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

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10.Mai 2014

Schwarzwald Diary (Satis Shroff) 

 

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

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And after April,when May follows,

And the whitethroat builds,

And all the swallows!

(Robert Browning)

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 Zeitgeistlyrik: The Schwarzwald in May (Satis Shroff)

 

Ah, the Black Forest,

Whether you’re in Triberg

Or in Feldberg,

The smell of the lush green grass,

After the April showers,

In the gentle glaciated meadows,

Where the calves and cows

Are grazing peacefully with horses.

 

Now and then you discern a moo,

Like an Alpine horn,

In the tranquil landscape.

Along the gushing brooks,

The toads and frogs greet you,

With their croaks.

The Spring begins blossom for blossom.

May, the merriest month,

When lusty hearts begin to blossom.

Ah, it’s the sunshine,

The fresh air and the hormones released.

 

 

 

Apple-trees in bloom,

And daffodils flourishing

Alongside wild grass.

The leaves flapping like wings,

As the Höllentäler blows.

 

I sit in my Schwarzwald terrace,

 With its stone walls,

Hares and birds around me.

As I sip my morning coffee,

A brown squirrel dashes past,

For he’s the new inhabitant

In a blackbird’s nest,

And lives on freshly hatched eggs.

 

A one-legged blackbird comes by,

Hopping on one leg,

Only to fly away clumsily.

 The brown squirrel isn’t

The only nest-plunderer,

The beautiful feathered jay

Is fond of it too.

 

Hovering above are

A pair of Mäusebuzzards,

Scanning and scrutunizing

The Black Forest and meadows below,

Searching for even

The faintest movements,

Of mice in the fields.

 

Above the terrace is a palisade

Of dark pine trees,

With a clearing below the slope.

A solitary deer comes by,

Stoops, relishes, chews and swallows

The wild berries and buds.

The deer is used to humans.

An old, fat fox appears occasionally,

His mouth waters when he espies

The rabbits in thick fur,

On a sunny day in May.

There are humans around,

Perhaps another time,

Thinks the fox and vanishes

In the undergrowth.

 

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Health Region Freiburg: Feel Your Own Health (Satis Shroff)
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Die „HealthRegion Freiburg“ präsentiert sich erstmals auf der „fit for life.“ Die von führenden Einrichtungen aus Gesundheitswirtschaft und Tourismus gemeinsam getragene Initiative „HealthRegion Freiburg“ wird auf der „fit for life“, die im Rahmen der cft auf der Messe Freiburg stattfindet, vom 09. bis 10. März erstmals die Kompetenzen der Gesundheitsregion Freiburg einem breiten Publikum präsentieren. Dem interessierten Besucher bietet der Gemeinschaftsstand die Möglichkeit, sich aus erster Hand über die zahlreichen Angebote und Dienstleistungen der Partner zu informieren. Ergänzt wird das Informationsangebot durch kos-tenlose Gesundheits- und Vorsorgechecks, Demonstrationen und interessante Beiträge im begleitenden Vortragsprogramm. 

Auf dem 150 m² großen Gemeinschaftsstand, werden neben dem zentralen Infostand der „HealthRegion“ mit dem Universi-tätsklinikum Freiburg, dem Universitäts-Herzzentrum Freiburg-Bad Krozingen, dem RKK Klinikum, dem Zentrum für Ganzheit-liche Medizin Dres. Karner, dem Gesundheitsresort Freiburg, der Theresienklinik Bad Krozingen, dem Labordienstleister MVZ Clotten sowie dem PACs Verlag aus Staufen auch renommierte Einzelaussteller vertreten sein. Das Angebotsspektrum reicht von der erfolgreichen Therapie mit integrierten Angeboten über Rehabilitation bis hin zu Präventionsprogrammen für Privatper-sonen und Unternehmen. „Die Premiere dient interessierten Besucherinnen und Besuchern aus Deutschland, Frankreich und der Schweiz als regionales Schaufenster. Hier können sie sich aus erster Hand über individuelle Angebote zur Erhaltung und Wiederherstellung der persönlichen Lebensqualität und Leistungsfähigkeit informieren“, erläutert Bernd Dallmann, Vor-sitzender des Vereins HealthRegion Freiburg e.V. 

