Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘compassion’

Article published in Dreisamtaeler and written by Giesela Heinzler-Ries

Dozent, Dichter und MGV-Sänger von Kappel

Green City Freiburg  Honours Satis Shroff

At an official ceremony in Freiburg’s Exhibition Hall Ulrich von Kirchbach, the mayor in charge of Culture and Integration honoured the life work of Satis Shroff. In his laudatio, von Kirchbach presented an Urkunde from the City of Freiburg as a special acknowledgement for Satis Shroff’s commitment and prolonged support and assistance to refugees and foreign students, and as a member of the managing committee of the Männergesangverein (men’s choir) ‘Liederkranz’ Freiburg-Kappel.

Satis Shroff was awarded the DAAD Prize in 1998.

Culture can give you insight into the living world of refugees, it can help remove boundaries and open new horizons, thereby enhancing the development of creativity in humans. Accordingly, Satis Shroff said in his thank-you-message: “I’d advise migrants to join a German association (verein), for that’s the place to meet the Germans and interact positively with them. I’m a member of the MGV Kappel, where we sing old and new German and English songs. After the singing we invariably go to one of the two taverns in Kappel to joke, laugh and talk about what moves us. There’s respect, tolerance, compassion among the singers and a good feeling of togetherness within the community. Whether it’s religious or seasonal events, funerals or initiation-rites, the men’s choir is always there, taking part in all walks of life. In this way, we get to know our strengths and weaknesses and help each other with sound advice and action. As we say in Germany: I really feel ‘Sauwohl in Kappel,’ which means I feel great. I can’t imagine a better integration in the German mainstream.”

In the past, and even now and then, Satis Shroff has cared for refugee children from Bosnia, Madedonia and Kosovo-Albania and did pedagogic work with them. Many children were able to make the necessary grades and others were sent to their home-countries as soon as the krieg ceased in their country of origin. He remembers cases of refugee-families who were woken up from their sleep in the wee hours of the morning by the police and whisked away to Frankfurt, put in a plane and escorted to their countries. This is the other side of the world-wide refugee problem.

“One day, a tall and burly, unshaven Albanian man came to the social office and took us as prisoners. He had a big plastic bag with a canister of petrol and a gun in his hand and said, “If you don’t do what I say I’ll blow you all up.” We were terrified. He was a father who’s daughter had been taken away by the social department because he’d been maltreating her. Whew! That was a traumatic experience. I thought my life was going to end there,” said Satis Shroff.

As a contact person and counsellor for the DAAD and the Alexander von Humboldt Stipendium he worked in cooperation with the Academic Foreign Office in Freiburg and cared for students and scientists from Nepal, India and the United Kingdom and he still maintains good contacts with these academicians.

Satis Shroff speaks English, German, Nepali, Hindi and Urdu and has also worked as a translator with the Amtsgericht on a honorary basis. He has assisted the migrants where he could and he says: “Migrants are helpless in a foreign country and there are cultural, social and language barriers. They a confronted with a strange administrative system and unusual laws and jurisprudence. All this makes the migrant raise his or her hands in despair.”

He was officially requested by the town of Ilmenau to translate Goethe’s famous poem: ‘Wandrers Nachtlied. He has also translated Nepali literature into Nepali. His German book of poems ‘Im Schatten des Himalaya’ has been printed by  www.lulu.com/satisle. He has also written two Nepali language books for German development workers of GTZ, Goethe Institute, DAAD and the members of the Carl Duisberg Society.

Before he came to Germany for further studies, he worked as a Features Editor with the Rising Nepal, where he wrote editorials and a science column, and commentaries for Radio Nepal on themes pertaining to the country’s development, wildlife and culture.

Satis Shroff is a lecturer, poet, journalist and a passionate singer. ‘I simply love singing Nepali, Hindi, English and German songs,’ he says. He’s a prolific writer and a contributing writer on www.americanchronicle.com/authors/view/1207

and on www.blogs.boloji.com/satisshroff and satisshroff.tigblogs.org to name a few.

