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Welcome! Hardik Swagatam! Welcome to Satis Shroff's Freiburger Literature which about the musings of the writer & poet, his sketches and drawings, his happiness in Freiburg-Kappel and his longing for the Alps, Himalayas and his musings about the nature in our environment, which we have to preserve and fight for, read it be destroyed by human encroachment like in other parts of the world. The writer has worked as a teacher and journalist in Catmandu (Nepal) for The Rising Nepal, a major English language daily.

Having come all the way from the Himalayas, I have found a home in the Dreisamtal. The word ‘Tal’ means a Valley in German. I love the wonderful air (Landluft) here, have made good friends in Kappel, and have been living like Mr. Mathew Lobo, my English school teacher, wrote in an e-mail: 'Satis, you are Omnia bene facere.' He now lives down under in Perth, and is rather web-active, despite the fact that he's an octogenarian bajay, a Nepalese word for grandpa. He was the handsomest guy in Darjeeling in the summer of his life, and now he's a brilliant example of life-long learning. You will never grow old as long there’s love and this craving for knowledge in your heart. I remember my Mom telling me when I was a school-kid: 'Satis, vidya (knowledge) is something that no one can take away from you once you have acquired it.' And at the University of Freiburg are written three words: Wissen is power.

Well, life is a long journey, as I see it, and we are all protagonists in each of our life stories. In this long journey we meet a good many people who in some way influence us, give us empathy, dignity, strength, show tolerance and we learn to love and admire these meaningful people in our lives, and there are those we shun, abhor and who have a negative influence and aura around them. In the school compound, it's the same thing. You can't get along with all kids, all teachers, all parents, all colleagues and bosses. A lot of mobbing and bossing going on there. But the wonderful thing is you don’t have to fraternise with ‘em all. Just humor them, bear with them. You don’t have to spend all your life with ‘em. Find peace through prayer, meditation, autogenic training, yoga or whatever, and praise and nurture the child in you, and you will gain strength. Praise yourself for your achievements and delete the bad memories from your life. Tell yourself, you might not wake up tomorrow and live the day full to the brim. Care for your dear ones. If you don’t have one, find one. ‘If you are looking, you will find’ runs the adage in German. Out there in the wide world there’s definitely someone with the same wavelength as you waiting to be contacted. Follow your heart, not your head.

When you've grown older you realize that you cannot get along with everyone. There are people with whom you can only talk about the weather. Even in one’s own family. But there are others who love to talk and have a good time telling about themselves. A good listener and a cheerful attitude always has an advantage. Are you a good listener?

In this epoch of computers, bits and bytes, most of us have no time like in Michael Ende’s Momo story. We forget to take time, because we're oh-so-busy. Perhaps we'll realize it when it's too late, when our residence permit or stay permit on this planet is over, and our souls head for the cosmos at the speed of light. However, as long as we live we ought to indulge in a bit of enjoyment, fun, wellness and try to find the equilibrium with ourselves. Can you accept the way you are? Are you satisfied with yourself, with what you've done till now? Then you've lived a meaningful life. Keep it up.

I find it so enriching to have Nature around us, the chirping of the birds in the dense, lush green bushes and trees, the beautiful blue range of hills of the Dreisam Valley, and in the evening the soothing Höllentäler wind after a sunny day.
From the Rosskopf, which is now known for its four white windmill rotor blades, you can have a commanding view of the entire Dreisam Valley and the approach to the Elz Valley, as well as the distant Breisgau. It's definitely worth a visit.

Ah, the Black Forest was once to the French Forêt Noire, a dark, gloomy area, difficult to traverse and unpopulated forested hills. To the English the Black Forest conjured up images of the Black-Forest Man, who evoked fear in children, and was delpicted as being half-wild and a robber to boot. In Nepal the mothers also mention the yeti or sokpa when the children are not obedient to instill fear in them should they not refrain from their pranks and stubborness. Children are also told tales about the robber Hotzenplotz who is known to blast you with his pepper-pistole. Even Germans from other parts of the country have been known to bestow the Black Forest with negative compliments as a wild and sad place.

However, when a traveler comes from the Rhine, Donau or Neckar Valleys to the heights of the Schwarzwald, they are delighted to find beauty, fresh air, spas (Bad Krozingen, Bad Bellingen, Alpirsbach), great wines and picturesque towns with cobbled streets , the Freiburger Bächele, cathedral and elite university flair, the young people at its Bermuda triangle, Thomas Rees' wooden works of fantasy exhibited around Kappel and Freiburg. There's a mingling of traditional and modern lifestyles. It's like another world surrounded by blue mountains from Rosskopf to Buchenbach, St.Peter, St.Märgen and beyond. You can hear the visitor from northern Germany and elsewhere say: ‘One can live here and be happy for the rest of your life.’

In every nook and corner of the Black Forest there are legends and stories waiting to be discovered and retold. In Feldberg you have the story about being visited by a ghost, the knight Peter von Stauffenberg and the Fairy from the Sea, the Hambacher Festival, the Witch's Tower of Bühl, the German Farmer, the Ghost of Windbeck's Castle Cook, the Water-sprite of Schlucksee to name a few. In Staufen even Mephistopheles is said to have visited Doctor Faustus. The people of the Black Forest still put on their traditional costumes and speak their dialects, despite the modernity and fast pace of everyday life where you have to plan everything. The village bands still play their traditional tunes, and the male singers in the hamlets, towns and cities still have their old collection of songs which they sing with gusto as they have done since generations. You hear the Allemanic dialect along the Rhine and Swabian along the Neckar Valleys.

There's still a lot of old tradition that is being nursed and developed even among the younger generation. And when the visitor has slept in the Black Forest huts, hotels or bread-and-breakfast accommodations, has talked with the people of the Schwarzwald, they go as friends, taking home wonderful memories of the walks in the wilderness, the mountain glades with mooing and chewing well-fed cows, the excellent Badische cuisine and wines, the tasty Black Forest Torte, the witch's hole mill and the Vogtsbauern homesteads.

You have to learn or re-learn to appreciate the small, good things in life and nature is a big present for us all. There’s international poetry, culture: music, dances, theater and in the wintry nights an endless world of books. Oh, life is just wonderful no matter where you live. It's the mental attitude that makes or breaks you. Keeping good habits and eliminating bad ones helps you along this long journey called life. I like people who have a good and genuine smile on their faces. Death and separation are also a part of our journeys on this stage called life, where we are actors and have the daily chance to change ourselves and play new, constructive roles. If we prefer not to change our character roles and want to remain bitter, envious, jealous, depressed, frustrated, narrow-minded, then nobody can help us. We're stopping ourselves. You are the director of your own lives and it's up to you to determine which role you prefer to play. The curtain goes up every morning when we get out of our beds. The birds seem to be twittering Carpe diem to us.

Lyric:

The Symphony of the Morning (Satis Shroff)

I discern the recurring chirps and whistles
Of the birds in the vast foliage of an oak tree,
A German oak.

Whistles, chirps, hoots
And melodious symphony,
Like the incessant waves
Slashing on the shores of the Atlantic.

A single bird gives the tact,
A strong monotonous chirp.
The others follow suit,
Not in unison
But still in harmony.

You notice so many melodies
When you eavesdrop,
In the quiet comfort of your bed.
The natural symphony of the morning:
Adagio, crescendo,
It's all there
For your fine ears.

CHIRPS IN MY GARDEN (Satis Shroff)

I peer at the pine trees above,
Heavily laden with fluffy snow,
Like sentinels of the Black Forest.

I espy something moving:
Three deer with moist noses,
Sniffing the Kappler air,
Strut among the low bushes
In all their elegance,
Only to vanish silently,
Into the recesses of the Foret Noir.

I hear the robin,
Robin,
With its clear, loud, pearly tone,
As it greets the day.
Just before sunrise the black bird,
Blackbird,
Which flies high on the tree tops,
Delivers its aries early.
The great titmouse stretches its wings
And starts to sing.

The brown sparrows turn up
With their repertoire,
Rap in the garden,
Twitter and chirp aloud.
All this noise makes the bullfinch alert,
For it also wants to be heard.
It starts its high pitched melody
With gusto in the early hours.

