruled for 42 years.

Tripoli Skyscapes-Dec 2015

A view from Corniche-Near Mahari-Tripoli-Libya…a beautiful place to read and feel the Mediterranean breeze


These build perspective as to how life is, who we are, and what we can become.

I have kept joint journals with different family members, and another unique section is –Letter to a Loved one who has passed away. In these collection of letters- I have written to different family members who have passed away, and this is a great way to build long term perspective.

As writer –psychologist-Dr.Phil McGraw says in his book-Real Life-  that when a loved one passes away physically our relation with them does not end, but becomes a spiritual relation. This point has been written in different ways by Coach John Wooden and Viktor Frankl- (Man’s search for Meaning). These books form part of our Home Library collection.

Following the cues of these writers- I started writing a monthly letter to my parents-and for now three years running, I have found many interesting changes in family life and perspectives due to these writings. I also write a monthly letter-with a book summary to my grandfather-Dr.GP Uniyal- he was a teacher of Political science- and though I am a medical doctor this exercise of writing book summaries-made me think on what would be interesting or noteworthy to my grandfather. This made me look at books in a different way. Recently in Courtney Park-Book Club- we read and discussed Madeliene Thien’s -Do not say you have nothing- which tells about life in China during and after the Cultural revolution. Writing a letter to my grandfather-summarizing that book- was a great perspective building exercise.


Each family has a unique collection of photographs, (and in today’s world-Videos) which add to the uniqueness of that Family. The blog is a great place to keep these in one place, to be able to look back and reflect and mine those experiences.


22 Xlendi Gozo

GOZO-XLENDI..It is very peaceful here, especially in off season winter time- to read and walk



one can look at the same experience (Reading) with different “Thinking Hats”

As a diary entry– It was drizzling in Riverwood on the morning of February 25,2018, there were some sections of Ice, which made it slippery, but the experience of reading in a forest was unique

As a Reading Journal entry– As we went through the different books we have on Indian Nationhood-from Nehru’s Autobiography to India After Gandhi-by Ramachandra Guha, to India in Slow Motion by Mark Tully to The Argumentative Indian- by Amartya Sen, we had some lively and in-depth discussions on the different facets of identity.

As a Library Inventory note- We discussed the different sections of the home library, and how our sense of community grew out of the books we carried with us, through our journeys across Continents. We had a re-look at some collections of essays-and remembered how we had gone through essays on Identity like those of James Baldwin- Alas Poor Richard and Notes of a Native son- sitting in Malta.




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Our trees still grow in Palam

This month, my sons visited the house in Palam where they stayed as toddlers.

I was thinking of writing this post for some time, but today, I thought I should make an attempt to connect the dots of this important trip, with many facets and layers.

Ten years ago, when I used to come to visit the children from Tripoli, they would be studying in Pinnacle High school-Malad, and we would go for trips to Manori, Marve, Mindspace, Aksa and attend programs by Bombay Natural History society at Sanjay Gandhi National park.

Another decade before that, when I used to study in KEM –Parel, we had a view of the world, before starting a family, the priorities were different.

Now, after having stayed two years in Malta, and five years in Canada, the children returned to visit their grandparents in Nirlon colony-Malad and we had a revised new version of the Family photographs.




2-Jan-2018-A POEM BY THE SEA-AKSA BEACH…Arabian sea…Happy Birthday Nani


Of the many photographs of the pujas, get-togethers, reunions, this one on the shores of Aksa stands out as a symbol of the many currents which flow across generations.

In taking this Canadian immigration journey, we gain something we lose something.

As my friends from Juma Saaga-days of Tripoli used to say- Juma Saaga- where we formed many concepts and revisited many issues- Everything has a plus and a minus.e

This picture is a small poem by the Arabian sea…a monument of love of grandchildren to their dear Nani-ji. When they first came to Malta in 2010, their grandmother had told me in  a sad voice-

“Give them so much love that they do not miss me.”

It was a tall order, which no one can fulfill, but even if one falls short, it is a good goal to try and measure oneself to.

The love of grandparents is so much different from the love of a parent. But there are some things, which have to be done, the way they are.






So the children moved from Pinnacle Malad to St.Edward’s Cottonera and every family has their secrets, ups and downs but they saw a different vision of the world, civilization and society.




2018-January- NANA-JI -with Grandsons..Many lovely hours spent walking by the Arabian sea


4.4 playing in sand in Aksa.Bombay may 2006






BROTHERS…Mayank-Sagar-Sahil…January 2018…see blog https://prashantbhatt.com/2010/06/29/children-growing/ for earlier perspective


Earlier perspectives…Walks in Lodhi


Dusk at Lodhi

LODHI-July 2012-Shailu-ji, Mamta-Divya walking towards Bada Gumbad. Four generations of our family have walked in Lodhi Gardens. Mayank-met Snuggy dog here, one morning- when i showed them the gate on which is inscribed- 9 th April 1936..the day Lodhi gardens was established…Do you know on which Gate of Lodhi this inscription is?




