Satis Shroff's CATMANDU CHRONICLES
Wolfgang Graf: A Freiburger Feingeist (Satis Shroff)
Related to country: Switzerland
available in: (original) | | | | | | | | |
Wolfgang Graf: A Freiburger Feingeist (Satis Shroff)
Wolfgang Graf was born in Freiburg-Zähringen and did his schooling at the Kepler Gymnasium. Later he studied Biology and Chemistry at the Freiburger University because he thought then that it would be good to be a teacher in a school. But he didn’t teach and worked instead in the quality control department of a factory lab, which produced cigarettes in Freiburg.
He said that science and technology always interested him, a child he looked at what his big sister, who had her own photo-lab and experimented with photo development and used her microscope. Later at school he wrote a paper about the human nervous system as his Abitur dessertation. But that wasn’t all.
“There was something boiling within me that had to come out. It had to be the arts. During his school days he painted a lot, wrote poems, and even a theatre manuscript, which was printed in the school-mag, but which was never staged,” said Wolfgang.
Wolfgang describes himself as a late post-World War II child and he lived with his parents and two sisters in one room at Grandma’s flat in Zähringen, in which there were three rooms for eight persons. Grandpa was semi-paralysed since thirty years.
“My father was 16 when he had to join the Wehrmacht as a soldier but he wasn’t involved in the real fighting. He shot his thumb through an accident. As children we took it as something serious and Dad enjoyed it as a heroic deed to be wounded during the war. He put on a laconical smile and said, “It was more a case of collerateral damage. Dad died last December. Mom lives in Freiburg and is 87 years old.”
“How’s she doing?” I asked him.
He replied, ‘She’s still going strong. She loves watching TV and reading women’s and TV mags and is fond of the Bild Zeitung because of the big headlines.’
I recall an old Freiburger medical professor who was also an avid Bild reader, Germany’s leading Yellow Press Zeitung. During one of our conversations in the crowded S-Ban on our way to Freiburg’s main railway station we’d started talking about the ‘Entartete Kunst’ during the Nazi regime. So I asked him a question about it.
Wolfgang replied, “Germans have a big history but just before the World War II, the Nazis introduced their own version of what art and culture should be. Faschism brought not only war and misery to Europe but also destroyed modern art and culture. In Italy and France the people sing a lot but in Germany there’s no singing culture anymore.”
‘What’s the reason?’ I asked him.
He said, “The Nazis sang too much, al the time and we Germans have now have a disturbed relationship to old German songs.”
In this context I’d like to mention that Alois F. who’s a prominent member of the Zähringia, a local old men’s singing choir, asked me to join them. But Thomas my neighbour from Cologne told me that the old boys’ choir didn’t want new English songs. They didn’t want any innovative ideas. Just their old songs, and this didn’t appeal to the younger generation of Germans who prefer:hip-hop, Eminem, 50 Cents, Tokyo Hotel and gospel songs. When you go to the local church you see only old people and mothers with toddlers. The youth are conspicuous through their absence.
“What about the olde German Liedergut, the treasury of songs?” I asked Wolfgang.
“German culture is rich in songs and they used to sing it a lot before the World war II.” He went on to say, “Even Hitler wanted to be an artist but he was refused admission in Austria. The Art Academy in Vienna refused Hitler the unknown artist twice. If they’d taken him, there would have been no World War II.”
The work in the lab didn’t interest him either and he switched to a dancing career in 1978.
Wolfgang said with a laugh, “I had a girl-friend at that time who was a dancer. Actually he wanted to be an actor and play in the German theatre. She told me: ’Come along, it’ll do you good.’ I complied and then began my life-long love affair with dancing. In those days there was an Alternative Movement, wherein you cold do anything if you wanted to.”
Contemporary dancing (Zeitgenössischer Tanz) was an unknown form in those days, but there was a growing scene for those who were interested. In 1980 he founded a school for New Dance, Theatre and Bodywork with some friends, which exists even till today, and had made Freiburg, besides Berlin, one of the important centres for new dance forms. There was a breakaway from the traditional dance movements and the gender roles were questioned and changed, everyday-movements were brought on the stage and the barriers to the theatre were eliminated. The motto of the school became: “Every movement can be danced” and it produced new professional dancers till today.
‘We were freelance dancers and we opened our own school and performed in festivals in Freiburg (1979-80). The Hippie-Flower Power Culture was long over and a lot of people wanted to try out something new things, new ideas and there was a Häuserkampfbewegung, in which empty houses were boarded by young people, the police came, there was a struggle ensued, the young people were carried away, only to reappear the next day.’
