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Archive for May, 2007

GERMAN TRANSLATIONS: Satis Shroff has translated Nepali literature  (prose and poems) by Nepali writers such as: Laxmiprasad Devkota (Muna Madan), Bhupi Sherchan, Banira Giri (Kathmandu), Bhisma Upreti, Krishna Bhakta Shrestha, Bal Krishna Sama (Ich Hasse & Auf der Suche nach Poesie), Abhi Subedi, Toya Gurung, Dorjee Tschering Lepcha (Die Ameisenkönigin & Der Spinnenmensch), Guruprasad Mainali (Der Martyrer), Krishna Bam Malla (Der Pfluger), Lekhnach Paudyal (Der Himalaya), Hridaya Singh Pradhan (Die Tränen von Ujyali), Shiva Kumer Rai (Der Preis des Fisches),Sharad Sharma (Woman:Nature), Toya Gurung (Mein Traum), Binaya Rawal (Phulmayas Dasainfest), Abhi Subedi (Am Abend mit dem Auto), Bimal Nibha (Jumla), Jiwan Acharya (Der Bildhauer & Muglin) etc. into German, a part of which can be read under the title ‘Kathmandu, Kathmandu’, which in Banira Giri’s poem ‘Kathmandu’ is a bird-cry.

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Muna Madan (Laxmi Prasad Devkota)

 

Devkotas Werk „Muna und Madan“ entstand 1936 auf. Dieses Gedicht basiert auf einer Newari-Ballade. Madan, ein Geschäftsmann will nach Lhasa (Tibet) um dort Handel zu treiben, wie es früher üblich war. Damals gab es eine richtige Newar-Kolonie von Händlern in Lhasa. Seine frisch verheiratete Frau Muna liebt ihn innig und bittet ihn, sie nicht allein in Kathmandu zu lassen, „mein Herz nicht brennen zu lassen in einem Feuer, das nie ausgemacht werden kann“. Madan macht sich sehr viele Sorgen, geht aber trotzdem weg von Muna. Bevor er geht, verlangt er ein Lächeln von Muna. Aber Muna kann „die Sonne nicht herausbringen in der Nacht und lächeln zum Abschied“. Sie hat keine Interesse für Reichtum und ist sogar bereit, ein Leben in Armut, Frieden und Liebe zu verbringen. Aber Madan muss sein Haus reparieren und muss sich um seine alte Mutter sorgen. Er geht auf diese gefährliche Reise, wird auf dem Rückweg krank und wird von seinen Händlerfreunden im Stich gelassen. Dennoch hat er Glück und wird von einem guten Tibeter gepflegt. Muna kann die lange Zeit der Trennung nicht aushalten und ist traurig und verzweifelt. Sie sieht viele schlechte Omen. Ein böser Verehrer von Muna schickt eine Nachricht von Madans Tod zu ihr. Muna stirbt an gebrochenem Herzen. Viele Jahre später kehrt Madan zurück und findet seine Geliebte schon längst tot und verschwunden und seine Mutter liegt auf dem Sterbebett. Er kann den Schmerz und das Leiden nicht verkraften und stirbt auch.

 

 

Madan verabschiedet sich um nach Tibet zu gehen:

 

(Muna): „Geh nicht, mein Leben, und lass mich hier allein,

Im Wald meines Herzens hast du ein unlöschbares Feuer der Sehnsucht entfacht,

Ein unstillbares Feuer der Sehnsucht hast du entfacht,

Du Stern meiner Augen, oh mein Geliebter! Wenn dieses Licht erlischt,

Was soll ich sagen? Ich würde nichts sagen, auch wenn du mich vergiftet hättest,

Geliebter, mich vergiftet!

Die Worte aus meinem Herzen, bleiben mir im Hals stecken, in meinem Hals bleiben sie stecken

Mein Herz schlägt fünfzig mal in einer Sekunde,

Wenn meine Brust aufgerissen (würde) und dir gezeigt würde,

Würden deine Gedanken vielleicht zurückkehren wenn das Bild entschleiert würde,

Ein Stück meines Herzens fällt in meine Tränen, diese Tränen sprechen nicht,

Meine tiefsten Gefühle bleiben in meinem Herzen, meine Brust zeigt sie nicht,

Meine Liebe, Tränen können nicht sprechen!“

 

(Madan): „Oh meine Muna, sprich nicht so, blühend im Mondlicht,

Schnell werde ich zurückkehren, warum vergisst du?

In Lhasa werde ich zwanzig Tage verweilen, und zwanzig Tage unterwegs sein,

Der Cakheva Vogel kommt an einem Tag morgens angeflogen,

Geliebte, der große Tag, an dem wir uns treffen.

Eines Mannes Entschluss ist Handeln oder Sterben,

Geliebte, leg mir mit deinen Tränen kein Hindernis auf den Weg.

Lächle, und zeige deine Zähne, die wie Kerne des Granatapfels sind,

Wenn du lächelst, kann ich Indra1 auf seinem Thron herausfordern,

Geliebte, lächele beim Abschied !“

 

(Muna): „Oh, mein Rama, oh mein Krishna, es wird Dschungel und Berge geben,

Die Tibeter auf den Felsen sind wie wilde Tiere, die Kühe anfallen!

Ein Lächeln beim Abschied ist wie die Sonne in der Nacht, wie kann ich dies verstehen?

Wenn du gehen musst, lass mich nicht allein, lass mich dich begleiten,

Laß mich dein Gesicht und deinen Körper beschützen mit meiner Liebe.“

 

(Madan): „Sprich nicht so, verstehe Muna, deine Füße sind wie Blumen,

Die Wälder sind dornig und steil, wie kann ich dich mitnehmen?

Oh Nagas Tochter, komm nicht in die Berge !

Meine einzige Mutter, das glückverheißende Licht, vergiss sie nicht zu pflegen,

Lass eine Mutter, die sechzig Winter überstanden hat, nicht alleine,

Sie möge sitzen und auf dein mondgleiches Gesicht schauen.“

 

(Muna): „Ihre grau gewordenen Haare, ihre müde gewordener Körper, die Liebe deiner Mutter

Haben deine Füße nicht zurückgehalten, die Schatten der Liebe konnten dich nicht aufhalten,

Mein Herr, die Liebe deiner Mutter.

In ein wildes Land gehen, gekleidet wie ein Händler, Gefahren ausgesetzt,

Was soll gewonnen werden, Herr ! Du verlässt sie und gehst nach Lhasa?

Taschen voller Gold,( sind) Hände voller Schmutz, was bringt so ein Reichtum?

Besser ist es Brennnessel und Salat zu essen mit zufriedenem Herzen,

Oh meine Geliebte, mit einem reichen Herzen !“

 

Madan): „Geliebte, deine Worte treffen mich ins Herz,

Was willst du machen, Muna ? Dieser Atem stockt vor jenem sündhaften Reichtum,

Mit ein paar Schluck Milch würde ich Mutters Kehle erfrischen,

Ihre Wünsche nach eine Herberge und einem Brunnen erfüllen,

Diese Arme würde ich schmücken mit Reifen aus schwerem Gold,

Das Fundament des Hauses, baufällig durch Schulden, würde ich verstärken.

Diese Hoffnung entstand in meinem Herzen und verschwand wieder

Ich habe meine Füße jetzt gehoben, meine Wünsche gehoben,

Gott ist oben, mein Herz ist meine Begleiter, Ich werde diesen Fluss überqueren,

Falls ein Gefühl mir gesellen sollte, obwohl ich mich richtig verhalte, werde ich auf dem Weg sterben,

Außerhalb von dieser Erde, im Himmel, Liebste, werden wir uns wieder treffen.

 

(Muna): „Oh mein Krishna, sprich nicht und binde nicht den Knoten im Herzen noch enger,

In meinem Geist male ich ein Bild von deinem kostbaren Gesicht,

Wende dich nicht ab, Liebster ! Verstecke nicht die Tränen, die deine Augen füllen,

Die Mädchen von Lhasa, mit blitzenden Augen, aus Gold geschmiedet,

Ihre Sprache wie die einer Nachtigall, mit Rosen die auf ihren Wangen blühen,

Lass sie alle spielen, lass sie alle tanzen auf den Bergen und Wiesen,

Falls du mich vergisst, diese Tränen werden dich beunruhigen, sage ich ängstlich.

Mach dich auf die Reise, lass dunkel werden in Haus und Stadt,

Ich habe keine Kraft mehr zu weinen, ich habe Tränen vergossen vor dir“.

In der Dunkelheit brennen die Erinnerungen wenn es blitzt,

Ein Regen von kühlen Tränen wird vor den Augen der Sorgenvollen fallen.

 

Muna allein

 

Muna allein, wunderschön, blühend wie eine Lotusblume,

Sich offenbart wie der Mond, der die silberne Wolkenkante berührt,

Wenn sie ihre zarten Lippen öffnete zum Lächeln, regnete es Perlen,

Sie welkte wie eine Blume in Winter (Pus), und Tränen flossen aus ihren Augen

Sie trocknete ihren große Augen und kümmerte sich um ihre Schwiegermutter,

Wenn sie schlief in ihrem Kämmerlein war ihre Kissen durchnässt von tausend Sorgen.

Lang (waren) die Tage, lang die Nächte, traurig die Tage,

Ob dunkle Nächte oder helle, der Mond selbst war traurig,

Muna am Fenster, ein glitzernder Stern, ihre Liebster ist in Lhasa,

Tränen in ihren Augen, Munas Herz war zerfressen von Sorge,

Es war als ob ein dünner Nieselschauer in ihrer Stimme wäre.

Ein Lied stieg empor in der Stille, als ob die Sehnsucht selbst gesprochen hätte.

Ihre Träume waren kostbar für ihre Augen, Tausende von Sorgen erreichten sie nicht,

Wenn sie ihn im Traum sah, fiel es ihr schwer aufzustehen.

Sie weinte, da sie noch lebte, auch im Traum,

Tag für Tag welkt sie dahin wie eine Rose.

Sie versteckt ihre Trauer in ihrem Herzen, verbirgt sie in Schweigsamkeit:

Ein Vogel versteckt mit seinen Federn den Pfeil, der sein Herz durchbohrt,

Das Ende des Tages wird hell im Schein einer Lampe.

Die Schönheit einer welkenden Blumen wächst, wenn der Herbst nahe ist.

Die dunkeln Ränder der Wolken sind silbern, und der Mond ist noch heller,

Sein Gesicht beim Abschiednehmen leuchtet auf in ihrem Herzen, das Licht der Traurigkeit,

Tränen von Tautropfen fallen auf Blumen, Regenwasser vom Himmel,

Sternenlicht, Tränen der Nacht, tropfen auf die Erde.

Die süßen Wurzeln der schönen Rose werden zur Nahrung von Würmern

Eine Blume, die in der Stadt blüht, wird Opfer eines Bösen,

Die Hand eines Menschen füllt Schmutz in reines Wasser

Menschen säen Dornen in den Weg der Menschen.

Wunderschön, unsere Muna, sitzend an ihrem Fenster

Ein Stadtgauner, ein Taugenichts, sah sie, sie bewegte sich wie ein Nymphe,

Machte eine Lampe für die Göttin Bhavani.

Ihre runden Backen, ihre Ohrläppchen, ihre lockigen Haare,

Bei dieser plötzlichen Erscheinung stand er auf, verlor seinen Verstand,

Und ging weg, einmal hierhin, einmal dorthin.

 

Du siehst die Rose ist schön, Bruder berühre sie nicht!

Er sah sie mit Verlangen, er war verzaubert, werde kein Wilder!

Die Dinge der Schöpfung sind schöne Edelsteine für unsere Blicke,

Berühre und töte nicht die Blume, die Gottes Lächeln bekommen hat.

 

Madan ist auf dem Heimweg an Cholera erkrankt

 

Lasst mich nicht im Wald allein, meine Freunde,

Zur sündigen Beute von Krähen und Geiern,

Meine alte Mutter daheim! Wird die alte Frau sterben?

Meine Muna, gleich wie der Mond, wird sie zu Tode geschlagen?

Oh meine Freunde, O meine Brüder, ich werde jetzt nicht sterben,

Ich werde den Tod bekämpfen, ich werde aufstehen, ich will nicht im Wald sterben,

Mein Hals ist trocken, meine Brust brennt, trocknet meine Tränen,

Noch habe ich Atem, noch habe ich Hoffnung, versteht meinen Schmerz,

Meine alte Mutter wird euch segnen, rettet mich!

Es ist Pflicht eines Menschen, die Tränen des anderen zu wischen.“

 

Was willst du tun, Bruder? Unser Heim ist weit entfernt von diesem Dschungelweg,

Warten wir bis du geheilt bist von dieser Cholera, wird uns Unglück bringen,

In diesem Wald gibt es keine Heilkräuter,

Verweile hier und denke an Gott,

Alle müssen gehen, ihre Haus und Heim verlassen,

Wenn du in deiner letzten Stunde an Gott denkst, wirst du sicher gerettet werden.“

 

Gestützt auf seine Arme, erhob sich Madan, (er sah), seine Freunde waren gegangen,

Im Westen hatten sich die Augen des Tages blutrot gefärbt,

Eine fahle Dämmerung kam über den Wald, sogar der Wind schlief ein,

Die Vögel hörten auf zu singen, die Kälte befiel ihn

Ein trauriger Zustand, erbarmungslos die Berge und Wälder,

Die Sterne, die ganze Welt erschien grausam, grausame Trostlosigkeit.

Er drehte sich langsam auf dem Gras, dann seufzte er,

Ein Bild von Zuhause kam in sein Gedächtnis, klarer als je zuvor,

Oh meine Mutter, denk an mich!

Oh meine Muna, denk an mich!

Gott, Gott, in diesem Wald bist Du meine einziger Freund,

(Von) oben siehst du die steinharten Herzen der Menschen.

 

Wo wird jene Feuerflamme sein? Hat der Wald Feuer gefangen?

Ist ein Waldbrand entstanden, um diesen sterbenden Menschen noch mehr zu zerstören?

Ein Man näherte sich, er trug eine Fackel,

War es ein Räuber, war es ein Geist oder eine böser Waldgeist?

 

Sein Atem hing an einem Faden, sollte er hoffen, sollte er fürchten?

Schließlich erreicht die Fackel sein Gesicht.

Ein Tibeter schaute, wer da weinte, er sah den kranken Mann,

Er sagt liebevoll, “Deine Freunde sind treulos,

Mein Haus ist in der Nähe, nur ein wenig (kos) entfernt, du wirst nicht sterben,

Ich werde dich tragen, ist dir das recht? Mir macht es nichts aus.“

 

Der arme Madan berührte die Füße des Tibeters and sagte,

Oh mein Herr, mein tibetischer Bruder! Was für wunderbare Worte!

Daheim ist meine alte Mutter, ihre Haare sind grau,

Daheim ist meine Frau, die wie eine Lampe leuchtet,

Rette mich jetzt und Gott wird zuschauen,

Wer den Menschen hilft, wird bestimmt in den Himmel kommen.

Ich, aus der Kaste der Krieger, berühre deine Füße, ich tue es nicht widerwillig,

Ein Mensch ist ein Mensch durch die Größe seines Herzens, nicht durch seine Kaste“.

 

Der Tibeter trug ihn zu seinem Haus und legte ihn auf ein Tuch aus Wolle,

Er gab ihm ein paar Schluck Wasser und verwöhnte ihn liebevoll,

Er suchte und brachte eine Heilkraut, zerdrückte es und gab ihm zu trinken,

Mit Yakmilch machte er ihn wieder stark.

 

Madan verabschiedet sich von dem Tibeter

 

Madan dreht sich um und schaut nach dem Hof der Tibeter:

Was für schöne Kinder, was für schöne junge Tiere, so im Spiel vertieft!“

Nachdem er zugeschaut hatte, wandte Madan sich dem Tibeter zu und

Seine Lippen offenbarten verborgene Wünsche seines Herzens:

Grün sind die Hügel, die Blumen blühen in den Wäldern,

In meinem Herz denke ich an mein Heim in der Ferne, lieber Bruder.

Die Knospen müssen aufgebrochen sein, zart und duftend

Der Pflaumenbaum muss sich des Frühlings erfreuen,

Ein zartes Grün wird in den Wäldern erwacht sein!

