FREIBURG 1945 (Satis Shroff)

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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.

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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.

Tagsüber suchten die Leute nach Nahrung.

Die rückkehrenden und verletzten Soldaten

Verursachten die Nahrungsknappheit.

Sie erinnerte sich, daß sie Nachts

Felder durchsuchte um Kartoffeln zu stehlen.

Damals verwalteten die Franzosen die Stadt.

Als die Soldaten vorbei marschieren,

schlägt Gabriela’s Herz wieder normal.

Sie hört auf zu hyperventilieren

Und schafft es auf die andere Straßenseite.

‘Huch!’ nuschelt Gabriela:

‘Ich bin mal wieder am Tagträumen.’

Operation Tigerfish - Wikipedia

Book Review By Satis Shroff:

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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.

Literary Festivals, Prizes and Publications: Satis Shroff

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Global Poets & Writers Create Festivals and Publications
by Satis Shroff
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.

Dankeschön, thank you, merci, grazie, gracias, dhanyavad.
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Prosepoem: SONGS OF LOVE & SORROW (Satis Shroff)

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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:

‘Namaste! That’s nice. Noble thoughts. It works for you here, perhaps. But it won’t work for me,’ Feeling a sense of remorse and nausea sweep over me.
© satisshroff, germany 3/3/2010

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Comments:
thelma zaracostas (australia): Hi Satis! Strong discriptive writing Satis, great poem.Nice to see you here at voices, once again great poem hope you stay awhile!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7EcVBmaIkic

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SCHWARZWALD POEMS: SATIS SHROFF

ALPINE GRATITUDE (Satis Shroff)

 The hamlets are scattered,Tucked away in the side valleys and spursOf the Black Forest,Which was once dark and foreboding.A forest that once conjoured myths, legendsAnd fairy tales. Under the hay and homesteads,You find men and mice,Good natured maids and children,Healthy and happy cows, goats,Sheep and swines.The Schwarzwald farmers paid low taxes,For Nature punished them enough.They couldn’t get rich on the craggy soil,The high elevation and the long, raw winter. Yet the Black Forest forced the soil,To yield millet in Summer,Wheat and barley,Buried beneath a thick mantle of snow. Ah, it’s already past the month of October,The young calves are in the stalls,After a colourful, traditional walkFrom the higher alpine meadows.There’s corn in the chamber,Feed for the animals in the barns. Around Freiburg the apple trees,Are laden heavily with apples.Your nostrils smell apple mixed with cinnamon and sugar:Applekompott, apple moos, apple pancakes and pies. * * *

THE HARVEST FESTIVAL (Satis Shroff) Erntedank is the harvest festival,The German Thanksgiving,Celebrated on the first Sunday of October.The richness of Nature is depictedBy bread, fruits and flowers.

 
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 The ladies wear lovely silk costumes,Displaying their exquisite stiching and sewing creations:Jewellery, pompom hats and headgear with pearls,Expressing their gratitudeTo the church, God and Mother Nature.The Alemannic bread of Kaiserstuhl is legendary,A procession of bakers and vereineEnds the Alemannic Bread Market in Endingen.Neighbouring France is known for cheese,Germany excels with 300 sorts of bread. It’s such a delight to watch the calves and cows,Mooing with their big collar bells,Moving languidly down to the Erlenbacher meadows,Over the golden, russet, brown fallen and withered leaves,Lain by the wind like a rich carpet.Around the Goldberg Hall and the cloister,The alpine air is filled with cow bells,The clash of beer glass and oompa musicOf the red-cheeked village musicians. A homeland that has grownWithe the centuries,Thanks to the word of farmers,Beautiful undulating landscapes,Shaped by dextrous human hands,From Erlenbach upto Feldberg.

 
(Hues of yellow, pale and dark green and russet leaves on the boughs (c)satisshroff)

 Fresh air and lush green grass in the summer months,Followed by stacks of hay and tangled hedges in autumn and winter.In the vale below,The local Ganter brewery opensA keg of beer in the Goldenberg Hall,The Old Timer Bulldog parade begins,Followed by music of the brass band from Oberried.The visitors relish the Badische cuisine:Schweinebrated, würst, schnitzel, spätzle and salad,And round it up with self-baked Schwarzwäldertorte,Cheese cakes and wash it down with warm coffee. The country women and farmersShow and sell their creative wares,Mr. Müller gathers alms for the church and cloister.In the priest’s hall there’s a Kasperle theatre,A puppet show staged by the Kindergarden of Oberried.Frau Julia Lauby delivers a speechOn the assets and different races of the Black Forest cattle.The birch trees have golden leaves on their boughs.In the evening you sit,Swinging with your neighboursIn an Alemannic Schoof.The Goldberg Hall moves to and fro,To the sound of ‘Schwarzwald Sound.’ I take a swig of the brew,And head for Kappel in the Dreisam Valley below,Before the mirth and fun grow fast and furious,As Robert Burns adminishedIn Tam o’ Shanter. * * * 

 
The Alemmanic cows grazing in Kirchzarten, below Gierberg, a wonderful place to have coffe & cakes and enjoy the Schwarzwald scenery (c)satisshroff.

Schwarzwaldlyrik: Silence of the Morning (Satis Shroff) The silence of the morningIs broken gently by the friendlyTweets and chirps of birdsHidden among the Schwarzwald foliage. An amsel lands on a branchAnd listens.A bumble bee dances by. And out in the distance,The blue Black Forest hills,Studded with myriadsOf pine trees.Lush green meadows,Where the snows layOnly a week ago. I sit here on a ridge,Overlooking my house,The red baked rooftopsOf my German neighbours,And watch a MäusebussardFlying languidly with keen eyes,Swoop down to grab a mouseIn Meier’s meadow. The three rotors of the windmillsAre moving in the distant hills.And below the bustle of Ebnet,A picturesque townAcross the river Dreisam. Glossary: Amsel: blackbirdMäusebussard: buzzard that eats field mice.* * * *TOAD CROSSING (Satis Shroff) On my way to the men’s choir meeting,Along the airy hill of Grosstal,Past warbling brooks,Past the wooden Black Forest houses,I came across a toad crossing. Even children were there,Giving a helping hand,As they gathered the toads,In their plastic buckets,To help them to the other sideOf the Schwarzwald path. The toads creaked uneasily,The crickets made their presence felt,Night was falling.Schattered in the inverted bowl,We call the sky,There were glittering stars,Of an everlasting universe. * * * *  TICKLING TONGUES (Satis Shroff) Singers have to be friends,Are the lyrics of an olde song.Raise your glasses,Be merry and rejoice. Tickle your tonguesWith Bacchus,Beer and badische wine,And your larynx: Erhebet das Glas,Gold’ne funken,der Wein.Sänger,Sänger müssen Freunde sein!* * * *

 
(Aquarelle (c)satisshroff)

GAIETY AND INNOCENCE (Satis Shroff) The moment he entered the bedroomAnd saw them entangled in embrace,The gaiety and innocenceOf a relationship,That had undergone hardships,Was gone. The kisses had become cold,And died out.They partedNever to meet again,As a pair. What followed was a kriegOf the roses.Wounded heartsThat couldn’t be restored.Insults, tirades,And accusations,Instead of smiles and kisses.

 
A chapel in Oberried (c)satisshroff

 In court,Out of court,On the phone, sms, what’s app,Even twitter. You ask: ‘What’s up?How did the kids take it?’They took sides.Never wanting to see her,The Mom in who’s wombThey grew,In her amniotic ocean,Till they could breathe air. And now they despiseHer very breath,Behind their necks.Gone are the fond kisses and hugs.Wounds that run deep with disdain. Forgive and forget,Nein, never, nie!And so goes the conflict,Till a silly court decision is made,By a judge,Who cares a damnAbout yin and yang.Gone is the gaiety and innocence,Loss and pain,Is what remains. * * * *  

Shortstory: Two Worlds (Satis Shroff)

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TWO WORLDS (Satis Shroff)

I look at the Himalayas and feel peace and joy sweeping over me. I don’t see the valleys, spurs, tarns we learn about at school. I see the eternal snows as the home of Gods and Goddesses: Shiva, Parvati, Meru, Kailash, Annapurna and Sagarmatha.

