LET THE POEMS FLY: This is my third poem in a series of poems for the Poetry Marathon event which I’ll be posting for eight days. I will also be nominating a poet or poetess to continue the thread of words across the globe. As Clarissa Jakobsons put it: let the poems fly.
APRIL 1945 written by: Satis Shroff
Sie trug einen roten Wintermantel
Und hielt einen Gehstock in der Hand.
Gabriela Klein überquerte den Zebrastreifen,
Neben der neue schwarzen Unibibliothek.
Eine Kompanie von Soldaten im Kampfanzug
Kamen von der anderen Straßenseite.
Ihre Schritte verlangsamten und ihr Körper zitterte.
In ihrem Geist, ist sie im April 1945:
Die Franzosen haben Freiburg in den Besitz genommen.
Die Werwolf Hitlerjugend wollte das Schwabentor sprengen.
Freiburgs tapfere Männer haben’s verhindert.
Wie werden die Franzosen uns behandeln?
Sie hatte damals keine Ahnung,
Daß der Krieg schon vorbei war.
Kein Radio,Keine Zeitungen.
Ausgangssperre von 19 Uhr bis 7 Uhr.
Obwohl die Deutschen und die Franzosen Einst Erzfeinde waren,
Benahmen sich die französische Soldaten diszipliniert.
Book Review By Satis Shroff: Friedrich Holderlin’s Selected Poetry translated by David Constantine
REVIEW By Satis Shroff
Friedrich Holderlin’s Selected Poetry translated by David Constantine.
The Swabian poet Friedrich Hölderlin (1770-1843) was born in Lauffen upon the Neckar on the 20th of March 250 years ago. He was a German poet and philosopher and was influenced by Hegel and Schelling, and was also an important thinker of German idealism. The strange and beautiful language of Friedrich Holderlin’s late poemshas been recreated by David Constantine in remarkable verse translations. This is a new expanded edition of Constantine’s Hölderlin Selected Poems (1990/1996) have been widely praised, containing many new translations as well as the whole of Hölderlin’s Sophocles (2001). Here the English translator has tried to create an equivalent English for Hölderlin’s extraordinary German recreations of the classic Greek verse plays. It might be mentioned that Constantine won the European Poetry Translation Prize in 1997 for his translations of Hölderlin. He was the son of an estates bailiff, who died when Friedrich was barely two years old. His mother then married mayor Gock of Nürtingen, who died five years later. At that time Hölderlin was 9 years old. It was decided that Friedrich should take the priest’s profession because he was a gifted boy. At the age of 16 he received a state scholarship for a cloister school, a place known for Catholic drill, order and discipline. In short, a performance system. He knew he had to arrange himself in this system. Friedrich became melancholic and quiet. He wrote letters and poems. It was in Maulbronn where he began to write poems. ‘Ich dulde es nicht mehr ‘ wrote Friedrich as the cloister school became too much with him. Tübingen: Hölderlin belonged to the elite of the mind: : theology, philology and philosophy were his subjects in Tübingen. He shared his room with two other students: Hegel and Schelling. Hölderlin wrote: ‘How can we create a world that d egoism and individual interests? He demanded to be one with everything that lives. A utopia in which art plays a significant role. In Tübingen thinking was trained. He developed the idea of a free human being, despite the restrictions of society. Freedom had to be realized. No power for anyone. He couldn’t imagine that he could and experience history in his days in the town of Tübingen. He wrote hymns to Nature; Tübinger Hymns and for him poetry was a service to society, to change the people. And on how to exist. At the age of 23 Friedrich Hölderlin left Tübingen and took a position as a house-teacher of a noble family with high expectations. In 1802 he made a journey to Bordeaux. France where the French Revolution had taken place in 1689. The storm of the Bastille was the beginning of a new time and a new human being due to the French Revolution. The people got up at last against the tyranny of the rich. Meanwhile, in Germany there were still the noble families in power. The French troops had crossed the Rhine and entered Germany. Holderlin was 22 at this time in the Tübingen Stift. In 1793 Friedrich Hölderlin completed his Tübenger Seminary and due to Schiller’s mediation, he became the private tutor of the son of Frau von Kalb at Waltershausen. The parents of the boy found that their son Fritz used to masturbate, which was then regarded almost as a sin. Hölderlin was fired through no fault of his. It was there that the poet started writing a novel with a Greek setting—Hyperion (1797-99). Friedrich wrote at that time: ‘Why do I have to be so poor? Help me. Schiller was a Swabian writer and poet who became famous abroad. He went to Jena in 1794-95 where he contacted Schiller, who gave him small pieces of work but no major projects. Hegel, Schiller and Goethe were his contemporaries and he enjoyed their friendship—except for Goethe. Nevertheless, Hölderlin was in the right place with the prominent thinkers of his time. Friedrich Hölderlin was 20 years younger than Goethe. He crossed paths with Johann Wolfgang Goethe twice in 1797 and 1800 in Stuttgart and Nürtingen. An embarrassing encounter in 1795 at Schiller’s house in Jena during which Hölderlin was with Goethe alone in a room, but the latter didn’t recognize him. Or pretended not to. At the second encounter two years later in Frankfurt, Goethe called Friedrich Hölderlin ‘Hölterlein’ and advised him paternally to write small poems and to choose a human interest object. His heart sank to his feet. The great Goethe was for Hölderlin a trauma. Later during his tower-days, where Hölderlin lived, he’d wince every time the name Goethe was mentioned by his guests. He wanted to find in Schiller a father-figure, a mentor whom he could look upon for advice and someone who could make a great poet out of him. But Schiller plainly refused with Goethe always towering behind him. Hölderlin carried out monologues: as a poet of the people he wanted to be one with Nature and human beings, where the thunder lends the voice. Dotima, a symbolized love: In December 1795 Friedrich Hölderlin took a new post as a tutor in the house of a Frankfurter banker named J.F. Gontard. However, in Frankfurt Hölderlin had the status of a domestic servant and was not allowed to show his ‘Geist,’ his intellect. He had noticed that Susette, the wife of banker was unhappy in her marriage. The two fell in love which gave rise to the Dotima poems. It was here that Friedrich fell in love with Gontard’s young wife Susette, who returned his affections. She became for him an embodiment of the Hellenic ideal, which was symbolized by Diotima, a name he referred to her in his poems and in Hyperion. Hölderlin developed his characteristic style of poetry in the year 1796. The change is seen in 1797-99 in a tragedy with the title ‘Empedocles.’ In 1798there was a scandal when the banker husband discovered the love affair between Hölderlin and his wife Susetteere was a torntte. Hölderlin got thrown out. The cold and anger can be felt in Hölderlin’s Hyperion II. Here was a broken, torn priest, a thinker. His godly feelings had abandoned him. He felt that his countrymen had no feeling for togetherness and rides rigorously with his own folk. Hölderlin met Susette secretly and handed her a copy of Hyperion II, a love tragedy. He didn’t see Susette Gontard after 1799. During this time there was a war of conquest and exploitation. Napoleon had come to power like a dictator. He officially ended the French Revolution. Holderlin wrote about the French Revolution in English in 1848-49. Friedrich wasn’t satisfied with political life in Germany, and he hoped for a Swabian Revolution and had friends among the revolutionaries of his day. He would have been arrested for his contacts with revolutionaries but a friendly physician wrote an attest that he was a psychiatric patient. It was speculated whether the medical diagnosis was only to escape punishment as a revolutionary. In 1802-1804Friedrich Hölderlin went to his mother in a disturbed mental state. He came under psychiatric treatment in a healing institution. It was like a torture for the poet. The doctors told him he had three years to live, and he was 37 years old. Hölderlin was confined to a tower near the river Neckar, where he spent 36 years of his life with a carpenter master and his daughter. From his tower he could see the Neckar flowing. Hölderlin was unreachable as far as his command of the German language was concerned. He was a loner and a lover, who wrote poems that broke limits and his poetry broke frontiers. All politicians of his day and even later the Nazis sought something and identified themselves in Hölderlin’s poesie. Even Heidegger mentioned during a lecture on Hölderlin: ‘Goethe ist leeres Reimgeklingel.’ He meant the depth that Hölderlin’s poems had. Societal political ideas of a change, similar to the French Revolution were sought in his verses. In 1802 Hölderlin became a tutor at Hauptwil, near St.Gall, Swiss Canton Thurgau. Holderlin was in search of a poetic form. It was how own search and he wanted to get hold of the godly fire. Everything was open. After three months in Switzerland, he went back to Germany. After a decade of war, there’s peace again. Hölderlin writes a ‘Peace Celebration Poem: Friedensfeier Gedicht. An evolution takes place in Hölderlin the poet. The language of the hymn becomes a song. He starts to experiment with music and song. It may be mentioned that Hyperion and the dramatic fragments of Der Tod des Empedocles are about the Greek ideal. The mission of the poet and the deafness of the world around him. Hölderlin wrote his poems radically and tried everything: sentences, classical poems, radical poems. His poems are not understood without the blessing of Goethe. Sand and Sea: In 1801-1802 Hölderlin made a new start in France. ‘What can insult you more, my heart?’ he says. He sought an existential crisis with his extended walks in Nature and crossed dark valleys and came across sunny ones. He reached Bordeaux in 1802 and found beautiful, classical buildings in France and Great Britain. There was trade between the two countries. This time a wine-trader was his employer. The French language fascinated him and he wrote ‘Andenken,’ a landscape that moved him: the beach, the sea in Bordeaux. In his hymn ‘Andenken’ he thinks about the Continent, humans, Asia and South Africa opening his horizon. Four months later, Hölderlin left Bordeaux. In May 1802 Hölderlin the restless soul was underway again on foot. A wandering poet and philosopher. He walks from Bordeaux to Paris and Strassbourg. He returned to Nürtingen, where his mother lived, in a very disturbed mental state. He was unkempt, dirty, unrecognizable and nervous. Hölderlin translated all his writing life. Through translation he reached a poetic language of his own, so that much of his best poetry reads like a translation from elsewhere. He was intensely occupied with Sophocles in the winter of 1803-04. In the last years of his sanity he turned to hymnic verse, with poems of haunting beauty in free verse rhythms: Am Quelle der Donau, Germanien, Der Rheim, Friedensfeier and Patmos. In some of his later poems he tried to reconcile Christianity with his beloved Hellas. Even though he was in bad shape, his mind was extremely creative and he wrote poems, hymns, a new poetic style. His loneliness and coldness came in, and he tried to sum up his work life. Half of his life was a nightly song. He saw his own fate. In the autumn of 1804 he worked as a librarian in a castle in Homberg. But his mental illness recurred and he was sent to an institution in Tüningen. However, his health improved. He began asking questions: a self-assessment. Who was he? What could he write? He knew he didn’t have much time to write. He penned suggestive language images (Sprachbilder), broken poem fragments. He spent the Springtime along the Rhine and wrote like a writing maniac: he wrote in poetic ecstasy. In 1806 he was in the psychiatric ward and was released after 204 days. He ended in the tower near the Neckar, where he spent 36 years under the care of a local master carpenter named Zimmer. He was not a prisoner and it was an extended protective space, a shelter.
