San Villege: The Land of Plenty

Who doesn’t know the English classic comedy of 1980, The Gods Must be Crazy? The innocent, credulous, and curious face of Xi only brings smile on our face. 🙂 The Namibian actor late Mr. N!xau Toma, had played the character of Xi, a man from San community. The actor himself was a San bushman. We were fortunate to meet his grandson Dao when we visited San villege.

Ju/’Hoansi-San is the first living museum of Namibia. Run independently by its own, this living museum displays traditional hunter-gatherer culture of San, one of the oldest cultures in Africa. San are the first people living in Kalahari desert since last 1,00,000 years. Out of more than 90,000 Sans existing in Africa today, only 3,000 Sans are following their traditional lifestyle.

Sans move around places in search of natural resources such as water, resourceful plants, and game animals. They speak Khoisan language in which some consonants are spoken with clicking sounds made by tongue. It sounds so rhythmic! 🙂 San people wear just adequate clothes to cover the waist. They are mostly made of antelope skin.

San Community

The San men prepare bow-arrow, traps, and spears for hunting. They flay animal skin and season it by sun-drying. They also make bags and belts out of the seasoned leather. Recently, they have started helping the academic visitors by being forest or poacher trackers. The San women look after their kids and gather natural resources such as water and firewood. They use beads made of ostrich eggshell and various wild seeds to make ornaments. Sans eat ants, various other insects, mice, squirrels, as well as large antelopes.

Our guide Steven was a man of 30 from San community of Grashoek village. He had learnt up to grade 10. He spoke flawless English. He changed his dress to a waist-wrap and joined us. First he took us to Dao, the senior man and the medical healer of the community. When we asked Dao about his late actor grandfather, he proudly said that he knew his grandfather was a regarded actor of Namibia. Dao himself was too young then to understand his grandfather’s acting skills, and movie picturizing. We asked Dao how old he was then. He told that he doesn’t know his current age but only remembers that he was born in summer.

Dao the San Medicine Healer

Dao, the San Community Senior and Grandson of Xi

We started out tour with Steven and Dao from a place where they had made a San hut. The hut was very small. It was made of dry sticks, which provided a very basic shelter. Just in front of the hut, Dao took two straight sticks of Mangetti tree, one of which had three holes in a line. Dao demonstrated how to create fire with those sticks. He first took a bunch of dry grass. Then he held the stick with holes horizontally on the grass gripping it with his big toe. He placed one end of another stick into a hole and swirled it hard in a whisking action. While doing so, he was speaking to invoke their fire-God. He said he never used firestone for creating fire. Soon we could see some smoke and then the fire came in full flames. He lit up his smoking pipe filled with dry local tree leaves used as same as tobacco.

San People Creating Fire

The Sans, Dao and Steven, creating Fire

Steven and Dao then lead us to bush-walk. They showed how various medicinal plants that cure common illnesses such as cough, cold, fever, toothache, and common wounds as well as blood pressure, any problems with eyes and ears, tuberculosis, and even infertility. Steven showed a Ration Berry plant on which ladybugs go through their life cycle. He also mentioned that the ladybug larvae are so poisonous that they can kill an animal as big as an adult giraffe. Their poison was very resourceful in hunting. They applied it on spearheads or arrowheads while hunting large game animals. San Drinking Water Accumulated in Tree Trunk.jpg

Dao showed how they find out the sweet water collected into the tree trunks and drink it with the help of hollow hey straw. Soon we came out of the wilderness and Dao started creating a bow and an arrow. Seeing him make it traditionally was very interesting. He took a couple of long leaves from Sisal plant, which provides fibers. He tore the leaf into small parallel portions with a sharp blade. He went on breaking those portions of Sisal till they came out as thin strings of fiber. Then he took small bunch of fiber and rolled it with the support of his lap. When it was half done, he joined another bunch of fibers. Thus he made a long seamless string that was as strong as a nylon string. He selected a thin and flexible stick for making a bow. He then chiseled its bark away and made the bow. San with Bow and Arrow

While Nishant and Arun were taking bow-arrow-making lessons, I sat next to a San lady, Naomi, who was busy making ornaments from beads. San people make disk-like beads from Ostrich eggs. They break the shell into pieces and rub each piece against stone to make it roughly round. Then they pierce holes into them.

San Jewelry Bracelet

The bracelet gifted by Naomi

They roll the beads into ash or soil to color them brown and heat them directly on fire to color them black. That is why, their collection of ostrich bead jewelry had so beautiful earthly colors! They also collected various colorful seeds and made beautiful neck-pieces, bracelets, headgears, and anklets. I learnt to make beads, string, and bracelet from her.

Sans follow a few hunting rules religiously. Steven told that there are few words of wisdom shared in his community. San always considered quick and quiet hunter to be successful. They never hit a human being and consider that such kind of act always would bring pain and bad luck to all involved. They also believed that after death the soul of a person is transferred to the supreme God and continues influences the mortal lives.

Shortly we arrived at an open area to view their traditional dance. They dance at the time of wedding ceremony and at the end of the effortful day. They also dance while seeking guidance on medicine from ancestral spirits. I joined them in dance, which was a very joyous experience. 🙂

San Women and Children

A Cherished Moment with San Women and Children

San have so small dwellings and wear so little clothes… They eat limited variety of food and are happy with their bare possessions. These warm-hearted people believe that God has provided plenty for them. 🙂 They are most close to Mother Nature. They don’t know about any soaps or expensive face creams; yet their faces glow. They are the perfect balance of aggression required for hunting and cordialness needed to stay together harmoniously. They lead simple lives years away from civilization, free of any law, complications, or speed… It’s not that everything is wonderful with them. Average lifespan of Sans is just about 45 to 50 years. Today they find it difficult to maintain their traditional lifestyle because of land enchroachment by local farmers; still they are contented.

