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"MUG" 2003 Obituary


MUGHAL o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-07-15 published
Ishwardutt Bhururam SHARMA
By Rashid MUGHAL Tuesday, July 15, 2003 - Page A18
Athlete, intellect, husband, father, friend. Born June 22, 1926, in Mombasa, Kenya. Died June 14 at Markham-Stouffville Hospital, following a short illness after being treated for cancer, aged To his many Friends, acquaintances and relatives around the world, Ishwardutt Bhururam SHARMA of Unionville, Ontario, will forever remain a world traveller and a walking, talking encyclopedia of stories, facts and ideas.
"In African mythology," he once said, "the first baobab planted by God was an ordinary-looking tree but it refused to stay in one place and wandered round the countryside. As a punishment, God planted it back again -- upside down -- and immobilized it. Thus baobabs may live well over 2,000 years, making them among the longest-living organisms on the planet. During a severe drought, their large green pods are cracked open and the nuts made into a kind of flour. The resulting 'hungry bread' is part of the common culture of the region where I was born."
I. B. SHARMA was born in the scenic Kilifi enclave of Mombasa, Kenya, amid sisal plantations, groves of cashew trees, coconuts and the solitary baobabs. All through life "Sharmaji" demonstrated a rare courage to stand alone on the strength of his spirituality, humanitarian principles, catholic worldview and protestant work ethic.
Known to everyone as "I. B. SHARMA of Mombasa," because of his prolific letters in The Nation and other newspapers, he was a great student of esoteric philosophy.
Tall and handsome, Sharmaji was endowed with a towering personality and craggy good looks, grace and measured speech. In his younger days, he was a champion debater and played tennis and cricket like a machine. One part of him wanted to be a film actor, another a semi-classical singer and, although he spent countless hours in meditation and in practicing the classical ragas by singing the songs of Manna Dey and listening to Ravi Shankar and to the ghazals of singers such as Mehdi Hassan, Ghulam Ali and Jagjit and Chitra, the realities of daily life and the welfare of his neighbours were always his first priority.
"Life is a series of challenge and response, challenge and response," he used to say.
Upon retirement from the Ports Authority in Kenya in 1975, he moved with his family to England. For many years he worked in the American Embassy in London, where he met the rich and famous including the one big love of his life, J. Krishnamurti. In 1988, he moved with his family to Canada. In 1996, during a trip to India, he met the second big love of his life: Mother Teresa.
Swimming was a part of Sharmaji's daily routine. He attributed his good health and strength to swimming and good eating habits. He enjoyed 21 years of retired living. He always told his children: "Live with a clean heart and courage, and live for today and for the moment."
Sharmaji always conveyed a quiet dignity coupled with mental alertness and a reservoir of intellectual prowess in responding to some of the most challenging issues of the day. He spoke of asking the impossible question and listening deeply to the question "because the answer is in the question, my friend. Above all, you must have the courage to stand alone."
He died peacefully with his daughters Sheela and Mira, and son Vijay, at his side. In keeping with his wishes, he was cremated in the Hindu tradition. Sharmaji is survived by his wife, Saraswati, children Sheela, Usha, Mira, Vijay and Arti; sons-in-law Deepak and Naresh, daughter-in-law Megan and grandchildren Roshni, Priya, Vikram and Seema, and grand_son-in-law, John.
Rashid MUGHAL is a friend of I. B. SHARMA.

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