The starling clears its throat.
What comes is whistles,
Mingled with smacking sounds.
The woodpecker,
Woodpecker,
Isn’t an early bird,
Starts its day late.
Pecks with its beak,
At a hurried tempo.

If that doesn't get you out of your bed,
I'm sure you're on holiday,
Or thank God it's Sunday.
Other feathered friends
Who frequent our Black Forest house,
Are the green finch, the jay,
Goldfinch which we call ‘Goldfinch,’
Larks, thrush and the oriole,
The Bird of the Year,
On rare occasions.

Glossary:
English, German, Latin names
Robin (European robin): Erithacus rubecula
Black bird: Turdus merula
Titmouse (great tit): Parus major
Bullfinch (red finch):
Greenfinch (jay): Chloris chloris
Starling: Sturnus vulgaris
Woodpecker (woodpecker):
Goldfinch: Carduelis carduelis
Oriole: Oriolus oriolus

Thomas Rees: Soyez mysterieuse in the Black Forest (Satis Shroff)

Thomas Rees is a middle aged jeans type, with gray hair at the sides, thin-lipped, blue eyed, married, two children and is a sculptor who likes to depict the powers that be in religion, fantasy and mythology. He has an individual view of sacral stories and objects.

The birth of Jesus is depicted this time in his 6m work of art, and also associated with the murder of the children of Bethlehem, and posed with King Herodes with a crown, the symbol of power on earth. He begins with Adam and Eva at the top, a dragon head to signify a snake, the inferno, the castle of Herodes with a knife, Roman legionaires with lances, angels, the brothers Cain and Abel and the ten commandments. The open grave in Easter signifies Christian hope, and as the reason for Christian existence is a cross, symbolizing a certain Friday (Good Friday). One figure is shown screaming and the other shows sadness and is sunk in itself.

Wonderful, sensitive wooden emotive art: biblical history carved in wood. But wood is nature and given to withering and change through the negative onslaught of the scorching sun, wet and damp rain, wind, frost, snow and ice.

When you go past the other wooden sculptures of Thomas near his home in Freiburg-Kappel figures you can discern the changes wrought by the four seasons. But it is this change that makes his wooden figures all the more fascinating. What a magical, fascinating place to live in, with all those magnificent works of art from history, mythology, pre-history, from far-off countries, and Thomas ’fantasy which never ceases to conjour new faces, figures and creatures. Need inspiration for your next fantasy novel? Just drop in at Freiburg-Kappel and you'll certainly be flabbergasted if not astounded.

In a winter-garden structure in his house is a figure with two lovers in ecstatic embrace which I find pure, fascinating with a hunk of eros, a symbol of what love can be in its sensual, romantic form. You can discover influences of the South Sea figures akin to Paul Gauguin, different styles, even a Givenchy bridge near his home, where a rivulet flows down to the maize and potato fields. Figures of forgotten Gods, strong, elegant women. Thomas combines in his sculpture lot of legends and motifs which remind you of the polytheistic character of old religions from the South Sea, monumental Germanic mythological figures or his studies of the female figures, lying prostrate on the ground, standing erect, hands at the sides and head turned to the side. The variations are endless. 'Love each other and you'll be happy' is also his message to fellow humans, and his art has a certain ambiguity: there's the good and the bad, positive and negative, happiness and sorrow, small and big, monumental at times, sinking or emerging figures., Exotic Fantasy Worlds.

Didn’t Gauguin insist on ‘soyez mysterieuse’? Be mysterious. That’s the feeling you have when you look at his creations.

Thomas sees not only the beautiful world of religion but he points to, and emphasizes, also the not-so-holy world: the banishment from Paradise, the building of the Tower of Babylon, murder of the brother, the flood and Noah's Arch. He asks his fellow humans and theologists: why? He poses this question not only to Homo religiosus but also people who are in search of religion and rituals. You only have to open your eyes, interpret what they reveal and decide yourself in which direction you want to go. Perhaps all religions lead to the same goal: humans should be humans.

Thomas Rees is the most productive person in Freiburg-Kappel and his works are impressionism it its purest form, the depiction of sensory feelings, which tend to be transitory under the changing conditions of light, color, movement and form. Nature plays a big role in his creativeness, for his art objects are mostly displayed outdoors, without the protection allotted to works of art in art galleries. He, himself, is a well-trained out-door guy, prefers to wear a bomber-jacket, jeans and a checked lumberjack’s shirt, a soft-spoken person wouldn’t notice in a crowd but endowed with an explosive creativity. What a fantastic neighbor I have. Do pay Kappel a visit: ask anyone and they'll tell you where the sculptor lives.

Tribute:
Anzu Furukawa and The Rite of Spring (Satis Shroff)

I’d often seen an outsized portrait of Anzu Furukawa in my friend Wolfgang Graf’s home, and when we talked about Anzu and he said, “My own experience with Anzu came in 1999, during the San Francisco Buto Festival. I participated in her workshop and found her to be a good teacher, able to communicate well to her students despite the fact the her English was somewhat limited. She used humor to break the tension that so often can hamper a student from learning. That same humor was communicated in her performance of one of her most famous works, Crocodile Time. "
Anzu Furukawa was born in Tokyo in 1952. She studied in 1972-75 under professor Yoshiro Irino in the Toho-gakuen College of Music. She worked since 1973 as a choreographer, performer and scenarist in various groups in Japan and Europe on many international festivals. Among others she also worked in 1979 as a solo dancer in the Dairaku-kan buto group. An accomplished ballet dancer, modern dancer, studio pianist for ballet companies and a student of modern composition of music in addition to being both a teacher and performer of Buto dance.
In this connection it is necessary to talk about the Buto. ‘What is‘ Buto? ’You might ask.

Buto is a school of modern Japanese dance which was born at the turn of the fifties and sixties. Buto dance has also influenced the development of dance in Finland and in Europe in general. Buto was born amid the upheavals in Japan, in the atmosphere characterized by student revolts, performance acts and agitation prop. The founder of the school was Tatsumi Hijikata (1928-1986), who came from Northern Japan to Tokyo. He started with violent and anarchistic dance performances, after which his relations with the official school of Japanese dance were cut off. In his later work, he created a kind of basic technique for buto, which, however, differed from Western aesthetics. Another "first generation buto artist" is Kazuo Ohno (1906-) who also visited Finland.

Anzu gave her debut in 1973 as a director and choreographer with the first piece “grand conceptual opera” SALOME TALE at the German Cultural Center in Tokyo. From 1974 till 79 she worked as a soloist in the dancer performance Dairaruda-kan directed by Akaji Maro. She also worked with Carlotta Ikeda, Ko Muroboshi, Ushio Amagatsu.
In 1979-86 she founded and led, together with Tetsuro Tamuro, the Dance Love Machine group. Then she founded in 1987 the Anzu Dance School in Tokyo and began solo performances in Japan and Europe. In 1987 she created many successful works such as the Anzu's Animal Atlas, Cells of Apple, Faust II, Rent-a-body, The Detective from China, and A Diamond as big as the Ritz. From 1991 till 1997 she held University Professorship in Hochschule fur Bildende Kunste Braunschweig, Germany (focus on performance). She received many grants and prizes from the Goethe Institut Tokyo Contemporary music series, The Japan Foundation, Nippon Geijutsu Bunka Shinko Kikin, Afred Kordelin Foundation, The Art Council of Province of Central Finland and the Astro-Labium prize, The International Electronic Cinema Festival- Montreux, Kolner Theater Prize
As a visiting instructor at a Finnish university, Anzu Furukawa concentrated on collaborative productions at the Helsinki City Theater and staged works like the Rite of Spring in 1994 and the Buto works Bo (Keppi) and Shiroi mizu (Villi Vesi) in 1995 using mostly Finnish dancers. In Western Europe, most people believe that a dancer should stop performing at the top level sometime in their 40s. Due to the attitude of placing importance on the realities of the body mentioned earlier in regard to the interest in Buto, or perhaps the influence of Buto itself, many Finnish dancers still continue to perform into their 50s.