He likes to describe himself a mediator between western and eastern cultures and sees his future in social engagements in the French sense of the word, and in writing and teaching medical subjects and English and German literature.

Read Full Post »

Yours truly, Satis Shroff,Germany

Gainey: A Minstrel’s Songs of Love and Sorrow (Satis Shroff)

Go away, you maya.

Disappear.

Haunt me not

In my dreams..

What has become of my country?

———-

My Nepal, what has become of you?

Your features have changed with time.

The innocent face of the Kumari

Has changed to the blood-thirsty countenance

Of Kal Bhairab,

From development to destruction,

From bikas to binas.

A crown prince fell in love,

But couldn’t assert himself,

In a palace where ancient traditions still prevail.

Despite Eton college and a liberal education,

He chose guns instead of rhetoric,

And ended his young life,

As well as those of his parents

And other royal members.

An aunt from London aptly remarked,

‘He was like the terminator.’

Another bloodshed in a Gorkha palace,

Recalling the Kot massacre

Under Jung Bahadur Rana.

You’re no longer the same

There’s insurrection and turmoil

Against the government and the police.

Your sons and daughters

Are at war again.

Maobadis with revolutionary flair,

With ideologies from across the Tibetan Plateau

And Peru.

Ideologies that have been discredited elsewhere,

Flourish in the Himalayas.

Demanding a revolutionary-tax

From tourists and Nepalis

With brazen, bloody attacks

Fighting for their own rights,

The rights of the bewildered

Common man.

Well-trained government troops at the orders

Of politicians safe in Kathmandu.

Leaders who despise talks and compromises,

Flexed their tongues and muscles,

And let the imported automatic salves speak their deaths.

Ill-armed guerrillas against well-armed Royal Gurkhas

In the foothills of the Himalayas.

Nepali children have no choice,

But to take sides

To take to arms

Not knowing the reason

And against whom.

The child-soldier gets orders

From grown-ups.

The hapless souls open fire.

Hukum is order,

The child-soldier cannot reason why.

Shedding precious human blood,

For causes they both hold high.

Ach, this massacre

In the shadow of the Himalayas.

Nepalis look out

Of their ornate windows,

In the west, east,

North and south Nepal

And think:

How long will this krieg go on?

How much do we have to suffer?

How many money-lenders, businessmen, civil servants,

Policemen and gurkhas do the Maobadis want to kill

Or be killed?

How many men, women, boys and girls have to be mortally injured

Till Kal Bhairab is pacified by the Sleeping Vishnu?

How many towns and villages in the seventy five districts

Do the Maobadis want to free from capitalism?

When the missionaries close their schools,

Must the Hindus and Buddhists shut their temples and shrines?

Shall atheism be the order of the day?

Not in Nepal.

It breaks my heart,

As I hear over the radio:

Nepal’s not safe for visitors.

Visitors who leave their money behind,

In the pockets of travel agencies,

Rug dealers, currency and drug dealers,

Hordes of ill-paid honest Sherpas

And Tamang porters.

Sweat beads trickling from their sun-burnt faces,

In the dizzy heights of the Dolpo,

Annapurna ranges

And the Khumbu glaciers.

Eking out a living and facing the treacherous

Icy crevasses, snow-outs, precipices

And a thousand deaths.

Beyond the beaten trekking paths

Live the poorer families of Nepal.

No roads,

No schools,

Sans drinking water,

Sans hospitals,

Where aids and children’s work prevail.

Lichhavis, Thakuris and Mallas have made you eternal

Man Deva inscribed his title on the pillar of Changu,

After great victories over neighbouring states.

Amshu Verma was a warrior,

Who mastered the Lichavi Code.

He gave his daughter in marriage

To Srong Beean Sgam Po,

The ruler of Tibet,

Who also married a Chinese princess.

