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Posts Tagged ‘Miteinander’

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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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

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(c) Art & Nepali poem by satisshroff

The way was long, the wind cold

The minstrel was infirm and old;

His withered cheek and tresses grey

Seemed to have known a better day

(Sir Walter Scott in ‘The Lay of the Last Minstrel’)

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 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,

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.

I remember my Papa saying to me:

‘My son, it was God Shiva

Who taught us humans music.

God Krishna plays the lute,

His Gopinis listen to him full of rapture.

Saraswati is always depicted with the sitar.

So you see, my son,

It was the Gods who taught us music.

You only have to listen

To Nature in the wee morning hours

Or at night,

You will hear glorious melodies

That you capture with your sarangi.

Your instrument becomes

The voice of Prakriti.

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 at 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:

“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.

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 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.

‘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

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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.

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Commentary:

ADIEU ROYAL FAMILY IN NEPAL (Satis Shroff)

König Birendra fragte mich: “Gefällt es Ihnen hier?”

Ich war so überwältigt von der neue, einmalige Situation, daß ich gar nicht wußte, ob ich in Nepali oder in Englisch reden sollte. Ich neigte mich ein bißchen und machte eine Namaste. Eine Namaste bedeutet eigentlich “Ich begrüße das göttliche in Dir”, denn in Hinduismus glaubt man, daß in jeder Mensch etwas göttliches beiwohnt. Aber vor mir stand ein König der meine Schule besucht hatte, in Eton und Havard gewesen war, und für 23 Millionen Nepalis als die Reinkarnation der Hindu-Gottheit Vishnu verkörperte.

Ich antwortete: “Ich bin vor einigen Jahren gekommen und mir gefällt es sehr hier, weil ich in der Schwarzwald mit eine Schwarzwald Mädel lebe und es ist genau so schön wie in Nepal. Mit fehlen bloß die Himalayagipfeln.”

Ich erzählte auf Englisch, daß ich mit Prinz Dhirendra in St. Josephs zur Schule gegangen war.

“Oh, St. Joseph’s? War Pater Stanford noch in der Schule?”

“Jawohl, Your Majesty, und Pater Burns und Mr. Bannerjee.” Mr. Bannerjee war ein indische Rektor mit Fulbright (USA) Erfahrung und die anderen waren Jesuitenpriester, die eine Eliteschule leiteten.

Seine Majestät lachte herzlich und fragte: “Kahile pharkaney? Wann kehren sie zurück?”

Ich war verlegen und sagte: “Das weiß ich nicht.” Ich habe damals nicht gewußt, daß ich eine Zähringerin heiraten wurde und vier bezaubernde Kinder haben wurde. Nun bin ich in Freiburg geblieben und schreibe nach und über Nepal und mache Nepal-Watch durch das Internet, denn ich interessiere mich immer noch sehr für die gesellschaftspolitische und wirtschaftliche Entwicklung Nepals, und vor allem Nepals literarische Szene. Demnächst bringe ich ein Buch über die Lyrik und Kurzgeschichten Nepals bei Horlemann Verlag (Bad Unken) heraus, weil ich gute Beziehungen in der literarische Szene Kathmandus habe. Ja, man kann mich als ein Dozent mit eine literarische Flair für Englisch, Nepali und Deutsche Literatur nennen.

Starb mit König Birendra auch die Hoffnung?

Die Nachricht, daß es ein Blutbad gegeben hat im Narayanhiti-Palast von Kathmandu und daß der Krönprinz Dipendra seine Eltern König Birendra und Königin Aishwarya und andere Familien Mitgliedern, war ein Schock für mich. Ich konnte es nicht fassen.

Daß es Dissidenten in Nepal gibt und daß die maoistische Guerillaorganisationen sehr militant und aktiv sind im westlichen Teil Nepals war mir schon bekannt. Aber daß der Kronprinz sein Vater König Birendra Bir Bikram Shahdev 55 und seine Mutter Aishwarya Laxmi Devi Shah geboren Rana (51), Bruder Niranjan (22) und Schwester Shruti (24), ein Schwager sowie eine Cousine des Königs, erschossen hat war unglaublich. Dies in einem Land, wo Buddha geboren war (Lumbini) und wo Frieden und friedliche Koexistenz, sowohl in Nepals Außen- und Innenpolitik groß geschrieben ist.

Was bedeutete König Birendra für Nepal?