 

Das kleine Haus in jenem Land, es strahlt in meiner Erinnerung

Meine Tränen sind der Tribut für jene Erinnerung

Meine Mutter, Mond der Berge, muss sich an mich erinnern,

Ich verweile weit entfernt an diesem Waldesrand, bringe Tränen in jenes Haus.

Du hast ewige Verdienste erworben, ich kann (es dir) nicht zurückzahlen,

Du hast mir das Geschenk des Lebens gegeben, ich kann (es dir) nicht zurückzahlen,

Ich stehe immer in deiner Schuld, kann es dir nicht zurückzahlen.

Zwei schmutzige Taschen mit Gold habe ich im Wald vergraben,

Eine ist für dich, eine ist für mich, gerecht verteilt für deinen Verdienst,

Nimm es, verabschiede mich, ich gehe nach Hause,

Während ich weitergehe, erinnere ich mich immer an Deine Barmherzigkeit.“

 

Der Tibeter sagt, “Was kann ich mit reinem Gold anfangen?

Gold wächst nicht, wenn du es pflanzt, oder? Was kann ich mit Gold machen?

Kann ich es pflanzen und essen durch deine Liebenswürdigkeit?

Meine Kinder, Söhne und Töchter, sind verlassen worden von ihrer Mutter,

Was nützt Gold, Vermögen, wenn das Schicksal sie uns weggenommen hat?

Diese Kinder können nicht Gold essen, sie tragen keinen Schmuck,

Meine Gattin ist im Himmel, die Wolken sind ihr einziger Schmuck.“

Der Tibeter sagt: „Diese Gelegenheit zu bekommen, Verdienste zu sammeln, war eine Chance“

Es war ein Glück, die Tugend der Hilfsbereitschaft zu üben.

Für meine Wohltat nehme ich nichts, behalte mich in Erinnerung, während du gehst.

Ich pflüge selbst, ich ernähre mich selbst, nichts wird mir geschenkt.

Was würdest du mir geben? Was werde ich nehmen? Ich bettle nicht.

Denk an meine Name (Changbas) während du gehst, erzähle über mich daheim,

Schicke den Segen der alten Frau für diese Kinder.“

Weinend brach er vom Waldrand auf, unwissend und ungebildet

In jenem Tibeter erinnerte er sich der Quelle des guten Herzens,

Weinend ging Madan in Richtung Heimat.

 

Madans Mutter stirbt

 

Madans Mutter, ihre Haare weiß, liegt im Bett,

Mond der Berge, wartend in Traurigkeit auf ihre letzten Tag.

Die Lampe dieses Hauses, das Öl verbraucht, sich verzehrend,

Flackerndes Licht, die Dunkelheit drohte zu kommen.

Sie sieht das Gesicht ihres Sohnes, und ruft (nach) Gott

Für ihren Sohn, ihres Herzens Herz, (ruft) sie nach Gott.

Eine Brise vom Fenster streicht über ihre weißen Haare und geht vorüber

Haucht Mutters Herz in Richtung Lhasa.

Keine Tränen in ihren Augen, erfüllt mit Frieden

Der Glanz des Endes kommt um die Abenddämmerung zu erhellen,

Die treibende Kraft ihres Lebens, ihr Garant gegen den Tod: Ihr Sohn ist weit weg,

Sein Gesicht zu sehen bevor sie stirbt, ist ihr Herzenswunsch,

Heiß von Fieber, ihr schmale Hand brennt mit Sehnsucht,

Sie hält liebevoll die Hand ihrer weinenden Schwiegertochter,

Tätschelt ihre weiche Hand und sagt, “O meine Schwiegertochter,

Jetzt ist die Zeit gekommen, ich muss diese Welt verlassen2,

Warum Weinen, weine nicht Schwiegertochter !

 

Alle müssen diesen Weg nehmen, mein Kind, der Reiche und der Fakir

Erde vermischt sich mit Erde an den Ufern des Leidens,

Erdulde dies, sei nicht gefangen in der Schlinge des Schmerzes,

Sei Fromm, denn Hingebung erbringt Erleuchtung auf dem letzten Weg!

Ich habe die Blumengärten der Erde blühen und verwelken gesehen,

In Traurigkeit, liebe Schwiegertochter, habe ich Gott erkannt !

Die Samen, die auf der Erde gesät werden, tragen Früchte im Himmel,

Was ich gegeben habe, nehme ich mit mir, was geht mit?

Der Reichtum, den du in einem Traum erwirbst, bleibet in deinen Händen, wenn du erwachst.

Ich nehme Abschied von allen, Madan ist nicht gekommen.

Meine Augen haben ihn heute nicht gesehen, bevor sie sich schlossen,

Ich bin gestorben,“ sag dies zu Madan.

Die alte Frau, die ihrem Ende entgegen ging sagte: „Weine nicht zu sehr“

 

Madan kehrt Heim

 

Munas Worte waren wie Geschosse, erinnert sich Madan,

Wie süß hat sie mich getadelt, „ Was kannst du machen mit Reichtum?“

Ihre nektargleichen Worte trafen mich bis ins Mark und durchbohrten mein Herz,

Besser ist es mit glücklichem Herzen Salat und Brennnessel zu verzehren“,

Jetzt hat Gott dies ermöglicht mit Reichtum

Ein Vorhang hat mich zugedeckt, ein Vorhang hat mir meinen Weg versperrt, oh Schwester!

Ich werde nicht weinen, ich werde morgen gehen und sie treffen,

Lüfte den Vorhang, O Schicksal (Gott), und du wirst schnell gesegnet.

 

Madan fiel auf die Erde und wurde schlapp vor Traurigkeit.

Der Arzt3 kam, hielt ihn am Handgelenk und fühlte seinen Puls:

Was ist Medizin für einen der krank ist am Herzen?

Probleme mit Husten und Schleim, sagt der Arzt,

Ohren, die Worte von anderen nicht hören, hören diese

Madan sagt ihm „Lies die Bücher über die Heilkunde, blättere die Susruta durch‚

Wo ist die Qual des Herzens, erzähle es mir?

Die Krankheit, die meinen Körper quält, ist, am Leben zu sein: Vertreibe diese Krankheit!

Die Erinnerung macht mich unruhig, ich habe Durst nach dem Anblick von Muna (Darshan)4

Meine Augen starren in die Weite, ich werde verbrannt durch eine Brise,

Mein Gehirn dreht sich wie ein Wirbelwind, mein Herz schmerzt mich,

All meine Symptome sind in meinem Herzen, versteckt von der Außenwelt.“

 

Der Arzt schaute, der Arzt verstand, jener Arzt kam nie (mehr).

Was auch das Herzleiden sein mochte, ein Mittel dagegen wurde nicht gefunden.

Tag für Tag wurde es mit dem armen Madan noch schlimmer,

Er war bei Bewusstsein wie zuvor, seine Sprache war klar.

Oh, meine Schwester, führe diesen Haushalt,

Erfülle Mutters Wunsch nach eine Herberge5 und einem Brunnen,

Muna kümmert sich um unsere einsame Mutter, hoch oben;

Möge keine andere einsame Mutter vernachlässigt werden,

Mach den Knoten6 an meinem Kleid auf, gib mir einen Schluck Gangeswasser7,

Es gibt keine Medikamente, meine Schwester, für ein gebrochenes8 Herz!“

Die Wolken rissen auf, der Mond lächelte schön am Himmel,

Begleitet von den Sternen, schaute der Mond durch das Fenster,

Die Wolken zogen sich zusammen, Madan schlief für immer,

Am nächsten Tag war es wieder klar, und die Sonne ging auf.

 

Habt ihr den Staub aus eueren Augen gewischt, Bruder und Schwester?

Wir müssen diese Welt verstehen und nicht Feiglinge sein.

Schauen wir der Welt ins Gesicht, reißen wir uns zusammen,

Lasst unsere Flügel zum Himmel schwingen, während wir auf dieser Erde leben.

Wenn das Leben nur Essen und Trinken wäre, Herr, was wäre das Leben?

Wenn der Mensch keine Hoffnung hätte auf ein Leben danach, Herr, was wäre der Mensch?

Solange wir auf der Erde leben, schauen wir zum Himmel,

Klage nicht, wenn du nach unten auf der Erde schaust!

Der Geist ist die Lampe, der Körper das Opfer, und der Himmel die Belohnung9.

Unsere Taten10 sind unsere Gottesverehrung, so sagt Laxmiprasad11, der Dichter.

 

 

Devkota, Lakshmiprasad:Muna Madan Sajha Prakashan, Kathmandu e-mail:sajhap@wlink.com.np

 

******

 

Satis Shroff ist Journalist und Schriftsteller. Schule in Darjeelings North Point, Studium der Zoologie und Botanik an der Tribhuvan Universität (Kathmandu). Danach Tätigkeit als Lehrer der Naturwissenschaften an einer englischen Schule in Kathmandu und später Features Editor (The Rising Nepal). Verfasser der „Sprachkunde Nepals“ (Horlemann Verlag) und Veröffentlichungen in: The Christian Science Monitor, epd-Entwicklungspolitik, Nepal Information (Köln), Himal Asia, The Rising Nepal, The Independent, Nelles „Nepal“, Nepal: Myths & Realities (Book Faith India). Er studierte Creative Writing (bei Prof. Bruce Dobler, Universität Pittsburgh, und Writers Bureau Manchester). Preisträger des DAAD-Preis.

 

*****

Woman: Nature (Sharad Sharma)

 

Die Frau, der Anfang von Schöpfung,

Eine Schöpfung bei sich, nicht eine tugendvolle Gattin!

Kann nicht in die vier Wände eingesperrt werden,

Sie, die das ganze Natur verkörpert!

 

Sie kann nicht nur eine Ehefrau sein,

Diese verehrte von ihre Lieblinge.

Sie ist der Inbegriff von macht,

Sie ist die Heimat von elterliche Liebe.

 

Sie hat Flügeln von Gefühle,

Die in den Himmel fliegen,

Und herzliche Umarmungen/Liebkosungen von der Liebe,

Die ins Herzen eindringen.

 

Sie ist ihre eigene Reichtum,

Ihre eigene Herrin, Sie!

Sie kann nicht irgendwo gefesselt werden,

Eine Wolke der Freiheit ist Sie!

*****

 

Mein Traum (Toya Gurung)

 

Mein Traum

Ein Traum davon einmal

In meiner Mutterleib getragen zu werden.

Ein Traum von Geburt und Rituale

Und dann von watscheln (toddling) und lispeln.

Ein Traum davon über einen Prinz

Geträumt zu haben,

Und Schamgefühle über mich selbst.

Ein Traum von eine heimliche Hochzeit

In einem Tempel.

 

Mein Traum

Ein Traum von Patronen,

Gezielt an einem unschuldigen Brust.

Ein Traum davon, lebend auf dem Boden

Hingeschmissen zu werden.

Und gezwungen zu werden,

Das letzte gute Henkersmalzeit zu genießen.

 

Ein Traum (davon) erhängt zu werden

Lebendig von einem Baum

Und gestochen zu werden,

Von eine Bayonette.

Mein Traum

Ich weiß es nicht warum,

Verfolgt zu werden von der

Vergangenheit,

Gegenwart

Und Zukunft.

 

*****

 

Phulmayas Dasainfest (Binaya Rawal)

 

Ich fragte Phulmaya

Als ich sie letztes Jahr in Mugling traf:

„Wie hast Du den Dasainfest dieses Jahr verbracht?“

 

Mit eine traurige Stimme erwiderte sie:

„Ich konnte meine Wünsche nicht erfüllen,

Schöne Kleider dieses Jahr zu tragen, Bruder,

Aber ich aß viele Pokhrelireis,

Leckere Currysauce (aber ohne Fleisch).“

 

Sie sagte sofort:

„Dieses Jahr lud mich der Bruder von Auswärts

Zum Curryreis,

Gab mir schöne Kleider zu tragen,

Schenkte mir ein wenig Juwelen auch.

Ich hatte eine großartige Dasainfest.

 

Dieses Jahr kam ich in Bombay an.

Als ich spazieren ging in Bombay

Winkte jemand von weitem.

Das Gesicht kam mir bekannt vor,

Ich kam näher und plötzlich rief meine Name:

„Phulmaya!“

 

Weinend sagte Phulmaya:

„Bruder, warum fragtest Du nicht,

Wie Du den Dasainfest diesmal verbracht hast?“

 

*****

 

Am Abend mit dem Auto (Abhi Subedi)

 

Die Stadt hebt ein Mund

Um Thamels Verkehr

Neben der königliche Palast,

Und hupt und ruft

Die Abenddämmerung,

In eine chaotischen Mannier.

 

Vögel

Singen nicht mehr in Chorus

In diese Bäume

Verpflanzt am Asphalt.

 

Der Palast hat eine Geschichte,

Mit federnen Himmel (feathery sky)

Übergossen mit Düngemittel

Über die Arsenale.

 

Königliche Wappen

Mit trockene Vogelmist

Getragen von Generäle,

Die Faul gegen eine Kater kämpfen.

 

Wie oft

Habe ich die Geschichte

Aus all diese ausgeringt?

Am Abend fährt ein Auto vorbei

Auf einem Autofenster

Rastet der Arm einer Frau:

Voller Handreifen.

 

Abend

In Thamel steht nebenan

In der Nation bricht der Tumult aus.

 

*****

 

Jumla (Bimal Nibha)

 

Der Traum ist verloren.

Nirgendwo gibt es Licht.

Warst Du in eine Siedlung,

Die von der Dunkelheit verschluckt war?

 

Die nackte Berge

Stehen wie kriminellen,

Die keine Nahrung mehr zu geben haben.

Was auch dort ist,

Das unertragbares (barren) Land

Streckt überall.

 

Die Herzen von Männern schlagen

In den Rippen von Schafe und Kühe,

Zwei kalte Hände,

Die verlangen nach Berührung haben,

Bewegen sich unendlich.

 

Den Dörfern berührend,

Fließt ein Fluss,

Wo große und kleine runde Steine

Miteinander stoßen.

Aber das verursacht kein Lärm.

Ist Jumla ruhig?

 

Das Aussehen von Brot hat sich geändert.

Der Geschmack von Hunger ist Bitter geworden.

Und die Leere im Inneren des Magens,

Hat sich übergeben und ist raus gekommen.

 

Dieses Jahr ist es sehr kalt.

Der Schweiß fließt,

Und der Körper des Mensch,

Der neben das Feuer steht,

Glüht wie Kupfer.

 

Der Saison ist unvorhersehbar in Jumla.

Plötzlich beginnen die Wälder zu pfeifen.

Hast Du den Pinienzweigen betrachtet,

Der wie eine (scaffold) schwebt?

 

*****

 

Der Bildhauer (Jiwan Acharya 1960-1991)

 

Ich lief um viele Statuen herum

Meisterlich gemachte Kunstwerke.

Ich lobe die Hände und suche

Das Hirn, der Körper.

In anderen Worten, der Künstler.

 

Eine Statue regt sich! (bewegt)

Ich bin erstaunt.

Diese Werke der Kunst

Sind nicht nur schön,

Sie sind auch lebendig!

 

Schau!

Die Statue fängt an zu sprechen

Von der Menge:

„Lieber Herr, bitte kauf mich zuerst!

Ich verhungere!“

 

*****

 

Munglin (Jiwan Acharya)

 

Als Munglin mich zum Abendmahl heranzog,

Als ob ich ihre Gatte wäre,

Sagte sie, dass sie mir ein Lächeln schenken wurde.

Sie ließ mich im Haus warten,

Und sagte zu einem anderen Mann auf der Strasse,

Dass sie ihm den selben Lächeln servieren wurde.

 

*****

 

Mein Alptraum (Satis Shroff)

 

Wenn die Nacht nicht so Kalt ist,

Wenn ich im Bett bin

Träume ich von einem entfernten Land.

Ein Land wo ein König über seinen Reich regiert

Ein Land wo es noch Bauern gibt, ohne Rechte,

Die Felder bestellen, die denen nicht gehören.

Ein Land wo die Kinder arbeiten müssen,

Und keine die Zeit für Tagträumerei haben.