After spending around half a day with them, we took leave of the community seniors and other members. On the way back, Steven’s words were lingering on my mind. As he said, “Nothing or none is really good or bad here. Everything or everyone just is in its own form. Created by God.”

The Sans are truly living by this statement. 🙂

A Love Story a Magic Pen Started

It was not exactly the Valentine’s Day but a few months before it during year 1994 when their love story started. It was also not long when they both met and started knowing each other. They had met just a couple of times.

That day, he was about to go to a remote place. Since they were not going see each other for long time, he had come to see her in person before boarding the train, which was scheduled in the following couple of hours.

He presented a small gift to her, as a token of his remembrance.

She uncovered it carefully and found a beautiful black pen with an intricate print on it. Her eyes twinkled with happiness. 🙂

He: “How do you find it?” 🙂

She: “It’s beautiful!…Thank you!” 🙂

He: “You know, it is not a simple pen. It is a magic pen.” 😉

She was surprised and confused at the same time to hear what he said.

She had never believed anything since her childhood without knowing the whats, the whys, and the hows. But she believed in what he said just as she believed in him completely. If he says, then it must be surely magical…But she couldn’t hold her curiosity about the pen’s magic. He observed her funny expressions.

He (playfully): “Whenever you write a letter to me with this pen, it would automatically reach me.” 😀

She (curiously): “How is that possible?” 😮

He (smiling): “Why not?… But yes, you need to do one more thing to make this pen’s magic work.”

She (anxiously): “And that is…?”

He: “Each time you write a letter with this pen, you need to write my address on the letter too, and put it into a nearby post box.”  😉 😀

She understood. 🙂 She liked the way he indicated his interest to know her more. He wanted to understand her and take their brief introduction with each other to a next level. She remembered, she had got some freshly plucked jasmine flowers. She put them into his shirt’s pocket. She promised him to write letters. After spending some silent moments together, they took each other’s leave with heavy hearts.

Those were the no-cellphone days. It was not easy to speak to a remotely located person. If they did not have STD/ISD facility on their landline telephones, they used to stand in the queues of STD/ISD booths to make a long distance call. During those days, writing letters was a reliable way to stay connected.

The pen was one of her most precious possessions. During their separation times, she wrote numerous letters with that pen and sent to him from miles away. The pen went on playing its magic and wiped out the physical distance between the two hearts in love.

I still fondly possess my magic pen. 😀

love-story-with-a-magic-pen

How to Avoid Plagiarism?

The industries working in content development, advertising, or product design and development look for not only creativity but also originality. Plagiarism is disrespected in all the fields ranging from academics, art, engineering, and science. To stand out from the crowd, your creation needs to be distinctive and unadulterated from plagiarism. Here comes an obvious question: How to avoid plagiarism?

no-plagiarism

Short Practical Tips to Avoid Plagiarism

Here are some tips on how to avoid plagiarism:

  • Plan Your Time in Advance. Creativity needs investing time for deep thinking in an out of the beaten path manner. Planning of time enables you to think in an appropriate direction. If you use your time wisely, no need occurs to hastily copy and paste. You do not miss out any minor details or leave any silly errors when you have adequate time in hand before writing or designing.
  • Be Yourself. Know the topic. Understand what exactly you need to create. Understand the audience for whom you are going to create and then create it in your own way. Project your own ideas. When you do not plagiarize the ready made creations out there, your own creation can turn out as unique as you are. 🙂
  • Appreciate. Whenever you find others’ creative work appealing and compelling, appreciate its creator then and there. This habit molds your mind to admire others’ creativity wholeheartedly and respect their intellectual property.
  • Live with the Presence of Mind. Real life offers unique experiences and one can learn a lot while living with the presence of mind. Observe. Notice the details. Read a lot. Build your vocabulary. Know the shades of word meanings and colors. Build your own viewpoints. Keep yourself tuned to the latest updates in your domain. This attitude of getting the inputs from surroundings can help you generate your own distinct ideas, and eliminate the temptation to plagiarize.
  • Acknowledge. Last but not least, if you absolutely need to take the inspiration from others’ creation, acknowledge the creator in your work. If you need to use others’ creation directly, take the creator’s permission before you use it. Understand how to acknowledge or cite others’ work and then cite the original creator in your work.

Am I missing on any point? If you think I do; you are welcome to share. 🙂

Plagiarism: The Intellectual Property Theft

It was 15th January, the Indian Army Day. Since it was Sunday morning, I was little easy on the daily work. I started going through my Facebook posts. All the Facebook groups, communities, and pages were pouring their greetings to the soldiers. I was browsing through plenty of them and oh dear! I was awestruck to see an image that I had clicked under someone else’s post!

plagiarized-image

Screenshot of the Plagiarized Image taken on HTC Desire 820

I remember, last year I had written a post on how it was my life being an army wife. I had described my personal experience as being one. I was looking for some relevant images which could add value to my article.

original-image-from-my-blog-post

Screenshot of the Original Image from My Blog Post

I had clicked this picture when Arun was getting ready for the office. The morning light was just perfect and his actions too. I caught the moment in camera. I wrote the post, added this image, and published it.

It was something I had created. I had applied the best of my knowledge and skills of handling the camera and editing the image. And now about seven months later I saw this image being reused by someone, who did not have a courtesy to take permission, or give due credits to me while using it against his/her own post. I was little restless. 😦 Since it happened on Facebook, I contacted the Facebook team for help. Within a couple of hours, Facebook removed the post from the timeline of that community where the image was reused, and sent me a confirmatory e-Mail.