The poet and philosopher died on the 7th of June 1843.
In English translation by David Constantine: Ages of Life (Friedrich Hölderlin)
Euphrates’ cities and Palmyra’s streets and you Forests of columns in the level desert What are you now? Your crowns, because You crossed the boundary Of breath, Were taken off In Heaven’s smoke and flame; But I sit under clouds (each one Of which has peace) among The ordered oaks, upon The deer’s heath, and strange And dead the ghosts of the blessed ones Appear to me. ‘Once there were gods’ Once there were gods, on earth, with people, the heavenly muses And Apollo, the youth, healing, inspiring, like you. And you are like them to me, as though one of the blessed Sent me out into life where I go my comrade’s Image goes with me wherever I suffer and build, with love Unto death; for I learned this and have this from her. Let us live, oh you who are with me in sorrow, with me in faith And heart and loyalty struggling for better times! For such we are! And if ever in the coming years they knew Of us two when the spirit matters again They would say: lovers in those days, alone, they created Their secret world that only the gods knew. For who Cares only for things that will die the earth will have them, but Nearer the light, into the clarities come Those keeping faith with the heart’s love and holy spirit who were Hopeful, patient, still, and got the better of fate.
National literature no longer means very much, the age of world literature is due.
(National literature will jetzt nicht viel sagen, die Epoche der Weltliterature ist an der Zeit — Goethe).
Global writers and poets are connecting internationally via the internet. Why should only the literature mainstream in the USA, Australia and Britain take the lead?The world literature propagated was entirely Eurocentric and Goethe himself was a German universal writer one of the most original and powerful German lyric poets and his Faust I & II is a melange of comedy, tragedy, pathos, wit and satire, that is, magical beauty.
However, his collection of pseudo-oriental lyrics ‘West-östliche Divan’ (1819) is closed associated with Marianne von Willemer, one of the most gifted and intellectual women in Goethe’s life. Goethe spoke of world literature during his times. But what we experience today is global literature, which is not a western literature with national borders. It is definitely post-colonial, post-ethnic and post-national. You could call it non-whitey, non-mainstream literature. This global literature is written by writers and poets who have left their homes for diverse reasons and are, of course put into the ‘migrant literature category.
This global literature is nervous, vibrant, dynamic and these writings have had a quiet existence since decades nut isn’t being noticed by the greedy, sensation-seeking mainstream publishers from the former colonial nations based in the UK, USA, and its ally Australia, Japan, France and Germany. These global writer and poets have, due to their migration, changed their cultures and adopted new languages of the host countries. These authors came and still come from Asia, Africa, Caribbean isles and since they’re obliged to write not in their mother-tongues, they take to literature like fish in water, observing and comparing their new experiences with the old, and write about their lives as global travellers and existential trespassers of international boundaries not only in their lives but also in their minds.
It is a sad fact that the literary market is dominated by Anglo-Americans throughout the world. With Behari, Nepali, Gujerati, Bengali or Malay alone you couldn’t reach the world market which is still dominated by the English language. Would the world have seen and read Tagore’s Gitanjali or Shakuntala if it hadn’t been translated into English? The Nobel Prize for Literature to a Bengali poet has inspired generations of Bengalis and others in the Indian subcontinent, as have the Man Booker Prizes for Rushdie, Kiran Desai and Pulitzer Prize and PEN/Hemingway Award for Jhumpa Lahiri.
Why are Nigerian Chinua Achebe’s books well known in the world than the ones of those of African writers writing in their own mother tongues? If Ngugi wa Thiong’o hadn’t moved to the Britain and later to the USA, why, he wouldn’t have become a professor for comparative literature and performance studies at New York University in 1992.
It is high time that the upcoming authors from the Southern Hemisphere (South America, Africa South Asian and South-East Asia got together and made their own literary world, with book publications, poetry events and awards. It is time that such writers and poetry associations around the world got together and created their own prominent poetry festivals to combat the discrimination going on in the world’s publishing markets. Global literature is here to stay as a resurrection from the ashes of bitter post-colonial experiences and thanks to the proliferation of social media and e-books. Down with the discriminatory Anglo-American, French and German mainstream literature markets that have been ignoring and discriminating global poets and writers.
The fall of the British, French, Dutch and other empires led to changes in relations with these powerful countries and resulted in revolutions as far as east-west relations were concerned. It was also a catalyst for great migration waves because the western cities destroyed during the World War II had to be reconstructed, factories renovated and rebuilt and manpower was missing. Most able men in these countries were injured, crippled or dead. And so the migration brought also changes in these western societies.
In most of the narratives of the global writers and poets the theme of identity takes a central position. Who am I? What am I doing here in this foreign world that I have embraced? Where do I belong? Questions about the hybridity, acculturation and integration, mixed cultures and multiple-identities arise, as men and women of different ethnic backgrounds marry, bring for progeny. Does migration lead to a loss of identity or it a win-win and thus enriching situation? The global authors write a literature of being in-between and growing within foreign cultures that they have accepted. They write about the changes and exchanges between two cultures and the question of: ‘Where do I belong?’ is raised. Is it a world in transition? An improvised life for a temporary period?
In the case of the asylum-seekers the question of the stay-permit or the green card, as the case may be, hangs like a Damocles Sword above the writer or poet. A toleration? A Duldung? Or will my asylum-request be refused and I’ll be obliged to board the next plane to my country?
A lot of writers and poets from ex-colonial countries like India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Iraq, Somalia, Ethiopia have to chew on the mistakes and fatal decisions made by those in power during the pregnancy, birth or miscarriage of their respective countries. The hatred between the Hindus of India and the Muslims of West Pakistan is a glaring example of how the partition of a country should not have been carried out. The British left the Indian subcontinent without solving the Indo-Pakistani problem. The result was a historical mayhem, anarchy, chaos and mobocracy. In other countries independence from colonialists led to dictatorships, civil wars, economic crisis, wanton corruption and open or hidden nepotism.
The colonialists interfered not only in the politics and economies of these countries but also in the socio-cultural lives of these people and had regarded them as being ‘inferior’ to their own British, French, Dutch, Portugese, Spanish and so-called Australian (actually imported Brit) cultures. There was no collective psycho-therapy for these unfortunate people, who were left on their own when the colonial powers retreated. Left to their meagre means to exist because their country’s wealth had been plundered and stolen ‘legally’ by the colonialists. Even today the treasures from the former colonies can be seen for a fee in the British, French, Belgian, German and Rijks (Netherlands) museums.
Like Goethe wrote in ‘Der Gross Cophta, II:
You must either conquer and rule Or serve and lose, Suffer or triumph, Be the anvil or the hammer
Even the history of India has to be re-constructed and re-written by modern writers for the books from the colonial times had a jaundiced perspective and viewpoint. Asian countries and its people are badly described by the Brits and French in their versions. It’s high time that Asians described the Brits, French and other colonial characters in novels and poems through their own eyes and show the world what it was like to live under colonial rule and of how the traditions, beliefs, religions and cultures were ignored and ridiculed by the masters of the empire.
Writers that written with a heart for the downtrodden in the former colonies are undoubtedly V S Naipaul, Salman Rushdie, Joseph Conrad, Alexander Hemon, Hanif Kureishi, JM Coetzee and Michael Ondatje. It is amazing how many poets and poetesses there are in the different websites around the world. This is a commendable and formidable resource and must be channelled to produce not only festivals but also works of literature for posterity. In this context I’d like to mention Epitacio Tongohan of Pentasi B World Freiendship Poetry, Leyla I??k from Kibatek,Turkey, Maria Miraglia and Saverio Sinopoli from the Neruda Association from Italy and India’s Manthena Damodara Chary’s endeavours to bring out certificates and anthologies of the best poems on his websites and now we have Singapore Writers under Hj Harisharis Hj Hamzah with a taste of Malay and Singaporean Poetry at an international event in 2018.
This time Satis Shroff tells you in his prosepoem about Nepal’s Wandering Minstrels called Gaineys, who go from village to village throughout the country and beyong Northern India with their crude versions of the violin and sing about kings, princesses, love-stories.. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7EcVBmaIkic
Prosepoem: A Minstrel’s Songs of Love and Sorrow (Satis Shroff)
Go away, you maya. Disappear. Haunt me not in my dreams.. What has become of my country? My grandpa said: “In Nepal even a child Can walk the countryside alone.” It’s just not true, not for a Nepalese, born with a sarangi in his hand. I’m a musician, one of the lower caste in the Hindu hierarchy. I bring delight to my listeners, hope to touch the hearts of my spectators.
I sing about love, hate and evil, kings and queens, princes and princesses, The poor and the rich, and the fight for existence, in the craggy foothills and the towering heights of the Himalayas, the Abode of the Snows, where Buddhist and Hindu Gods and Goddesses reside, and look over mankind and his folly. I was born in Tanhau, a nondescript hamlet in Nepal, were it not for Bhanu Bhakta Acharya who was born here, the Nepalese poet who translated the Ramayana, from high-flown Sanskrit into simple Nepali for all to read.
I remember the first day my father handed me a sarangi. He taught me how to hold and swing the bow. I was delighted with the first squeaks it made, as I moved the bow on the taught horsetail strings. It was as though my small sarangi was talking with me in its baby-talk. I was so happy, I and my sarangi, my sarangi and me. Tears of joy ran down my cheeks. I was so thankful. I touched my Papa’s feet, as is the custom in the Himalayas. I could embrace the whole world. My father taught me the tones, and the songs to go with them, for we gaineys are minstrels who wander from place to place, like gypsies, like butterflies in Spring. We are a restless folk to be seen everywhere, where people dwell, for we live from their charity and our trade.
The voice of the gainey, the sad melody of the sarangi. A boon to those who love the lyrics, a nuisance to those who hate it. Many a time, we’ve been kicked and beaten by young people who prefer canned music, from their ghetto-blasters. Outlandish melodies, electronic beats you can’t catch up with. Spinning on their heads, hip-hopping like robots, not humans. It’s the techno, ecstasy generation. Where have all the old melodies gone? The Nepalese folksongs of yore? The song of the Gainey?
“This is globanisation,” they told me.
