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Archive for June, 2009

Windsors in wax (c)satisshroff

Commentary: FALKLANDS AND THE GURKHA ISSUE (Satis Shroff)

Twenty seven years ago, the British and the Argentineans fought over the Falkland Islands and turned, the otherwise peaceful and serene South Atlantic into an inferno. The Malvinas were claimed by the Argentineans and the British. Nurse Nicci Pugh was a witness to the hostilities from a safe distance on board the hospital ship HMS Uganda. The conflict began on April 2,1982 after Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands. Britain’s PM Margaret Thatcher sent a task force which resulted in the death of 1,000 people, after which the Falklands (Malvinas) were liberated on June 14, 1982.

Much like Florence Nightingale, who left England on October 21,1854, and started caring for the wounded soldiers at Scutari, Turkey, on November 5,1854, and took a large group of women as nurses (38 women, including 18 Anglican and Roman Catholic sisters), Nicci Pugh was one of 40 nursing officers on board the hospital ship Uganda. Ms. Pugh’s job was x-ray units to provide modern hospital care facilities for the injured British Tommies, civilians and also possible Argentinean soldiers wounded in the conflict. In the ship were operating theatres, 120 beds, burn-units, labs, x-ray units, a blood bank, in addition to a helipad. The Uganda was anchored a mile south-west of San Carlos Water, where there was heavy fighting. With the knowledge that hospital ships had been sunk in previous wars through shelling or torpedoes, the ladies had to go through the angst of being bombed by the Argentinean aircraft which frequently made sorties over the Royal Navy armada.

The British staff on board the Uganda have gone on record as having treated 700 patients. Among the patients were also injured Argentinean soldiers. It might be mentioned that the ship HMS Sir Galahad was shit by enemy fire, whereby 120 patients were treated in the burns unit on board the Uganda. Some 500 surgical operations were performed. Most of the injuries were caused by gunshot, shrapnel and mortar. Amputations were also carried out due to the anti-personnel mines deployed and hidden by the Argentinean soldiers. Even the injured Argentinean soldiers were treated with the same respect and dignity.

After the war, Ms. Pugh returned to her old job in Cornwall as an OP theatre nurse, but wasn’t able to talk about her experiences for years. That was her coping method. Life had to go on. But unlike the Lady with the Lamp, Nicci Pugh didn’t have to face medical ire, and works as a voluntary carer to help injured servicemen to re-visit the Malvinas to pay their respects to their own fallen comrades, and visit the killing fields of the Falklands. But for the Gurkhas who have fought for Britain since the times of Queen Victoria till Queen Elizabeth II since 200 years, there’s no noteworthy memorial in Britain. Are the Gurkhas merely guest-workers or ‘cannon fodder’ only? Britain laments that there’s no memorial for the courageous Lancaster Bomber Command which lost 55,573 out of 125,000 pilots during their deadly missions to bombard German towns and industrial complexes, collateral damage notwithstanding. But no one speaks of the courage and sacrifice of the sturdy, dedicated, loyal Gurkhas from Nepal, who laid their lives for the Glory of Great Britain, and are still doing the same for the United Kingdom. After World War I and World War II, the Gurkhas were ignominiously booked a passage to Nepal via India. Even today, instead of integration, education and service in the UK for the extraordinary service to Britain and the Queen of England since generations. They are not even tolerated when their service, i.e. unfair contract, with the Arbeitsvermittlungsagency MoD is over. The MoD is treating the Gurkhas similarly as the German government did with the so-called ‘guest workers’ from Turkey, Italy, Spain and Portugal during the fifties, only to realise that they hadn’t invited guest workers but human beings, who had families, dreams, hopes of a better quality of life, the same education as their own children. Under Angela Merkel there’s a new integration model for migrants which is showing a positive trend and in accordance with the European Union’s ideas of a better world. The Gurkhas must be given the same status as their British counterparts and comrade-in-arms, the same buying power and dignity in the United Kingdom, and the UK government would do well to put an end to the discrimination that has been meted out to the Gurkhas and their families. They must be accepted and welcomed as old and new migrants, and the UK’s loyal, historical allies, instead of being discriminated on flimsy grounds. If the Gurkhas have to go to the European court it is indeed a shame for Brown’s government, which has been trying to save precious sterling pounds on the integration of the Gurkhas and has been diverting the common man’s money for other purposes.

* * *

An e-mail from Argentina

Hello Satis,

Thanks for your message. Nice to meet you. Well you’re from Freiburg,
I have a mp3 file of an audience recording from a Roxette concert
that took place in Freiburg. Very funny…

Regarding the Falkland war, we all Argentineans feel some kind of
impotence, Imagine if one day some people broke into your house and
take you away from your own house. We cannot do anything and I don’t
think Argentina will get back the islands. UK is a very strong country.
Well, that’s the position of Argentina. UK claims that they were always of
their own. I don’t really care who’s the owner. The main point is that
the war was pointless and it was not about the islands. There were
many purposes besides these events, the war was just a disguise.

In 1982, the government in Argentina was in charge of the military, people
didn’t have the right to express what they felt, everything was banned.
People was really tired. so the military government
NEEDED something to give an incentive to the Argentineans. Something that
proves they had the power. They made us believe that we could get back the
islands that once were occupied by the British. That was the main purpose of the war.

UK hadn’t any interest on these islands, but it was like a war trophy for
them. Obviously, it was like a fight between 2 kids, a 5 years old boy
against a 15 years old boy. As we usually say “the bad events show the
best and the worst from people”. And the war was not an exception.

The TV always reported that we were about to win the war, they
were always lying in order to calm down us. The media was controlled,
including the radio, some songs were prohibited or edited.
A certain censorship. During the war, the songs sung in English were not
allowed to be played. And the soldiers were 18 years old teenagers,
who were recruited by the law, they didn’t know what war was really all about,
they didn’t have the right to decide what to do with their lives. It was an
order and they must obey “the call of the country,” so they were sent to the war.

In 1982 I was just a 7 years old boy, I didn’t know what was happening
to my country. In all schools, there was a campaign called “A chocolate
for the soldiers”. We had to write a letter to the soldiers and we
had to give them away a chocolate, that’s because of the low temperature.
There were another campaigns in order to collect warm clothes and food
because the army only gave them the basic elements. And even worse
they were treated badly. Most of our hopes never arrived and those chocolates
never were sent, in fact some people stole and re-sell them later.
That’s why I wrote that “Some events show the worst and the best from people”.
Of course there were very nice people who helped a lot. We usually are very
kind.

The UK military also took advantage of these events. Furthermore, a retired
Chilean military recently admitted that the Chilean military helped the UK army
telling them the position of the Argentinean ships and soldiers and the
strategies they had. Everybody wanted a piece of this cake.

Besides this, the General Galtieri, the most hated person in Argentina,
was drinkin’ whisky while 600 young Argentineans kids were dying.
Very sad to be true.

To sum up, there were many events and I could write pages and pages
about this. The war was pointless, I think nobody won this war,
it was a big lost for 2 countries and a benefit for a few people.

Arnaldo Mariano S., Jul 6, 2007, 10:21am EDT

http://www.zfs.uni-freiburg.de/zfs/dozent/lehrbeauftragte4/index_html/#shroff

E-mail from Satis Shroff:

Dear Arnaldo,

I can now understand your feelings about the Falkland War. I found your metaphor of the 5 year old boy fighting against the 15 year old a very appropriate comparison. Your story really moved me, even though I come originally from Nepal, the land of the Gurkhas.

Thank you very much for sharing a part of your autobiography. You really ought to write “pages and pages about this war” as you said, and let us read them at www.Gather.com.

I think it’s very interesting reading. For me it was a fantastic experience to hear how the people suffered and what they thought about in those days in Argentina. This helps us to understand each other.

Even a Gurkha or Nepalese and an Argentinean can be friends. I reach out my hand to you, dear Gather friend. If more Argentineans went to Nepal on their holidays to see how the Gurkhas live and what everyday problems, dreams, hopes they have, then they would be certainly friends and understand each other. Duty, obedience and discipline take on a bitter taste after the war. Many GIs visited the former battlefields (Germany, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Japan, Burma) and met their former foes, which is a good thing, for men are not murderers when they are forced to do their duty as soldiers.

In Nepal there’s no compulsory military service. The Gurkhas are professional soldiers because they never had someone to motivate them and pay their school, college and university bills. If someone is ill, one goes to the local shaman (dhamey-jhakri) for he can be paid with some eggs and a chicken. Money is scarce in the hills of Nepal. That’s why the Nepalese youth from the hills join the Gurkhas. Many are school drop-outs but many can’t afford to go to school. They have to do child-work in their parents’ farms in the terraced, craggy hills of this beautiful Himalayan country.

That’s life, Arnaldo. Let us nevertheless try to make this world a better place to live in, despite our cultural differences.
Sincerely,
Satis

Satis Shroff, Jul 6, 2007, 11:13am EDT

News: Brown’s government: arrogant & indifferent to the Gurkhas

Former Gurkha soldiers from Nepal have won the right to sue the British Government in the High Court for alleged racial discrimination. The Gurkhas allege that they have been discriminated against in at least 20 different ways while serving with the British army and subsequently during retirement.

Lawyers for the troops filed a claim for damages at the High Court in May in an action that could cost the Ministry of Defence £2bn. Their case is to be argued by Prime Minister Tony Blair’s wife, Cherie Booth, a prominent barrister.

Nepalese soldiers have fought alongside British soldiers since 1815, and have served in recent years in the Falklands, the Gulf War, Kosovo, Bosnia, Sierra Leone and Afghanistan.

Equal pay demand: The soldiers argue that since a 1947 Tripartite Agreement between India, Nepal and the UK, the Gurkhas have been linked to the Indian Army’s pay scale instead of the British army’s.

They say this has resulted in a disparity between British pensions and those paid to the Gurkhas, Phil Shiner, a solicitor with the Public Interest Lawyers group which is acting for the Gurkhas, said they were hoping for a decision from the High Court before Christmas.

“So far, this government has acted with arrogance and indifference,” he was quoted by the Associated Press news agency as saying.

“I hope even at this late stage that sense will prevail.”

In declaring the case admissible on Tuesday, the High Court gave the Defence Ministry until 9 September to put forward its arguments in the case.

British defence: A Defence Ministry spokeswoman told Reuters that the military would “robustly defend our position in court”.

“The Gurkhas are treated well and will continue to be. We value their services and treat them in a good manner,” she said.

But the Gurkhas’ lawyers say they have 20 test cases, claiming that 30,000 Nepalese retired from the service with inadequate or no pension, and that widows had not been properly compensated for their loss. Aside from financial complaints, they say they have been subjected to different rules on family leave, food, dress codes and religious practices.

It is not the first time that Ms Booth, who specialises in human rights abuses, has tackled her husband’s government in court. In May 2000, she argued on behalf of trade unions that the government needed to offer more leave benefits to parents of young children.

That case is before the European Court.

Commentary:

Gurkhas, Welcome to the UK 200 Years Later (Satis Shroff)

Recently, I was surprised to receive an e-mail from 10 Downing Street. It was Gordon Brown. Tears ran down my cheeks as I read the happy news that he’d capitulated in the olde bureaucratic fight against the Gurkhas. It had been MoD against the Gurkhas. I remember having signed petitions addressed to the PM in the internet, having moblised the Gurkhas in Darjeeling Forum’s ‘Gupsap’ under Swaroop Chamling, the Gurkhas.com and its excellent team’s discussions and petition, on Gather.com and The American Chronicle and its syndicate of 21 newspapers in the USA, wordpress.com and other websites like Google’s Blogspot.com. We kept the Gurkha themes circulating in the media: in Nepal, UK, Hong Kong and around the world. And it worked. Gurkha veterans can now stay on in Great Britain, get benefits from the NHS and a solid pension so that they can live decently like everyone in the UK.

In this connection, the actress Joanna Lumley has played a pivotal role and has helped put the Gurkhas where they really belong: in the hub of the UK, not as underdogs of the British society but as proud winners in the UK’s prosperity and progress as a nation, for the Gurkhas have fought for the Royals and the MoD for 200 years. Alone in the World War I and II more than 50,000 Gurkhas fell under the Union Jack.

The most wonderful news was that Joanna Lumley managed to get even Gordon Brown’s very own people from the Labour Party to vote for the Gurkhas. The best part of it was the way she managed to get the State Secretary to concede to her arguments right in front of live cameras. He had to comply, there was no other way around.

Citizens of the UK, we, the well-wishers and friends of the brave and loyal Gurkhas, thank you and Ms. Joanna Lumley and even members of the Labour party who have risen to the occasion and shown civil courage, sense of justice for the cause of the Gurkhas. We’d also like to thank the sturdy Gurkhas for their unprecedented and excellent service to the UK. History has been written as far as the Gurkhas are concerned and it has caused ripples in the hearts of the Gurkhas and their dependants living under the shadow of the Himalayas. Great Britain, we are proud of you. You’ve shown that you can, if you really want to, bring about a change.

My lacrymal glands are still gushing as I write this for the Mother of the Gurkha soldier in Nepal, who lost her precious son, the sons and daughters who lost their Gurkha fathers in the killing fields, the Gurkha veterans in the UK, the Gurkhas currently doing service with the Brigade of the Gurkhas, and the thousands of Gurkhas who died in the past.

Gurkhas, welcome to the United Kingdom. It took 200 long years but we’ve arrived. Ayo Gurkhali, indeed. Gordon Brown is not amused but the rest of the UK is. This time, thanks to Bonnie Prince Charles and other Royals too. I often wonder why Prince Charles didn’t take the initiative earlier. He talks with his plants, he talks about the environment, he paints aquarelles of mountains and castles but he was loath to talk about the Gurkhas. Thanks to Ms. Lumley, he changed his mind. The Gurkhas and the Nepalese love him for it. Better late than never.