Birendra Bir Bikram Shahdev, wie der König von Nepal genannt wurde, hatte seine Schuljahren in St. Josephs (Darjeeling) verbracht und danach ging er nach Eton College (England) und war auch ein Jahr in Havard als Gasthörer. Von den 23 Millionen Einwohnern Nepals sind 90 Prozent Hindus und der König von Nepal wurde, seitdem der Gurkha König Prithvi Narayan Shah das Kathmandutal mit List erobert hatte im Jahr 1768 als der Reinkarnation von Vishnu, der Hauptgott in Hinduismus, verehrt. Nepal ist das einzige Land mit Hinduismus als Staatsreligion.

In Nepals chaotische, unsichere politische Landschaft, wo es ständige Regierungswechsel gibt, hat man gesehen, daß die Regierung von Nepal unter Girija Prasad Koirala (Kongresspartei) der maoistischen Rebellion im Westen des Landes nicht Herr werden kann. Seine Idee, als Sozialdemokrat, die Maoisten mit einer 15 000 Mann Eliteeinheit zu bekämpfen, ist ein Schritt in der falsche Richtung. Probleme wie Armut, Mißwirtschaft, Korruption und Vetterwirtschaft kann man nicht, wie es in der Vergangenheit ohne Erfolg gemacht war, mit Gewalt und Macht gelöst werden.

Meine Erinnerungen an König Birendra und Königin Aishwarya?

Ich habe gute Erinnerungen an den König und Königin. Ich bin von der Nepali Botschafter Singa Pratap Malla in Bonn zu einem Empfang für den König und Königin von Nepal in La Redoute eingeladen worden. Ich habe ein Blumenstrauß an der Freiburger Kaiser-Joseph-Straße besorgt und als ich aufgeregt zu der Verkäuferin sagte, daß die Blumen für eine Königin seien, hat sie geschmunzelt und fragte: “Ach, wirklich?”

Ich habe ihr erklärt, daß sie tatsächlich für die Königin von Nepal waren, die zu einem Staatsbesuch nach Deutschland gekommen war mit dem König von Nepal. In Bonn waren die Straßen mit Deutsche und Nepali Fahnen geschmückt. Ich habe eine Taxi genommen am Bahnhof und der Taxifahrer, ein Bonner mit Humor erklärte mir, daß es ihm Spaß machen wurde, die weiße Mäuse vor den VIP Autos zu sehen.

In La Redoute waren schon Journalisten and der Tür, und ich ging hinein und begegnete eine ganze Menge Nepali Damen und Herren. Die Damen trugen bunte, elegante Saris und die Männer in Anzüge. Woher kamen all diese Landsleute?” fragte ich mich damals. Ich hatte die Nepali Botschaftsangestellte und ein paar Studenten und natürlich der Bundespräsident Richard von Weizsäcker und seine Frau Marianne, Deutsche Diplomaten und andere Gäste erwartet. Ich fragte ein Mann in Nepali, der smart gekleidet war und aussah, wie ein Rai- Stammesangehörige. Meine Vermutung war richtig. Es war ein Rai und er erklärte, daß er und die anderen Nepalis alle Britische Gurkhas von der Rheinarmee und deren Frauen waren. Ah, Britisch Gurkhas die in den Falklands auch eingesetzt worden waren gegen den Argentenier.

Plötzlich kam ein Deutsche Polizeioffizier, begrüßte mich freundlich und stand neben mir. Es stellte sich heraus, daß er der Polizeikommissar war und sagte zu mir, daß er häufig bei solche Empfänge dabei war. Er zeigte mir ein bekannter Bonnerfotograf, der nie ein Blitzgerät benutzte. Sein Geheimnis? Er nahm nur Filme mit Höhe ASA oder DIN Werte. Der Oberkommissar zeigte mir eine Interessante alte Dame, die einen sympathischen Eindruck machte. Von ihrem Aussehen, konnte sie eine Adelige sein mit einem ‘von Titel’ und von der Kleidung her ein bisschen altmodisch aber passend zu ihrem alter, denn sie sah mindestens über 60 aus.

“Ist sie ein VIPs Frau?” fragte ich.

“Nein, nein, Sie werden staunen. Sie ist nur eine einfache Rentnerin, aber sie ist bei jedem Empfang in verschiedene Botschaften dabei,” sagte der Oberkommissar. Später erfuhr ich, in eine Fernsehsendung, daß King Birendra sie sogar mit “Frau Baronin” begrüßt hatte, als die Büffet geöffnet wurde.”

