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Archive for May, 2014

Savvy a Letter From Nepal in Nepali (devnagari) script?

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From my dear Dada & Deviji (Patan Dhoka)..

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(Satis Shrof with member of the Freiburger Nepalese Association at a Nepalese dance performance)

‘Nepali stands at the end of a long string of dialects stretching along the foothills of the Himalayas, its nearest neighbour being Kumaoni; but, like the others, it has been open to the influence of the languages of the Tarai and the Plains of the South. In it too we see the development of a purely local dialect, of the district of Gorkha, into the language of administration for a whole kingdom…Nepali is a sturdy, vigorous tongue, capable of poetry–you have your poets–and of strong, simple, nervous prose. Hindi is one language, Nepali is another. Do not let your lovely language become the pale reflection of a Sanskritised Hindi.’ (Courtesy: Sir Ralph L.Turner, concluding an address delivered at the British Embassy, Kathmandu, on the occasion of the coronation of His majesty King Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah Deva, 1955).

Well it’s 2014 now and the nation has seen the emergence of the maoists in a decade long Himalayan civil-war in which a great many Nepalese were injured or died.

The Shah family have been ousted from the Narayanhiti Palace, which has been turned into a national museum, and this once forbidden kingdom is now a federal republic.

What remains are the old wounds and trauma of a nation that’ll take time to heal. To this end I’d like to wish my former countrymen and women all the best. The best thing you can do for your children is to give them a good education, and not a khukri. This was denied to generations of Gurkhas by the former British governments because they practiced a policy of non-inclusion in the daily life of Britain and treated them as merely mercenaries that you could hire-and-fire at will. I hope that in the future the Gurkhas and their families will be integrated in the British society in police and security forces, and also in civilian life, like the other members of the Commonwealth, which were Britain’s former colonies.

Nepal had a so-called special relationsship and was subtely excluded from the Commonwealth. Some ‘special relationship’ indeed, the consequence of which had to be shared by generations of Nepalese children who lost their Dads who died under the Union Jack and for the glory of England.

When an injured soldier wanted medical treatment due to injuries that occured while fighting for England’s glory they were denied medical treatment by the MoD and NHS in England. No, Britain doesn’t want Gurkhas with gerontological problems either. What a cheap solution for cheap fighting men from the Himalayas. It’s only in recent times that the Gurkhas have started going to court and winning legal battles against the formidable, heartless, bureaucratic MoD based in London. The different government and the Prime Ministers as well as the Monarchs and, of course, MoD have been giving each other the blame for the misery of the Gurkhas instead of bringing out a plan for the welfare of the Gurkhas and their families. Instead of allowing the Gurkha children and the same right as the political regugees and asylum seekers in the United Kingdom, the powers that be have given the Gurkhas a no-benefit status in its civilian life. The Gurkhas were brought to the Gurkha brigades just to fight England’s foes outside the country as cheap labourers-at-arms, whom you could hire and fire at the will of the British officers. If there was a small quarrel or revolt at the wrong-doing of the officers, it was the Gurkhas who were sent to their home country. Protests were not heard of. A Gurkha was expected to fight and the thinking was supposed to be the right of the British officers. The olde colonial set-up. Even officers who should have opened their mouths didn’t comply as they feared promotion in their ranks; they were scared of being court marshalled. And yet these very officers played polo, went to the officer’s clubs, drank gin, expensive scotch and talked about their ‘brave, courageous, fearless, blood curdling Gurkhas.’ They just didn’t seem to realise that even Gurkhas are humans who had wishes and desires to mortals, who had families and depandants in the craggy hills of their mountainous country.  

I heard a Scottish lady who’s father was a Gurkha officer say, “Oh, the Gurkhas shouldn’t protest. If they do that they’ll be sent back to Nepal.” This is the standard punishment meted out to loyal friends and “special relationships.” I’ve never witnessed such hypocracy anywhere in my life. Dankeschön.  

So much for the still colonial master-servant relationship between the Brits and their Johnny Gurkhas.

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HEUTE /TODAY, Montag, 12.5., 18-21 Uhr, bietet Satis Shroff seinen ersten Creative Writing Workshop (literarisches Schreiben auf Englisch) im Schreibzentrum an. Es wird weitere Termine geben und am Schluss des Semesters eine öffentliche Lesung, gemeinsam mit der Literarischen Werkstatt (Literarisches Schreiben auf Deutsch). Weitere Informationen zum Workshop finden Sie hier: https://www.ph-freiburg.de/hochschule/weitere-einrichtungen/schreibzentrum/literarische-werkstatt.html
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Pädagogische Hochschule Freiburg: Literarische Werkstatt
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Pädagogische Hochschule Freiburg: Literarische Werkstatt
satis shroff: satisle@myway.com

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10.Mai 2014

Schwarzwald Diary (Satis Shroff) 

 