It was a courageous Gurkha who saved the life of Mr. Lumley’s father, and she showed her admiration and thankfulness for the Gurkhas by fighting for their rights in the United Kingdom. The Gurkhas have won new friends. The Nepalese government could reciprocate with the award of, at least, a Nepal Tara or Gurkha Dakshin Bahu First Class to Ms. Joanna Lumley, a lady with civil courage. Britain needs women like Ms. Lumley.

________

Zeitgeistlyrik:

The Gurkhas Win, Labour Capitulates (Satis Shroff)

Ayo Gurkhali!

The Gurkhas are upon you!

This was the battle-cry

That filled the British heart

With pride and admiration,

And put the foe in fear.

Now the Gurkhas are not upon you.

They are with you,

Among you,

In London,

Guarding the Queen at the Palace,

Doing security checks

For VIPs

And for Claudia Schiffer,

The Sultan of Brunei.

Johnny Gurkhas

Or as the Brits prefer:

Johnny Gurks.

Sir Ralph Turner,

An adjutant of the Gurkhas

In World War I said:

Uncomplaining you endure

Hunger, thirst and wounds;

And at the last,

Your unwavering lines

Disappear into smoke

And wrath of battle.’

Another General Sir Francis Tuker

Spoke of the Gurkhas:

Selfless devotion to the British cause,

Which can be hardly matched

By any race to another

In the whole history of the world..

Why they should have

Thus treated us,

Is something of a mystery.’

9000 Gurkhas died

For the Glory of England,

23,655 were severely wounded

Or injured.

Military glory for the Gurkhas:

2734 decorations,

Mentions in despatches,

Gallantry certificates.

Nepal’s mothers paid dearly

For England’s glory.

And what do I hear?

The vast silence of the Gurkhas.

England had failed miserably

To match the Gurkha’s loyalty

And affection

For the British.

Faith binds humans

The Brits have shown

They have faith

In the bravery and loyalty,

Honesty, sturdiness, steadfastness

Of the Gurkhas.

Did the souls of the perished Gurkhas

Have faith in the British?

Souls of Gurkhas long dead and forgotten,

Lingered long seeking justice

At the hands of Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II,

Warlords, or was it warladies,

They died for.

How has the loyalty and special relations

Been rewarded in England

Since the Treaty of Segauli

On March 4, 1816 ?

A treaty that gave the British

The right to recruit Nepalese.

When it came to her own kind,

Her Majesty the Queen

Was generous.

She lavishly bestowed lands,

Lordships and knighthoods

To those who served the crown well,

Added more feathers to England’s fame.

A Bombay-born Salman Rushdie

Got a knighthood from the Queen,

For his Satanic and other verses.

So did Brits who played classic and pop.

When it came to the non-British,

Alas, Her majesty feigned myopia.

She saw not the 200 years

Of blood-sacrifice

On the part of the Gurkhas:

In the trenches of Europe,

The jungles of Borneo,

In far away the Falklands,

Crisis-ridden Croatia

And war-torn Iraq.

Blood, sweat and tears,

Eking out a meagre existence

In the craggy hills of Nepal

And Darjeeling.

The price of glory was high

Fighting in the killing-fields

Of Delhi, the Black Mountains,

Khyber Pass, Gilgit, Ali Masjid.

Warring against Wazirs, Masuds,

Yusafzais and Orakzais

In the North-West Frontier.

And against the Abors,

Nagas and Lushais

In the North-East Frontier.

Neuve Chapelle in France,

A hill named Q in Gallipoli.

Suez and Mesopotamia.

In the Second Word War

Battling for Britain

In North Africa, South-East Asia,

Italy and the Retreat from Burma.

The Queen graciously passed the ball

And proclaimed from Buckingham Palace:

The Gurkha issue

Is a matter for the ruling government.’

Thus prime ministers came and went,

Akin to the fickle English weather.

The resolute Queen remained,

Like Chomolungma,

The Goddess Mother of the Earth,

Above the clouds in her pristine glory,

But the Gurkha issue prevailed.

Draw up a date

To give the Gurkhas their due,’

Was the order from 10 Downing Street.

OMG,

We can’t pay for the 200 years.

We’ll be ruined as a ruling party,

When we do that,’

Said the Labour under Gordon Brown.

A sentence like a guillotine.

Was the injustice done to the Gurkhas

Of service to the British public?

It was like adding insult

To injury.

Thus Tory and Labour governments came and went,

The Gurkha injustice remained.

All Englishmen cannot be gentlemen,

Especially politicians.

England got everything

Out of the Gurkha.

Squeezed him like a lemon,

Discarded and banned

From entering London

And its frontiers,

When he developed ageing problems.

Go home with your pension

But don’t come back.

We hire young Gurkhas

Our NHS doesn’t support pensioned invalids.’

Johnny Gurkha wonders aloud:

Why they should have thus

Treated us,

Is a mystery.’

Till lady Joanna Lumley, Prince Charles

And even Brown’s own Labour members,

Took the matter in their hands

And gave the Gurkha veterans the right

To stay on in the UK.

.

Meanwhile, life in the terraced hills of Nepal,

Where fathers toil on the stubborn soil,

And children work in the steep fields

A broken, wrinkled old mother waits,

For a meagre pension

From Her Majesty’s Government,

Beyond the craggy Himalayas

Across the Kala Pani,

The Black Waters.

Faith builds a bridge

Between Johnny Gurkhas

And British Tommies,

Comrades-at-arms,

Between Nepal and Britain.

The smart, sturdy Gurkha makes

A cheerful countenance,

And sings:

Resam piriri,’

An old trail song

Heard in the Himalayas.

————————–

Lyrik: A GURKHA MOTHER (Satis Shroff)

(Death of a Precious Jewel)

The gurkha with a khukri

But no enemy

Works for the Queen of England

And yet gets shot at,

In missions he doesn’t comprehend.

Order is hukum,

Hukum is life

Johnny Gurkha still dies

Under foreign skies.

He never asks why

Politics isn’t his style

He has fought against all and sundry:

Turks, Tibetans, Italians and Indians

Germans, Japanese, Chinese

Argentineans and Vietnamese.

Indonesians and Iraqis.

Loyal to the utmost

Never fearing a loss,

The loss of a mother’s son

From the mountains of Nepal.

Her grandpa died in Burma

For the glory of the British.

Her husband in Mesopotemia

She knows not against whom

No one did tell her.

Her brother fell in France,

Against the Teutonic hordes.

She prays to Shiva of the Snows for peace

And her son’s safety.

Her joy and her hope

Farming on a terraced slope.

A son who helped wipe her tears,

Ease the pain in her mother’s heart.

A frugal mother who lives by the seasons,

Peers down to the valleys

Year in and year out

In expectation of her soldier son.

A smart Gurkha is underway

Heard from across the hill with a shout

‘It’s an officer from his brigade.

A letter with a seal and a poker-face

“Your son died on duty,” he says,

“Keeping peace for the Queen of England

And the United Kingdom.”

A world crumbles down

The Nepalese mother cannot utter a word

Gone is her son,

Her precious jewel.

Her only insurance and sunshine

In the craggy hills of Nepal.

And with him her dreams

A spartan life that kills.

Glossary:

gurkha: soldier from Nepal

khukri: curved knife used in hand-to-hand combat

hukum: Befehl/command/order

shiva: a god in Hinduism

About the Author:

http://www.zfs.uni-freiburg.de/zfs/dozent/lehrbeauftragte4/index_html/#shroff

Satis Shroff is a prolific writer and teaches Creative Writing at the Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg. He is a lecturer, poet and writer and the published author of three books: Im Schatten des Himalaya (book of poems in German), Through Nepalese Eyes (travelogue), Katmandu, Katmandu (poetry and prose anthology by Nepalese authors, edited by Satis Shroff). His lyrical works have been published in literary poetry sites: Slow Trains, International Zeitschrift, World Poetry Society (WPS), New Writing North, Muses Review, The Megaphone, Pen Himalaya, Interpoetry. He is a member of “Writers of Peace,” poets, essayists, novelists (PEN), World Poetry Society (WPS) and The Asian Writer.

Satis Shroff is based in Freiburg (poems, fiction, non-fiction) and also writes on ecological, ethno-medical, culture-ethnological themes. He has studied Zoology and Botany in Nepal, Medicine and Social Sciences in Germany and Creative Writing in Freiburg and the United Kingdom. He describes himself as a mediator between western and eastern cultures and sees his future as a writer and poet. Since literature is one of the most important means of cross-cultural learning, he is dedicated to promoting and creating awareness for Creative Writing and transcultural togetherness in his writings, and in preserving an attitude of Miteinander in this world. He lectures in Basle (Switzerland) and in Germany at the Akademie für medizinische Berufe (University Klinikum Freiburg) and the Zentrum für Schlüsselqualifikationen (University of Freiburg where he is a Lehrbeauftragter for Creative Writing). Satis Shroff was awarded the German Academic Exchange Prize.

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Lyrik A Gurkha MotherI

Art & poem (c) satisshroff 2009

Their regimental motto is: ‘It is better to die than to live a coward.’ On Tuesday, the legendary courage and bravery of Britain’s Gurkha soldiers was rewarded with a landmark legal ruling that allows the former fighters to settle in Britain.

‘The long military service of these men, their wounds sustained in battle, their conspicuous acts of bravery, their acts of gallantry and their commitment and loyalty to the Crown all point to an unquestionable historic ‘moral debt of honour’ and gratitude,’ the High Court ruling said.

It overturned a government decision taken in 2004 which said that Gurkhas who retired before July, 1997, were not automatically entitled to British settlement rights as their base was then in Hong Kong, and only moved to Britain after the handover of Hong Kong to China.

‘Today we have seen a tremendous and historic victory for the gallant Gurkha veterans of Nepal. This is a victory that restores honour and dignity to deserving soldiers who faithfully served in Her Majesty’s armed forces,’ the group’s lawyer said Tuesday.

‘It is a victory for common sense; a victory for fairness; and a victory for the British sense of what is ‘right’.’

The retired Gurkhas who brought the test case represented approximately 2,000 others who were refused entry to Britain because the government said they had failed to demonstrate ‘strong ties’ to Britain.

‘Today is a wonderful, terrific victory day for the Gurkhas from Nepal who asked for nothing more from this country than the unfettered right to live amongst the British people – a people they have protected and loved throughout years of long and loyal service,’ said their solicitor.

There were emotional scenes outside the court in London as the heavily bemedalled Gurkha veterans, some in wheelchairs, emerged from the building to celebrate their victory to the cheers of supporters and the skirl of pipe music.

The Gurkhas, who take their name from the hill town of Gorkha, the birthplace of the Nepalese kingdom, have fought on behalf of Britain since the end of the two-year Gurkha War in 1816.

Since then, almost 50,000 Gurkhas have died in action and 150,000 have been seriously injured in conflicts, ranging from World War I to Afghanistan today.

Gurkha troops served as mercenaries under contract to the East India Company in the Pindaree War of 1817, in Bharatpur in 1826 and the First and Second Anglo-Sikh Wars in 1846 and 1848.

They fought on the side of the British during the Indian Rebellion of 1857, and became a formal part of the British-Indian Army on its formation the following year.

Four of the 10 Gurkha regiments entered the British Army after India was granted independence in 1947, becoming a fully-integrated regiment.

About 100,000 Gurkhas fought for Britain in World War I. During World War II, Japanese soldiers described them as their most dreaded foes. Gurkhas still carry the kukri knife, a traditional part of their armour.

But in recent years, disputes over repatriation rights and pensions have marred the special relationship.

‘At last we can begin to put this great wrong right,’ said British TV film and stage actress Joanna Lumley, who has campaigned on behalf of the Ghurka soldiers.

Lyrik: A GURKHA MOTHER (Satis Shroff)

(Death of a Precious Jewel)

The gurkha with a khukri

But no enemy

Works for the United Nations

And yet gets shot at

In missions he doesn’t comprehend.

Order is hukum,

Hukum is life

Johnny Gurkha still dies

Under foreign skies.

He never asks why

Politics isn’t his style

He’s fought against all and sundry:

Turks, Tibetans, Italians and Indians

Germans, Japanese, Chinese

Argentineans and Vietnamese.

Indonesians and Iraqis.

Loyalty to the utmost

Never fearing a loss.

The loss of a mother’s son

From the mountains of Nepal.

Her grandpa died in Burma

For the glory of the British.

Her husband in Mesopotemia

She knows not against whom

No one did tell her.

Her brother fell in France,

Against the Teutonic hordes.

She prays to Shiva of the Snows for peace

And her son’s safety.

Her joy and her hope

Farming on a terraced slope.

A son who helped wipe her tears

And ease the pain in her mother’s heart.

A frugal mother who lives by the seasons

And peers down to the valleys

Year in and year out

In expectation of her soldier son.

A smart Gurkha is underway

Heard from across the hill with a shout

‘It’s an officer from his brigade.

A letter with a seal and a poker-face

“Your son died on duty,” he says,

“Keeping peace for the Queen of England

And the United Kingdom.”

A world crumbles down

The Nepalese mother cannot utter a word

Gone is her son,

Her precious jewel.

Her only insurance and sunshine

In the craggy hills of Nepal.

And with him her dreams

A spartan life that kills.

Glossary:

gurkha: soldier from Nepal

khukri: curved knife used in hand-to-hand combat

hukum: Befehl/command/order

shiva: a god in Hinduism

******

Der Verlust des Sohnes einer Mutter (Satis Shroff)

Der Gurkha

Mit einem gefährlichen Khukuri

Aber kein Feind in Sicht,

Arbeitet für die Königin von England,

Und wird erschossen

Für Einsätze,

Die er nicht begreift.

Befehl ist Hukum,

Hukum ist sein Leben

Johnny Gurkha stirbt noch

Unter fremdem Himmel.

Er fragt nie warum

Die Politik ist nicht seine Stärke.

Er hat gegen alle gekämpft:

Türken, Tibeter, Italiener, und Inder

Deutsche, Japaner, Chinesen,

Vietnamesen und Argentinier.

Loyal bis ans Ende,

Er trauert keinem Verlust nach.

Der Verlust des Sohnes einer Mutter,

Von den Bergen Nepals.

