Archive for December, 2009

STORIES BEYOND BORDERS: 9. Sascha

December 13, 2009

Sascha

“It used to be that I’d make notes and would try to incorporate them into my art. Things jumped out at me. Nowadays I am not interested in working on them any more. They aren’t new to me anymore. I’ve gotten used to Germany. Yup, that’s how it is. Things don’t strike me as unusual anymore…they aren’t strange or interesting anymore.”

Sascha entered the café with Andreas and at first I took him to be French, judging by his appearance: he had a narrow face and thin reddish lips. His build was spare and of medium height. His shoulder-length hair was tousled and his slightly smudged glasses confirmed his artistic leanings in Germany.

(This is an excerpt. Translator: Dr. Marilya Veteto Reese, Northern Arizona University, AZ)

The original text in German “Sascha” is in the book “Ein Inder in Deutschland:-)” (Schweinfurt 2008)

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STORIES BEYOND BORDERS: 8. The Mosques On The Banks on the Banks of the Ganges: Apart or Together?!

December 8, 2009

The Mosques on the Banks of the Ganges: Apart or Together?!


In my small hometown, Motihari, in Eastern India, where George Orwell saw the light of day, and where, in 1917, Gandhi started his Satyagraha movement3, the Muslims are in a minority. And in my childhood and youth I, a Hindu, had an interesting relationship with them. We went to school together and they were my playmates.

Every now and then, however, conflicts did take place between adherents of the two major religions of India, between Muslims and Hindus. Special security measures were adopted during those tense days and weeks. Parents forbade their children to go into areas where mosques were situated.

There was a small Muslim ghetto, about as large as the northern part of Kassel, called the agarwa 4. In this area lived a large Muslim joint family. My father, a Hindu, was related to this family. Yes, ‘related’ is the correct expression, as my father, a strict disciplinarian in his own family, was looked upon in that Muslim family as the most beloved and generous of uncles. The children of that family told me that only as young men did they get to know that my father was neither a Muslim nor a blood relative. He spoke excellent Urdu5 and in his wardrobe one could find several well-cut sherwanis 6.

But we children belonged, on the one hand, to a Western-oriented era, and simultaneously to modern, progressive India, in which Pakistan and its Muslims were considered arch-enemies.

My brother and I were particularly fond of Muslim festivals, especially on account of the delicious sweets prepared on these occasions. My mother comes from a strictly vegetarian Hindu family, and at home even today no meat is cooked. But we brothers had early on discovered the joys of eating meat. At such functions the Muslims prepared for their Hindu guests and neighbours dishes made from goat’s meat. Just thinking about them even now my mouth starts watering. I can well remember the day when we visited the family late in the evening on Eid-ul-Azha 7 and the meat had all been consumed. I was upset and both my brother and I wore downcast expressions. My aunt realised why and immediately asked her daughters, or her daughter-in-law, to prepare a fresh meat dish just for us. I was overjoyed!

3 Satyagraha: civil disobedience for the sake of truth.

4 Agarwa: a foreign, Urdu-Persian term for the Hindus who account for 81% of the population.

5 Urdu: official language of Pakistan, also spoken in large parts of India. It is related to the Indian national language, Hindi, but contains more.

6 Sherwani: a long coat for men with the collar buttoned at the neck in Mughal fashion.

7 Eid-ul-Azha: The second most important festival of the Muslims.

(This is an excerpt of the essay in nearly 1400 Words. Translator:  Prof. em. R.  P.  Jain, Centre of German Studies,  Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi)

The original text in German “Die Moscheen am Gangesufer” is in the book “Indien II : Sauer (Dienheim 2006)”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Mehrseitiger BLOG / Please Scroll Further!!!)

STORIES BEYOND BORDERS: 7. Escape

December 7, 2009

Escape

A small mouse

Gets lost

In a hopeless

Labyrinth.

(This is an excerpt. Translator: Dr. Marilya Veteto Reese, Northern Arizona University, AZ)


The original text in German “Ausweg” is in the book “Kasseler Texte” (Schweinfurt 1998)

STORIES BEYOND BORDERS: 6. Dancing Words ii. Dancing in Diaspora

December 6, 2009

(Presented between 22nd March and 1st April 2005 at York University, U of T, McMaster University, University of Waterloo, Queen’s University, Ontario, Canada; “Multiculturalism and Cultural Production in Contemporary Germany”)

ii. Dancing in Diaspora

In his 1998 study of the Germans in Shanghai, Werner Noll[1] describes the cultural crisis they experienced, noting that ‘minorities placed in a culturally very different setting mostly feel more nationalist than a majority population in its own country’. He’s quite right. But this ‘nationalist feeling’ can mean all sorts of different things. Someone can feel ‘nationalist’ in taking pride in the values and cultural achievements of their homeland. But foreigners in foreign lands tend to think all too highly of their homeland and in their alien-ness they may wish to present their inherited culture as superior to that of the others around them. It can indeed happen that a minority retreats into a defensive shelter behind their pride and their sense of superiority. Stories and memoirs provide interesting witnesses of the ways in which colonizing minorities lived among the native populations.