It is the presence of cross-over type activities that transcend conventional category boundaries, like the works of Uotinen that give Finnish dance its contemporary strength. There is also active collaboration with artists from other genre, especially collaborations with media artists and lighting creators. This writer has personally feels that there is a lot of beautifully created light work in Finnish dance, and it seems as if the sensitivity of the lighting art is not unrelated to a dramatic element that originates in the Finnish natural environment with the shining brightness of the midnight sun in summer, the darkness that dominates the winter and the fact that its polar proximity makes the aurora borealis a common sight. This light effect is brought onto the stage by no other than Mikki Kunttu, Finland’s representative lighting designer.

In the work of Saarinen mentioned at the beginning, the natural light effect designed by Mikki Kunttu helped to bring an abstract expression of the religious spirituality achieved through a life of denial of human desires that is the theme of the work.

The solo Hunt that takes Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring as its motif, is an impressive solo that brings the theme to life within the burning energy of the dance. Beginning from silence and having the body spring to life with the music, the piece proceeds to the closing stage to build as images of Marita Liulia projected on the body in a way that created a visual expression of the human body in the information age. I personally like Igor Stravinsky’s “Der Feuervögel”, the firebird very much and it is performed in many German schools. There's a strong interest in Buto in the Finnish dance world and there are many choreographers and dancers who have studied Buto or been influenced by it. This is the result of an expansive approach to the natural world and the physical implications of the fact that the distant roots of the Finnish people who make up most of the population live in Asia. I’d say "Pippis!" to that as a South Asian.

For instance, the approach to nudity that has resulted from Finland’s sauna culture, which is an integral part of Finnish life, is completely different from that of other European countries and even its neighbor Sweden. For the Finnish, nudity is neither implicative of the taboos of sexuality or the diametrically opposed concepts of utopia but simply a natural state that is part of daily life. This fact further deepens the interest in Buto as a form of dance that examines the truths of the body, and the darker sides of life, and seeks to encompass expressions of ailment and death as a part of dance. Dance does not necessarily have to be artificial and aesthetic at all times. In contemporary times we have the Riverdance, Bollywood dancing, Bolshoi or Royal Ballet, in which the body plays a dominant role but the emphasis is on the footwork and a minimum of facial expressions that are used to display the emotions. Not so in Buto performances.

The artistic director of the previously mentioned Kuopio Dance Festival from 1993 to 98, the Asian arts researcher Jukka O. Miettinen, was one of the first to take an interest in Buto and play an active role in introducing Buto artists Carlotta Ikeda, Ko Murobushi, Kazuo Ohno, Sankaijuku and Anzu Furukawa: The festival did help establish an audience for Buto in Finland.

Among the front-line dancers and choreographers in Finland are a number who have journeyed to Japan to study Buto. Tero Saarinen, who performed as a dancer for the Finland National Ballet Company, before forming his own Tero Saarinen & Company, studied Buto for a year in Tokyo at the Kazuo Ohno Dance Studio. And, Arja Raatikainen and Ari Tenhula also studied under Ohno and Anzu Furukawa.

Other Buto artists who have visited and worked in Finland include Masaki Iwana, but the influence of the late Anzu Furukawa who visited Finland numerous times. and gave many workshops, which was especially strong. After performing with Dairakudakan, Furukawa formed Dance Love Machine with Tetsuro Tamura. Later she moved to Germany and continued her activities based in Europe, forming a multinational dance group called Dance Butter Tokyo. The reason for her popularity was probably the wild dance theater type composition of her works that made use of unexpected or comic twists and the exaggerated deformé type body movement that connected in some ways to German expressionist dance.

In an e-mail posted by Chikashi Furukawa, Anzu’s little boy ’brother dated October 23rd you could read:“ I am sorry to inform you that Anzu passed away early this morning. She had been sleeping for more than 30 hours and stopped breathing in peace with her two lovely children holding her hands. She danced at Freiburg New Dance Festival only 20 days ago. In my memory, Anzu was and is always a ‘little girl in an oversized dress’. She ran through all of us in such a hurry. "

© Lyriktribute to Anzu & Pina by Satis Shroff, Freiburg-Kappel

Aurora borealis (Satis Shroff)

The sky was bathed
In fantastic hues:
Yellow, orange, scarlet
Mauve and cobalt blue.
Buto dancing,
In this surreal light
On the stage,
What magnificent.
Your heart pounds higher,
Your feet become light,
Your body sways
To the rhythm
And Nordic lights
Of the aurora borealis.

Akin to the creation
Of the planet we live in.
And here was I,
Anzu Furukawa.
Once a small ballet dancer,
Now a full grown woman:
A choreographer, performer,
Ballet and modern dancer,
Studio pianist.
‘The Pina Bausch of Tokyo’
Wrote a German critic
In Der Tagesspiegel.

Success was my name,
In Japan, Germany, Italy,
Finland and Ghana:
Anzu’s Animal Atlas,
Cells of Apple,
Faust II,
Rent-a-body,
The Detective of China,
A diamond as big as the Ritz.

I was a professor
Of performing arts in Germany.
But Buto became my passion.
Buto was born amid upheavals in Japan,
When students took to the streets,
With performance acts and agit props.
Buto, this new violent dance of anarchy,
Cut off from the traditions
Of Japanese dance.

Oh,
The Kuopio Music et Dance festival
Praised my L’Arrache-coer, ’
The Heart Snatcher.
A touching praise
To human imagination,
And the human ability
To feel even the most surprising emotions

I lived my life with dignity,
But the doctors said
I was very, very sick.
I had terminal tongue cancer.
I’d been sleeping over thirty hours,
And stopped breathing
In peace,
With my two lovely children
Holding my hands.
I'd danced
At the Freiburg New Dance Festival
Only twenty days ago.
I saw the curtain falling,
As we took our bows.

I bow to you my audience,
I hear your applause.
The sound of your applause
Accompanies me
Where ever my soul goes.

I'm still a little girl
In an oversized dress.
I ran through you all
In such a hurry.

* * *
Poetry and Dance (Satis Shroff)

Her images were unusual,
Shocking to some.
Dancers
Jeering and tormenting
Other dancers.
Dancers
Throwing ripe tomatoes
At each other.
Instead of the bastinado,
Lighters held on the soles
Of other dancers.

Women were women
And men were men,
In Pina's world.
No melange
Of estrogens and testosterons,
No X and Y
Chromosomes.

Her women wore scarlet lips,
Her dancers were tormented with ballet:
Adagio, flips and turns,
Carried out rigorously.

In the ‘Rite of Spring’
The dancers were covered with soil.
In 1980 there was a lawn.
In "Carnations" the cloves were crushed
On stage.
In ‘Palermo, Palermo’
A tall wall fell apart.
That was Pina Bausch live.

We'll miss the facial muscles
Of her performers,
Her own dance choreography,
Warning us all
To stop ruining the environment
Of this precious planet.

A high priestess,
A courageous stage poet,
Who threw constantly
Challenges,
With her mute, energetic
Choreography.

The poetess is gone.
What remains are her images,
Long after the dancers
With their flailing hands,
Have vanished into oblivion.

A numbness lingers
At the Tanztheater Wuppertal.
Exit Pina Bausch
At the age of 68.

Glossary:
Environment: environment
Dance: dance
Carnations: carnations
Bastinado: beating the soles of the feet, an old punishment
* * *

THE WIND FROM THE VALE OF HELL (Satis Shroff)

On a hill in Kappel
You feel free and elated.
The stream that bubbles below,
Like an incessant lyric,
A monk's chant in a monastery.

The cherry tree hangs
With bloom on its sagging boughs.
Ah, to look at trees in all their splendor,
In this Black Forest idyll.

The blue Black Forest range,
Makes poetry out of the dying sun
Around the house,
Like an arena in the Himalayas.
The tulips in bright colors are everywhere,
The lovely lilies are swaying,
So are the gladiolas.

As I walk along a mountain stream,
I smell hyacinths.
The marigolds are in full blossom,
And a wave of nostalgia sweeps over me,
For marigolds and tagetes grow
When it's Dasain and Tihar,
Festival time,
Far in the Himalayas.
From the Himalayas to the Black Forest,
What a long journey.

The evening wind whispers gently
From the Vale of Hell,
The hell valleys,
As we fondly call it.
The birds are coming home to roost.