Ihr Großvater starb in Birmas Dschungel

Für die glorreichen Engländer.

Ihr Mann fiel in Mesopotamien,

Sie weiß nicht gegen wen,

Keiner hat es ihr gesagt.

Ihr Bruder ist in Frankreich gefallen,

Gegen die teutonische Reichsarmee.

Sie betet Shiva von den Schneegipfeln an

Für Frieden auf Erden, und ihres Sohnes Wohlbefinden.

Ihr einzige Freude, ihre letzte Hoffnung,

Während sie den Terrassenacker

Auf einem schroffen Hang bestellt.

Ein Sohn, der ihr half,

Ihre Tränen zu wischen

Und den Schmerz in ihrem mütterlichen Herz

zu lindern.

Eine arme Mutter, die mit den Jahreszeiten lebt,

Jahr ein und Jahr aus, hinunter in die Täler schaut

Mit Sehnsucht auf ihren Soldatensohn.

Ein Gurkha ist endlich unterwegs

Man hört es über den Bergen mit einem Geschrei.

Es ist ein Offizier von seiner Brigade.

Ein Brief mit Siegel und ein Pokergesicht

Ihren Sohn starb im Dienst,“

sagt er lakonisch:

Er kämpfte für die Königin von England

Und für den Vereinigten Königreich.“

Eine Welt bricht zusammen

Und kommt zu einem Ende.

Ein Kloß im Hals der Nepali Mutter.

Nicht ein Wort kann sie herausbringen.

Weg ist ihr Sohn, ihr kostbares Juwel.

Ihr einzige Versicherung und ihr Sonnenschein.

In den unfruchtbaren, kargen Bergen,

Und mit ihm ihre Träume

Ein spartanisches Leben,

Das den Tod bringt.

* * *

German Academic Prize Winner Satis Shroff teaches Creative Writing at the elite Albert Ludwigs University Freiburg. The author and lecturer lives in Freiburg and writes about themes like longing, love, the agony of war, the discrimination against Gurkhas, togetherness, dignity of humans, tolerance and one-world in his poems, articles and books.

Satis Shroff,

Dozent, Dichter, Writer, Journalist

.

Studium/Ausbildung/Studies

  • B.Sc. in Zoology, Botany, Geology

  • Medicine at the University of Freiburg

  • Dipl. Social Science (FH),

  • Creative Writing (UK)

Writing Experience, Publications

    About the Author

    Satis Shroff is a prolific writer and teaches Creative Writing at the Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg. He is a lecturer, poet and writer and the published author of three books: Im Schatten des Himalaya (book of poems in German), Through Nepalese Eyes (travelogue), Katmandu, Katmandu (poetry and prose anthology by Nepalese authors, edited by Satis Shroff). His lyrical works have been published in literary poetry sites: Slow Trains, International Zeitschrift, World Poetry Society (WPS), New Writing North, Muses Review, The Megaphone, Pen Himalaya, Interpoetry. He is a member of “Writers of Peace,” poets, essayists, novelists (PEN), World Poetry Society (WPS) and The Asian Writer.

    Satis Shroff is based in Freiburg (poems, fiction, non-fiction) and also writes on ecological, ethno-medical, culture-ethnological themes. He has studied Zoology and Botany in Nepal, Medicine and Social Sciences in Germany and Creative Writing in Freiburg and the United Kingdom. He describes himself as a mediator between western and eastern cultures and sees his future as a writer and poet. Since literature is one of the most important means of cross-cultural learning, he is dedicated to promoting and creating awareness for Creative Writing and transcultural togetherness in his writings, and in preserving an attitude of Miteinander in this world. He lectures in Basle (Switzerland) and in Germany at the Akademie für medizinische Berufe (University Klinikum Freiburg) and the Zentrum für Schlüsselqualifikationen (University of Freiburg where he is a Lehrbeauftragter for Creative Writing). Satis Shroff was awarded the German Academic Exchange Prize.

    * * *

    What others have said about the author:

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

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

    Satis Shroff writes political poetry, about the war in Nepal, the sad fate of the Nepalese people, the emergence of neo-fascism in Germany. His bicultural perspective makes his poems rich, full of awe and at the same time heartbreakingly sad. I writing ‘home,’ he not only returns to his country of origin time and again, he also carries the fate of his people to readers in the West, and his task of writing thus is also a very important one in political terms. His true gift is to invent Nepalese metaphors and make them accessible to the West through his poetry.’ (Sandra Sigel, Writer, Germany).

    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)

    • I was extremely delighted with Satis Shroff’s work. Many people write poetry for years and never obtain the level of artistry that is present in his work. He is an elite poet with an undying passion for poetry.” (Nigel Hillary, Publisher, Poetry Division – Noble House U.K).

    Veranstaltungen im Sommer Semester 2009

    Kontakt (E-Mail, websites)

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    A  Nepal flag & Goethe poem (c) satisshroff

    Walking Along Goethe’s Path in Ilmenau (Satis Shroff)

    Subtitle: Fragments of a Big Confession

    It was on the evening of September 6,1780. Johann Wolfgang Goethe was writing one of his beautiful lyrical works with a pencil on the inner wall of the hunting-hut on the Kickelhahn. This particular verse was published in an anthology 35 years later.

    A day before his last birthday, he went to the small hut, which was nailed together with planks, to recall the lines that he’d written in his younger days. That was in August, 27, 1831.

    Today, you certainly will not find the inscription written with his hand, because the original hut was devoured by flames in the year 1870. But forty years later, the hut was rebuilt on the old foundation. In the year 1999, which was celebrated as the Goethe Year, the members of an international conference of Goethe-translators met at Goethe’s favourite hut to recite his verse in their respective languages. The translations were financially supported by the Stiftung Weimarer Classic and the Goethe Society. I’ve translated Goethe’s poem into Nepali, a language which is derived from Sanskrit and uses the Devnagari script.

    The small, lovely town of Ilmenau lies on the north side of the Thuringer forest and is known for its mountain excavations, glass and porcelain industry, and is also known as Goethetown. Apropos porcelain, Meissen is the greatest place for those who want to gather exquisite works of earthenware art in porcelain, you know. He visited Ilmenau twenty-eight times. The town of Ilmenau has laid a path with the letter ‘g,’ which Goethe used to use when he signed his initial. Just a small ‘g’ for a literary giant.

    We start the Goethe walk tour along the market in Ilmenau. To the left you see the imposing thre storied house. Goethe used to reside in the corner room on the first floor. He used to live and write there whenever he came to Ilmenau. Today it’s a part of the museum, which bears testimony to Goethe’s literary works and information about Ilmenau. The beautiful museum rooms, which have furniture from Goethe’s times, are used today for literary and musical events. If you’ve read Goethe’s ‘Wilhelm Meister’ then you’ve read about his description of the inns ‘Zum Adler’ and ‘To the Sun.’ Alas, these two houses were in a desolated, dilapidated state and had to be demolished in 1992.

    A new one has been built with a similar façade. Let’s saunter from the marketplace through the Obertor Street to the graveyard. Near the entrance is the grave of Corona Schröters, who was a beautiful singer and actress in the court of Weimar. Corona was the first actress who played the role of Goethe’s heroine ‘Iphigenie.’

    From the graveyard you can take a short-cut to the upper exit, where you come across many memorial-stones for the prominent people of Ilmenau. You cross the B4 and climb up the Sturmheide to the middle and upper Berggraben. This is a path with different elevations along the mountain massif, which were previously hill-trenches in which water used to flow from the mountains, and was channelised to Sturmheide and Roda.

    You reach Manebacher Valley after a comfortable walk through a thick forest and watch the splendid valley below. After sometime, you reach Schwalbenstein, a high rock with porphyry, where you can rest in the adjacent hut called ‘Schutzhutte.’ It was in the Schwalbenstein that Goethe wrote the 4th Act of his famous ‘Iphigenie auf Taurus’ on March 19,1779 and in the following years Torquato Tasso. On a rock you can read the beginning of this 4th Act, and you are reminded of the beauty of the German language and the rhythmical power of Goethe’s prose, which has a magical effect on you and moves you to the core.

    You move on to the next inn in the forest called ‘Schöffenhaus’ and descend towards Manebach, past Emmastein and the house of the Cantor, in whose garden Goethe used to do his sketches and other drawings. You cross the railway tracks and the street and climb the small bridle path across the hilly meadow, and reach Helenenruhe. A resting place for a certain Helen. You look from there in the distance towards the forested hills behind Schwalbenstein and trek over to Big Hermann Stone. The route is rather steep and most demanding. When you reach the big rock on which once perched a castle in the Middle Ages, you are rewarded by the sight of a cave. Goethe wrote about this cave: ‘It’s my favourite place, where I want to live and work.’ Perhaps it might inspire you too.

    This was where Goethe worked and did his drawings. He even brought his lady von Stein when she visited him in Ilmenau. Frau von Stein was a serene, tempered lady-in-waiting who influenced Goethe, and under her friendship Goethe developed into a mature and balanced man.

    After the last steep ascent you reach the 861m Klickelhahn. You can see the magnificent Thuringer Forest from here. We know through Goethe’s letter to Ms. von Stein that he fled from the town to Thuringen’s cool forested area whenever he could and wrote to her in Weimar about the beauty of the forest of Thuringen. When words couldn’t describe the opulent beauty of a place, he sent her his excellent drawings, for a picture tells more than a thousand words: he drew the cave of Hermannstein, the misty valleys of Ilmenau, Manebach and Stützerbach. As though the drawings weren’t enough, he wrote further: ‘…there are drawings and descriptions everywhere.’ Perhaps he too found ‘sermons in stones and good in everything,’ like William Shakespeare did in the forest in his ‘As You Like It.’

    Goethe was moved by the picturesque idyll of it penned his poems thus:

    Über allen Gipfeln ist Ruh,

    in allen Wipfeln

    spurst du kaum einen Hauch;

    die Vögelein schweigen im Walde.

    Warte nur, balde ruhest du auch.

    Goethe was influenced by Herder’s appreciation of Shakespeare’s genius, and thereafter he’s known to have written a pseudo-Shakespearean tragedy called ‘Geschichte Gottfrieds von Berlichingen, which was ill received by Herder. The school-kids have to learn this on their way to acquiring the high-school certificate.

    The hunter’s hut, where Goethe wrote his night-song on September 6, 1780 doesn’t exist anymore, but you can see a remake of the same. And like they say on all guided tours: ‘On a bright day you can see even the distant Harz.’ You descend to the hunter’s hut at Gabelbach (fork-stream). That small house you see was constructed at the order of the Duke Carl August in 1983 when he expected prominent hunting guests. In the house itself you hear lectures about Goethe’s scientific studies in the forest of Thuringen. If you’re tired you can walk to the Shepard’s meadow (Hirtenwiese). From there you can take different routes.But since we ‘re walking along Goethe’s path, we cross the street, and descend to the pretty Schorte Valley.

    In Frankfurt Goethe became the leader of a group of intellectuals, which formed the inner circle of the Sturm and Drang. He wrote stormy poetry in free rhythm such as the Wanderers Sturmlied (storm-song), Prometheus, An Schwager Kronos and drafted the scenes of a Faust play, namely Urfaust.

    Goethe lived to be 82 and it was in this time that the French Bastille was stormed. Read also A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. Goethe was 39 then, and told his companions at Valmy: ‘This is the beginning of a new epoche of world history and you can say, you experienced it.’ In his youth he’d been fiery, energetic and impatient and later he became an oracular figure of Olympian stature. Germany’s man of letters liked acting, drawing, even directing theatres, and is universally regarded as a writer of the first rank. About his own work, Goethe said: ‘All my works are fragments of a big confession.’

    His diversity in creative writing was astonishing and he had a wide range of forms: lyric, epic, ballad poetry, drama, novels, short-stories, autobiographical works. The fragments are the essence of his literary genius.

    Read Full Post »

    Black Forest Mural on wall (c) satisshroff 2009Lyrik:

    Aurora borealis (Satis Shroff)

    The sky was bathed

    In fantastic hues:

    Yellow, orange, scarlet

    Mauve and cobalt blue.

    Buto dancing,

    In this surreal light,

    On the stage,

    Was magnificent.

    Your heart pounds higher,

    Your feet become light,

    Your body sways

    To the rhythm

    And Nordic lights

    Of the Aurora borealis.

    Akin to the creation

    Of the planet we live in.

    And here was I,

    Anzu Furukawa.

    Once a small ballet dancer,

    Now a full grown woman:

    A choreographer, performer,

    Ballet and modern dancer, studio pianist.

    ‘The Pina Bausch of Tokyo’

    Wrote a German critic

    In Der Tagesspiegel.

    Success was my name,

    In Japan, Germany, Italy,

    Finnland and Ghana:

    Anzu’s Animal Atlas,

    Cells of Apple,

    Faust II,

    Rent-a-body,

    The Detective of China,

    A Diamond as big as the Ritz.

    I was a professor

    Of performing arts in Germany.

    But Buto became my passion.

    Buto was born amid upheavals in Japan,

    When students took to the streets,

    With performance acts and agit props.

    Buto, this new violent dance of anarchy,

    Cut off from the traditions

    Of Japanese dance.

    Ach,

    The Kuopio Music et Dance festival

    Praised my L’Arrache-coer,’

    The Heart Snatcher.

    A touching praise

    To human imagination,

    And the human ability

    To feel even the most surprising emotions

    I lived my life with dignity,

    But the doctors said

    I was very, very sick.

    I had terminal tongue cancer.

    I’d been sleeping over thirty hours,

    And stopped breathing

    In peace,

    With my two lovely children

    Holding my hands.

    I’d danced at the Freiburg New Dance Festival

    Only twenty days ago.

    I saw the curtain falling,

    As we took our bows.

    I bow to you my audience,

    I hear your applause.

    The sound of your applause

    Accompanies me

    Where ever my soul goes.

    I’m still a little girl

    In an oversized dress.

    I ran through you all

    In such a hurry.

    * * *

    The Colour of Your Eyes (Satis Shroff)

    Blue is the colour of the mountain,

    Blue is the colour of t sky,

    Blue is the colour of our planet,

    And blue is the colour of your eyes.