Jayastathi Malla ruled long and introduced

The system of the caste,

A system based on family occupation,

That became rigid with the tide of time.

Yaksha Malla,

The ruler of Kathmandu Valley,

Divided it into Kathmandu,

Patan and Bhadgaon

For his three sons.

It was Prithvi Narayan Shah of Gorkha,

Who brought you together,

As a melting pot of ethnic diversities.

With Gorkha conquests that cost the motherland

Thousands of ears, noses and Nepali blood

The Ranas usurped the royal throne

And put a prime minister after the other

For 104 years.

104 years of a country in poverty

And medieval existence.

It was King Tribhuvan’s proclamation,

The blood of the Nepalis,

Who fought against the Gorkhas

Under the command of the Ranas,

That ended the Rana autocracy.

His son King Mahendra saw to it

That he held the septre

When Nepal entered the UNO.

The multiparty system

Along with the Congress party

Was banned.

Then came thirty years of Panchayat promises

Of a Hindu rule

With a system based on the five village elders,

Like the proverbial five fingers in one’s hand,

That are not alike,

Yet functioned in harmony.

The Panchayat government was indeed an old system,

Packed and sold

As a new and traditional one.

A system is just as good

As the people who run it.

And Nepal didn’t run.

It revived the age-old chakary,

Feudalism  with its countless spies and yes-men,

Middle-men who held out their hands

For bribes, perks and amenities.

Poverty, caste-system with its divisions and conflicts,

Discrimination, injustice, bad governance

Became the nature of the day.

A big chasm appeared

Between the haves-and-have-nots.

The social inequality,

Frustrated expectations of the poor

Led to a search for an alternative pole.

The farmers were ignored,

The forests and land confiscated,

Corruption and inefficiency became

The rule of the day.

Even His Majesty’s servants

Went so far as to say:

Raja ko kam,

Kahiley jahla gham.

The birthplace of Buddha

And the Land of Pashupati,

A land which King Birendra declared

A Zone of Peace,

Through signatures of the world’s leaders

Was at war again.

Bush’s government paid 24 million dollars

For development aid,

Another 14 million dollars

For insurgency relevant spendings

5,000 M-16 rifles from the USA

5,500 maschine guns from Belgium.

Guns that were aimed at Nepali men, women and children,

In the mountains of Nepal.

Alas, under the shade of the Himalayas,

This corner of the world became volatile again.

The educated people changes sides,

From Mandalay to Congress

From Congress to the Maobadis.

The students from Dolpo and Silgadi,

Made unforgettable by Peter Mathiessen

In his quest for his inner self

And his friend George Schaller’s search

For the snow leopard,

Wrote Marxist verses,

Acquired volumes

From the embassies in Kathmandu:

Kim Il Sung’s writings,

Mao’s red booklet,

Marx’s Das Kapital,

Lenin’s works,

And defended socialist ideas

At His Majesty’s Central Hostel

At Tahachal.

I saw their earnest faces,

With guns in their arms

Instead of books,

Boistrous and ready to fight

To the end

For a cause they cherished

In their frustrated and fiery hearts.

But aren’t these sons of Nepal misguided and blinded

By the seemingly victories of socialism?

Even Gorbachov pleaded for Peristroika,

And Putin admires Germany,

Its culture and commerce.

Look at the old Soviet Union,

Other East Bloc nations.

They have all swapped sides,

Are EU and Nato members.

Globalisation has changed the world fast,

But in Nepal time stands still

The blind beggar at the New Road gate sings:

Lata ko desh ma, gaddha tantheri.

In a land where the tongue-tied live,

The deaf desire to rule.

Oh my Nepal, quo vadis?

The only way to peace and harmony  is

By laying aside the arms.

Can Nepal afford to be the bastion

Of a movement and a government

That rides rough-shod

Over the lives and rights of fellow Nepalis?