I discern the attentuated tone
Of my little daughter Elena
Playing on her violin.
My feet take me home
With tardy steps.
I feel at peace
With myself

VAN GOGH: BETWEEN HEAVEN AND EARTH (Satis Shroff, Freiburg-Kappel)

If you love Nature truly,
You'll find it beautiful everywhere
(Vincent van Gogh)

If you want to see Vincent van Gogh’s landscape paintings then Basle (Switzerland) is the place to go. The Kunstmuseum Basel has the world's first showing of the landscape paintings, although in autumn-winter 2008-09 there was a major exhibition at Vienna's Albertina on van Gogh's paintings and drawings with 150 of the artist's works, and his expressive use of the of the brush, prior to which the artist had done strong drawings with all the details. They were then colored in their own distinctive way. The Harvest in Provence in oil was first drawn with brown and graphite sticks.

Vincent van Gogh was one of the most productive artists. He painted 900 pictures and 1100 drawings and sketches on paper. He decided to be an artist when he was 27 years old. Ernest Hemingway and van Gogh have one thing in common: both used a gun to end their lives. Van Gogh lived only 37 years. He followed his brother Theo’s advice and went to live in Auvers near Paris, where he was medically treated by Dr. Paul Gachet, a neurologist with a penchant for art. Prior to that he had psychic disturbances and cut his ear, had himself treated at the hospital in Arles, and since 1889 moved to the psychiatric home at Saint Remy.

Van Gogh was born in 1853 in Holland’s Groot-Zundert, and his father was a Protestant preacher. He was influenced by the countryside environment. He felt a deep love for nature and also nostalgia for his village. He didn’t have a good time at school and as a result he began working in the Art and Graphic business Groupik & Cie. Since he wasn't motivated in his job, he was fired and worked as a teacher and assistant preacher in England. But the University rejected his theological ambitions.

After a crisis in the family his brother Theo recommended him to become an artist. Vincent van Gogh started learning to draw and paint the hard way as an autodidact. Good news for people who want to do it on their own. He loved to paint dark landscapes and farmers during their working hours. He got closer to a woman who used to sew clothes and occasionally engaged in the oldest profession in the world. Her name was Sien but the relationship ended after one and a half years.

Vincent van Gogh wanted to understand the contemporary art Impressionism, so he went to Paris in 1886. It was Paul Gauguin, Emile Bernard, Paul Signac and the bright outdoor paintings of the Impressionists that brought a great change in van Gogh’s paintings. He started using brighter colors and the city and the countryside became his motifs: gardens, parks, fields, olive groves and yineyards. The outcome was wonderful paintings daubed in yellows, blues, greens. He was on his way to discover his own artistic language.

The Basel exhibition is a reconstruction of van Gogh’s cycles of nature and forms, with which he experimented, that are to be seen in the expositions. Van Gogh celebrated the uniqueness and glory of creation, and his deep bond with nature are revealed in his outstanding works. I love the cypresses tat appear in van Gogh’s paintings and the theme of the cycles of Nature. About his fascination for Cypresses, Vincent van Gogh said this:
‘The cypresses are in my mind again and again. It's strange that no one has painted them, the way I see them. In the lines and proportions they're as beautiful as an Egyptian obelisk. And the green has such a fine tone. It is the dark spec on a sun basked landscape, but it's one of the most interesting black tones, and I can’t think of anything that’s more difficult to paint. ’

Even though he had psychic problems, he painted pictures that were reassuring with warm colors that create joy and optimism, if not exhilaration in the eyes of the viewer, friend, art-lover, connoisseur. How right he was when he said: ‘Art is man plus nature. The art historian Julius Meier-Graefe wrote his story of a seeker of God to help build a legend about Vincent van Gogh in 1921. Irving Stone's book 'Lust for Life' (1934) was filmed by Vincent Minelli in 1956. Don McLean's song 'Vincent' is a wonderful homage to van Gogh's painting 'starry night' in which the painter is depicted as a misunderstood, suffering soul who was too good for this world. The lyric goes:
Now I understand,
What you're trying to say
To me.

Even though van Gogh did a lot of landscapes, for him art wasn't imitating nature. It was the feelings and thoughts evoked by nature that an artist brings to the canvas. It isn't perspective or anatomy that’s relevant but the authenticity of one's artistic expression. Van Gogh did it personally with strong color lines and drawings, making his works of art an expression of his inner feelings and of nature that he adored. Van Gogh’s essential period of work lasted only intensive years which were made eternal by his contemporaries. Like van Gogh aptly said: ‘Some people have a big fire in their soul, and nobody comes to warm himself or herself in it.’

© Copyright 2009 by Satis Shroff

About the Author:

Satis Shroff is a prolific writer and teaches Creative Writing at the Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg. http://www.zfs.uni-freiburg.de/zfs/dozent/lehrbeauftragte4/index_html/#shroff. He is a lecturer, poet and writer and the published author of five books: 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), and two language books on the Nepalese language for DSE (German Foundation for Development Service) & Horlemannverlag. He has written three feature articles in the Munich-based Nelles Verlag's' Nepal 'on the Himalayan Kingdom's Gurkhas, sacred mountains and Nepalese symbols and on Hinduism in' Nepal: Myths & Realities (Book Faith India) and his poem 'Mental Molotovs' was published in epd development service (Frankfurt). 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. 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 Mit Another in this world. He lectures in Basle (Switzerland) and in Germany at the Academy for Medical Professions (University Klinikum Freiburg) and the Center for Key Qualifications (University of Freiburg, where he is a lecturer for Creative Writing). Satis Shroff was awarded the German Academic Exchange Prize.
What others have said about the author:
"The descriptions by Satis Shroff in‘ Through Nepalese Eyes ’are fascinating and give us the opportunity to see our world with new eyes." (Alice Grünstelder from Unionsverlag / Limmat Verlag, Zurich).

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).

“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.

© Copyright 2009 by Satis Shroff. You may republish this article online provided you keep the byline, the author’s note, and the active hyperlinks.

* * *
FRIENDS (Satis Shroff)

I sit on my chaise longue,
Serving Darjeeling to my friends,
Strengthened with masala,
And cream.
There's Murat from Turkey,
Rosella from Italy,

Stefan and Barbara from Rheinfelden,
Mrs. Adolph from downtown Freiburg.

Rosella has brought North Italian flair
And cakes that I relish,
From Milano.
Pannetone with Mascapone,
Champagne and tiramisu.
A kiss to the right,
A kiss to the left,
Settles down and says:
‘Isn’t life wonderful, Satis?’
Hubby Samuel has expanded
His aerospace factory.

My friend Murat,
The personification of togetherness,
Hands me a new novel,
With his signature,
Written despite the protests
Of his family,
Keeping late hours,
To finish his magnum opus,
A story about the Allevite folk.

A pleasure and honor,
But I'm afraid,
I can't read it:
It's Turkish to me.
But I'll gladly view the seven films
He’s written the script for.

Barbara,
And my poet friend Stefan,
Have been to the Zermat
And have tales to tell,
Not only of Wilhelm,
But about the beauty of Switzerland.

Mrs. Adolph, the pensioned lady,
Glows like the sun:
An infectious smile
Over her tanned face.
No botox, only dentures,
And tells of her adventures in Italy,
Latin lover included,
And of her Sudanese seduction.
An elderly lady,
A friend with style
And aesthetic intelligence.

Ain't it wonderful
To have dear friends?
Home abroad,
Abroad home.
Shanti!
Shanti!
Peace
Which passeth understanding.

Glossary:
Chaise longue: long French sofa
Included: included
Together: together, togetherness
Shanti: peace
Changing rhythm: changing rhythms
Train: train
Mumbai: Bombay
Bueb: small male child
Chen: belittling, like Babu-cha in Newari
Black Forest: The Black Forest of south-west Germany

Goethe: A Writer of the First Rank (Satis Shroff, Freiburg-Kappel)

Johann Wolfgang Goethe, who was lifted to nobility as J. W. von Goethe in 1782, was born on August 28, 1749 in the town of Frankfurt. The Goethes lived in a large, comfortable house in the Hirschgasse, now called Goethe Haus. Besides practical, scientific and autobiographical writings, he left behind more than 15,000 letters, diaries relating to the 52 years of his life and also countless conversational writings of people he’d met.