Wo Mädchen das Gras schneiden

Und schwere Körbe auf dem Rücken tragen.

Winzige Füße, die steilen Wege gehen.

Ein Land, wo der Vater Holz sammelt und zerstückelt,

Die schließlich nur ein Paar Rupien bringen,

Von Sonnenaufgang bis Sonnenuntergang.

Ein Land, wo unschuldige Mädchen

Ihre rechte Hand ausstrecken,

Und werden mit Dollars belohnt.

 

Ein Land, wo eine Frau weiße, rote, gelbe und lila

Tabletten und Pillen sammelt,

Von den altruistischen Touristen, die vorbei laufen.

Die meisten sind weder Ärzte noch Krankenschwestern.

Dennoch verteilen Sie Pillen,

Sich ohne Gedanken zu machen über die Nebenwirkungen.

Die Nepali Frau besitzt eine Arsenal

Von potente Pharmaka.

Sie kann die fein gedruckte Hinweise nicht lesen,

Weil sie auf Deutsch, Französisch, Englisch

Oder Spanisch sind,

Die Hieroglyphen von viele ferne Grammatik.

Schwarze Buchstaben sehen aus

Wie asiatische Wasserbüffel in ihren Augen.

Kala akshar, bhaisi barabar“ sagt die Nepali Frau.

 

Die Gedanken, dass sie Pillen und Tabletten

An andere Kranke Nepali Mütter oder Kinder verteilt,

Macht mir Angst.

Wie gedankenlos, diese Fremden,

Die Trekker und Bergsteiger mit Bildung,

Die medizinische Almosen geben,

Und dabei die makabere Rollen von Ärzte,

Im Schatten des Himalaya, spielen.

 

Glossar:

Kala: Schwarz

Akshar: Buchstaben

Bhaisi: Wasserbüffel

Barabar: ist gleich/ähnlich wie

 

 

 

Das göttliche in Dir (Satis Shroff)

 

Wenn das vertraute plötzlich Fremd wird,

Die Fremde wird vertraut.

Eine fremde Zunge und fremde Sitten,

Fremd zueinander

Ein Nepali trifft ein Schweizer Fräulein

In den Bergen von Grindelwald.

 

Ein fremder in ein vertrautes Landschaft,

Eine Welt voller eisige Schneehänge

Dennoch wuchs eine Wärme.

 

Wir hatten die gleiche Gedanken

Ohne ein gemeinsames Wort.

Die Gesten und die Mimik sagten:

Wir verstehen uns.

 

Namaste! Auf wiedersehen!

Auf wiedersehen! Namaste!

Wir werden uns wiedersehen.

Ich begrüße das göttliche in Dir.

 

*****

 

Santa Fe (Satis Shroff)

 

Ein deutscher Professor machte mir den Hof

Und sagte, dass ich trotzdem mein Kreatives Schreiben

Weitermachen dürfte,

Wenn ich ihm heiraten würde.

Ich gab ihn das Jawort,

Schenkte ihm fünf Kinder

Und hatte fürs Schreiben keine Zeit.

 

Ich war ewig dabei

Pampers zu wechseln,

Popos einzukremen

Für sieben Familiemitgliedern zu kochen.

Ich staubte die vielen Fenstern und Möbeln ab.

Polierte das Treppenhaus

Räumte immer die Kindersachen auf,

In einem dreistöckigen Haus.

Ich fütterte und pflegte den Kleinen,

Lobte und streichelte den Größeren.

 

Ich hatte plötzlich keine Zeit

Für mich und meine Belange.

Hin und wieder hatte ich eine Inspiration

Aber ich hatte keine Zeit

Und die Gedanken sind in Luft aufgelöst.

Verloren waren meine intellektuelle Kostbarkeiten,

Zwischen Sonnenaufgang und Sonnenuntergang.

 

Eine Müdigkeit fiel über mich.

Ich war froh, wenn ich einmal gut schlief.

Der Schlaf tröstete mich nach meiner Hausarbeit.

Die Familie war zu sehr mit mir.

 

Eines Tages habe ich mir auf den Weg

Nach Santa Fe gemacht,

Der einzige Ort wo ich mich frei fühlte.

Frei zu denken und auszusortieren

Und sie in meinem Laptop heranwachsen zu sehen.

 

*****

 

Der Makel (Satis Shroff)

 

Ich lebe in ständiger Angst

Entdeckt zu werden.

Meine Frau weiß es

Meine Tochter weiß es

Sonst niemand.

Ich fühle mich wie ein Versager,

Denn ich habe einen Makel.

 

Die Gründe liegen im Elternhaus,

Teilweise in der Schule.

Meine Eltern hatten keine Zeit für mich

Sie schufteten und schafften.

Vater kam oft mit einer Fahne.

Er schlug auf Mutter und uns.

Mein Lehrer verprügelte mich auch.

Ich bekam Lernprobleme.

 

Als Kind musste ich in den Feldern arbeiten,

Denn mein Vater war Bauer.

Ich wurde als Kind vernachlässigt.

Meine Mutter hätte mir geholfen,

Aber sie war Müde und ratlos.

Ich mogelte mich durch in der Schule,

Schaffte aber den Schulabschluss nicht.

So wuchs ich als Mann auf

Ohne Lesen,

Ohne Schreiben

Zu können.

 

*****

 

Der Zerbrochene Dichter (Satis Shroff)

 

Ich war der Präsident von der Nepali Literarische Gesellschaft

Und mein Reich war ein kleines Königreich

Von Dichtern und Schriftstellern am Hang des Himalaya.

Ich machte viel Fortschritte,

Nachdem ich als Buchhalter in Seiner Majestätsregierung anfing.

Ich war Brahmane und nahm eine Chettri als Frau,

Schön wie ein Bollywood Sternchen.

Jedes mal als ich ihre Antlitz betrachtete,

Wurde meine Männlichkeit geschmeichelt.

Ach, weil sie ein Jahrzehnt jünger war als ich.

Ich fing an spät zu schreiben

Und veröffentlichte ein Gedicht.

Die Kritiker sagten meine Verse wären schlecht

Und ich bekam mehrere Abfuhren.

Durch Zufall begegnete ich einem begabten jungen Mann,

Der mein Ghostwriter wurde.

 

Während ich mit meinem Geschäft beschäftigt war,

Und die Zahlen hin und her schob,

Schrieb er wunderschöne Verse

Und Kurzgeschichten in meinem Name.

Meinem Ruf wuchs im Königreich.

Ich wurde hoch verehrt für meine endlose Kreativität.

Gedichtbände mit meine Name sind erschienen.

Sie wurden in literarischen Kreisen vorgelesen.

Ich wurde produktiv und Prominent.

Bis mein Ghostwriter meine schöne Frau nahm

Und verschwand.

 

Da war ich: Ein alter, verletzter, zerbrochener Mann,

Der im Bett lag und auf Yamaraj wartete, der Gott des Todes.

Ich bereitete mich vor um dem ewigen Schicksal

Meines Lebens zu begegnen,

Nach einer Diagnose von Leberzirrhose.

Der Raksi, Gurkha Rum und teuere schottische Scotch

Hatten mich umgebracht.

 

Bis zum bitteren Ende riss ich mich zusammen.

 

 

Die heilige Kühe von Kathmandu (Satis Shroff)

 

Heilige Kuh!

Der Bürgermeister von Kathmandu

Hat es geschafft.

Seit Jahrhundert eine Tabu

Die freie, nonchalant Kühe von Kathmandu

Wurden zusammengetrieben

Wie bei einem Rodeo von der Nepali Polizei.

War es Nandi, Shivas Stier?

Oder heilige Kühe?

„Trotzdem sind sie Rinder,“ sagte der Bürgermeister.

„Streunende Kühe sind nicht erwünscht.“

 

Achtundachtzig heilige Kühe

Kamen unter das Hammer

Nicht bei Sothebys

Sondern in Kathmandu.

Die Auktion brachte 64,460 Rupien.

 

Kühe waren Hindernisse

Für Fußgänger und Touristen in Thamel.

Kühe die Dünger lieferten,

Und andere Produkte:

Milch, Joghurt und Butter

Für den Hindus und Buddhisten in Kathmandu.

Kühe gaben Urin

Das die Hindus eifrig sammelten

Und für religiöse Zeremonien brauchten.

Kühe waren Heilig

Und wurden angebetet und verehrt

Als die Kuhmutter.

 

Kühe die geschenkt wurden

Und frei gesetzt von den Brahmanen und Chettris

Um sich von ihren Sünden zu befreien.

Kühe, die eine Zeichen für Gaijatra waren,

Eine achttägige Hommage an den verstorbenen.

 

Es war ein König, so eine Legende,

Der Befahl, dass Kühe freigesetzt sollen

Von Familien die trauerten,

In den Strassen von Kathmandu,

Lalitpur und Bhadgaon,

Um die Schmerzen von einem verstorbenen Prinz

Zu verkraften,

Und eine traurige Mutter und Königen

Zu trösten.

 

Die Kinder verkleideten sich

Als groteske Kühe und lustige Figuren

Und tanzten zu Nepali Musik,

Um die Königen zum lachen zu bringen

Und ihre Tränen zu wischen.

 

Glossar:

Rs. 64,460=1150 Euro

 

 

Die Berge sind Menschenleer (Satis Shroff)

 

Wo sind die jungen Leute?

Die Männer sind in fremden Armeeen

Und dienen ausländischen Herren.

 

Die schönen, Gehörsamen Frauen

Sind in Bombays und Kalkuttas Bordellen verführt.

 

Und sie Fragen mich:

„Wo die jungen Leute sind?“

 

Sie gingen fort um zu überleben,

Weil eine Kälte sich im Königreich verbreitet hat.

Die Dürre, die Hungersnot,

Die Armut, die Vetterwirtschaft

Und der Feudalismus

Und der Fluch unter den Namen

Afnu manchey

und Chakari

geht.

 

Glossar:

Afnu manchey: Leute von dem eigenen Kasten (Vitamin B)

Chakari: Speichelleckerei, Dienstleistungen in einer feudalen Hierarchie

 

————————————————————–

 

Nur Sagarmatha weiß es (Satis Shroff)

 

Der Sherpa stapft durch die Schnee

Keucht und Kämpft

Und bereitet den Weg

Mit Fixierseil, Leitern,

Haken und Spikes vor,

Und sagt: „Folgen Sie mir, Sir.“

 

Letzte Saison war es ein Tiroler, ein Tokyoter

Und ein Gentleman von Vienna.

Diesmal ist es ein Sahib aus Bolognia,

Mit Gesundheitsversicherung

Und Lebensversicherung,

Bewaffnet mit Kreditkarten und Stolz,

Stürmen Sie die Himalaya Gipfeln,

Mit der Hilfe von Nepalis.

 

Hillary nahm Tenzings Bild auf.

Ach, die Zeiten haben sich geändert.

Für den Sahib ist es pure Eitelkeit,

Für den Sherpa krasse Existenzkampf.

 

Durch stürmische Wetter und der Sherpas

Können und schaffen am vorherigen Tag,

Nimmt der Sahib einen kräftigen Zug Sauerstoff,

Er denkt laut im Basislager:

„Die Sherpas können eh nicht kommunizieren,

Die sind des Schreibens und Lesens

Unkundig zu der Außenwelt.“

 

Der Sahib täuscht Krankheit und klettert runter.

 

Und macht ein Solo Klettern am nächsten Tag.

Und so wächst die Legende

Von der Sahib auf dem Gipfel.

Ein Digitalfoto geht rund um die Welt

Ohne Sherpa

Ohne Sauerstoff.

 

War es ein faires Verhalten?

Nur Sagarmatha weiß es

Nur Sagarmatha weiß es.

 

*****

 

Die Frau des Professors (Satis Shroff)

 

„Mein Mann ist verrückt, er spinnt,“

Sagt Frau Fleckenstein, meine Vermieterin,

Als sie die Marmor Treppe schwankend hinunter kommt.

Sie bremst ihre torkelnde Gang

Mit einem Schluckauf

Und sagt: „ Entschuldigen Sie,“

Und entlädt ihre Elend, Unzufriedenheit,

Melancholie

Und Leid.

Der Emotionsstau von vierzig Ehejahren.

 

Ihr Mann ist ein angesehener Intellektueller.

Ein Ehrenwürdiger Mann.

Ein Professor mit einer jungen Geliebten.

Und sie hat ihre wohlgeformte Flaschen:

Rotwein, Weißwein,

Burgunder, Tokay und Ruländer,

Schwarzwälderschnaps, Whiskey,

Kirchwasser und Feuerwasser.

Je hochprozentiger

desto besser.

 

Sie verteidigt sich

Sie verletzt sich

Mit Bitterkeit und Eifer.

Ihre Schönheit ist verblasst.

Einst ihre Kapital,

Jetzt ein Handikap.

Ein ledernes Haut,

Taschen unter den Augen,

Vernachlässigte blonde Haare

Und ein Spitzbauch

von abendlichen Naschereien.

Eine verfaulte Leber,

Und ein Überschuss an Zorn.

Eine Fee die eine Nörglerin

Geworden ist.

 

Spannung liegt in der Luft

Töpfe und Pfannen fliegen in der Luft

Furie und Frustration,

Zorn und Bösartigkeit.

Eine Ehe ist zerrüttet

 

Was übrig bleibt ist eine Fassade,

Von einem Professor und seiner Gattin.

Grau und grausam zueinander.

Maskierte Gesichter die sagen:

„Guten Tag,“

Wenn es innen bewölkt, stürmisch,

Hurrikanartig ist.

 

Sie vergeben und vergessen.

Das ist menschliche Schwäche.

„Ich ertrage mein Groll“ sagt Milady.

Und mein Vermieter ist ein wahrer Herr.

Herr über sein Reichtum,

Frau und sein elendes Eheleben.

Ein erbarmloses, reuloses,

mitleidloses Dasein,

Im Winter ihres Lebens.

 

Zu alt sich scheiden zu lassen,

Zu jung um zu sterben.

Was übrig bleibt ist nur die Lüge.

 

*****

 

Mental Molotovs (Satis Shroff)

 

Wenn Hoyerswerda brennt

Diskutieren sie über Asylanten.

Friedliche, Rechtbewusste Deutsche

Gehen mit Kerzen auf die Strassen.

 

Wenn ein Haus in Mölln brennt

Diskutieren sie ob sie Soldaten

Von den Gefahren von Somalia

zurückbringen sollen.

 

Bei der türkischen Beerdigung in Solingen,

Blieb der Kanzler weg.

Und vermied so das

Faule Eier und überreife Tomaten,

In seine Richtung fliegen würden.

 

Bei der Gerichtsverhandlung

Kommt der Skin und der Neonazi

Mit vielen Haaren auf dem Kopf.

Eine wahre Umwandlung.

Er trägt ein Zweiteiler Anzug,

Eine Krawatte um seinen Hals

Und sieht so respektabel aus.

Er schaut in die Kamera

Mit klaren, kalten, blauen Augen und

Sagt: „Ich bin unschuldig

Und ein Opfer der

Modernen Industriegesellschaft,“

Und zieht seine ursprüngliche Aussage zurück.

 

Die Richter sind Nachsichtig,

Und der Neo wird auf

Freien Fuß gesetzt.

Draußen gestikuliert mit seinem Mittelfinger

Und sagt: „Leck mich am Arsch!“

Als er in einem Auto wegfährt,

Und kommt wieder mit einem Molotov,

Wie ein Sphinx aus der Asche.

„Ausländer raus!

Deutschland den Deutschen!“

Das sind die Parolen

Von den neunziger Jahren

Und jetzt noch.

Die alte Schwarz und Weiß Fahne

Von dem Dritte Reich

Verursacht kein staunen mehr,

In Fußballstadien, Strassen und Kneipen.

 

*****

Wonderful clarity and good details. (Sharon Mc Cartney, Fiddlehead Poetry Journal)

 

Satis Shroff writes with intelligence, wit and grace. (Bruce Dobler, Senior Fulbright Professor in Creative Writing, University of Pittsburgh).

————————————————————————–

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 Indra:Herr des Himmels, der Götterkönig des vedischen Pantheons. Er ist auch die göttliche Personifikation des Kampfes der Indoarier gegen die vorarische Bevölkerung.