Can’t we learn from the lessons

Of Afghanistan and Iraq?

The Maobadis were given a chance at the polls,

Like all other democratic parties.

Maobadis are bahuns and chettris,

Be they Prachanda or Baburam Bhattrai,

Leaders who’d prefer to be republicans

In the shadow of the Himalayas?

Shall the former Maobadis

Be regular soldiers?

Shall the Madeshis

And Paharis go asunder?

Where is the charismatic,

Unifying figure,

In Nepal’s political landscape?

My grandpa said:

“In Nepal even a child

Can walk the countryside alone.”

It’s just not true.

Not for a Nepalese,

Born with a sarangi in his hand.

I’m a musician,

One of the lower caste

In the Hindu hierarchy.

I bring delight to my listeners,

Hope to touch the hearts

Of my spectators.

I sing about love,

Hate and evil,

Kings and Queens,

Princes and Princesses,

The poor and the rich,

The Maoists and democrats,

Madeshis and Paharis,

And the fight for existence,

In the craggy foothills

And the towering heights

Of the Himalayas.

The Abode of the Snows,

Where Buddhist and Hindu

Gods and Goddesses reside,

And look over mankind

And his folly.

I was born in Tanhau,

A nondescript hamlet in Nepal,

Were it not for Bhanu Bhakta Acharya

Who was born here,

The poet who translated the Ramayana,

From high-flown Sanskrit into simple Nepali

For all to read.

I remember the first day

My father handed me a sarangi.

He taught me how to hold and swing the bow.

I was delighted with the first squeaks it made,

As I moved the bow on the taught horsetail strings.

It was as though my small sarangi

Was talking with me.

I was so happy,

I and my sarangi,

My sarangi and me.

Tears of joy ran down my cheeks.

I was so thankful.

I touched my Papa’s feet,

As is the custom in the Himalayas.

I could embrace the whole world.

My father taught me the tones,

And the songs to go with them,

For we gaineys are minstrels

Who wander from place to place,

Like gypsies,

Like butterflies in Spring.

We are a restless folk

To be seen everywhere,

Where people dwell,

For we live from their charity

And our trade.

The voice of the gainey,

The sad melody of the sarangi.

A boon to those who love the lyrics,

A nuisance to those who hate it.

Many a time, we’ve been kicked and beaten

By young people who prefer canned music,

From their ghetto-blasters.

Outlandish melodies,

Electronic beats you can’t catch up with.

Spinning on their heads,

Hip-hopping like robots,

Not humans.

It’s the techno, ecstasy generation

Where have all the old melodies gone?

The Nepalese folksongs of yore?

The song of the Gainey?

“This is globanisation,” they told me.

The grey-eyed visitors from abroad,

‘Quirays’ as we call them in Nepal.

Or ‘gora-sahibs’ in Hindustan.

The quirays took countless pictures of me,

With their cameras,

Gave handsome tips.

A grey-haired didi with spectacles,

And teeth in like a horse’s mouth,

Even gave me a polaroid-picture

Of me,

With my sarangi,

My mountain violin.

Sometimes I look my fading picture

And wonder how fast time flows.

My smile is disappearing,

Grey hair at the sides,

The beginning of baldness.

I’ve lost a lot of my molars,

At the hands of the Barbier

From Muzzafapur in the Indian plains,

He gave me clove oil

To ease my pain,

As he pulled out my fouled teeth,

In an open-air salon

Right near the Tribhuvan Highway.

I still have my voice

And my sarangi,

And love to sing my repertoire,

Even though many people

Sneer and jeer at me,

And prefer Bollywood texts

From my larynx.

To please their whims,

I learned even Bollywood songs,

Against my will,

Eavesdropping behind cinema curtains,

To please the tourists

And my country’s modern youth,

I even learned some English songs.

Oh money, dear money.

I’ve become a cultural prostitute.