    Blue,

    You have so many names:

    Blau, bleu, caerulus,

    Neelo, niebes, mavi,

    Sininen, sienie,

    azzuro

    azul

    a-oj.

    Blue is the colour

    Of your balanced character:

    Unshakeable and constant,

    Peace-loving and distanced,

    Where there’s conflict,

    You shy away.

    Blue is the colour

    Of your responsibility,

    Your astonishment

    And helpfulness,

    Towards your fellow beings.

    Blue is the colour of flexibility,

    Tender feelings and faithfulness.

    Perhaps that’s why

    I love you.

    Blue is not alone light,

    It carries a bit of darkness

    With it.

    The colour of your eyes

    Have an unspoken effect on me.

    I feel an ambivalence

    When you look at me.

    Ultramarine blue is deep,

    The endlessness of the mind.

    Your cool blue eyes are distant,

    Like an open ocean.

    Stimulus and silence,

    Annäherung,

    Vermeidung.

    Sometimes,

    I understand you,

    At other times,

    I don’t.

    Am I day dreaming?

    Glossary:

    Blau: German

    Bleu: French

    Caerulus:Latin

    Neelo: Nepali

    Niebes:Polish

    Mavi: Turkish

    Sininen: Finnish

    sienie:Russian

    azzuro: Italian

    azul: Spanish,Portugese

    a-oj: Japanese

    Annäherung: to draw close to

    Vermeidung: shun, avoid

    * * *

    © 2009 satisshroff

    Winter Blues (Satis Shroff)

    Winter blues,

    Go away!

    Season of short daylight,

    Coughs and rheuma,

    Wet, cold days.

    Misty towns,

    Snowbound Schwarzwald,

    Season depression,

    Winter blues.

    This cold seasonal change

    Influences your hormones.

    The lack of sunlight,

    Its warm and reassuring rays,

    Reduces the endorphine

    In your blood vessels.

    Serotonin, which regulates

    Our happy mental state,

    Is sparingly there,

    When we need it.

    Daylight is the best cure,

    For light seasonal depression.

    You go for a walk,

    Even when the weather

    Is misty and wet.

    You keep a balanced diet:

    Fruits and vegetables,

    To create good feelings,

    And to avert colds.

    But for those have

    Endogenic depression?

    Low appetite,

    Weight loss,

    Sleepless nights,

    Increased melatonin,

    Caused by a lack

    Of sunshine,

    Makes you tired:

    Your activities are at a low.

    If walks in the misty countryside

    Or city parks don’t help,

    You have antidepressiva

    As a last resort.

    Ach, winter blues

    * * *

    Cosmic Soul (Satis Shroff)

    E=mc2

    Your body is a mass,

    When you decease,

    It becomes a mess.

    Putrification.

    Your soul,

    Which never had a beginning

    And never has an end

    Lives on as energy,

    Travels with the speed of light,

    To be one with the cosmos,

    Leaving behind families,

    Friends and relatives.

    People and emotional experiences

    Of this small transitory world.

    Was it an illusion,

    This worldly maya,

    With its ethereal charms?

    Did you live

    Or were you already dead?

    Unanswered questions of humanity,

    As the soul leaves your body

    And heads for the vast,

    Unfathomable cosmos,

    Like a blitz.

    To transform into energy.

    What came first?

    The light?

    The energy?

    Or the mass?

    *****

    LIKE PROMETHEUS AND ICARUS (Satis Shroff)

    Up and up we flew exultantly

    Towards the Himalayas.

    Kathmandu, Bhadgaon and Lalitpur

    With their palaces, pagodas, shrines,

    Brick houses and hotels ,

    Lush green fields in the outskirts

    Of the valley,

    Were becoming smaller and greener.

    For a moment in my mind

    I was the dragon that rides over the clouds.

    I was Prometheus,

    The saviour of mankind,

    Who gave mortals fire.

    I was Icarus,

    Flying away from Crete.

    As I peered at the majestic silvery Himalayas,

    I felt my insignificance in the vastness

    That unfurled below me.

    How many climbers from the West and East,

    How many Sherpas and other ethnic porters

    Still lie in the crevasses

    Of Himalayan glaciers?

    The earth is below us,

    And receives us.

    I have a feeling of smallness,

    Humility,

    As I alight from the jet.

    I’ve seen and felt

    The spell of the mighty Himalayas,

    And what’s beyond the clouds

    In the sky.

    A strong, deep, religious experience,

    For I had trespassed

    The Abode of Snows,

    Himalaya.

    The Home of the Gods.

    *****

    MUSIC AND MUSE (Satis Shroff)

    Pillows of silk, sheets of white satin

    A world of lights and colours,

    Of precious spices, exotic fruits

    And music.

    A world of joy and merrymaking

    Behind the Rana palace curtains

    In Kathmandu.

    I’ve learned the mystery of love

    And buried my face in her lap.

    Penned poems in the white heat

    Of passionate moments,

    Till she cried in ecstasy:

    ‘How wonderful.’

    Glossary:

    Ranas: The Ranas were former rulers of Nepal who usurped the throne of the Shahs. Nepal is a republic since 2008 headed by a Maoist Führer named Prachanda

    ————————————————-

    WITHOUT WORDS (Satis Shroff)

    We speak with each other

    A wonderful feeling overcomes me

    And I’m touched to the roots.

    As though it’s a doubling

    Of my existence.

    It becomes a passion

    To speak with each other.

    Our lives are filled with togetherness:

    With ourselves and our children.

    I discover myself in you

    And you in me.

    Where one is at home

    In the company of the other

    And vice versa.

    Where you can be

    The way you are,

    Where I can be

    The way I am.

    Our tolerance for each other is crucial.

    There are moments when one forgets time.

    We speak to each other without words.

    It’s not sung,

    Not instrumental chords.

    Just our hearts

    Understanding each other.

    In tact with each other.

    Our eyes speak volumes

    And a nod is enough.

    ©satisshroff 2009

    About the Author:

    Satis Shroff is a lecturer, poet, artist and writer and the published author of three books on www.Lulu.com: Im Schatten des Himalaya (book of poems in German), Through Nepalese Eyes (travelogue), Katmandu, Katmandu (poetry and prose anthology by Nepalese authors, edited by Satis Shroff). His lyrical works have been published in literary poetry sites: Slow Trains, International Zeitschrift, World Poetry Society (WPS), New Writing North, Muses Review, The Megaphone, Pen Himalaya, Interpoetry. He is a member of “Writers of Peace”, poets, essayists, novelists (PEN), World Poetry Society (WPS) and The Asian Writer.

    Satis Shroff is based in Freiburg (poems, fiction, non-fiction) and also writes on ecological, ethno-medical, culture-ethnological themes and lectures at the University of Freiburg. He has studied Zoology and Botany in Nepal, Medicine and Social Sciences in Germany and Creative Writing in Freiburg and the United Kingdom. He describes himself as a mediator between western and eastern cultures and sees his future as a writer and poet. Since literature is one of the most important means of cross-cultural learning, he is dedicated to promoting and creating awareness for Creative Writing and transcultural togetherness in his writings, and in preserving an attitude of Miteinander in this world. He lectures in Basle (Switzerland) and in Germany at the Akademie für medizinische Berufe (University Klinikum Freiburg) and the Zentrum für Schlüsselqualifikationen (University of Freiburg where he is a Lehrbeauftragter for Creative Writing). Satis Shroff was awarded the German Academic Exchange Prize.

    http://www.zfs.uni-freiburg.de/zfs/dozent/lehrbeauftragte4/index_html/#shroff

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    Commentary:

    Gurkhas, Welcome to the UK 200 Years Later (Satis Shroff)

    Recently, I was surprised to receive an e-mail from 10 Downing Street. It was Gordon Brown. Tears ran down my cheeks as I read the happy news that he’d capitulated in the olde bureaucratic fight against the Gurkhas. It had been the MoD against the Gurkhas. I remember having signed petitions addressed to the PM in the internet, having mobilised the Gurkhas in Darjeeling Forum’s ‘Gupsap’ under Swaroop Chamling, the Gurkhas.com and its excellent team’s discussions and petition, on Gather.com and The American Chronicle and its syndicate of 21 newspapers in the USA, wordpress.com and other websites like Google’s Blogspot.com. We kept the Gurkha themes circulating in the media: in Nepal, UK, Hong Kong and around the world. And it worked. Gurkha veterans can now stay on in Great Britain, get benefits from the NHS and a solid pension so that they can live decently like everyone in the UK.

    In this connection, the actress Joanna Lumley has played a pivotal role and has helped put the Gurkhas where they really belong: in the hub of the UK, not as underdogs of the British society but as proud winners in the UK’s prosperity and progress as a nation, for the Gurkhas have fought for the Royals and the MoD for 200 years. Alone in the World War I and II more than 50,000 Gurkhas fell under the Union Jack.

    The most wonderful news was that Joanna Lumley managed to get even Gordon Brown’s very own people from the Labour Party to vote for the Gurkhas. The best part of it was the way she managed to get the State Secretary to concede to her arguments right in front of live cameras. He had to comply, there was no other way around.

    Citizens of the UK, we, the well-wishers and friends of the brave and loyal Gurkhas, thank you and Ms. Joanna Lumley and even members of the Labour party who have risen to the occasion and shown civil courage, sense of justice for the cause of the Gurkhas. We’d also like to thank the sturdy Gurkhas for their unprecedented and excellent service to the UK. History has been written as far as the Gurkhas are concerned, and it has caused ripples in the hearts of the Gurkhas and their dependants living under the shadow of the Himalayas. I think of my aunt (maternal side) Mrs. Dong who was stationed in Hong Kong and ran the Nepali school there, and my cousins Kunjo, Wandri, Chung-Chung who fought for the glory of Great Britain in different battlefields. United Kingdom, we are proud of you. You’ve shown that you can, if you really want to, bring about a change.

    My lacrymal glands are still gushing as I write this for the Mother of the Gurkha soldier in Nepal, who lost her precious son, the sons and daughters who lost their Gurkha fathers in the killing fields, the Gurkha veterans in the UK, the Gurkhas currently doing service with the Brigade of the Gurkhas, and the thousands of Gurkhas who died in the past.

    Gurkhas, welcome to the United Kingdom. It took 200 long years but we’ve arrived. Ayo Gurkhali, indeed. Gordon Brown is not amused but the rest of the UK is. This time, thanks to Bonnie Prince Charles and other Royals too. I often wonder why Prince Charles didn’t take the initiative earlier. He talks with his plants, he talks about the environment, he paints aquarelles of mountains and castles but he was loath to talk about the Gurkhas. Thanks to Ms. Lumley, he changed his mind. The Gurkhas and the Nepalese love him for it. Better late than never.

    It was a courageous Gurkha who saved the life of Mr. Lumley’s father, and she showed her admiration and thankfulness for the Gurkhas by fighting for their rights in the United Kingdom. The Gurkhas have won new friends. The Nepalese government could reciprocate with the award of, at least, a Nepal Tara or Gurkha Dakshin Bahu First Class to Ms. Joanna Lumley, a lady with civil courage. Britain needs women like Ms. Lumley.

    ________

    Zeitgeistlyrik:

    The Gurkhas Win, Labour Capitulates (Satis Shroff)

    Ayo Gurkhali!

    The Gurkhas are upon you!

    This was the battle-cry

    That filled the British heart

    With pride and admiration,

    And put the foe in fear.

    Now the Gurkhas are not upon you.

    They are with you,

    Among you,

    In London,

    Guarding the Queen at the Palace,

    Doing security checks

    For VIPs

    And for Claudia Schiffer,

    The Sultan of Brunei.

    Johnny Gurkhas

    Or as the Brits prefer:

    Johnny Gurks.

    Sir Ralph Turner,

    An adjutant of the Gurkhas

    In World War I said:

    Uncomplaining you endure

    Hunger, thirst and wounds;

    And at the last,

    Your unwavering lines

    Disappear into smoke

    And wrath of battle.’

    Another General Sir Francis Tuker

    Spoke of the Gurkhas:

    Selfless devotion to the British cause,

    Which can be hardly matched

    By any race to another

    In the whole history of the world..

    Why they should have

    Thus treated us,

    Is something of a mystery.’

    9000 Gurkhas died

    For the Glory of England,

    23,655 were severely wounded

    Or injured.

    Military glory for the Gurkhas:

    2734 decorations,

    Mentions in despatches,

    Gallantry certificates.

    Nepal’s mothers paid dearly

    For England’s glory.

    And what do I hear?

    The vast silence of the Gurkhas.

    England had failed miserably

    To match the Gurkha’s loyalty

    And affection

    For the British.

    Faith binds humans

    The Brits have shown

    They have faith

    In the bravery and loyalty,

    Honesty, sturdiness, steadfastness

    Of the Gurkhas.

    Did the souls of the perished Gurkhas

    Have faith in the British?

    Souls of Gurkhas long dead and forgotten,

    Lingered long seeking justice

    At the hands of Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II,

    Warlords, or was it warladies,

    They died for.

    How has the loyalty and special relations

    Been rewarded in England

    Since the Treaty of Segauli

    On March 4, 1816 ?

    A treaty that gave the British

    The right to recruit Nepalese.

    When it came to her own kind,

    Her Majesty the Queen

    Was generous.

    She lavishly bestowed lands,

    Lordships and knighthoods

    To those who served the crown well,

    Added more feathers to England’s fame.

    A Bombay-born Salman Rushdie

    Got a knighthood from the Queen,

    For his Satanic and other verses.

    So did Brits who played classic and pop.

    When it came to the non-British,

    Alas, Her majesty feigned myopia.

    She saw not the 200 years

    Of blood-sacrifice

    On the part of the Gurkhas:

    In the trenches of Europe,

    The jungles of Borneo,

    In far away the Falklands,

    Crisis-ridden Croatia

    And war-torn Iraq.

    Blood, sweat and tears,

    Eking out a meagre existence

    In the craggy hills of Nepal

    And Darjeeling.