Even though Goethe’s work is fragmentary in general, it reveals the essence of his literary genius. Goethe himself said: ‘All my works are fragments of a large denomination.’
He remains to date one of the most original and powerful German lyric poets and his Faust is no doubt a work of inexhaustible ambiguity and wonderful poetry.

The atmosphere that was evident in his parent’s home was that of the educated and their lifestyle in those days, and through his writings we get an exact idea of ​​the Zeitgeist of Goethe’s days. He held the town of his birth in high esteem for it was the environment and intellectual background of his youthful development. Young Goethe loved to lose himself in the crowd around the Dome or in the Roman hill (Römerberg), which he always remembered as a fine place to go for a walk.

The closest relationship of his youth was his sister Cornelia, who sadly enough died at the age of 27. Asked about the influence of his parents on him, Goethe summed it this way:

From father I have the stature,
To lead an earnest life.
From mother the good nature,
And the joy of story-telling.

Goethe was taught by house teachers. After learning the old languages, he started learning French, English and Hebrew. At the age of 10 he read Aesop, Homer, Virgil, Ovid and also the German folks-books. Besides education in humanities and science, he was also taught religion, which was determined by the dominating explanatory issue of Lutherdom in Frankfurt.

The big earthquake in Lisbon in 1755 was important for the development of Goethe’s mind, as it went into history as one of the greatest natural catastrophies of the century. Besides these natural calamities there were also religious and historical movements which left a deep impression in Goethe’s mind, for example the Seven-Years War between Prussia and Austria wherein he saw the consequences of the general political situation in his own life. Another important event during the occupation of Frankfurt by Napoleon’s troops was his fascination for a troupe of French actors, who’s shows he was allowed to visit regularly. That was the awakening in Goethe of his interest for theater, and which had been sparked earlier in his life through a puppet-stage (Puppenbühne) and which can be seen in some scenes from ‘Wilhelm Meister’s Theaterical Shows.’

At the age of 16 Goethe was prepared for his academic studies. His father wanted him to study law in Leipzig. This was a city known for its trade, commerce, rich people in a wealthy epoch, and was filled with the spirit of Rococo. Although Leipzig made a lasting impression on Goethe, he found the lectures on law rather boring. Nevertheless, the town of Leipzig brought to Goethe his passion for Anna Katherina, the daughter of a man who owned an inn, where he used to eat lunch since 1766.
In his first completed play ‘The Whims of a Lover’ (Laune des Verliebten) which is based on the times of the Rokoko (Schäferstück), he drew his own glowing passion. It was his inner desire to put into poetry the themes that were burning within him. In March 1770 Goethe arrived in Strasbourg to complete his university studies in law.

Like in Leipzig, Goethe found friends in Strasbourg. One of the most important events was his meeting with Herder, who due to his eye-disease was obliged to stay in Strasbourg for a couple of months. Here's what Goethe said about Herder: “Since his conversations were important at all times, he used to ask, reply or express himself in another way, and in this manner I had to express myself in new ways and new views, almost every hour. ” It was Herder who brought Goethe to the immeasureability of Shakespeare, told him about Ossian and Pindar, and opened his vision for Volkspoetry. Influenced by Herder’s appreciation of Shakespeare’s genius, he wrote at speed a pseudo-Shakespeare tragedy called: "History of Gottfried von Berlichingen." This was so ill-received by Herder that he put it aside.

Shortly after his return from Strasbourg, he turned 22 and started working as a lawyer at the Frankfurter Schöffengericht. Goethe couldn't care less about the traditions of the citizens in Leipzig and his relatives, his parents ’home. As a lawyer in the courtrooms he had to suffer a bit due to his strange way of putting proceedings to paper, and gradually he began to write farces and parodies about well-known authors of his times and railed upon his own friends, took interest in Alchemy experiments and sought out open-minded literary circles of Frankfurt and in his neighborhood.

At 24 Goethe was already a well-known author of Germany. No other time in Goethe’s life was filled with prolific poetic works than in this period in Frankfurt. The time before and after his work Werther ’was not only a time of multiple literary production, but also a period in which he spent a lot of time on seeking answers for questions on religion.

The last Frankfurter year (1775) brought Goethe another year of passionate love in the form of Lili Schönemann, a 16 year old daughter of a Frankfurter trader. He experienced one of the most exciting and happiest times in his life. Alas, Goethe drifted between his love for Lili and the feeling that he’d settled for a happiness at home wouldn’t be enough for him. An episode from outside helped him to bear and make the separation from Lili possible.

On November 7, 1775 Goethe came to Weimar, which was in those days a town with a population of 6000. In July 1776 Goethe joined the state service formally as its Secret Legislations Council. Goethe’s new position in the Secret Consil brought him soon enough in contact with almost all the pre-commissions of the state administration.
H
In 1779 he was appointed the War Commissioner and was responsible for the 500 soldiers of the state. Three years later he had the Chamber under him and became the highest financial administrator. Through his participation in the reading-evenings, redouts and other functions at the court and its high and snobbish society, the events became rather extravagant. And through Goethe’s presence and mediation Weimar gained importance.

However, it was the serene, tempered lady-in-waiting (Hofdame) Charlotte von Stein, a cold beauty, who was unhappily married, who gained more influence on Goethe. From the first moment they met, she reminded Goethe of his sister Cornelia, and he felt drawn to her. In the years to come Goethe couldn't do without her clear, mature way of doing things. He called her ‘the serene,’ an angel, even a Madonna. A friendship of kindred souls began, which was a puzzle to Goethe himself. It was in these Weimar years that Goethe wrote poems such as: Harz travel in winter, To the moon, song of the spirits over the waters, wanderers, night song and so forth. Moreover, many of his songs and poems were set to music by composers ranging from Mozart and Frederik Schubert to Othmar Schoeck (1886-1957). Under the influence of Charlotte von Stein began a decisive change within Goethe. It was during this period in the months of February and March 1779, when he had to go to different places of the Dukedom to recruit soldiers, to keep an eye on them, to inspect the conditions of the roads, that he wrote the first edition of 'Iphigenie and Taurus.' This drama became the mirror of his search for purity. The period after ‘Iphigenie’ was penned in 1779 was a phase in the inner development of Goethe’s life, till he traveled to Italy. Goethe became not only confident as an administrator but also improved the purity and quality of his verses.

The more prosaic he became in his daily duties, the more he endeavored to bring a sense of order and system in all what he did. In addition to the completion of Iphigenie, he also started ‘Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre,’ wrote the concept for ‘Tasso’ and some parts of his Faust. ’These were the fruits of lyrical productions. And just before his Italian journey, he did extensive studies in the natural sciences. His activities at the University of Jena brought him in intensive contact with comparative anatomy. In those days there was a conception regarding the original form and relationship between all living beings, and he proved the existence of the ‘Zwischenkieferknochen’ in humans, which was thought to be known only in the animal world. Goethe showed the biological development of living beings almost 100 years ahead of Charles Darwin.

Goethe’s interest in natural science showed him how his career in the state service brought him away from things he most cherished to do. So he decided on the tenth year of his period in Weimar that he had to break up his service. After arranging his farewell from the state service and personal matters, he asked the Duke for a prolonged leave. He left abruptly, like in 1772 in Wetzlar and 1775 in Frankfurt, as though he was fleeing from something. Even in the presence of Duke and Charlotte von Stein he didn’t utter a word about his concrete plans. He embarked upon the biggest journey to Italy after a short spa sojourn in Böhmen (Bohemia).

After a week-long ride in a coach he reached bella Italia. The first stop was in Rome, where Goethe stayed for four months. It had always been the middle point of his life to study the works of art history in Rome He went to the theater and attended court cases, watched processions, took part in church festivals, and towards February 1788 even visited the Carnival in Rome. He systematically expanded his knowledge of art history. Goethe found it difficult to say adieu to Rome. The return to Germany was disappointing for Goethe and he felt isolated. Goethe’s record of his journey to Italy (Italienische Reise) appeared in 1816-17. Instead of the Weimar politicians and administrators, Goethe sought to fraternize with professors of the Weimar University. He met Schiller often.