Thematisch im Vordergrund stehen die Themen Herz-Kreislauferkrankungen, Arthrose und Osteoporose, Minimal-Invasive Neurochirurgie, Ganzheitliche Medizin, Rücken-gesundheit, Medical Fitness, Betriebliches Gesundheitsma-nagement, Medical Wellness & Beauty sowie orthopädische und kardiologische Rehabilitation. 
Von den angebotenen Aktionen findet sich inhaltlich vieles in den begleitenden Vorträgen wieder: Von Bewegungstherapien zu Themen wie „Schmerzfrei: Natürlich!“ und „Rückenschmerzen ganzheitlich behandeln“ über den Check der Gleichge-wichtsfähigkeit am Posturomed bis zu Medical Wellness-Aktionen und Untersuchungsangeboten. Die Vorträge reichen von „Erfolgreiche Therapie bei Arthrose“ und „Behandlung von Wirbelsäulenerkrankungen: Neue Entwicklungen in der minimal invasiven Wirbelsäulenchirurgie“ über „Die Bauchspeicheldrüse – das vergessene Organ“ bis zu „Aktiv und gesund trotz Zucker-krankheit – Optimale Behandlung des Diabetes mellitus“ und „Den Arzt in der Westentasche -Diagnose und Therapie via Handy und Internet“. 

Der Verein HealthRegion Freiburg e.V. begleitet und ergänzt die Aktivitäten der für drei Jahre aus Mitteln des Europäischen Fonds für Regionale Entwicklung (EFRE) geförderten Cluster-initiative „Healthcare & Economy – Region of Competence Freiburg“. Ziel ist es, die Innovationsstärke und die Wettbewerbsfähigkeit der Region Freiburg in den Bereichen Gesundheitswirtschaft und Tourismus nachhaltig stärken und die landesweit geförderte Clusterinitiative HealthRegion F

Invasive Neurochirurgie, Ganzheitliche Medizin, Rücken-gesundheit, Medical Fitness, Betriebliches Gesundheitsma-nagement, Medical Wellness & Beauty sowie orthopädische und kardiologische Rehabilitation. 

Von den angebotenen Aktionen findet sich inhaltlich vieles in den begleitenden Vorträgen wieder: Von Bewegungstherapien zu Themen wie „Schmerzfrei: Natürlich!“ und „Rückenschmer-zen ganzheitlich behandeln“ über den Check der Gleichge-wichtsfähigkeit am Posturomed bis zu Medical Wellness-Aktionen und Untersuchungsangeboten. Die Vorträge reichen von „Erfolgreiche Therapie bei Arthrose“ und „Behandlung von Wirbelsäulenerkrankungen: Neue Entwicklungen in der minimal invasiven Wirbelsäulenchirurgie“ über „Die Bauchspeicheldrüse – das vergessene Organ“ bis zu „Aktiv und gesund trotz Zucker-krankheit – Optimale Behandlung des Diabetes mellitus“ und „Den Arzt in der Westentasche -Diagnose und Therapie via Handy und Internet“.

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Satis Shroff: MEMOIR

 

I could see Madame Defarge knitting the names of the noblemen and women to be executed. Dickens was a great master of fabulation. I was ripe for those stories and was as curious as a Siamese cat I had named Sirikit, reading, turning page for page, absolutely absorbed in the unfolding stories..

I like writing which means sitting down and typing what you’ve thought about. Writing is a solitary performance but when I sing with my croonies of the MGV-Kappel it is sharing our joy and sadness and it’s a collective song that we produce and that makes our hearts beat higher during concerts. When an idea moves me for days I have the craving to pen it. I get ideas when I’m ironing clothes and listening to Nepali songs or Bollywood ones. When I don’t have time, I make a poem out of it, for poetry is emotion recollected in tranquillity. When I prepare my medical lectures I’m transferring knowledge from my university past and bringing them together verbally, and I realise it’s great fun to attain topicality by connecting the medical themes with what’s topical thereby creating a bridge between the two. That makes a lecture interesting, which is like a performance, a recital in which you interact with the audience. 
At school I was taught art by a lean, bearded Scottish teacher who loved to pain landscapes with water-colours. Whenever I travel during holidays, I keep an ArtJournal with my sketches and drawings, and try to capture the feelings, impressions of the place and people I meet, and it’s great fun to turn the pages years later and be reminded how it was then. I like doing all these things and they’re all near to my heart. 