At home I lived in a Hindu world in a house that is actually a two-storied bungalow. At school I inhabited a western-oriented, Catholic world.

My Mom said that the Ganges river, also known as Ganga, was brought from Heaven by the sage Bhagirath. Ganga was received by Shiva on his head, and from her mouth flows the water to the earth, down the Ganges delta.

But my Irish teacher said the Ganges has its origin in a Himalayan glacier. One was mythology, I was told, and the other was Geography and I had to learn to keep the two apart. Growing up was learning to live in two worlds, two cultures, two languages, norms and values, and sometimes I was muddled up in my thoughts.

Why was I scared when I saw crows and mynahs?

My Mom says: ‘When a crow comes to your house it brings you bad news. The crow is never dies.

– Why, Mom?

– Because it has drunk amrit, the elixir of life.

– Mom, why does Dhaney spit thrice when he waters the lawn?

– To drive away unknown spirits that lurk around. There are boksas and boksis behind nooks and crannies. So one has to be careful.

Oh, dear. Is that the reason I’m so careful whenever I meet people or encounter Nature?

My Nepali soul is so sensitive. I’m so loyal to my near and dear ones, even to people who have eaten my salt and those who’s salt I have eaten.

Mom taught me to do Vedic rituals and I loved how she washed the bronze statues of the Gods and Goddesses, dried them, put scarlet clothes on them. She’d make a paste of sandle-wood, sitting cross-legged in her small temple.

 I’d sit near her on a pillow, with folded hands. She’d recite verses from the Vedas and I’d repeat them. I didn’t understand much then because they were in Sanskrit. But it was a serene, sincere prayer, a monologue with the revered ones. She’d light oil lamps and perform an aarati, beckon and revere the deities and give them offerings of flowers, sweet-meat, incense sticks and nuts. Then she’d blow a conch, ring the bell in prayer and beat the hand-drum by shaking it rhythmically.

At school we were obliged to listen to Catechism.

* * *

“You Uncle Krishna’s coming to visit us tonight,” said Mom. Uncle Krishna was named after the hero of Bhagavad Gita, which is a celebrated episode of the Mahabharata. Krishna is the main speaker in the story and explains to Arjuna his philosophical story of the world.

Uncle Krishna was a salesman and he knew how to create suspense, and how to haggle with a customer in his own Newari way, after all his father was also a salesman.

Newars acquire business acumen in their mother’s wombs akin to the shrewd Marwaris, who come from Rajasthan in India. A big German tourist wanted to buy a lot of things from him at a wholesale price, but Krishna was adamant and insisted on selling the statues, thankas and other curio objects only as single items.

Uncle Krishna was like a magician, and one never knew what he’d pull out of his big traditional Nepali bag. One needed patience with him when he was in his element—-selling souvenirs.

At a point when the German thought he’d bought off the last item from Krishna’s bag, he would reach down into his bag and pull out another valuable looking object, a Budddha statue, a Manjushri statue with the sword with which he cut a gorge, so that the water of the lake, which was then Kathmandu Valley, could flow out, leaving behind a fertile basin, which we know today as Kathmandu Valley with its three former kingdoms: Kathmandu, Bhadgaon and Lalitpur.

Krishna was very pleased with himself that day, for he’d done a good business with the German businessman, who was so impressed by the items he’d bought that he asked as a repartee, “Does he have more of such things in his apartment?”

But Krishna, the namesake of the most celebrated hero of Hindu mythology, said:

Das nächste mal! Another time and joined his hands in farewell and reverence.

* * *

Uncle Krishna, this soft-spoken and gentle Newar, came that evening. He wore European clothes as most males do in Catmandu, and a Nepali cap. He greeted my parents, my siblings and me heartily by touching our heads and blessing us. You don’t shake hands in Nepal. You just join your hands and says: ‘Namaste’ which mean ‘I greet the Godliness in you.’

The house had a wonderful view of Patan’s skyline, with hundreds of erratically built houses and motley styles—and to the right the green foliage of the Nagarjun Forest.

The sun was setting in the Mahabharat mountains in the distance and the monsoon clouds seemed to be gathering in the north, promising a torrential rain the next day.

– Kasto hunuhuncha? How are you? Are you doing well?

– Ramro cha hamro hal khabar, meaning thereby that we were all doing well.

He really seemed to be pleased to meet us. Like a sorcerer, he asked us to be seated and he made a slow movement and fished out two Pashmina shawl for my parents and put them around their heads.

My parents were overwhelmed and thanked him. This was warm, heartfelt Newari hospitality.

My Dad came to me and whispered in my ear:

– Want to bet? Krishna will want me to drive him home tonight.

– Isn’t there any bus or taxi later? I asked him naively.

– There are no buses and taxis later and he’s scared of the spirits that lurk in Kathmandu and Patan. He hates walking home. You must ask him. He’s really scared of ghosts.

At a good moment I asked Uncle Krishna:

– Are you afraid of ghosts and evil spirits in Catmandu?

Krishna looked at me unbelievingly, as though he was trying to say how could you ask such a silly question and said with an earnest face:

Apaii! Chaa ni hau, of course, there are evil spirits!

Himalayas: the Abode of the Gods and Goddesses #satisshroff

THE AGONY OF WAR (Satis Shroff)

Satis Shroff is based in Freiburg and is a poet, humanist, lecturer and artist. He writes poems, fiction, non-fiction, and also on ecological, ethno-medical, culture-ethnological themes. The German media describes him as a mediator between western and eastern cultures and he sees his future as a writer and poet. He received the Pablo Neruda Award 2017 for Poetry in Crispiano (Italy) and the Heimat Medaillie Baden-Württemberg 2018 (Germany) as well as the DAAD Prize.

The Agony of War1.jpg

Once upon a time there was a seventeen year old boy
Who lived in the Polish city of Danzig.
He was ordered to join the Waffen-SS,
Hitler’s elite division.
Oh, what an honor for a seventeen year old,
Almost a privilege to join the Waffen-SS.
The boy said, ‘Wir wurden von fr’h bis sp’t
Geschliffen und sollten
Zur Sau gemacht werden.’

A Russian grenade shrapnel brought his role
In the war to an abrupt end.
That was on April 20, 1945.
In the same evening,
He was brought to Meissen,
Where he came to know about his Vaterland’s defeat.
The war was lost long ago.
He realized how an ordinary soldier
Became helpless after being used as a tool in the war,
Following orders that didn’t demand heroism
In the brutal reality of war.

It was a streak of luck,
And his inability to ride a bicycle,
That saved his skin
At the Russian-held village of Niederlausitz.
His comrades rode the bicycle,
And he was obliged to give them fire-support
With a machine-gun.
His seven comrades and the officer
Were slain by the Russians.
The only survivor was a boy
Of seventeen.
He abandoned his light machine-gun,
And left the house of the bicycle-seller,
Through the backyard garden
With its creaky gate.

What were the chances in the days of the Third Reich
For a 17 year old boy named G’nter Grass
To understand the world?
The BBC was a feindliche radio,
And Goebbels’ propaganda machinery
Was in full swing.
There was no time to reflect in those days.
F’rcht und Elend im Dritten Reich,
Wrote Bertold Brecht later.
Why did he wait till he was almost eighty?
Why did he torment his soul all these years?
Why didn’t he tell the bitter truth,
About his tragi-comical role in the war
With the Waffen-SS?
He was a Hitlerjunge,
A young Nazi.
Faithful till the end.
A boy who was seduced by the Waffen-SS.
His excuse:
‘Ich habe mich verf’hren lassen.’

The reality of the war brought
Endless death and suffering.
He felt the fear in his bones,
His eyes were opened at last.

G’nter Grass is a figure,
You think you know well.
Yet he’s aloof
And you hardly know him,
This literary titan.
He breathes literature
And political engagement.
In his new book:
Beim H’uten der Zwiebeln
He confides he has lived from page to page,
And from book to book.