During his students days he lived with six friends in a provincial nest, an old farm with a gardening complex. It was a time when they thought everything was possible. If someone had an idea they got together and made it work. There were alternative schools, bakeries, car-garages and a lot of other things. They forced their projects without state-subventions, that is with all the advantages and disadvantages. But today, according to him, the people try to find an existing niche, instead of doing something themselves.
To give impulses, produce and work with others together, that’s what made Wolfgang decide to work in the end as a Kulturbeauftragter (culture-manager) in Basle (Switzerland). Wolfgang was a dancer before he became an organisator of cultural events, and travelled as a dancer, choreograph through Europe and worked as a dance-teacher. He remembers working in “The Detective from China” Dance Butter Tokyo, where he spent two months, an Internatonal Ensemble mit 17 dancers from Japan Switzerland, Finnland und Germany and the director was Anzu Furukawa. In Tokyo, Nagano he danced the “Last Toast in Japan”a solo-performance, then came Dornbirn, in Dresden, Cologne “The Diamond as big as the Ritz” Dance Butter Tokyo, a two month stay in Japana, he starred in the International Ensemble comprising 12 dancers and Anzu Furukawa was again the director. Then he danced in “Tonight in The Moon” a duo-dance with Anzu Furukawa, Idar-Oberstein/ Freiburg “Duo” Neuer Tanz und Neue Musik - Improvisations with the Saxophonist Christina Fuchs, Cologne “Alternating Currents” International Improvisations Ensemble, Potsdam, Freiburg, Stuttgart (Sprache des Körpers, the language of the body.
Even though he was a lot of times in foreign countries, he always came to roost in Freiburg. Today he lives with his wife and son in Freiburg Zähringen, where he spent his childhood. Only once did he think of going to Paris and work there but he’d have been another dancer, and not someone who organises and runs events, and on the other hand he really didn’t feel at home in the world of performing arts.
“Perhaps I’m less of a Feingeist and a bit rustical to be a part of it,” he said with a grin.
That’s why he had to balance his life between strenuous dance-performances and organising events, especially when he turned forty. He decided to say farewell to the stage and devoted his time to culture-management. At first he organised different theatre projects in Freiburg, then as the chief of the Theater/Tanz workshop Kaserne in Basel and ultimately as a culture-manager of Riehen. In the meantime Wolfgang rides his bicycle, swims and does a bit of jogging. As one of the founders of Tanzfestival, he made a small come-back during the 25th Birthday of the dance festival. “I had to summon up a bit of courage, but then I was astonished,” he said with a smile. I hadn’t forgotten anything. I could really dance.”
As a parting question I asked him, “You’ve worked in Germany and in Switzerland. How do you find the Swiss?”
Wolfgang’s answer came like a bullet from a Bretta, “In Switzerland everything’s organised perfectly and one has to avoid making mistakes. We have more time and things go a bit slowly than in Germany. I think it’s the Calvinism behind it. This strict, evangelical form of Christianity in Switzerland makes everything function like a clockwork. The administration is strict but you don’t see this strictness outwards. Things are done in cooperation with others. The Swiss want superlatives and are not satisfied with moderate results.”
Art From the Land of the Gods (Satis Shroff)
Related to country: Nepal
available in: (original) | | | | | | | | |
(Aquarelle & sketches by Satis Shroff)
'From the Land of the Gods: Art of the Kathmandu Valley' & 'Nepal in
Black and White: Photographs by Kevin Bubriski'
March 14 - October 13, 2008
RMA is pleased to present two exhibitions focused on Nepal, 'From the Land of the Gods: Art of the Kathmandu Valley' and 'Nepal in Black and White: Photographs by Kevin Bubriski.' Both exhibitions open to the public on Friday, March 14 and run through Monday, October 13, 2008.
Taken together, the exhibitions offer a nuanced exploration of Nepal - its art, culture, religious belief systems, people and politics - spanning from 1200 to the late 1980s.
'From the Land of the Gods: Art of the Kathmandu Valley' draws from RMA's permanent collection, exhibiting more than 50 of the museum's finest examples of Nepalese sculpture, painting, and ritual objects. Emphasis is on highlighting the variety of forms and subjects, techniques and media, which emerged from Nepal's creative matrix. The exhibition also touches on the main religious traditions of the
Kathmandu Valley, Hinduism (Shaiva, Vaishnava, and Shakta) and Buddhism, which have been integral in the artistic and culturally rich environment.