    The price of glory was high

    Fighting in the killing-fields

    Of Delhi, the Black Mountains,

    Khyber Pass, Gilgit, Ali Masjid.

    Warring against Wazirs, Masuds,

    Yusafzais and Orakzais

    In the North-West Frontier.

    And against the Abors,

    Nagas and Lushais

    In the North-East Frontier.

    Neuve Chapelle in France,

    A hill named Q in Gallipoli.

    Suez and Mesopotamia.

    In the Second Word War

    Battling for Britain

    In North Africa, South-East Asia,

    Italy and the Retreat from Burma.

    The Queen graciously passed the ball

    And proclaimed from Buckingham Palace:

    The Gurkha issue

    Is a matter for the ruling government.’

    Thus prime ministers came and went,

    Akin to the fickle English weather.

    The resolute Queen remained,

    Like Chomolungma,

    The Goddess Mother of the Earth,

    Above the clouds in her pristine glory,

    But the Gurkha issue prevailed.

    Draw up a date

    To give the Gurkhas their due,’

    Was the order from 10 Downing Street.

    OMG,

    We can’t pay for the 200 years.

    We’ll be ruined as a ruling party,

    When we do that,’

    Said the Labour under Gordon Brown.

    A sentence like a guillotine.

    Was the injustice done to the Gurkhas

    Of service to the British public?

    It was like adding insult

    To injury.

    Thus Tory and Labour governments came and went,

    The Gurkha injustice remained.

    All Englishmen cannot be gentlemen,

    Especially politicians.

    England got everything

    Out of the Gurkha.

    Squeezed him like a lemon,

    Discarded and banned

    From entering London

    And its frontiers,

    When he developed ageing problems.

    Go home with your pension

    But don’t come back.

    We hire young Gurkhas

    Our NHS doesn’t support pensioned invalids.’

    Johnny Gurkha wonders aloud:

    Why they should have thus

    Treated us,

    Is a mystery.’

    Till lady Joanna Lumley, Prince Charles

    And even Brown’s own Labour members,

    Took the matter in their hands

    And gave the Gurkha veterans the right

    To stay on in the UK.

    .

    Meanwhile, life in the terraced hills of Nepal,

    Where fathers toil on the stubborn soil,

    And children work in the steep fields

    A broken, wrinkled old mother waits,

    For a meagre pension

    From Her Majesty’s Government,

    Beyond the craggy Himalayas

    Across the Kala Pani,

    The Black Waters.

    Faith builds a bridge

    Between Johnny Gurkhas

    And British Tommies,

    Comrades-at-arms,

    Between Nepal and Britain.

    The smart, sturdy Gurkha makes

    A cheerful countenance,

    And sings:

    Resam piriri,’

    An old trail song

    Heard in the Himalayas.

    ————————–

    Lyrik: A GURKHA MOTHER (Satis Shroff)

    (Death of a Precious Jewel)

    The gurkha with a khukri

    But no enemy

    Works for the Queen of England

    And yet gets shot at,

    In missions he doesn’t comprehend.

    Order is hukum,

    Hukum is life

    Johnny Gurkha still dies

    Under foreign skies.

    He never asks why

    Politics isn’t his style

    He has fought against all and sundry:

    Turks, Tibetans, Italians and Indians

    Germans, Japanese, Chinese

    Argentineans and Vietnamese.

    Indonesians and Iraqis.

    Loyal to the utmost

    Never fearing a loss,

    The loss of a mother’s son

    From the mountains of Nepal.

    Her grandpa died in Burma

    For the glory of the British.

    Her husband in Mesopotemia

    She knows not against whom

    No one did tell her.

    Her brother fell in France,

    Against the Teutonic hordes.

    She prays to Shiva of the Snows for peace

    And her son’s safety.

    Her joy and her hope

    Farming on a terraced slope.

    A son who helped wipe her tears,

    Ease the pain in her mother’s heart.

    A frugal mother who lives by the seasons,

    Peers down to the valleys

    Year in and year out

    In expectation of her soldier son.

    A smart Gurkha is underway

    Heard from across the hill with a shout

    ‘It’s an officer from his brigade.

    A letter with a seal and a poker-face

    “Your son died on duty,” he says,

    “Keeping peace for the Queen of England

    And the United Kingdom.”

    A world crumbles down

    The Nepalese mother cannot utter a word

    Gone is her son,

    Her precious jewel.

    Her only insurance and sunshine

    In the craggy hills of Nepal.

    And with him her dreams

    A spartan life that kills.

    Glossary:

    gurkha: soldier from Nepal

    khukri: curved knife used in hand-to-hand combat

    hukum: Befehl/command/order

    shiva: a god in Hinduism

    Commentary: FALKLANDS AND THE GURKHA ISSUE (Satis Shroff)

    Twenty seven years ago, the British and the Argentineans fought over the Falkland Islands and turned, the otherwise peaceful and serene South Atlantic into an inferno. The Malvinas were claimed by the Argentineans and the British. Nurse Nicci Pugh was a witness to the hostilities from a safe distance on board the hospital ship HMS Uganda. The conflict began on April 2,1982 after Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands. Britain’s PM Margaret Thatcher sent a task force which resulted in the death of 1,000 people, after which the Falklands (Malvinas) were liberated on June 14, 1982.

    Much like Florence Nightingale, who left England on October 21,1854, and started caring for the wounded soldiers at Scutari, Turkey, on November 5,1854, and took a large group of women as nurses (38 women, including 18 Anglican and Roman Catholic sisters), Nicci Pugh was one of 40 nursing officers on board the hospital ship Uganda. Ms. Pugh’s job was x-ray units to provide modern hospital care facilities for the injured British Tommies, civilians and also possible Argentinean soldiers wounded in the conflict. In the ship were operating theatres, 120 beds, burn-units, labs, x-ray units, a blood bank, in addition to a helipad. The Uganda was anchored a mile south-west of San Carlos Water, where there was heavy fighting. With the knowledge that hospital ships had been sunk in previous wars through shelling or torpedoes, the ladies had to go through the angst of being bombed by the Argentinean aircraft which frequently made sorties over the Royal Navy armada.

    The British staff on board the Uganda have gone on record as having treated 700 patients. Among the patients were also injured Argentinean soldiers. It might be mentioned that the ship HMS Sir Galahad was shit by enemy fire, whereby 120 patients were treated in the burns unit on board the Uganda. Some 500 surgical operations were performed. Most of the injuries were caused by gunshot, shrapnel and mortar. Amputations were also carried out due to the anti-personnel mines deployed and hidden by the Argentinean soldiers. Even the injured Argentinean soldiers were treated with the same respect and dignity.

    After the war, Ms. Pugh returned to her old job in Cornwall as an OP theatre nurse, but wasn’t able to talk about her experiences for years. That was her coping method. Life had to go on. But unlike the Lady with the Lamp, Nicci Pugh didn’t have to face medical ire, and works as a voluntary carer to help injured servicemen to re-visit the Malvinas to pay their respects to their own fallen comrades, and visit the killing fields of the Falklands. But for the Gurkhas who have fought for Britain since the times of Queen Victoria till Queen Elizabeth II since 200 years, there’s no noteworthy memorial in Britain. Are the Gurkhas merely guest-workers or ‘cannon fodder’ only? Britain laments that there’s no memorial for the courageous Lancaster Bomber Command which lost 55,573 out of 125,000 pilots during their deadly missions to bombard German towns and industrial complexes, collateral damage notwithstanding. But no one speaks of the courage and sacrifice of the sturdy, dedicated, loyal Gurkhas from Nepal, who laid their lives for the Glory of Great Britain, and are still doing the same for the United Kingdom. After World War I and World War II, the Gurkhas were ignominiously booked a passage to Nepal via India. Even today, instead of integration, education and service in the UK for the extraordinary service to Britain and the Queen of England since generations. They are not even tolerated when their service, i.e. unfair contract, with the Arbeitsvermittlungsagency MoD is over. The MoD is treating the Gurkhas similarly as the German government did with the so-called ‘guest workers’ from Turkey, Italy, Spain and Portugal during the fifties, only to realise that they hadn’t invited guest workers but human beings, who had families, dreams, hopes of a better quality of life, the same education as their own children. Under Angela Merkel there’s a new integration model for migrants which is showing a positive trend and in accordance with the European Union’s ideas of a better world. The Gurkhas must be given the same status as their British counterparts and comrade-in-arms, the same buying power and dignity in the United Kingdom, and the UK government would do well to put an end to the discrimination that has been meted out to the Gurkhas and their families. They must be accepted and welcomed as old and new migrants, and the UK’s loyal, historical allies, instead of being discriminated on flimsy grounds. If the Gurkhas have to go to the European court it is indeed a shame for Brown’s government, which has been trying to save precious sterling pounds on the integration of the Gurkhas and has been diverting the common man’s money for other purposes.

    * * *

    An e-mail from Argentina

    Hello Satis,

    Thanks for your message. Nice to meet you. Well you’re from Freiburg,
    I have a mp3 file of an audience recording from a Roxette concert
    that took place in Freiburg. Very funny…

    Regarding the Falkland war, we all Argentineans feel some kind of
    impotence, Imagine if one day some people broke into your house and
    take you away from your own house. We cannot do anything and I don’t
    think Argentina will get back the islands. UK is a very strong country.
    Well, that’s the position of Argentina. UK claims that they were always of
    their own. I don’t really care who’s the owner. The main point is that
    the war was pointless and it was not about the islands. There were
    many purposes besides these events, the war was just a disguise.

    In 1982, the government in Argentina was in charge of the military, people
    didn’t have the right to express what they felt, everything was banned.
    People was really tired. so the military government
    NEEDED something to give an incentive to the Argentineans. Something that
    proves they had the power. They made us believe that we could get back the
    islands that once were occupied by the British. That was the main purpose of the war.

    UK hadn’t any interest on these islands, but it was like a war trophy for
    them. Obviously, it was like a fight between 2 kids, a 5 years old boy
    against a 15 years old boy. As we usually say “the bad events show the
    best and the worst from people”. And the war was not an exception.

    The TV always reported that we were about to win the war, they
    were always lying in order to calm down us. The media was controlled,
    including the radio, some songs were prohibited or edited.
    A certain censorship. During the war, the songs sung in English were not
    allowed to be played. And the soldiers were 18 years old teenagers,
    who were recruited by the law, they didn’t know what war was really all about,
    they didn’t have the right to decide what to do with their lives. It was an
    order and they must obey “the call of the country,” so they were sent to the war.

    In 1982 I was just a 7 years old boy, I didn’t know what was happening
    to my country. In all schools, there was a campaign called “A chocolate
    for the soldiers”. We had to write a letter to the soldiers and we
    had to give them away a chocolate, that’s because of the low temperature.
    There were another campaigns in order to collect warm clothes and food
    because the army only gave them the basic elements. And even worse
    they were treated badly. Most of our hopes never arrived and those chocolates
    never were sent, in fact some people stole and re-sell them later.
    That’s why I wrote that “Some events show the worst and the best from people”.
    Of course there were very nice people who helped a lot. We usually are very
    kind.

    The UK military also took advantage of these events. Furthermore, a retired
    Chilean military recently admitted that the Chilean military helped the UK army
    telling them the position of the Argentinean ships and soldiers and the
    strategies they had. Everybody wanted a piece of this cake.

    Besides this, the General Galtieri, the most hated person in Argentina,
    was drinkin’ whisky while 600 young Argentineans kids were dying.
    Very sad to be true.

    To sum up, there were many events and I could write pages and pages
    about this. The war was pointless, I think nobody won this war,
    it was a big lost for 2 countries and a benefit for a few people.

    Arnaldo Mariano S., Jul 6, 2007, 10:21am EDT

    http://www.zfs.uni-freiburg.de/zfs/dozent/lehrbeauftragte4/index_html/#shroff

    E-mail from Satis Shroff:

    Dear Arnaldo,

    I can now understand your feelings about the Falkland War. I found your metaphor of the 5 year old boy fighting against the 15 year old a very appropriate comparison. Your story really moved me, even though I come originally from Nepal, the land of the Gurkhas.

    Thank you very much for sharing a part of your autobiography. You really ought to write “pages and pages about this war” as you said, and let us read them at www.Gather.com.

    I think it’s very interesting reading. For me it was a fantastic experience to hear how the people suffered and what they thought about in those days in Argentina. This helps us to understand each other.

    Even a Gurkha or Nepalese and an Argentinean can be friends. I reach out my hand to you, dear Gather friend. If more Argentineans went to Nepal on their holidays to see how the Gurkhas live and what everyday problems, dreams, hopes they have, then they would be certainly friends and understand each other. Duty, obedience and discipline take on a bitter taste after the war. Many GIs visited the former battlefields (Germany, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Japan, Burma) and met their former foes, which is a good thing, for men are not murderers when they are forced to do their duty as soldiers.

    In Nepal there’s no compulsory military service. The Gurkhas are professional soldiers because they never had someone to motivate them and pay their school, college and university bills. If someone is ill, one goes to the local shaman (dhamey-jhakri) for he can be paid with some eggs and a chicken. Money is scarce in the hills of Nepal. That’s why the Nepalese youth from the hills join the Gurkhas. Many are school drop-outs but many can’t afford to go to school. They have to do child-work in their parents’ farms in the terraced, craggy hills of this beautiful Himalayan country.

    That’s life, Arnaldo. Let us nevertheless try to make this world a better place to live in, despite our cultural differences.
    Sincerely,
    Satis

    Satis Shroff, Jul 6, 2007, 11:13am EDT

    News from the Past: Brown’s government: arrogant & indifferent to the Gurkhas

    Former Gurkha soldiers from Nepal have won the right to sue the British Government in the High Court for alleged racial discrimination. The Gurkhas allege that they have been discriminated against, in at least 20 different ways, while serving with the British army and subsequently during retirement.

    Lawyers for the troops filed a claim for damages at the High Court in May in an action that could cost the Ministry of Defence £2bn. Their case is to be argued by Prime Minister Tony Blair’s wife, Cherie Booth, a prominent barrister.

