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Archive for February, 2008

Groggy in the Afternoon (Satis Shroff)

 

Groggy from the Cyberworld at home,

Fritz goes to school.

He’s tired of school,

And is restless.

Retalin doesn’t seem to work today.

The lessons are irrelevant,

He sees not the classmates.

He sees the goblins, Power Rangers,

Sword-fighting Ninjas ,

Scores of other figures

With terrifying grimaces.

Fritz also makes a grimace.

He is now a monster in his thoughts,

Has to strike the others

With his laser-sword.

 

Deficiency Syndrome (Satis Shroff)

 

The enemy surrounds him,

Laser-blades flash like lightning.

A gash and Fritz falls on the floor.

He’s wounded,

But rotates his prostrate torso

With his fast working legs,

Lashes out with his sword.

He’s almost killed them all.

He’s a hero who never gives up.

 

Suddenly he hears teacher Frau Hess’s voice:

‘Fritz, steh auf!’

He becomes calm,

Gets up.

Gone are the warriors, Power Rangers,

And super heroes and mighty enemies.

Fritz recognises his classmates,

Hans, Joachim, Cassandra, Brunhild,

As they shake their heads.

 

Was it a dream?

Oh je! Frau Hess will certainly call Mom.

And tell it all.

Scheiß ADS!’ mutters Kevin.

 

Glossary:

ADS: Allgemeine Deficiency Syndrome

 

The Japanese Garden (Satis Shroff)

 

Nine Hauptschule kids in their teens,

Sit on benches in the Japanese Garden,

Near the placid, torquoise lake.

 

The homework is done sloppily.

Who cares?

The boys are bursting with hormones,

As they tease the only blonde from Siberia.

 

A fat guy named Heino likes the blonde,

But she doesn’t fancy him.

Annäherung, Vermeidung:

A conflict develops.

 

The teacher tells him in no uncertain terms:

Lass Sie bitte in Ruhe!”

But Heino with the MP3 doesn’t care

And carries on:

Grasping her breasts,

Caressing her groin.

She puts up a fight to no avail.

 

Heino is stronger, impertinent,

And full of street rhetoric.

Meanwhile, the other teenies

Are climbing, kicking the Japanese pavilion,

Spitting, cursing shouting

At all and sundry in German.

 

Hauptschule Kids (Satis Shroff)

 

The grey-haired gardener in charge comes,

Tells the Hauptschule boys to behave

And goes.

Boredom in the afternoon.

The boys don’t want to play soccer,

Handball or basketball.

Sitting around, criticising, irritating each other,

Is cool.

 

Creative workshops: music, songs, essays, own movies?

Nothing interests them.

Killing time together,

Cursing at each other,

Getting a kick provoking passersby,

This is the Hauptschule in Germany today.

The clever kids go to the Gymnasium,

After the fourth class.

 

Matsuyama Blues (Satis Shroff)

 

The trouble-makers, aggressive alpha-wolves

And clowns remain in the Hauptschule.

An ironical name for a school,

For Haupt means the ‘main’

Comprising the lower class of the society:

Kids of foreigners, ethnic Germans from the East Bloc,

Who hope to make it somehow,

As apprentices for hair salons, car repair garages,

Kebab shops, Italian restaurants, Balkan kitchens,

Roofers and masons.

 

The Japanese Garden, a present from Matsuyama

To the people of Freiburg,

With truncated shrubs and rounded trees.

A waterfall and quiet niches,

A place for contemplation and solitude.

 

For the Hauptschule kids,

A place to get together,

Be loud, grunt, fight with fists, shove, scratch,

Slap, spit everywhere,

And play the gangsta.

At night they throw empty alcohol bottles

Where ever they like,” says an elderly lady

From the neighbourhood.

Wonder how the kids are in Matsuyama?

 

—————————————————————————————–

 

Miscarriage and Sonderschule (Satis Shroff)

 

Halt’s Maul, Du Missgeburt!”

Says one to the other.

Halt dein Mund, Du Jude!

Ich hasse Juden, Mann!’ barks an obese Hauptschuler.

 

The others play football in the classroom.

The teacher says emphatically,

It’s forbidden to play soccer here!’

They reply in chorus:

It doesn’t disturb anybody.’

A grey-blonde teacher barges into the room and says:

Leben Sie hier noch?’ to his colleague.

Are you still alive?

 

Boris has an appointment with the police.

They nabbed him stealing a car.

Nicky quips to Suleika:

Du hast einen fetten Arsch!

Gebärfreudige Hintern.’

Albin runs helter skelter,

Settles down on a table,

Chewing gum between his yellow teeth,

Doesn’t like authority.