Historically, the kingdoms of the Kathmandu Valley comprised the political, religious, and cultural entity now known as Nepal. Located between India and the region of Tibet, the valley acts as a crossroads
of trans-Himalayan trade, the shared sacred site of various Himalayan religions, and one of the epicenters for much of Himalayan art. This unique position has fostered a tremendous amount of cultural, social,
and religious exchange in Nepal, thus establishing a living creative tradition that is one of the single most important influences in Himalayan art history.
'Nepal in Black and White: Photographs by Kevin Bubriski' presents more than 30 of Kevin Bubriski's photographs, selected from his large body of work produced over the last 35 years of his visits to Nepal, beginning in 1975. The exhibition is composed of his black and white photographs, taken in the mid-1970s and mid-1980s. In addition, four of Kevin Bubriski's color photographs will be on view in the lobby near RMA's spiral staircase.
Kevin Bubriski's first introduction to the country he would come to document over the years was as a Peace Corps volunteer working on drinking water supply pipelines in remote mountain villages. He carried
a 35mm camera with him everywhere he went, taking photographs that would form the beginning of the body of work he built up over the following years. In 1984, Kevin Bubriski returned to Nepal as a photographer. This time, he carried with him a 4" x 5" view camera, a tripod, and the trappings of a mobile professional set-up, traveling the length and breadth of the country for the better part of three years.
With unflinching clarity and sharp detail, the photographs in 'Nepal in Black and White: Photographs by Kevin Bubriski' show the changes that took place between the mid-1970s and mid-1980s, especially the influence of Western society on a previously isolated culture.
In his words: „The realization that not only my camera but also the modern world was, in turn, making ever-increasing intrusions into even the most remote areas of Nepal compelled me to document a time and way of life slipping inexorably into the past“.
About RMA: RMA houses an esteemed collection of Himalayan art. The paintings, pictorial textiles, and sculpture are drawn from cultures that touch upon the 1,800 mile arc of mountains that extends from Afghanistan in the northwest to Myanmar (Burma) in the southeast and includes Tibet, Nepal, Mongolia, and Bhutan. The larger Himalayan cultural sphere, determined by significant cultural exchange over millennia, includes Iran, India, China, Central Asia, and Southeast Asia.
The rich cultural legacy of this region, largely unfamiliar to Western viewers, offers an uncommon opportunity for visual adventure and aesthetic discovery. For young and old alike it is an environment in
which to encounter the unknown and find meaningful dialogue. It requires actively bringing to bear one's previous experience, looking closely at the material at hand, discriminating carefully, and shaping
the imagination. The fundamental aim of the museum is to provide this adventure in learning through art.
Working to foster connections between visitors and the art is RMA's diverse team of knowledgeable and professional guides who are always available on the gallery floors to answer questions, engage in
discussions, and help explore the art at any level. The guides work in concert with RMA's ambitious schedule of exhibitions, education, and public programming, designed to provide multiple entryways to delve into Himalayan art.
Rubin Museum of Art (RMA), 150 West 17th Street, New York, NY
Contact: Karen Kedmey
Phone: (212) 620 5000 x331
Rubenstein Public Relations
Contact: Holly Jespersen
Phone: (212) 843 8071
Commentary on Kumari, the Living Goddess of Catmandu (Satis Shroff)
Related to country: Nepal
available in: (original) | | | | | | | | |
The Living Goddess Kumari:
Hush! Gods Cannot Die in Nepal (Satis Shroff)
The Kumari, who is worshipped as the Living Goddess in Katmandu, is a small girl who lives in a beautiful palace with exquisitely carved wooden windows called the Palace of the Kumari. You can recognise her on her scarlet sari with golden edges, her pagoda-formed jet black hair, which are tied neatly on top. And she wears the third eye of wisdom on her forehead.
The beginnings of the Kumari Cult date back to the 13th century. A decisive event of the cult took place in 1323 when a king named Hari Singh Deva, who hailed from North India fled from the Islamic invaders and sought refuge in Nepal with his family. Among others things he'd also brought along his family goddess Taleju Bhavani. Hara Singh soon became the King of Bhaktapur, and as a consequence Taleju Bhavani became the ruling Goddess of the town of Katmandu. Even today, the Kumari remains the most important Goddess of the Nepalese King, and the protector of Katmandu Valley.