Is he a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?
Doctor Faustus and Mephistopheles,
In the same breast?
Grass belongs to us,
For he has spent the time with us.
It was his personal weakness
Not to tell earlier.
He’s a playwright, director and actor
Of his own creativeness,
And tells his own tale.
His characters Oskar and Mahlke weren’t holy Joes.
It was his way of indirectly showing
What went inside him.
Ach, his true confession took time.
It was like peeling an onion with tears,
One layer after the other.
Better late than never.

** * *

Freiburger Dozent, Dichter, Sänger und Künstler: Satis Shroff, Germany

BIOS: the Wonder of Life (Satis Shroff)

Aktuell – thomas rees – home
The Maria-like figure has a newly born baby in her hands, which grows out of a double-helix spiral. The headgear of the figures reminds one of a spiraling fossil: the ammonite. The ammonites are also found in the Himalayas because geologists think it was once a sea. The world’s highest mountains are made of calcium carbonate, a sedentary rock to be found in seas and oceans. This has been confirmed by scientific Himalayan expeditions.  The child is shown searching for contact with the mother and its face is turned away. Instead of the cradle there is a globe, an allegory for Mother Earth with her biosphere, in which all living satient beings, including Homo sapiens, can develop, depicting an environment for a diversity of individual lives.

Humans-Time-Earth-Living Environment Freiburg-Kappel (Satis Shroff)

 New sculptures along the theme path in Kappler Valley. This time Satis Shroff introduces you the double sculpture ‘Bios’ created by Thomas Rees, which shows the Wonder of Life, its creative dynamics and how wonderful it is to be living here.

BIOS: the Wonder of Life

Where does the word ‘bios’ come from, you might ask. It’s an artificial word that depicts a basic programme that is a prerequisite in a computer so that it can communicate, and so to say, come to life. Complex systems are made possible by bios.

On the other hand, the olde Greek word ßioc (bios) means life. All living beings have a basic life structure, namely the DNA, which is also a form of programming. A virus can overtake a host’s DNA and change the sequence through gene action and manipulation at the genetic level, as in the case of covid-19.

The Double Helix , discovered by Crick and Watson, is a spiral biological store-room with lots of information in the genes, that determine the structure and status of like. The word gene is also old Greek and means ‘to bring forth.’ It is also an acronym from the Basic Input-Output System.

Antibiotics are used against bacteria but they don’t kill the viruses. And vaccines against corona have still to be tested successfully and manufactured thereafter.

Life remains a mysterium, which has taken billions of years to develop, and is still developing. And through the climate change all animals show the ability to adapt to the new environment as they have done in the past. A good many questions crop up: Where is the origin? Was there an original programme, a fundamental principle of life? Could it be possible that there was a cosmic bios as a start information from which everything can or has developed? Are there analogues to human-made machines? How untouchable is the genetic code?

In 2018 it was reported from Beijing (China) that twins were born, in which during the embryonal stage a certain gene was removed. First it was a proposal to transplant a head to a new body. Then it was the world’s first cloned primates. Now it is genetically edited babies. Those recent scientific announcements, generating reactions that went from unease to shock, had one thing in common: all involved scientists from China. Research teams had prior to that discovered how they could manipulate the defence system of bacteria and enable changes to be made in the genetic code. The gene-scissors CRI SPR/CaS9 is a new tool which can be used to create the world of tomorrow: the genetic engineering will affect plants, animals, all organism—even humans.

In the meantime, the cutting of genomes has become a daily occurrence in many sectors. Through the use of these genetic manipulative tools, we humans, have the possibility to make fundamental changes in the structure of of life. Yes, we are playing God, by manipulating, making things optimal.

A silent revolution is going on in the research laboratories, and we are nearing the hope, but also have angst, and touch upon the basic questions of ethics and moral.

Is it ethical to manipulate genes? If the Chinese do it, so can the Koreans, Americans and Indians. The ethical, moral and religious borders are being tested and some have already crossed the line in the name of progress, science, research, development and promise of profit through this gene-business.

Now back to Thomas Rees’ wooden sculptures: the double figures comprise two gigantic fairytale figures and they could be Maria, Joseph and the child in the middle of the cradle even though they don’t. Whereas Joseph holds a double-helix formed spiral and is cutting it with a pair of garden scissors, the Maria-like figure has a newly born baby in her hands, which grows out of a double-helix spiral. The headgear of the figures reminds one of a spiraling fossil: the ammonite. The ammonites are also found in the Himalayas because geologists think it was once a sea. The world’s highest mountains are made of calcium carbonate, a sedentary rock to be found in seas and oceans. This has been confirmed by scientific Himalayan expeditions.  The child is shown searching for contact with the mother and its face is turned away. Instead of the cradle there is a globe, an allegory for Mother Earth with her biosphere, in which all living satient beings, including Homo sapiens, can develop, depicting an environment for a diversity of individual lives.

thomas rees – home – Skulpturen Installationen Projekte
Thomas Rees: the sculptor from Kappel

GLOBAL POETS & WRITERS (SATIS SHROFF)

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Global Poets & Writers Create Festivals and Publications by Satis Shroff

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).

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, Poet

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 travelers 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 Brit, 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 have 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 channeled 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 Isik of Kibatek,Turkey, Maria Miraglia and Saverio Sinopoli from the Neruda Association from Italy and India’s diverse websites that bring out certificates and anthologies of the best poems on their websites for participants and members. Then we have Singapore Writers under Hj Harisharis Hj Hamzah with a taste of Malay and Singaporean Poetry at international events.

Dankeschön, thank you, merci, grazie, gracias, dhanyavad.

ONLY EVEREST KNOWS: SATIS SHROFF

ATUNIS GALAXY ANTHOLOGY – 2021

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ANTHOLOGY OF CONTEMPORARY
WORLD POETRY
ATUNIS POETRY

Satis Shroff (Germany)

Satis Shroff is based in Freiburg (poems, fiction, non-fiction) and has studied Zoology and Botany in Nepal, Medicine and Social Sciences in Germany and Creative Writing in Freiburg and the United Kingdom.

The German media describes him 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 (togetherness) in this world. He lectures in Switzerland and in Germany.

(Courtesy: Photo by Sulav Loktam on Pexels.com)

ONLY EVEREST KNOWS (Satis Shroff)

The Sherpa trudges in the snow

Wheezes and struggles

And paves the way

With fix-ropes, ladders

Crampons, hooks and spikes

And says:”Follow me, Sir”.

Last season it was a Tiroler, a Tokyoter

And a gentleman from Vienna.

This time it’s a sahib from Bolognia.

Insured for heath and life

Armed with credits cards and pride

Storming the Himalayan summits

With the help of the Nepalis.

p.428

Hillary took Tenzing’s photo

Alas the times have changed.

For the sahib it’s pure vanity

For the sherpa it’s sheer existence.

By stormy weather and the trusty sherpa’s

Competence and toil the previous day,

The sahib takes a stealthy whiff of oxygen.

And thinks:

“After all, the Sherpa cannot communicate

He’s illiterate to the outside world”.

And so the sahib feigns sickness and descends

Only to make a solo ascent the next day,

Stoned with amphetamine.

And so the legend grows

Of the sahib on the summit

A photo goes around the world.

Sans Sherpa,

Sans Sauerstoff.

Was it by fair means?

Only Everest knows,

Only Sagarmatha knows.

Glossary:

Sauerstoff: German word for oxygen

Sagarmatha: Nepalese word for Mt.Everest, Chomolungma (Tib.)

sahib: European, Herrnmensch

Sherpa: a high-altitude porter and also a tribe-name

The Face Nearer to My Heart: Satis Shroff

The person Satis Shroff has various faces, of a singer, author, poet, medical lecturer, artist. Which face is near to you

The person Satis Shroff has various faces, of a singer, author, poet, medical lecturer, artist. Which face is near to your heart?

 I like writing which means sitting down and typing what you’ve thought about. Writing is a solitary performance but when I sing with my croonies of the MGV-Kappel it is sharing our joy and sadness and it’s a collective song that we produce and that makes our hearts beat higher during concerts.