    Nepalese soldiers have fought alongside British soldiers since 1815, and have served in recent years in the Falklands, the Gulf War, Kosovo, Bosnia, Sierra Leone and Afghanistan.

    Equal pay demand: The soldiers argue that since a 1947 Tripartite Agreement between India, Nepal and the UK, the Gurkhas have been linked to the Indian Army’s pay scale instead of the British army’s.

    They say this has resulted in a disparity between British pensions and those paid to the Gurkhas, Phil Shiner, a solicitor with the Public Interest Lawyers group which is acting for the Gurkhas, said they were hoping for a decision from the High Court before Christmas.

    “So far, this government has acted with arrogance and indifference,” he was quoted by the Associated Press news agency as saying.

    “I hope even at this late stage that sense will prevail.”

    In declaring the case admissible on Tuesday, the High Court gave the Defence Ministry until 9 September to put forward its arguments in the case.

    British defence: A Defence Ministry spokeswoman told Reuters that the military would “robustly defend our position in court”.

    “The Gurkhas are treated well and will continue to be. We value their services and treat them in a good manner,” she said.

    But the Gurkhas’ lawyers say they have 20 test cases, claiming that 30,000 Nepalese retired from the service with inadequate or no pension, and that widows had not been properly compensated for their loss. Aside from financial complaints, they say they have been subjected to different rules on family leave, food, dress codes and religious practices.

    It is not the first time that Ms Booth, who specialises in human rights abuses, has tackled her husband’s government in court. In May 2000, she argued on behalf of trade unions that the government needed to offer more leave benefits to parents of young children.

    That case is before the European Court.

    The British and the Gurkhas: Worlds Apart? (Satis Shroff, Freiburg)

    Prince William has received his coveted curved knife, the Khukri, after a four-day stint with the Gurkhas. According to a close source Prince William is seriously thinking of joining the Gurkhas. This comes at a time when the Gurkhas are battling for their pensions, human rights and dual passports. For even though generations of Nepalese soldiers called the fearsome Gurkhas, have fought Britain’s colonial and other wars (Falklands, Croatia, Iraq) the Gurkhas don’t have the same rights as ordinary British citizens.

    It was a magnificent scenario: the proud Royal Scouts led British cadets, Territorial Army and Gurkhas over Waverly Bridge and along Princes Street. The Gurkhas were led by a man in spotted leopard cloak beating a drum, followed by vehicles with armed Gurkhas.
    Who are these Gurkhas? You might ask. They are Britain’s 3,500 elite soldiers from the small Himalayan country Nepal. These Gurkhas have fought and died with the British Armed Forces for two centuries. This year, according to the Scotsman (news.scotsman.com), Gurkhas have been dumped back in Nepal with a stipend by the thousand. This, after two centuries of fighting your wars for you. They are not, never have been, paid the same as a British soldier.
    When it comes to money-matters, the Brits have always regarded the Gurkhas as cheap labourers and mercinaries that you can recruit in a matter of months, or even weeks. There are always 28,000 young Nepalese who want to join the Royal Gurkha Brigade. Only 200 are chosen annually. What happens to the others? Do they join the Maoists to get battle experience? I knew one named Kunjo Lama who didn’t make it at the recruiting depot in Dharan (Eastern Nepal) and worked as a teacher in a Nepalese village in the hills rather than face the ignominy of returning home as the laughing stock of the hamlet dwellers. Losing one’s face is something serious in the Nepalese world, and for the Nepalese psyche. But Kunjo made it at the next admissions and even took part in the Falkland War at Port Stanley against the Argentinians.He showed me a photograph from his wallet of himself and his fellow Gurkhas in front of a helicopter, armed to the teeth during the war at the Malvinas.
    Sometime later during a trip to London I saw how the South Asian people were living in London’s East End, where the Cockneys use to live earlier, with its brick-houses (Monica Ali’s ‘Brick Lane’). Nay, the Gurkhas didn’t even enjoy the same status as the asylum-seekers from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Jamaica and other former colonies, settled in London’s East End or Southhall. The Gurkhas are based in Church Crookham, Hampshire, but they are lucky if they can return to their home country after fighting Britain’s wars and police missions in the British Rhine Army, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Borneo, Cyprus, Falklands, Lebanon, Croatia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.
    To think that so many ethnic Nepalese mothers have lost their sons, and so many children have lost their fathers and sisters their dear brothers fighting for the Glory of Britain, is indeed worth contemplating and discussing about in the London Parliament by the new government.
    The Gurkhas, who are ruthless warriors at war, have always been obedient, loyal, disciplined and subordinate to their British officers for 200 years. Their loyalty and bravery have always been unfaltering. Had Indira Gandhi taken the Gurkhas as her personal bodyguards like the Queen of England, instead of the Sikhs, at a time when the storming of the Golden Temple of Amritsar was a big issue in Punjab and India, I’m sure she would have lived longer.
    But most South Asians think: that’s kismat. It was written in her fate that she had to die a violent death. Schicksalsdenken.
    A Gurkha serves in the Army a minimum of fifteen and a maximum of thirty years after which they are discharged and obliged to leave Britain for Nepal. No, they aren’t allowed to stay on, settle down and enjoy the English countryside with their meagre pensions, as far as English lifestyles and pays-scales are concerned. This speaks for the British government’s nefarious ‘special treaty’ with the Gurkhas and the Royal Narayanhiti Palace in Kathmandu (Nepal). Nepal now has a republican government, with a Maoist as its head, the king has been ousted, and it is hoped that the new Nepalese government will make positive amendments or scrap the treaty and draw a new one with equal human rights and dual citizenships for the Gurkhas.
    The British government always uses Nepal’s government pay-scales as a yardstick to pay off their loyal Gurkhas. There are so many British citizens working all over the world but what would happen if they were paid according to the laws existing under the rule of Queen Victoria and received the same pay scale as in those days. The Gurkhas are not living in the past but in the present, and the cost of living is high everywhere and their families need food, clothing and education. Gurkhas aren’t social cases for the men have been enlisted by Her Majesty’s officers at Dharan (Nepal) to serve in the Gurkha Brigades, which officers like to emphasise as an integral part of the British Army. The British government realised soon enough that the India of the former Raj-subjects were being qualified, and were clever at Oxford and Cambridge and they wouldn’t tolerate the master-and-servant relationship which the burra sahibs had propagated during the Raj.
    But Nepal is another matter. The Ranas and Shahs have exploited the country and its manpower resource for longer than two centuries and were to blame for the bad manpower management deals with the then British government. Another factor that is to Nepal’s disadvantage is the fact that Nepal wasn’t really conquered by the East India Company, and has thus never belonged to the British Commonwealth. That explains why the wealth and equality hasn’t reached Nepal’s Himalayan boundaries as yet, for the targets of equality are always specific and comprise aristocratic privilege, capitalist wealth, bureaucratic power, racial or sexual supremacy, and the desire of a group of people to dominate their fellows.
    Today, we have the possibility of doing away with these discriminations and injustices. Under Gordon Brown we have the chance to give the Gurkhas a helping hand of real friendship, and not only lip-service, and make good.
    Prior to the EU-membership of East Bloc countries, when a Polish worker came to help pluck the strawberries in the vicinity of Freiburg (Germany), they weren’t paid the actual rate for west workers in Germany either. Now that the Poles have no zlotys, and are paid in euros in their own countries, it doesn’t seem to be lucrative to go all the way to Germany, with the result that the strawberries get overripe and go kaputt. Ethnic Germans are reluctant to do this back-breaking job under the blazing sun.
    The British Army once sacked 111 Gurkhas, and as a result the Gurkhas wrote a petition to the Queen of England to help the men who had been sent to Nepal, and to improve the treatment of the Gurkhas (who had after all fought for Britain in the Falklands) throughout the Army. The petition to Queen Elizabeth II was signed: Your Majesty’s most obedient servants. The all (sic) ranks of SP 1/7th Gurkha Rifles.
    A question that vexed me is why the Gurkha children have to do the SLC (School Leaving Certificate) exams of Nepal, instead of the GCSE ‘A’ levels, like all school-kids in England? The British government and the Nepalese monarchs never appreciated the importance of better, higher education for the offsprings of the Gurkhas. With British educational certificates and degrees thousands of sons and daughters of the Gurkhas would have had better chances in their lives and would be much better off than their soldiering Dads and brothers. The idea from the start was to put the Gurkhas and their families in ghettos alias barracks or lines, and no attempts were made to integrate them and their families in the British society.
    If a Gurkha would join France’s Foreign Legion, they’d be taught the French language and would get a much better status in the French society than the British give to the Gurkhas. I don’t want to say alas, but Nepal just wasn’t a French colony, though the French managed to come up to an enclave named Pondicherry in India. Nepal has no special relationships with the French but with the British
    There have been isolated instances of Gurkhas involved in recent courtroom skirmishes with the British Ministry of Defence to receive the same pension and conditions as other British soldiers. Whereas an ex-Gurkha received 40,000 English pounds payment from Britain after a court ruling, which was an isolated instance, another Gurkha claim was rejected by a Nepal court. ‘Better to die than be a coward’ is the motto of the Gurkha warriors who are an integral part of the British Army. It should run ‘better to fight a battle with a good lawyer against the Ministry of Defence than against Britains foes, as we say in Germany: bis die Fronten geklärt sind.
    Britain and its admirable people still have to do a bit of soul-searching on the question of their best friends-in-arms. The officers in the administration and the Defence Ministry think of the Gurkhas still as cannon-fodder and not as humans, at eye-level with the same rights and equality. They still play the game of the Raj: masters and servants. This must not be tolerated and must be put to an end by the new government at 10 Downing Street, for they have gone too far. It is hoped that the impeccable British people will rally around and support the brave, but legally weak, Gurkhas by giving them a helping hand. I know that the British people do give a helping hand to the underdogs of their own or other societies when necessary, and that I appeal to their fairness.
    What is the difference between an asylum-seeker and a Gurkha in Britain? In the long run the asylum-seeker gets a British passport, British pay (if he or she’s qualified) and British rights and his or her children kindergartens, schools, colleges and universities in Britain, and become a part of the British mainstream. Not so the Gurkhas and their families.
    Due to questionable ‘special relations’ between Britain and Nepal that haven’t been ratified yet, the poor Gurkha and his family have to say goodbye to Britain and head for the barren hills of Nepal. That’s the plight of what Sir Ralph Turner MC, 3rd Queen Alexandra’s Own Gurkha Rifles, 1931 said, “Bravest of the brave, most generous of the generous, never had a country more faithful friends than you.”
    When you think of how true, loyal friends are treated for their faithfulness in even present-day Britain, you can only shake your head or hide in shame.
    During the Falklands War out in the Malvinas under Margret Thatcher’s primiership, the British were put in an embarassing situation by Argentina’s UN- representative when he accused the British of having deployed ‘Gurkha mercinary’ troops. The British government demented that and said it had special relationsships with Nepal and that the Gurkhas were its own troops, belonging to and integrated in the British Army.
    But the sad reality is: when a British leutenant saunters by, a Gurkha-Major is obliged to salute him! And not the other way around. This still means that all soldiers are equal in the British or Gurkha army, but some solders are more equal than the others, George Orwell’s Animal Farm, which Gurkha school children learn in good English schools in India’s Darjeeling and Nepal. In this context it must be mentioned that over 50,000 Gurkhas died in the two World Wars under the Union Jack and another thousand since then, even though the Gurkhas were reduced and demobilised to Brigade strength in the British and Regiment strength in the Indian Army. This was after the partition of India in 1947 after an agreement between Nepal, India and Britain, whereby four regiments from the Indian Army were transferred to the British Army, which then became the Gurkha Brigade.
    It’s still the white sahib commanding the natives, despite the so-called handsome pensions that the Gurkhas receive, according to Nepalese standards. When I lecture in Switzerland I earn almost 100 Swiss Francs per hour, like all Swiss and German lecturers, without discrimination about my origin and descent. I think that it’s high time that the Gurkhas received the same wages as their British fellow soldiers. Please don’t come up with the Sugauli Treaty or ‘special relations crap’ that dates to the times of Queen Victoria and Junga Bahadur Rana. We are living in modern times and democracy exists in England since a long time. The world has learned from the British what fairness is not only in sport but in everyday life.

    I think it’s high time that the Gurkhas went to an international court in Strassburg, Belgium UN(NY) and received Flankenschutz from Human Rights Organisations in Britain, Britain Watch, NGOs and whatever. Sally and rally around and give the Gurkhas a helping hand so that they can also have equal rights and their sons can receive education in Britain and when they are qualified they can work and live there. They are not exotic creatures, they are human beings who also ought to have equal human rights. Britain still has the chance to repair the damage it has done towards the Gurkhas by giving their children a decent English education, for education is the best gift we can give to children. Give education to a Gurkha child and you have given him or her something very valuable and priceless and they will be thankful all their lives.

    (This article was published on The American Chronicle, Blogspot.com, Swiss.com, Gather.com, Ning.com, WordPress and a host of other publications & websites in the years 2007-2008. It bears information on the Gurkhas and their problems. But now the Gurkhas have won and Gordon Brown has capitulated, thanks to a charming, politically active, courageous lady named Joanna Lumley who beat Brown in his own game. Her father, by the way, was rescued by a Gurkha and she never forgot it and thanked the Gurkhas in her own way. Gurkha hats off to a great lady).

    About the Author:

    http://www.zfs.uni-freiburg.de/zfs/dozent/lehrbeauftragte4/index_html/#shroff

    Satis Shroff is a prolific writer and teaches Creative Writing at the Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg. He is a lecturer, poet and writer and the published author of three books: Im Schatten des Himalaya (book of poems in German), Through Nepalese Eyes (travelogue), Katmandu, Katmandu (poetry and prose anthology by Nepalese authors, edited by Satis Shroff). His lyrical works have been published in literary poetry sites: Slow Trains, International Zeitschrift, World Poetry Society (WPS), New Writing North, Muses Review, The Megaphone, Pen Himalaya, Interpoetry. He is a member of “Writers of Peace,” poets, essayists, novelists (PEN), World Poetry Society (WPS) and The Asian Writer.