The grey-eyed visitors from abroad, ‘Quirays’ as we call them in Nepal. Or ‘gora-sahibs’ in Hindustan. The quirays took countless pictures of me, with their cameras, gave handsome tips. A grey-haired elderly didi with spectacles, and teeth in like a horse’s mouth, even gave me a polaroid-picture of me with my sarangi, my mountain violin. Sometimes, I look at my fading picture and wonder how fast time flows. My smile is disappearing, grey hair at the sides, the beginning of baldness. I’ve lost a lot of my molars, at the hands of the Barbier from Muzzafapur in the Indian lowlands; he gave me clove oil to ease my pain, as he pulled out my fouled teeth in an open-air-surgical salon, right near the Tribhuvan Highway.
I still have my voice and my sarangi, and love to sing my repertoire, even though many people sneer and jeer at me, and prefer Bollywood texts from my voice-box. To please their whims, I learned even Bollywood songs, against my will, eavesdropping behind cinema curtains, to please the western tourists and my country’s modern youth, I even learned some English songs.
Oh money, dear money. I’ve become a cultural prostitute. I’ve done my zunft, my trade, an injustice, but I did it to survive. I had to integrate myself and to assimilate in my changing society. Time has not stood still under the shadow of the Himalayas.
One day when I was much younger, I was resting under a Pipal tree which the tourists call Ficus religiosa, when I saw one beautiful tourist girl. I looked and smiled at her. She caressed her hair, And smiled back. For me it was love at first sight. All the while gazing at her, I took out my small sarangi, with bells on my fiddle bow and played a sad Nepali melody composed by Ambar Gurung, which I’d learned in my wanderings from Ilam to Darjeeling. I am the sky and you are the soil; even though we yearn a thousand times, we cannot come together. I was sentimental at that moment. Had tears in my eyes.
When I finished my song, the blonde woman sauntered up to me, and said in a smooth voice, ‘Thank you for the lovely song. Can you tell me what it means?’
I felt a lump on my throat and couldn’t speak for a while. Then, with a sigh, I said, ‘We have this caste system in Nepal. When I first saw you, I imagined you were a fair bahun girl. We aren’t allowed to fall in love with bahunis. It is a forbidden love, a love that can never come true. I love you but I can’t have you.’
‘But you haven’t even tried,’ said the blonde girl coyly.
‘I like your golden hair, Your blue eyes. It’s like watching the sky.’
‘Oh, thank you. Danyabad. She asked: ‘But why do you say: ‘We cannot be together?’
‘We are together now,’ I replied, ‘But the society does not like us gaineys from the lower caste. The bahuns, chettris castes are above us. They look down upon us.’
‘Why do they do that?’ asked the blonde girl.
I spat out: ‘Because they are high-born. We, kamis, damais and sarkis, are dalits. We are the downtrodden, the underdogs of this society in the foothills of the Himalayas.’
‘Who made you what you are?’ she asked.
I told her: ‘The Hindu society is formed this way: once upon a time there was a bahun, and from him came the Varnas. The Vernas are a division of society into four parts. Brahma created the bahuns from his mouth. The chettris, who are warriers came from his shoulder, the traders from his thigh and the servants from the sole of his feet.’
‘What about the poor dalits?’ quipped the blonde foreigner.
‘The dalits fell deeper in the Hindu society, And were not regarded as full members of the human race. We had to do the errands and menial jobs that were forbidden for the higher castes.’
‘Like what?’ she asked.
‘Like disposing dead animals, making leather by skinning hides of dead animals, cleaning toilets and latrines, clearing the sewage canals of the rich, high born Hindus. I am not allowed to touch a bahun, even with my shadow, you know.’
‘What a mean, ugly system,’ she commented, and shook her head. ‘May I touch you?’ she asked impulsively. She was daring and wanted to see how I’d react.
‘You may,’ I replied. She touched my hand, Then my cheeks with her two hands. I found it pleasant and a great honour.
I joined my hands and said sincerely, ‘Dhanyabad.’ I, a dalit, a no-name, a no-human, has been touched by a young, beautiful woman, a quiray tourist, from across the Black Waters we call the Kalapani.’
A wave of happiness and joy swept over me. A miracle had happened. Like a princess kissing a toad, in fairy tales I’d heard. Perhaps Gandhi was right: I was a Child of God, a harijan, and this fair lady an apsara.
She, in her European mind, thought she’d brought the idea of human rights at least to the gainey, this wonderful wandering minstrel, with his quaint fiddle called sarangi.
She said in her melodious voice, ‘In my country all people are free and equal, have the same rights and dignity. All humans have common sense, a conscience, and we ought to meet each other as brothers and sisters.’
I tucked my sarangi in my armpit, Clapped my hands and said:
THE PRAYER WHEEL (Satis Shroff) (Subtitle: O, cry with me)
Adieu winter, The signs of growth are here, Between sunshine and rain. There’s a subtle greening everywhere. People work line bees, Cutting and pruning weeds Using their ancient hoes To plough the terraces
The joy that plants have survived Beneath the deadwood. There’s optimism in the air And with it hope, When crocuses rear their heads. Lovely lupins, delphiniums and daffodils, In the meadows of the Himalayas.
People are bathing in the tributaries of holy rivers, Chanting vedic hymns. Those who have lost their mothers, Remember them through rites, Followed by a bath in the river Matatirtha. The sound of thundering hoofs in Tudikhel, In the heart of Catmandu. Snorting and foaming horses, And cheering Nepalese. Spectators who watch the great chariots Of Bhairawa and Bhadrakali.
The joy of the fresh air, In the tranquility of the blue Mahabharat hills, Where life begins anew. The blackbirds, finches, thrushes Twitter and chirp to the glory of Prakriti.
In Springtime we awake with expectations, Of pleasure and new luck. The tourists have come. The mountains are beckoning me. No, it’s the tourists with dollars, Who want to be celebrated in the media, With heroic selfies Or camera-teams.
O, go not to the mountains, my love. End not in a crevasse Or beneath an avalanche. I shall not cry for you. My father died for the tourists On the lap of Chomolungma.
I’m doing it for our children’s education.
The Tibetan wheel turns relentlessly, O cry with me.
It’s Summer where moist southern winds prevail. Your body, mind and spirit, Are one with Nature. The flowers bloom and cherries get ripe, ‘Kaphal pakyo, kaphal pakyo,’ Sings a a bird. The day lengthens And the clouds cannot hide the Surya. Soon great clouds bring rain. Indra gives his blessing: Monsoon. A gift to many, A curse for few.
The sun shines now And the leaves sag. The frogs dive in the pond, The dragon fly hovers awhile. There’s life and beauty in this transient world. Summer brings enduring happiness To one and all, When trees blossom and bear fruit.
The paddy planting season is over In the Vale of Catmandu. The Newari jyapu farmers sing songs And rejoice. The sun fills our lives with light, Positive thoughts prevail. The wonderful scent of the roses, Butterflies dancing over Himalayan orchids. Your fingers touch and feel The silkiness of the rose petals.
People sing in praise of the cow for eight days. The holy cows of Catmandu wear garlands. The prayer wheel turns unceasingly, O cry with me.
** * *
Chilly Autumn arrives soon enough, The summer flowers, Those dear friends have gone. Asters and chrysanthemums still greet us.
People celebrate the festival of lights, In honour of Goddess Lakshmi. Even the common crow is worshipped this day. For the crow is the messenger of Death, To the Hindus: Yamadoot. Another day the dog is garlanded and revered, For he is Bhairab’s steed. The third day of Tihar belongs to the cow, The reincarnation of Lakshmi. If you beat a cow you might be punished With a life in poverty.
The fruits are ripe now, Waiting to be harvested. The sun’s rays become mellow. The leaves turn golden, russet, brown. The paths are strewn with dead leaves. We reflect about our own lives. The dying leaves, A metaphor of your short existence, On this beautiful earth.
With splendor of Summer gone, We become thoughtful and melancholic. What has fate in store for us? In this epoch of Kali Yuga, Wealth has become the personification Of success and career. If the Gurkha survives he comes home, With presents for his family. Others remain cremated in foreign lands. Nothing endures in the cycle of life. We come, grow up, live our lives And go. Thereby making place for others. Akin to the sunflower that ripens, Provides shade and seeds, Follows the whims of the sun, And wilts. Even green leaves die.
The wheel of life waits for no one, O, cry with me.
** * *
The sky is sunless, The tree branches look like emaciated humans, Hands reaching for the sky, In poses of suspended animation. The nights are cold and dark, All seems lifeless, dead, buried, Beneath the white snow. No bird sings.
Misty mountains veiled, With dampness everywhere. The cold makes the people remain indoors. Winter means respite, A time for solitude and contemplation. Read books, watch DVDs, tell tales, Time for Kaffeekranz elsewhere, With the family or friends.
Hush, life is merely asleep outside. Come Spring and life blooms, In the meadows, in the woods and gardens. Worms start tilling the earth. Even in the cold and darkness of winter, There are faint signs of life, In the microcosmos off the beaten path. Prakriti is regenerating, Despite the onslaught of the elements: Snow, wind and rain. Nature survives and we gather hope. The old Tibetan wheel turns eternally, O rejoice with me.
Review by Renate Mousseux. M.A. ED: Through Nepalese Eyes is a highly interesting, authentic story taking the reader through traditions and customs of 2 different countries. The stories are written through the Eyes of a Nepalese, hence the Title. We learn about the role of women, religious beliefs, political events, ethical and socio-economic situations in Nepal. We see comparisons of Europe and Asia and learn about the vast differences of life. This book is a must read, I recommend it highly.
(Renate Mousseux. M.A. ED. Body Language Expert, Professor of English, French and German USA)
* * * *
Schilderungen von Satis Shroff in ‘Through Nepalese Eyes’ sind faszinierend und geben uns die Möglichkeit, unsere Welt mit neuen Augen zu sehen.“ Review by: Alice Grünfelder von Unionsverlag/Limmat Verlag, Zürich.
What others have said about the author:
„Die Schilderungen von Satis Shroff in ‘Through Nepalese Eyes’ sind faszinierend und geben uns die Möglichkeit, unsere Welt mit neuen Augen zu sehen.“ (Alice Grünfelder von Unionsverlag / Limmat Verlag, Zürich).
Satis Shroff writes with intelligence, wit and grace. (Bruce Dobler, Associate Professor in Creative Writing MFA, University of Iowa).
‘Satis Shroff writes political poetry, about the war in Nepal, the sad fate of the Nepalese people, the emergence of neo-fascism in Germany. His bicultural perspective makes his poems rich, full of awe and at the same time heartbreakingly sad. I writing ‘home,’ he not only returns to his country of origin time and again, he also carries the fate of his people to readers in the West, and his task of writing thus is also a very important one in political terms. His true gift is to invent Nepalese metaphors and make them accessible to the West through his poetry.’ (Sandra Sigel, Writer, Germany).