When an idea moves me for days I have the craving to pen it. I get ideas when I’m ironing clothes and listening to Nepali songs or Bollywood ones. When I don’t have time, I make a poem out of it, for poetry is emotion recollected in tranquillity. When I prepare my medical lectures I’m transferring knowledge from my university past and bringing them together verbally, and I realise it’s great fun to attain topicality by connecting the medical themes with what’s topical thereby creating a bridge between the two. That makes a lecture interesting, which is like a performance, a recital in which you interact with the audience.

At school I was taught art by a lean, bearded Scottish teacher who loved to pain landscapes with water-colours. Whenever I travel during holidays, I keep an ArtJournal with my sketches and drawings, and try to capture the feelings, impressions of the place and people I meet, and it’s great fun to turn the pages years later and be reminded how it was then. I like doing all these things and they’re all near to my heart. 

2. What does literature mean to you ?

 Literature is translating emotions and facts from truth to fiction. It’s like a borderline syndrome; between sanity and insanity there’s fine dividing line. Similarly, non-fiction can be transformed into fiction. Virginia Woolf said, ‘There must be great freedom from reality.’ For Goethe, art was art because it was not nature. That’s what I like about fiction, this ability of transforming mundane things in life to jewels through the use of words. Rilke mentioned one ought to describe beauty with inner, quiet, humble righteousness. Approach nature and show what you see and experienced, loved and lost.

3. Normally a scientific mind and literary heart do not go together. How do you manage that? (since you were student of zoology, botany and medicine)

 At school I used to read P.G.Wodehouse (about how silly aristocrats are and how wise the butler Jeeves is) and Richard Gordon, a physician who gave up practicing Medicine and started writing funny books. For me Richard Gordon was a living example of someone who could connect literature with bio-medical sciences.

Desmond Morris, zoologist (The Naked Ape, The Human Zoo) was another example for me. He has also written a book about how modern soccer players do tribal dances on the football-field, with all those screaming spectators, when their team scores a goal. That’s ethnological rituals that are being carried out by European footballers. Since I went to a British school I was fed with EngLit and was acquainted with the works of English writers like Milton, Shakespeare, Dickens, Hardy, Walter Scott, RL Stevenson, Rudyard Kipling, HG Wells, Victor Hugo, Poe, Defoe, Hemingway, and poets like Burns, Keats, Yeats, Dante, Goldsmith.

Since we had Nepali in our curriculum it was delightful to read Bhanu Bhakta, Mainali, Shiva Kumar Rai and other Nepali authors. At home I used to pray and perform the pujas with my Mom, who was a great story teller and that was how I learned about the fantastic stories of Hindu mythology. At school we also did Roman and Greek mythology. My head was full of heroes. I was also an avid comicstrip reader and there were Classics Illustrated comic with English literature. I used to walk miles to swap comic-books in Nepal. It was mostly friends from the British Gurkhas who had access to such comics, gadgets, musical instruments they’d bought in Hong Kong, since it was a British enclave then. Science can be interesting and there is a genre which makes scientific literature very interesting for those who are curious and hungry for more knowledge.

In Kathmandu I worked as a journalist with an English newspaper The Rising Nepal. I enjoyed writing a Science Spot column. One day Navin Chandra Joshi, an Indian economist who was working for the Indian Cooperative Mission asked a senior editor and me: ‘Accha, can you please tell me who Satis Shroff is?’

Mana Ranjan gave a sheepish smile and said, ‘You’ve been talking with him all the time.’

The elderly Mr. Joshi was plainly surprised and said, ‘Judging from his writing, I thought he was a wise old man.’ I was 25 then and I turned red and was amused.

As I grew older, I discovered the works of Virginia Woolf, DH Lawrence, Aldous Huxley, Authur Miller, Henry Miller, Doris Lessing and James Joyce. The lecturers from the English Department and the Literary Supplements were all revering his works: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Ulysses, Finnegans Wake. His works appealed to be because I was also educated by the Christian Brothers of Ireland in the foothills of the Himalayas, with the same strictness and heavy hand. God is watching you..

Since my college friends left for Moscow University and Lumumba Friendship University after college, I started taking interest in Russian literature and borrowed books from the Soviet library and read: Tolstoi, Dostojewskije, Chekov and later even Solzinitzyn’s Archipel Gulag.

 I spent a lot of time in the well-stocked American Library in Katmandu’s New Road and read Henry Miller, Steinbeck, Faulkner, Thoreau, Whitman. My favourite American mags were: the National Geographic, the Scientific American and the Smithsonian. And I used to walk from Tahachal to The British Council Library to read the New Scientist and the Times Literary Supplement.

Favourite books and authors: Bhanu Bhakta Acharya’s ‘Ramayana,’ Devkota’s ‘Muna Madan,’ Guru Prasad Mainali’s ‘Machha-ko Mol,’ Shiva Kumar Rai’s ‘Dak Bungalow,’ Hemingway’s Fiesta, For Whom the Bells Toll, Günter Grass’ ‘Blechtrommel,’  ‘Zunge zeigen,’ Marcel Reich Ranicki’s ‘Mein Leben,’VS Naipaul’s ‘ A House for Mr. Biswas’ and ‘Half a Life.’ ‘Joseph Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness,’ James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses, Stephan Hero, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Goethe’s Faust I, Faust II’, Leo Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace,’ Rainer Maria Rilke’s ‘Briefe an einen jungen Dichter’ Goethe’s ‘Die Leiden des jungen Werther,’The Diaries of Franz Kafka’ Carl Gustav Jung’s ‘Memories, Dreams, Reflections,’ Patrick Süskind’s ‘Perfume,’ John Updike’s ‘The Witches of Eastwick,’ ‘Couples,’ Peter Matthiessen’s ‘The Snow Leopard,’ Mark Twain ‘A Tramp Abroad,’ John Steinbeck’s ‘The Pearl,’ Rushdie’s ‘Midnight Children,’ Jonathan Franzen’s ‘The Corrections,’ John Irving’s Last Night in Twisted River and Jhumpa Lahiri’s ‘The Lowland.’

Position of Nepali as world literature in terms of standard:

 Nepali literature has had a Cinderella or Aschenputtel-existence and it was only through Michael Hutt, who prefers to work closely with Nepalese authors and publishes with them under the aegis of SOAS, that literature from Nepal is trying to catch the attention of the world. We have to differentiate between Nepalese writing in the vernacular and those writing in English. Translating is a big job and at times the essence of a language gets lost in translation. What did the author mean when he or she said that? Can I translate it literally? Or do I have to translate it figuratively? If the author is near you, you can ask him or her what the meaning of a sentence, certain words or expression is. This isn’t the case always. So what you translate is your thought of what the writer or poet had said. I used to rollick with laughter when I read books by PG Wodehouse and Richard Gordon. I bought German editions and found the translations good. But the translated books didn’t bring me to laugh.

Tribhuvan University has been educating hundreds of teachers at the Master’s Level but the teacher’s haven’t made a big impression on the world literary stage because most of them teach, and don’t write. Our neighbour India is different and there are more educated people who read and write. The demand for books is immense and Indian publishers are like mushrooms after a monsoon rain. Writing in English is a luxury for people who belong to the upper strata of the Nepalese society. Most can’t even afford books and have a tough time trying to make ends meet. The colleges and universities don’t teach Creative Writing. They teach the works of English poets and writers from colonial times, and not post-colonial. There are a good many writers in Nepal but their works have to be edited and promoted by publishers on a standard basis. If it’s a good story and has universal appeal then it’ll make it to the international scene. Rabindra Nath Tagore is a writer who has been forgotten. It was the English translation that made the world, and Stockholm, take notice. Manjushree Thapa and Samrat Upadhya have caught the attention of western media because they write in English. One studied and lived in the USA and the other is settled there.  These two Nepalese writers with American university backgrounds and privileges as far as prizes are concerned are being sold as the first writers from the Himalayas to write in English, which isn’t true. Just a publicity gag. Moreover, the American publishing world does more for its migrant authors than other countries. There are prizes in which only USA-educated migrants are allowed to apply to be nominated, a certain protectionism for their US-migrants.