Goethe found a new love: Christiane Vulpius, a handsome woman of lower rank who became his mistress, and with whom he had five children, but only one survived, his first son August, born in 1789. Goethe put his energy in the Weimar Court Theater, founded in 1791, and developed it within a few years to one of the most famous German stages. Goethe’s loss of Rome was compensated to some extent by his meetings with Schiller, which did him good. Out of the first meeting with Schiller developed an intensive exchange of thoughts in spoken word and writing that was of mutual benefit for both. It was based on their common classicism and on their conviction of the central function of art in human affairs. Goethe’s epic poem ‘Hermann and Dorothea’ (1779) was well received.

Goethe was instrumental in changing Schiller’s tendency to go to extremes, and his habit of indulging in philosophical speculations.

On the other hand, Schiller brought back Goethe from his scientific studies to literature and poetic production. In 1797 Schiller stimulated Goethe to carry on with Faust and it preoccupied him for the next nine years. Part One appeared in 1808, Part Two in 1832. Goethe didn’t stand near Schiller since 1794 and two long journeys to Weimar took him away from his intellectual friend, and in the year 1805 Schiller passed away. Schiller’s death in 1805 coincided with the end of Goethe’s classical phase. After Schiller’s demise, Goethe saw an epoch of his life disappearing. He tried to struggle against the uncertainty of time by concentrating and delving into his own work. Without the regular intellectual argumentation that the company of Schiller brought to Goethe, he felt politically isolated through his distance towards the anti-Napoleon attitude of the public and started living like a recluse.
I.
In 1806 broke out between France and Prussia and the decisive battle was fought at Jena and French soldiers who occupied Weimar broke into Goethe’s house. Goethe believed tristiane had saved his life from the French marauders. He married her a few days later. Goethe met Napoeon at Erfurt and Weimar in 1808. The Bastille was stormed when Goethe was 39. In 1809 he wrote the subtle and problematic novel: Die Wahlverwandschaften in which the interrelations of two couples are described.

Besides working for the has chance. Soldiers who occupied b Science Institutes of the University, he also carried forth botanical studies. The last two decades in Goethe’s life were devoted not to outer happenings but daily routine work.

A key towards understanding Goethe’s various interests was his conception of human existence as a ceaseless struggle to make use of time at one’s disposal. Despite such intense devotion to his writings, the aging Goethe didn’t remain so isolated from his environment as he’d done in his younger years. Since he was seldom out of Weimar, he opened his house for the world. It is interesting to note that among his many visitors were not many poets and writers but more Nature researchers and art historians, discoverers who traveled, educators and politicians. The innermost circle around Goethe was his own family.

In order to avoid the pompous celebration of his 82nd birthday, Goethe left Weimar in August 1831 for the last time.

The most meaningful work of poetry in the German language, Goethe’s tragedy Faust, took a long time to develop. Goethe wrote his Faust almost a life long, and before him were writers who worked on the material. According to his own memories Goethe played with the thought of writing a Faust drama even during his Strassburger student days. Perhaps the most important aspect of tragedy of Goethe is that these twists and turns took place not only in the outside world but also in the soul of Doctor Faustus.

Despite the colorful scenes and the manifold happenings, Goethe’s Faust remains a drama of the soul, with a chain of inner experiences, struggles and doubts. Among his best works was Novelle, started thirty years ago. Goethe worked away at the last volume of Poetry and Truth and at Faust II which he finished before his death.

On March 22,1832 at 11:30 in the morning Goethe died at the age of 82, the last universal man and the most documented creative writer.
.
Johann Peter Eckmann saw the deceased on the following day and said: “Stretched on his back, lay he like someone sleeping. Profound peace and fastness were to be seen in the eyes of his noble face. The mightiest forehead seemed still to be thinking ... ”

* * *

BEYOND CULTURAL CONFINES (Satis Shroff)

Music has left its cultural confines.
You hear the strings of a sitar
Mingling with big band sounds.
Percussions from Africa
Accompanying ragas from Nepal.

A never-ending performance of musicians
From all over the world.
Bollywood dancing workshops at Lörrach,
Slam poetry at Freiburg’s Atlantic inn.
A didgeridoo accompaning Japanese drums
At the tent music festival.

Tabla and tanpura
Involved in a musical dialogue,
With trumpet and saxaphone,
Argentinian tango and Carribian salsa,
Fiery Flamenco dancers swirling proudly
With classical Bharta Natyam dancers,
Mani Rimdu masked-dancers accompanied
By a Tibetan monastery orchestra,
Mingling with shrill Swiss piccolo flute tunes
And masked drummers.

As I walk past the Café, the Metzgerei,
The St. Barbara church bells begin to chime.
I see Annette’s tiny garden
With red, yellow and white tulips,
‘Hello!’ She says
With a broad, blonde smile,
Her slender cat stretches itself,
Emits a miao and goes by.
I walk on and admire
Ms. Bender’s cherry-blossom tree,
Her pensioned husband nods back at me.
And in the distance,
A view of the Black Forest,
With whispering wind-rotors,
And the trees in the vicinity,
Full of birds
Coming home to roost.

Aurora borealis (Satis Shroff)

The sky was bathed
In fantastic hues:
Yellow, orange, scarlet
Mauve and cobalt blue.
Buto dancing,
In this surreal light
On the stage,
What magnificent.
Your heart pounds higher,
Your feet become light,
Your body sways
To the rhythm
And Nordic lights
Of the aurora borealis.

Akin to the creation
Of the planet we live in.
And here was I,
Anzu Furukawa.
Once a small ballet dancer,
Now a full grown woman:
A choreographer, performer,
Ballet and modern dancer, studio pianist.
‘The Pina Bausch of Tokyo’
Wrote a German critic
In Der Tagesspiegel.

Success was my name,
In Japan, Germany, Italy,
Finland and Ghana:
Anzu’s Animal Atlas,
Cells of Apple,
Faust II,
Rent-a-body,
The Detective of China,
A diamond as big as the Ritz.

I was a professor
Of performing arts in Germany.
But Buto became my passion.
Buto was born amid upheavals in Japan,
When students took to the streets,
With performance acts and agit props.
Buto, this new violent dance of anarchy,
Cut off from the traditions
Of Japanese dance.

Oh,
The Kuopio Music et Dance festival
Praised my L’Arrache-coer, ’
The Heart Snatcher.
A touching praise
To human imagination,
And the human ability
To feel even the most surprising emotions

I lived my life with dignity,
But the doctors said
I was very, very sick.
I had terminal tongue cancer.
I’d been sleeping over thirty hours,
And stopped breathing
In peace,
With my two lovely children
Holding my hands.
I’d danced at the Freiburg New Dance Festival
Only twenty days ago.
I saw the curtain falling,
As we took our bows.

I bow to you my audience,
I hear your applause.
The sound of your applause
Accompanies me
Where ever my soul goes.

I'm still a little girl
In an oversized dress.
I ran through you all
In such a hurry.

Kathmandu, Kathmandu by Editor: Satis Shroff (Lulu.com)
Satis Shroff’s anthology is about a poet caught between upheavals in two countries, Nepal and Germany, where maoists and skin-heads are trying to undermine democratic values, religious and cultural life. Satis Shroff writes political poetry, in German and English, about the war in Nepal (My Nepal, Quo vadis?), The sad fate of the Nepalese people (My Nightmare, Only Sagarmatha Knows), the emergence of neo-fascism in Germany ( Mental Molotovs, The Last Tram to Littenweiler) and love (The Broken Poet, Without Words, About You), women's woes (Nirmala, Bombay Brothel). His bicultural perspective makes his poems rich, full of awe and at the same time heartbreakingly sad. In 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 is a very important one in political and social terms. His true gift is to invent Nepalese metaphors and make them accessible to the West through his poetry.
(187 pages) Paperback: € 13.84 Download: € 6.25

KATHMANDU, KATMANDU, an Anthology of Poems & Prose from the Himalayas
(Editor: Satis Shroff)

'Katmandu, Katmandu' is aimed at all readers and seeks to contribute towards appreciating the innermost thoughts, fears, delights, hopes and frustrations of the caste-bound, caste-ridden, purity and pollution obsessed high-caste Indo-aryan Nepalis, and the nonchalant but handicapped tribal Nepalis from different parts and walks of life. This collection of Nepali poems and prose is a step in the direction of opening Nepal’s literature to the German-speaking world in Germany, Austria, South Tirol and Switzerland. If this book creates sympathy and understanding of the Nepali psyche, culture, religion, living conditions and human problems in the Himalayan urban and rural environment in daily life, then it has achieved its goal.