Mein Herz pochte als die königliche Paar endlich hineinkamen. König Birendra sah wohlauf aus und die Königin Aishwarya trug weiße Handschuhe, ihre schwarz-blau glänzende Haare gesteckt/versteckt in einem Netz, und sie trug eine blaue Bluse und ebenfalls blaue Chiffon Sari. Sie war eine Erscheinung und ich habe ihr die Blumen überreicht. Sie sagte eine leise, schüchterne: “Dhanyabad, thank you” und danach gab sie meine Freiburger Blumen an den Aide-du-Corps, ein gewisser Captain Khatri Chettri. Unter den Nepali Journalisten die mit der königliche Entourage gekommen waren auch Gauri KC, die immer Freitags meine Kommentare in Radio Nepal gelesen hatte und Shyam KC, der für die Reportagen in Kathmandu zuständig war. Er arbeitet jetzt für die Kathmandu Post. Chiran Samsher war auch dabei, der königliche Palastsekretär.

Nachdem die Büffet eröffnet war, gingen wir alle zu einem großen Saal. Es gab sogar echte französische Champagne, serviert von wunderschöne Fräuleins. Eine Deutsche Korrespondentin hat einmal über Nepal geschrieben: “Entwicklung und Fortschritt sind Fremdworte in diesem hoffnungslos rückständigen Land, das nach wie vor zu den ärmsten der Welt gehört.” Aber solche Wörter waren fehl am Platz an diesem Abend.

Nach eine Weile, wurde die Stimmung besser und lockerer, wie es bei Empfänge ist, und während Königin Aishwarya sich ruhte nach der anstrengenden Bonner Tagesprogramm, mischte sich König Birendra unter das Volk bzw. die Gäste. Er begrüßte jeden und als er lächelnd auf mich zukam, wußte ich nicht ob ich ein Bild knipsen sollte oder Seiner Majestät begrüßen sollte. Ich kannte seiner dritter Bruder Prinz Dhirendra, da wir beide in der gleiche St. Josephsschule in Darjeeling unsere Abitur gemacht hatten. Prinz Dhirendra verlor seinen adeligen Titel, weil eine ausländerin heiratete und lebte in London in Exil. Bei der Schießerei wurde auch er verletzt.

Manchmal denke ich, ein bißchen Phenomenologie, die Fähigkeit die Sichtweise von beiden Seiten zu sehen, und Familientherapie hätte sowohl die englische als auch die Nepali Königshäuser nicht geschadet. Auf jedenfall wäre es nicht zu solche Gewaltakten nicht gekommen. Aber die uralte hinduistische Strukturen in den Köpfen von Eltern in der Nepali Gesellschaft macht es unmöglich die Sachlage mit eine andere Sichtweise zu betrachten.

In Nepal wollte der Index-Person Prinz Dipendra eine Frau heiraten, die er liebte. Seine Herzensdame hieß Devyani Rana (29), eine Rana-adelige mit indisches Blut aber seine Mutter Königin Aishwarya, die immer als herrisch und stur galt, lehnte die Heiratspläne ab. Es gab keine entgegenkommen und die Konflikt zwischen Prinz Dipendra und seine Mutter bzw. Eltern eskalierte so sehr, daß er nur die Waffe als eine Endlösung sah. Da wurde die humanistische Erziehung von Nepals Budanilkantha Schule und Englands Eton und USAs Havard über den Haufen geworfen, weil solche Gedanken in Nepals Palastwände, Gesellschaft und Machtstruktur fremd waren. In der Narayanhiti-Palast herrschten die Ansichten von Königin Aishwarya, die alles andere als humanistisch war in ihre Denkweise. Sie war für die altmodische hinduistische Machterhalt in der Palast und im Königreich.

Prinz Dipendra lebte in eine zwiespaltige, ambivalente Welt. Wenn er, wie sein Vater Birendra, gekrönt worden wäre, dann wäre er wieder von den meisten Nepali Landleute nicht nur als ein konstitutionelle Monarch, sondern auch als eine Reinkarnation von dem Hindugott Vishnu verehrt.

In Nepal ist es nun so, daß die Eltern bestimmen wollen, wer mit wem heiratet. Ich erinnere mich, daß nur wenige Nepali Schul- und Uni-Freunde von mir eine Liebesheirat durchgesetzt haben. Die meisten Menschen in heiratsfähigenalter lassen sich einheiraten, weil es alte, vedische Tradition in Nepal ist, daß man den Eltern ehrt und folgt.