 Motivation to write: The main motivation is to share my thoughts with the reader and to try out different genres. Since I know a lot of school-friends who dropped out and joined the British Gurkhas to see the world, it was disgusting to see how the British government treated their comrade-in-arms from the hills of Nepal. On the one hand, they said they are our best allies, part of the British Army and on the other hand I got letters from Gurkhas showing how low their salaries are in the Gurkha Brigade. A Johnny Gurkha gets only half the pay that a British Tommy is paid. Colonialism? Master-and –Servant relationship? They were treating them like guest-workers from Nepal and hiring and firing them at will, depending upon whether the Brits needed cannon-fodder. All they had to do was to recruit more young Nepalese for the British Gurkha Brigades in Nepal. This injustice motivated me to write a series on the Gurkhas and the Brits.

I like NatureJournaling too and it’s wonderful to take long walks in the Black Forest countryside and in Switzerland. As a Nepalese I’m always fascinated and awed by the Alps and the Himalayas. 

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-dZHQ_3KyxGQ/UsRa7RjyQhI/AAAAAAAADFc/qHaz5EeZbdI/s320/Creative+Writing+Class+at+Univ.+Freiburg+2009SDC14560.JPG

(Satis Shroff with his Creative Writing students from the University of Freiburg) 

A Specific writing style?

Every writer in his journey towards literature discovers his own style. Here’s what Heidi Poudel says about my style: ‘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.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-MwViRetWuwA/UsRba8koyDI/AAAAAAAADFs/C_PzItJYiiE/s320/SDC18505.JPG

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-cxBacHICOss/UsRbqu3o_VI/AAAAAAAADF0/xuaEu_jP0Ac/s320/SDC19101.JPG

(Satis Shroff with the Bundespräsident Gauck & the Landesvater Kretschmann) 

My suggestions to readers: I might sound old fashioned but there’s lot of wisdom in these two small words: Carpe diem. Use your time. It can also mean ‘seize the job’ as in the case of Keating in the book ‘Dead Poets Society.’ When I was in Katmandu a friend named Bindu Dhoj who was doing MBA in Delhi said, ‘Satish, you have to assert yourself in life.’ That was a good piece of advice.

 In the Nepalese society we have a lot of chakari and afnu manchay caused by the caste-and-jaat system. But in Europe even if you are well-qualified, you do have to learn to assert and ‘sell’ and market yourself through good public relations. That’s why it’s also important to have a serious web-presence. Germany is a great, tolerant country despite the Nazi past, and it’s an economic and military power. If you have chosen Germany, then make it a point to ‘do in Germany as the Germans do.’ Get a circle of German friends, interact with them, lose your shyness, get in touch with German families and speak, read, write and dream in German. If you like singing then join a choir (like me), if you like art join a Kunstverein, if you like sport then be a member of a Sportverein. If you’re a physician, join the Marburger or Hartmann Bund. Don’t think about it. Do it. It’s like swimming. You have to jump into the water. Dry swimming or thinking alone won’t help you.

Cultural exchange can be amusing and rewarding for your own development. 

Current and future projects: I always have writing projects in my mind and you’ll catch me scribbling notices at different times of the day. I feel like a kid in a department store when I think about the internet. No haggling with editors, no waiting for a piece of writing to be published. I find blogs fascinating and fantastic. Imagine the agonies a writer had to go through in the old days after having submitted a poem or a novel. Now, it’s child’s play. Even Elfriede Jelenek uses her blog to write directly for the reading pleasure of her readers. The idea has caught on. In a life time you do write a lot and I’m out to string all my past writings in a book in the Ich-Form, that is, first person singular and am interested in memoir writing, spiritual writing, medical-ethno writing and, of course, my Zeitgeistlyrik .

Georg F. Will said: A powerful teacher is a benevolent contagion, an infectious spirit, an emulable stance toward life. I like the idea of being an ‘infectious spirit’ as far as my Creative Writing lectures are concerned, and it does your soul good when a young female student comes up to you after the lecture and says: ‘Thank you very much for the lecture. You’ve ignited the fire in me with your words.’ I love to make Creative Writing a benevolent contagion and infect young minds with words. 

To my Readers: Be proud of yourself, talk with yourself as you talk with a good friend, with respect and have goals in mind. If your goal is too high you must readjust it. My Mom used to say, ‘Chora bhayey pachi ik rakhna parchha. When you’re a son you have to strive for higher goals in life. I’d say a daughter can also adopt this. Like the proverbial Gurkha, keep a stiff upper lip and don’t give up. Keep on marching along your route and you’ll reach your destination in life. But on the other hand, be happy and contended with small successes and things. We, Nepalese, are attributed with ‘Die Heiterkeit der Seele’ because we are contented with small things which is a quality we should never lose. Keep that friendly Nepali smile on your face, for it will bring you miles and miles of smiles; and life’s worthwhile because you smile.

 On literature: When you read a novel or short-story, you can feel the excitement, you discover with the writer’s new terrain. You’re surprised. You’re in a reading-trance and the purpose of literature is to give you reading experience and pleasure. Literature is not the birth-right of the lecturers of English departments in universities where every author of merit is analysed, taken apart, mixing the fictive tale with the writer’s personal problems in reality. The authors are bestowed with literary prizes, feted at literary festivals and invited to literary conferences and public readings. Literature belongs to the folk of a culture, but the academicians have made it their own pride possession. Would you like to hear Hemingway telling you a story he had written or an academician hold a lecture about what Hemingway wrote? I’d prefer the former because it belongs to the people, the readers, the listeners.

 In India and Nepal we have story-tellers who go from village to village and tell stories from the Ramayana and Bhagavad Gita. Story-telling has always appealed to simple people and the high-brows alike, and has remained an important cultural heritage. The same holds for the Gaineys, those wandering minstrels from Nepal and Northern India, with their crude violins called sarangis. They tell stories of former kings, princes and princesses, battles, fairy tales, village stories, ballads accompanied by the whining, sad sound of the sarangi. Literature has always flown into history, religion, sociology, ethnology and is a heritage of mankind, and you can find all these wonderful stories in your local library or your e-archive.

 My first contact with a good library was the American Library in Katmandu. A new world of knowledge opened to me. I could read the Scientific American, Time, Newsweek, the Economist, The New York Times, National Geographic, the Smithsonian, the Christian Science Monitor. The most fascinating thing about it was, you only had to be a member and you could take the precious books home. OMG! It was unbelievable for a Nepalese who came from a small town in the foothills of the Himalayas. Nobody bothered about what you were reading: stories, history, new and old ideas, inventions, theories, general and specific knowledge. The sky was the limit. I had a voracious appetite, and it was like the opening of a Bildungsroman.

Historical novels tell us about how it was to live in former days, the forms of society involved that the writer evokes in his or her pages. In ‘A Year in Provence’ Peter Mayle makes you almost taste the excellent French food and wine, and the search for truffles with a swine in hilarious, as well as the game of bol. On the other hand, James Joyce evokes a life-changing experience with his protagonists Leopold Bloom and Stephan Daedalus in Dublin on June 16, 1904. Ulysses is a modern interpretation of Homer’s Odyssey, an inner monologue recalled as memories of places, people, smells, tastes and thoughts of the protagonist .

The Bhagwad Gita is a luminous and priceless gem in the literary world, possesses world history character, and teaches us the unity in diversity. It is a dialogue between the hero Arjuna and Krishna, who is the chariot-driver. Krishna is an incarnation of the Hindu God Vishnu. The Mahabharata alone has 18 chapters and the epic has 18 books with legends, episodes and didactic pieces that are connected with the main story. It is a fascinating reading about the war between relatives, written in the 4th and 3rd centuries before the birth of Christ.

He who reads knows better than to be indoctrinated, for he or she learns to think, opening new worlds and lines of thought. In my school-days I read Charles Dickens’ ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ and it became alive when I went to the Bastille Museum in Paris with a fellow medical student. My memory of A Tale of Two Cities took shape there, as I peered at the old, historical exhibits and the guillotine. Later in the evening my friend Peter’s sister, who was married to a Parisian said, ‘Oh, Satish, there are so many things to see in Paris than a museum the entire afternoon.’