‘Brilliant, I enjoyed your poems thoroughly. I can hear the underlying German and Nepali thoughts within your English language. The strictness of the German form mixed with the vividness of your Nepalese mother tongue. An interesting mix. Nepal is a jewel on the Earth’s surface, her majesty and charm should be protected, and yet exposed with dignity through words. You do your country justice and I find your bicultural understanding so unique and a marvel to read.’ (Reviewed by Heide Poudel in WritersDen.com)
‘The manner in which Satis Shroff writes takes the reader right along with him. Extremely vivid and just enough and the irony of the music. Beautiful prosaic thought and astounding writing. ‘Your muscles flex, the nerves flatter, the heart gallops, As you feel how puny you are, Among all those incessant and powerful waves.’
“Satis Shroff’s writing is refined – pure undistilled.” (Susan Marie, USA)
Satis Shrofff: the personification of Goodness, Enlightenment and Kindness in Poetry and literature in many and contemporary ways. Multi talented in various literary and academic, humanitarian and environmental fields, he is blessed and honored by many prizes of international reputation. Satis proves that a poet, writer and academic in our days is foremost a humanist and environmentalist! Nepal, his country of origin is a land proud for him. Much admiration and best wishes for more Blessings! (Poetess Roula Pollard, Greece)
‘Brilliant, I enjoyed your poems thoroughly. I can hear the underlying German and Nepali thoughts within your English language. The strictness of the German form mixed with the vividness of your Nepalese mother tongue. An interesting mix. Nepal is a jewel on the Earth’s surface, her majesty and charm should be protected, and yet exposed with dignity through words. You do your country justice and I find your bicultural understanding so unique and a marvel to read.'( Writer Heide Poudel, Australia)
Satis Shroff notable poeta de Nepal afincado en Alemania mostrar virtud poética en hermoso poema de indudable calidad.
Zeitgeistlyrik: EL JARDÍN (Satis Shroff)
Ayer vi narcisos en mi jardín,
Pero hoy se han ido
Como las perlas de la mañana
Muere en la hierba verde.
El jardín vive en la literatura,
Mucho después de que ha sido reclamado
Por naturaleza con su invasión de unkraut,
Mi vecino, un amigable británico,
Tenía un hermoso jardín afuera de su cabaña.
Cuando murió, también lo hizo su jardín.
Sus tres hijas Pam, Sue y Sally,
Dejó su nido.
No había nadie para conservar
Las preciosas flores.
Los jardines han sido compartidos
En diarios, cartas, libros.
Las metáforas, las experiencias estacionales,
De jardines vistos e imaginados,
Con el poder de curar,
Y da esperanza.
El conocimiento de que el jardín
Tiene su ciclo anual:
Las flores florecen, se desvanecen y caen,
Como lo hacemos los humanos,
Para volver de donde salimos.
Las flores traen esperanza y amor,
A los ojos del observador,
A todo el mundo
Un amor que todo lo abarca.
¿No crees en el renacimiento?
¿Por qué, cada mañana es un renacimiento,
De flores floreciendo,
Solo para marchitarse algún día.
Ya sean rosas silvestres, flores de cerezo,
Lilas, peonías, espuelas,
Narcisos en los prados,
Todos se marchitan y mueren.
Y tú también
En este ciclo eterno,
De la vida a la muerte.
Mientras salga el sol
Todas las mañanas
Y los seres vivos saludan el amanecer
Porque el sol da vida a los colores,
Nos da salud y bienestar.
Evoca el deseo
Para saludar el día
Para mostrar gratitud,
Si eres humano,
Animal o un girasol.
Foto cortesía: Pixabay
Satis Shroff notable poeta de Nepal afincado en Alemania mostrar virtud poética en hermoso poema de indudable calidad.
Traducción dé google con mínimas variantes.
Felicitaciones distinguido amigo. (Poet Roger C.)
ART & BOOKS: Satis Shroff, Germany
WINTER IN THE BLACK FOREST (Satis Shroff)
And I trudge towards Feldsee,
A hidden lake in the Black Forest.
The entire way is lines with pines,
Like dark sentinels,
Guarding the precious mountain jewels
Of the Schwarzwald.
I go through the forest
Without a word,
Aware only of my breathing,
Any my footprints
On the fresh snow.
Aside from the tree trunks,
Even the canopies and branches
Are covered with fluffy white snow.
Snow flakes dancing in the forest
Seen only by the Berggeister,
Spirits that haunt the hills,
And rescue people gone astray,
From avalanches and crevices.
* * *
ART & CULTURAL ASSOCIATION-KAPPEL, GERMANY:
The Agony Of War II by Satis Shroff
(Image (c) Satis Shroff: from my travel sketchbook, east berlin soldiers doing their goosesteps).
O, the pity of war.
We show sympathy,
Sorrow for the suffering Ukrainians;
As we see elderly men, women and children suffering,
Fleeing from a ruthless enemy
Who lies and says: it wasn’t his men who did
Such injustice and war crimes.
The poet Wilfred Owen said the poetry is in the pity.
Elegies, not consolatory words.
Owen says: ‘all a poet can do is to warn.
That’s why true Poets must be truthful.’
Can the poet speak of truthfulness,
When the men and women from Azovstal
Were granted a ‘corridor’ not by the UN,
But by the invaders?
The Russian corridor was unjust and a humiliation
For the fighters of Azovstal,
Who were treated like inferior beings by the conquerors,
And taken as prisoners to Russia.
Here hope has become rare and rationed,
Despite the bravery to keep the invader at bay.
No hint of harm was given to the people,
Who’d sought refuge in the bunkers of Azovstal
Nobody notified them,
No one admonished them.
In the end it was: surrender or die.
This was war.
A false corridor that led to the arms of the Russian foe
As prisoners of war,
Who greeted them with cruelty and glee;
After months of deprivation and missile attacks.
Who was going to tell the truth
Behind the tragedy of these people?
The media shows pictures of tanks and missiles
Being delivered or promised
By Europeans, Ausssies and Americans.
Weapons that came too late for the defenders
Of Mariupol and Azovstal.
They were the lambs that had to be sacrificed
In this war of the nations in Europe.
A strange war with rules dictated unilaterally
By an ex-KGB warlord in Kremlin.
Journalists and writers were declared outlaws
And punished severely for words that told the truth
About the exploits of the country’s war machinery.
War became a forbidden word.
It was sold as a mere conflict to free Ukraine from neo-Nazis.
Putin’s troops were out to denazify Ukraine.
Censorship and misinformation in full swing in Russia,
As in the days of the Third Reich.
How nice that Putin learned German thoroughly,
During his East German days with the Soviet Army;
Especially the Nazi methods to keep his own folk in the dark.
Simplicity is the magic rule.
Keep it simple for the peasant folk.
They know what Nazi and blitzkrieg mean.
They also know what KGB means.
No harm in borrowing tactics
That work for the masses.
The Russians buy Putin’s story.
* * *
Image from my travel sketchbook, east berlin soldiers doing their goosesteps.
‘Nepali stands at the end of a long string of dialects stretching along the foothills of the Himalayas, its nearest neighbour being Kumaoni; but, like the others, it has been open to the influence of the languages of the Tarai and the Plains of the South. In it too we see the development of a purely local dialect, of the district of Gorkha, into the language of administration for a whole kingdom…Nepali is a sturdy, vigorous tongue, capable of poetry–you have your poets–and of strong, simple, nervous prose. Hindi is one language, Nepali is another. Do not let your lovely language become the pale reflection of a Sanskritised Hindi.’ (Courtesy: Sir Ralph L. Turner, concluding an address delivered at the British Embassy, Kathmandu, on the occasion of the coronation of His majesty King Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah Deva, 1955).
Well it’s soon 2023 now and the nation has seen the emergence of the Maoists in a decade long Himalayan civil-war in which a great many Nepalese were injured or died. Around 19,000 Gurkha soldiers have died during the many wars they’ve fought at Britain’s side.
The Shah family have been ousted from the Narayanhiti Palace, which has been turned into a national museum, and this once forbidden kingdom is now a federal republic.
What remains are the old wounds and trauma of a nation that’ll take time to heal. To this end I’d like to wish my former countrymen and women all the best. The best thing you can do for your children is to give them a good education, and not a khukri. This was denied to generations of Gurkhas by the former British governments because they practiced a policy of non-inclusion in the daily life of Britain and treated them as merely mercenaries that you could hire-and-fire at will. I hope that in the future the Gurkhas and their families will be integrated in the British society in police and security forces, and also in civilian life, like the other members of the Commonwealth, which were Britain’s former colonies.
Nepal had a so-called special relationship and was subtely excluded from the Commonwealth. Some ‘special relationship’ indeed, the consequence of which had to be shared by generations of Nepalese children who lost their Dads who died under the Union Jack and for the glory of England.
When an injured soldier wanted medical treatment due to injuries that occured while fighting for England’s glory they were denied medical treatment by the MoD and NHS in England. No, Britain doesn’t want Gurkhas with gerontological problems either. What a cheap solution for cheap fighting men from the Himalayas. It’s only in recent times that the Gurkhas have started going to court and winning legal battles against the formidable, heartless, bureaucratic MoD based in London. The different government and the Prime Ministers as well as the Monarchs and, of course, MoD have been giving each other the blame for the misery of the Gurkhas instead of bringing out a plan for the welfare of the Gurkhas and their families. Instead of allowing the Gurkha children and the same right as the political regugees and asylum seekers in the United Kingdom, the powers that be have given the Gurkhas a no-benefit status in its civilian life.
The Gurkhas were brought to the Gurkha brigades just to fight England’s foes outside the country as cheap labourers-at-arms, whom you could hire and fire at the will of the British officers. If there was a small quarrel or revolt at the wrong-doing of the officers, it was the Gurkhas who were sent to their home country. Protests were not heard of.
A Gurkha was expected to fight and the thinking was supposed to be the right of the British officers. The olde colonial set-up. Even officers who should have opened their mouths didn’t comply as they feared promotion in their ranks; they were scared of being court marshalled. And yet these very officers played polo, went to the officer’s clubs, drank gin, expensive scotch and talked about their ‘brave, courageous, fearless, blood curdling Gurkhas.’ They just didn’t seem to realise that even Gurkhas are humans who had wishes and desires to mortals, who had families and depandants in the craggy hills of their mountainous country.
I heard a Scottish lady who’s father was a Gurkha officer say, “Oh, the Gurkhas shouldn’t protest. If they do that they’ll be sent back to Nepal.” This is the standard punishment meted out to loyal friends and “special relationships.” I’ve never witnessed such hypocracy anywhere in my life. Dankeschön.
So much for the still colonial master-servant relationship between the Brits and their Johnny Gurkhas.
