Gilgamesh and Storytelling (by Teodora Rudolph)

November 21, 2018 Comments off

The Gilgamesh epic is the oldest narrative of mankind. Gilgamesh is the first hero of literature. The epic was created 2.5 thousand years B.C., it was put down on clay tablets as early as 1700 years B.C., a thousand years before Homer! For several thousand years the story of Gilgamesh was told and retold and then fell into oblivion. For over a thousand years, no one remembered Gilgamesh. Until, in 1870, some clay tablets were excavated in Iraq and the epic of Gilgamesh was pieced together. Gilgamesh and his search for eternal life have been resurrected. Apparently, the quest for eternal youth is in itself eternal!

The hero: Gilgamesh

The figure is based on a real historical figure, on the king of Uruk in Mesopotamia, in today’s Iraq. He is 1/3 man, 2/3 God. Gilgamesh is the the ideal human being: strong, courageous, wise and beautiful.

The shadow and the status quo
Gilgamesh is arrogant and is feared by his people. Although he is godlike in body and spirit, he reigns in his kingdom as a cruel despot. The people of Uruk turn to the gods and ask for salvation from Gilgamesh.

The Nemesis: Enkidu
The gods listen to the people and decide to keep Gilgamesh at bay by creating a rival named Enkidu. He is to go to Uruk and challenge Gilgamesh. Enkidu is a wild man, he is more animal than human and is intimately connected to the animal kingdom. He frees all the animals from the traps, which enrages the hunters, who then turn to the gods for help. The gods send a harlot to tame Enkidu with her love-maklng. After 7 hot nights and days, Enkidu has become so tame that by the time he arrives at Gilgamesh’s doorstep, he is so timid and gentle that instead of challenging him, he befriends him.

Ally and new Nemesis
Enkidu becomes Gilgamesh’s companion, brother and ally. Together they celebrate many heroic deeds and victories. They slay many monsters which turns the wrath of the gods on them. The highlight is the killing of the Bull of Heaven. This is what happened: the goddess of love and war Isthar offers herself to Gilgamesh as a wife. He rejects her pointing out how she has destroyed the lives of her former lovers. In rage, Isthar unleashes the Bull of heaven upon Uruk. The bull comes down from heaven to bring seven years of famine upon the people of Uruk. Enkidu and Gilgamesh kill him, however: Enkidu grabs him by the horns and Gilgamesh slays his head with his sword. The gods have had enough of the pair, that was not the plan, they decide to kill Enkidu. After 12 days of agonizing illness, Enkidu is dead.

The cave
Gilgamesh is broken and falls into a deep sorrow. Not only has he lost his friend and ally, he is also confronted with his own mortality. This makes him afraid and he decides to go on a quest for eternal life.

The mentor: Utnapishtim
Gilgamesh goes to Utnapishtim who lives at the end of the world. Utnapishtim has become immortal after surviving a huge flood. Utnapishtim tells Gilgamesh the history of the Flood: the gods wanted to destroy the human race as an act of punishment for misbehaviour, but on second thought decided to have mankind survive. One of the gods therefore warned Utnapishtim and helped him build a huge boat, where his family and the seeds of every living creature was brought in. When the water finally came down, Utnapishtim was rewarded with eternal life.

The Ordeal
Utnapishtim tells Gilgamesh about a magic plant which can be found in a deep channel at the bottom of the sea, a plant that restores youth. Gilgamesh sets off and finds the plant. Instead of eating from it though, he decides to return to Uruk and share it with his people. On the way back a snake emerges from a well and steals the plant. The snake eats from the magic plant, sheds its old skin and becomes young again.

The return and the transformation
Gilgamesh returns empty-handed to Uruk, crushed and broken. But he has also lost his arrogance. He knows now that he is mortal, that he will not live forever; but he also knows that mankind itself lives beyond each individual and is for all practical purposes eternal.

Can you replicate this story structure with a content of your own? If you do, you have created a hero’s journey!


Cross-club debate against UBS Rhetoric Club

November 21, 2018 Comments off

On November 5th, 2018, in the spirit of facilitating cross-club communication, we held a friendly debate against UBS. They won, and we won in terms of the emotional experience. This is one of these things in life that are always win-win!