I’ve done my Zunft, my trade,

An injustice,

But I did it to survive.

I had to integrate myself

And to assimilate

In my changing society.

Time has not stood still

Under the shadow of the Himalayas.

One day when I was much younger,

I was resting under a Pipal tree

When I saw one beautiful tourist girl.

I looked and smiled at her.

She caressed her hair,

And smiled back.

For me it was love at first sight.

All the while gazing at her

I took out my small sarangi,

With bells on my fiddle bow

And played a sad Nepali melody

Composed by Ambar Gurung,

Which I’d learned in my wanderings

From Ilam to Darjeeling.

I am the Sky

You are the Soil,

Even though we yearn

A thousand times,

We cannot be together.

I was sentimental that moment.

Had tears in my eyes

When I finished my song.’

The blonde woman sauntered up to me,

And said in a smooth voice,

‘Thank you for the lovely song.

Can you tell me what it means?’

I felt a lump on my throat

And couldn’t speak

For a while.

Then, with a sigh, I said,

‘We have this caste system in Nepal.

When I first saw you,

I imagined you were a fair bahun girl.

We aren’t allowed to fall in love

With bahunis.

It is a forbidden love,

A love that can never come true.

I love you

But I can’t have you.’

‘But you haven’t even tried,’

Said the blonde girl coyly.

‘I like your golden hair,

Your blue eyes.

It’s like watching the sky.’

‘Oh, thank you,

Danyabad.

She asked: ‘But why do you say:

‘We cannot be together?’

‘We are together now,’ I replied,

‘But the society does not like

Us gaineys from the lower caste.

The bahuns, chettris castes are above us.

They look down upon us.’

‘Why do they do that?’

Asked the blonde girl.

I spat out:

‘Because they are high-born.

We, kamis, damais and sarkis,

Are dalits.

We are the downtrodden,

The underdogs of this society

In the foothills of the Himalayas.’

‘Who made you what you are?’ she asked.

I told her: ‘The Hindu society is formed this way:

Once upon a time there was a bahun,

And from him came the Varnas.

The Vernas are a division of society

Into four parts.

Brahma created the bahuns

From his mouth.

The chettris who are warriors

Came from his shoulder,

The traders from his thigh

And the servants

From the sole of his feet.’

‘What about the poor dalits?’

Quipped the blonde foreigner.

‘The dalits fell deeper in the Hindu society,

And were not regarded as full members

Of the human race.

We had to do the errands and menial jobs

That were forbidden for the higher castes.’

‘Like what?’ she asked.

‘Like disposing dead animals,

Making leather by skinning hides

Of dead animals,

Cleaning toilets and latrines,

Clearing the sewage canals of the rich,

High born Hindus.

I am not allowed to touch a bahun,

Even with my shadow, you know.’

‘What a mean, ugly system,’ she commented,

And shook her head.

‘May I touch you?’ she asked impulsively.

She was daring and wanted to see how I’d react.

‘You may,’ I replied.

She touched my hand,

Then my cheeks with her two hands.

I found it pleasant and a great honour.

I joined my hands and said sincerely,

‘Dhanyabad.’

I, a dalit, a no-name, a no-human,

Had been touched by a young, beautiful woman,

A kuiray tourist,

From across the Black Waters:

Kalapani.

A wave of happiness and joy

Swept over me.

A miracle had happened.

Like a princess kissing a toad,

In fairy tales I’d heard.

Perhaps Gandhi was right:

I was a Child of God,

A Harijan,

And this fair lady an apsara.

She, in her European mind,

Thought she’d brought human rights

At least to the gainey,

This wonderful wandering minstrel,

With his quaint fiddle

Called sarangi.

She said in her melodious voice,

‘In my country all people are free and equal,

Have the same rights and dignity.

All humans have common sense,

A conscience,

And we ought to meet each other

As brothers and sisters.

I tucked my sarangi in my armpit,

Clapped my hands and said:

‘That’s nice.