It was the case of Plagiarism, the term they frequently use in the field of creativity, designing, writing, and academics.

What is Plagiarism?

It is the activity of using or copying the Intellectual Property of a creator without taking the creator’s permission or acknowledging the creator’s work, and presenting it as one’s own.

What is Intellectual Property (IP)?

It is the property resulted out of human intellect and/or creativity. Intellectual property includes the following pieces of work:

  • Ideas, inventions, thoughts, and patents
  • Books, quotes, articles, columns, and paragraphs
  • Translations into other languages
  • Novels for screenplays and movies
  • Recordings of music composition, narration, addresses
  • Architectural, industrial, commercial, or engineering designs
  • Pictures created using software, or captured by digital devices or analog cameras
  • Artworks such as sketches, paintings, and sculptures
  • Software code

Intellectual properties are protected under Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) to ensure creator’s rights on his own property.

Why do People Plagiarize?

There are various reasons to why people plagiarize:

  • Lack of Knowledge – Some people do not know, what plagiarism is. They do it unknowingly. In such case, it can be said that it is an innocent or accidental plagiarism.
  • Lack of Creativity – Not everyone is creative enough to generate own ideas. Some people need to borrow others’ pieces of work or take inspiration from others’ creations.
  • Laziness – Some people are lazy. They find it easy to open a search engine, take the most appropriate piece of work, paste it in their own work, and present it as theirs. According to them, who will invest time and efforts in studying the topic or thinking out of the box? 😀
  • Carelessness – Some people absolutely know what plagiarism is, but they don’t have hearts broad enough to acknowledge the creativity of the original creator. Or they are not bothered to acknowledge others’ work when they copied. It is called intentional or deliberate plagiarism.

How can I Detect Plagiarism?

There are various online tools available to detect plagiarism. They require you to submit a piece of text or the entire written work and produce a report. They are very helpful for educators, teachers, journalists, and the organizations working in the domains of publishing, e-learning, and web content development. Some plagiarism checking tools are free and the others are paid. Whatever tool you select to use, it is worth it.

Why Plagiarism is not a Good Practice?

It is very easy to get into plagiarism these days due to availability of enormous information on Internet that the powerful search engines bring up in milliseconds. But falling prey to plagiarism is not a good. Plagiarism is associated to academic dishonesty. The plagiarizer knows deep in his mind that it is not his own creation. It limits his creativity as well as questions his credibility, annoys the original creator, and deceives the consumer.

Plagiarism has its own legal consequences. They results of plagiarism can range from having to pay monetary fine to a period of imprisonment. Either or both of the results can destroy a plagiarist’s professional reputation.

Plagiarism might save one’s efforts and time but it cannot save one’s skin. After all it is stealing. It is better to not to participate in this unethical activity of stealing others’ creations.

The Ongava Experience

We got an opportunity to visit Ongava, a famous private game reserve spread over 30,000 hectares. The conservation has highest number of lions, and a wide variety of antelopes and birds. Since we always wanted to see a lion’s pride in natural habitation, we started our journey with the hope to definitely spot it at Ongava.

ongava-game-reserve

It was early evening when we reached Ongava after travelling about 425km towards North. The staff welcomed cordially with wet scented towels and chilled lemon water, which we appreciated very much after a long journey in the blazing Sun. We took over our rooms. The chalets were so sparkling clean and cozy! Every piece of amenity inside was provided with a keen interest and thoughtfulness. We kept our luggage into the rooms and rushed towards a beautifully located swimming pool. The Sun was still glorifying the west horizon.

After a few dips in the pool we went to the rooms and got ready to sip coffee in the lounge. The thatched lounge of Ongava is designed such that the viewers can see the twin waterholes just beside and the Savannah plains that spread over acres till the horizon. While we were sipping coffee, we could see a pair of rhinos and a pair of giraffes; two of the five big animals of Africa. Our dedicated guide Abner told us that there was also a watch-house just next to it; smartly hidden in bushes. The route to watch-house was covered by bamboo stripes entirely, so that the viewers could be completely hidden from the animals. We speedily went there with cameras while the Sun was still flashing its last rays of the day.

animal-watching

Rhinos came and made giraffes wait till their turn of having water was over. They went into nearby bushes and ate. They again came to the waterhole. They didn’t allow giraffes to come near waterhole and poor giraffes were waiting for their turn. After multiple toggling trips to waterhole and bushes, the rhinos disappeared into the bushes once and for all, and giraffes came to the waterhole slowly. They stretched their forelimbs wide apart to be able to reach the water and drank it. So inconvenient it was for them! Giraffe is most vulnerable to become a prey while having water. Sun descended completely and we walked back to the rooms.

Since the chalets had dense vegetation around, a staff member escorted us to the dining area. Around 8:00pm we went to the lounge. It was pitch dark on the western side, barring a lamp at the waterhole. The dinner was laid next to a big braai. It was chicken kebabs and butternut soup; very well adorned with streaks of cream. The aroma of meat wafted in the air. The wind carried scent of dry soil and bushes to us.

While we were having dinner, Abner came to us to decide on next day’s plan. We expressed our wish to see a lion’s pride to him. While we were in the discussion, we saw a safari vehicle approaching back to the chalets with head lights on. Shortly a group of happy tourists arrived at the dining area and announced that they saw a pride of lions! 😮 The group so excited to have spotted lions that they shared their experience with twinkling eyes. 🙂 Their real story increased our anxiety to see the pride of lions even more. Abner was happy for getting a clue about where the pride could be.