It took a long time, but the MoD and the British government finally decided to grant the British Gurkhas the right to stay on in Britain. Gurkhas will be able to stay in the UK without needing to pay for a visa after their military service under a new government scheme. The cost of visa fees for all foreign nationals, who have served six years or more in the Armed Forces, has been waived. This was on September 30, 2004. Since then, Gurkhas have been allowed to apply to settle in the UK and gain British citizenship after leaving the army, said PM Tony Blair.
I love reading books. If you’ve studied long, you tend to read a lot of text-books on different subjects, attend lectures, sometimes even bunk them. In my case, it began with fairy tales from the Ramayana and Mahabharat, Sanskrit verses and adventure English books at school.
When I left the Inside world I went to Catmandu where my horizon of literature was opened widely at the American Library and the British Council Library. I loved the French films of Chabrol and Truffeaut at the Centre Culturel Catmandu. The Lumumba Friendship University and the Moscow University were offering scholarships so I also had an intermezzo with Russian authors at the Russian Library in Catmandu. However, I missed the interview for the Russian scholarship and fell asleep in the afternoon.
My Nepalese friend came after the interview and asked me why I hadn’t turned up. He went to Moscow. Never heard from him since then.
Was it Schicksal, my fate? I got a German scholarship and then I began to discover German literature.
Now I’m a German writer of Nepalese descent living right near the lovely Dreisam Valley in a tucked away place called Kappel. I’ve studied Zoology and Botany in Nepal, Medicine and Social Sciences in Germany and Creative Writing in Freiburg and the United Kingdom. My Creative Writing Prof was Bruce Dobler, Iowa.
The German media described me as a mediator between western and eastern cultures and I see my future as a writer and poet, despite the science and medical background
Since literature is one of the most important means of cross-cultural learning, I’m dedicated to promoting and creating awareness for Creative Writing and transcultural togetherness in my writings, and in preserving an attitude of Miteinander (togetherness) in this world.
I think FB is a great place to meet global poets, artists, novelists.
Putin has thrown the gauntlet: how dare anyone, eh?
Moscow theatricals in the heart of power in Russia where the main protagonist is the new Czar. Vladimir Putin, plays the role of a military strategist who combines martial arts philosophy with his deep desire to bring the lost glory to his broken Soviet Union through the blatant use of force and a deadly, expanding arsenal of lethal weapons, conventional, as well as, nukes. Today the Ukraine is in danger of being swallowed, tomorrow the other former and smaller Soviet states, and the day after tomorrow perhaps a piece of the European cake? The Bear’s appetite is growing.
What we are witnessing in the Ukraine is a scenario back from Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Jungle Book’ in which a Mungo (Russia) has to be cunning, outwit and outmanoeuvre the Cobras (Nato) and Sher Khan (USA). The Mungo made a fast move and left the Western Alliance (Nato) gasping for breath. The Cobras and Sher Khan had only one word in their lips: sanctions.
Thousands leave Kiev because of the Russian invasion. The Russian troops want to drink vodka in the Ukranian capital. Flurries of futile diplomacy with Moscow.
With the march of Vladimir Putin’s troops into Ukranian territory the West’s politics of appeasement towards Moscow has come to an end. Elena Kovalskaya, the director of Moscow’s Vsevolod Meyerhold State Theater and Cultural Center, has announced her resignation in protest against the invasion of Ukraine. “It’s impossible to work for a murderer and collect a salary from him,” she writes.
Elena Kovalskaya, the director of Moscow’s Vsevolod Meyerhold State Theater and Cultural Center, has announced her resignation in protest against the invasion of Ukraine. “It’s impossible to work for a murderer and collect a salary from him,” she writes.
UKRAINE BLUES: prayers and sanctions against a Nation led by a deranged oligarch who calls others ‘neonazis addicted to drugs’ and shows he has no scruples and ethics. A warlord indeed.
A flood of tears flow when a daughter leaves for safety in neighbouring Poland or Romania. Martial Law in Ukraine for all able bodied men from 18 till the age of 60: to the weapons was the call of the day.
German TV Channel One- ARD. Italy agrees to ban Russia from SWIFT. Germany and Switzerland are still hesitating.
The French are worried about their elections..
Selensky’s direct appeal to the People of Russia: Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has made an appeal to Russian citizens not to support a major war in Europe. Zelenskyy said he attempted to call Russian President Putin but was met with silence. There is a Russian version of the developments in Ukraine meant for young Russian, and former Soviet, ears. In this version Ukraine is being misled by drug-addicted neo-Nazis. The word ‘nazi’ has a strong implication for the elderly generation of Russians who had to suffer hardships and crimes at the hands of the Nazis and the Gestapo in Stalingrad and elsewhere.
US Senator Bernie Sanders said: Putin and his oligarch friends seek a divided world and the destruction of democracy. We must stand with the Ukrainian people against this war, and with the Russian people who are demonstrating against their corrupt, reckless president who started it.
To Kiew via Chernobyl: Russian assault route because it’s shorter. Poor Kiew and Ukranian people. And he says arrogantly, and in defiance, he might even make use of his nukes if the case demands. Threats of European and US sanctions don’ t bother him. Chernobyl, the nuclear power plant was captured by Russian forces . The Ukrainian president says Russian “enemy sabotage groups” entered Kiev.
MOSCOW BLUES: a news posted on February 24, 2022 mentions more than 1,700 arrested in anti-war Russia protests in Moscow and across dozens of cities in Russia, over 400 in Saint Petersburg, according to OVD-Info, which tracks arrests at opposition rallies. Thousands gathered near Pushkin Square in central Moscow, while up to 1,000 people gathered in the former imperial capital Saint Petersburg, according to the AFP news agency. “No to war” was spray-painted on the front gate of the Russian parliament’s lower house.
“I am in shock. My relatives and loved ones live in Ukraine,” Anastasia Nestulya, 23, told AFP in Moscow.
Putin wants to control not only the Donbass but Ukraine and other former Soviet Baltic countries too. A conventional warfare with nukes? The krieg has come back to the killing fields of Europe. The massing of Russian troops was ignored, and EU countries followed a policy of appeasement. After the annexation of Crimea the Western countries did business as usual, hoping that peace would come. There were instances of protests against North Stream 2, but they were swept under the carpet because dependency on Russian oil and fluid gas meant prosperity.
And now we pretend we’re surprised about the wrath of the bear.
TRADE SANCTIONS: Ukrainians were fearing the Russians but Europe turned a deaf year. The only weapon that the USA and Europe have are belated half-hearted economic and trade sanctions. Tension is increasing in the area and sanctions are no longer a deterrent for Putin and Lukaschenko (Belarus). The Russian warlord said he had given orders to this armed forces to activate his ballistic and cruise missiles. He emphasised that his country has been facing EU sanctions since many years and is used to it. Western sources interpret this as Putin’s declaration to invade Ukraine. The Second German Channel has reported about explosions, quoting a Ukranian woman. According to van der Leyen this Invasion on the part of Putin has brought the EU and Nato closer together. Aside from threats of sanctions the West follows a policy of wait- and-see.
There’s no guarantee that the Nato and US fire brigade is going to come in the case of Ukraine. We’re following a policy of wait- and-drink-tea and watching the scenario unfurl warily and with angst. Experts warn that Putin’s order for troops to carry out what he called “peacekeeping functions” in the region, and what President Biden has now called the start of an invasion, could lay the groundwork and provide the pretext for a larger Russian military incursion into Ukraine.
Putin has revealed how vulnerable Europe and the Nato is. A lot has to be done in terms of defending and investing in Fortress Europe against aggressors like Putin, and changing existing policies of appeasement towards oligarchs who mean business and are extremely determined.
We in Europe suffer with you, Ukraine: air attacks, bombs, intimidation, people hiding in the Underground, hallways, bunkers as Warlord Putin marches into sovereign, defenceless Ukraine. The target is Kiev, via the Chernobyl route. And he says arrogantly, and in defiance, he might even make use of his nukes if the case demands. Threats of European and US sanctions don’t bother him.
Putin wants to control not only the Donbas but Ukraine and other former Soviet Baltic countries too. A conventional warfare with nukes? The krieg has come back to the killing fields of Europe. The massing of Russian troops was ignored, and EU countries followed a policy of appeasement. And now we pretend we’re surprised about the wrath of the bear.
After the annexation of Crimea the Western countries did business as usual, hoping that peace would come. There were instances of protests against North Stream 2, but they were swept under the carpet because depedence on Russian oil and fluid gas meant prosperity.
Ukrainians were fearing the Russians but Europe turned a deaf year. The only weapon that the USA and Europe have are belated half-hearted economic and trade sanctions.
Putin has revealed how vulnerable Europe and the Nato are. A lot has to be done in terms of defending and investing in Fortress Europe against aggressors like Putin, and changing existing policies of appeasement towards oligarchs who mean business and are extremely determined.
Dreams of a past Soviet and Imperial glory: are being realised with military brutality, disinformation and Gewalt. Aggression. Colonial nostalgia on the part of oligarch Putin who is out to restore the old Soviet Union into a new Russian Federation.
Dr Finnin, University of Cambridge, explained why, in the realm of political values, Ukraine is not Russia’s cousin but her competitor; and why the West needs to work harder to recognise the complexity and importance of the Black Sea region.
Russian forces have launched a military assault on neighbouring Ukraine, crossing its borders and bombing military targets near big cities. A missile sparked a fireball as it hit Ivano-Frankivsk International Airport in western Ukraine. Russia’s military breached the border in a number of places, in the north, south and east, including from Belarus, a long-time Russian ally. There are reports of fighting in some parts of eastern Ukraine.
President Macron’s reset-Russia politics has miserably backfired. He has underestimated Putin’s determination to control the Donbass. Germany’s policy of promoting North Stream 2 under former Chancellors Gerhard Schröder and Angela Merkel, followed by an attitude of appeasement towards Moscow, wasn’t right too under the new circumstances created by the Russian warlord.
Democracy and freedom: The outcome of this inferno is that the EU, Nato and USA are working closer, thanks to Putin’s aggressive, thickheaded attitude. Long live democracy and freedom in Europe and the world. These are two treasures that have to be fought for again and again, all over the world against dictators, oligarchs, rulers that follow a policy of intimidation and injury of human rights.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that he plans to conduct a “special military operation” in eastern Ukraine, confirming fears why he was massing troops along the border ahead of a strategic offensive. Shortly after his announcement, explosions were reported in the cities of Kyiv and Kramatorsk.
Ukraine battles Russian attack on multiple fronts. At least 40 Ukrainian soldiers killed, official says President Biden: “The world will hold Russia accountable.”
This is the end of the world order as we know it.
Russia will “not stop at Ukraine”, Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba told the United Nations, as he warns of “a grim scenario which will throw us back to the darkest times of the 20th century.”