* * *
Literature is translating emotions and facts from truth to fiction. It’s like a borderline syndrome; between sanity and insanity there’s fine dividing line. Similarly, non-fiction can be transformed into fiction. Virginia Woolf said, ‘There must be great freedom from reality.’ For Goethe, art was art because it was not nature. That’s what I like about fiction, this ability of transforming mundane things in life to jewels through the use of words. Rilke mentioned one ought to describe beauty with inner, quiet, humble righteousness. Approach nature and show what you see and experienced, loved and lost.

* * *

At school I used to read P.G.Wodehouse (about how silly aristocrats are and how wise the butler Jeeves is) and Richard Gordon (a physician who gave up practicing Medicine and started writing funny books). For me Richard Gordon was a living example of someone who could connect literature with bio-medical sciences. Desmond Morris, zoologist (The Naked Ape, The Human Zoo) was another example for me. He has also written a book about how modern soccer players do tribal dances on the football-field, with all those screaming spectators, when their team scores a goal. That’s ethnological rituals that are being carried out by European footballers. 

Since I went to a British school I was fed with EngLit and was acquainted with the works of English writers like Milton, Shakespeare, Dickens, Hardy, Walter Scott, RL Stevenson, Rudyard Kipling, HG Wells, Victor Hugo, Poe, Defoe, Hemingway, and poets like Burns, Keats, Yeats, Dante, Goldsmith. Since we had Nepali in our curriculum it was delightful to read Bhanu Bhakta, Mainali, Shiva Kumar Rai and other Nepali authors. At home I used to pray and perform the pujas with my Mom, who was a great story teller and that was how I learned about the fantastic stories of Hindu mythology. At school we also did Roman and Greek mythology. My head was full of heroes. I was also an avid comicstrip reader and there were Classics Illustrated comic with English literature. I used to walk miles to swap comic-books in Nepal. It was mostly friends from the British Gurkhas who had assess to such comics, gadgets, musical instruments they’d bought in Hong Kong, since it was a British enclave then.
Science can be interesting and there is a genre which makes scientific literature very interesting for those who are curious and hungry for more knowledge.

In Kathmandu I worked as a journalist with an English newspaper The Rising Nepal. I enjoyed writing a Science Spot column. One day Navin Chandra Joshi, an Indian economist who was working for the Indian Cooperative Mission asked a senior editor and me:

‘Accha, can you please tell me who Satis Shroff is?’ 

Mana Ranjan gave a sheepish smile and said, ‘You’ve been talking with him all the time.’ 

The elderly Mr. Joshi was plainly surprised and said, ‘Judging from his writing, I thought he was a wise old man.’ 

I was 25 then and I turned red and was amused. 

As I grew older, I discovered the works of Virginia Woolf, DH Lawrence, Aldous Huxley, Authur Miller, Henry Miller, Doris Lessing and James Joyce. The lecturers from the English Department and the Literary Supplements were all revering his works: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Ulysses, Finnegans Wake. His works appealed to be because I was also educated by the Christian Brothers of Ireland in the foothills of the Himalayas, with the same strictness and heavy hand. God is watching you.. 

Since my college friends left for Moscow University and Lumumba Friendship University after college, I started taking interest in Russian literature and borrowed books from the Soviet library and read: Tolstoi, Dostojewskije, Chekov and later even Solzinitzyn’s Archipel Gulag. I spent a lot of time in the well-stocked American Library in Katmandu’s New Road and read Henry Miller, Steinbeck, Faulkner, Thoreau, Whitman.