Abner escorted us to our chalets and we straight went to the beds. Yet another awesome night beside the Savannah plains… 🙂

Early morning around 6:30, father and Nishant heard the roar of a big cat. Lion’s roar can be heard from a distance as long as five miles. At the time of breakfast, Abner came to our table and suggested that we should first visit the south-west terrain, where the other group of guests saw a lion’s pride the previous evening. We boarded the safari vehicle hopefully.

Abner took the sturdy vehicle through thorny bushes, ditches, and deep marked trails, which were left by other safari vehicles. We tried to keep ourselves from those thorny bushes and heat. We roamed the terrain looking for the presence of lions about an hour; but no luck…Abner, little disappointingly suggested that we go to the Etosha Pan and return to the west-terrain again to search the pride. We could see a large number of kudus, springboks, impalas, water bucks, elephants, ostriches, zebras, oryxes, wildebeests, and a lazy pair of lions, but the pride. 😦 The pair of lions we saw had tracing collars around their necks and they were lazily slumbering near a cement water tank. Sun was showering its warmest rays and the lion couple seemed to take years to move. 😀 I knew the lions were very lazy, but never knew they were that lazy!! 😀 Abner informed that they were together for making babies.

Sun was on our heads and Abner seemed to be little upset on not being able to follow the pride’s trail. He offered us for some juices and cold drinks to stay hydrated. In Etosha Pan we saw a giant tusker hurriedly coming to the waterhole. He was a darker than the most usual elephants. He drank from the water hole’s fresh water source and went his way. Abner told that the elephants splash water on their skin and then coat a layer of sand over the wet skin to make a mask, which saves them from the heat.

elephant-with-tusks

So the dark tusker seemed to have arrived from the terrain where there was dark soil. The tusker vanished into the bush with the same speed that he came with. A large herd of elephants came at the waterhole to quench their thirst. A little elephant cub was looking indeed cute 🙂

We decided to return to our chalets. We were little upset as we had only that evening left and we hadn’t yet spotted the pride. We were suppose to leave Ongava the next morning and time was running fast… 😦 We had chicken pies in lunch, took rest for an hour, and once again started the safari drive in search of pride. It was about 5:00pm with still a bright day outside. We all were sitting quiet in the vehicle and keenly looking around for any yellow furry patches or long brown mane…En route, Abner stopped the vehicle to show a beautiful fly catcher and few other small birds. But that day, we had eyes only for lion’s pride.

We roamed about more than 150km in Savannah plains in search of the lion’s pride. Abner was getting despondent and we were being desperate…The sky was clouded heavily and winds swirled up the dust in the air spirally. We were quiet and almost on the verge of losing hope… 😦 Sun was about to descend in some time. Abner again gathered his enthusiasm and took us to a nearby waterhole in anticipation of getting the pride’s trail…We spotted two mighty elephants at the waterhole, who were least bothered about our appearance. Abner stopped the vehicle at a little distance.

The elephants were munching leaves from the nearby tree, breaking its branches, and removing the bark…We keenly looked around again…

And all our efforts were paid!! 😀

It was there. Twelve of them. Camouflaged in the dry brown bushes. 🙂 Quiet and completely untamed…Spread around the waterhole. Young and old, males and females, and toddler cubs. Some lions were basking in the evening Sun.

lions-prideAbner read their body language and said that they had consumed their prey and arrived at the waterhole to conclude the day. The leader of the pride was keeping eye on elephants. He was little away from the elephants as well as from his pride. He looked ferocious with a steady gaze, full grown mane, and commanding gestures.

the-lion

Abner started the vehicle and parked it almost between the two elephants on one side and the pride on the other. After a lot of eating, the elephants approached the waterhole, where two lionesses were having water. One active elephant shooed them away by a loud trumpet and a thump of a forefoot. The lionesses made space for elephants and went aside. The elephants then started having water as if the waterhole was their own property! 😀 The pride kept anticipating their next moves and waiting for their turn to have water.

elephants-at-waterhole

A couple of lightening streaks appeared on the west horizon and we saw a massive cloud approaching towards us like a shower head. It carried a drizzle to us. Then it moved aside to make place for Sun to show its magic. Soon a beautiful rainbow appeared in the sky! It was magnificent. 🙂 The elephants, the Savannah plains, a lion’s pride, and the colorful sky!! The sight was so captivating!! A few hours before, we had wholeheartedly wished for the view of lion’s pride and He showed an extra-ordinary view of nature. 🙂 We were fortunate to be a part of that magical scene!!

Soon, the Sun went down leaving a hot orange streak in the western sky. Abner drove us safely back towards the chalets. It was so hard to get over the wonderful experience! We took dinner and went to bed.

ongava-managers

The managers, Ongava Game Reserve

The next morning, we took a lavish breakfast and met the staff to pay thanks. We expressed our deep gratitude to the lodge managers for hosting us. The staff members were so hospitable, and warmhearted that they effortlessly made us feel at home. 🙂 Their dedicated service with polite yet clear communication was unparalleled.

Ongava visit helped us to create one of the best memories during Namibian wildlife safari. As we know, we all retain best memories; for we can retrieve and revisit them, and smile again… 🙂 Holding memories of the unique experience at Ongava game reserve, we started back to Windhoek.

Embracing the New Year

How was year 2016 for me? When I think of this question, a lot of recent memories crowd my mind…Year 2016 was full of experiences, zest, fun, and lessons. A year of learning the whole set of new lessons and revising the old ones…I went to places, met people, made new friends, and observed them all. I could overcome my fear of water and swim, learn basic French, and pick up photography as per my last year’s resolution. 🙂 I visited the great Pyramid of Giza, Roman Colosseum, London Bridge, and climbed the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It was so much fun to see a number of jaw-dropping places in Namibia and South Africa with my loved ones. I witnessed a wide variety of flora, fauna, and different colors of the mother earth.