Thanks to Thomas Schnitzer for the excellent organisation!20181105_214431

Categories: Fun, Guests, Uncategorized

The Backroom Boys (and Girls) by Theo

June 18, 2015 Comments off

Meeting of  June 8th, 2015 at the Werdguet restaurant

The meeting took place in the restaurant backroom with entrance through the kitchen. It was crowded and had a special ambiance, but cozy and successful.

President Zurri opened the meeting with a forceful blow of the gavel and this in spite of the sling on her injured left arm; the result of a hang gliding mishap. We all know that Zurri is a high-flyer and wish her a quick recuperation.

Andreas S. had his premiere as Toastmaster of the Evening and he made a fine job of it with excellent time management.

We had four prepared speeches:

– David O.’     with “Break Free”,                 CCManual # 3

– Ivan D.         with “Less meat, more life”,  CCManual # 9

– Shane M.      with “Break the Ice”,            The Entertaining Speech manual # 1

– Aine NM.     with “Summer Lovin”,           CCManual # 3

All speeches were motivating and high-quality with good advice for a happier and more successful life. Shane was voted the best speaker with his story about how he conquered his beautiful wife with the help of foot aerobics and breaking the ice.

Florian  D. was the Master of Table Topics . He presented challenging and humorous situations around the FIFA scandal. Sheik Manuel won the TT’s by playing the role of the Qatar representative.

The Evaluation session was firmly and skilfully led by Elia D. The high light was Frances’ statement that she missed the “ha ha humour”.   Don’t we all sometimes?

The next meeting is the traditional Zurich Toastmasters Summer Event on Monday June 22nd.

We’ll make a historical city tour followed by a dinner.

Meet 18:15h at the Pestalozzi statue in front of Globus. Do not miss it!

Categories: Uncategorized

Roman and Three Ancients by Theo

February 11, 2015 Comments off

February 2nd 2015

Even though three of the four prepared speeches were cancelled at very short notice it was again a great session of the Zurich Toastmaster Club. Intensive effort by the VPEd, Florian, and the TMoE, Marina R., saved the program: three veteran speakers volunteered and each presented a fine speech with very little preparation. Zurri our charming president opened the business session and I almost could not believe my ears: Zurri spoke without a single filler or hesitation. It seemed like a small wonder of almost biblical dimension. Thanks are due to Magda’s magic power and strict Ah-counting regime.

Marina, our creative queen from Einsiedeln, moderated the meeting professionally and with charm. The first speaker was Roman F. with his icebreaker “Hallo, it’s me”. We got to know a sympathetic and potentially keen new member from the Grison canton.

Veteran nr. 1, Theo, plans to repeat the CC manual assignments and presented a 3rd version of his icebreaker. His timing leaves room for improvement. Veteran nr. 2, Manual, preached financial restraint in a speech titled: “Stop acting rich”.

Veteran Toastmaster Allison spoke about our use and not use of clothes and gave a demo of how to sew on a button.

Table Topic Master Mila tested our impromptu speaking skills with some challenging questions such as: “If you are a woman, how do you think it would be to be a man” (for Aine) and reversed “If you are a man, how do you think it would be to be a woman” (for Florian).

The vote for the best speaker was won by Manuel, Florian’s humour won the Table Topics and Roland did a superb job as General Evaluator and thus was rewarded with the best evaluator ribbon.

Dates to remember: March 2nd club Speech and Evaluation contest, April 13th Area Spring Contest Speech and Evaluation Contest.

Next meeting: Monday February 16th.

Categories: Uncategorized

October 27th, 2014 – Pumpkins and Halloween

October 28, 2014 Comments off

Meeting of October 27th, 2014

At the start of the session, our President, Zukhra, gave the word to our guests. This time we had eight guests, some visiting from Toastmasters in  Brno, Czech Republic. Their initial comments ” a place to exercise and polish my speaking skills” ” a club where  I can lose my fears” were some of the comments on why they came to visit us.

At the end of the session, we asked them for feedback, and their comments truly described Zurich TM Club, Switzerland’s oldest club. ” I was surprised to see such a laid back atmosphere and yet so structured”

Kristina Kocourkova, of Brno TM Club commented:” Unlike our club, where we mostly have young people, here in Zurich  I saw a combination of younger and more mature members, and that contributes to a very interesting mix and amplifies the nature of the topics that are dealt with”.