Favourite books and authors:

Bhanu Bhakta Acharya’s ‘Ramayana,’ Devkota’s ‘Muna Madan,’ Guru Prasad Mainali’s ‘Machha-ko Mol,’ Shiva Kumar Rai’s ‘Dak Bungalow,’ Hemingway’s Fiesta, For Whom the Bells Toll, Günter Grass ‘Blechtrommel,’ Zunge zeigen, Marcel Reich Ranicki’s ‘Mein Leben,’VS Naipaul’s ‘ ‘Joseph Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness,’ James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses, Stephan Hero, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Faust I, Faust II’, Leo Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace,’ Rainer Maria Rilke’s ‘Briefe an einen jungen Dichter’ Goethe’s ‘Die Leiden des jungen Werther,’The Diaries of Franz Kafka’ Carl Gustav Jung’s ‘Memories, Dreams, Reflections,’ Patrick Süskind’s ‘Perfume,’ John Updike’s ‘The Witches of Eastwick,’ ‘Couples,’ Peter Matthiessen’s ‘The Snow Leopard,’ Mark Twain ‘A Tramp Abroad,’John Steinbeck’s ‘The Pearl,’ Rushdie’s ‘Midnight Children,’ Jonathan Franzen’s ‘The Corrections,’ John Irving’s Last Night in Twisted River. 

Position of Nepali as world literature in terms of standard:

Nepali literature has had a Cinderella or Aschenputtel-existence and it was only through Michael Hutt, who prefers to work closely with Nepalese authors and publishes with them, under the aegis of SOAS that literature from Nepal is trying to catch the attention of the world. We have to differentiate between Nepalese writing in the vernacular and those writing in English. Translating is a big job and a lot of essence of a language gets lost in translation. What did the author mean when he or she said that? Can I translate it literally? Or do I have to translate it figuratively? If the author is near you, you can ask him or her what the meaning of a sentence, certain words or expression is. This isn’t the case always. So what you translate is your thought of what the writer or poet had said. I used to rollick with laughter when I read books by PG Wodehouse and Richard Gordon. I bought German editions and found the translations good. But the translated books didn’t bring me to laugh. 

Tribhuvan University has been educating hundreds of teachers at the Master’s Level but the teacher’s haven’t made a big impression on the world literary stage because most of them teach, and don’t write. Our neighbour India is different and there are more educated people who read and write. The demand for books is immense. Writing in English is a luxury for people who belong to the upper strata of the Nepalese society. Most can’t even afford books and have a tough time trying to make ends meet. The colleges and universities don’t teach Creative Writing. They teach the works of English poets and writers from colonial times, and not post-colonial. There are a good many writers in Nepal but their works have to be edited and promoted by publishers on a standard basis. If it’s a good story and has universal appeal then it’ll make it to the international scene. Rabindra Nath Tagore is a writer who has been forgotten. It was the English translation that made the world, and Stockholm, take notice. 

Manjushree Thapa and Samrat Upadhya have caught the attention of western media because they write in English. One studied and lived in the USA and the other is settled there. Moreover, the American publishing world does more for its migrant authors than other countries. There are prizes in which only USA-educated migrants are allowed to apply to be nominated, a certain protectionism for their US-migrants.

(The lecturer with his Creative Writing students in Freiburg)

Motivation to write:
The main motivation is to share my thoughts with the reader and to try out different genres. Since I know a lot of school-friends who dropped out and joined the British Gurkhas to see the world, it was disgusting to see how the British government treated their comrade-in-arms from the hills of Nepal. On the one hand, they said they are our best allies, part of the British Army and on the other hand I got letters from Gurkhas showing how low their salaries are in the Gurkha Brigade. A Johnny Gurkha gets only half the pay that a British Tommy is paid. Colonialism? Master-and –Servant relationship? They were treating them like guest-workers from Nepal and hiring and firing them at will, depending upon whether the Brits needed cannon-fodder. All they had to do was to recruit more Brigades in Nepal. This injustice motivated me to write a series on the Gurkhas and the Brits. I like NatureJournaling too and it’s wonderful to take long walks in the Black Forest countryside and in Switzerland. As a Nepalese I’m always fascinated and awed by the Alps and the Himalayas. 

Writing style:

Every writer in his journey towards literature discovers his own style. Here’s what Heidi Poudel says about my style: ‘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.