VASANT KUNJ- The many notes and things about life which I learned from my Dear Mausa-ji, from Lullanagar Golibar Maidan Pune to the Walks in Lodhi Gardens and Palam of Delhi region came alive in many interesting ways in this great reunion.

My mother’s sister Abha Mausi-ji also celebrated her birthday around the same time. This reunion had many layers of emotions, as a sister remembered the days when she would visit Palam from the University campus in Sagar.

“I sometimes stand on the road facing Mahipalpur and think how it would have been if she had been there with us physically,” she says, being the person who probably misses her the most



DADI-JI……….Saraswati Bua-ji…the many evenings we used to spend in B Block park as toddlers

This picture with Saraswati Bua-ji, reminds us of the days when the boys were toddlers and would play in the B Block park of Palam in the evenings. The park is still there. I went and sat there for a while with my aunty, and felt the spirits of persons gone by.


DEVRAJ-BHAI…The family grows..This year-his eldest son Mudit got married. And he wrote to us – You have been a part of us..do come.. Many memories came alive from Kankarkhera Meerut to Waterworks Agra to Palam Gurgaon


The two rooms in the first floor of Palam Vihar house has got pictures of five generations of our family. Framed and looking down upon us, are our ancestors, the many nuances of life in Garhwal in British India, to Shimla in the 1930s/40s and the way the family evolved through Benares and Delhi.


The boys saw their pictures of their first birthdays, and the many connections we used to have in that period of stay in Palam. We stayed for six years in Palam, and that was the foundation of our many journeys.


ON FIRST BIRTHDAYS- Sagar and Sahil with a picture of their father-Prashant-with his grandfathers-Ganesh Prasad Uniyal and Bhawani Shankar Bhatt-Nov 1968

AS TODDLERS…Many smiles at Palam


2003- Sagar- when he used to study in L’avenir -Gnostic Centre

4 phone to guddi aunty

2003-SAHIL…Making phone to Guddi-aunty…the Bisht family who stay in front of us, Mr R S Bisht-his mother originally from our ancestral village of Uphalda-Srinagar -Garhwal-Uttarakhand. ..Sahil would run to their house, knock on the door and ask for Goodies






Our trees still grow there.


OUR TREES STILL GROW IN PALAM..Seeing my sons with the trees planted by my parents gave rise to many mixed feelings. Remembered Richard Holloway’s words-in Leaving Alexandria-…I know now that roads choose us and what they unfold before us is not the person we want to be, but the person we already are, the person time slowly discloses to us.

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Here’s to our High School Days-Year End Diary-2017

The diary-keeper is an interventionist, the transmuter of what would be normally perishable into what must last. Without a diary, almost everything we do or say or think or feel slips very quickly into oblivion. The born or natural diarist-he is a special being and not like the rest of us- cannot bear that this should be so. It cannot be egotism which makes him write, “Saw Price the grocer uncrating oranges, “ or “Rain shakes the line of poplars”, but a kind of spiritual craving for holding such actions in his personal vision forever, or until the final entry.

Ronald Blythe-Penguin book of Diaries

* * * *

This year, my son Sagar, passed out of High school (Glenforest-Mississauga). My niece Divya-joined Medical school to become a third generation aspirant into the field of medicine.

Where-ever one goes, one finds some aspects of the local community which are interesting and worth learning from and imbibing.



Central High School-Brant Street-Burlington


After acquiring some limited licenses to work in North America, work carries me to a place around 40 km away from my house in Mississauga, and there, I found this written on a wall of Central High School-Brant Street Burlington.  There is a quiet park- on Baldwin street- next to this school. During lunchtime, I sit in the Tim Horton’s at the junction of Victoria-Baldwin street and Brant street and browse through my yearly journals and letters of 2017.


Wellington Park-Baldwin Steet-Burlington




“I would have passed this exam in one week’s preparation”

A remark of an aunt who has never passed any academic exam after High School-to an international medical graduate (IMG) trying to carve his place in the system here.

* * *



TIM HORTON DISCUSSIONS..From Victoria Park Avenue-North York, to Falstaff Road, to Eglinton-Kennedy-Mississauga to Brant street-Burlington..                                                                                 many nuances discussed over cups of coffee and soups


When two or more people come together in harmony- a third invisible intangible force comes into being. Many wisdom writers have written about this. I had long conversations with a young man in his late twenties, trying to carve a space for himself in the Canadian system. I learnt many things from this young man, who sometimes in his frustration and aspiration, wonders how I know these things. I then remind him that I too was some time –long time ago- his age.

As I reviewed the many notes –kept in a private journal- about the dialogues and dynamics of his family, his interactions with the different interviewers (some of them are very sweet- but they never get back with the job offer…to which I told him to be on guard with persons who are “very sweet” and make you off guard and get out the information) to the times when he has been going early in the morning to draw samples from nursing homes where Elderly people resist his attempts in different ways.