2 Janu cha uspari: Ich muß zu der andere Seite d.h. diese Welt verlassen. Pari jarnu bedeutet Überqueren und zum Swarga (Himmel) gelangen.

3 Arzt: Im Text wird ein Baidya erwähnt, ein traditionelle Heiler.

4 Darshan: Im Text heißt es ‘darshan‘, was eine Vision,, Erscheinung oder auch Audienz,von seine Geliebten Muna bedeuten kann.

5 Pati ra dhara: Pati ist eine Herberge für Pilger und andere Reisende als eine caritative Tat um sein Karma zu verbessern. Dhara bedeutet Brunnen, und solche Einrichtungen sind wichtig da in den Mittelgebirge Nepals Wasser eine rare Kommodität ist und die Pilger bzw. Reisenden sind dankbar dafür.

6 Phukau tana: Die Nepali Männer tragen daura-suruwal, mit dem daura als Oberteil, die am linken Schulter geknotet ist mit einer einfachen Schleife. Hier könnte es auch „mache meine Kleider locker“ bedeuten.

7 Gangeswasser: Das Wasser des Ganges gilt als Heilig. Auch heute streuen die Hindus (von Nepal und Indien) noch die Asche Verstorbener in das reinigende Wasser eines heiligen Flüsses (z:B. Ganges in Indien, Bagmati und Bishnumati in Kathmandutal).

8 Phutey-ko mutu: zerbrochenes Herz, der Vergleich ist mit Glas.

9. Swarga cha prasad: Der Himmel ist die Belohnung. Prasad ist eigentlich die gesegnete Opfergabe die man vom Priester bekommt, nach einer rituelle hinduistischen Zeremonie.

10 Karma ko puja: Hier sind die Taten im Leben eines Menschen gemeint, die auch als Gottesverehrung dienen.

11 Bhancha jo Laxmiprasad: Es ist eine alte Tradition in hinduistischen Bhaktigedichten für einen Dichter seinen Namen in der letzte Strophe preiszugeben.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Grünfelder, Alice (Editor), Himalaya: Menschen und Mythen, Zürich Unionsverlag, 314 pages, EURO 19, 80 (ISBN 3-293-00298-6).

Alice Grünfelder has studied Sinology and German literature, lived two years in China and works in the publishing branch in Berlin. This book is comparable to a bouquet of the choicest Himalayan flowers picked by the editor in a hurry, because a lot of authors have been left out, and deals with the trials and tribulations of a cross-section of the people in the 450 km long Abode of the Snows—the Himalayas. The book orients, as expected, on the English translations of Himalayan literature. The chances of having Nepali literature translated into foreign languages depends upon the Nepalis themselves, because foreigners mostly loath to learn Nepali. If a translation is published in English the success of the book is used as a yardstick to decide whether it is going to be profitable to bring it out in European or in other languages. Nevertheless, there are some Nepalese authors who have made it in the international publishing market. When I visited the International Frankfurter Book Fair and BookBasel, like every year, I was surprised that at least one poet from Nepal had made it, with a German self-publisher and photograph.

 

Nepal is conspicuous with contributions by the anthropologist Dor Bahadur Bista, the climber Tenzing Norgay, the Kathmandu-based journalists Kanak Dixit and Deepak Thapa, the tourist-guide Shankar Lamichane, the poet Pallav Ranjan and the development-specialist Harka Gurung. For regular readers of Himal Asia, The Rising Nepal and GEO some of these stories are perhaps not new but this book is aimed at the German speaking readers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. In addition to the seven Nepali authors, there are also stories by seven Indian, three Tibetan, two Chinese authors and two Bhutanese authors.

 

Some of the themes that have been dealt with in this collection are: the pros and cons of westernisation as told by Kanak Dixit in “Which Himalaya would you like?” and an endearing story of a journey through Nepal as a Nepali frog named Bhaktaprasad. K.C. Bhanja, the ecology-conscious climber writes about the spiritual meaning of our fragile heritage—the Himalayas. “The Himalayan Ballads” by the Chinese author Ma Yuan, “The Eternal Mountains” by the Han-Chinese Jin Zhiguo, the Indian climber H. P. S. Ahluwalia in “Higher than Everest” und Swami Pranavanadas in his Pilgrim journey to Kailash and the Manasovar Lake” have presented the mountains from different perspectives. Tenzing Norgay, the first Nepali who reached the top of Mount Everest with Edmund Hillary, says that he was a happy person.

 

The Nepali journalist Deepak Thapa portrays the famous Sherpa climber Ang Rita as a social “Upwardly Mobile” person. Whereas in Kunzang Choden’s story (In the Tracks of the Migoi) we learn that the Bhutanese, as a Buddhist folk, are not capable of harming even a small animal, in another story Kanak Dixit tells us about the 100 000 Lhotshampas (Bhutanese citizens of Nepali origin) who were thrown out by the Bhutanese government and live in refugee-camps in Jhapa. The curio art-trader Shanker Lamichane’s “The Half Closed Eyes of the Buddha and the Slowly Setting Sun” is a poignant tale of a paralysed boy’s karma, related as a dialogue between a Nepali guide and a tourist. The helpless child makes us think in his mute way about the joys in everyday life that we don’t see and feel, because the world is too much with us. Whereas Harka Gurung has gathered facts and fiction“ and tells us about the different aspects of the Snowman, another author who is a psychologist from Bhutan, tells us about yaks, yak-keepers and the Yeti and we come to know through an old yak-keeper named Mimi Khandola, how the friendly creature called the Migoi, alias Yeti, gets chased and killed by a group of wild-dogs. In “Not Even a Corpse to Cremate” we learn about the traumatic shock and tragic fate of a girl named Pem Doikar, who was kidnapped by a Migoi.

 

This anthology does not profess to represent Himalayan literature as a whole, but lays emphasis on the people and myths centred around the Himalayas. For instance, the Nepali world that the poets and writers describe and create is a different one, compared to the western one. It is true that trekking-tourism, modern technology, the aid-industry, NGOs, aids and globalisation have reached Nepal, Bhutan, India, but the areas not frequented by the trekking and climbing tourists still remain rural, tradition-bound and untouched by modernity.

 

There are hardly any books written by writers from the Himalayas at the Frankfurter Book Fair. It’s always the travelling tourist, geologist, geographer, biologist, climber and ethnologist who writes about Nepal, Tibet, Zanskar, Mustang, Bhutan, Sikkim, Ladakh and its people, culture, religion, environment, flora and fauna. The Himalayan people have always been statists in the visit-the-Himalaya-scenarios published in New York, Paris, Munich and Sydney and they are described through western eyes.

 

But there have been generations of thinking and writing Nepalis, Indians, Bhutanese and Tibetans who have written and published hundreds of books and magazines in their own languages in Nepal, Benaras (Varanasi), Kalimpong, Kurseong, Darjeeling. In Patan’s Madan Puraskar Library alone, which Mr. Kamal Mani Dixit, Patan’s Man of Letters, describes as the “Temple of Nepali language”, there are 15,000 Nepali books and 3500 different magazines and periodicals about which the western world hasn’t heard or read. A start was made by Michael Hutt of the School of Oriental Studies London, in his English translation of contemporary Nepali prose and verse in Himalayan Voices and Modern Nepali Literature. It took him eight years to write his book and he took the trouble to meet most of the Nepali authors in Nepal and Darjeeling. In the meantime, there are a handful of websites that cater to the demands of creative writers in Nepal and the Nepalese diaspora, and more and more Nepalese from Nepal, India and abroad are using these websites to write about Nepalese literature and let their own creative juices flow in the web. Some of these sites are: sonog.com, nepal.com, kantipur.com, mos.com.np, hknepal.com, wnso.com, geocities.com. The Nepalese living in the USA have their own International Nepalese Literary Society with prizes for publishing, in good olde Germany they have Nepal Information (where you can have your dissertations published, otherwise it’s very Royal Family centred), which is closely related to the Nepalese Embassy and, of course, Boloji.com. Nepalese literature describes also the situation of Nepalese in the diaspora in other Himalayan states. Nepalese literature exists in Kathmandu, but also in Darjeeling, Kurseong, Kalimpong, Assam, Nagaland und Gangtok (Sikkim). There are literary societies and annual literary awards for Nepalese authors and poets. The most renowned prizes are: Royal Nepal Akademie Prize, Tribhuvan Puraskar, Madan Puraskar, Sajha Preis, Nepali Literatur Society Prize (Darjeeling), Nepali Academy Prize (West Bengal) und National Literature Academy Prize (Delhi).

 

The readers in the western world will know more about Himalayan literature as more and more original literary works are translated from Nepali, Tibetan, Hindi, Bhutanese, Lepcha, Bengali into English, German, French and other languages of the EU. The first foreign language, however, will remain English because the East India Company got there first.

 

This book compiled by Ms. Grünfelder creates sympathy and understanding for the Nepali, Indian, Bhutanese, Tibetan, Chinese psyche, culture, religion, living conditions and human problems in the urban and rural Himalayan environment, and is a welcome addition to the slowly growing translated collection of Himalayan literature penned by writers living in the Himalayas.

Satis Shroff is a journalist & poet. He did his schooling in Darjeeling, studied Zoologie und Botanik at the Tribhuvan University (Kathmandu). After that he worked as a science teacher in an English school in Kathmandu and later as a journalist in the features section of The Rising Nepal. He has written two books on the Nepali language for German readers „Sprachkunde Nepals“ (Horlemann Verlag) and published in: The Christian Science Monitor, epd-Entwicklungspolitik, Nepal Information (Cologne), Himal Asia, The Rising Nepal, The Independent, Nelles „Nepal“, Nepal: Myths & Realities (Book Faith India). He studied Creative Writing (under Associate Prof. Bruce Dobler, MFA, Universität of Iowa, und Writers Bureau Manchester), and writes for The American Chronicle, Blog.ch and WordPress.com. He was awarded the German Academic Prize, and works as a lecturer in Basle (Switzerland).

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Mom, I’ve received an invitation from Raj. I’m going to Germany!’

 

Saraswati’s mother, who had just finished her morning puja1 and meditation in her house-altar, and was carrying a copper plate with tika and other offerings, replied rather shocked, ‘Germany? Why on earth do you want to go to Germany? All those terrible skinheads and neonazis! How could you do such a thing? Didn’t you see the horrid pictures in Nepal TV and BBC? And the sad letters that your brother Raj wrote to us? It’s sad enough to have a son living abroad and now you want to leave your country, your matribhumi2.’

 

Saraswati tried to comfort her mother and said, ‘ But mom, I’m not leaving my country forever. I’ll just do a bit of sight-seeing and return home.’

 

Your brother also went to study and came back with a memsahib as a buhari3. Not that I have anything against Claudia, she’s a decent daughter-in-law, but I’m worried about you. You’re a young girl, and not a man. Think of the dangers in a foreign country’.

 

Mom, you can’t worry about everybody all your life. In my absence you could live with Sandhya and her family in Biratnagar.’

 

Please don’t mention Biratnagar,’ replied Mayadevi disdainfully.

 

You know that I can’t bear the beastly heat down there in the Terai. I am a pahari4 woman. All those cockroaches, lizards, snakes and pesky mosquitoes. No thank you. I prefer to live here in Kathmandu and battle with the bad air, rising prices of vegetables, change of governments and so forth.’

 

Mayadevi blessed her daughter by applying a scarlet tika on her forehead and went on to admonish her. ‘Let me read what Raj wrote about Germany’. And with that she went to her bedroom took out a letter from a bundle of blue-and-red striped airmail envelopes and put on her reading glasses.

 

Mom, I’ve also read the letters quite a few times.’

 

And you still want to go to Germany? A country where 45,000 Nepalese soldiers died in trenches in the two World Wars ?’

 

It took weeks to pacify her mother but finally Deviji resigned to her fate and moaned, ‘Perhaps it is my tagdir. Perhaps the Gods will it this way.’

 

And so it was on a lazy Saturday afternoon in June that Saraswati out to board the jet that was to take her to Germany. There was a haze over Kathmandu, obscuring the normally picturesque blue Mahabharat Mountains girdling the valley. The Himalayas weren’t visible either.

 

A Nepalese policeman with a walkie-talkie was strutting on the tarmac of Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport rather importantly. The mobile staircase sped away from the belly of RNAC’s Frankfurt-bound 747 jet. The engines began to purr and whistle to a crescendo. Saraswati peered out of the jet-window to catch a glimpse of Surendra and Rani, who’d come to see her off, in vain. Surendra was a college friend with whom her brother had lived at the Amrit Science College hostel in Thamel. They had gone to school in the Darjeeling district and both of them came from Eastern Nepal. They’d done their Intermediate in Science from Ascol and had stayed on in Kathmandu to do their Bachelor’s degrees. After college Surendra had gone to Australia for higher studies and her brother had gone to Germany on a scholarship, but they’d remained good friends. Whereas Surendra had returned to Kathmandu and had married and built a house, her brother had settled down in Germany.

 

Inside, two experienced sari-clad stewardesses, with rich glistening jet-black hair, began to show the passengers the routine safety and emergency gadgets. A moustachioed Nepalese steward started along the aisle with a bamboo basket full of bon-bons, a curt commercial smile on his round face. The jet headed for the northern end of the runway, swerved around, came screaming down towards the southern approach and left the ground.

 

There was a time when this same airport was described as being the size of a handkerchief. Some handkerchief, with DC-10, Jumbo-Boeings and Airbuses landing all the time, not to speak of the internal-flights of RNAC, Necon, Nepal Airways and so forth.

 

 

The sun was going down in the Mahabharat mountains and the clouds appeared yellowish, with orange taints. Through a break in the clouds you could see the lights of Kathmandu winking at you, and glittering as though myriads of gemstones were scattered from the heavens by Manjushri5.

And suddenly Saraswati saw the Himalayas: majestic and breathtaking. It certainly is one thing to look at the snows from below, but quite another to peer at them from above. Snowy clouds appeared and then a meandering river and behold, the Himalayas, those tectonic giants.

 

There were orange tipped mountains in the distance because the sun was setting and you recognised Mt. Langtang instantly with its broad conical peak. Further to the west another massif: the Ganesh Himal, and then the Manaslu and Himalchuli. Far out, sticking out like the tail-fin of a fish, the Machapuchare, followed by the still higher Annapurna South. But Saraswati’s thoughts were elsewhere.

 

She was thinking about the wonderful Nepalese friends she was leaving behind. She thought about her sister Sandhya and her traditional presents meant for her brother. Her mother Deviji, who’d insisted on sending a radish -chutney (pickel) and some expensive Nepalese rugs. She had no idea that an air-passenger was permitted to take only 20 kilos of baggage. How could she, anyway? She’d never flown in her life.

 

She’d travelled with her husband throughout the India subcontinent by train and bus and had often been to Bombay and Calcutta, and naturally to places of pilgrimage from Hardwar in the north to Kanyakumari in the south, and naturally to Benaras and Mathura to bathe in the holy, but hopelessly polluted Ganges. She’d seen a lot of US air-planes flying sorties to the jungles of Burma against the Japanese during the Second World War, when she spent her holidays in Assam with her grandma and grandpa. Grandpa used to run coal-mines in Assam and was rather influential and entertained the British gorasahibs6 and their memsahibs by organising hunts in the Terai for them, and was also known for his parties.

 

Deviji was a child then, and cherished and treasured a green toothbrush an American fighter-pilot had given her as a parting present, before he went on a mission and never came back. The Japanese must have got him in Mandalay.

 

We’re flying over Lucknow city, fine weather, ninety degrees Fahrenheit,’ cut in the captain. Then came the usual Nepalese and western music. And in next to no time they were soaring over Delhi and headed for the United Arab Emirate.

 

Lunch was an orgy with shiek kababs, tuna and dessert. And the dinner was a cinch. Saraswati sat near a small woman from Sikkim named Nirmala who’d been invited to Germany by her German boy-friend. She’d only seen him a year ago in Gangtok. And here she was with mixed emotions, for the first time in a big jet that was hurtling through foreign skies taking her to a destination and fate that was unknown. She had no idea what Germany was like, the German language, leave alone life in Germany. It was a big question mark. She was trying to hope for the best and to make the best of it. Saraswati thought, at least she had the assurance that her brother would be waiting at the other end, for she’d sent him a fax through Surendra’s NGO office and had telephoned with him.