I might sound old fashioned but there’s lot of wisdom in these two small words: Carpe diem. Use your time. It can also mean ‘seize the job’ as in the case of Keating in the book ‘Dead Poets Society.’ When I was in Katmandu a friend named Bindu Dhoj who was doing MBA in Delhi said, ‘Satish, you have to assert yourself in life.’ That was a good piece of advice. In the Nepalese society we have a lot of chakari and afnu manchay caused by the caste-and-jaat system. But in Europe even if you are well-qualified, you do have to learn to assert and ‘sell’ and market yourself through good public relations. That’s why it’s also important to have a serious web-presence. Germany is a great, tolerant country despite the Nazi past, and it’s an economic and military power. If you have chosen Germany, then make it a point to ‘do in Germany as the Germans do.’ Get a circle of German friends, interact with them, lose your shyness, get in touch with German families and speak, read, write and dream in German. If you like singing then join a choir (like me), if you like art join a Kunstverein, if you like sport then be a member of a Sportverein. If you’re a physician, join the Marburger or Hartmann Bund. Don’t think about it. Do it. It’s like swimming. You have to jump into the water. Dry swimming or thinking alone won’t help you. Cultural exchange can be amusing and rewarding for your own development. 

Current and future projects: I always have writing projects in my mind and you’ll catch me scribbling notices at different times of the day. I feel like a kid in a department store when I think about the internet. No haggling with editors, no waiting for a piece of writing to be published. I find blogs fantastic. Imagine the agonies a writer had to go through in the old days after having submitted a poem or a novel. Now, it’s child’s play. Even Elfriede Jelenek uses her blog to write directly for the reading pleasure of her readers. The idea has caught on. In a life time you do write a lot and I’m out to string all my past writings in a book in the Ich-Form, that is, first person singular and am interested in memoir writing, spiritual writing, medical-ethno writing and, of course, my Zeitgeistlyrik . Georg F. Will said: A powerful teacher is a benevolent contagion, an infectious spirit, an emulable stance toward life. I like the idea of being an ‘infectious spirit’ as far as my Creative Writing lectures are concerned, and it does your soul good when a young female student comes up to you after the lecture and says: ‘Thank you very much for the lecture. You’ve ignited the fire in me with your words.’ I love to make Creative Writing a benevolent contagion and infect young minds with words. 

To my Readers: Be proud of yourself, talk with yourself as you talk with a good friend, with respect and have goals in mind. If your goal is too high you must readjust it. My Mom used to say, ‘Chora bhayey pachi ik rakhna parchha. When you’re a son you have to strive for higher goals in life. I’d say a daughter can also adopt this. Like the proverbial Gurkha, keep a stiff upper lip and don’t give up. Keep on marching along your route and you’ll reach your destination in life. But on the other hand, be happy and contended with small successes and things. We Nepalese are attributed with ‘Die Heiterkeit der Seele’ because we are contented with small things which is a quality we should never lose. Keep that friendly Nepali smile on your face, for it will bring you miles and miles of smiles; and life’s worthwhile because you smile. 

On literature: When you read a novel or short-story, you can feel the excitement, you discover with the writer new terrain. You’re surprised. You’re in a reading-trance and the purpose of literature is to give you reading experience and pleasure. Literature is not the birth-right of the lecturers of English departments in universities where every author of merit is analysed, taken apart, mixing the fictive tale with the writer’s personal problems in reality. The authors are bestowed with literary prizes, feted at literary festivals and invited to literary conferences and public readings. 

Literature belongs to the folk of a culture, but the academicians have made it their own pride possession. Would like to hear Hemingway telling you a story he had written or an academician hold a lecture about what Hemingway wrote? I’d prefer the former because it belongs to the people, the readers, the listeners. In India and Nepal we have story-tellers who go from village to village and tell stories from the Ramayana and Bhagavad Gita. Story-telling has always appealed to simple people and the high-brows alike, and has remained an important cultural heritage. The same holds for the Gaineys, those wandering minstrels from Nepal and Northern India, with their crude violins called sarangis. They tell stories of former kings, princes and princesses, battles, fairy tales, village stories, ballads accompanied by the whining, sad sound of the sarangi. 

Literature has always flown into history, religion, sociology, ethnology and is a heritage of mankind, and you can find all these wonderful stories in your local library or your e-archive.