Noble thoughts.

It works for you here, perhaps.

But it won’t work for me,’

Feeling a sense of remorse and nausea

Sweep over me.

About the Author:

Satis Shroff teaches Creative Writing at the University of Freiburg, and is the published author of three books on 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, Pen Himalaya, Interpoetry. Satis Shroff is a member of “Writers of Peace,” poets, essayists, novelists (PEN), World Poetry Society (WPS) and The Asian Writer. He 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 (Lehrbeauftragter für Creative Writing, Albert Ludwigs Universität Freiburg). Satis Shroff was awarded the German Academic Exchange Prize.

What others have said about the author:

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).

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

“The manner in which Satis Shroff writes takes the reader right along with him. Extremely vivid and just enough and the irony of the music. Beautiful prosaic thought and astounding writing.”
(Susan Marie, www.Gather.com

Read Full Post »

BOMBAY BURNING (Satis Shroff)

Munjo Mumbai!

Bombay’s burning.

All Muslims are not terrorists,

Although some Muslims are.

Not all Hindus are honourable,

But many are.

Whether one is a terrorist,

Lies in the eyes of the observer.

Are the eyes

Those of Hindus or Muslims,

Jains or Sikhs,

Christians or Parsis,

Buddhists or Bahais,

Animists or atheists

Or the Dalits of the Hindu society?

Are the 130 million Muslims of India

To be judged by the Hindus,

Because Bombay’s Taj Mahal Hotel blew up

At the hands of the ‘Deccan Mujahidin?’

The ghost of Osama’s al-Qaida

Makes the rounds again.

India’s liberal, secular status

Is at stake,

When anti-Muslim resentiments

Are fired

By emotional Hindu nationalists.

Is it Hafiz Saeed versus Babu Bajrangi?

There’s more to it

Than meets the eye.

The USA can bomb

Al-Qaida and Taliban

Hideouts in Pakistan.

But India cannot follow suit.

The wounds in the consciousness

Of Indians and Pakistanis,

Caused by the division of the subcontinent

Haven’t healed yet.

The Babri mosque,

The slaughter of Muslims in Gujerat,

The war in Kashmir

Still linger in the memories

Of the Pakistanis.

An attack would only

Open old clots

And trigger a nuclear war.

Have not the Muslims

Of this subcontinent

Shown solidarity and loyalty

When China waged a Himalayan krieg,

When India freed the people of East Pakistan,

When India fought against the Nizam of Hyderabad?

Hindus and Muslims

Can be friends,

Just as Buddhists and Christians.

Let not communal strife

Pollute our minds.

Let us live

And let live.

Togetherness,

Miteinander,

Should be the cry of the day,

Not bloodshed and mayhem

In the name of Allah, Shiva or Christus.

It is humans,

Fanatical humans,

Who create crimes,

Injustice and folly

On human souls.

Gewalt breeds only Gewalt.

Hush, read the holy Koran,

Bible, Vedas and Upanishads

Between the lines,

And struggle for more words of love,

Understanding, tolerance, dignity

Of humans and animals

In this precious world.

Shanti!

Shanti!

  • * *

Cocktail Klatsch (Satis Shroff)

A cocktail party is an intermittent dance,

With champagne glass in the hand,

And a blonde’s waist in the other.

Dodging and negotiating

Between sips and slips,

Small talk.

With zeitgeist music,

As a psycho-barrier,

When confronted by

Ladies and gents,

You don’t prefer

To exchange niceties,

Personal secrets

Or somatic secretes

With.

* * *

Dancing Eyes (Satis Shroff)

The dance floor,

A heaven to those

Who know how to dance:

The salsa, samba, tango,

The fox and the waltz.

How many shoe soles have I danced,

How may souls have I conquered?

Here I am,

Longing for a dance,

A paraplegic dancer.

I dance now

With my eyes,

Even when I seem

To gaze in the distance.