 

A Sikkimese male, a Lepcha, was sitting next to her and he answered her questions put in Nepali, in English. He was one of those convent-educated brown sahibs, who took pride in speaking English and even humming the latest MTV-hits, oblivious of politics, culture, tradition and religion. An orientation towards the west without any objective criticism. But Saraswati preferred a sympathetic Sikkimese to an arrogant Bhutanese official, especially after they threw out thousands of Bhutanese of Nepalese origin, and Nepal has been taking care of them ever since.

 

The German newsmagazine Der Spiegel once called Bhutan’s King Jigme ‘a buddhistic ecological dictator which takes pride as a model-nation of the Himalayas.’ The poorer section of the Bhutanese people are just as innocent, unspoilt, honest-to-God like the Nepalese. It’s only that the King of Bhutan and his government approve of subtle, medieval, undemocratic methods in their dealings with the Nepalese, creating thereby tragic problems for thousands of Nepalese, instead of letting them live according to their own ancient Nepalese traditions and customs. On the other hand, Bhutan isn’t exactly, what one might call, a democratic state. What the King of Bhutan and his Foreign Minister have precisely done is shove their Bhutanese ethnicity and bureaucratic ideals and values down the throats of the so-called Lhotsampas.7 A policy of live and let live would have been appropriate in that Himalayan Kingdom. Bhutan doesn’t seem to have learned and absorbed much from the teachings of Buddha. One thing that Bhutan understands is tourism management.

 

When the passengers alighted at the United Arab Emirate, Saraswati and Nirmala followed their Sikkimese dandy to the terminal where he advised them to stick together ‘lest they be enticed to a sheikh’s harem.’ It was strange and exciting to see so many sheikhs in flowing kaftans, sauntering around with their families, heading for destinations around the globe: have oil, will travel. The cleanliness and sterility of the Arab airport terminal and the luxurious shop windows impressed her. Soon it was time for them to board the jet again. The next stop was Frankfurt.

 

As the jet flew over Frankfurt Saraswati felt elated. She was wondering what her brother would look like after such a long time. Perhaps he’d put on weight and looked like one of those middle aged German tourists that came to Nepal to do a bit of trekking in the Himalayas. Perhaps he’s just as worked up and anxious to see her. Somehow, even though she really hadn’t seen her brother very often, they still had a great deal of respect and sympathy for one another. Since the people in Nepal believe in astrology, their planetary constellation was auspicious, and that was why they understood, respected, and harmonised with each other. The Nepale­se expression for it is: graha milyo. However, when the ‘grahas’8 of two persons don’t agree or coincide, the result is: ashanti, that is restlessness, turbulence, conflict and disharmony.

 

Before a hinduistic Nepalese goes on a journey, a jotisi or astrologer is consulted to seek out an auspicious date for the travel, so that no mishap should befall the traveller. The jotisi also chooses the proper time for departure. Saraswati’s mom had beckoned a bahun9 from Dhankuta, who happened to be on tour, and he’d consulted the stars and planets in his ‘patro‘ or astrological calender, and had fixed a date, but getting a visa from the German Embassy in Kathmandu had taken more time than the astrologer had planned, so she had to extend her flight date. She’d hoped nothing inauspicious would occur. As a Nepalese she was obliged to take some rice, a beetle-nut and a coin wrapped up in a piece cloth to assure a journey without inauspicious things occurring to one.

 

She’d told her mom not to worry, but she’d already fixed up a day for a puja so that she’d be blessed. After all, her daughter was crossing the kalo pani10 (the black water) and going abroad to the Land of the Beef-eaters, pork-eaters, the Land of the Grey-Eyed, which they called ‘kuiray-ko-desh’ in Nepali.

 

Her mom was scared that she’d begin to eat pork and beef, because she was an orthodox Hindu and very religious and never left her karma and dharma-principles. But she was a sympathetic, well-meaning soul, and wouldn’t even hurt a fly. She prayed and meditated throughout the better part of the day, and fasted on Sundays. Saraswati meditated every Wednesday. Deviji was of the opinion that even when the sons didn’t care much about religion, the daughters had to carry out the traditions, and accordingly Saraswati was to undergo a three-day Hindu ritual purification ceremony called: pani patiya. This particular ceremony is meant for Nepalese Hindus returning from overseas to help them regain their caste, which might have been lost inadvertently during their sojourn in a foreign country with its strange customs, religious and eating-habits.

 

There was a time when the Nepal Durbar (Royal Palace) was so strict with regard to religion that the Gurkhas, those fearless fighters, were liable to punishment and arrest if they were known to enter Nepal without undergoing the ritual purifying ceremony. That’s why every Gurkha regiment has its own pundit or bahun. Moreover, the traveller is given an egg, dried fish, meat and curd, and friends and relatives bring marigold garlands , spices, fruits and perform an ritualistic aratie with minute oil lamps placed on a bronze plate and moved in circles in front of the person bidding farewell. Saraswati had often seen such small farewell puja being performed at the Tribhuvan airport when her college friends left for Russia, France or the USA on government scholarships.

 

When in 1982 the First Battalion of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Own Gurkha Rifles was sent to the Falklands, the battalion-bahun went along with them to cater to the religious needs of the Gurkhas. It is a Nepalese tradition to put two gagros (bronze pitchers) on the two sides of the decorated doorway when a member of a household is leaving for a far-off destination and also in case someone is returning home, in which case the traveller is obliged to put in some coins. The gagros are posted near the doors also during marriage because they are thought to be auspicious.

 

It took a long time to get through the German customs at Frankfurt. There were scores of jetliners parked outside. It was a different air that she breathed. It wasn’t the fresh Hima­layan air of Lukla, the pungent cocktail of kerosene and petrol of the Tribhuvan Airport. Nor the hot blast of the desert air at the Gulf. In Frankfurt it was a whiff of car exhaust and industrial discharge. Yet there were people who’d adapted to this environment, and wouldn’t dream of changing places.

 

The passengers were escorted by a hostess to a lift, and when the door opened Saraswati recognised her brother Raj, who was busy making a video with his camcorder. Her German sister-in-law Claudia held her 3-year old daughter Elena-Chiara’s hand and came forward to hug and kiss her. Claudia looked beautiful with her pearl-and-gold ear rings and her blonde hair. Her well-chiselled facial features seemed to have acquired a certain pinkness, for she seemed rather pale when Saraswati had seen her last in Nepal. At the traditional Nepalese marriage in Patandhoka, Dada had looked at her and had exclaimed, ‘She looks like a Bahuni from the hills of Nepal. So fair and slim.’

 

Saraswati was shy as usual, and Raj greeted her and gave her a kiss on her cheek. That was unusual for a Nepalese, because they generally folded their hands and wished the other: namaste, which means ‘I greet the godliness in you’. The elder person touches the head of the younger and blesses him or her with the words ‘bhagyamani hunu!’ He was a bit modernised and Germanised, she thought. Her brother looked the same, except that he had more grey hair. Nevertheless, it was strange to meet him in a foreign country, the country of his choice.

 

They posed for the obligatory photographs, and proceeded to the other end of the airport where their baggage were to arrive and they had to separate again. They saw fat Germans, Europeans, the international set, flight captains and crew, women in fashionable dresses, elegantly groomed males going about their business with urgency.

 

When they finally came out with their baggage, there were a lot of Nepalese and German faces and greetings in Nepali and German. Saraswati bade farewell to Nirmala, who was picked up by a decent-looking blond guy, probably a student from his looks, and the gallant Sikkimese dandy, who seemed to have business connnections, was greeted by a baldy German. Saraswati went with Raj. They took an U-bahn (tube) to the railway station, and then an sleek, fast, white ICE (inter-city-express) train to Southern Germany. Destination: Freiburg, a university-town at the foot of Germany’s Black Forest.

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About the Author: Satis Shroff is a writer and poet who writes in German & English. He has written over a period of three decades, what the Germans would call a “Landesumschau,” for his readers with impressions from Freiburg, Venice, Rottweil, Prague, Paris, London, Frankfurt, Basel and Grindelwald. Satis Shroff has worked with The Rising Nepal (Gorkhapatra Sansthan), where he wrote a weekly Science Spot and editorials and commentaries on Nepal’s development, health, wildlife, politics and culture. He also wrote weekly commentaries for Radio Nepal. He has studied Zoology & Geology in Kathmandu, Medicine & Social Science in Freiburg, and Creative Writing under Prof. Bruce Dobler (Pittsburgh University) and Writers Bureau (Manchester). Satis Shroff sees his future as a writer and poet. He was awarded the German Academic Prize. Satis Shroff’s bicultural perspective makes his prose and poems rich, full of awe, and at the same time heartbreakingly sad. In writing ‘home,’ he not only returns to his country of origin time and again, he also carries the fate of his people to readers in the West, and his task of writing is a very important one in political terms. His true gift is to invent Nepalese metaphors and make them accessible to the West through his prose and poetry.Please read his poems and articles in www.google & www.yahoo under search: satis shroff.

Copyright © 2007 Satis Shroff, Freiburg

 

 

1 Puja: ritual prayers with offerings

2 matribhumai: motherland

3 buhari: daughter-in-law

4 pahari: hill-woman

5 Manjushri: the legendary patriach of Kathmandu Valley, and also the God of Learning

6 gorasahibs: white gentlemen

7 Lhotsampas: Bhutanese citizens of Nepali descent

8 grahas: the planets

9 bahun: male hindu priest; bahun= priestess

10 kalo pani: black water, a term used for oceans

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It was a beautiful sight. The sun was going down after a hot and sultry day, a scarlet mass, and the sky was a bright orange with shades of yellow and azure above. There were some clouds languidly moving ahead. A flock of sea-gulls dived and swirled around in the distance. The only noise you heard was that of the waves that swept along the shores of France from the Atlantic.

 

We were in the western island of Oleron. This island lies in the vicinity of the Charente river, which flows into the Atlantic Ocean. It has a population of 17,500 inhabitants. We’d driven from Freiburg in south-west Germany in two cars along the French country roads to the isle. Martin and Annette were in one Renault and Yvonne and I were in our tomato-red Peugeot. Dusk set in by the time we crossed the long bridge, Pont d’ Oleron, to the island. It was a relatively small, flat island (175 sq km) with a network of roads, the main town being St. Pierre (3000 inhabitants), located in the middle of the island. The island is known for its wine, fishery, oyster cultivation, salt-extraction and naturally tourist sights.

 

A wonderful white villa with a fireplace, a sprawling garden with apple, cherry and pine trees awaited us. We’d been invited by Annette, who’s father had bought the villa and where her family spent their holidays. Yvonne said, “Oh, I can smell the salt-water.” I’m afraid my olfactory glands registered nothing, for I had a cold. After we put our belongings in the villa and had refreshed ourselves, we decided to take a walk along the beach. Right behind the villa were the sand-dunes, with tufts of dry grass. And suddenly, after you’d crossed a small mound, you saw the Atlantic Ocean roaring ahead of you. I was quite overwhelmed by the sight.

 

I’d been to Bombay often and taken walks along the crowded beaches enjoying the mercifully cool breeze of the Arabian Sea, but this was different. There weren’t any hawkers around, and everything looked so serene and romantic. The beach was long and was broken in places by rocks. It was a bit windy, but we braved it and went to explore the rocks: there were outsized crabs, snails, anemones, shell-fish, sea-weed and myriads of mussels. A microcosm for hobby-biologists. One watched with fascination and awe, as an anemone caught a snail with its tentacles. I’d studied Zoology and Botany and we’d dissected a lot of dead animals in the afternoon practical-classes, but here was marine biology live. I felt like a kid, curiously looking what lay beneath the green, slimy rocks. We were the shell-seekers…

 

It was a beautiful experience to watch the sun go down in the horizon. I’d seen sunsets in the eastern Himalayas with the Kanchenjunga massif looming over us, but this was another experience. To the right you saw a strip of land jutting out into the sea with a candy-striped lighthouse on the top. We left the shore reluctantly. Back in the villa we made a fire and talked about life in France and Germany till we started yawning.

 

Come morning and we had a typical French breakfast with cheese, fresh croissants, strawberry marmalade and coffee and milk from a bowl (the French don’t use cups). One had to drive three kilometres to the Boulangerie (bakery) though. It was a pleasant drive through green fields, vineyards and tree-lined avenues with a faintly blue sky, with touches of yellow. At the bakery Yvonne and I were greeted with a friendly “Bon jour Mesdames! ” A pretty little blonde child walked out of the Boulangerie with a baguette as big as herself. The French and even the Germans love those long-breads.

 

We took a drive around the isle beginning with the north-west side. None of the Robinson Crusoe stuff. It was a wonderful ride to the north of the island, where there was a conspicuous white-black striped lighthouse. It was ebb-time and the water was receding in the distance. You saw occasionally ships and trawlers plying to and from La Rochelle, a major sea-town in the distance. La Rochelle was a strategically important harbour for the Germans in the Second World War.

 

A visit to St. Denis d’ Oleron proved to be interesting. A lazy town, with lots of fishermen’s taverns, nets hanging out to be dried, and a motley array of trawlers being painted, dried or just lying on their sides. And thousands of oysters stacked in the rusted metal carriers. The water was shallow and was used as a breeding-ground for oysters and clams.

 

There were quite a lot of bust-up concrete bunkers along the west coast, I must admit, to thwart off English warships and war-planes. They’d served their purpose, and now they were only relicts, reminders of a traumatic holocaust some fifty years ago. One bumped into busloads of American and French tourists inspecting the blown-off, empty and mute bunkers. Perhaps veterans among them were revisiting the place and trying to recapitulate and reconstruct how the ‘krauts or jerries’ had peered out of the slits and manned their massive guns against the Allied dangers that lurked from the vast Atlantic.

 

Then we headed for Le Chateau d’ Oleron, another fishing town with a citadel overlooking the coast of France. We went to the citadel, which was a mere ruins of what must have been an impressive and well-fortified enclave. You could look from the roofless, broken walls and windows of the citadel out to the sea. And directly beneath the cliff lay the picturesque and serene harbour.

 

To the south of Le Chateau, lay the town of St. Trojan and further to the west coast: La Grande Plage, the big beach. The southern area was thickly wooded. It being May, there weren’t many tourists around. Mostly the locals. The big beach was indeed grand, with an incredibly long mound to act as a shelter against the fierce Atlantic wind. And here we pitched our gaudy umbrellas. The European tendency is to bathe in the pink, what the Germans casually call FKK: free body culture.

 

At the Grande Plage one espied some French men and women gathering mussels, clams, shell-fish and snails one evening. They had small plastic buckets and were wearing gum-boots. I talked to a French guy, who explained that he was gathering his dinner, and that he did it very often during the ebb. What a wonderful prospect. If you felt hungry, all you had to do was go to the shore and gather your choice of sea-food. He already had half a bucket full of snails and shell-fish. I could almost imagine him and his family at dinnertime gulping down their crustacians and mollusks with morsels of baguette and swigs of red table wine.

 

La Cotiniere was my favourite harbour town in the isle. It was a picturesque place, with a lighthouse on a tract of land stretching out like a tongue from the bay. When the trawlers came into the harbour with the flood, there was always a flock of people eager to see what they’d hauled in. The crates of sorted fish would be placed on the pier, and we’d all peer at the contents: crabs, shrimps, langouste, squids, sea-eels, plaice and so forth. Sometime, even a dog-fish or a sting-ray. Then they’d be transported to the adjoining auction-hall and sold there. There was even a gallery for the visitors in the hall. The smell of fish rose along with the French voices as the buyers outbid each other. The fishermen wore blue overalls and yellow gum-boots and were given a bite and drink on their arrival.

 

We took a day off to do a bit of sight-seeing in La Rochelle, a harbour town in a protected bay of the Atlantic coast. It was the capital of the Aunis, and now is the seat of the Department Charante- Maritime, and has a population of 74,000. It’s incidentally one of France’s most important trading and fishing harbours. In the 16th century La Rochelle was strongly fortified and was one of the main strongholds of the Hugenotts. And in the World War II, it was a major U-boat base. But today it’s a bustling tourist-resort. The waterfront scenery was colourful, and we took a boat-ride to the outskirts of the harbour. There were scores of sailing ships, boats, yachts and even half a dozen streamlined catermerans.