My first contact with a good library was the American Library in Katmandu. A new world of knowledge opened to me. I could read the Scientific American, Time, Newsweek, the Economist, The New York Times, National Geographic, the Smithsonian, the Christian Science Monitor. The most fascinating thing about it was , you only had to be a member and you could take the precious books home.

OMG! It was unbelievable for a Nepalese who came from a small town in the foothills of the Himalayas. Nobody bothered about what you were reading: stories, history, new and old ideas, inventions, theories, general and specific knowledge. The sky was the limit. I had a voracious appetite, and it was like the opening of a Bildungsroman.

Historical novels tell us about how it was to live in former days, the forms of society involved that the writer evokes in his or her pages. In ‘A Year in Provence’ Peter Mayle makes you almost taste the excellent French food and wine, and the search for truffles with a swine in hilarious, as well as the game of bol. On the other hand, James Joyce evokes a life-changing experience with his protagonists Leopold Bloom and Stephan Daedalus in Dublin on June 16, 1904. Ulysses is a modern interpretation of Homer’s Odyssey, an inner monologue recalled as memories of places, people, smells, tastes and thoughts of the protagonist . The Bhagwad Gita is a luminous and priceless gem in the literary world, possesses world history character, and teaches us the unity in diversity. It is a dialogue between the hero Arjuna and Krishna, who is the chariot-driver. Krishna is an incarnation of the Hindu God Vishnu. The Mahabharata alone has 18 chapters and the epic has 18 books with legends, episodes and didactic pieces that are connected with the main story. It is a fascinating reading about the war between relatives, written in the 4th and 3rd centuries before the birth of Christ. He who reads knows better than to be indoctrinated, for he or she learns to think, opening new worlds and lines of thought.

In my school-days I read Charles Dickens’ ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ and it became alive when I went to the Bastille Museum in Paris with a fellow medical student. My memory of A Tale of Two Cities took shape there, as I peered at the old, historical exhibits and the guillotine. Later in the evening my friend Peter’s sister, who was married to a Parisian said, ‘Oh, Satish, there are so many things to see in Paris than a museum the entire afternoon.’ For me it was like time-travelling to the times of the French Revolution, because I’d soaked up the story in my school days. I could see Madame Defarge knitting the names of the noblemen and women to be executed. Dickens was a great master of fabulation. I was ripe for those stories and was as curious as a Siamese cat I had named Sirikit, reading, turning page for page, absolutely absorbed in the unfolding stories. Time and space and my personal demands were unimportant. It was the story that had to be read, even with a midnight candle when the local hydroelectric power supply failed. That happened to me when I read ‘The Godfather’ (Der Pate) while visiting a friend from Iceland. I couldn’t put the book down.

I felt sad when a 14 year old computer-crazy schoolkid said: ‘Who reads books these days? Everything’s in the internet.’ The question is: do kids read books on their laptops and eReaders? School websites, Facebook and You Tube and their apps have added new hobbies for children who’re growing up. Does the cyberspace-generation have only time for games? I tell them they should use: Google Scholar, Pubmed etc. to gather knowledge and learn to transfer it.E-books are in: I think it’s great to have such a lot of authors in e-format in your pocket. Never a boring moment: the world of lit, science-fiction, thrillers all unfurl as you read or even listen to these, plugged in to your MP3. Watch the traffic though..

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Musikverein Buchenbach: Weihnachtskonzert (Satis Shroff)

 

Buchenbach lies to the east of the Kingdom of Heaven (Himmelreich) with an idyllic location, surrounded by Black Forest homesteads: Mesbacherhof, Zähringerhof, Rufenhof, Brissenhof. The ruins of the castle Burgberkenhof looms over the hamlet. And that’s where I went to the New Year’s concert in the Sommerberghalle performed by the Musikverein Buchenbach, where I happen to know quite a few people. In Buchen bach most of the people bear the names Schuler or Maier.

 

What do you expect in a small provincial town in Germany? It was a well-chosen programme and the conductor, an elderly man named Joseph Schuler, who has been conducting since 1983, started the evening with an instrumental marching song ‘A Day of Hope’ composed by the Austrian Fritz Neuböck. If you play a march in Germany, the elderly generation is with you because they’ve heard so many marching songs since their childhood. Today’s generation has a rather USA and UK taste for music with You Tube, Facebook, iPod, iMac download possibilities.