Shanghai was not actually a German colony, but this pressure to express one’s culture was strongly felt there. Noll reports: ‘When my father came to Shanghai in 1925, there was already a German community with its own infrastructure: the German gardening club, the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Schule, a German kindergarten, and standing outside the German church, a memorial to the German gun-boat ‘Iltis’, which had been sunk near Qingdao before the turn of the century, where wreaths were laid in a solemn ceremony on Heroes Day. ‘(…) we lived well, as did most of the other Germans and foreigners. (…) It went without saying that anyone who lived in a house, as distinct from an apartment, had a flagpole with their national flag flying from it.’

But things are quite different when, as now, people have to flee to the economically stable countries, coming from regions where their cultural achievements and their cultural diversity are threatened by the terrors of totalitarian regimes or civil war. Forced to leave their homeland behind, seeking a refuge in a strange society, they are bound to endure a cultural crisis: What will become of our language? Must I forget it? What will become of our songs, our music? Can we still dance here in a foreign land? How? The following report addresses questions such as these.


[1] Noll, Werner: Die Deutschen in Shanghai Zwischen Theben und Shanghai, Else-Lasker-Schüler-Gesellschaft, Wuppertal 1998

(It is an excerpt of the essay in nearly 1000 Words. Translator:  Dr. Tom Cheesman, University of Wales, Swansea)

The original text in German “The Dance of Kanakans: Kultur in der Fremde” is in the book “Die galoppierende Kuhherde (Schweinfurt 2001)”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Mehrseitiger BLOG / Please Scroll Further!!!)

STORIES BEYOND BORDERS: 5. The Kerosene Boy

December 5, 2009

The Kerosene Boy

1. The Birth

2. Girlboy

3. Big and Little


4. The Kerosene Boy


Daytimes

My Daddy

Carries mail

While I’ sitting

Here in school

Evenings

Shopkeeper

He

And his salesman

I

Sells fresh produce

Mama

An kerosene

I

At the biggest circle

Where lovely women up on

Giant billboards

When nighttimes

The lamps flicker

And it’s fragrant

Children work at

Lessons for school

Quite good

That’s me at numbers

Especially

Fond of English.

Sudhir Kumar is my name

I am

9.


(Translator: Dr. Marilya Veteto Reese, Northern Arizona University, AZ)

The original text in German “Der Kerosinjunge” is in the book “Indien I: Süß (Dienheim 2006)”.

STORIES BEYOND BORDERS: 4. Dancing Words i. Mother Tongue, Foreign Tongue and Literary Production

December 2, 2009

(Presented between 22nd March and 1st April 2005 at York University, U of T, McMaster University, University of Waterloo, Queen’s University, Ontario, Canada; “Multiculturalism and Cultural Production in Contemporary Germany”)

i. Mother Tongue, Foreign Tongue and Literary Production


For those of you, who still believe that poems are just sentiments and feelings, can go ahead and form a specific reader or consumer group for all I care. However, these people can not be real lovers of literature. I was once asked by a colleague during a reading, “How can you do this? Poetry for me is an expression of my innermost feelings, which I can only imagine in my mother tongue.” Such a group of people certainly have feelings. But they are not creative word acrobats, who, during literary creation, can sometimes mercilessly cannibalize their feelings or at times beautify them exaggeratedly, so that they can come a bit closer to the character and the appearance. Literature or poesie has its own language. It has its own rules and laws that can not be simply compared to a formula such as a² + b² = c².

The function of poetic art lies in overcoming such formulas constantly. Each text and each work of art knows its own laws that can be discussed partly with reference to the originated work and partly by considering the artist.

You already know how difficult and easy it is in a language, even in your mother tongue, to find an accurate term, during the correction of your German essay in high school or the revision of your seminar paper at the university. I would like to present my opinion regarding this problem to such advocates of the exact term, and by doing so, I would like to render homage to one of my teachers Alfred Döblin, “Language can only try to come close to reality and to reach a certain precision. But it has its limits.” So, away from the obsession with the exact expression! The search for a language, which can represent things and events exactly, is futile. It is just an illusion!

(It is an excerpt of the essay in nearly 1000 Words. Translator: Dr. Sukanya Kulkarni, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Toronto)

The original text in German “Muttersprache, Fremdsprache und Dichtung” is in the book “Die galoppierende Kuhherde (Schweinfurt 2001)”.