 

In the evening we went to one of the open-air sea-food restaurants. It was a bit crowded but nevertheless romantic. It was a big experience for me, for the dishes were a zoologist’s delight. With deliciously creamy fish-soup, truncated crabs, orange lobsters, fresh oysters, unopened clams, stubborn shell-fish, soft snails and armoured shrimps. The whole dish was decorated on a huge plate with glistening sea-weed. One eats with the eyes, goes a German saying. And lots of baguette and French wine to wash it down. The oysters were easy to open using a knife, and then you had to squeeze the lemon over it, and eat the wobbly oyster with the salt water, lemon-drops and if you had bad luck a bit of calcium carbonate from the shell.

 

The crabs were delicious. One had to use pincers that were provided to crack them. There was an arsenal of pins, nails, pincers and other ‘surgical’ instruments mounted on a cork to finish-off the cooked gastropods and crusteceans. The snails were a cinch. They’d hide when you went in with a pin. It seems you had to let the snail relax and let it stretch its foot out of the house– and that’s the moment to strike, one was told by a friendly waiter who reminded me of P. G. Wodehouse’s butler Jeeves. The clams were tasty, adductor muscles and all. And you had to use an empty one as forceps to pull out the other clams from their shells.

 

The rich food, the good wine, the pleasant company, the colourfully clad people, the harbour lights, the shimmering waterfront, the music from an accordion and a haunting voice like that of Edith Piaf from the nearby street singing “Non, je ne regrette rien” still rings in my ears.

 

No, I don’t regret it either.

 

There are different agencies where you can book hotels and holiday-homes in Oleron (IST, TUI, Ameropa, Inter Chalet). If you go by car from Germany it’s convenient through Aachen-Lüttich-Paris-Tours-Niort or Saarbrücken-Metz-Reims-Paris.

 

 

About the Author: Satis Shroff is a writer and poet based in Freiburg (poems, fiction, non-fiction) who also writes on ethno-medical, culture-ethnological themes, and writes regularly for The American Chronicle (www.Amchron.com), and is a contributing writer on http://www.boloji.com and also Blog.ch. He has studied Zoology and Botany in Nepal, Medicine and Social Science in Germany and Creative Writing in Freiburg and Manchester. He describes himself as a mediator between western and eastern cultures and sees his future as a writer and poet. Satis Shroff was awarded the German Academic Exchange Prize.He is a lecturer in Basle (Switzerland).

 

What others have said about the author: Satis Shroff writes political poetry—about the war in Nepal, the sad fate of the Nepalese people, the emergence of neo-fascism in Germany. His bicultural perspective makes his poems rich, full of awe and at the same time heartbreakingly sad. In writing ‘home,’ he not only returns to his country of origin time and again, he also carries the fate of his people to readers in the West, and his task of writing thus is also a very important one in political terms. His true gift is to invent Nepalese metaphors and make them accessible to the West through his poetry. (Sandra Sigel, poetess, Germany). An anthology of poems and prose ‘Between Two Worlds’(Satis Shroff) can be read at www.Lulu.com/content/247475.

 

.Die Schilderungen von Satis Shroff in ‘Through Nepalese Eyes’ sind faszinierend und geben uns die Möglichkeit, unsere Welt mit neuen Augen zu sehen.“ (Alice Grünfelder von Unionsverlag / Limmat Verlag, Zürich).

 

Since 1974 I have been living on and off in Nepal, writing articles and publishing books about Nepal– this beautiful Himalayan country. Even before I knew Satis Shroff personally (later) I was deeply impressed by his articles, which helped me very much to deepen my knowledge about Nepal.Satis Shroff is one of the very few Nepalese writers being able to compare ecology, development and modernisation in the ‘Third’ and ‘First’ World. He is doing this with great enthusiasm, competence and intelligence, showing his great concern for the development of his own country. (Ludmilla Tüting, journalist and publisher, Berlin).

 

Due to his very pleasant personality and in-depth experience in both South Asian, as well as Western workstyles and living, Satis Shroff brings with him a cultural sensitivity that is refined. His writings have always reflected the positive attributes of optimism, tolerance, and a need to explain and to describe without looking down on either his subject or his reader. (Kanak Mani Dixit, Himal Southasia, Kathmandu)

 

Satis Shroff writes with intelligence, wit and grace. (Bruce Dobler, Associate Professor in Creative Writing MFA, University of Iowa).

 

 

 

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On This Spot a Lotus Bloomed 

(Satis Shroff)

 

Nepalese men and women work in the fields. They use the traditional bullocks and buffaloes that are seen in the villages of Southeast Asia.

 

They dig the fields manually. The women work beside the men, with babies strapped to their backs. Long wooden hoes are being used to dig and break the soil, whole families pitching in to do the job. And far out in the distance, the all-seeing-eyes of the compassionate Swayambhu observes the land from the towers on which his eyes are painted.

 

As you start for the temple, you’re first greeted by two Tibetan lions, set in stone, amid wonderful wooded surroundings. Behind the lions you see three colossal statues of the Buddha, serene and daubed in flaming red and gold. All around you there are naked trees in poses of suspended animation.

 

The ground crackles as you step on the fallen brown and russet leaves. Shrill bird cries ring through the air. It is roosting time, you say to yourself. The trees are silhouetted against the evening sky and the shadows are lengthening. Your eyes discern the prayers carved in the granite slabs as you ascend the seemingly endless stairs.

 

A bearded tourist and a bevy of girls giggle nearby, talking in French and eating peanuts. They pass some peanuts to the swarm of monkeys who are a regular feature of Swayambhu. The Rhesus monkeys are creeping, jumping, fooling and fighting with each other.

 

“How happy they are”, remarks a tourist with a laugh, as the monkeys climb the spire of the stupa. The overhanging eaves of the stupa, gilded with gold, are loosely chained together. The wind blowing from across the silvery Himalayas makes them rustle. You are dumbfounded by the majestic temple.

 

Three lamas go by: “Om mane padme hum” stirs in the air.

 

You take a cue from them and go about spinning the 211 copper prayer wheels that girdle the dome. Then you peer at the all-seeing-eyes painted on the four sides of the stupa and look where they look: at the myriad pale yellow, white, blue and crimson lights of the Kathmandu Valley below. You feel that you have indeed reached the top of the world.

 

It is chilly, and an icy gust of wind blows your hair. The clatter of the prayer-wheels is constant. The stony stairs are set at an extremely steep angle, but there are railings to help you up or down. A Tibetan, probably a Khampa from Eastern Tibet, mumbles his prayers as he comes down from the temple. He is wrapped in heavy mauve woollens. A shaggy Tibetan Apso, a tiny dog, like a Pekingese, with bells round his collar jingles past.

 

You go on. A few paces up, a monkey stealthily passes by as though he were a big-game hunter. You are again confronted by meditating Buddhas: the Dhyanibuddha Akshobya who rides an elephant and a lion, Ratnasambhava who rides a horse, Amitabha who rides the peacock and Amoghasiddhi who rides the heavenly bird garuda.

 

The going is hard but the ascent is redeemed because of the breathtaking beauty of the place. More Rhesus monkeys dart around you. One of them takes a joy ride along the railings like a kid, skids off and vanishes. You can’t help laughing. You abruptly come across two statues of horses: short and stubby. You’re weary but you press on and come across small elephant statues, with live monkeys playing pranks on their backs. The monkeys give you a quizzical stare. These are all part of the Buddhist pantheon. Now you begin to understand why the tourists call this temple complex also “the monkey temple”. The monkeys are protected by law (as is the yeti) and have freedom there since over 2000 years. They live on the offerings brought by the Hindus and Buddhists, and peanuts and popcorn offered by the tourists.

 

Your climb is over. The sky is dark, blue, and is fast changing into Prussian blue, and Venus has already appeared, but you have eyes only for the gigantic white dome and stupa of the Self-Existent One. The stupa is of great sanctity for all Hindus and Buddhists. It is hemispherical and you are struck by its enormous size. The earliest inscription on Swayambhunath dates back to the year 1129, but the stupa is thought to be much older.

 

You make your way to a Buddhist monk and he tells you a legend about Swayambhu…

 

“Once upon a time the Nepal Valley was a great lake. It was on this spot, where you now stand that a lotus bloomed and became the heart of the world.”

 

 

About the Author: Satis Shroff is a writer & poet based in Freiburg who also writes regularly in The American Chronicle (www.Amchron.com) and runs a Swiss blog (www.Blog.ch). He has studied Zoology and Botany in Nepal, Medicine and Social Science in Germany and Creative Writing in Freiburg and Writers’ Bureau(Manchester). He describes himself as a mediator between western and eastern cultures and sees his future as a writer and poet. Satis Shroff was awarded the German Academic Exchange Prize.

 

Writing experience: Satis Shroff has written two language books on the Nepali language for DSE (Deutsche Stiftung für Entwicklungsdienst) & Horlemannverlag. He has written three feature articles in the Munich-based Nelles Verlag’s ‘Nepal’ on the Himalayan Kingdom’s Gurkhas, sacred mountains and Nepalese symbols and on Hinduism in ‘Nepal: Myths & Realities (Book Faith India) and his poem ‘Mental Molotovs’ was published in epd-Entwicklungsdienst (Frankfurt). He has written many articles in The Rising Nepal, The Christian Science Monitor, the Independent, the Fryburger, Swatantra Biswa (USIS publication, Himal Asia, 3Journal Freiburg, top ten rated poems in www.nepalforum.com (I dream, Oleron, an Unforgettable Isle, A Flight to the Himalayas, Which Witch in Germany?, Fatal Decision, Santa Fe, Nirmala, Between Terror and Ecstasy, The Broken Poet, Himalaya: Menschen und Mythen, A Gurkha Mother, Kathmandu is Nepal, My Nepal, Quo vadis?). Articles, book-reviews and poems in, www.isj.com, www.inso.org. See also www.google & www.yahoo under search: Satis Shroff.

 

 

 

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 Wildlife Ecology: 

 Wildlife Versus Humans in Beautiful Nepal

The loss of wildlife habitat in the states of Nepal, India and Pakistan caused by widespread and indiscriminate destruction of forests in the foothills of the Himalayas and the Karakoram has led to an ecological crisis, resulting in floods and landslides after the torrential monsoons. When the forests recede the humans venture further into the habitats of the wild animals to cut and gather firewood.

 

Take Chitwan, the jungle in Nepal’s Terai for instance. Till 1961 organised poachers wantonly decimated the wild Rhinoceros unicornis in the jungle in order to sell the rhino-horn for a profit due to its healing properties in traditional Chinese Medicine. In February 1993 for instance, four rhinos were found dead in the Chitwan Park and the poachers had removed their hoofs and horns. In Nawalparasi there had been similar cases of rhinos being shot for their horns and hoofs a few weeks earlier.

 

To assist the helpless wardens a battalion of 8oo Royal Gurkhas had been deployed. According to the then director of the wildlife department Tirtha Man Maskey, “There are 400 rhinos in Chitwan with a reproduction rate of 2% according to research statistics.” A few days earlier 12 persons were arrested with 44 pieces of rhino hoofs and two pieces of horns. And in the Shukla Phanta three Rhino-cubs were found dead. The average life span of a rhino is 60 years. To combat the increased poaching a security committee involving the Chitwan chief district officer, forest officer, security officer along with the representatives of the various units had been formed. The point was: will poaching be stopped in the long run or only as long as the Royal Gurkhas prowl and patrol the National Park? Moreover, the Gurkhas were deployed to stop the Maoists insurgents in the past, and the poachers faced hardly any resistance and started decimating the wild animals. That also scared the tourists, and they were advised from their respective foreign departments to avoid Nepal.

 

The population of rhinoceroses has decreased the world, and four species are threatened with extinction. The Taiwanese are known to be stockpiling rhino horns as an investment. According to a World Wildlife Fund(WWF) estimate already 10 tonnes are already stored in Taiwan. In 1970 the price of a kilo African rhino horn was $30 and today more than $2,000. The Asian rhino horn, which is smaller than the African one, is worth $50,000 a kilo because the Taiwanese think it’s more potent. Even though commercial trade in rhino horn and its by-products are prohibited under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, Zimbabwe and South Africa would like to export them and use the money to support effective anti-poaching programmes. It’s a case of legal trade to stop illegal poaching.

 

But poaching is also a trade. The legal market might “jeopardise rhinos elsewhere” according to Joanna Pitmann, who thinks “Taiwanese traders see gold in stocks of rhino horn.” To think that 30 years ago there were 100,000 black rhinos in southern Africa. Now there are only 3,500, the better part of which are in Zimbabwe, which is notorious for its high poaching-rate. According to Joanna Pitmann: “An average of three rhinos are lost in Zimbabwe every week.”

 

There seems to be a lucrative market and desperate souls are out to smuggle as many rhino horns and hoofs as possible. But aside from poaching there are also other problems. Thanks to the electrification of the many lodges along the Chitwan Park border the rhinos, tigers, leopards, and other denizens of the Royal forest nowadays have started getting used to techno-sound, hip-hop, lambada, Bollywood melodies, and rock n’ roll music blaring for the delights of the jungle tourists. The noise pollution created by the industry catering to tourism, in what should be a tranquil and serene National Park, is a nuisance indeed for the denizens of forest.

 

Nepal’s Endangered Rhinos: Once a royal hunting reserve, the lowland valley of sal forest and riverine grassland has come to be known as the Royal Chitwan National Park, and is Nepal’s number one Park. Take a trip down to Chitwan and you will get what I mean.

 

The wildlife you will get to see ranges from tigers, leopards, gaurs, sloth bears, sambars, chitals, hog deer, barking deer to the noted Gangetic dolphins which are seen cavorting in the waters of the Narayani River. And if you have a crush for ornithology, you will find exotic avi-fauna. Chitwan without the great one-horned rhinoceros would be unimaginable, since the area is internationally known as the wallowing grounds of 300 to 350 rhinos, which incidentally is the second largest population in the world.

 

Back in 1975 the rhino population of Chitwan was between 200 to 250.If you are planning to make a trip to Chitwan, I would advise you to make it between January and May, because that’s when the rhinoceros concentration down there is the greatest. The lush, green grass provides high quality grazing to the rhinos. In May they begin to shun the tall grass species which are unpalatable, and that is when they make for the paddy fields of the local hamlets to pull nocturnal raids much to the consternation of the local Tharu and other Nepalese farmers. During the day you will find them wading in the shallow rivers and feeding on the aquatic plants.

 

Do the rhinos have a specific breeding season? Actually there’s no evidence. The habitat in Chitwan is such that it provides a year-round food supply, and the conditions of living are most favourable to them. During the mating season, you are likely to hear “pant squeaks” when a male is hot on the trail of a female rhino. The females emit squeaks of low intensity when the pursue the males. The highest frequency of such squeaks is heard in the month of March. The males can be seen making furrows on the earth or sand as the case may be, by dragging their stubby hind legs along on the toes, while urinating. This was a phenomenon which had been baffling a biologist from Cambridge named Andrew Laurie whom I met, and who was doing research on the ecology of the Nepalese rhinos. He’d been recording the rhino behaviour every month and felt that their urinating and furrow-making during the monsoon may have been due to the “bad conditions for track preservation” He said, “The furrows are made by male rhinos after unsuccessful attempts to mate cows or after encounters with humans”.

 

The rhino has a long period of pregnancy and the young ones take an equally long time to mature, and all this overrules the advantage of a regular breeding season. When a rhino cow has completed her period of gestation, she heads for a secluded spot. The cow disappears into the thick forest for several days before the birth. Andrew Laurie had evidence for a possible oestrus periodicity of between 34 and 44 days, which he obtained in the months of June and July. Laurie said, “I saw a bull grazing and moving with a cow and her two year old calf from the 14th to 16th June. On 15th June he mounted the cow and remained mounted for one hour, stationary in the elephant grass”.

 

One whole hour: it was unbelievable.