According to a legend delivered 200 years ago, when Nepal comprised many small independent kingdoms, the Goddess used to visit one of these kings once in a while. They used to talk with each other with respect and played Tripasa, an old dice game in those days. One day King Jaya Prakash Malla fell unfortunately in love the Goddess and tried to seduce her, who understandibly felt piqued and insulted, and henceforth didn't pay them any more visits. She came once in his dream once though and ordered him to choose a small girl from the Sakya family, the caste of the Newar goldsmiths of Kathmandu Valley. The Goddess proclaimed that she would reside as a reincarnation in the innocent and virgin body of the Sakya girl. The Goddess Taleju told him, 'Pray and worship her as Kumari, the Living Goddess, for when you worship her, you worship me.'
As time went on the other kings carried out the tradition of the Kumari cult, and when you go to Nepal you'll see and experience this ancient cult even today. The Katmandu Kumari is the Royal Kumari, and is worshipped by the King of Nepal, even though the King has been stripped of his judiciary, legislative and executive powers, because according to Hindu tradition the King of Nepal is still regarded as the reincarnation of Vishnu by the Hindus, the second God of the Hindu triad (Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva). The worshippers of Vishnu (Bishnu) recognise in him the supreme being from whom all things emanate. In the epics Mahabharata and the Puranas, Vishnu is the creator (Prajapati) and supreme God.
It might be noted that last year King Gyanendra insisted on visiting the Kumari in her palace and worshipped the Living Goddess, despite the fact that he'd become unpopular as a monarch with the people of Kathmandu Valley, and Nepal in general., through his brutal use of force instead of peaceful democratic dialogue. While King Birendra, his dead brother, was a popular monarch, Gyanendra's ascension to Nepal's throne was jinxed from the beginning and stood under a bad planetary constellation, as the court astrologer (Raj jotisi) would put it. King Birendra lost his absolute power in 1990 after a bloody people's revolution. Nepal became thereafter a parlamentary monarchy, but the mountainous country became politically unstable. Even though a Nepalese journalist has written a best-seller in the country with the title „Rakta Kunda“ which threw light into the working of the blue-blooded royal denizens of the Narayanhiti Palace, and the palace murders, it is, nevertheless, not clear who really shot and eliminated the entire Shah clan. Strangely enough, King Gyanendra and his family were conspicious through their absence during the massacre.
It was more a symbolical gesture to appease the people of Nepal, who were out in the streets along with the armed and militant Maoists, that King Gyanendra paid homage to the Living Goddess last year. It seems to have worked wonders. Some important politicians of the Congress Party have now expressed their second thoughts about having the disposed of the King. A pro-monarchy movement seems to have cropped up in the Nepalese capital.
Now back to the Kumari or Indra Jatra. A jatra is a religious procession in Nepal and India. 'Who's Indra?' you might ask. Indra is the God of the firmament, the personified atmosphere. It is during the Indra Jatra's third night of festivities that the Shah King of Nepal visits the the Kumari in her palace, which is located near Basantapur Plaza. This is thought to be not only a gesture of respect but also an evidence that the king holds no power over the manifestation of Taleju Bhavani. The Kumari legitimates through this act of granting the King of Nepal an audience, and applying tika on his forehead, his rule for a period of one year. And thereby hangs a tale.
'How can one become a Living Goddess?' you might ask. In order to be a Kumari, the female candidates have to be three or four years old and must fulfill a row of conditions that have been set down in the scriptures as 'the list of 32 signs':
The virgin has to have well proportioned hands, and feet like those of a duck. She must have beautifully formed heels and possess circular lines on the soles of her dainty feet. Her body has to have the form of saptaccha leaf. Her cheeks and busom must resemble that of a lion. The nape of her neck and throat like a conch from the ocean. She much have forty well-formed, white teeth. The tongue must be small, wet and sensitive. Her voice must resemble that of a sparrow. The eyes and eye-lashed like those of the holy cow. Her shadow has to be beautiful and golden hued. The hair has to be smooth, black and has to fall to the right side. Her hands, feet and long toes have to be soft and small. She must have round shoulders and long arms. The body of the Kumari has to be flawless, sans pockmarks, and a skim with well-formed pores. She must have a round head with a high forehead. A resistent body, well-formed like the nyagrodha tree.