 

DEAD END (Satis Shroff)

 

Hans, Fritz and Bruno do their extra homework,

Meted out as a punishment by the English teacher.

 

Vitaly throws scissors in the classroom,

Which land with a thud on the cork wall.

Heino is doing his best to disturb the group,

With his loud MP3 music.

Ha! Ha! Ha! Du Hurensohn!’ he says,

To a fellow classmate.

 

A Kosovo-kid who’s hyperactive,

Steals and fights at school.

The Germans send him to a Sonderschule.

His father’s proud for ‘sonder’ means ‘special.’

His son is attending an elite school, he thinks,

Only to realise later,

It was a school for difficult children.

A dead-end.

 

 

East Bloc Kid Goes West (Satis Shroff)

 

A pair of heavy scissors fly

In a dark Hauptschule classroom,

Thrown by an Aussiedler school-kid,

Near Freiburg’s Japanese Garden.

 

The scissors can slash your face,

Or mine.

You can be maimed for life,

Like Scarface,

If the sharp ends

Bury in your eyes,

Or mine.

 

Let there be light.

Vitaly, a boy from the former east Bloc

Comes to the West,

In search of ancestors and heritage.

What he gets is rejection but freedom.

Freedom to do as he pleases,

With pleasant negative sanctions.

Even in jail they have TV,’ he says with a laugh.

 

He grows up in a ghetto,

And his anger burns.

Anger at his ageing parents,

Who forced him to come to the West,

But who are themselves lost in this new world

Of democratic, liberal values,

Luxurious and electronic consumer delights,

Where everyone cares for himself or herself,

Where the old structures of the society

They clung to in the east Bloc days

Don’t exist.

 

A brave new world,

A Schlaraffenland,

Where economy and commerce flourishes,

Where the individual’s view is important,

To himself,

To herself

And to others.

 

The East Bloc boy learns

To assert himself in the West,

Not with solid arguments and rhetoric

But with his two fists.

He fancies cars and their contents,

Breaks open the windows,

Takes all he wants.

Brushes with the police

At an early age.

 

English, Latin and French at school,

Irritates him,

He prefers to play the clown:

To dance on the table,

Make suggestive moves with his groin,

High on designer drugs,

High all the time.

Opens the classroom door,

Sees a girl from the seventh grade,

And yells at her.

 

His behaviour brings laughter

But he turns off the girls he admires.

He grins and insults his peers.

Rejected by youngsters,

Admonished by grown-ups,

He watches the society.

 

Chic clothes, streamlined cars, plastic money,

But he forgets that there’s personal performance

Behind these worldly riches.

The rich German drives his BMW

With his head in the air.

What does he care?

What does he care?’

Thinks Vitaly.

 

A pair of scissors fly

In a dark classroom.

His pent-up emotions,

Let loose in a German Hauptschool,

Near the Japanese Garden.

 

His classmate from Croatia

Throws chairs at another.

Aus Spass’ he says.

Just for fun.

He shouts at the German Putzfrau,

Who cleans the classrooms:

Sie Geistesgestörte!

You mad woman.

My French-cap is XXX’ he sings

And jerks his pelvis at her.

 

Is the school-system to blame?

Is western culture, tradition

Social, liberal values and norms to blame?

Are his parents who speak a conserved Deutsch to blame?

Is his Russian mother-tongue

And his great Russian soul to blame?

 

Nobody answers his questions,

Nobody cares,

Out in the West.

Verdammt, I want to be heard!” screams Vitaly.

The people shake their heads,

Mutter, ‘Ein Spinner!

And walk away.

 

A pair of sharp, long scissors

Fly in a dark classroom.

The scissors can slash your face,

Or mine.

 

THE SEA SWELLS (Satis Shroff)

 

The sea shells on the sea shore

Suddenly the sea swells.

Ring the church and temple bells.

All is not well.

The sea has gone back.

 

Brown-burnt Tarzans and Janes

From different continents,

Wonder what’s going on.

A man from Sweden

Is immersed in his thriller under the palms.

A mother and daughter from Germany

Frolic on the white sunny beach.

 

Even the sea-gulls stop and listen

To the foreboding silence.

 

The sea swells,

Comes back

And brings an apocalyptic destruction:

Sweeping humans, huts and hotels,

Boats, billboards and debris.

Cries for help are stifled by the roaring waves.

 

The sea goes back.

Leaving behind lost souls,

Caught in suspended animation.

I close my eyes.

Everything dies.

 

Tsunami. Tsunami.

Om Shanti. Om shanti.

 

WENN EIN KIND…(Anon)

 

Wenn ein Kind kritisiert wird,

lernt es zu verurteilen.