 

The next number was an ouverture Dichter und Bauer composed by Franz von Suppe, who was born in 1890 and arranged by  Max Hampel: a comedy with songs about a marriage with a fiery crescendo towards the end. Then came the time of the tuba with the Bombastic Bombardon played by Klaus Mangler and other young solists. This was followed by Lichtblicke, a symphonic fantasy by Kurt Gäble, depicting different lights with music and symbolising the ups and downs of life and the inevitable light in the darkness.

 

Maximillian Maier, a young and talented trumpeteer, then played The Rose composed by Amanda McBroom, Bette Middler and Frank Bernaerts. The Rose is a Hollywood movie about the stardom of Janice Joplin and her eventual fall at the hands of a money-hungry manager who makes her appear on-stage till she finally collapses.

 

Auf Ferienreisen composed by Joseph Strauß was the next piece arranged by Herber Maizer. This time even the conductor Joseph Schuler turned up with a big overseas suitcase, donning a Tyroler hat and began furiously with a pacy pokla. Joseph Strauss was the brother of Johann Strauss the King of Waltz melodies like: An der schönen blauen Donau, Wiener Blut, Wein, Weib,Sang and Kaiser Waltz to name a few.

 

After the intermission we were entertained with another concert marching-music: The Thunderer (Der Donnerer) by none other than John Philip Sousa, who composed ‘Stars and Stripes’, the second national anthem of the USA.

 

The audience were delighted when a selection from Starlight Express, which has been staged in Bochum since a long time, was rendered complete with costumed figures from the musical on in-liners.

 

Suddenly, the choreography took a turn towards the East and the orchestra played Harry Richard’s ‘Namaste,’ a greeting from India. A section of the orchestra greeted the audience and the guru (conductor) with folded hands and the German audience laughed because it was outlandish and thus hilarious. The garrulous, bespectacled, bearded moderator did his best to explain what a namaste meant and even brought in a reference to the Third Eye. Actually, when someone in Nepal or India performs a ‘namaste’ it means: ‘I greet the Godliness in you!’

 

La Storia was a film by Jacob de Haan evoking images of the Tosca (Italy) followed by a melange from the musical ‘Mary Poppins’ composed by Richard and Robert Shermann and arranged by Ted Ricketts.

 

After the concert I talked with Ursula Fruttiger, who plays the flute in the Musikverein Buchenbach, which has at the moment 70 active musicians, and the repertoire ranges from traditional works to classic and modern. Asked when the Musikverein plays, Ursula replied with a broad smile, ‘We play in the community on different occasions and our music is a bit religious and also worldly. We also take part in the activities of the other associations (vereins). When our members have birthdays or round anniversaries.’

 

Now isn’t that a nice thought? I remembered the last time when the Männergesangverein came and sang songs like ‘Mein guter Freund’, ‘Heimat’ and other touching traditional songs. I had tears of joy in my eyes.

 

Ursula went on to say, ‘We have Maiwecken on the 1st of May and play music every year at another place in the hamlet and the local Buchenbacher love it.

 

The New Year’s Concert in the Sommerberghalle is very popular among the locals as well as people from the surrounding hamlets and towns. We also get invited by other music associations and they visit us during the during our annual Musikhock in the old quarry.

 

I was amazed at the many young boys and girls who were in the orchestra. In the case of the country’s men’s choirs the olde boys are dying out and there’s difficulty in motivating young people to join the traditional vereins. They’d rather rave, listen and dance to techno, rap,hip-hop and other music and songs.

 

Ursula Fruttiger came up with, ‘Besides our orchestra, we have also a youth-band with 30 young musicians. After a successful exam in the bronze performance category, the young people become full-fledged members of the orchestra. Some of the youth then play in big orchestras.

 

‘At what age can you join the Musikverein?’ I asked Ursula.

 

‘We teach 8- year olds to play a brass instrument and the instrument is provided by the Musikverein, and we also finance the musical education.

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