Kristina’s comments also give me an opportunity to comment on a much discussed topic in modern Neurology which is Brain Plasticity. Brain Plasticity is the ability of the brain to change-physically, functionally, and chemically. In other words, it doesn’t age, as it can compensate fading capabilities with newly learnt abilities. In summary, if you want to be brain fit, come more often to Toastmasters. (Brainmasters?)

My fascination with this concept of Brain Plasticity is such that I have recently written to Dr. Alumit Ishai, researcher of the University of Zurich, inviting her to attend a TM session and also test the member’s  brain activity with the help of Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging ( fMRI) and see which parts of the brain ignite and with which intensity when we members are giving a table topic question. From there, we shall compare the differences in brains of younger members and more mature ones. I am convinced that the findings will be very liberating and debunk the wildly held myth that the brain ages. (Note to members: bring a centenarian to the next TM session)

Bias and prejudice are weaponized emotions when directed at others. Now, I feel our club can go beyond storytelling and , given the age span in our club, be living proof that our  club experience shows that man’s cognitive capabilities are ageless. That can be our club’s contribution to society.

Speaking of Table Topics, as expected, Florian came up with some smart questions out of the 9000 year old Chinese culture and challenged us all. Florian gave out “Chinese cookies “with questions.

Great speeches too! Oscar, Mila and Caroline delighted us with stories which taught us more about the brain (acceptance craving), Ebola and philanthropy, in an evening well led by Katharina Murdoch, our Toastmaster of the evening.

See you next time,
Manuel Gomez

Categories: Uncategorized

September 15th, 2014 – Of Green Tea and autumn leaves

September 30, 2014 Comments off

Meeting of September 15th, 2014

Our president, Zuhkra, started the meeting by welcoming our Area Governor, Carola Rosenthal, three guests and ex-club member Elia, who is back from a stint in south America. Zuhkra indicated some of the plans for future club activities, including club contests, a Christmas party and a debate. The word of the evening became “autumn leaves” fitting to the meeting theme “autumn”.

Shane was an amiable and efficient Toastmaster of the Evening and he started the prepared speeches with the introduction of Oscar who made a special occasion speech – Speaking to Praise. Oscar practiced the speech he plans for the upcoming 50th birthday of his favourite uncle Laurence. Oscar will recollect some of the humorous episodes they experienced together, such as how he was about to lose his virginity in India and his possible employment in a cheese factory in France.

The next speech was Gareth’s icebreaker: an account of an obstacle half marathon, including an ice bucket shower, fire and electric shocks. Gareth’s message: Set your goals high enough or the challenge may be too easy.

Our VPEd, Florian, used the theme green tea (Not everyone’s cup of tea) to practise the use of visual aids. Florian showed an impressive list of ailments that can be prevented by the consumption of green tea. He finished by preparing a jar of green tea and offering a cup to the audience. I tried a cup and must admit it is very good….almost as good as a “stange”.

Florian earned the ribbon for best speaker.

Manuel, our Table Topics crack, this time presented Table Topics himself with challenging questions such as: Would you rather have an audience with the Pope or go to a Rolling Stones concert?

Preeti did a fine job as General Evaluator.

The winner ribbons went to Mila for the best TT speaker and Marina R. for the best evalution.

It was a fun and stimulating evening, best summed up by the comment of one of the guests: “I felt in Paradise”.


Categories: Uncategorized

Area E1 Contest April 5th Information

March 30, 2014 Comments off

Important info. for Contestants, please complete the following 2 forms and return them to Ting ( prior to contest.

1)  Speaker Eligibility

2) Contestant Profile

——————– EVENT INFORMATION ——————–

Are you excited to attend the Zurich Area Contest on April 5?

Are you all geared up for the evaluation/speech competition?

  • Please send your Full Name (and Club) to Ting (
  • Contestants for the International Speech Contest, please also send us your Title of Speech.
  • Here is the Speech Contest Rulebook 2014 for your reference.

Would you like to help run the contest efficiently and professionally?

  • We need Judges, Ah-counters and Timers!
  • Please email Theo ( to confirm your role. Much appreciated!

Finally, please don’t forget to sign up at:

Here is the Area E1 contest 2014-Agenda(Tentative) . But make sure to check the final version to be released on April 4th.
Thank you and we look forward to seeing you at the Area Contest!
Best regards,
Zurich Club
Organizer of Area E1 Evaluation & Speech Contest
Categories: Uncategorized