The places I visited throughout the year were wonderful and exclusive, but it was not the case with people I met or been with. 😀 Some strangers beautifully reintroduced me to all the small and big things I could smile for. Some people I came across had less than their worth and some others had more than they deserved. Some funny people praised themselves on good results of execution of their plans and blamed others when results were unwelcomed. I met a girl who was ready to leave anything to find real love and then I met a woman who left love for money and material…I can say, I completely understood relativity! 😀

I learnt once a person’s soul departs, at no cost the person can come back…In contrast to the volatile life, this is a certainty of death. All you have are the memories of the days shared together. So it’s us to decide what kind of memories we want live with.

I learnt that I should not accept someone’s nonsense at first place. If I do then most probably I would have to submit myself to compromise my self-respect on every such nonsense in future. After all, I am responsible to condition others’ behavior too.

I used to think that if at all we quantify faith from 0 as no faith to 100 as undoubted faith then all the values between 0 and 99 are same as 0. I used to believe that I have faith only if it was 100%, complete. But according to my experience, faith can also be between 0 and 100.

I learnt that honesty and integrity are not something that weak people can handle. People will always take the easy and lazy route to hide their unethical behavior instead of choosing to condition themselves to be ethical, or not getting into unethical behavior at all.

I revised an old lesson that a person can change only if he or she wishes and works to change.

I also experienced an incredible power of pure thoughts and unsoiled character that anyone can accomplish by behaving in accordance with good virtues consistently. But sadly, a person with such character often continues the journey of growth alone.

I revised the lesson of hope. Hope and optimism go hand in hand. Hope had always been by my side even during the bad patches in my life. It is something that never ever broke my faith with it. This year I find myself equipped with little more knowledge I gained from my lessons… 🙂 I am going to release any bad memories accumulated over the past year. I am going to carry on only with the experiences and lessons.

While bidding farewell to the ending year, I find myself as anxious as a child, who awaits to open a series of gift boxes… 🙂 I am anxious to uncover what God has planned for me, day by day. I am ready to enter into year 2017 with full hope…to embrace new days, new experiences, and new lessons.

happy-new-year

Hoba: The Largest Known Iron Meteorite on Earth

It was Grootfontein in North Namibia, where a giant meteorite struck some less than 80,000 years ago. It remained at the same place since the time it arrived on the blue planet. The reason is nothing but its incredible weight. 🙂

We drove on the gravel road about 20 km west from Grootfonteint to see this giant extra-terrestrial body. We found the place very serene. There was dense vegetation. We started walking towards the meteorite. The short shady trail was quite soothing during the warm daytime.

hoba-meteorite

There are two stories behind the discovery of Hoba. According to the first version, in 1920, when a hunter named Jacobus Hermanus Brits was hunting at Farm Hoba West, he came across a strange dark grey colored surface surrounded by soil. He found the surface to be unusual so he scratched it with his knife. To his surprise the scratches shone and confirmed that it was a part of some metallic piece. Then Jacobus tried to find out more. He removed the surrounding soil that revealed entire body of the boulder. Then he chiseled off a small piece of the suspicious boulder and sent it to South West Africa (SWA; now Namibia) Maatskappy (this Africans word means company), which determined it to be an age-old meteorite.

The other version of the story says, Jacobus was a farm owner. Once while ploughing in Hoba West farm, his iron plough got stuck in the soil with a banging noise. When he dug around to remove the soil, this meteorite was revealed from underneath.

The most amazing features of Hoba meteorite are its shape and content. It is in the shape of a brick; as if some artists started sculpting it, reached the shape of a box, and left sculpting it in the middle for some reason. It is made of 82.4% iron, the substantial figure to name it as an iron meteorite. The rest 16.4% portion contains Nickel, Cobalt, Phosphorus, Carbon, Copper, Zinc, Gallium, Iridium, and other minerals that are not found on the earth. The local guide showed us the portion where iron piece was chipped off. It was shining so brightly in the Sun!

hoba-meteorite-iron-contentOnstudying the radioactive nickel isotope present in the boulder, the geologists figured out Hoba’s age to be at least 190 million years and at most 400 million years. It is estimated to weigh 66 tons at the time when it struck the earth. Later, due to oxidation, high winds, erosion, and vandalism, it lost its mass. Today, Hoba is estimated to be weighing about 60 tons.

The American Museum of National History at Manhattan initiated the purchase this meteorite from Namibia in 1954. The idea did not materialize due to transportation problems. The local community intimated Namibian Government about this and then the meteorite was declared as a national monument in year 1955. In 1985, Rössing Uranium Ltd. provided financial support to Namibian Government to guard the meteorite against public vandalism. Today, Hoba is surrounded by a cement structure and steps to enhance its view and facilitate the tourists to observe it from very near.

The curious cats like us wondered; what formula(e) did the geologists use to calculate its

hoba-meteorite-top-view

Hoba Meteorite Top View  Image, taken from a helicopter. Courtsey: Sqn Ldr Raja Pandiyan

 

weight, when there is absolutely no chance to move it?

How did Hoba acquire its box shape naturally? Was it semi-molten, so could achieve this shape while striking the earth?

How come there are no creators formed on nearby land, when such a massive object struck the Terra Firma? Have they vanished under trees or soil?

The local guide could not provide us answers of these questions. But nature is a good teacher. It teaches that not all questions have answers. Some questions have no logical answers; or no answers at all…

Determining to find out more information on our unanswered questions, we boarded our car and started journey back to Grootfontein.

Quick Facts of Hoba Meteorite

Here are some quick facts of Hoba meteorite:

Weight:            60 tons
Dimensions:  Length 9 ft  x  Width 9 ft  x  Height 3 ft
Contents:        82.4% Iron + 16.2% Nickel + Other minerals
Location:         Near Grootfontein, Northern Namibia.