Sitting in different Tim Horton cafes from Falstaff road (Where I told him the story of Falstaff- the great character of Shakespeare’s history plays- King Henry V- and the tavern life which he represented, and was rebuffed when Prince Hal became the king)…to Victoria Park Avenue- where we would gather after the preparatory classes (where the instructor would explain around 10 MCQs in 3 hours, repeating the points again and again..and we realized how – sitting in a class which is uneven, with people of different levels of reading- one has to be very patient) ..to the Tim near 1 Eva Road-where we gave our different licensing exams.

What was she thinking?

“I would have passed this exam in one week’s preparation”

What was she thinking? …He gave me windows into worlds which I would never have come to know, different facets of Toronto life..what was his aunt thinking about this exam. As I told this young man to be patient, he told how people who do not know the spelling of Paediatrics try to teach him the immunization schedules.


As we did our rounds of Ryerson University and the introductory sessions tried to give us a window into the  University life of Toronto –Canada, my mind’s eye went back to the conversations I would have with my father, when he described his pre-medical study days –in Gol Market-Delhi and then the times when he became a medical student  (AIIMS-1958 joining batch).  That time, the family used to stay in Sarojini Nagar. Then I thought of my own times when I first entered university (MAMC-1985 batch) and the nuances and differences between the Delhi and Mumbai universities (Radiology-KEM-1993 batch).


Mayank and Divya-Making Notes

JOINT DIARIES-2011- OCTOBER- Making notes together-Writing Joint diaries, reflecting on visits to Jim Corbett National park, the visit to Mussoorie-reading Ruskin Bond’s “Panther’s moon” and remembering the Aarti at Ramjhula Rishikesh where the environmentalist Sunderlal Bahuguna was also present the day the children attended


Being a medic, I do not know much about the intricacies of the Introduction to Engineering course which my son-Sagar is doing from Ryerson. All I can help him with is, sometimes picking him up when he returns late. However, it is different with my niece Divya- who  this year, joined Medical college and is trying to get to know the terms  of different subjects of medicine.

My father was a great mentor to me, and I wonder what he would have said , how he would have guided his grand-daughter. One of the meditations – I once got from a writing instructor was- Speak or Write in the voice of your favourite writer.

            Following this theme, I tried to tell Divya about what lesser mortals like us- who do not have “Photographic memory” (as some claim ) – do to pass Medicine and then get into specialist training.

The issue of repeated revision, mnemonics, and having a study-buddy- cannot be stressed more.




LODHI GARDENS-Sheesh Gumbad-many discussions over the years


As I pass by the Central school of Burlington, and think about this writing on the wall- To our High School days- I remember the many schools my children studied, in the year, when my elder son passed out of school. Starting from the play school of L’avenir- Gnostic centre, it has been a journey which made me look at systems, talk to different educators about their concept of education. Some teachers just go through the rounds, but some teachers do something extra, which sticks to the mind. I still remember my teachers Mr.Augustine Lobo of St.Vincent’s high school-Pune (1970s) and the English teacher Mrs.Majumdar of Army Public School-Delhi-1980s..who taught us students to look beyond the routine curriculum, appreciate the finer details which make life.

As I remember my talks with my sons-nephews-nieces- I felt happy remembering that my niece Divya was the only student in her high school class who could answer about the paintings to Thomas Daniels and Tilly Kettle of the Company period , and when her teacher of Birla Vidya Niketan asked how she knew, she told about her uncle who takes her for walks to the Purana Quila- Old Indraprastha fort and National Gallery where these are discussed and displayed.


As the year 2017 draws to a close, I browsed through some of the home and work journals. Some IMGs asked in an exasperated tone- “What does this system want from us?” To which there can be answers which can fill libraries. One instructor –Mr.Luciano –tells to be patient- not to rush and always remember- There is something inside me- that is stronger than the resistance outside me.

That could be a nice one-line answer to what this system wants..testing the strengths inside.

For those stuck in the mechanistic underemployment which many professionals find themselves in Canada, the one-word answer is –Worksheet.

The system here has tick-boxes on a worksheet. If you fit into the Tick-box of the Worksheet, you are through. If not, then you are out.


For Notes on Thinking Places- See blog-






Retelling the Stories of our Community-Museums as Thinking places



2017 8 Huntsville-Trans Canadian trail



For Notes from Reading Journal-See Blog

Outside the Frame


Readings in Riverwood



2011- In the year-end Diary of 2011 we pondered over the following statement

While many thinkers have  mused over how to start a revolution,

 not many think of how to end it.

…now in 2017-December-still thinking about the complexities.




TRIPOLI-LIBYA…Walls-2011….While many thinkers have  mused over how                                    to start a revolution,
 not many think of how to end it.


2014-Association with persons like Rumi encourage one to keep a spiritual diary.




HAGIA SOPHIA..SULTANAHMET-ISTANBUL…The historical Constantinople


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