 I was woken up by the sun’s rays that shone into my room. I went to the traditional stony terrace and looked towards the Black Forest mountains in the direction of Kirchzarten and was rewarded by the sight of the rising sun. After a Schwarzwälder breakfast and a quick scanning of the zeitungen I decided to go to Cafe Mozart to a reading by a Freiburger poetess named Lilo Külp, which I’d been postponing all these years.  (The Freiburger poetess Lilo Külp reading in Cafe Mozart) The cafe is run by family Rückert and it’s near the Siegesdenkmal, a cafe that reminded my of my journey to Salzburg, where Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born. The poetess was accompanied musicaly by Claudia Thyme, who played the sax and conjured up melodies from 1001 Nights because that was also a part of the reading. The story in verse was about Lousianna, a poetess with a beautiful voice. Her father goes on a long journey and gives her a good piece of advice to use her resources. She walks up to a temple. Opens the door, enters it, goes to the altar and starts telling her story. – Suddenly a voice asks her rudely, “What are you doing here?” It is the temple priest. Go away, this is not the place for telling such tales.” She’s sad and leaves the temple. A small sparrow chirps and says, “Tell your story to the people in the streets.” She follows this advice. The people listened, coins began to roll in and she had a lot of stuff for tales. She meets a carpet seller in the busy street, who uses his entire charm and cunningness to sell his wares and creates a furore every time. It was a wonderful rendering from a frail Lilo Külp but when she talks her eyes light up and everything she says is interesting. She knows how to capture her audience. Frau Külf read from her book of poems with the title ‘Even the Half-Moon is Lovely.’ (Freiburg’s midwives demonstrating low-pay and bad job perspectives at the Kaiser Joseph Strasse, Bertold’s Fountain in downtown Freiburg). They were supported by a good many parents, which reminded me a lecture I’d given on Obstetrics which dealt with pregnancy and labor symptoms, and whether a water-birth is good or a birth in a hospital, the advantages and disadvantages of both.  MITEINANDER (Togetherness): MGV-Kappel “Liederkranz,” Musikverein-Freiburg-Kappel and Trachtenverein St. Ulrich The Spring Concert of the Musikverein-Kappel organised a good programme and even invited a guest brass band called the Trachten-Kapelle St. Ulrich conducted by Hans Breika, an athletic, tall man. They’d brought their own moderator along: Monika Steiert. The Musikverein Freiburg-Kappel was conducted by Bernhard Winter, a jolly Bavarian, who in the course of the evening told me over a glass of sekt that he’d bought a piece of land in the vicinity of Lake Ontario and wanted to spend the winter of his life in Canada. What a pleasant thought. He confided that he does have German croonies there, and he goes often to the USA and Canada. The moderation of the Kappler band was to be done of Karin Peter but she could’d and so Klaus Gülker , a South-West Radio man with the gift of the German gab, had volunteered to take over the moderation, which he did with elan, spiced with poetry and a touch of humour. The first piece was John William’s ‘Fanfare’ and there was a lot of fanfare in it. The good thing about a brass band is that it’s performed with oomph. The next song was ‘I Remember Clifford’ composed by Benny Golson, a story of an unlucky trumpet player; a beautiful melody with drums, trumpet played by the Kappler musician Stefan Nerz, who’s name Gülker translated literally to Mink. You could have danced a good fox trot to this melody, but since it was a concert, nobody did. Then came the ‘Headliner’ composed by Dennis Armitage, a quick-step tact and melody; rather catchy tune. This was followed by James barnes’ ‘Danza Sinfonica’ with whom the cunductor Bernard Winter had telephone for hours. He said he’d drunk more than a beer with Dennis Armitage in Chicago. The great-great-great grandfather of James Barnes was also mentioned. The orchestra produced a big sound, making maximal use of brass and big drums, tamborine; the sound emulated a paso doble mingled with Arabian Nights and Spanish castanettes. The flute, clarinet and sax melodies were charming and transported the audience to another world. A difficult piece masterly performed and conducted by the Musikverein-Kappel conducted by Bernd Winter. The last number was ‘The Stars and Stripes Forever’ composed by John Philip Sousa. It might be mentioned that a term was coined during those early days ‘the sousaphone,’ an instrument which sounds like a bomb in an orchestra. Don’t we love American composers out here in Europe, especially Germany? Yes, we do. Five musicians of the Musikverein-Kappel who’d been playing still in the verein were honoured, among others Dominik and Isabelle Steiert. Joachim Maurer came after attending the soccer match in Kenzingen (from the Oberbadische verband) and thanked Albert Dold for his dedicated service for 5o years with the verein in Kappel. He’d joined the Musikverein-Kappel in 1968 at the age of 12 and received the golden Ehren-needle. After the intermission the Trachtenkapelle St. Ulrich conducted by Hans Breika played the Procession of Nobles (Einzug der Edelleute)composed by Nicholas Rimsky Korsakov which was with a lot of oomph and clarion calls. The men were dressed in white shirts, black trousers and scarlet waistcoats with golden buttons, which suited the brass instruments they were playing: horns, trumpets, trombones and the like. ‘Second Suite for Band’ composed by Alfred Reed was followed by ‘The Wizard of Oz’ which was introduced as the American answer to the German fairy tales by the Grimm brothers, and which was made popular by Judy Garland. ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’was one of the world hits. The Cordillerasde los Andes’ composed by Klees Vlak took the audience to the far off Andes mountains of South America with such works as: Cotopaxi, Illmani and Coro puna. The musical presentation by the traditional Trachtenkapelle St. Ulrich (located near the town of Au)in their colourful costumes came up with Latin American melodies which began slowly, was frivolous with rumba-elements and evoked fiery Latin feelings culimnating in samba rhythms. Gallilero composed by Thomas Doss was played towards the end depicting a time when South America was conquered by the Spanish conquistadors. On the whole the compositions were a good melange of North and South American melodies and it was an enjoyable evening.

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