Braai, Beer, and Bush

History of braai can be traced back to the time when the early humans walked on the earth. Maybe the early man found a dead animal who couldn’t escape the forest fire and he tasted its meat with smoked flavor…He realized that the cooked piece of meat was comparatively much softer and tastier than the uncooked meat…Maybe then he preferred to cook the meat always thereafter…Or maybe he invented fire creating using two-stone method and tried cooking the meat…Whatever the reason, the taste and flavor of the grilled meat spoilt taste buds of the early humans. That must be the very first step of a human being towards braaing and in turn cooking.

The word Braai is a short form of Braaivleis, which is an Afrikaans word for local variation of barbecued or grilled meat. The word Braai is a noun that depicts the cooking equipment as well as a verb that depicts the way meat is cooked.

Braai involves outdoor cooking of meat and dining. Family or friends gather together in a casual environment for Braai lunch or dinner. Braai is an important part of food culture of Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. A large number of houses in these African countries have Braai arrangements in their gardens. They are called permanent Braai stands and are generally located near swimming pools. Most of the resorts, hostels, and hotels also provide permanent Braai stands.

half-drum-braai

Braai Party is a great social gathering in a friendly and casual manner where you don’t need to worry about following any stern party manners hence the host can also become a part of the event casually. Less preparation is required for the Braai as far as the food part is concerned. The other interesting thing is, the men folk plays a leading role in braaiing as it needs to handle heavy or large-sized equipment near fire. Believe it or not, this definitely lessens the cooking load on women folk. Women mostly contribute in marination, preparing salads or dips, and cutting lemon wedges.

Which basic equipment do I need for braai?

round-braaiBraai is a tray of some substantial height, which is entirely covered with grid. You can keep burning firewood or hot embers in the tray and cover it with the metal grid on which you can keep pieces of meat directly for grilling. The metal grid is made of iron, cast iron, or steel. There are various shapes of Braai stands such as Half-oil drum (which is the largest in size), Dome-shaped, and Box-shaped.

Apart from the Braai stand, paraffin or kerosene is required for persistent fire that goes on even during winds in the open areas. The tongs are required to pick up or turn the pieces of meat on hot grid. The longer the tongs, the safer they are. In addition, it is better to use paper plates than the glass or ceramic ones, as they are convenient during outdoor eating.

Braai Fuel

Various types of seasoned wood or charcoal are primarily used as Braai fuel. These days, brackets made from fine wooden chips are being preferred. The type of wood plays an instrumental role in the smoke it produces and in turn in flavor of the meat. Though most of the times wood is used conventionally, brackets and charcoal provide convenient handling.

Which meat or vegetables can I braai?

The sleeker the meat, more tenderly and completely it gets cooked. Meat is marinated in spices for hours before the actual cooking starts. Fillets or cubes of chicken, pork, and lamb or mutton, other red meat, game meat, tiger prawns or fish, boerewors, sausages, frankfurters, steaks, and ribs are excellent options for Braai. Though few people prefer meat with bones, the tender cuts such as shoulder, breast, and thigh are perfect for braaing as they contain less or almost no bones.

Braai doesn’t let anyone go hungry. A vegetarian guest can always braai marinated cottage cheese cubes, tomatoes, mushrooms, capsicums, brinjal slices, carrots, potatoes, and sweet potatoes.

Which side dish and drink goes well with braai?

Braaied food can be paired with a large range of salads, sauces, dips, and breads to enhance the taste. The side dishes give a fantastic color combination and complement the main braai dish. Potato salad, Green salad, Greek salad, Carrot-orange salad, are great options for side dish.

Since it’s a casual dining practice, braaied meats can be served with chilled drought beer, lager, or ale. White or red wine with dry taste can match with braaied seafood. The teetotalers can rely on any cold drinks. Braai is a wild thing that can be better handled with chilled alcoholic drinks.

Braai Recipes

Here are few Braai recipes:

Braaied Chicken Breasts 

This is an Indo-African version of braai recipe sufficient for 3 to 4 people. Flavorful and tastey, for those who wish to try something with Indian spices in African wilderness. 🙂

Ingredients

Boneless Chicken – 4 large pieces of 125-150gm each, cut into long slices.

Marination

  1. Thick unsweetened curds – 1 cup
  2. Fresh Ginger Paste – 1 tbsp
  3. Fresh Garlic Paste – 1 tbsp
  4. Coriander Powder – 1 tbsp
  5. White Pepper Powder – ½ tbsp
  6. Cinnamon or Nutmeg Powder – ½ tbsp
  7. Kashmiri Chilli Powder – 1 tbsp
  8. Lemon juice – 5 tbsp
  9. Salt – to taste

Method

  1. Clean the pieces of chicken.
  2. Slit the pieces by running a sharp knife on it 3 to 5mm deep at 1cm distance. Do not let them break apart.
  3. Flip the piece and repeat the process on the other side.
  4. Mix all the Marination ingredients in a large bowl.
  5. Apply this mixture to the chicken pieces all over to coat them evenly.
  6. Keep the chicken breasts covered for a couple of hours in the refrigerator for marination.
  7. Roast the chicken breasts on the braai grid till they are done completely.

Carrot-Black Currant-Orange Salad

This salad is tasty enough to make you close your eyes while feeling its juicy taste. It will make you forget that some time back you couldn’t take off your eyes from its bright orange and black colors. 🙂

Ingredients

  1. Fresh bright carrots – 6 to 8 large
  2. Orange juice – 1 ½ cup
  3. Black Currants – 3 tbsp

Method

  1. Peel the carrots.
  2. Shred them into fine stripes.
  3. Transfer the shredded carrot into a large bowl.
  4. Add orange juice into it.
  5. Add black currants.
  6. Mix well.
  7. Keep the bowl covered with cling foil in the refrigerator.
  8. Serve chilled.

