Tag Archives: Realistic Characters

Earlier Perspectives-Readings in Riverwood

Reading made me a traveler; travel sent me back to books.


Theroux, Paul. Deep South: Four Seasons on Back Roads (p. 293).

Penguin Books Ltd. Kindle Edition.

As I walked through Riverwood-I remembered some of the times gone by, when I had read other stories here.

The Libyan short stories by writers like Wahbi Bouri, Sadik Nehoum, or the story of Bomma-the slave, whose life is followed by Amitav Ghosh-in his book-In an Antique land.

Relating to these stories, like Hotel Vienna-set in Benghazi in the post World War II period, made me recall my own trips to Benghazi-Tobruk-Shahat(Cyrene)-Susa in quieter times and the broadening of perspectives which one got by talking to long-term expatriate workers of Libya and exploring Byzantine time mosaics in Eastern Libya with them.

Now, many years later, reading and reflecting on these in Riverwood area of Mississauga, and reading the notes from the “Reading journal” which I keep, gives added meaning. Keeping a Reading Journal is a great way to deepen one’s humanity. What does a particular work tell about the human condition? What is the context in which the arc of development of a character progresses? How does relation with the other structures of society impact the character? …

And so on.

This led me to the exploring of stories written by writers like Alice Munro, (Nobel prize in literature-2013) with stories set in Ontario. These give a window into the lives of Canadians which a normal  ‘new’ immigrant will not usually come across, as they are more involved in settling down, getting their credentials verified, finding a job, and staying connected with the threads of life which they left behind. For an earlier perspective- read the discussion on Alice Munro’s story-Runaway- on a trip returning from Guelph in January 2014.

GOODBYES  https://prashantbhatt.com/2014/01/08/good-byes/

It is easy to see the beginnings of things, and harder to see the ends

Joan Didion, Goodbye to All That

As we returned from Guelph University in the snow, we discussed –Runaway-by Alice Munro.



IN AN ANTIQUE LAND-AMITAV GHOSH-The story of Bomma- who came from what is modern Tunisia today, stayed in Egypt, went to Aden, then to Western India-stayed there for around 2 decades and was a trusted assistant of his owner, built a life for himself in India

But the slave of Khalaf’s letter was not of the company of the consequential people like wazirs, sultans, the chroniclers, and the priests –the people who have the power to inscribe themselves physically upon time…in this instance, it was a mere accident that those barely discernible traces that ordinary people leave upon the world happen to have been preserved. (From Amitav Ghosh’s –In an Antique Land) ..Readings in Riverwood-in the morning- on the bench in memory of Zachary Jelovsek,(1995-2014).Taken much too soon



Riverwood-Reflections in Fall-2017

2017-10-10-Riverwood-Red Trail

“A human life is like a single letter of the alphabet.

It can be meaningless. Or it can be part of a great meaning.”

Words in a Jewish Theological seminary-quoted by

Anne Lamott in her book-

Traveling Mercies- Some thoughts on Faith.

As fall comes, the last phase of the year, when one can go and read in the open is drawing in. Have been discussing with my son, some great works and life lessons from them. As part of that series, we went through the basic premise of Professor Fears, in his Great Course, that a great book should

1-Have a great theme

2-Be in Noble language

3-Speaks across the ages

4-Talks to you individually

RIVERWOOD REFLECTIONS..Applying the above criteria to “Requiem” of Frances Itani, which was the book chosen for the One-Book-One-Mississauga to observe Canada 150, it does have a great theme and talks to you individually, with characters addressing sensitive themes.

The One Big Question:

Frances Itani was in the Central library of Mississauga, discussing and reading from her book. She told of how she started preparing for the book by interviewing persons who had been part of the internment of Japanese Canadians. She listened to Beethoven for four years. Her son is a professional musician who helped her in choosing the musical themes. She told of how she put a neighbor’s dog- Basil in the book and her research on stroke, which was what Lena died of.

Each work should have one big question, which will guide the different themes.

The one Big Question for Requiem was- Where is the Anger going?

The creative process

Another interesting insight she shared was of a fellowship she did in a castle in Italy.    The fellowship is given only to creative people.

She had 4 writers, 4 composes and 4 artists in her group.

A MEASURED ACT- BY NORMAN TAKEUCHI- The individual pieces in A Measured Act include five life-sized, shaped paper kimonos that incorporate photo transfers, acrylic painting, and Conté and oil pastel drawings. Kimonos are an iconic emblem of Japan, where the wide-sleeved garments have a long history as cultural artifacts, fashion items and works of art. Takeuchi’s paper versions combine dark, abstract forms with text and photo transfers of historical images and documents related to the internment of Japanese-Canadians, persecuted because of Japan’s role as an aggressor in the Second World War.http://www.warmuseum.ca/media/canadian-war-museum-acquires-internment-themed-work-by-japanese-canadian-artist-norman-takeuchi/


RIVERS…The book tells about the travels of the artist. Following water bodies.



2015 Balkans
The meeting of Danube and Sava rivers-two of the great rivers of Europe. This was taken from Kalemegdan park, in July 2015. Having lived worked in Libya, I had friends from the Balkans who gave many interesting perspectives on the Ottoman times, the war in the former Yugoslavia and also the NATO interventions in Libya-2011..we walked along some water bodies and found different ways of looking at things.  See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalemegdan_Park


From Requiem:  The young man was following the great rivers of Europe.He had a sketch pad in his pack, the usual supplies, and he was trying to capture something he could not quite put a name to, some understanding of the rivers he encountered. Something lost, perhaps, or something not yet found.


Reading group questions

1-Relate to some rivers –water bodies which have had an impact on your life

2-What was the big question in Requiem

3-Discuss Requiem under the headings of Professor Fears’ criteria of a great work

4-How did Itani bring out the greater meanings of Bin’s life in the book? Discuss this under the theme- of the quote in the beginning of the blog “A human life is like a single letter of the alphabet.It can be meaningless. Or it can be part of a great meaning.”