This book is about the Nepali people and the environment they live in, with characters and themes pertaining to the agrarian, soldier, teaching and other milieus. This collection does not profess to represent Nepali literature as a whole, but lays emphasis on certain themes that crop up in the daily lives of the Nepalis. The Nepali world that the Nepali poets and writers describe and create is a different one, compared to the western one. It is true that modern technology and globalization have reached Kathmandu Valley and the bigger towns of the Himalayan Kingdom, but the world outside Kathmandu Valley still remains rural and untouched by modernity.

The trekking tourism has been booming along the much-treaded trails but village-life has changed little. The traditional caste system prevails. Nepal still has immense problems in the socio-cultural, religious, economic sectors. The rampant corruption in all sectors, with special emphasis in politics, commercial and economic sectors has shaken the beliefs of generations of Nepalis. The much-proclaimed democracy initiated in 1990 hasn't been able to fulfill its promises, and maoistic communism is on the rise in the western part of Nepal, where the Nepalis of tibeto-burman origin live, as though it were a panacea for all this ailing nation's malady. In Solokhumbu, known for its Everest trekking route, 300 maoists were killed by the police. According to some organizations at least 200,000 Nepalese have left their homes and another 1.8 million have sought refuge in other countries. Among them are Nepal’s intellectuals: politicians, civil servants, teachers, medical doctors, male and female nurses. Between 1996 and 2005 the Maoists killed 4,500 Nepalese and the Royal Nepalese Army and police killed 8,200 Nepalese.

As time has shown us in the past, there is no genuine cure for all the problems of this country. Nepal’s democracy has to learn to crawl before it can walk and after a decade of constitutional democracy, the nation is still in its infancy. The incessant changes of governments and the rise of communism is irritating not only to the people within, but also the comity of aid-giving nations without. Despite the 40,000 NGOs and aid-giving agencies, Nepal still belongs to the Least Developed Countries. There's definitely something wrong in this nature paradise.

This book cries to be written because there are hardly any books written by Nepali authors. It's always the traveling tourist, geologist, geographer, biologist, climber and ethnologist who writes about Nepal and its people, environment, flora and fauna. The Nepalis are mostly statists in these visit-Nepal-scenarios published in New York, Paris, Munich and Sydney and they are described through western eyes. But there have been generations of thinking and writing Nepalis, who were either educated in old Benares (Varanasi), in British Public Schools in Darjeeling and government schools and colleges in Nepal and India, who have written and published hundreds of books and magazines.

In Patan's Madan Puraskar Library alone, which Mr. Kamal Mani Dixit, Patan's Man-of- Letters, describes as the “Temple of Nepali language,” there are 15,000 Nepali books and 3500 different magazines and periodicals about which the western world hasn't heard or read. A start was made by Michael Hutt of the School of Oriental Studies London, in his English translation of contemporary Nepali prose and verse in Himalayan Voices and Modern Nepali Literature. Nepali literature is also represented in the electronic media and there are quite a number of websites that give Nepali writers the opportunity to have their short stories and poems published in the web. http://www.nepalforum.com, http: //www.wnso.org,www.sonog.com,www.insl.org,www.samudaya.com,www.nepalitimesandhttp: //www.geocities.com are some of the most popular sites for publishing poems and prose.

In the second part of the book Satis Shroff has translated Nepali literature (prose and poems) by Nepali writers such as: Laxmiprasad Devkota (Muna Madan), Bhupi Sherchan, Banira Giri (Kathmandu), Bhisma Upreti, Krishna Bhakta Shrestha, Bal Krishna Sama (I Hate & Looking for Poetry), Abhi Subedi, Toya Gurung, Dorjee Tschering Lepcha (The Ant Queen & The Spider Man), Guruprasad Mainali (The Martyr), Krishna Bam Malla (The Plower), Lekhnach Paudyal (The Himalaya), Hridaya Singh Pradhan (The Tears of Ujyali), Shiva Kumer Rai (The Price of the Fish), Toya Gurung (My Dream), Binaya Rawal (Phulmayas Dasainfest), Abhi Subedi (In the evening by car), Bimal Nibha (Jumla), Jiwan Acharya (Der Bildhauer & Muglin) etc. into German, a part of which can be read under the title 'Kathmandu, Kathmandu', which in Banira Giri's poem 'Kathmandu' is a bird-cry. I'd like to thank Dada (Kamal Mani Dixit) for motivating me to translate Devkota's Muna Madan, for this sad but wonderful poem has a message for all people living in the diaspora, far away from their homes and it brings the nostalgia, Sehnsuch and longing that one feels, even when one has found a place to call one's home in a foreign shore. Muna Madan makes us sad, brings tears to one’s eyes and gives hope despite the distance, when one hears the refrain from the Himalayas.

Some of the themes that have been dealt with in this collection are: money-lender (Der Märtyrer, Der Pflüger), struggle for democracy (Der Märtyrer, My Nepal: Quo vadis?), Transition (When the Soul Leaves), the position of women in the Nepalese society (Mutter, Märtyrer, Bombay Brothel, Nirmala: Between Terror and Ecstasy), the mountainous environment (Der Himalaya), the struggle for existence (The price of the fish), living as emigrants abroad (Muna Madan, Gab es Witches in Germany?), ideology and poverty (mother), the life of a soldier (The loss of a mother), rabies-infection and death (fatal decision), fantasy (Der Spinnenmensch, Die Ameisenkönigin), separation and emancipation (Santa Fe), problems of migration abroad (Mental Molotovs), tourismus (My Nightmare), alcoholism (The Professor's Wife), violence (Krieg), neighbors (The Summer Heat) and love (A Sighing Blonde Princess, Without Words).

The likely readers are the increasing number of male and female trekking tourists, climbers seeking their own limits, peace and tranquility, spiritual experience or a much-needed monologue in the rarefied heights of the Nepal Himalayas. The book has a glossary within the text information about the original Nepali authors from Nepal and the diaspora of Darjeeling.

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Roswitha’s Gutenbach Dolls (Satis Shroff, Freiburg-Kappel)

(Satis Shroff takes you to a graphic designer who makes unique dolls in the Black Forest and who has won many international gold and silver medals for her work. Collectors from all over the world have been appreciating her superb creations.)

Roswith Rochelt lives in the Black Forest town of Gutenbach, Germany. She holds one of her dolls and says in German: “Dolls are closely related beings,” and shows me a doll which is the splitting image of her daughter Alice, who is now an adult with wonderful long legs that come from years of ballet lessons .

"Dolls aren’t only children’s toys but also nostalgic objects of reminiscences for adults or as religious symbols in world civilizations."

It was interesting to note that the china dolls were entirely manufactured at Roswitha’s studio. She not only makes sketches of her living objects, but also creates replicas, does mold building, casting and baking. Even the clothes and accessories are exceptional. And she only uses high-quality materials such as original French biscuit clay, precious silk and brocade fabrics. You can tell Roswitha’s dolls right away from other collections because she leaves her quality signature in her products.

Roswitha says, 'Every single doll is made under guarantee in a limited edition of only ten to twenty.' She creates cats, fairy-tale dolls or south-sea beauties and a host of other lovely things and also holds seminars in doll-making , which we Germans are wont to call 'Puppenproduktion.' The dolls are certainly authentic creations of dreams from distant lands and are eye-catchers, perfect in their facial expression, style, choice of material, attire and accessories. Her special mold-making technique allows unlimited possibilities for experimenting.

‘All my dolls are provided with mouth-blown crystal glass eyes and a wig of real hair,’ says Roswitha. ‘The exclusiveness of my hand-made porcelain design dolls are guaranteed by certificate,’ says Roswitha proudly.