 For me it was like time-travelling to the times of the French Revolution, because I’d soaked up the story in my school days. I could see Madame Defarge knitting the names of the noblemen and women to be executed. Dickens was a great master of fabulation. I was ripe for those stories and was as curious as a Siamese cat I had named Sirikit, reading, turning page for page, absolutely absorbed in the unfolding stories. Time and space and my personal demands were unimportant. It was the story that had to be read, even with a midnight candle when the local hydroelectric power supply failed. That happened to me when I read ‘The Godfather’ (Der Pate) while visiting a friend from Iceland. I couldn’t put the book down. I felt sad when a 14 year old computer-crazy schoolkid said: ‘Who reads books these days? Everything’s in the internet.’ The question is: do kids read books on their laptops and eReaders? School websites, Facebook and You Tube and their apps have added new hobbies for children who’re growing up. Does the cyberspace-generation have only time for games? I tell them they should use: Google Scholar, Pubmed etc. to gather knowledge and learn to transfer it.

r heart?

 I like writing which means sitting down and typing what you’ve thought about. Writing is a solitary performance but when I sing with my croonies of the MGV-Kappel it is sharing our joy and sadness and it’s a collective song that we produce and that makes our hearts beat higher during concerts.

When an idea moves me for days I have the craving to pen it. I get ideas when I’m ironing clothes and listening to Nepali songs or Bollywood ones. When I don’t have time, I make a poem out of it, for poetry is emotion recollected in tranquillity. When I prepare my medical lectures I’m transferring knowledge from my university past and bringing them together verbally, and I realise it’s great fun to attain topicality by connecting the medical themes with what’s topical thereby creating a bridge between the two. That makes a lecture interesting, which is like a performance, a recital in which you interact with the audience.

At school I was taught art by a lean, bearded Scottish teacher who loved to pain landscapes with water-colours. Whenever I travel during holidays, I keep an ArtJournal with my sketches and drawings, and try to capture the feelings, impressions of the place and people I meet, and it’s great fun to turn the pages years later and be reminded how it was then. I like doing all these things and they’re all near to my heart. 

Publications by Satis Shroff: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/satisle & Nelles Verlag, München

Publications: Satis Shroff on http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/satisle

2. What does literature mean to you ?

 Literature is translating emotions and facts from truth to fiction. It’s like a borderline syndrome; between sanity and insanity there’s fine dividing line. Similarly, non-fiction can be transformed into fiction. Virginia Woolf said, ‘There must be great freedom from reality.’ For Goethe, art was art because it was not nature. That’s what I like about fiction, this ability of transforming mundane things in life to jewels through the use of words. Rilke mentioned one ought to describe beauty with inner, quiet, humble righteousness. Approach nature and show what you see and experienced, loved and lost.

3. Normally a scientific mind and literary heart do not go together. How do you manage that? (since you were student of zoology, botany and medicine)

 At school I used to read P.G.Wodehouse (about how silly aristocrats are and how wise the butler Jeeves is) and Richard Gordon, a physician who gave up practicing Medicine and started writing funny books. For me Richard Gordon was a living example of someone who could connect literature with bio-medical sciences.

Desmond Morris, zoologist (The Naked Ape, The Human Zoo) was another example for me. He has also written a book about how modern soccer players do tribal dances on the football-field, with all those screaming spectators, when their team scores a goal. That’s ethnological rituals that are being carried out by European footballers. Since I went to a British school I was fed with EngLit and was acquainted with the works of English writers like Milton, Shakespeare, Dickens, Hardy, Walter Scott, RL Stevenson, Rudyard Kipling, HG Wells, Victor Hugo, Poe, Defoe, Hemingway, and poets like Burns, Keats, Yeats, Dante, Goldsmith.

Since we had Nepali in our curriculum it was delightful to read Bhanu Bhakta, Mainali, Shiva Kumar Rai and other Nepali authors. I heard the Khaure song Muna Madan by Laxmiprasad Devkota on Radio Nepal and read the book. At home I used to pray and perform the pujas with my Mom, who was a great story teller and that was how I learned about the fantastic stories of Hindu mythology. At school we also did Roman and Greek mythology. My head was full of heroes. I was also an avid comicstrip reader and there were Classics Illustrated comic with English literature. I used to walk miles to swap comic-books in Nepal. It was mostly friends from the British Gurkhas who had access to such comics, gadgets, musical instruments they’d bought in Hong Kong, since it was a British enclave then. Science can be interesting and there is a genre which makes scientific literature very interesting for those who are curious and hungry for more knowledge.

Nepalese Lit: Mahakavi Laxmi Prasad Devkota’s ‘Muna Madan’ a tragic story in jhaurey style..

In Kathmandu I worked as a journalist with an English newspaper The Rising Nepal. I enjoyed writing a Science Spot column. One day Navin Chandra Joshi, an Indian economist who was working for the Indian Cooperative Mission asked a senior editor and me: ‘Accha, can you please tell me who Satis Shroff is?’

Mana Ranjan gave a sheepish smile and said, ‘You’ve been talking with him all the time.’

The elderly Mr. Joshi was plainly surprised and said, ‘Judging from his writing, I thought he was a wise old man.’ I was 25 then and I turned red and was amused.

As I grew older, I discovered the works of Virginia Woolf, DH Lawrence, Aldous Huxley, Authur Miller, Henry Miller, Doris Lessing and James Joyce. The lecturers from the English Department and the Literary Supplements were all revering his works: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Ulysses, Finnegans Wake. His works appealed to be because I was also educated by the Christian Brothers of Ireland in the foothills of the Himalayas, with the same strictness and heavy hand. God is watching you..

Since my college friends left for Moscow University and Lumumba Friendship University after college, I started taking interest in Russian literature and borrowed books from the Soviet library and read: Tolstoi, Dostojewskije, Chekov and later even Solzinitzyn’s Archipel Gulag.

 I spent a lot of time in the well-stocked American Library in Katmandu’s New Road and read Henry Miller, Steinbeck, Faulkner, Thoreau, Whitman. My favourite American mags were: the National Geographic, the Scientific American and the Smithsonian. And I used to walk from Tahachal to The British Council Library to read the New Scientist and the Times Literary Supplement.

Favourite books and authors: Bhanu Bhakta Acharya’s ‘Ramayana,’ Devkota’s ‘Muna Madan,’ Guru Prasad Mainali’s ‘Machha-ko Mol,’ Shiva Kumar Rai’s ‘Dak Bungalow,’ Hemingway’s Fiesta, For Whom the Bells Toll, Günter Grass’ ‘Blechtrommel,’  ‘Zunge zeigen,’ Marcel Reich Ranicki’s ‘Mein Leben,’VS Naipaul’s ‘ A House for Mr. Biswas’ and ‘Half a Life.’ ‘Joseph Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness,’ James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses, Stephan Hero, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Goethe’s Faust I, Faust II’, Leo Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace,’ Rainer Maria Rilke’s ‘Briefe an einen jungen Dichter’ Goethe’s ‘Die Leiden des jungen Werther,’The Diaries of Franz Kafka’ Carl Gustav Jung’s ‘Memories, Dreams, Reflections,’ Patrick Süskind’s ‘Perfume,’ John Updike’s ‘The Witches of Eastwick,’ ‘Couples,’ Peter Matthiessen’s ‘The Snow Leopard,’ Mark Twain ‘A Tramp Abroad,’ John Steinbeck’s ‘The Pearl,’ Rushdie’s ‘Midnight Children,’ Jonathan Franzen’s ‘The Corrections,’ John Irving’s Last Night in Twisted River and Jhumpa Lahiri’s ‘The Lowland.’

Position of Nepali as world literature in terms of standard:

 Nepali literature has had a Cinderella or Aschenputtel-existence and it was only through Michael Hutt, who prefers to work closely with Nepalese authors and publishes with them under the aegis of SOAS, that literature from Nepal is trying to catch the attention of the world. We have to differentiate between Nepalese writing in the vernacular and those writing in English. Translating is a big job and at times the essence of a language gets lost in translation. What did the author mean when he or she said that? Can I translate it literally? Or do I have to translate it figuratively? If the author is near you, you can ask him or her what the meaning of a sentence, certain words or expression is. This isn’t the case always. So what you translate is your thought of what the writer or poet had said. I used to rollick with laughter when I read books by PG Wodehouse and Richard Gordon. I bought German editions and found the translations good. But the translated books didn’t bring me to laugh.