    Satis Shroff is based in Freiburg (poems, fiction, non-fiction) and also writes on ecological, ethno-medical, culture-ethnological themes. He has studied Zoology and Botany in Nepal, Medicine and Social Sciences in Germany and Creative Writing in Freiburg and the United Kingdom. He describes himself as a mediator between western and eastern cultures and sees his future as a writer and poet. Since literature is one of the most important means of cross-cultural learning, he is dedicated to promoting and creating awareness for Creative Writing and transcultural togetherness in his writings, and in preserving an attitude of Miteinander in this world. He lectures in Basle (Switzerland) and in Germany at the Akademie für medizinische Berufe (University Klinikum Freiburg) and the Zentrum für Schlüsselqualifikationen (University of Freiburg where he is a Lehrbeauftragter for Creative Writing). Satis Shroff was awarded the German Academic Exchange Prize.

    Read Full Post »

    http://www.zfs.uni-freiburg.de/zfs/dozent/lehrbeauftragte4/index_html/#shroff.

    Creative Writing Critique: Chicken of India Unite! (Satis Shroff)

    Review: Aravind Adiga: The White Tiger. Atlantic Books, London, 2008. Man Booker Prize 2008. German version: ‘Der Weisse Tiger’ published by C.H. Beck, 2008.

    Aravind Adiga was a correspondent for the newsmag Time and wrote articles for the Financial Times, the Independent and Sunday Times. He was born in Madras in 1974 and is a Mumbai-wallah now. The protagonist of his first novel is Balram Halwai, (I’m a helluva Mumbai-halwa fan, you know) who tells his story in the first person singular. Halwai has a fantastic charisma and shows you how you can climb the Indian mainstream ladder as a philosopher and entrepreneur. An Indian entrepreneur has to be straight and crooked, mocking and believing, sly and sincere, at the same time (sic). Balram’s prerogative is to turn bad news into good news, and the White Tiger, who’s terribly scared of lizards, slits the throat of his boss to attain his goal, and doesn’t even regret his deed.

    In the subcontinent, however, Aravind Adiga’s novel has received sceptical critique. Manjula Padmanabhan wrote in ‘Outlook’ that it lacks humour, and the formidable Delhi-based Kushwant Singh 92, who used to write for the Illustrated Weekly of India and is regarded as the doyen of Indian English literature, found it good to read but endlessly depressing.

    ‘And what’s so depressing?’ you might ask. I found his style refreshing and creative the way he introduced himself to Wen Jiabao. At the beginning of each capital he quotes from a part of his ‘wanted’ poster. The author writes about poverty, corruption, aggression and the brutal struggle for power in the Indian society. A society in which the middle class is reaching economically for the sky, in which Adiga’s biting and scathing criticism sounds out of place, when deshi Indians are dreaming of manned flights to the moon, outer space and mountains of nuclear arsenal against China or any other neighbouring states that might try to flex muscles against Hindustan.

    India is sometimes like a Bollywood film, which the poverty-stricken masses enjoy watching, to forget their daily problems for two hours. The rich Indians want to give their gastrointestinal tract a rest and so they go to the cinema between bouts of paan-spitting and farting due to lack of exercise and oily food. They all identify themselves with the protagonists for these hundred and twenty minutes and are transported into another world with location shooting in Switzerland, Schwarzwald, Grand Canyon, the Egyptian Pyramids, sizzling London, fashionable New York and romantic Paris. After twelve songs, emotions taking a roller-coaster ride, the Indians stagger out of the stuffy, sweaty cinemas and are greeted by the blazing and scorching Indian sun, slums, streets spilling with haggard, emaciated humanity, pocket-thieves, real-life goondas, cheating businessmen, money-lenders, snake-girl-destitute-charmers, thugs in white collars and the big question: what shall I and my family eat tonight? Roti, kapada, makan, that is, bread, clothes and a posh house are like a dream to most Indians dwelling in the pavements of Mumbai, or for that matter in Delhi, Bangalore, Mangalore, Mysore, Calcutta (Read Günter Grass’s Zunge Zeigen) and other Indian cities, where they burn rubbish for warmth.

    The stomach groans with a sad melody in the loneliness and darkness of a metropolis like Mumbai, a city that never sleeps. As Adiga says, ‘an India of Light, and an India of Darkness in which the black, polluted river Mother Ganga flows.’

    Ach, munjo Mumbai! The terrible monsoon, the jam-packed city, Koliwada, Sion, Bandra, Marine Drive, Juhu Beach. I can visualise them all, like I was there. I spent almost every winter during the holidays visiting my uncles, aunts and cousins, the jet-set Shroffs of Bombay. I’m glad that there are people like Aravind Adiga, Salman Rushdie, Arundhati Roy and Kiran Desai who speak for the millions of under-privileged, downtrodden people and give them a voice through literature. Aravind deserves the Man Booker Prize like no other, because the novel is extraordinary. It doesn’t have the intellectual poise of VS Naipaul or Rushdie’s masala language. It has it’s own Mumbai matter-of-fact speech, a melange of Oxford and NY. And what we get to hear when we take the crowded trains from the suburbs of this vast metropolis, with its mixture of Marathi, Gujerati, Sindhi and scores of other Indian languages is also what Balram is talking about. Adiga was bold enough to present the Other India than what film moghuls and other so-called intellectuals would have us believe.

    Balram’s is a strong political voice and mirrors the Indian society which wants to present Bharat in superlatives: superpower, affluent society and mainstream culture, whereas in reality there’s tremendous darkness in the society of the subcontinent. Even though Adiga has lived a life of affluence, studied at Columbia and Oxford universities, he has raised his voice in his book against the nepotism, corruption, in-fighting between communal groups, between the rich and the super-rich, a dynamic process in which the poor, dalits, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s Children of God (untouchables), ‘scheduled’ castes and tribes have no outlet, and are to this day mere pawns at the hands of the rich in Hindustan, as India was called before the Brits came to colonise the sub-continent.

    Balram, Adiga’s protagonist, shows how to assert oneself in the Indian society, come what may. I hope this book won’t create monsters without character, integrity, ethos, and soulless humans, devoid of values and norms. From what sources are the characters drawn? The story is in the form of a letter written by the protagonist to the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and is drawn from India’s history as told by a school drop-out, chauffeur, entrepreneur, a self-made man with all his charms and flaws, a man who knows his own India, and who presents his views frankly and candidly, sometimes much like P.G. Wodehouse’s Bertie Wooster. The author’s attitude toward his characters is comical and satirical when it comes to realities of life for India’s poverty stricken underdogs, whether in the form of a rickshaw puller, tea-shop boy or the driver of a rich Indian businessman. His characters are alive and kicking, and it is a delight to go with Balram in this thrilling ride through India’s history, Bangalore, Old and New Delhi, Mumbai and its denizens. The major theme is how to get along in a sprawling country like India, and the author reveals his murderous plan brilliantly through a series of police descriptions of a man named Balram Halwai.

    The theme is a beaten path, traditional and familiar, for this is not the first book on Mumbai and Indian society. Other stalwarts like Kuldip Singh, Salman Rushdie, Amitabh Ghosh, VS Naipaul, Anita and Kiran Desai and a host of writers from the Raj have walked along this path, each penning their respective Zeitgeist. In this case, the theme is social, entertaining, escapist in nature, and the reader is like a voyeur in the scenarios created by Balaram. The climax is when the Chinese leader actually comes to Bangalore. So much for Hindi-Chini Bhai-Bhai. Unlike Kiran Desai (The Inheritance of Loss) Adiga says, “Based on my experience, Indian girls are the best. (Well second best. I tell you, Mr Jiaobao, it’s one of the most thrilling sights you can have as a man in Bangalore, to see the eyes of a pair of Nepali girls flashing out at you from the dark hood of an autorickshaw (sic).

    As to the intellectual qualities of the writing, I loved the simplicity and clarity that Adiga has chosen for his novel. He intersperses his text with a lot of dialogue with his characters and increases the readability score, and is dripping with satire and humour, even while describing an earnest emotional matter like the cremation of Balram’s mother, whereby the humour is entirely British—with Indian undertones. The setting is cleverly constructed. In order to have pace and action in the story Adiga sends Balram to the streets of Bangalore as a chauffeur, and suddenly you’re in the middle of a conversation and narration where a wily driver Balram tunes in. He’s learning, ever learning from the smart guys in the back seat, and in the end he’s the smartest guy in Bangalore, evoking an atmosphere of struggle for survival in the jungles of concrete in India. Indeed, blazingly savage, this book. A good buy this autumn.

    About the Author: Satis Shroff lectures on Creative Writing at the University of Freiburg http://www.zfs.uni-freiburg.de/zfs/dozent/lehrbeauftragte4/index_html/#shroff. and is the published author of three books on http://www.Lulu.com: Im Schatten des Himalaya (book of poems in German), Through Nepalese Eyes (travelgue), Katmandu, Katmandu (poetry and prose anthology by Nepalese authors, edited by Satis Shroff). His lyrical works have been published in literary poetry sites: Slow Trains, International Zeitschrift, World Poetry Society (WPS), New Writing North, Muses Review, The Megaphone, The Megaphone, Pen Himalaya, Interpoetry. Satis Shroff is a member of “Writers of Peace”, poets, essayists, novelists (PEN), World Poetry Society (WPS) and The Asian Writer.

    Satis Shroff is a poet and writer based in Freiburg (poems, fiction, non-fiction) who also writes on ecological, ethno-medical, culture-ethnological themes. He has studied Zoology and Botany in Nepal, Medicine and Social Sciences in Germany and Creative Writing in Freiburg and the United Kingdom. He describes himself as a mediator between western and eastern cultures and sees his future as a writer and poet. Since literature is one of the most important means of cross-cultural learning, he is dedicated to promoting and creating awareness for Creative Writing and transcultural togetherness in his writings, and in preserving an attitude of Miteinander in this world. He lectures in Basle (Switzerland) and in Germany at the Akademie für medizinische Berufe (University Klinikum Freiburg) and the Zentrum für Schlüsselqualifikationen (University of Freiburg). Satis Shroff was awarded the German Academic Exchange Prize.

    * *
    Review by Satis Shroff, Germany: Getting Along in Life in Tricky Kathmandu

    Bhatt, Krishna: City Women and the Ghost Writer, Olympia Publishers, London 2008, 191 pages, EUR 7,99 (ISBN 9781905513444)

    Krishna Bhatt, the author, a person who was ‘educated to get a graduate degree in Biology and Chemistry,’came to Kathmandu in 1996 and has seen profound political changes. In this book he seeks to find an ‘explanation for what is happening.’ Life, it seems, to him, is tricky, while political violence has been shocking him episodically. That’s the gist of it: twenty-one short episodes that are revealed to the reader by an author, who’s trademark is honesty, clarity and simplicity—without delving too deep into the subject for the sake of straight narration. What emerges is a melange of tales about life, religion, Nepalese and Indian society packed with humour. A delightful read, a work of fiction and you can jump right into the stories anywhere you like.

    Additionally, Bhatt has published ‘Humour and Last Laugh’ in October 2004, a collection of satirical articles published in newspapers in Kathmandu, which is available only in Kathmandu’s bookstores. The author emphasises that he has always written in English and adds, “Reading led me to writing.” He found his London publisher through the internet. Lol!

    Did you know that people who are married wear an ‘air of sacrificial glory’ about them in Nepal? The other themes are keeping mistresses in Kathmandu, sending children abroad for education, the woes of psychotherapists in Nepal (no clients). I’ll leave it to you to find out why. Nepal is rich in glaciers and the water ought to be harnessed to produce drinking water and electricity, but in Kathmandu, as in many parts of the republic, there’s a terribly scarcity of water among the poor and wanton wastage among the Gharania—upper class dwellers of Kathmandu. The Kathmanduites fight not only against water scarcity but also a losing battle against ants and roaches. The author explains the many uses of the common condom, especially a sterilised male who uses his vasectomy for the purpose of seduction. However, his tale about the death of his father in “The Harsh Priest and Mourning” remains a poignant and excellent piece of writing, and I could feel with him. It not only describes the Hindu traditions on death and dying but also the emotions experienced by the author.

    Like the Oxford educated Pico Ayer who has the ability to describe every ‘shimmy’ that he comes by when he travels, Bhatt too says that Thamel District is all ‘discotheques and massage parlours’ in the story ‘A Meeting of Cultures,’ in which the author meets two former East Germans and one of them thinks ‘people in Germany are lazy.’ Did she mean the Ossies or the Wessies? If that doesn’t get you, I’m sure the many uses of English and vernacular newspapers will certainly do. What’s even amusing is a ritual marriage ceremony of frogs to appease the rain gods. It might be mentioned that in Kathmandu Indra is the God of Rain, the God of the firmament and the personified atmosphere. In the Vedas he stands in the first Rank among the Gods. When you come to think of it, we Hindus are eternally trying to appease the Gods with our daily rituals, special pujas and homs around the sacred Agni (Ignis). Agni is one of the chief deities of the Vedas, and a great number of Sanskrit hymns are addressed to him.

    Bhatt uses life and the people around him, and in the media, as his characters and his attitude towards his characters is of a reconciling nature. The characters work sometimes flat for he doesn’t develop them, but the stories he tells are about people you and I could possibly know, and seem very familiar.
    Most of the stories are short and quick, good reads in this epoch of computers, laptops,DVDs, SMS, MMS, which is convenient for people with not much time at their disposal. Other themes are: writing, the muse, fellow writers (without naming names, except in the case of V.S. Naipaul), east meet west, abortion, art and pornography, colleagues and former HMG administrators. His opinions are always honest and entertaining in intent, and his tales have more narration than dialogues. Krishna Bhatt is a welcome scribe in the ranks of Kunda Dixit, Samrat Upadhya, Manjushri Thapa and is another new voice from the Himalayas who will make his presence felt in the world of fiction writing. His ‘Irreconcilable Death’ is thought-provoking, a writer who wants to change morality and fails to reconcile with death, like many writers before him. Writers may come and go, but Bhatt wants to leave his impression in his own way and time. Time will certainly tell.
    I wish him well.