 

Wenn ein Kind angefeindet wird,

lernt es zu kämpfen.

 

Wenn ein Kind verspottet wird,

lernt es schüchtern zu sein.

 

Wenn ein Kind beschämt wird,

lernt es sich schuldig zu sein.

 

Wenn ein Kind verstanden und toleriert wird,

lernt es geduldig zu sein.

 

Wenn ein Kind ermutigt wird,

lernt es sich selbst zu vertrauen.

 

Wenn ein Kind gelobt wird,

lernt es sich selbst zu schätzen.

 

Wenn ein Kind gerecht behandelt wird,

lernt es sich gerecht zu sein.

 

Wenn ein Kind geborgen lebt,

lernt es zu vertrauen.

 

Wenn ein Kind anerkannt wird,

lernt es sich selbst zu mögen.

 

Wenn ein Kind in Freundschaft angenommen wird,

lernt es in der Welt Liebe zu finden.

 

(Text über dem Eingang einer tibetischen Schule)

 

 

What others have said about the author: ‘Brilliant, I enjoyed your poems throughly. I can hear the underlying German and Nepali thoughts within your English language. The strictness of the German form mixed with the vividness of your Nepalese mother tongue. An interesting mix. Nepal is a jewel on the Earths surface, her majesty and charm should be protected, and yet exposed with dignity through words. You do your country justice and I find your bicultural understanding so unique and a marvel to read.’ Reviewed by Heide Poudel in WritersDen.com 6/4/2007.

 

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).

 

 

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

 

‘The manner in which Satis Shroff writes takes the reader right along with him. Extremely vivid and just enough and the irony of the music. Beautiful prosaic thought and astounding writing. Your muscles flex, the nerves flatter, the heart gallops,
As you feel how puny you are,
Among all those incessant and powerful waves.’

Satis Shroff’s writing is refined – pure undistilled.’ (Susan Marie, http://www.Gather.com).

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Deleting Lives in the Cyberworld (Satis Shroff)

 

The young man and his double-clicks

In a cyberworld

Of bits and bytes,

Full of elves, tough turtles, dementors,

Warriors and evil beings,

Who destroy hamlets, towns,

Civilisations,

At the command of a few clicks.

 

An unreal world

Where the fantasy stories

Are pre-programmed.

The elimination of farmers, slaves,

Knaves and enemy warriors,

But a click away.

 

You are the creator,

The maker and destroyer,

You are Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma.

Thumbs up or down,

Death to you,

Delete.

Yawn!

 

 

HOOKED TO BITS & BITES (Satis Shroff)

 

Your’re short of amphetamines.

It’s a long way to the apothecary.

More clicks,

More tiredness,

You’re falling asleep.

Drowsy bits and bytes,

You haven’t taken a bite.

Your inner man is growling,

But you have no time,

For bodily needs.

You’re hooked

To your bits and bytes.

Oh, it bites.

————————————–

 

 

‘The manner in which Satis Shroff writes takes the reader right along with him. Extremely vivid and just enough and the irony of the music. Beautiful prosaic thought and astounding writing.

Your muscles flex, the nerves flatter, the heart gallops,
As you feel how puny you are,
Among all those incessant and powerful waves.’

Satis Shroff’s writing is refined – pure undistilled.’ (Susan Marie, http://www.Gather.com).

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Fastnachtzeit in Friburg (Germany) and Basle (Switzerland) (Satis Shroff)

 

When we cry ‘Narri, Narro!’in Freiburg, they rejoice in Cologne, Mainz and Düsseldorf, for it is carnival-time. And the German and Swiss TV channels have mostly carnivals on their screens. But most of the people, young and old, are out in the streets of their towns and enjoying themselves with merry-making and repitition of Fasnet slogans.

 

In Freiburg there were the usual shoppers and pedestrians between the Kaiser-Joseph street and the town council (Rathaus) and small costumed kids dubbed “the Eckeplätzer” came with flutes, trumpets and drums what the Germans and Swiss are wont to call ‘Guggemusic.’ The knaves shouted ‘Narri, Narro’ on top of their voices, and the onlookers were treated with long red sausages, crepe,` Flammkuchen, a speciality with cheese and bacon from Alsace and, of course, American doughnuts introduced by the occupation GIs.

 

This was followed by the big procession of the Badische knaves organisation in the third meeting of the knaves (Narren) with 10,000 participants and many other Freiburger knaves, witches, ghoulish figures as the highlight of the Fasnet celebrations.