 

Laurie went on to say, “I didn’t see the bull again with the cow and her calf until the 19th of July, when he attacked her. It was amazing. He succeeded in turning her right over on her back by lifting from the side with his head between her front legs. And all this while the calf grunted from a distance in the tall grass.”

 

He said the cow and the bull evaded each other until the 27th of July when the cow started to follow the male around sniffing at his penis, urinating herself and uttering “squeak blows”.

 

There is a possible peak births during July and August, which would tie in with a peak of mating activity in March and a 16 1/2 month gestation period. But Andrew was of the opinion that mating behaviour and births have been recorded throughout the year, and it was hard to detect a peak. “I’ve christened a healthy calf with the named Lickety Split,” he said with a chuckle because it seemed to dash about in the Chitwan foliage. The movements of the rhinos tend to be linked with food availability. They can be observed during the March-April feeding on the short grasses in the river banks in the blazing and forested plains located below the foothills of the Himalayas.

 

When grasses are scarce, they try aquatic plants, sedges and other coarse plants rather reluctantly. And when the grasses are burnt by the villagers of Chitwan, they immediately rush to these places to eat the charred stalks, which they relish. They return about two weeks to the same place to eat the new shoots. It’s quite intriguing to watch a rhino eat short grass. It uses its lips to bite off or pull up the shoots. The chewing is continual and often, the animal blinks and then bites off new grass with its lips again. You will discover that some roots and grass drop out by the side of the rhino’s mouth, but the animal normally has a gargantuan appetite and eats even the dead, russet and yellowed leaves on the ground.

 

And peaceful coexistence is not exactly what the villagers in the vicinity of the Royal Park believe in, at least as far as the rhinos are concerned. The Nepalese villagers have been briefed about the importance of the National Parks for the country, but not the animals. From as early as April in Katar and in the eastern parts of the Chitwan Park, the ungainly, cool and determined rhinos begin visiting the farmlands and feeding on the first rice and maize crops because they are so supple and delicious to them. Some of the rhinos tend to be neurotic and go about eating bananas, weeds and ripe wheat. And some even indulge in coprophagy. Keeping off the wildlife from the crops is indeed an eternal problem that the Nepalese farmers in the Terai face.

 

Rhino greetings: How do rhinos greet each other? They do it like the eskimos, I mean the Inuits. A young rhino approaches another slowly with its nose stretched forward. The noses come in contact gently, and often a sparring bout ensues with one’s horn circling the other’s snout. But unlike the Inuits, the horns of the rhinos sometimes clash with a great noise. A nuzzling of the side of one’s face with the other’s mouth may take place, with a view to biting each other. And sometimes, you may be able to watch a rhino down in Chitwan bob its head up and down or even grazing and sweeping its head speedily from side to side. However, the approaching rhino, after touching the newcomer’s nose or nuzzling him will graze with him peacefully. The adult cows and bulls behave differently. They avoid contacts. But when they do come in contact, they hold their heads high and snort again and again, and even bare their teeth.

 

And what do adult males do when they come face to face with each other? They either ignore each other or threaten each other. The meeting is characterised by head-on approaches at times, followed by loud shouts, squirts of urine and touching of horns, low on the ground. And one of them may even turn and flee honking. Sometimes, a fight may develop in which the tusks are used a lot.

 

Andrew said, “During a fight one November, one male lost half its horn and both rhinos were deeply gashed. One of the animals returned six miles to the south of the Rapti River the next night. He walked very slowly, dragging a back leg and fed for no less than two hours.” Eating after a good fight seems to do them good. You will find that the rhinos show the most aggressive behaviour in their wallows, where threats and fights are very common, especially during the monsoon season. Despite the existence of many wallows in Chitwan, you will find the rhinos concentrated at a few wallows, and the wallows are changed very often. Most interactions involve rhino cows and calves. The approach of another rhino to the wallow might trigger off an interaction.

 

Attacks normally take the form of a charge. I remember having read an exciting description of a charging rhino by Peter Fleming in my school days, in which he called the animal a “brute”. Well, if you had a huge rhinoceros charging at you, you wouldn’t be inclined to call it friendly or cute either I suppose.

 

The best thing to do under such conditions would be to clamber up a thick tree. But the tourists in Chitwan are mostly on elephant-back and hence such situations hardly arise. When a rhino charges, the head is held low, mouth open, tusks bared and the charge is accompanied by a loud roar. The rhinos stop facing each other at a distance of one to two feet. The charge is ritually repeated. Or one of the animals might turn and disappear into the jungle: a loser. Each attack results in the loser having to divert to another place in the wallow, or even away from the wallow all together. A banishment and the winner takes it all.

 

Approaching rhinos sometimes turn and go on quite oblivious of the snorts. Others don’t even bother to take notice and walk right in. Even between the same rhinos in similar situation, the results of encounters are different on different occasions, and not stereotyped, according to Laurie.

 

“One cow and calf” he said,” always occupied the same position in a wallow no matter which rhinos were present. They never took part in aggressive interaction rituals.” But the normally playful rhino-calves are involved in the interactions.” In one case,” said Andrew, “a two month old calf attacked an adult female after she had chased off his mother. The cow in turned chased him in the opposite direction, but the spirited calf charged twice again. The cow stopped in front of him each time with her tusks bared, roaring loudly. Eventually the calf’s grunts were answered by soft squeaks blown from his mother, who had returned to fetch him.”

 

Interestingly enough, dung-piles are used by all members of the rhino population. And when a rhino comes across fresh dung, it serves as a signal for him to defecate. Calves invariably defecate after their mothers. And the dung-piles are developed in areas frequented by rhinos especially along paths and near wallows, and they are often 20 feet in diameter. A most remarkable thing about rhinos is that they defecate after an encounter with either another rhino, elephant or humans. So if a rhino defecates after he or she sees you don’t feel insulted. It’s the done thing in the world of the rhinoceros. One would not like to pass judgement, but the rhinos of Chitwan seem to have an entirely different opinion about us humans.

 

Besides the defecation, urination is also another important communication signal for the rhinos. A rhino squirts urine during or after encounters with fellow rhinos, elephants or humans, especially while walking away. It also urinates while on leaving a forest or grassland, a ditch, a field or road edge. The rhinos, while urinating, are known to scrape and drag their feet. The marking behaviour of the rhinos form a sort of communication system between individuals. The olfactory signals are recognised by other fellow rhinos.

 

The dung-heap for instance stimulates the rhino to defecate, and the furrows created by them after defecation and urination serve as visual and scent marks. And what’s remarkable is that the only permanent association among the rhinos happens to be the cow and her calves. The adult males are solitary, egoistic and do not tolerate the presence of other rhinos. Physical contact is very important in the cow-calf relationship, and wallowing cows and calves often lie touching each other. The small and chubby calves are very playful and spend long periods rubbing their heads and flanks along their mother’s huge body.

 

Mating among the rhinos takes place when the calf is about two years old. The calf is driven away usually by the male at the time of courtship. Both male and female follow each other’s tracks in Chitwan or for that matter in Kaziranga or elsewhere, when they have lost contact and greet each other by touching noses. The behaviour patterns change as the animal matures from a baby to a calf, and from a sub-adult to a full grown, breeding adult. Forty years go, most of the rhinos in Chitwan lived in the ideal, wild environment with very few people and extremely low amount of cultivation.

 

The only deadly enemies were the stately princes and maharajas from Kathmandu or their royal guests from Great Britain, who took pride in wantonly shooting animals after driving them and trapping them through the use of hundreds of villagers who encircled them with endless white sheets of cloth, and the beating of drums, tin-cans to create a great clamour and frightening noise in the otherwise serene jungle in the Terai.

 

Royal Hunts: The royal shikaris sat on perches called machans or on the backs of tamed elephants and shot the animals, birds and reptiles. Not because they had hunger as is in nature among the denizens of the jungle, but because it was chic and was supposed to be a sport ever since the gun was invented. The idea was not to stalk an animal alone in the ratio of one against one, with the undercover of the jungle as part of the game, and to kill a wild animal to feed the starving wife and children. Agriculture and transportation problems were already solved and hunting and killing helpless animals living in the jungles and forests came in vogue, to be documented for posterity in front of ‘fierce’ animals, not realising that the fiercest and wildest animal was the human himself armed with a gun and lethal cartridges.

 

In one big game expedition alone, the Nepalese Royalty Jung Bahadur Rana shot 21 elephants, 31 tigers, 7stags, 1 rhinoceros, 1 boa constrictor, 11 wild buffaloes, 10 boars, 1 crocodile, 4 bears, 20 deer, 6 pheasants and 3 leopards. Three successive generations of British monarchs have done game-hunting in the Nepalese Terai jungle. In 1886 when King Edward VII visited Nawalpur he is said to have bagged 23 tigers, 1 leopard and 1 bear. His son King George V shot “in one day in Chitwan” 10 tigers, 1 rhino and 1 bear. That was in 1911.

 

In 1921, the Duke of Windsor, when he was the Prince of Wales, visited Bhikhana in the Nawalpur district and took part in a shikar (hunt)and was presented the following animals and birds by the Maharaja Chandra Shumsher Rana as a present for the London Zoological Gardens:1 baby elephant,2 rhinos,2 leopards,2 Himalayan black bears,2 leopard cats,1 black leopard,1 tiger,1 Tibetan fox,1 mountain fox,2 sambhurs,1 thar,1 unicorn sheep,3 musk deer,1 four-horned sheep,1 one-horned Tibetan shawl goat,2 Tibetan mastiff puppies,1 monitor and 1 python.For the ornithological collection there were: 4 Nepalese kalij, 1 white crested kalig-pheasant, 4 cheer-pheasants, 2 koklass-pheasants, 4 chukor-patridges, 4 swamp-patridges, 2 green-pigeons, 10 bronze-winged doves, 3 Great Indian Adjutants (L. dubius), 1 hawk, 1 peafowl (P. cristatus). That was just the list of the animals presented by the Nepalese Maharaja.

 

In the course of the shikar, the Prince of Wales shot 17 tigers, 10 rhinos, 2 leopards, 1 bear, 7 jungle-fowls, 2 partridges, 15 snipes, 1 peacock and a hamadryas (Naja bungarus).

 

“How long did it take to shoot all these animals?” you might ask.

 

Just eight days.

 

Today, the animals in the jungles of Chitwan, as elsewhere in the world, have to coexist with more people in the areas due to the increase in human population and migration of people from the mountains of Nepal under the resettlement programme of the Nepalese government. Much of the mixed forest and grassland areas which are good rhino habitat have been destroyed, giving way to settlements and cultivated fields.

 

The Nepalese population in 1974 was 12 million and in 1996 it is almost 18 million. Now it is 27 million. The humans multiply despite the so-called family-planning programmes that are publicised in Radio Nepal and Nepal Television, in the Gorkhapatra and The Rising Nepal. The movements of the rhinos and other animals in their original home grounds of the Terai (lowlands) have been restricted, so that they move after dark: stealthily, warily, over areas which used to be previously grassland and dense jungle. Nevertheless, there’s one thing that gladdens all conservationists and animal lovers alike, is that the Nepalese rhinos are opportunists and surprisingly adaptable, utilising a wide range of food.

 

With proper wildlife management, the rhinos of Chitwan have increased in number. And rhinoceroses have also been translocated from the Chitwan Valley to the Royal Bardiya Wildlife Reserve. In order to reintroduce a part of the endangered species in another part of the country and to provide them with an alternate habitat, and as an insurance against any unforseen catastrophe that could infect the rhino population in any particular area. The translocation might also help reduce the conflicts between the need for protecting the endangered species(and their gene pool)and the Nepalese villagers living in the periphery of the Nationalal Parks.It took 16 hours to bring the rhinos from Chitwan to Bardiya, and was a major success. The WWF(USA) gave a helping hand to the Nepalese, and tranquillising equipment and other support were provided by the Smithsonian Institute.

 

But there’s no need to be complacent, since the rhinos may succumb if disease broke out among them, for despite their thick armour, they are just as fragile as humans inside, as far as immunity is concerned. The most appropriate measure would be to move the villages from the Park area and to compensate the Nepalese villagers adequately through organisations like the WWF, World Bank or whatever, so that the wildlife may not have to encroach upon paddy fields at night. After all it is the human beings who have been encroaching upon the territory of the ‘wild’ animals, and not the other way round. The rhinos move in relation to the food, and when there is a stiff competition for food from wildlife, domesticated animals and the local people, migration to another territory is inevitable. The National Parks and Wildlife Office and the KMTNC need to be more vigilant in preventing human encroachment and poaching for furs and aphrodisiacs at the cost of rare animals which are a natural heritage, worth preserving.

 

On the one hand you have the government and conservationists passing laws that the Chitwan jungle be declared a National Park, so the dollar-paying tourists can stay in so-called jungle-lodges and go on photo-safaris on the backs of elephants through the thick elephant grass and drink campari or bourbon-on-the-rocks. And on the other hand, you have the farmers and villagers of the Chitwan area, who are endangered by the wild animals of the National Parks, because the wild animals (elephants, rhinos, tigers, leopards) not only come at night looking for fodder (rice, bananas, maize) and easy prey in the form of domestic animals, but also enjoy the protection of the National Park Rangers and, therefore, of the government.

 

The Chitwan Park covers 93,200 hectares and comprises also the flood plains of the Rapti, Reu and Narayani Rivers. The confrontation between the wildlife and humans in the jungle areas is pre-programmed. In 1974 there were approximately 400 rhinoceros and 70 tigers in Chitwan Park. According to a recent report published in July 31, 2006 the population of the endangered one-horned rhino in Chitwan has dropped from more than 500 six years ago to around 370. Three one-horned rhinos were killed and one wounded by poachers in around Chitwan National Park in south-western Nepal in the last week of July 2006.

 

It can only be hoped that the Nepal Terai Ecology Project’s attempts to make solar-powered electrical fences to keep the rhinoceros out of the farm lands will be a help, though prowling big cats don’t make much of such man-made hinderances.

 

Wildlife versus Humans: The KMTNC has in the past also initiated a grassland Ecology and Human Use project in collaboration with the International Institute of Environment and Development (USA). An American biologist named John Lemkhul made an in-depth study of the grassland ecosystem in Nepal, and the project proposed to develop a management scheme for the thatch grass that is vital for local human needs.

 

A Nepali grassland expert Keshav Rajbhandari from the Department of Botany also took part as a consultant. The study revealed that the Chitwan Park was providing over 15 million rupees indirectly to the village economy by permitting the local villagers to cut grass in the park for two weeks every year. It was found that 90,000 Nepalese enter the park during the two week season. The cutters are legally allowed to cut khar, kharai, bayo and smiti. The villagers walked up to 3km to get to the park and up to four members of a family helped to cut the grass. Even the Nepalese villagers need an entry permit to cut grass.

 

But at night, when the wild animals start plundering the crops, the farmers become angry, and try to drive them away. Moreover, there have been tragic episodes enough to fill volumes, whereby the village children and women have been attacked by the wild animals. The Rising Nepal and the Gorkhapatra, two Kathmandu-based governmental English and Nepali dailies, bring out such tragic news often enough. The humans living in the vicinity of the National Parks, that goes not only for Chitwan but also Langtang, Bardia, Rara, Sagarmatha (Everest) National Parks, are tempted to go to the Parks with their lush green grass and vegetation to gather firewood and fodder for their domestic animals. This phenomenon is also evident in the Darjeeling area, despite the forest-officers on duty. Where there’s poverty and an acute dearth of firewood, there’s always a way out of the desperate situation, mostly through illegal means.

 

It’s not uncommon to read in the pages of The Rising Nepal about the call to “Propagate the Nature Conservation Message” and about the heavy responsibilities of the wardens in the preservation and effective management of Nepal’s national parks and wildlife reserves. And in the same daily you have the story of how wild elephants terrorised and destroyed some thatched houses and saplings in Morang district, and how a village assembly member named Khadga Bahadur Ale was crushed to death while travelling from Letang to Kane through a forest.Or the story of a four year old girl named Sita Devi Paudel of a village in Dhikurpokhari who had been suffering from diarrhoea and was carried away by a tiger around 8:30pm and the next day only some part of the girl’s body were found in the nearby jungle.