The girls who possess the 32 outer perfections are obliged to wait till it becomes dark, so that they can qualify in the feats in scary full darkness, when normal three or four year old kids get the creeps and cry for 'Mom' or 'Dad' in the dark, full of fear. But these are ancient Hindu rituals, customs and traditions in a far-away land, performed by under the strict supervision of Buddhist and Hindu priests. The real Kumari is expected to show her courage by overcoming these terrible, shocking scenarios that unfurl one after the other throughout the night, and ferocious growls and noises made by the hidden priests, and are show terrible and frightening masks of demons, and the sight of 108 slaughtered buffalo heads dripping with blood. If, and only if, she doesn't cry is this regarded as one of the signs of her godliness. Once she has been chosen, she becomes a Living Goddess, wears the regalia associated with the Goddess Taleju Bhavani, and presides at the many Hindu and Buddhist religious ceremonies as the Living Goddess, till she reaches puberty, when her hormones take over her phycical and psychic development into a woman, and she menstruates. A Goddess does not bleed. In case she does, naturally at puberty or earlier through a fall and subsequent injury, she becomes a mortal. A bleeding, crying, but perhaps happy mortal. Gone are the days and nights in the Kumari Palace, where she blessed all the Hindus, Buddhist and grey-eyed, blonde haired curious visitors with their mobilecams and camcorders. A reign without her parents, following strict rules and regulations comes to an end. She can find solace in th arms of her parents and brothers and sisters.
The Kumaris receive a small pension after their 'ruling' periods are over. If a Kumari bleeds when she looses a tooth, it means she has to leave her throne. The priest touches six parts of the Kumari's body body with a bunch of grass: the vulva, Labia majoris, the navel, the breast and the throat. This ritual is meant to transform the body of the mortal girl to that of a godly one. In Nepal there are quire a few Kumaris, and three of them are worshipped with great ceremonies and fanfare in Katmandu, Bhaktapur (Bhadgaon) and Patan (Lalitpur). But not all Kumaris live such isolated lives like the Royal Kumari of Katmandu, who has to be carried by the priests lest her holy feet be polluted by the filth of the earth trodden by mortals. Normally, a Sakya Newari girl can be a Kumari and is respected and worshipped till seven or eight years. Nevertheless, the Kumari is a feature (Konstrukt) or institute based on fragile premises. If a Kumari dies during her tenure as a Living Goddess, she cannot be reincarnated, because according to Hinduism a Goddess cannot die. But weren't King Birendra and Queen Aiyeshwarya and other members of the divine royal family shot and died like common mortals? Hush! Gods cannot die in Nepal.
When Sajani Sakya, a Kumari who went to the USA on a 39 day trip to attend the screening of a BBC documentary about her life, some priests headed by Jaiprasad Regmi, demanded that she be declared a mortal and thus no longer a Kumari, because a Goddess is not allowed to go abroad—across the kala pani (black water). A faux pas that the purity-pollution-thinking priests haven't forgiven her. There is obviously a power play between the orthodox priests on the one hand, and the
democratic, neo-ethnic federalists, human rights activists, feminists and maoists on the other hand. Whereas the priests are trying to prevent the undermining of their ancient rights and privileges as mediators between the Gods and humans, there is an increasingcommercialisation of the revered but poor Living Goddess by the western media. Instead of centuries of silence as a Kumari, the Living Goddess of Katmandu might in future give public human-interest interviews, and exclusive photo shootings in her new role till the hormones play havoc in her godly body.
Nepal has to go with the times, for the the Hindu and Buddhist worshippers of the Kumari have left the country and the believers have settled down in foreign shores, and desire and demand their share of of the Heimat, religion and culture. If the worshippers can't come to the Goddess Kumari, then the Living Goddess has to go on tournee across the Seven Seas, kala pani as we call it, and carry out the panipatya ceremony like generations of Hindu and Buddhist British Gurkhas have done, when they return home from their deadly missions abroad fighting for the Queen of England. I did it too.
Related to country: Germany
available in: (original) | | | | | | | | |
Deleting Lives in the Cyberworld (Satis Shroff)
The young man and his double-clicks
In a cyberworld
Of bits and bytes,
Full of elves, tough turtles, dementors,
Warriors and evil beings,
Who destroy hamlets, towns,
At the command of a few clicks.
An unreal world
Where the fantasy stories
The elimination of farmers, slaves,
Knaves and enemy warriors,
But a click away.
You are the creator,
The maker and destroyer,
You are Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma.
Thumbs up or down,
Death to you,
Your’re short of amphetamines.
It’s a long way to the apothecary.
You’re falling asleep.
Drowsy bits and bytes,
You haven’t taken a bite.
Your inner man is growling,
But you have no time,
For bodily needs.
To your bits and bytes.
Oh, it bites.
Groggy in the Afternoon (Satis Shroff)
Groggy from the Cyberworld at home,
Fritz goes to school.
He’s tired of school,
And is restless.
Retalin doesn’t seem to work today.
The lessons are irrelevant,
He sees not the classmates.