Die Verwundbarkeit: Mit seiner Kurzschlußhandlung hat Prinz Dipendra nicht nur seine Eltern ausgelöscht, sondern auch ein reinkarnierter Hindugott. Generationen von Nepali Kinder werden sich die Fragen stellen: “Ist denn Vishnu doch verwundbar, genauso wie die lebende Göttin Kumari, die sich abdanken muss, sobald sie ihre Menstruationsblutungen bekommt oder durch eine Verletzung verblutet. Denn eine Göttin darf nicht bluten. Der König von Nepal hat auch geblutet als er von seinem Sohn erschossen wurde.

Raktakunda” bedeutet ein Blutlaken, wurde von dem Nepali journalist Krishna Bhattarai geschrieben, der den Pseudonym ‘Abiral’ trägt, was ‘fortschreitend’ bedeutet. Ein Schachspiel namens ‘Baghchal’ (Tigertaktik) wurde im Himalaya von der damaligen chinesischen Regierung gestartet, wobei China die Autonome Region von Tibet annektierte, denn nach chinesische Meinung waren die Himalayastaaten Sikkim, Bhutan, Ladakh die Phalanx von China. Chinas territorial Wahn ging so weit, dass 1962 ein Krieg im Himalaya mit India angezettelt wurde.

Nachdem Indien seine Unabhängigkeit von der britischen Raj errungen hatte, fnng an Indien seine Territorium zu konsolidieren, denn einige Teile waren noch in kolonial Hände z.B. Goa ein ehemalige portugesische Kolonie und Pondicherry (Frankreich) und der Nizam von Hyderabad ein dickköpfiger Herrscher, der von den indischen Union nicht verschlückt werden wollte. 1962 war eine bittere und traumatische Erlebnis für Indien, was dazu führte, dass Indien anfing Gebirgskampdivisionen für die indischen Armee zu trainieren und die alte vernachlässigte Strassen die zu den strategischen Punkten in Ladakh, Sikkims Nathu La, Bomdilla und anderswo im Himalaya führten fahrtaugnich zu machen.

Indien lies seiner Nachbarstaaten (Sikkim, Bhutan, Nepal) im norden seine heranwachsende militärische Stärke immer wieder spüren. Indien wollte Stalilität im Norden des Subkontinents und die exil Nepalis von Sikkim machten es einfach für die indische Regierung, da in einem demokratischen Wahl in Sikkim waren die Nepalis in überzahl, und die Ursprunglichen Einwohner Sikkims, die Lepchas, waren in der Minderheit. Obwohl der Chogyal von Sikkim mit eine US Amerikanerin verheiratet war, konnte dies die US Lobby nicht mobilisieren, weder in der diplomatischen, noch auf der politischen Front. Bhutan müsste seine Außenverteidigung an Delhi übertragen und die Befreiung von Ost Pakistan, den heutigen Bangladesh (Das Land der Bengalis) von den West Pakistanischen Militärs bereitete Nepals König Mahendra viele Sorgen, da er befürchtete, dass Nepal von Indien verschluckt werden konnte. Laut Krishna Bhattrai dies war der Grund, warum König Mahendra sein leben nahm.

Als ich noch Student war in in Katmandus Tri Chandra College, spielten sie häufig das nepalesisches Lied: “Ma marey pani mero desh bachhi rahos” was ‘auch wenn ich sterbe, soll mein weiter Leben’ bedeutet. Es wäre ein Jammer, wenn das Land Nepal auch sterben würde, nach dem Tod von dem selbsternannte Gottkönig, dessen Sah-Dynastie Nepal 239 Jahre lang regierte—bis ein Maoist namens Prachanda und seine Maobadi-krieger das Land eroberte, wie einst König Prithvi Narayan Shah und seine Blutrunstigen Gurkhas ins Katmandutal siegreich einmarschierten, nachdem Kirtipur gefallen war.

Im Roman erwähnt ein Palastbeamter, dass er ein Mann weglaufen gesehen hatte von der Bankettsaal von Narayanhitipalast. Der Verdacht ist, dass der Mann, der der Schwieger Sohn ist von Prinz Dhirendra (mein Schulkamarad), der auch während der Massaker getötet worden war, wüßte mehr über den Attentat.