I hear wonderful melodies

From the Spring of my life.

I dance now

In my mind.

* * *

Isolation (Satis Shroff)

She had a small soul

And little education.

She gave,

But sought

Something else in return.

She loved her husband,

Pampered him in society,

For all to see.

Did she love him,

Or his wallet?

And things money can buy?

She shielded him from his friends,

With whom he’d fought

In the trenches of Stalingrad,

Cornered together like rats,

And prayed when Stalin’s Orgel

Screamed murderously over them.

He needed love and care

After the trauma of war.

Woke up in sleep

With nightmares of the krieg.

He gave up his camarades,

For a wife who said she loved him.

They had sauerkraut and spätzle,

Watched tennis and thrillers on TV,

And had no time for others.

Lonesome pensioners,

In self-inflicted isolation.

What came was depression

Sans eyes,

Sans friends.

Failing senses

Varicose veins,

Cerebral sclerosis,

Alzheimer and strokes.

The light went out.

Was someone out there?

* * *

The Feud (Satis Shroff)

The feud I fought

Was not whole heartedly.

I handed it to a lawyer,

Who made a hash of it,

And a judge who was subjective.

I had to pay a heavy loss.

Would it have been better,

Had I put my heart

Into the feud?

Can I forget it,

But not forgive?

Can you forgive,

But not forget?

Questions that still

Torment my soul.

* * *

Surya at Benaras (Satis Shroff)

My eyes and mind were fading

Under the rays of the scorching sun.

I was at Benaras,

Standing in the polluted

But holy river.

Half naked,

With a sacred thread,

Greeting Surya,

The child of dawn,

The great source of light

And warmth:

The Sun.

You are the nourisher,

The brilliant light-maker,

The eye of the world,

The witness of men’s deeds.

Oh, you king of the constellations,

You,

Who possesses a thousand rays.

I was mumbling a Sanskrit litany,

I’d learned from my dear Mom :

Hara, hara Gungay,

Saba paapa langay.

May all the sins of this world

Be washed away

By the Ganges.

Glossary:

Gungay: Holy Ganges of the Hindus

Saba: all

Paap: sin

Benaras: Old name for Varanasi

* * *

Wine (Satis Shroff)

He who drinks sings,

He who sinks drinks,

You say.

He who drinks

Drops and spills

His wine,

His self,

His Ich

His life.

And when it’s spilt,

Can you still drink?

Is it you

Or is it the wine

That spilt your life?

* * *

Glossary:

Ich: German word for Id (Freud), I, me

Seduction (Satis Shroff)

Why do you run after me?

You are seduced by my voice,

My style and verse.

Follow your heart,

Your own words.

Till then,

We go different ways.

We follow different paths,

Though we hear the same rhythm.

And in doing so,

We meet again.

Aufwiedersehen,

Arrividerci.

* * *

The Whiteness in the Zone of Death (Satis Shroff)

The best view of the world

Is from the top of the highest mountain,

The Abode of the Gods.

‘The best way to climb a peak

Is not to give it

A single thought.

Think of a thousand other things,’

Said the climber from abroad,

To the sherpa.

Suddenly it became stormy,

The dreaded whiteout came

With howling, biting winds,

Tons of snow everywhere.

The sahib had only a single thought.

Hilf mir, O Gott!

And cried like a new born baby,

Scared of the wilderness,

Scared of the whiteness

That surrounded him.

He found the sherpa,

Who said:

‘ Here, where you stand,

Is almost the summit, Sir.

Welcome to the Abode of the Gods.’

‘The abode of what?’

‘The Gods,’ said the sherpa.

The climber turned around:

Whiteness in the death zone,

As far as he could imagine.

A step to the right,

A step behind,

And a blood-curdling scream.

Swallowed by a treacherous crevice.

The half-frozen sherpa mumbled,

Om mane peme hum,

Vajra guru

Peme siddhay hum!