Mustard Sauce

This little hot and sweet tangy sauce brings an extra punch to the braaied meat or vegetables.

Ingredients

  1. Evaporated Milk – ¾ cups
  2. Split and husked mustard – 4 tbsp
  3. Sugar – 1 tbsp
  4. Salt – ¼ tbsp

Method

  1. Soak the mustard in milk for ½ hour.
  2. Add Sugar.
  3. Blend well in a blender to fine paste.
  4. Add salt.
  5. Serve at room temperature.

So next time when you are in fix for a casual party theme, why not try the African Braai with beer in a bush? 🙂

Swiss Landscape on Bernina Express

“If on earth be an Eden of bliss,

It is this, it is this, it is none but this!”

When I entered Switzerland its stunning beauty made me remind these lines. Switzerland boasts Alps ranges, a large number of tunnels and bridges, highest dams, and four official languages. It displays a unique range of magnificent landscapes. We all wanted to see the mighty yet beautiful Alps ranges and the scenic beauty of this blessed piece of land hence we visited Switzerland this summer.

We planned to travel by the world-famous Bernina Express, the train especially operated for the purpose of site-seeing. We decided to take the route from Tirano to Zurich and excitedly boarded the train.

bernina-express

The train was bright red-colored from outside with refreshing cream-white color inside the compartments, which were very comfortable and lavish. A very special and noticeable feature of Bernina Express is its large and clear windows through which the passengers can see the surrounding nature. These windows are extended up to the roof and facilitate the passengers to see every bit of the beauty and find themselves as a part of the nature while being on the wheels. Another stunning feature is the height at which Bernina Express operates effortlessly on narrow-guage. It runs at an adequate speed to let one observe the surroundings. The train operates at the height of 2253 meters above sea level and makes one wonder, how successfully man has created machines and tamed them at his service.

As the train steadily kept moving ahead, the breathtaking landscapes started unfolding. It took us through pastures of lush green grass. There were healthy brown cows grazing on the slopes. They were wearing flat-shaped brass bells tied in the embroidered leather belts around their necks. The black-nosed sheep were looking as if there were few white woolen bundles kept on green carpet.

switzerland-landscape

Along the green pastures, there were small houses topped with tapered roofs and fenced with wooden bars. Sometimes they were so close to the train that I thought I could extend my hand to touch. They had little entrance gates which were adorned with bells and floral plants. The gardens in front of the houses displayed artistic arrangement of small fountains, animal figurines, and colorful pots. We spotted a little house just near the rail track where figurines of seven smiling dwarfs were kept in the garden. They looked so cute! 🙂 I tried to look for the Snow White’s figurine around but the train moved ahead and that pretty sight of the house was replaced by another beautiful view of chestnut trees.

The Swedish houses had small old-styled windows of wooden frames. Almost every window was decorated with the rectangular pots placed just outside the windows, which contained plants with pink, white, yellow, and purple flowers. They made a good contrast with the color of the window frames and left us impossible to decide which one was beautifying the other 😀

There were churches seen occasionally in the backdrop of the hilly green meadows. The Swedish towns just looked like the ones portrayed in the fairy tales. 🙂 Indeed Europeans have an obsession as well as an eye for a great detail to maintain their gardens neat, clean, and attractive.

The train was taking us on bridges, through tunnels, and around orchards. The food service carts arrived full of hamburgers, sandwiches, wines, and other drinks. They also had soft toys for sale, especially the Valais Black-nosed sheep. As we progressed on our journey, we started getting the glimpse of Alps Mountain through the tall pine trees. Soon Bernina took us nearer and we were astonished to see the snow-clad tops of the Alps.

switzerland-matterhorn

It was the most breathtaking moment when we saw Matterhorn, the fifth highest peak in Alps ranges. It is in the shape of a pyramid with four steep triangular faces, each one facing a direction. Though its appearance, height, and expanse were scary, it captivated our eyes. 🙂 I find the view of large natural bodies like mountains and oceans is always spectacular. It limits one’s ego and makes one realize how negligible one’s presence is on this mother Earth!

We were so engrossed in watching the beauty around that we could not believe our destination had arrived. While we were on the train, the time seemed to pass so fast! It was an indulging experience to travel through the scenic beauty of Switzerland.

Switzerland landscapes are splendid.

It makes one’s eyes hungry and contented at the same time with its delightful beauty. 🙂

Namibian Birds through My Lens

Our tenure in Windhoek, the capital city Namibia, is an open door for visiting different unexplored places. Windhoek is one of the top 10 clean cities in Africa. It has a number of photo-opportunity places. The deep blue skies overhead and almost no pollution makes the routine sunrise and sunsets also very splendid. In this less populated city, the birds are ample in variety and number. And they are visible so easily! 🙂

birds-flocks

I use 55-250mm lens with Canon camera to take pictures. I also use the handy and compact Sony digital camera. Here are some birds that I could spot around our house on Eadie Street, around Windhoek city, and the countryside.

Windhoek mornings start with sound of the dawn chorus. 🙂 Especially during winter, the weather is chilled and the Sun is bright. The birds are often found basking on the tree-tops or on the overhead electric cables.