Das Buch erzählt auch, dass König Mahendra’s Tod direkt in zusammenhang steht mit der Streit zwischen ihm und die indische Premier Indira Gandhi. Mahendra Shah hatte Nepals gewählte Primierminister von seinem Amt entlassen, die politische Parteien verboten politisch Tätig zu werden und führte eine repressive, hinduistischen Regierungsystem genannt Panchayat, die von den Royalisten geführt wurde. India war dagegen und setzte Köig Mahendra unter Druck und verlangte von ihm es wieder rückgängig zu machen.

Dieser Massaker kam den Kommunisten Nepals, vor allem die militanten Maobadi Gruppierung nicht ungelegen. Sie wussten es, die Situation auszunutzen.

Als herkünftiger Nepali kann ich nur hoffen, daß die Ruhe wieder einkehren wird. Der neue König von Nepal Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shahadev kenne ich als ein Mann seitdem ich als Journalist bei The Rising Nepal gearbeitet habe. Seine erste Statement, nämlich dass das automatische Gewehr von allein losgegangen wäre, sprach nicht von Weisheit. Die Nachricht ging durch die ganze Welt. Es mag sein, dass es eine königliche Notlüge war. Er gilt als jemand, der ein Herz für Nepals Flora und Fauna gezeigt hat und er engagierte sich für die Ideen des World Wildlife Fund, indem er National Parks einrichten lies. Er war und ist der Vorsitzender von der King Mahendra Trust for Nature Conservation mit Sitz in Kathmandu. Dass er auch Diplomatie und die Fähigkeit besaß, ein armes, problembeladenes Land wie Nepal als sein konstitutionelles Monarch führen konnte war fragwürdig, da die Maoisten waren de facto die eigentliche militärische Herrscher Nepals. Er galt als konservativ im hinduistischen Sinne, sanft aber unbeliebt, aner seine Sanftheit was leider nur vorübergehend.

In Nepali Dokumentarefilme ist er häufig gesehen worden bei der Eröffnungsfeiern von Schulen, Krankenhäusern und National Parks. Er hat die Chance, die Rolle des Gottkönigs anders zu gestalten und Nepal auf dem Weg zum Fortschritt zu führen verspielt. Er war kein Staatsman, sondern nur in Geschäfte interessiert und konnte mit den Maobadis und andere kommunistische Oppositionellen mit Dialog und konstruktive Argumentationen, Zugeständnisse und Kompromisse nicht besänftigen, denn Kommunismus und Monarchie waren und sind nicht kompatibel.

Es bleibt ein schwieriger Job, ein Land wie Nepal zu regieren, da die pro China Maobadis und die pro Indien Congress Partei befinden sich in einem Clinch und kämpfen um die Macht in Schatten des Himalaya Staates.

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 Dalit issue: Towards Rights for  the Poor, Untouchables, Underdogs of the Nepalese Society

     
 

Nepal’s new constitution must recognize and protect the fundamental human rights of Dalits, says a new
report released today by the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHRGJ) at New York University School of Law. The report was released on the heels of Nepal?s historic Constituent Assembly elections held on April 10, 2008.

The 89-page report Recasting Justice: Securing Dalit Rights in Nepal?s New Constitution analyzes Nepal?s Interim Constitution to inform how the new constitution may be drafted in accordance with the country?s international human rights obligations to secure the rights of Dalits-a group which has faced more than 2000 years of systematic discrimination on the basis of caste. As Nepal prepares its new constitution after years of prolonged civil war, Recasting Justice provides Nepalese lawmakers with tangible means to demonstrate the country?s commitment to the inherent dignity and human rights of all individuals.

The caste system is an affront to human dignity and inimical to the right to equality under international law,? said Smita Narula, Faculty Director at CHRGJ and an expert on caste discrimination. ?Nepal?s new constitution must strike at the heart of this inhumane system, or risk perpetuating the very injustices that fueled its conflicts of the past.?

The report’s principal areas of focus correspond with Nepal’s international human rights treaty obligations, which include ensuring: nondiscriminatory access to citizenship; the right to equality and non-discrimination; civil and political rights; economic, social, and cultural rights; women’s rights; children’s rights; the right to be free from torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment; and the right to a remedy for human rights violations. Nepal has to date fallen far short of meeting these human rights obligations, as is shown by the reality of the Nepalese Dalit experience. While the Interim Constitution takes commendable steps toward human rights, significant gaps remain in the protection of Dalit rights.