The Pariah on the World Stage? President Biden levied crippling sanctions against Russia for its Ukraine attack and said the U.S. and allies will make sure Putin will be a “pariah on the international stage.”
Experts warn that Putin’s order for troops to carry out what he called “peacekeeping functions” in the region — and what President Biden has now called the start of an invasion — could lay the groundwork and provide the pretext for a larger Russian military incursion into Ukraine.
Even seasoned Kremlinologists were alarmed by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s belligerent tone as he offered a monologue on why Ukraine has no right to exist.In a lengthy televised speech Monday, Putin formally recognized the independence of two regions in eastern Ukraine — the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic” and “Luhansk People’s Republic.” He later ordered troops to roll over the border under the guise of being “peacekeepers.”
Niinistö on Tuesday viewed that Russia recognising the independence of the self-styled people’s republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, located in south-eastern Ukraine, signifies the end of the path laid out in the Minsk agreements, a series of international agreements signed to end the war in Donbas, Ukraine, in 2014–2015.
Newsweek quoted President Joe Biden, on Tuesday, saying Russia’s actions in Ukraine will trigger massive sanctions, a response he has been threatening for weeks as President Vladimir Putin built up troops along Ukraine’s borders. In a speech from the White House, Biden said the Russian leader has committed “a flagrant violation of international law.”
A big ‘IF’: speaking to journalists Tuesday evening, Putin set out a number of stringent conditions if the West wanted to de-escalate the crisis, saying pro-Western Ukraine should drop its Nato membership ambitions and maintain neutrality.
It might be noted that on Tuesday President Vladimir Putin received authorization from lawmakers to use Russian troops outside of the country, a move he said was necessary to formalize the military’s deployment in two rebel regions of eastern Ukraine. Russia recognized those provinces as independent on Monday. Things are moving fast. Putin ordered troops there to “maintain peace” which is highly doubtful because he ordered Kiev and others cities to be bombarded by his MiGs and Sukhoi jets. It is plainly evident that he is not on a ‘peace keeping mission.’
PUTIN SEES RED AND PLANS FOR THE WINTER: Satis Shroff
We saw Putin’s miserable military results first near Kyiv. Recently — in Kharkiv oblast. Russian Army routed. Soldiers abandon tanks and ammo. Is that the great ‘ effectiveness?’ It was plainly a loser’s army being routed.
And now he’s threatening Europe with a general mobilisation and the eventual use of tactical nukes. Putin is the most destructive man in the Continent. He must be relieved from his post as he has proved beyond doubt that he is an incapable of ruling a country. And as the Commander in Chief of the Russian Forces, he has no idea about strategy and warfare. He has no control and no efficient, reliable feedback about the real developments on the krieg in Ukraine. He is surrounded by generals who are more ‘ yes-men’ and they filter the war dispatches and tell him everything’s running ‘ according to plan.’ This folley is of his own making like in the fairytale ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes.‘.
It is a fact that the Russian troops are spread thinly along the long Russian-Ukranian border. What ensues is a domino effect, a scenario in which everyone panics when the Ukranian forces strike with deadly precision. The Russian soldiers hastily put on civilian clothes and run for their lives. And Ukraine get a big chunk of Russian-held territories.
Borodianka, 36 miles from Kiev, where Russians bombarded civilian targets for one month. The town was destroyed and occupied by Rusian forces. Carnage, danage and destruction. Food and clothing — the rubble of Borodianka. Bodies of the dead civilians lying around the pavement, it was worse than Bucca. The Ukranian fire- brigade finds more corpses every day. A teddy bear ner a tree, A wedding photo. The savagery of Putin’s war, a town among many. People posting videos in the internet. The Russians had reinforced the frontline east of Kharkiv.
Putin says: ‘Russia has lost nothing in the war.’ It has lost 50,000 soldiers and has tens of thousands of casualities.
Putin in the defensive? The Russian Army is obsolete and not modern and they still have a tedious form of command hierarchy. Corruption has been worming its way through the ranks of the Russian Army. Putin’s dream of conquering not only Crimea and Donbas but also the whole of Ukraine was a case of biting more than he could chew.
According to Ukrainian Contact Group in Ramstein, the USA will give aid to Ukraine, new military help to the tune of $665 million. Slensky wants more artillery and ammunition. Germany,on it part, asks other Nato nations to help Ukraine by giving their Russian made weapons in lieu of new German armsas soon as possible. The weapons are helping and the game changer is there in the form of 155mm caliber haubitzers, armoured vehicles such as the crew transporter M113, haubitzer M777, t-72 panzer (tanks) and Himars which throws multiple rockets simultaneously, like the Stalin Orgels of World War II and the Panzerhaubitze 2000 which is already being used in the Donbas. Thirty of the reputed German Gepard, which is an anti-aircraft artillery mounted on a panzer, is protecting Ukraine’s important structures againstes.a Russian advance, and enable to hit the infrastructure and logistics behind the Russian front.
Another meeting is being held in Ramstein to deal with the winter military issues such as the equipment for the cold period. Well-armed for the winter is the motto, which was not the case in 1962 for the Indian Army, which sent its soldiers without adequate winter clothes to the Himalayas in a war against well-equipped Chinese troops. Nehru and Menon were responsible for the military disaster in those days. It was like going to cold Siberia in Summer shorts. The Indian Forces have learned a lot since then.
With the help of the Javelins, the Ukranian Forces were able to stop the Russian convoys. The Russians have learned that such transports in convoy strength was a mistake. Russia is preparing for a long war and that is the reason Putin has been replenishing the troops with new recruits from among not only young people but also criminals who languish behind bars and whoever wants to join.
Ukranians have excellent reconnaissance equipment, with the help of the USA and their own know-how, via Starlink satellite network, and the information supplied by the Ukrainian people themselves have all led to the precision in retaliating against the Russian forces. The Ukrainians know exactly where they have to fire. The USA is well informed about Russian troop movements via satellite tracking.
Creative Writing Critique: Chicken of India Unite! (Satis Shroff)
Review: Aravind Adiga: The White Tiger. Atlantic Books, London, 2008. Man Booker Prize 2008. German version: ‘Der Weisse Tiger’ published by C.H. Beck, 2008.
Aravind Adiga was a correspondent for the newsmag Time and wrote articles for the Financial Times, the Independent and Sunday Times. He was born in Madras in 1974 and is a Mumbai-wallah now. The protagonist of his first novel is Balram Halwai, (I’m a helluva Mumbai-halwa fan, you know) who tells his story in the first person singular. Halwai has a fantastic charisma and shows you how you can climb the Indian mainstream ladder as a philosopher and entrepreneur. An Indian entrepreneur has to be straight and crooked, mocking and believing, sly and sincere, at the same time (sic). Balram’s prerogative is to turn bad news into good news, and the White Tiger, who’s terribly scared of lizards, slits the throat of his boss to attain his goal, and doesn’t even regret his deed.
In the subcontinent, however, Aravind Adiga’s novel has received sceptical critique. Manjula Padmanabhan wrote in ‘Outlook’ that it lacks humour, and the formidable Delhi-based Kushwant Singh 92, who used to write for the Illustrated Weekly of India and is regarded as the doyen of Indian English literature, found it good to read but endlessly depressing.
‘And what’s so depressing?’ you might ask. I found his style refreshing and creative the way he introduced himself to Wen Jiabao. At the beginning of each capital he quotes from a part of his ‘wanted’ poster. The author writes about poverty, corruption, aggression and the brutal struggle for power in the Indian society. A society in which the middle class is reaching economically for the sky, in which Adiga’s biting and scathing criticism sounds out of place, when deshi Indians are dreaming of manned flights to the moon, outer space and mountains of nuclear arsenal against China or any other neighbouring states that might try to flex muscles against Hindustan.
India is sometimes like a Bollywood film, which the poverty-stricken masses enjoy watching, to forget their daily problems for two hours. The rich Indians want to give their gastrointestinal tract a rest and so they go to the cinema between bouts of paan-spitting and farting due to lack of exercise and oily food. They all identify themselves with the protagonists for these hundred and twenty minutes and are transported into another world with location shooting in Switzerland, Schwarzwald, Grand Canyon, the Egyptian Pyramids, sizzling London, fashionable New York and romantic Paris. After twelve songs, emotions taking a roller-coaster ride, the Indians stagger out of the stuffy, sweaty cinemas and are greeted by the blazing and scorching Indian sun, slums, streets spilling with haggard, emaciated humanity, pocket-thieves, real-life goondas, cheating businessmen, money-lenders, snake-girl-destitute-charmers, thugs in white collars and the big question: what shall I and my family eat tonight? Roti, kapada, makan, that is, bread, clothes and a posh house are like a dream to most Indians dwelling in the pavements of Mumbai, or for that matter in Delhi, Bangalore, Mangalore, Mysore, Calcutta (Read Günter Grass’s Zunge Zeigen) and other Indian cities, where they burn rubbish for warmth.
The stomach groans with a sad melody in the loneliness and darkness of a metropolis like Mumbai, a city that never sleeps. As Adiga says, ‘an India of Light, and an India of Darkness in which the black, polluted river Mother Ganga flows.’
Ach, munjo Mumbai! The terrible monsoon, the jam-packed city, Koliwada, Sion, Bandra, Marine Drive, Juhu Beach. I can visualise them all, like I was there. I spent almost every winter during the holidays visiting my uncles, aunts and cousins, the jet-set Shroffs of Bombay. I’m glad that there are people like Aravind Adiga, Salman Rushdie, Arundhati Roy and Kiran Desai who speak for the millions of under-privileged, downtrodden people and give them a voice through literature. Aravind deserves the Man Booker Prize like no other, because the novel is extraordinary. It doesn’t have the intellectual poise of VS Naipaul or Rushdie’s masala language. It has it’s own Mumbai matter-of-fact speech, a melange of Oxford and NY. And what we get to hear when we take the crowded trains from the suburbs of this vast metropolis, with its mixture of Marathi, Gujerati, Sindhi and scores of other Indian languages is also what Balram is talking about. Adiga was bold enough to present the Other India than what film moghuls and other so-called intellectuals would have us believe.
Balram’s is a strong political voice and mirrors the Indian society which wants to present Bharat in superlatives: superpower, affluent society and mainstream culture, whereas in reality there’s tremendous darkness in the society of the subcontinent. Even though Adiga has lived a life of affluence, studied at Columbia and Oxford universities, he has raised his voice in his book against the nepotism, corruption, in-fighting between communal groups, between the rich and the super-rich, a dynamic process in which the poor, dalits, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s Children of God (untouchables), ‘scheduled’ castes and tribes have no outlet, and are to this day mere pawns at the hands of the rich in Hindustan, as India was called before the Brits came to colonise the sub-continent.