 

On Rose-Monday you are awakened the Wühlmäuse, people masked and costumed as moles at 7:30 am, and a bit later at 8:11 your are startled by the cries of the Ribblinghieler. On February 5, which is called the Fasnet-Zischdig, the celebrations come to an end, like in Tiengen where the decorated Fasnet tree is pulled down , followed by the burial of Ignaz at the Tuniberg house. The Fasnets-burning takes place at 12 o’clock in the night, which symbolises the end of the days of fasting. And on Ash Wednesday the purses and wallets are washed in front of the Freiburger town council building (Rathaus). This tradition demands that empty wallets and purses be immersed in the water of the Freiburger Bächle because till the next year the water of the Bächle is expected to turn into currency notes. What a wonderful Allemanic belief, isn’t it? And they say, if you are a stranger and fall into the Freiburger Bächle (small water-canal), which runs through the city, then you are obliged to marry a Freiburger damsel. I must admit it happened to me, and I wouldn’t change this Allemanic damsel for another. Great customs and beliefs, don’t you think so?

 

I like it in these times of Fasnet when people are merry, sociable, laughing and there’s a lot of clownery and no seriousness, because life is earnest enough, provided there’s not much alcohol, alcopops involved.

 

In the Black Forest town of Wolfach the people come out at 5:30 in the morning costumed Narren figures come wearing white night gowns, long caps and white stockings like out of a Carl Spitzberg oil painting. The people of Wolfach are woken up by a lot of noise-making using trumpets, trombones, flutes, drums and in the afternoon there’s a jolly big procession. The Germans and the Swiss like it loud with brass-bands, samba dancing, percussions-on-wheels, Gugge-music and a lot of oomph.

 

The Fasnet Monday begins in Rottweil at 8am with a four-hour ‘springing-of-the-knaves’ (Narrensprung). Thousands of classical costumed Narren figures come through the old gate of Rottweil and scatter themselves everywhere in the olde town historical town. The Rottweiler do it with style. In Munderking there’s a fountain around which the knaves dance at first before jumping three times into the icy waters of the fountain. They strengthen themselves with a swig of hot wine.

 

. The highlight of the Fasnet Sunday is in Elzach at 8pm when the torch procession takes place. The torches are lit and the famous and notorious Schuddig, with his inflated pig’s bladder dangling from a stick with which he clobbers the teasing onlookers, walks along this Black Forest town—which is immersed in a ghostly light.

 

Swiss Fastnacht: It must be mentioned that last year’s Fastnacht celebration in Basle (Switzerland) was marred by the death of a boy, who was eagerly collecting goodies in the street and he was crushed by a procession wagon. This year the security committee has promised to be stricter so that such accidents don’t occur again. 12,000 active members of the Swiss Fastnacht will be taking part in the street parades, and this year 485 groups will be walking, dancing or driving by distributing sweets, chocolates, flying kisses and bombarding the spectators with confetti cannons to the sound of reggae, hip hop, salsa, samba, techno and other rhythms. There will be around 100 sujets or themes, a few of which are listed here: the noise-tolerance of the Basler citizens, littering (the Swiss want to keep their country clean), SVP, a political party, women and gendering, Euro 08 and global climate-problems with Swiss undertones.

 

You can hear the noisy Guggen music again in Lucern, the monsters dance and quite a few Luzerner are high on alcohol and sway around the sidewalks. Fastnacht, the nights of fasting, have begun in catholic Switzerland. A big bang opens the Narrenzeit with 12,000 early risers, which is 2000 more than last year, and the ‘most beautiful week of the year’ begins. No one is spared in the week of merry-making, satire and lampoonery, not even the politicians, with all their misdeeds of the past year. In traditional Luzern a person named Brother Fritschi get kidnapped and jailed in the town council hall by costumed Swiss soldiers. 500 years ago the Basler stole Luzern’s Fasnacht figure of identification, and the two Swiss cities re-enact the spectacle from those days. Brother Fritschi is put in chains for half a year, till he is kidnapped by the Basler.

 

On the day of Basle’s Morgenstraich, when the lights go out, people in the streets hold hands and celebrate the traditional Fastnacht, Brother Fritschi and Frau Basilea are invited as the guests of honour by the local government and peer at the Basler Fastnacht procession from the terrace of the town council.

 

After the long Morgenstraich, I love to have the traditional Basler Mehlsuppe (flour soup), croissant and coffee. You ought to try it too. I personally prefer the Swiss Fasnet to the German one because it’s well-organised, and when the lights go out at 5am in Switzerland’s second biggest city Basle, there’s an eerie atmosphere when the drums begin to beat, followed by the shrill and high sound of the typical piccolo flutes. When the sun shines you see isolated, masked piccolo flute players in their colourful costumes in different parts of the Swiss town playing on their flutes—oblivious of the world.

 

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