Caste discrimination and the practice of untouchability have ensured the complete subordination of Dalits who, based on some unofficial estimates, comprise up to 25 percent of Nepal?s population, yet own only one percent of Nepal?s wealth and arable land. Although some Dalits have excelled despite the caste system’s substantial constraints, a large percentage remain vulnerable to extreme forms of exploitation. Upper-caste? community members typically force Dalits to live in segregated communities; forbid them from entering public spaces; deny them access to food, water, and land; and coerce them into caste-based occupations considered too „ritually impure“ for higher castes. Attempts by Dalits to defy this prescribed social order are met with punitive violence and social ostracism. Dalit women and girls bear the dual brunt of caste and gender discrimination. The exclusion of Dalits from all facets of governance has ensured their continued marginalization and their unequal receipt of the state?s attention and resources. This political marginalization also makes them particularly vulnerable to abuses such as torture and arbitrary detention, abuses that were ripe during the conflict.


‘The new constitution should act as a roadmap for how Nepal will meet its international human rights obligations,’ said Jayne Huckerby, CHRGJ’s Research Director. It must finally answer the long overdue call for Dalit rights.

The report’s recommendations are based on a detailed analysis of Nepal?s obligations under international human rights law. Among its key recommendations, CHRGJ calls on the Constituent Assembly to ensure that Nepal’s new constitution:

§ facilitates political representation and meaningful participation of Dalits and other marginalized communities in decision-making bodies, including the Constituent Assembly which will draft the new constitution;
§ ensures nondiscriminatory access to citizenship;
§ explicitly prohibits private acts of discrimination;
§ explicitly prohibits the use of religion to encroach upon fundamental rights;
§ explicitly guarantees the right to health and the right to freely choose or accept employment;
§ adopts a definition of torture beyond acts that occur in traditional custodial detention; and,
§ extends the right to constitutional remedy to non-citizens.

Recasting Justice was produced in close cooperation with Dalit advocates and members of the legal community in Nepal and draws on the expertise of Nepalese academics and international constitutional scholars. In November 2007, CHRGJ also conducted extensive in-country interviews with Dalit rights advocates, members of the Nepalese legal community, and representatives of international organizations. The report includes detailed factual information on human rights abuses against Dalits in Nepal and builds on both CHRGJ?s expertise on caste discrimination and international human rights law.

The report?s findings and recommendations have been endorsed by the International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN), a non-governmental organization based out of Copenhagen which brings together national solidarity networks and Dalit NGO platforms from around the world. IDSN welcomed the unprecedented inclusion of Dalits in the Constituent Assembly, adding that far more needs to be done.

?Nepal faces a historic opportunity to eliminate this entrenched system of radical inequalities,? said Rikke Nöhrlind, IDSN?s Coordinator, ?This report makes a tremendous contribution to the new government by clearly articulating the full range of measures that need to be adopted to address the long legacy of injustice against Dalits. We sincerely hope the international community will support Nepal’s transition toward eliminating all forms of caste discrimination.?

CHRGJ’s analysis is based on extensive research and builds upon its previous work on the topic of caste discrimination-particularly its 2005 report The Missing Piece of the Puzzle: Caste Discrimination and the Conflict in Nepal.

The report and other background materials, including a summary briefing paper in both English and Nepali, are available at http://www.chrgj.org.
For more information about the IDSN, please see: http://www.idsn.org.

About the CHRGJ: The Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHRGJ) brings together and expands the rich array of teaching, research, clinical, internship, and publishing activities undertaken within New York University (NYU) School of Law on international human rights issues. Philip Alston is the Center?s Faculty Chair; Smita Narula and Margaret Satterthwaite are Faculty Directors; Jayne Huckerby is Research Director; Veerle Opgenhaffen is Program Director; Mattie Johnstone is Clinical Fellow; and Michelle Williams is Clinic Administrator. The CHRGJ and its International Human Rights Clinic have focused extensively on caste discrimination, and have collaborated with Dalit NGO partners throughout South Asia. The Center?s reports, statements, and briefing papers on caste discrimination are regularly cited by policymakers and inter-governmental actors.