He sees the goblins, Power Rangers,
Sword-fighting Ninjas ,
Scores of other figures
With terrifying grimaces.
Fritz also makes a grimace.
He is now a monster in his thoughts,
Has to strike the others
With his laser-sword.
The enemy surrounds him,
Laser-blades flash like lightning.
A gash and Fritz falls on the floor.
But rotates his prostrate torso
With his fast working legs,
Lashes out with his sword.
He’s almost killed them all.
He’s a hero who never gives up.
Suddenly he hears teacher Frau Hess’s voice:
’Fritz, steh auf!’
He becomes calm,
Gone are the warriors, Power Rangers,
And super heroes and mighty enemies.
Fritz recognises his classmates,
Hans, Joachim, Cassandra, Brunhild,
As they shake their heads.
Was it a dream?
Oh je! Frau Hess will certainly call Mom.
And tell it all.
‘Scheiß ADS!’ mutters Kevin.
ADS: Allgemeine Deficiency Syndrome
The Japanese Garden (Satis Shroff)
Nine Hauptschule kids in their teens,
Sit on benches in the Japanese Garden,
Near the placid, torquoise lake.
The homework is done sloppily.
The boys are bursting with hormones,
As they tease the only blonde from Siberia.
A fat guy named Heino likes the blonde,
But she doesn’t fancy him.
A conflict develops.
The teacher tells him in no uncertain terms:
“Lass Sie bitte in Ruhe!”
But Heino with the MP3 doesn’t care
And carries on:
Grasping her breasts,
Caressing her groin.
She puts up a fight to no avail.
Heino is stronger, impertinent,
And full of street rhetoric.
Meanwhile, the other teenies
Are climbing, kicking the Japanese pavilion,
Spitting, cursing shouting
At all and sundry in German.
The grey-haired gardener in charge comes,
Tells the boys to behave
Boredom in the afternoon.
The boys don’t want to play soccer,
Handball or basketball.
Sitting around, criticising, irritating each other,
Creative workshops: music, songs, essays, own movies?
Nothing interests them.
Killing time together,
Cursing at each other,
Getting a kick provoking passersby,
This is the Hauptschule in Germany today.
The clever kids go to the Gymnasium,
After the fourth class.
The trouble-makers, aggressive alpha-wolves
And clowns remain in the Hauptschule.
An ironical name for a school,
For Haupt means the ‘main’
Comprising the lower class of the society:
Kids of foreigners, ethnic Germans from the East Bloc,
Who hope to make it somehow,
As apprentices for hair salons, car repair garages,
Kebab shops, Italian restaurants, Balkan kitchens,
Roofers and masons.
The Japanese Garden, a present from Matsuyama
To the people of Freiburg,
With truncated shrubs and rounded trees.
A waterfall and quiet niches,
A place for contemplation and solitude.
For the Hauptschule kids,
A place to get together,
Be loud, grunt, fight with fists, shove, scratch,
Slap, spit everywhere,
And play the gangsta.
“At night they throw empty alcohol bottles
Where ever they like,” says an elderly lady
From the neighbourhood.
Wonder how the kids are in Matsuyama?
Sonderschule (Satis Shroff)
“Halt’s Maul, Du Missgeburt!”
Says one to the other.
‘Halt dein Mund, Du Jude!
Ich hasse Juden, Mann!’ barks an obese Hauptschuler.
The others play football in the classroom.
The teacher says emphatically,
‘It’s forbidden to play soccer here!’
They reply in chorus:
‘It doesn’t disturb anybody.’
A grey-blonde teacher barges into the room and says:
‘Leben Sie hier noch?’ to his colleague.
Are you still alive?
Boris has an appointment with the police.
They nabbed him stealing a car.
Nicky quips to Suleika:
‘Du hast einen fetten Arsch!
Albin runs helter skelter,
Settles down on a table,
Chewing gum between his yellow teeth,
Doesn’t like authority.
Hans, Fritz and Bruno do their extra homework,
Meted out as a punishment by the English teacher.
Vitaly throws scissors in the classroom,
Which land with a thud on the cork wall.
Heino is doing his best to disturb the group,
With his loud MP3 music.
‘Ha! Ha! Ha! Du Hurensohn!’ he says,
To a fellow classmate.
A Kosovo-kid who’s hyperactive,
Steals and fights at school.
The Germans send him to a Sonderschule.
His father’s proud for ‘sonder’ means ‘special.’
His son is attending an elite school, he thinks,
Only to realise later,
It was a school for difficult children.