Till sunrise.

He opened his eyes,

Thanked the Gods of the Himalayas

For saving his life,

Felt sorry for the sahib,

And descended

With a heavy heart.

* * *

Manjushri and the Heart of the World (Satis Shroff)

The green fields in the Vale of Catmandu

Shuddered as the heavens parted,

Revealing the secrets of the Himalayas.

Manjushri appeared with his mighty sword,

At this very place where you now stand,

For here was once a lake,

With turquoise waters.

The people hid behind their house-walls

And ornate windows.

They peered with awe

At what unfurled before them.

The Sanskrit and Nepalbhasa they spoke,

Left them wordless,

For Manjushri was there

To release their hearts,

To create a fertile land,

Below the barren hills.

The warrior from the East,

Raised his sword

And cut a gorge,

Where now the Chovar stands,

With its century old sediments.

Lo and behold!

The turquoise water became

A foamy, swirling, spiralling,

Circling mass with music

Rising to a crescendo.

It left Catmandu Valley

With incessant roars.

What remained was a fertile valley,

Rich in alluvium.

From the centre bloomed a lotus

And became

The heart of the world.

* * *

A White Page (Satis Shroff)

On a white page,

I’m searching for you.

I cannot bear to lose you.

Where have you been,

My lovely?

I remember the day

You entered my life.

Your soft gaze

With deep blue eyes.

We drank white wine at the bar,

Went home laughing,

Tipsy and joyful.

I thought it would last forever

And a day.

We were intoxicated

With love,

I thought.

Skins that sweat

And whispered

From the pores.

A never-ending longing

For you.

I heard the screeching of an owl,

Ach, where tenderness was uncovered,

When the clouds slithered past the moon.

I humoured you,

I reeled under the silence

Of the years.

There were distant cries,

But I heard only you.

I had to bear with you,

But you remained

A white page

In my life.

Adieu.

* * *

Souvenirs (Satis Shroff)

They come from lands afar

In search of impressions,

Kitsch or treasures,

For their designer cupboards,

Back home in western countries.

Busloads of them stream out,

Digital cameras, camcorders

Mobiles with cameras

And take shots of the village people,

Dilapidated huts,

Ornate windows, tattered clothes.

Guerrillas with guns,

Children with running noses,

For Mom is down in the vale,

Chopping wood for the hearth.

They click and store the temples,

Shrines, pagodas, palaces,

Gigabytes of global images

For family albums,

Power-point presentations.

Slide-shows for all and sundry,

The intimate images

Of a foreign country.

Will the tourists tell,

When they reveal

What they’ve stored,

Of how hard it is to survive,

In the foothills of the Himalayas?

Where the sun shines at day

And Himalayan winds and wolves

Howl at night.

Where the monsoon brings

Torrential rain and death

From June to September,

And where the earth is dry,

Barren in winter.

Where the waters of the lake Phewa

Mirror the snows of Annapurna

And the fish-tailed one,

Like in a pretty post-card.

* * *

The Music of the Breakers (Satis Shroff)

I remember the beautiful music

From the streets of Bombay,

Munjo Mumbai,

Where I spent the winters

During my school-days.

Or was it musical noise?

Unruhe, panic and flight for some,

It was the music of life for me

In that tumultuous,

Exciting city.

When the sea of humanity was too much for me,

I could escape by train to the Marine Drive,

And see and hear

The music of the breakers.

The waves of the Arabian Sea

Splashing and thrashing

Along the coast of Mumbai.

Your muscles flex,

The nerves flatter,

The heart gallops,

As you feel how puny you are,

Among all those incessant and powerful waves.

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

“Satis Shroff’s writing is refined – pure undistilled.”
(Susan Marie, www.Gather.com

Satis Shroff teaches Creative Writing at the University of Freiburg. He’s a lecturer, poet 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). 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).

“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.

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

Read Full Post »