For More Information Contact:

CHRGJ: Smita Narula, Faculty Director, +1 212 992 8824 or +1 917 209 6902 (English, Hindi, Urdu)
Jayne Huckerby, Research Director, +1 212 992 8903 or +1 212 203 6410 (English)

International Human Rights Clinic:
Neville Dastoor +1 813 380 2030 (English)
Tafadzwa Pasipanodya, +1 609 462 6409 (English, French, Portuguese, German, Spanish)

IDSN: Rikke Nöhrlind, Coordinator: + 45 29 70 06 30 (English, Danish)

Center for Human Rights and Global Justice
New York University School of Law

110 West Third Street, Suite 204
New York, NY 10012
Email: chrgj@juris.law.nyu.edu
Web: http://www.chrgj.org

 
 
 
 
 

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Through Nepalese Eyes’ is about the journey of a young Nepalese woman to Germany to meet her brother, who lives with his German wife and daughter in an allemanic town named Freiburg. It is a travelogue written by a sensitive, modern British public-school educated man. He describes the two worlds: Asia and Europe and the people he meets. There is a touch of sadness when his sister returns to her home in the foothills of the Himalayas.
(205 Seiten) Paperback:  €12.00 Download:  €6.25
          
It cries to be written because there are seldom books written by Nepalese writers about themselves. It’s always the casual foreign traveller, trekker or climber who writes about the people in the developing and least-developed countries of the so-called Third World.

The likely readers are the increasing male and female tourists, trekkers, climbers from the whole world who make their way to the Himalayas, each seeking something indefinable, perhaps peace, tranquillity, spiritual experience or a much-needed monologue with oneself in the heights of the Himalayas. The book is aimed at all Nepalophile and South Asian readers irrespective of their origin, and seeks to contribute towards understanding the Nepalese psyche, the world that the Nepalese live in, and the fact that it has to catch up with the rest of the world in terms of modernisation and innovations from the western world, amid the thoughts and beliefs, cultures and religions of the Himalayan world.

The book is divided according to the iterinary of the protagonist’s travels, her sojourn in Freiburg (Germany) and her excursions to Switzerland (Basle and Grindelwald) and France (Alsace and Paris-Versailles) and ends with the chapter ‘Return to the Himalayas’. It deals with the ‘Begegnungen’ or encounters with friendly Germans, the circle of her brother’s friends and the intercultural and inter-religious questions that she is confronted with during these conversations and the encouraging intercultural work being performed by Germans and foreigners specifically in Freiburg and Germany in general in creating a multicultural society, where a foreigner doesn’t have to fear deportation, persecution and xenophobia.

As my friend Satish Shroff requested me to write some introductory words to this book, I decided to start a very unusual way, by congratulating the author for the theme chosen: life, people, mentalities in East and West, with all inherent similarities (alas! few enough) and differences (quite a number). How right the late Rudyard Kipling was when expressing the essence of this subject: “East is East and West is West: Never the twins shall meet”! But by describing the two worlds as twins, he also hints at existing and possibly developing similarities.

Today’s world and way of life shortens the physical and mental distances, tending towards globalisation. Let us hope that one day, the only remaining differences will be of the geographic, artistic and cultural kind. Because there are elements which are common to both worlds and, therefore, they bring them together. Human nature, with all its emotions, love, sympathy, sorrow, hatred and a multitude of other feelings, is the same and the common element of both Eastern and Western people. The writer successfully brings out these points, clearly delineating each character.

This work is a window wherefrom one can peep to the East from the West  and vice-versa. One can make out the geographical distributions, the cultural distinctions and the historic development of East and West separately. But if someone ponders on it, he finds the same basic human sentiments and values that hold mankind together since times immemorial.

Personally, I think that this and other works of this kind will prove instrumental in creating a good understanding between the two worlds, by describing the respective natures, cultures, traditions, art, social life and thus contributing towards a better knowledge and appreciation of each other, which will hopefully result into creating a new, more human world for the whole mankind sharing the same earth and sky. This world should be like a great family, and we, its members, should be constantly striving for maintaining its unity.

So, my friend Satish, as you see, I consider you one of the architects of this new world, this ideal, this Shangri-La of the whole mankind. In spite of many private and global setbacks, I am sure we are approaching it, with little steps, it is true, but we are coming nearer with every smile, with each gesture of tolerance and understanding between the two still different worlds.

I congratulate you, my dear friend, on your efforts to close the gap. May everyone read your book with open eyes, mind and heart.
Bonn, the 26th of May 2007
(Dr. Novel K. Rai)
Former Nepalese Ambassador to Germany

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).

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

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

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

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