EAST BLOC KID GOES WEST (Satis Shroff)
A pair of heavy scissors fly
In a dark Hauptschule classroom,
Thrown by an Aussiedler school-kid,
Near Freiburg’s Japanese Garden.
The scissors can slash your face,
You can be maimed for life,
If the sharp ends
Bury in your eyes,
Let there be light.
Vitaly, a boy from the former east Bloc
Comes to the West,
In search of ancestors and heritage.
What he gets is rejection but freedom.
Freedom to do as he pleases,
With pleasant negative sanctions.
‘Even in jail they have TV,’ he says with a laugh.
He grows up in a ghetto,
And his anger burns.
Anger at his ageing parents,
Who forced him to come to the West,
But who are themselves lost in this new world
Of democratic, liberal values,
Luxurious and electronic consumer delights,
Where everyone cares for himself or herself,
Where the old structures of the society
They clung to in the east Bloc days
A brave new world,
Where economy and commerce flourishes,
Where the individual’s view is important,
And to others.
The East Bloc boy learns
To assert himself in the West,
Not with solid arguments and rhetoric
But with his two fists.
He fancies cars and their contents,
Breaks open the windows,
Takes all he wants.
Brushes with the police
At an early age.
English, Latin and French at school,
He prefers to play the clown:
To dance on the table,
Make suggestive moves with his groin,
High on designer drugs,
High all the time.
Opens the classroom door,
Sees a girl from the seventh grade,
And yells at her:
‘Nach der Schule fick ich Dich.’
‘Screw you after school.’
His behaviour brings laughter
But he turns off the girls he admires.
He grins and insults his peers.
Rejected by youngsters,
Admonished by grown-ups.
He watches the society.
Chic clothes, streamlined cars, plastic money,
But he forgets that there’s personal performance
Behind these worldly riches.
‘The rich German drives his BMW
With his head in the air.
What does he care?
What does he care?’ thinks Vitaly.
A pair of scissors fly
In a dark classroom.
His pent-up emotions,
Let loose in a German Hauptschool,
Near the Japanese Garden.
His classmate from Croatia
Throws chairs at the another.
‘Aus Spass’ he says.
Just for fun.
He shouts at the Putzfrau,
Who cleans the classrooms:
You mad woman.
Is the school-system to blame?
Is western culture, tradition
Social, liberal values and norms to blame?
Are his parents who speak a conserved Deutsch to blame?
Is his Russian mother-tongue
And his great Russian soul to blame?
Nobody answers his questions,
Out in the West.
“Verdammt, I want to be heard!” screams Vitaly.
The people shake their heads,
Mutter, ‘Ein Spinner!’
And walk away.
A pair of sharp, long scissors
Fly in a dark classroom.
The scissors can slash your face,
THE SEA SWELLS (Satis Shroff)
The sea shells on the sea shore
Suddenly the sea swells.
Ring the church and temple bells.
All is not well.
The sea has gone back.
Brown-burnt Tarzans and Janes
From different continents,
Wonder what’s going on.
A man from Sweden
Is immersed in his thriller under the palms.
A mother and daughter from Germany
Frolic on the white sunny beach.
Even the sea-gulls stop and listen
To the foreboding silence.
The sea swells,
And brings an apocalyptic destruction:
Sweeping humans, huts and hotels,
Boats, billboards and debris.
Cries for help are stifled by the roaring waves.
The sea goes back.
Leaving behind lost souls,
Caught in suspended animation.
I close my eyes.
Om Shanti. Om shanti.
WENN EIN KIND/ When a Child (Anon)
Wenn ein Kind kritisiert wird,
lernt es zu verurteilen.
Wenn ein Kind angefeindet wird,
lernt es zu kämpfen.
Wenn ein Kind verspottet wird,
lernt es schüchtern zu sein.
Wenn ein Kind beschämt wird,
lernt es sich schuldig zu sein.
Wenn ein Kind verstanden und toleriert wird,
lernt es geduldig zu sein.
Wenn ein Kind ermutigt wird,
lernt es sich selbst zu vertrauen.
Wenn ein Kind gelobt wird,
lernt es sich selbst zu schätzen.
Wenn ein Kind gerecht behandelt wird,
lernt es sich gerecht zu sein.
Wenn ein Kind geborgen lebt,
lernt es zu vertrauen.
Wenn ein Kind anerkannt wird,
lernt es sich selbst zu mögen.
Wenn ein Kind in Freundschaft angenommen wird,
lernt es in der Welt Liebe zu finden.
(Text über dem Eingang einer tibetischen Schule)
What others have said about the author:
'Brilliant, I enjoyed your poems throughly. 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.