    Review German version by:Satis Shroff
    Rezension:
    Grünfelder, Alice (Hrsg.), Himalaya: Menschen und Mythen, Zürich Unionsverlag 2002, 314 S., EUR 19, 80 (ISBN 3-293-00298-6).

    Alice Grünfelder hat Sinologie und Germanistik studiert, lebte zwei Jahre in China und arbeitet gegenwärtig als freie Lektorin und Literaturvermittlerin in Berlin. Dieses Buch ist vergleichbar mit einem Strauss zusammengestellter Blumen aus dem Himalaya, die die Herausgeberin gepflückt hat. Es handelt von den Menschen und deren Problemen im 450 km langen Himalaya Gebirge. Das Buch orientiert sich, an englischen Übersetzungen von der Literatur aus dem Himalaya.

    Nepal ist literarisch gut vertreten mit dem Anthropologen Dor Bahadur Bista, dem Bergsteiger Tenzing Norgay, die in Kathmandu lebenden Journalisten Kanak Dixit and Deepak Thapa, dem Fremdenführer Shankar Lamichane, dem Dichter Pallav Ranjan und dem Entwicklungsspezialisten Harka Gurung. Manche Geschichten sind nicht neu für Nepal-Kenner, aber das Buch ist für Leser, die in Deutschland, Österreich, Südtirol und die Schweiz leben, bestimmt. Außer sieben Nepali Autoren gibt es Geschichten von sieben indischen, drei tibetischen, zwei chinesischen und zwei bhutanesischen Autoren.

    Die Themen des Buches sind: Die Vorteile und Nachteile der Verwestlichung in Nepal, da Nepal erst 1950 für den Fremden sozusagen geöffnet wurde. Kanak Dixit erzählt dies deutlich in „Welchen Himalaya hätten Sie gern?“. In einer anderen liebenswerten Gesichte erzählt er über die Reise von einem Nepali Frosch namens Bhaktaprasad. K.C. Bhanja, ein umweltbewußter Bergsteiger, erzählt über das empfindliche Erbe—die Himalaya und deren spirituelle Bedeutung. Die „Himalaya-Ballade“ von der chinesischen Autorin Ma Yuan, „Die ewigen Berge“ von dem Han-Chinesen Jin Zhiguo, und der indischer Bergsteiger H. P. S. Ahluwalia in „Höher als Everest“, schließlich Swami Pranavanadas in seinem „Pilgerreise zum Kailash und der See Manasovar“ haben alle die Berge aus verschiedenen Sichten thematisiert. Tenzing Norgay, der erste Nepali, der auf dem Gipfel von Mt. Everest mit dem Neuseeländer Edmund Hillary bestiegen war, erzählt, dass er „ein glücklicher Mensch“ sei. Der Nepali Journalist Deepak Thapa beschreibt den berühmten Sherpa Bergsteiger Ang Rita als einen sozialen Aufsteiger.

    Während wir in einer Geschichte von Kunzang Choden (Auf den Spuren des Migoi) erfahren, dass die Bhutanesen, als ein buddhistisches Volk, nicht einmal einen Tier Leid zufügen können, erzählt uns Kanak Dixit von 100 000 Lhotshampas (nepalstämmige Einwohner), die von der bhutanesischen Regierung vertrieben worden sind und jetzt in Flüchtlingslagern in Jhapa leben.

    James Hilton hat das Wort Shangri-La für eine Geschichte, in Umlauf gebracht die sich in Tibet abspielte. Genauso ist mit dem Ausdruck „Das Dach der Welt“ die tibetische Plateau gemeint und nicht Nepal oder Bhutan. Die bewegende Geschichte, die der Kunsthändler Shanker Lamechane erzählt, handelt von einem gelähmten Jungen. Sein Karma wird in Dialogform zwischen ein Nepali Reiseleiter und einem überschwenglichen Tourist erzählt. Das hilflose Kind bringt uns dazu, über die Freude in Alltag nachzudenken, was wir meistens nicht tun können, weil wir mit dem Alltag so beschäftigt sind. Während Harka Gurung „Fakten und Fiktionen über den Schneemensch“ zusammenstellt, schildert uns Kunzang Choden, eine Psychologin aus Bhutan, über „Yaks, Yakhirten und der Yeti“. Wir erfahren von einem alten Yakhirt namens Mimi Khandola, wie das freundliche Wesen Migoi, gennant Yeti, von einem Rudel Wildhunden erlegt wurde. In „Nicht einmal ein Leichnam zum Einäschern“ lernen wir von dem tragischen Schicksal eines Mädchens namens Pem Doikar, die von einem Migoi entführt wurde.

    Diese Anthologie versucht nicht die Himalaya Literatur als ganzes zu repräsentieren, aber betont bestimmte Themen, die im Alltagsleben der Bergbewohner auftauchen. Die Welt, die die Dichter und Schriftsteller aus dem Himalaya beschreiben und kreieren, ist ganz anders im Vergleich zur westlichen Literatur über die Himalaya Bewohner. Es ist wahr, dass der Trekking-Tourismus, moderne Technologie, die Entwicklungshilfeindustrie, die NGOs, Aids und Globalisation die Himalayas erreicht haben, aber die Gebiete die vom Tourismus unberührt sind, sind immer noch ursprünglich, gebunden an Traditionen, Kultur und Religion.

    Auf der Frankfurter Buchmesse gibt es kaum Bücher die von Schriftstellern und Dichtern aus dem Himalaya stammen. Es sind immer die reisenden Touristen, Geologen, Geographen, Biologen, Bergsteiger und Ethnologen, die über Nepal, Tibet, Zanskar, Mustang, Bhutan, Sikkim, Ladakh und seine Leute, Religion, Kultur und Umwelt schreiben. Die Bewohner des Himalaya sind immer Statisten im eigenen Land gewesen in den Szenarios, die im Himalaya inszeniert worden sind, und die in New York, Paris, München and Sydney veröffentlicht werden. Sie werden durch westliche Augen beschrieben.

    Dennoch gab es Generationen von denkenden und schreibenden Nepalis, Inder, Bhutanesen und Tibeter, die Hunderte von Schriftstücken, Zeitschriften und Bücher geschrieben und veröffentlicht haben, in ihren eigenen Sprachen. Allein in Patans Madan Puraskar Bibliothek, die Kamal Mani Dixit, Patan’s Man of Letters, beschreibt als „der Tempel der Nepali Sprache,“ gibt es 15,000 Nepali Bücher und 3500 verschiedene Zeitschriften wovon die westliche Welt noch nie gehört oder gelesen hat.

    Der englische Professor Michael Hutt machte einen Anfang. Er übersetzte zeitgenössische Nepali Prosa und Gedichte in „Himalayan Voices“ und „Modern Nepali Literature“. Die erste Fremdsprache wird weiterhin Englisch bleiben, weil die East India Company dort zuerst ankam.

    Dieses Buch von Alice Grünfelder erzeugt Sympathie und Verständnis für die nepali, indische, bhutanesische, tibetische, chinesische Psyche, Kultur, Religion. Es beschreibt die Lebensbedingungen und menschlichen Probleme in den dörflichen und städtischen Himalayagebieten und ist eine willkommene Ergänzung zu der langsam wachsenden Sammlung von literarische Übersetzungen aus dem Himalaya, die von den einheimischen Autoren geschrieben worden sind. Ich wünsche Frau Grünfelder Erfolg in Ihre Aufgabe als Vermittlerin zwischen den literarischen Welten von Asien und Europa.

    © Review: Satis Shroff, Freiburg

    English Version by: satisshroff, freiburg
    Book-review:
    Grünfelder, Alice (Editor), Himalaya: Menschen und Mythen, Zürich Unionsverlag 2002, 314 pages, EURO 19, 80 (ISBN 3-293-00298-6).

    Alice Grünfelder has studied Sinology and German literature, lived two years in China and works in the publishing branch in Berlin. This book is comparable to a bouquet of the choicest Himalayan flowers picked by the editor and deals with the trials and tribulations of a cross-section of the people in the 450 km long Abode of the Snows–Himalayas. The book orients, as expected, on the English translations of Himalayan literature. The chances of having Nepali literature translated into foreign languages depends upon the Nepalis themselves, because foreigners mostly loath to learn Nepali. If a translation is published in English the success of the book is used as a yardstick to decide whether it is going to be profitable to bring it out in European or in other languages.

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

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

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

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

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

    But there have been generations of thinking and writing Nepalis, Indians, Bhutanese and Tibetans who have written and published hundreds of books and magazines in their own languages. In Patan’s Madan Puraskar Library alone, which Mr. Kamal Mani Dixit, Patan’s Man of Letters, describes as the “Temple of Nepali language”, there are 15,000 Nepali books and 3500 different magazines and periodicals about which the western world hasn’t heard or read. A start was made by Michael Hutt of the School of Oriental Studies London, in his English translation of contemporary Nepali prose and verse in Himalayan Voices and Modern Nepali Literature. It took him eight years to write his book and he took the trouble to meet most of the Nepali authors in Nepal and Darjeeling. The readers in the western world will know more about Himalayan literature as more and more original literary works are translated from Nepali, Tibetan, Hindi, Bhutanese, Lepcha, Bengali into English, German, French and other languages of the EU. The first foreign language, however, will remain English because the East India Company got there first.

    This book compiled by Alice Grünfelder creates sympathy and understanding for the Nepali, Indian, Bhutanese, Tibetan, Chinese psyche, culture, religion, living conditions and human problems in the urban and rural Himalayan environment, and is a welcome addition to the slowly growing translated collection of Himalayan literature penned by writers living in the Himalayas. I wish her well in her function as a mediator between the literary worlds of Asia and Europe.

    Satis Shroff, Freiburg

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    GORDON STILL WALKING 2009 (Satis Shroff, Freiburg)

    ‘I will not walk away,’

    Said PM Gordon Brown.

    His ministers had walked out on him.

    Disgusted with his inner circle

    Of soccer-fans

    And other fads.

    Manchester is United,

    Labour isn’t.

    Was he walking by a rule?

    Mr. Brown ruled with two circles:

    His soccer-crazy inner circle

    With Ed Balls,

    An outer one with grey mice.

    He was walking down a lonely road,

    It seemed.

    When he walked in,

    He walked into Blairites.

    Gordon was walking into his political savings.

    Could he steer Britain’s economy

    Out of the big recession?

    He walked his legs off,

    Pleading to Labourites to stay.

    It wasn’t a walk over

    For Brown’s pride,

    When ministers refuse to walk

    Together with him,

    After the debacle at the Euro polls.

    He racked his brains,

    Came up with a belated inquiry

    Into the Iraq war,

    To save his skin.

    In a last bid he reshuffled

    His cabinet cards:

    Darling, Miliband and Balls

    Held their jobs.

    Gordon promoted:

    Johnson, Jowell, Mandelson,

    Cooper, Burham, Ham.

    Eh, was it worth to promote Ainsworth?

    A soap-opera supper,

    Where guests prefer

    To sit and walk out at will.

    Gordon is certainly walking on air.

    It’s become more a walk

    On a razor’s edge.

    If this silly Labour circus goes on

    In Downing No. 10,

    He is most likely to walk

    On all fours.

    The battle is lost,

    Er steht auf verlorene Posten.

    The rats have sprung overboard.

    Councils like Lancashire, Derbyshire,

    Stafford, Nottinghamshire

    Have become Tory counties.

    Labour lost 250,

    Conservatives gained 217 seats.

    Captain Brown remains adamant,

    And runs his ship.

    I’m afraid it’s not Trafalgar.

    Perhaps Cap’n Bleigh?

    He clutches his crutches

    And mutters:

    ‘I will not walk away.’

    Brown has a strategy:

    He hopes to limp towards autumn,

    Defying the wind against him.

    Can he bend it like Beckham?

    Captain Brown, still at the helm,

    Insists: ‘I will not waver,

    Or walk away.’

    Britain doesn’t know:

    Whether to be awed

    Or amused.

    And thereby hangs

    A tale.

    * * *

    Drinking Darjeeling Tea in England 2008 (Satis Shroff, Freiburg)

    Beware the Ides of March

    Manchester will be a milestone

    In Gordon Brown’s polit-life.

    Your economic ‘competence’

    Has become an Achilles heel,

    Your weak point.

    The people’s party of New Labour

    Wants to get rid of you.

    These are the rumours

    Heard in the trendy streets of London.

    Twelve months ago Gordon Brown

    Was the Messiah of Brit politics,

    After Blair’s disastrous role in the Labour.

    Alas, the new Messiah

    Lost his face,

    Within a short time.

    His weakness: decision making.

    England is nervous, fidgety,

    For Labour fears a possible loss,

    Of its 353 Under House seats.

    Above the English cabinet

    Looms a Damocles sword.

    Will Labour watch,

    Drink Darjeeling,

    Till a debacle develops?

    Labour is in a dilemma.

    Hush, help is near.

    David Miliband is going vitriolic.

    A silly season indeed,

    Drinking Darjeeling tea in England.

    * * *

    About the Author:

    Satis Shroff is based in Freiburg, Gemany (poems, fiction, non-fiction) and also writes on ecological, ethno-medical, culture-ethnological themes. He has studied Zoology and Botany in Nepal, Medicine and Social Sciences in Germany and Creative Writing in Freiburg and the United Kingdom. He describes himself as a mediator between western and eastern cultures and sees his future as a writer and poet. Since literature is one of the most important means of cross-cultural learning, he is dedicated to promoting and creating awareness for Creative Writing and transcultural togetherness in his writings, and in preserving an attitude of Miteinander in this world. He lectures in Basle (Switzerland) and in Germany at the Akademie für medizinische Berufe (University Klinikum Freiburg) and the Zentrum für Schlüsselqualifikationen (University of Freiburg where he is a Lehrbeauftragter for Creative Writing). Satis Shroff was awarded the German Academic Exchange Prize.

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