She’s surrounded with her dolls in different stages of development as she thoroughly mixes her ‘flesh color’, which is French biscuit porcelain. She lets it stay for twenty-four hours and stirs the mixture again until all the air bubbles have disappeared. This porcelain mass is poured into the one-hole form. Depending on the size of the form, you have to wait for three to ten minutes and pour the content back. After that you wait for two hours. When you open the form you will get the rough doll’s head with its facial features. As long as the head is soft, you have to work on the throat.

She took a scalpel and carved the eyes out.

It reminded me of my medical studies when I had to dissect a sturdy old German grandfather’s corpse the entire winter with the nascent, biting smell of formalin. Roswitha was creating a doll in her own way, giving expression to t, till it almost had a life of its own. It was almost like watching Mary Shelly’s protagonist being created.

The head had to be dried in a dry room. She had a table full of white heads, which needed to be extremely dried. She worked like a surgeon cum artist with her scalpel and brush, as she cleaned the prospective doll’s eyes. After that the heads were put in an oven and heated to a temperature of 1220 degrees Centigrade. The doll’s head shrinks 15 per cent at this temperature. Now the doll gets its biscuit color. Roswitha colored the eyebrows and lips, then put them back in the oven. Then she applied the cheek-rouge and the eye-lashes, and put the head in the oven again.

‘To get the dark complexions of South Sea beauties you have to burn at least five times,’ said Roswitha with a smile and a twinkle in her eyes.

In the end you have to choose the right eyes to give the doll a certain character.

‘I use special wax from inside and fix it with plaster of Paris, which we call‘ gips ’with the head. Next comes the lead of the head, like a scalp and a genuine French hair wig. The doll’s head is ready. ’

Roswith is a dedicated and busy Grandma, and a delight to talk with, and drives all the way from Gutenback to Freiburg to attend to her lovely grandchildren and bring them to a roll-skating club where they stage musicals on wheels, like the Starlight Express .

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Complementary and Modern Medicine: Strange Bedfellows? (Satis Shroff)

The old tradition of the dhami-jhakri in which the fate of a person can be influenced by appeasing the spirits is still intact in Nepal. A séance provides the ill person a communication possibility depending on the nature of the illness. For the spirits, be they rough or fine in their manifestations, belong to the everyday lives of the tradition-conscious Nepalese and many other ethnic-peoples in the northern and southern hemispheres of this globe.

It must be mentioned that in the 80,000 hamlets of Nepal, there are over 400,000 shamans and traditional healers, who have to some extent acquired the basics of modern medical treatment through the Health Ministry.

Disease and conformity: The traditional healers of Nepal are not only versed in the nature of illnesses caused by spirits, demons, male and female witches, Gods and Goddesses, but also diseases which are in conformity with epidemiological studies and results. The usual diseases that are mentioned by traditional healers are: diarrhoea, coughs, pneumonia, heart-maladies, abdominal pain, pain in the joints and other less specific symptoms like: headaches, body pain, nausea etc. Other commonly mentioned diseases are: vomiting , worm infections, pickles and boils, carbuncles, cases of goitre in the hills (think of the Himalayan-salt ads in the west), different skin problems, tuberculosis, problems of the urinary tract and menstrual disorders and anomalies.

In the past the shamans were not allowed to get rich through healing, and the codex and ethics of the healers in the Himalayas were strict. Today, the Nepalese shaman blesses a life-saving electrolyte solution for the treatment of diarrhea and dysentery. The shaman has become innovative in Nepal, and makes himself or herself socially useful by ritualizing and selling anti-baby pills for a small financial commission. This way, he or she helps family planning, which is supported by the government. The Nepalese government has raised the status of the shaman by bestowing an official title upon him: Practitioner of Traditional Medicine, with the condition that he or she take part in medical and hygiene courses. "Traditional" sounds better than "complementary" because shaman has a long tradition in Siberia, Nepal and other parts of the world.

Sociological view: The position of the shamans in the hamlets of Nepal is getting a certain amount of recognition and importance, because he or she gathers new experiences and acquires modern methods of healing, and in this way, the shaman uses a combination of traditional and modern medicine. From a sociological point of view, magico-religious healing plays a central and positive role. The magic and faith in the healing powers of the shaman helps to strengthen the group, tribe or caste by defining a common foe, and in identifying the evil, invisible spirit that has been causing illness. In this way, it is possible to control one's own environment and the immediate neighborhood and to influence it. Moreover, the healing ritual of the shaman late into the night helps to sublime difficult somatic Triebanspruche and to channel them in a socially acceptable and legal way, without being stigmatised in the society as being abnormal or an ill-person.

When you boil down the matter between traditional and modern medicine, belief is in the eye of the beholder.If modern medicine doesn't help, complementary (traditional) therapy seems to do so, for instance in the case of people struggling with long-term pain. Whereas the physician is concerned with infections caused by fungi, bacteria and viruses, Nepal’s Dhamis, Bijuwas, Bong-things and shamans are concerned with spirits, demons, Gods and Goddesses and other invisible powers between Swarga (Heaven) and (Prithvi) Earth. The people in Nepal still have faith in the practitioners of traditional medicine, despite the danger of being stigmatised as being superstitious, anachronistic and backward. The government has found out that even though Health Post have been set up, the people living in the foothills of the Himalayas (Mittelgebirge) still prefer ritual therapies from their shamans. The medically-trained traditional healers can reach millions of Nepalese through a well-developed strategy. Most of the Dhamis-Jhakris have shown that they are open to new skills in health, population and family-oriented basic knowledge. Moreover they were (and are) ready to give their acquired modern knowledge to their respective communities in their hamlets.

Humane and empathetic: The traditional healer not only cures with modern pharmaceuticals, but he or she imparts a cultural note to the therapy by blessing the medicine in a ritual through the recitation of mantras or prayer, which is indeed soft and humane, and the patient becomes a part of the ceremony, and isn't left alone like in a hospital. Traditional (complementary) medicine has come to stay. It was there all the time in different continents, and is an expression of care, humane treatment, softness (Sanftemedizin), dignity, respect and empathy for the ill person. These are values ​​that have dwindled in modern medicine’s pursuit for rationalism, validity and science. Every time a patient enters a physician’s clinic, he or she feels uneasy that the clock is ticking away to his or her disadvantage. Time is money. More patients means more money for the physician and the health insurance company. That leaves little time and hope for the hapless, impatient patient.

The value of hope: The value of hope, which is an important resource in different cultures and among traditional healers, is lost in modern medicine. What was Florence Nightingale doing with her candle-light in the bedsides and stretchers of her wounded soldiers in the Crimean War? What she giving them antibiotics, anti-viral drugs? No, she was giving these forlorn souls a precious medicine named hope. But is traditional medicine entirely based on hope? Certainly not. Traditional Chinese medicine, Tibetan medicine, and the Indian subcontinent’s Ayurvedic medicine, Unani medicine deploy among others pharmaceuticals botanical, zoological and mineral extracts to cure the illnesses of millions of people since time immemorial. So does modern medicine, which enjoys perfect packaging and marketing and ads through the media. It's the catchy, convincing-sounding ad that makes people rush to the apothecary to buy the pharmaceutical product that they’ve seen in TV or have heard about from their relatives and friends, as is mostly the case in the layman’s aetiology.

Modern medicine is a science because its experiments can be reproduced, it is systematic and can adjust itself in combating new bacteria, viruses and other disease causing microbes. But traditional or complementary medicine is also learning mew methods of treatment and hospital hygiene.

Alone in 1980 Dr. Badri Raj Pandey et al trained more than 1000 traditional healers (Dhamis-Jhakris) in Nepal under the Family Planning and Maternal Child Health Project (MCHP). Since there are more traditional healers than physicians and paramedical personnel, the traditional healers are an important resource for the family planning and health organizations in Nepal. This study has revealed that the traditional healers play an important role. They have a functional network and they aren't so expensive as medical doctors. The traditional healers are always ready to visit their patients, even though it means walking through the better part of the day to treat the patients. Physicians are reluctant to walk four to six hours to their impoverished patients, and they’d rather be paid in currency notes rather than with eggs, vegetables, or a little red rooster.