'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).
|February 15, 2008 | 9:12 AM
Switzerland's Famous Carnival: Morgenstraich (Satis Shroff)
Related to country: Switzerland
available in: (original) | | | | | | | | |
Morgenstraich: Switzerland’s Famous Carnival (Satis Shroff)
Switzerland’s famous carnival, the Morgenstraich, began on Monday morning at 4am, and is a world attraction with its magical atmosphere. The official lights of this cultural town went out and suddenly artistically decorated, self-made lanterns began to glow in the darkness that had enveloped Switzerland’s second biggest city.
The cliques of the Basler Fastnacht were gathered in their individual costumes in the narrow cobbled alleys of the olde historical town. Just before the signal was given, the motley clad people donned their outsized masks (Larven) and stood in formation like infanterists out to conquer a town, not with muskets but music. You hold your breath for a second in the darkness, even though you know that Basle vibrates with life.
Someone shouted at the top of his voice: “Morgenstraich, forwards march!” The people began to move to the melody of drums and piccolo flutes. If you didn’t want to lose contact with your near and dear ones you had to catch hands lest they be lost in the crowd. The piccolo flutes with their shrill notes are characteristic of Basle.
In the three days that follow there’s an outburst of colour, grotesque masks, music and satirical comments that are distributed on long strips of coloured paper along with tons of confetti and goodies for all and sundry. The people of Basle do it perfection, painstaking creativity and you can sense the dedication behind the celebrations.
The Rhine town vibrates to the music of the Fastnacht for three days and nights till Thursday at 3:59 according to Swiss time. The celebrations have an air of joy combined with disciplined behaviour, especially among the members of the Swiss cliques, where they see to it that no clique members starts dancing out of the disciplined formation. It is indeed the biggest flute concert in the world along the cobbled old town as they go about with their piccolos and drums---peacefully and traditionally. There’s none of the noisy ‘Narri, narro, helau’ that you hear and get to see on the German side of the Rhine.
And when you’re tired of walking around in the cold, cobbled streets of Basle, you enter one of the Altstadt Cafes where you can eat the traditional brown Mehlsuppe (flour-soup) with white Swiss wine and round onion and cheese cakes.
The Basler Fasnacht is regarded this year as an ideal chance to integrate foreign youth in the cliques, since they live in the town and their parents work who are migrants work in the area. Thomas Kessler, a guy from Zürich, who’s an admirer of the Basler Fastnacht, is also the chief of the ‘Integration Basle’ of the Security Department. He has integrated the second generation of migrant youth into the cliques because they need new members to carry out the Swiss tradition. The number of Swiss nationals taking part in the Basler Fastnacht has gone down to 20 per cent but a lot of children of the foreigners living in Basle and its suburbs take delight in the celebration and join the cliques when they reach their teens. To this effect the cliques have distributed flyers in nine languages in Basle’s schools. More and more Turks, who are actually Moslems, have been buying Fastnacht costumes for their kids so that their children have a sense of belonging to Basle’s Fastnacht tradition, which in turn is a Catholic festival. When it comes to the Basler Fastnacht, the boundaries between culture, religion and tradition seem to disappear. What counts is: do in Basle as the Basler do, namely celebrate Morgenstraich in this world-open city. And the Basler are an exuberant, fun-loving folk. Celebrating the Morgenstraich can be infectious and visitors are known to come again and again. Like yours truly for instance.
In the pre-Fastnacht days there are a lot of events in the theatres with the many cliques carrying names like: Barfiessler (barefoot), drummeli (drums) for music lovers, Pfyfferli for the friends of theatre, Mimosli for people who’re jolly, Zofinger-conzärtli for two finger concerts, which is meant for insiders, Drufftaggt for those who’d like to experiment, and the Charivari at the Volkshaus, which was originally created as an alternative to the Drummli and which was visited by Miss Switzerland Claudia Wambululu, and naturally a children’s Charivari version for the kiddies at the Theatre Basle, in which a certain Frau Fastnacht wants to do away with the Fastnacht celebrations, because she thinks that the children only think about the forthcoming Euro 08. The list of the pre-Fastnacht events seem to be longer each year.
The taverns, inns and restaurants are open all the time for the next 72 hours. The three beautiful days are called ‘drey scheenste Dääg’ in Schwyzer Deutsch. You can google or yahoo for these celebrations and events till Thursday in the internet under: http://fastnacht.ch.
Gruezi Miteinander. Cherrio.
|February 10, 2008 | 4:50 PM
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