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Sunday, May 27, 2018

A decade in Toronto – 10

Che in Kingston (2010)
I return to my memoirs after a long gap of over a month. The last couple of months have been hectic and difficult. I’ve changed my job and will be working at the Canada India Foundation from Monday, May 28. A former friend and colleague in Bombay had described my penchant for continuous transition rather aptly. He called me dust. “He takes time to settle down.”

In any case, the pressure of a job change and the freelance assignment led to a severe curtailment in the free time I could have at my disposal to do what I ought to do more – write. So, here I’m back blogging.

The year is 2010. Let’s continue from where we left off in the previous post. In November 2010, two years and some months in Canada, we took a three-night tour to Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec City and Kingston in a bus. I’ve blogged about the visit earlier and if you’d care to read about it, click here: Ottawa-Montreal-Quebec City.

The grand Notre Dame Basilica in Montreal
In Quebec City, while strolling down the market, we met Jean-Philippe Vogel, a pen-and-ink artist who was selling sketches of cityscapes on the street. These were exquisite and detailed. I bought a few and recently gifted to a dear friend and another to a colleague.

We returned to Toronto with a promise that we’d go back to Quebec City and Montreal frequently. But such is the fate of immigrants that the lure of “back home” overrides every other destination. In 2011, we returned to India for the first time after immigrating to Canada, but we’ll talk about that later. 
Sheridan Medal for Academic Excellence

With Nelson and Laura
at the Sheridan Convocation
One of the major highlights of 2010 was my graduation from Sheridan College where unsurprisingly I won the Sheridan Medal for Academic Excellence (silver medal) for coming first in the class. After a couple of decades in journalism, both as a journalist and as a teacher, I guess I knew a bit more than the others on the subject.

It was the first convocation that I attended in my life. I’d skipped the one when I got my university degree nearly three decades ago. It was also the last time I met nearly all of them. And but for a few, I don't really miss their absence. Joyce, Yoko, Teenaz have become friends.

I was working on my manuscript and learnt about the 3-Day Novel festival that is held during the Labor Day weekend. I entered the competition and worked furiously to complete a manuscript in three days. It was terrible in quality but such a great experience that I did that for the next three years. At present, I’ve four novella length stories that I plan to cut down to short story length.

I continued to go to readings by other authors, and participate in literary events. Although 2010 was not the first time I participated in the Word on the Street festival held towards the end of summer, it was definitely the first year when I knew many authors. 

I met Robin Maharaj, whose novel The Amazing, Absorbing Boy I’d recently read. Katherine Govier had her new novel The Ghost Brush published the same year and both Robin and Katherine were reading at the festival. My friend Dawn, whose short story collection was to be published by TSAR later that year, was reading at the Diaspora Dialogues tent.

That year, I also attended the play reading of Habib Tanvir’s classic Charandas Chor. Sally Jones, who ran Rasik Arts in those days, had organised it. Another play that she staged at the Harbourfront Centre was about Tagore as a painter. Tea with Tagore had Ishwar Mooljee enacting the role of Tagore. I blogged about it, too, and should you be interested in reading it, click here: Tea with Tagore.

One of the most pleasant surprises of my life was to meet a college friend Nandita Desai (now Nandita Chawla) at the Harbourfront Centre. In high school, I’d a major crush on her, and everyone (but she) knew about it.  It’s such a strange thing about life. I exchanged polite pleasantries with someone who'd meant so much to me three decades ago. It all works out the way it’s meant to be. I was with my wife and son and she was with her husband and her daughter.  

That year, we also went to the Masala Mehndi Maasti, which turned out to be a washout thanks to torrential rains, but I was happy to hear Janice Goveas read excerpts from her play Dinner with Akbar. And, of course, Meena Chopra invited me to the launch of her collection of poems Glimpses of Setting Sun and an exhibition of paintings. If you’d like to read about the book launch event, click here: Meena Chopra.

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