Himalayas: the Abode of the Gods (Art by Satis Shroff)

Tribhuvan University has been educating hundreds of teachers at the Master’s Level but the teacher’s haven’t made a big impression on the world literary stage because most of them teach, and don’t write. Our neighbour India is different and there are more educated people who read and write. The demand for books is immense and Indian publishers are like mushrooms after a monsoon rain. Writing in English is a luxury for people who belong to the upper strata of the Nepalese society. Most can’t even afford books and have a tough time trying to make ends meet. The colleges and universities don’t teach Creative Writing. They teach the works of English poets and writers from colonial times, and not post-colonial. There are a good many writers in Nepal but their works have to be edited and promoted by publishers on a standard basis. If it’s a good story and has universal appeal then it’ll make it to the international scene. Rabindra Nath Tagore is a writer who has been forgotten. It was the English translation that made the world, and Stockholm, take notice. Manjushree Thapa and Samrat Upadhya have caught the attention of western media because they write in English. One studied and lived in the USA and the other is settled there.  These two Nepalese writers with American university backgrounds and privileges as far as prizes are concerned are being sold as the first writers from the Himalayas to write in English, which isn’t true. Just a publicity gag. Moreover, the American publishing world does more for its migrant authors than other countries. There are prizes in which only USA-educated migrants are allowed to apply to be nominated, a certain protectionism for their US-migrants.

 Motivation to write: The main motivation is to share my thoughts with the reader and to try out different genres. Since I know a lot of school-friends who dropped out and joined the British Gurkhas to see the world, it was disgusting to see how the British government treated their comrade-in-arms from the hills of Nepal. On the one hand, they said they are our best allies, part of the British Army and on the other hand I got letters from Gurkhas showing how low their salaries are in the Gurkha Brigade. A Johnny Gurkha gets only half the pay that a British Tommy is paid. Colonialism? Master-and –Servant relationship? They were treating them like guest-workers from Nepal and hiring and firing them at will, depending upon whether the Brits needed cannon-fodder. All they had to do was to recruit more young Nepalese for the British Gurkha Brigades in Nepal. This injustice motivated me to write a series on the Gurkhas and the Brits.

I like NatureJournaling too and it’s wonderful to take long walks in the Black Forest countryside and in Switzerland. As a Nepalese I’m always fascinated and awed by the Alps and the Himalayas. 

(Satis Shroff receives the Pablo Neruda Award in Italy) 

A Specific writing style?

Every writer in his journey towards literature discovers his own style. Here’s what Heidi Poudel says about my style: ‘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.

(Satis Shroff with the Bundespräsident Joachim Gauck and Landesvater Winfried Kretschmann)

My suggestions to readers: I might sound old fashioned but there’s lot of wisdom in these two small words: Carpe diem. Use your time. It can also mean ‘seize the job’ as in the case of Keating in the book ‘Dead Poets Society.’ When I was in Katmandu a friend named Bindu Dhoj who was doing MBA in Delhi said, ‘Satish, you have to assert yourself in life.’ That was a good piece of advice.

 In the Nepalese society we have a lot of chakari and afnu manchay caused by the caste-and-jaat system. But in Europe even if you are well-qualified, you do have to learn to assert and ‘sell’ and market yourself through good public relations. That’s why it’s also important to have a serious web-presence. Germany is a great, tolerant country despite the Nazi past, and it’s an economic and military power. If you have chosen Germany, then make it a point to ‘do in Germany as the Germans do.’ Get a circle of German friends, interact with them, lose your shyness, get in touch with German families and speak, read, write and dream in German. If you like singing then join a choir (like me), if you like art join a Kunstverein, if you like sport then be a member of a Sportverein. If you’re a physician, join the Marburger or Hartmann Bund. Don’t think about it. Do it. It’s like swimming. You have to jump into the water. Dry swimming or thinking alone won’t help you.

Cultural exchange can be amusing and rewarding for your own development. 

Current and future projects: I always have writing projects in my mind and you’ll catch me scribbling notices at different times of the day. I feel like a kid in a department store when I think about the internet. No haggling with editors, no waiting for a piece of writing to be published. I find blogs fascinating and fantastic. Imagine the agonies a writer had to go through in the old days after having submitted a poem or a novel. Now, it’s child’s play. Even Elfriede Jelenek uses her blog to write directly for the reading pleasure of her readers. The idea has caught on. In a life time you do write a lot and I’m out to string all my past writings in a book in the Ich-Form, that is, first person singular and am interested in memoir writing, spiritual writing, medical-ethno writing and, of course, my Zeitgeistlyrik .

Georg F. Will said: A powerful teacher is a benevolent contagion, an infectious spirit, an emuable stance toward life. I like the idea of being an ‘infectious spirit’ as far as my Creative Writing lectures are concerned, and it does your soul good when a young female student comes up to you after the lecture and says: ‘Thank you very much for the lecture. You’ve ignited the fire in me with your words.’ I love to make Creative Writing a benevolent contagion and infect young minds with words. Working currently on a Memoir, anthology of poems ‘Rhododendron Song.’ And a book of poems and prose: interesting people I have encountered, reviews, poems, short-stories like a kaleidoscope, what moves me..

To my Readers: Be proud of yourself, talk with yourself as you talk with a good friend, with respect and have goals in mind. If your goal is too high you must readjust it. My Mom used to say, ‘Chora bhayey pachi ik rakhna parchha. When you’re a son you have to strive for higher goals in life. I’d say a daughter can also adopt this. Like the proverbial Gurkha, keep a stiff upper lip and don’t give up. Keep on marching along your route and you’ll reach your destination in life. But on the other hand, be happy and contended with small successes and things. We, Nepalese, are attributed with ‘Die Heiterkeit der Seele’ because we are contented with small things which is a quality we should never lose. Keep that friendly Nepali smile on your face, for it will bring you miles and miles of smiles; and life’s worthwhile because you smile.

 On literature: When you read a novel or short-story, you can feel the excitement, you discover with the writer’s new terrain. You’re surprised. You’re in a reading-trance and the purpose of literature is to give you reading experience and pleasure. Literature is not the birth-right of the lecturers of English departments in universities where every author of merit is analysed, taken apart, mixing the fictive tale with the writer’s personal problems in reality. The authors are bestowed with literary prizes, feted at literary festivals and invited to literary conferences and public readings. Literature belongs to the folk of a culture, but the academicians have made it their own pride possession. Would you like to hear Hemingway telling you a story he had written or an academician hold a lecture about what Hemingway wrote? I’d prefer the former because it belongs to the people, the readers, the listeners.

 In India and Nepal we have story-tellers who go from village to village and tell stories from the Ramayana and Bhagavad Gita. Story-telling has always appealed to simple people and the high-brows alike, and has remained an important cultural heritage. The same holds for the Gaineys, those wandering minstrels from Nepal and Northern India, with their crude violins called sarangis. They tell stories of former kings, princes and princesses, battles, fairy tales, village stories, ballads accompanied by the whining, sad sound of the sarangi. Literature has always flown into history, religion, sociology, ethnology and is a heritage of mankind, and you can find all these wonderful stories in your local library or your e-archive.

 My first contact with a good library was the American Library in Katmandu. A new world of knowledge opened to me. I could read the Scientific American, Time, Newsweek, the Economist, The New York Times, National Geographic, the Smithsonian, the Christian Science Monitor. The most fascinating thing about it was, you only had to be a member and you could take the precious books home. OMG! It was unbelievable for a Nepalese who came from a small town in the foothills of the Himalayas. Nobody bothered about what you were reading: stories, history, new and old ideas, inventions, theories, general and specific knowledge. The sky was the limit. I had a voracious appetite, and it was like the opening of a Bildungsroman.