Balram, Adiga’s protagonist, shows how to assert oneself in the Indian society, come what may. I hope this book won’t create monsters without character, integrity, ethos, and soulless humans, devoid of values and norms. From what sources are the characters drawn? The story is in the form of a letter written by the protagonist to the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and is drawn from India’s history as told by a school drop-out, chauffeur, entrepreneur, a self-made man with all his charms and flaws, a man who knows his own India, and who presents his views frankly and candidly, sometimes much like P.G. Wodehouse’s Bertie Wooster. The author’s attitude toward his characters is comical and satirical when it comes to realities of life for India’s poverty stricken underdogs, whether in the form of a rickshaw puller, tea-shop boy or the driver of a rich Indian businessman. His characters are alive and kicking, and it is a delight to go with Balram in this thrilling ride through India’s history, Bangalore, Old and New Delhi, Mumbai and its denizens. The major theme is how to get along in a sprawling country like India, and the author reveals his murderous plan brilliantly through a series of police descriptions of a man named Balram Halwai.
The theme is a beaten path, traditional and familiar, for this is not the first book on Mumbai and Indian society. Other stalwarts like Kuldip Singh, Salman Rushdie, Amitabh Ghosh, VS Naipaul, Anita and Kiran Desai and a host of writers from the Raj have walked along this path, each penning their respective Zeitgeist. In this case, the theme is social, entertaining, escapist in nature, and the reader is like a voyeur in the scenarios created by Balaram. The climax is when the Chinese leader actually comes to Bangalore. So much for Hindi-Chini Bhai-Bhai. Unlike Kiran Desai (The Inheritance of Loss) Adiga says, “Based on my experience, Indian girls are the best. (Well second best. I tell you, Mr Jiaobao, it’s one of the most thrilling sights you can have as a man in Bangalore, to see the eyes of a pair of Nepali girls flashing out at you from the dark hood of an autorickshaw (sic).
As to the intellectual qualities of the writing, I loved the simplicity and clarity that Adiga has chosen for his novel. He intersperses his text with a lot of dialogue with his characters and increases the readability score, and is dripping with satire and humour, even while describing an earnest emotional matter like the cremation of Balram’s mother, whereby the humour is entirely British — -with Indian undertones. The setting is cleverly constructed. In order to have pace and action in the story Adiga sends Balram to the streets of Bangalore as a chauffeur, and suddenly you’re in the middle of a conversation and narration where a wily driver Balram tunes in. He’s learning, ever learning from the smart guys in the back seat, and in the end he’s the smartest guy in Bangalore, evoking an atmosphere of struggle for survival in the jungles of concrete in India. Indeed, blazingly savage, this book. A good buy this autumn.
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About the Author: Satis Shroff Heimatmedaille 2018, Neruda Award 2017, DAAD Prize. Writes, lectures & sings.
Lesen Sie „Through Nepalese Eyes“ von Satis Shroff erhältlich bei Rakuten Kobo. ‘Through Nepalese Eyes’ is about the journey of a young Nepalese woman to …
Im Schatten des Himalaya (book of poems in German), Through Nepalese Eyes (travelgue), Katmandu, Katmandu (poetry and prose anthology by Nepalese authors, edited by Satis Shroff). His lyrical works have been published in literary poetry sites: Slow Trains, International Zeitschrift, World Poetry Society (WPS), New Writing North, Muses Review, The Megaphone, The Megaphone, Pen Himalaya, Interpoetry. Satis Shroff is a member of “Writers of Peace”, poets, essayists, novelists (PEN), World Poetry Society (WPS) and The Asian Writer.
Satis Shroff is a poet and writer based in Freiburg (poems, fiction, non-fiction) who also writes on ecological, ethno-medical, culture-ethnological themes. He has studied Zoology and Botany in Nepal, Medicine and Social Sciences in Germany and Creative Writing in Freiburg and the United Kingdom. He describes himself as a mediator between western and eastern cultures and sees his future as a writer and poet. Since literature is one of the most important means of cross-cultural learning, he is dedicated to promoting and creating awareness for Creative Writing and transcultural togetherness in his writings, and in preserving an attitude of Miteinander in this world. He lectures in Basle (Switzerland) and in Germany at the Akademie für medizinische Berufe (University Klinikum Freiburg) and the Zentrum für Schlüsselqualifikationen (University of Freiburg). Satis Shroff was awarded the German Academic Exchange Prize.
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Review by Satis Shroff, Germany: Getting Along in Life in Tricky Kathmandu
Bhatt, Krishna: City Women and the Ghost Writer, Olympia Publishers, London 2008, 191 pages, EUR 7,99 (ISBN 9781905513444)
Krishna Bhatt, the author, a person who was ‘educated to get a graduate degree in Biology and Chemistry,’came to Kathmandu in 1996 and has seen profound political changes. In this book he seeks to find an ‘explanation for what is happening.’ Life, it seems, to him, is tricky, while political violence has been shocking him episodically. That’s the gist of it: twenty-one short episodes that are revealed to the reader by an author, who’s trademark is honesty, clarity and simplicity — -without delving too deep into the subject for the sake of straight narration. What emerges is a melange of tales about life, religion, Nepalese and Indian society packed with humour. A delightful read, a work of fiction and you can jump right into the stories anywhere you like.
Additionally, Bhatt has published ‘Humour and Last Laugh’ in October 2004, a collection of satirical articles published in newspapers in Kathmandu, which is available only in Kathmandu’s bookstores. The author emphasises that he has always written in English and adds, “Reading led me to writing.” He found his London publisher through the internet. Lol!
Did you know that people who are married wear an ‘air of sacrificial glory’ about them in Nepal? The other themes are keeping mistresses in Kathmandu, sending children abroad for education, the woes of psychotherapists in Nepal (no clients). I’ll leave it to you to find out why. Nepal is rich in glaciers and the water ought to be harnessed to produce drinking water and electricity, but in Kathmandu, as in many parts of the republic, there’s a terribly scarcity of water among the poor and wanton wastage among the Gharania — -upper class dwellers of Kathmandu. The Kathmanduites fight not only against water scarcity but also a losing battle against ants and roaches. The author explains the many uses of the common condom, especially a sterilised male who uses his vasectomy for the purpose of seduction. However, his tale about the death of his father in “The Harsh Priest and Mourning” remains a poignant and excellent piece of writing, and I could feel with him. It not only describes the Hindu traditions on death and dying but also the emotions experienced by the author.
Like the Oxford educated Pico Ayer who has the ability to describe every ‘shimmy’ that he comes by when he travels, Bhatt too says that Thamel District is all ‘discotheques and massage parlours’ in the story ‘A Meeting of Cultures,’ in which the author meets two former East Germans and one of them thinks ‘people in Germany are lazy.’ Did she mean the Ossies or the Wessies? If that doesn’t get you, I’m sure the many uses of English and vernacular newspapers will certainly do. What’s even amusing is a ritual marriage ceremony of frogs to appease the rain gods. It might be mentioned that in Kathmandu Indra is the God of Rain, the God of the firmament and the personified atmosphere. In the Vedas he stands in the first Rank among the Gods. When you come to think of it, we Hindus are eternally trying to appease the Gods with our daily rituals, special pujas and homs around the sacred Agni (Ignis). Agni is one of the chief deities of the Vedas, and a great number of Sanskrit hymns are addressed to him.
Alice Grünfelder hat Sinologie und Germanistik studiert, lebte zwei Jahre in China und arbeitet gegenwärtig als freie Lektorin und Literaturvermittlerin in Berlin. Dieses Buch ist vergleichbar mit einem Strauss zusammengestellter Blumen aus dem Himalaya, die die Herausgeberin gepflückt hat. Es handelt von den Menschen und deren Problemen im 450 km langen Himalaya Gebirge. Das Buch orientiert sich, an englischen Übersetzungen von der Literatur aus dem Himalaya.
Nepal ist literarisch gut vertreten mit dem Anthropologen Dor Bahadur Bista, dem Bergsteiger Tenzing Norgay, die in Kathmandu lebenden Journalisten Kanak Dixit and Deepak Thapa, dem Fremdenführer Shankar Lamichane, dem Dichter Pallav Ranjan und dem Entwicklungsspezialisten Harka Gurung. Manche Geschichten sind nicht neu für Nepal-Kenner, aber das Buch ist für Leser, die in Deutschland, Österreich, Südtirol und die Schweiz leben, bestimmt. Außer sieben Nepali Autoren gibt es Geschichten von sieben indischen, drei tibetischen, zwei chinesischen und zwei bhutanesischen Autoren.
Bhatt uses life and the people around him, and in the media, as his characters and his attitude towards his characters is of a reconciling nature. The characters work sometimes flat for he doesn’t develop them, but the stories he tells are about people you and I could possibly know, and seem very familiar. Most of the stories are short and quick, good reads in this epoch of computers, laptops,DVDs, SMS, MMS, which is convenient for people with not much time at their disposal. Other themes are: writing, the muse, fellow writers (without naming names, except in the case of V.S. Naipaul), east meet west, abortion, art and pornography, colleagues and former HMG administrators. His opinions are always honest and entertaining in intent, and his tales have more narration than dialogues. Krishna Bhatt is a welcome scribe in the ranks of Kunda Dixit, Samrat Upadhya, Manjushri Thapa and is another new voice from the Himalayas who will make his presence felt in the world of fiction writing. His ‘Irreconcilable Death’ is thought-provoking, a writer who wants to change morality and fails to reconcile with death, like many writers before him. Writers may come and go, but Bhatt wants to leave his impression in his own way and time. Time will certainly tell. I wish him well. —————————-
Review German version by Satis Shroff Rezension: Grünfelder, Alice (Hrsg.), Himalaya: Menschen und Mythen, Zürich Unionsverlag 2002, 314 S., EUR 19, 80 (ISBN 3–293–00298–6).
Die Themen des Buches sind: Die Vorteile und Nachteile der Verwestlichung in Nepal, da Nepal erst 1950 für den Fremden sozusagen geöffnet wurde. Kanak Dixit erzählt dies deutlich in „Welchen Himalaya hätten Sie gern?“. In einer anderen liebenswerten Gesichte erzählt er über die Reise von einem Nepali Frosch namens Bhaktaprasad. K.C. Bhanja, ein umweltbewußter Bergsteiger, erzählt über das empfindliche Erbe — die Himalaya und deren spirituelle Bedeutung. Die „Himalaya-Ballade“ von der chinesischen Autorin Ma Yuan, „Die ewigen Berge“ von dem Han-Chinesen Jin Zhiguo, und der indischer Bergsteiger H. P. S. Ahluwalia in „Höher als Everest“, schließlich Swami Pranavanadas in seinem „Pilgerreise zum Kailash und der See Manasovar“ haben alle die Berge aus verschiedenen Sichten thematisiert. Tenzing Norgay, der erste Nepali, der auf dem Gipfel von Mt. Everest mit dem Neuseeländer Edmund Hillary bestiegen war, erzählt, dass er „ein glücklicher Mensch“ sei. Der Nepali Journalist Deepak Thapa beschreibt den berühmten Sherpa Bergsteiger Ang Rita als einen sozialen Aufsteiger.