 

Meanwhile, there was another story about wild elephants on the rampage from the Sunsari district, where they’d destroyed the thatched huts of 12 families in the Baraha Chetra villege. And in the hamlet of Bishnu Paduka four cows and two domestic swines had been killed and some goats injured by the wild elephants. Another caption tells the story of how the man-eater leopard which had attacked many children in the Kaski district was killed by a single bullet fired by Ram Bahadur Tamang, a resident of Chapakot village in Lalitpur district. The leopard was 4.5 feet long, and had been terrorising the children belonging to the hamlets of Hemaja, Dhita, Kaskikot, Dhikurpokhari, Bhadauremagi and Sarankot.

 

The story reminded me of the German TV film entitled “Danger in the Rapti” by Max Rehbein, who’s protagonist was Hemanta Mishra, a Nepalese wildlife expert, who likes to hear Beatles songs, in the role of a swashbuckling local Jungle Jim, in which he shot a man-eater and smoked a cigarette with the thankful village headman, for want of a peace-pipe. Hemanta Mishra used to work in the wildlife office in the early 1970s and ran the King Mahendra Trust for Nature Conservation, and was awarded the J. Paul Getty Prize for Natural Protection. He worked for the UNO later in New York.

 

Another story deals with a leopard which killed ten children, aged 3 to 13, in the hamlets of Dhimal, Bhadaure, Tamagi and Sarankot. A small 3 year old girl named Maya Adhikari of Malang village in the Sarankot district was snatched away from her mother as she was being washed in front of her house at 7pm on a Sunday. No wonder that the local people living in the vicinity of the National Parks feel insecure and few villagers venture out of their homes after sunset. The tigers turn into man-eaters only when then become old, are injured or have lost their habitat. The question is: Do the tigers encroach into the habitats of the Nepalese villagers or is it the other way around? To date there are 13 national protected areas comprising more than 9% of the total land area in Nepal. According to the Save the Tiger Fund report, the situation of the tiger in Chitwan is optimistic and their numbers are increasing and their habitats are improving. The number of elephants are also on the rise and provided that poaching is curbed, the numbers of rhinos will definitely increase in the future in Nepal.

 

The situation may take a positive trend if the Nepalese farmers plant trees, for only a fourth of the forest wealth of Nepal has remained intact. The reason is that in the year 1967, the then Nepalese government nationalised vast forest areas in the country. And after that the Nepalese farmers didn’t feel obliged and responsible for the forests and started cutting down trees without second thoughts. In order to combat this, the Nepalese government introduced in 1979 the village-forest, the state-forest and the so-called protected-forest.

 

Old eco-song & dwindling habitats: “Nepal’s wealth is the forest, said our ancestors” runs an eco-melody over Radio Nepal, but the vast tracts of forests have been encroached upon by people looking for agricultural-land. With the Nepalese forests dwindling, there is an increasing pressure in the remaining forests which have been declared National Parks, and are protected by the government.

 

There’s no denying that there’s a struggle for habitats between the wildlife and the humans in the vicinity of the National Parks of Nepal, as elsewhere in the world. As long as the Nepalese government and its apparatus, the wildlife offices, are active and educate and warn the people and nab the poachers, there might be hope for Nepal’s wildlife. But can more wardens and wildlife management help in a country where the population has been steadily increasing, and where there’s a dearth of arable land, and thus the competition and habitat encroachment on the part of the wildlife as well as humans in the limited living space in Nepal?

 

The 104 year old misrule in the past under the Rana heredity Prime Ministers, and the defunct Panchayat government, and the later administrative mistakes on the part of different governments, have led to the reduction in the number of flora and fauna in Nepal, not to speak of the forests which were prized for trees like the karma for furniture, sal in the foothills of the Churai chain for construction purposes. And sadly enough, Nepal needs 7.5 million tons of newly planted trees per annum if it is to avoid shortages.

 

At this stage I shall have to tell the story of a big game hunter-turned-conservationist. He came to Nepal in 1960,when there were a lot of tigers and no tourists. The tigers were shot till they became almost rare.

 

Today there are a little more than 60 tigers at Chitwan Park. Some In the year 1999 the number of tourists who visited Nepal were registered as 492,000 but due to the decade of armed conflict between the government troops and the Maoists some 13,000 Nepalese, mostly civilians, died. The tourists were advised not to go to Nepal and the number of visitors sank to 277,000 in 2005. The tourists were obliged to pay a “tax” to the Maoists.

 

Although over 15,000 tourists come each year to the Terai, the tiger population has nevertheless increased since then. The British banker named Jim Edwards (Tiger Tops) is supposed to have brought about this wonder. He organised jungle tours, wild water trips and trekking in the Himalayas, complete with climbing equipment: all for dollars naturally, because you cannot live in the Himalayas without money, and he has a beautiful residence in Kathmandu, a luxury apartment in London, and a domicile in posh St. Moritz. And till 1960 he was busy making money by organising big game Safaris. And since a couple of decades it’s been ecology and tourism.

 

Protected Wildlife: The growth of the population in the Terai area and elsewhere in the Middle mountains of Nepal, which shows an increment of 2.6 per cent does and will exert a lasting pressure upon the wildlife and vegetation of Nepal in the long run. And these are the questions that will pose serious problems for the country in the future. For with the construction of new roads, establishment of new industries and lodges and hotels for the foreign tourists, the country expects an industrial and tourist-boom that might disturb the ecological balance of this beautiful biotope that is Nepal, with its diverse flora, fauna, landscapes and ethno-cultural rarities.

 

Meanwhile, the protected wildlife of Nepal has been divided into 38 species falling under the three classes of mammals, birds and reptiles. The National Park and Wildlife Conservation Act has put 26 species of mammals, 9 species of birds and three species of reptiles in the wildlife protection list (1993). The protected mammals are: the red monkey, hispid rabbit, wolf, red panda, hyena, lynx, tiger, wild elephant, small boar, stags, yak-nak, “napon”, “salak”, “sonru”, the Himlayan red bear, “lingsang”, “charibagh”, leopard, the snow leopard, the rhinoceros, the musk deer, gaurigai, wild buffalo, “chiru” and “chapeka”.

 

The birds in the protected list are: the stork, orane, Lopophorus impejanus (Nepal’s national bird), “garmujur”, the great pelican, the white stork, “chir”, the munal pheasant and the “sano swar mujur”(peacock with the small voice). The list of protected reptiles include: the python,”sungohari” and the gharial.

 

After the establishments of National Parks in Nepal a number of projects were started: the Nepal Terai Ecology Project, the Snow Leopard Project, the Barun Valley Project, the Annapurna Project, International Workshops on the National Parks, Rhino translocation to India, the Nepal National Conservation Strategy, the Gharial Conservation project to name a few. The Smithsonian Institute (USA) helped start the Nepal Tiger Ecology Project in the 1974 and then decided to change the name of the project to “Nepal Terai Ecology Project” and expand the research activities “beyond the tiger.”

 

One can only hope that the delicate balance between the Maoists and government troops will be set aside, and the poaching will be curbed in due time in one of the most beautiful National Parks of the world. For Nepal’s National Parks are worth a visit. The romantic sunsets, the cries of the wild in the jungle nearby, the adventurous hotels and modern amenities for the visitors from abroad, and the friendliness of the Nepalese people from different ethnic backgrounds.

 

I still hear the frivolous melody Resam piriri played by a Nepali boy with a flute in the Terai, Nepal’s lowland, and it reminds me of the wonderful people I met during my sojourn in my Himalayan country, be they Tharus, Rais, Magars, Gurungs, Tamangs, Chettris and Bahuns or Newars. I still see their smiling faces and their kind words, despite the decade of hardships, terror, intimidation and uncertainty. I admire their inborn desire to survive all these human-made obstacles and misery, to keep a stiff upper lip, and the hope and faith that they have in the Gods and Goddesses of Kathmandu, and Nepal in general.

 

In diesem Sinne: Jai Nepal, Waldmannsheil, Namaste from the Black Forest!

 

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“Will the passengers please fasten their seat belts,” said a soft voice over the intercom. And I slid one end of the belt into the heavy metallic slot, sat back, and peered through the window of the Royal Nepal jet.

 

The runway was clear and there was an Airbus 310, three Russian-made helicopters and a Dornier-aircraft near the control tower of Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport. Some people waved from the tower. It was one of those early-morning mountain flights that are run ‘provided-the-weather-is-good’ as they say in tourist-brochures.

 

My seat was right near the port wing and I could get a fairly good view of the engines coming noisily to life. The jet taxied lazily down the southern end of the runway, swerved around and sped towards the north gathering momentum till I could finally feel a hollow in my stomach. We were airborne.

 

It was a steep climb and the blue mountain front was looming close. You could even spot the trees growing on the mountainside. But in a moment we left it behind. I was thrilled at the picturesque panorama of Kathmandu Valley with its pretty brown terracotta houses and prominent pagodas, which receded beneath as the jet banked almost languidly in an easterly direction.

 

The first mountain that caught my eyes, was the conical snowbound Langtang Peak, which was gleaming in the early morning sunlight. By the time Dorje Lakpa loomed on my window, the aircraft had attained its ceiling height of 30,000 feet. Dorje Lakhpa in Tibetan means “thunderbolt hand”. Nearby was another splendid peak, the 19,550 ft. Choba Bamare, reigning in splendid isolation. Choba Bamare rose in the distance and seemed to fizzle out towards the east.

 

I sat tight in my seat, oblivious of the 50-odd passengers in the aircraft’s cabin, lost in a world of snowy fantasy, and marvelling at the thought that we were less than fourteen miles away from those Himalayan giants, and feeling snug inside the pressurised cabin. Over the monotonous whirr of the Yeti’s engines, the captains voice boomed through the intercom: “Attention ladies and gentlemen, the big peak to your left is Gauri Shanker.”

 

The 23,442 feet Gauri Shanker, which is part of the Rowaling Himal Chain, was bathed in a ghostly mantle of snow and dominated the scene. This was indeed the Mount Olympus of the Orient, I said to myself. Gauri Shanker, the legendary abode of the Hindu God Shiva and his consort Parvati.

 

The Melungstse massif appeared to be blanketed with snow and looked smooth and even: like a tent covered with snow, except that a depression existed between Melungtse and its sister peak Chobutse.

 

Chugmago, Pigferago and Numbur impressed me with their virgin and silvery summits–looking placid and serene.

 

My thoughts drifted to the ageless Himalayas and their eternal silence. But my Himalayan reverie came to a momentary stop, when a tall and petite air-hostess came offering orange juice at a cruising height of 30,000 feet. It was a toast to the Himalayas.

 

From the 26,750 ft. Cho Oyo onwards, the Khumbu Range began to show their undisputed supremacy, since this range boasted of the mightiest of the mighty among mountains. As the jet flew past the 25,990 ft. Gyachungkang Peak, I was pleasantly surprised to find the steward come over to my window, point out small dotted structures against a rugged mountainside and say, “There’s Namche Bazaar.” I was amazed. Namche of the mountaineer’s delight, and the home of the Sherpas. Namche, the village that has become a byword in mountaineering and trekking circles throughout the world–lay below us.

 

The jet lost height gracefully to give the passengers a closer view, and the snows looked hauntingly beautiful from the port side windows. The warm sunlight filtered through smack on my face. Its warmth was reassuring.

 

The 23,443 ft. Pumori Peak seemed to be soaring in the distance, and that was when I began to ogle at the familiar 25,850 ft. Nuptse peak. Then suddenly, like a revelation, I spotted the giant amongst them all: the grey, imposing triangular massif that was Mount Everest to the outside world, Sagarmatha to the Nepalese and Chomolungma–“the Goddess Mother of the Earth” to the Tibetans. There were flecks of snow to be seen along the ridge of the highest peak in the world. A trail of vapour was emanating from its limestone summit.

 

Far below the magnificent Ama Dablam peak struck me as trying to reach for the sky. But I had eyes only for the mysterious, grey and foreboding Everest massif. I recalled Mallory’s words: “There was no complication for the eye. The highest of the world’s mountains had to make but a single gesture of magnificence to be lord of all, vast in unchallenged and isolated supremacy.

 

The peaks Lhotse, Chamlang and Makalu continued to fascinate me. I felt thrilled to my marrow as the knowledge that we were flying over the highest mountains in the world sank into my head. I noticed that the Himalayas occurred as narrow ranges, prominently longitudinal and that the highest Himalayan chains below us were not massive elevations but narrow ridges.

 

Towards the north, as far as the eye could see, was the barren Tibetan Plateau: rightly dubbed the Roof of the World. I was astonished to note that beyond the Everest massif’s central chain there were no Himalayan ranges. It was the limit–the last frontier. The bleak Tibetan Plateau seemed to blend with the horizon towards the north.

 

I could not help feeling nostalgic as the jet turned for the homeward flight. I peered at the blue Mahabharat Mountains below and the Siwalik Hills a little further south–and the extensive, fertile Terai, which blended with the azure sky. While the major ‘snows’ were still visible on the starboard , it was fascinating to see the hanging-valleys, aretes, cwms and magnificent glaciers directly beneath the port windows. It reminded me of a trip I had made to the Swiss alpine town of Grindelwald, where the tongue of the glacier licks almost the town. Occasionally, as the jetliner sped by, the mountain-tarns would catch the sun’s rays on their crystalline surface, thereby imparting blinding flashes of reflected light.

 

It must have snowed the previous night, since the neighbouring hills, which were normally beyond the zone of perpetual snow, were also covered in varying degrees with fluffy blankets of virgin snow. One couldn’t help being overwhelmed by the ecstatic and exotic beauty of these high snowbound wilderness areas that we were over-flying.

 

Continental music began to seep into the pressurised cabin and the lithe and beautifully swarthy air-hostess came down the aisle gracefully handing the passengers miniature khurkis (curved Gurkha knives) as souvenirs, with the usual compliment of sweets.

 

I could feel the captain easing off the throttles and saw the spoilers on the top surface of the port wind rising up slowly, in a row inducing a drag and causing the jet to slow as it touched town at Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan Airport.

 

About the Author: Satis Shroff is a writer & poet based in Freiburg who also writes regularly in The American Chronicle (www.Amchron.com) and runs a Swiss blog (www.Blog.ch). He has studied Zoology and Botany in Nepal, Medicine and Social Science in Germany and Creative Writing in Freiburg and Writers’ Bureau(Manchester). He describes himself as a mediator between western and eastern cultures and sees his future as a writer and poet. Satis Shroff was awarded the German Academic Exchange Prize.

Writing experience: Satis Shroff has written two language books on the Nepali language for DSE (Deutsche Stiftung für Entwicklungsdienst) & Horlemannverlag. He has written three feature articles in the Munich-based Nelles Verlag’s ‘Nepal’ on the Himalayan Kingdom’s Gurkhas, sacred mountains and Nepalese symbols and on Hinduism in ‘Nepal: Myths & Realities (Book Faith India) and his poem ‘Mental Molotovs’ was published in epd-Entwicklungsdienst (Frankfurt). He has written many articles in The Rising Nepal, The Christian Science Monitor, the Independent, the Fryburger, Swatantra Biswa (USIS publication, Himal Asia, 3Journal Freiburg, top ten rated poems in www.nepalforum.com (I dream, Oleron, an Unforgettable Isle, A Flight to the Himalayas, Which Witch in Germany?, Fatal Decision, Santa Fe, Nirmala, Between Terror and Ecstasy, The Broken Poet, Himalaya: Menschen und Mythen, A Gurkha Mother, Kathmandu is Nepal, My Nepal, Quo vadis?). Articles, book-reviews and poems in, www.isj.com, www.inso.org. See also www.google & www.yahoo under search: Satis Shroff.

 Dear Satis, We share a common love of the Nepalese people and a desire to let the world know about their hearts and souls.  I used to lead treks to the Everest Base Camp and working with a group of Sherpas helped found the first hut system in Nepal in 1990. Present during the worst storm in memory, I was appalled by world press coverage of the foreigners who died with no mention of the many Sherpas who also perished. I returned home to write their story. Wanting to give an intimate look into their culture, I dramatized their lives in fiction–the first book to do so in the US. Linda LeBlanc, Author of Beyond theSummit, http://www.beyondthesummit-novel.com

 

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