Historical novels tell us about how it was to live in former days, the forms of society involved that the writer evokes in his or her pages. In ‘A Year in Provence’ Peter Mayle makes you almost taste the excellent French food and wine, and the search for truffles with a swine in hilarious, as well as the game of bol. On the other hand, James Joyce evokes a life-changing experience with his protagonists Leopold Bloom and Stephan Daedalus in Dublin on June 16, 1904. Ulysses is a modern interpretation of Homer’s Odyssey, an inner monologue recalled as memories of places, people, smells, tastes and thoughts of the protagonist .

The Bhagwad Gita is a luminous and priceless gem in the literary world, possesses world history character, and teaches us the unity in diversity. It is a dialogue between the hero Arjuna and Krishna, who is the chariot-driver. Krishna is an incarnation of the Hindu God Vishnu. The Mahabharata alone has 18 chapters and the epic has 18 books with legends, episodes and didactic pieces that are connected with the main story. It is a fascinating reading about the war between relatives, written in the 4th and 3rd centuries before the birth of Christ.

He who reads knows better than to be indoctrinated, for he or she learns to think, opening new worlds and lines of thought. In my school-days I read Charles Dickens’ ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ and it became alive when I went to the Bastille Museum in Paris with a fellow medical student. My memory of A Tale of Two Cities took shape there, as I peered at the old, historical exhibits and the guillotine. Later in the evening my friend Peter’s sister, who was married to a Parisian said, ‘Oh, Satish, there are so many things to see in Paris than a museum the entire afternoon.’

 For me it was like time-travelling to the times of the French Revolution, because I’d soaked up the story in my school days. I could see Madame Defarge knitting the names of the noblemen and women to be executed. Dickens was a great master of fabulation. I was ripe for those stories and was as curious as a Siamese cat I had named Sirikit, reading, turning page for page, absolutely absorbed in the unfolding stories. Time and space and my personal demands were unimportant. It was the story that had to be read, even with a midnight candle when the local hydroelectric power supply failed. That happened to me when I read ‘The Godfather’ (Der Pate) while visiting a friend from Iceland. I couldn’t put the book down. I felt sad when a 14 year old computer-crazy schoolkid said: ‘Who reads books these days? Everything’s in the internet.’ The question is: do kids read books on their laptops and eReaders? School websites, Facebook and You Tube and their apps have added new hobbies for children who’re growing up. Does the cyberspace-generation have only time for games? I tell them they should use: Google Scholar, Pubmed etc. To gather knowledge you have to go to the source of literature and not second and third renderings by others. And learn to transfer it.

MY SCHWARZWALD DIARY (Satis Shroff)

https://www.eventyas.com/DE/Freiburg/140662769336590/MY-SCHWARZWALD-DIARY—Satis-Shroff

Heimat Mediallie Baden-Württemberg für Satis Shroff 2018

https://www.lulu.com/en/en/shop/satis-shroff/im-schatten-des-himalaya/ebook/product

Themen der Geschichten und Gedichten sind u.a.: Kampf um Demokratie (My Nepal: Quo vadis?), Transition (Wenn die Seele sich verabschiedet), und die Stellung der Frau (Bombay Bordel, Nirmala: Zwischen Terror und Ekstase), die verführerische Bergwelt (Die Himalaya rufen, Die Sehnsucht der Himalaya), 

https://www.lulu.com/en/en/shop/satis-shroff/im-schatten-des-himalaya/ebook/product-1wzmpvqw.html

Im Schatten Des Himalayas: a book of poems in German by Satis Shroff

http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/satisle

MADAN PURASKAR NEPAL: Congrats to the two recepients Jagdamba-Shri Shanti Thatal and Shri Chandra Prakash Baniyan for the Madan Award ‘Maharani’ novel.

The General Assembly meeting of Madan Award Guthi has decided to present the year 2020 (Nepali calendar 2076 BS) to Jagdamba-Shri Shanti Thatal and Shri Chandra Prakash Baniyan for the Madan Award ‘Maharani’ novel.

Kunda Dixit: The General Assembly meeting of Madan Award Guthi has decided to present the year 2020 (Nepali calendar 2076 BS) to Jagdamba-Shri Shanti Thatal and Shri Chandra Prakash Baniyan for the Madan Award ‘Maharani’ novel.

Image may contain: 2 people, eyeglasses, text that says 'चन्द्रप्रकाश बानियाँ महारानी'

 · मदन पुरस्कार गुठीको साधारण सभा बैठकले वर्ष २०७६ को जगदम्बा-श्री श्री शान्ति ठटालज्यूलाई तथा मदन पुरस्कार ‘महारानी’ उपन्यासका लागि श्री चन्द्रप्रकाश बानियाँज्यूलाई अर्पण गर्ने निर्णय गरेको छ।

40+ Free Mount Everest & Nepal Photos - Pixabay

Trekking is good, climbing is a shitty business because you leave a trail of solid human waste in the Abode of Gods and Godesses. Smells like a toilet. You’re ruining a holy place. To us Hindus the Himalayas are holy and sacred. Show respect towards the Himalayan heritage by taking your waste with you when you descend to Kathmandu, you would-be heroes and expeditions.

Kurzbeschreibung

‘Through Nepalese Eyes’ is about the journey of a young Nepalese woman to Germany to meet her brother, who lives with his German wife and daughter in an allemanic town named Freiburg. It is a travelogue written by a sensitive, modern British public-school educated man. He describes the two worlds: Asia and Europe and the people he meets. There is a touch of sadness when his sister returns to her home in the foothills of the Himalayas.

It cries to be written because there are seldom books written by Nepalese writers about themselves. It’s always the casual foreign traveller, trekker or climber who writes about the people in the developing and least-developed countries of the so-called Third World.

The likely readers are the increasing male and female tourists, trekkers, climbers from the whole world who make their way to the Himalayas, each seeking something indefinable, perhaps peace, tranquillity, spiritual experience or a much-needed monologue with oneself in the heights of the Himalayas. The book is aimed at all Nepalophile and South Asian readers irrespective of their origin, and seeks to contribute towards understanding the Nepalese psyche, the world that the Nepalese live in, and the fact that it has to catch up with the rest of the world in terms of modernisation and innovations from the western world, amid the thoughts and beliefs, cultures and religions of the Himalayan world.

The book is divided according to the iterinary of the protagonist’s travels, her sojourn in Freiburg (Germany) and her excursions to Switzerland (Basle and Grindelwald) and France (Alsace and Paris-Versailles) and ends with the chapter ‘Return to the Himalayas’.

It deals with the ‘Begegnungen’ or encounters with friendly Germans, the circle of her brother’s friends and the intercultural and inter-religious questions that she is confronted with during these conversations and the encouraging intercultural work being performed by Germans and foreigners specifically in Freiburg and Germany in general in creating a multicultural society, where a foreigner doesn’t have to fear deportation, persecution and xenophobia.

Through Nepalese Eyes eBook by Satis Shroff

From my dear buddy and mentor – hard for persons to be both – Satis Shroff over in Frieburg, Germany.

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After his father King Mahendra’s death in 1972, King Birendra consulted his court astrologers, who advised him to delay his coronation for three years, with the most auspicious moment for his crowning being at 8:37 am precisely on 4 February 1975. At that time, I was in Katmandu working as a journalist with The Rising Nepal (Hofblatt) and learning the ropes: editing articles and poems of Kathmandu poets and writers, as well as those from abroad, writing my own Science column (Science Spot which was mostly about Wildlife Conservation in Nepal) and writing editorials on development, features about culture and commentaries for Radio Nepal’s External Service.

Kanak Dixit (later Himal Asia) was a regular contributor and Kunda Dixit ( later The Nepali Times) was our man in Prague. He was doing further studies in Bratislavia and wrote his amusing and informative column: ‘Prague Prattles.’ This pic shows the King and Queen on an elephant in Kathmandu’s New Road. It was a fairytale wedding performed at the ancient Hanuman Dhoka Palace. We brought out a special issue on the Coronation and everyone wanted to be featured in it.

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Fauststadt Staufen 2015 (Satis Shroff), Sunday 20.09.2015

The Middle Ages in Staufen, an annual event, didn’t take place this year 2020, due to Covid-19. Prevention is better than cure.