Während wir in einer Geschichte von Kunzang Choden (Auf den Spuren des Migoi) erfahren, dass die Bhutanesen, als ein buddhistisches Volk, nicht einmal einen Tier Leid zufügen können, erzählt uns Kanak Dixit von 100 000 Lhotshampas (nepalstämmige Einwohner), die von der bhutanesischen Regierung vertrieben worden sind und jetzt in Flüchtlingslagern in Jhapa leben.
James Hilton hat das Wort Shangri-La für eine Geschichte, in Umlauf gebracht die sich in Tibet abspielte. Genauso ist mit dem Ausdruck „Das Dach der Welt“ die tibetische Plateau gemeint und nicht Nepal oder Bhutan. Die bewegende Geschichte, die der Kunsthändler Shanker Lamechane erzählt, handelt von einem gelähmten Jungen. Sein Karma wird in Dialogform zwischen ein Nepali Reiseleiter und einem überschwenglichen Tourist erzählt. Das hilflose Kind bringt uns dazu, über die Freude in Alltag nachzudenken, was wir meistens nicht tun können, weil wir mit dem Alltag so beschäftigt sind. Während Harka Gurung „Fakten und Fiktionen über den Schneemensch“ zusammenstellt, schildert uns Kunzang Choden, eine Psychologin aus Bhutan, über „Yaks, Yakhirten und der Yeti“. Wir erfahren von einem alten Yakhirt namens Mimi Khandola, wie das freundliche Wesen Migoi, gennant Yeti, von einem Rudel Wildhunden erlegt wurde. In „Nicht einmal ein Leichnam zum Einäschern“ lernen wir von dem tragischen Schicksal eines Mädchens namens Pem Doikar, die von einem Migoi entführt wurde.
Diese Anthologie versucht nicht die Himalaya Literatur als ganzes zu repräsentieren, aber betont bestimmte Themen, die im Alltagsleben der Bergbewohner auftauchen. Die Welt, die die Dichter und Schriftsteller aus dem Himalaya beschreiben und kreieren, ist ganz anders im Vergleich zur westlichen Literatur über die Himalaya Bewohner. Es ist wahr, dass der Trekking-Tourismus, moderne Technologie, die Entwicklungshilfeindustrie, die NGOs, Aids und Globalisation die Himalayas erreicht haben, aber die Gebiete die vom Tourismus unberührt sind, sind immer noch ursprünglich, gebunden an Traditionen, Kultur und Religion.
Auf der Frankfurter Buchmesse gibt es kaum Bücher die von Schriftstellern und Dichtern aus dem Himalaya stammen. Es sind immer die reisenden Touristen, Geologen, Geographen, Biologen, Bergsteiger und Ethnologen, die über Nepal, Tibet, Zanskar, Mustang, Bhutan, Sikkim, Ladakh und seine Leute, Religion, Kultur und Umwelt schreiben. Die Bewohner des Himalaya sind immer Statisten im eigenen Land gewesen in den Szenarios, die im Himalaya inszeniert worden sind, und die in New York, Paris, München and Sydney veröffentlicht werden. Sie werden durch westliche Augen beschrieben.
Dennoch gab es Generationen von denkenden und schreibenden Nepalis, Inder, Bhutanesen und Tibeter, die Hunderte von Schriftstücken, Zeitschriften und Bücher geschrieben und veröffentlicht haben, in ihren eigenen Sprachen. Allein in Patans Madan Puraskar Bibliothek, die Kamal Mani Dixit, Patan’s Man of Letters, beschreibt als „der Tempel der Nepali Sprache,“ gibt es 15,000 Nepali Bücher und 3500 verschiedene Zeitschriften wovon die westliche Welt noch nie gehört oder gelesen hat.
Der englische Professor Michael Hutt machte einen Anfang. Er übersetzte zeitgenössische Nepali Prosa und Gedichte in „Himalayan Voices“ und „Modern Nepali Literature“. Die erste Fremdsprache wird weiterhin Englisch bleiben, weil die East India Company dort zuerst ankam.
Dieses Buch von Alice Grünfelder erzeugt Sympathie und Verständnis für die nepali, indische, bhutanesische, tibetische, chinesische Psyche, Kultur, Religion. Es beschreibt die Lebensbedingungen und menschlichen Probleme in den dörflichen und städtischen Himalayagebieten und ist eine willkommene Ergänzung zu der langsam wachsenden Sammlung von literarische Übersetzungen aus dem Himalaya, die von den einheimischen Autoren geschrieben worden sind. Ich wünsche Frau Grünfelder Erfolg in Ihre Aufgabe als Vermittlerin zwischen den literarischen Welten von Asien und Europa. ———————————————-
English Version by: satisshroff, freiburg Book-review: Grünfelder, Alice (Editor), Himalaya: Menschen und Mythen, Zürich Unionsverlag 2002, 314 pages, EURO 19, 80 (ISBN 3–293–00298–6).
Alice Grünfelder has studied Sinology and German literature, lived two years in China and works in the publishing branch in Berlin. This book is comparable to a bouquet of the choicest Himalayan flowers picked by the editor and deals with the trials and tribulations of a cross-section of the people in the 450 km long Abode of the Snows — Himalayas. The book orients, as expected, on the English translations of Himalayan literature. The chances of having Nepali literature translated into foreign languages depends upon the Nepalis themselves, because foreigners mostly loath to learn Nepali. If a translation is published in English the success of the book is used as a yardstick to decide whether it is going to be profitable to bring it out in European or in other languages.
Nepal is conspicuous with contributions by the anthropologist Dor Bahadur Bista, the climber Tenzing Norgay, the Kathmandu-based journalists Kanak Dixit and Deepak Thapa, the tourist-guide Shankar Lamichane, the poet Pallav Ranjan and the development-specialist Harka Gurung. For regular readers of Himal Asia, The Rising Nepal and GEO some of these stories are perhaps not new but this book is aimed at the German speaking readers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. In addition to the seven Nepali authors, there are also stories by seven Indian, three Tibetan, two Chinese authors and two Bhutanese authors.
Some of the themes that have been dealt with in this collection are: the pros and cons of westernisation as told by Kanak Dixit in “Which Himalaya would you like?” and an endearing story of a journey through Nepal as a Nepali frog named Bhaktaprasad. K.C. Bhanja, the ecology-conscious climber writes about the spiritual meaning of our fragile heritage — the Himalayas. “The Himalayan Ballads” by the Chinese author Ma Yuan, “The Eternal Mountains” by the Han-Chinese Jin Zhiguo, the Indian climber H. P. S. Ahluwalia in “Higher than Everest” und Swami Pranavanadas in his Pilgrim journey to Kailash and the Manasovar Lake” have presented the mountains from different perspectives. Tenzing Norgay, the first Nepali who reached the top of Mount Everest with Edmund Hillary, says that he was a happy person.
The Nepali journalist Deepak Thapa portrays the famous Sherpa climber Ang Rita as a social “Upwardly Mobile” person. Whereas in Kunzang Choden’s story (In the Tracks of the Migoi) we learn that the Bhutanese, as a Buddhist folk, are not capable of harming even a small animal, in another story Kanak Dixit tells us about the 100 000 Lhotshampas (Bhutanese citizens of Nepali origin) who were thrown out by the Bhutanese government and live in refugee-camps in Jhapa. The curio art-trader Shanker Lamichane’s “The Half Closed Eyes of the Buddha and the Slowly Setting Sun” is a poignant tale of a paralysed boy’s karma, related as a dialogue between a Nepali guide and a tourist. The helpless child makes us think in his mute way about the joys in everyday life that we don’t see and feel, because the world is too much with us. Whereas Harka Gurung has gathered facts and fiction“ and tells us about the different aspects of the Snowman, another author who is a psychologist from Bhutan, tells us about yaks, yak-keepers and the Yeti and we come to know through an old yak-keeper named Mimi Khandola, how the friendly creature called the Migoi, alias Yeti, gets chased and killed by a group of wild-dogs. In “Not Even a Corpse to Cremate” we learn about the traumatic shock and tragic fate of a girl named Pem Doikar, who was kidnapped by a Migoi.
This anthology does not profess to represent Himalayan literature as a whole, but lays emphasis on the people and myths centred around the Himalayas. For instance, the Nepali world that the poets and writers describe and create is a different one, compared to the western one. It is true that trekking-tourism, modern technology, the aid-industry, NGOs, aids and globalisation have reached Nepal, Bhutan, India, but the areas not frequented by the trekking and climbing tourists still remain rural, tradition-bound and untouched by modernity.
There are hardly any books written by writers from the Himalayas at the Frankfurter Book Fair. It’s always the travelling tourist, geologist, geographer, biologist, climber and ethnologist who writes about Nepal, Tibet, Zanskar, Mustang, Bhutan, Sikkim, Ladakh and its people, culture, religion, environment, flora and fauna. The Himalayan people have always been statists in the visit-the-Himalaya-scenarios published in New York, Paris, Munich and Sydney and they are described through western eyes.
But there have been generations of thinking and writing Nepalis, Indians, Bhutanese and Tibetans who have written and published hundreds of books and magazines in their own languages. In Patan’s Madan Puraskar Library alone, which Mr. Kamal Mani Dixit, Patan’s Man of Letters, describes as the “Temple of Nepali language”, there are 15,000 Nepali books and 3500 different magazines and periodicals about which the western world hasn’t heard or read. A start was made by Michael Hutt of the School of Oriental Studies London, in his English translation of contemporary Nepali prose and verse in Himalayan Voices and Modern Nepali Literature. It took him eight years to write his book and he took the trouble to meet most of the Nepali authors in Nepal and Darjeeling. The readers in the western world will know more about Himalayan literature as more and more original literary works are translated from Nepali, Tibetan, Hindi, Bhutanese, Lepcha, Bengali into English, German, French and other languages of the EU. The first foreign language, however, will remain English because the East India Company got there first.
This book compiled by Alice Grünfelder creates sympathy and understanding for the Nepali, Indian, Bhutanese, Tibetan, Chinese psyche, culture, religion, living conditions and human problems in the urban and rural Himalayan environment, and is a welcome addition to the slowly growing translated collection of Himalayan literature penned by writers living in the Himalayas. I wish her well in her function as a mediator between the literary worlds of Asia and Europe.