Cardinal Woodpecker

It is found in entire Namibia, Botswana, and South Africa. I saw this bird accidentally. Once during late afternoon I went to collect dried clothes from the clothes-string installed in the backyard. I heard some strange sound rhythmically coming from the tree located in the extreme far end of the fence. There were more trees there. I slinked to follow the sound and got to see this beautiful bird!

cardinal-woodpecker

I rushed back home speedily to get the camera and returned with it hoping that it would stay there till I click a couple of pictures. It was too busy to notice the sound of any leaves crushed under my feet 🙂 Indeed, good for me.

Greater Flamingos

We saw them on the west-coast of Walvis Bay. It was the evening and the water at the sea shore was warm. The flamingos were just about 300m away from us; wading their long feet in the water and looking for their favorite fish.

greater-flamingos

Later I learnt this type of flamingo is known as Greater Flamingo in the diction of Ornithology. It has pale pinkish-white body with long neck and pink legs. Its beak seems quite big for its head and has black tip. Its wings are adorned with pink fringe of the feathers.

Gray Hornbill

I spotted it early morning on the backyard tree. Initially I saw a big bird flying steadily in the sky. I prayed it should perch on the nearby tree visibly till I take its pictures. I didn’t know, my prayers would be answered instantly.

grey-hornbill

The bird took two rounds and perched on one of the top branches on the barren tree. It had long shining black bill and a white eyebrow line. I managed to click this picture though I was very far from it. Yes, something is always better than nothing. 😀

Gray Go-Away Bird

I get to see it in acacia tree in the backyard. It appears with smokey grey color. It has whitish crown on its head. It is concolored means uniformly colored bird. It is seen perching on the thorny branches and eating wild figs and breaking seeds.

go-away-bird

It is found on Namibian desert lands such as Kalahari, Caprivi, and also the Kavango region. It is also named as Grey Lourie. It is a funny sight when it frequently raises and lowers its crest while moving around the branches.

Hartlaub’s Gull

It was seen on the see shore of Walvis Bay. It has a thin pointed black bill. Its head, face, and the stomach are white. It has black eyes and deep gray-colored wings, which gradually turn darker at the ends. Its tail is short and black.

hartlaub-gull

Its legs are short and thin. The claws are connected together with wading pads. I spotted it while it was resting on the sea shore and didn’t really bother about my presence around.

Palm Dove

It is also known as Laughing dove. It must have acquired the name because of its call. It has adjusted itself to the city life and it is found in entire Namibia. It has cinnamon-colored body with the hints of grey. During winters it is often found basking on the top of the trees.

palm-doves

During warm daytime, the walls and ground receive a large amount of sunlight. In the afternoon even when the heat goes down, the garden paths are warm. The Palm Doves then sometimes perch on the ground.

Red-Eyed Bulbul

This little fellows are habitual visitors around our house at Eadie Street. It has black head and beak. Its wings are dusky brown. The orange-red colored ring around its eyes distinguishes it from the common Bulbul. It has little yellow patch beneath its black tail.

red-eyed-bulbul-pair

These Bulbuls are found in entire Namibia. Their sweet calls on a quiet afternoon are indeed maddening! Of course, in a good way. 😀

Rosyfaced Lovebird

They have rose-colored face and vibrant green-colored body. Their short tails look deep cobalt-blue outside. But let it start shrieking and one feels like running out of the place speedily…What a combination, beautiful looks and shrill noise! 😦 I did not know its name when I first spotted it.

rosyfaced-lovebirds

One fine morning I went to the High Commission of India’s library and found a book on South African birds. I found this rightly-named bird listed under the lovebirds category.

Scarlet-Chested Sunbird

It has a diagnostic scarlet-colored chest. Rest of the body is shining jet back color. It flaunts brown colored wings. Its beak is long, curved, slender, and grey. It visits a large tree in front of our house during early morning hours and once during afternoon.

scarlet-chested-sunbird

It was very restless indeed; I didn’t ever find this fellow perching stable on any branch. It must be a male because in most of the birds species, male birds look better than female birds. Plus, they are flamboyant too. 😉

Short-Toed Rock Thrush

It is a beautiful bird with very pale blue head, slate blue face, and same colored wings, which gradually become darker at the ends. Its chest and stomach are brownish-orange colored.

short-toed-rock-thrush

When I was setting my camera lens, it noticed my actions and still kept sitting on the branch. That’s like a good bird! 🙂 This bird is found in entire Namibia and northern region of South Africa.

Weaver Bird

Though there are numerous types of weaver birds today on the Terra Firma, I could spot the Lesser Masked Weaver which displays partially black face with yellow rings around its eyes. All Weaver Birds types are almost equal is size and shape. They are as big as a house sparrow.

masked-weaver-with-nest

One needs only two colors at hand: black and yellow; if one wishes to color a drawing of Lesser Masked Weaver. The weavers have short beaks. During spring, the weavers start making their coconut-shaped nests hanging at the end of a long soft branch.

White-Backed Mousebird

It has light grey feathers on the back and it flaunts a small crest on the head. Its short white bill has black tip. The upper part of its body is plain and the claws are shocking pink colored. It has a pointed long tail.

whitebacked-mousebird

These birds are regular visitors in the nearby trees. They live in flocks and chirp with a very sweet sound. When it is evening, a group of Whitebacked Mousebirds hides itself into the dense thorny bush of Bougainvillea that is just outside the bedroom. Every morning, we get up together 😀

White-Crowned Shrikes

This bird is about 10cm long. It lives and moves in flocks. Each flock has about 10 to 20 birds. This bird has a short white beak. Its stomach and head are also white. The upper part of its small black eye is surrounded with the hint of black. Its tail has two short black feathers. The tail looks like a tail of a fish.

shrikes

One morning I saw a big flock of shrikes on the tree-top. Till the time I adjust the camera lens, many of them flew away. Then I could get a picture with only three participants. 🙂

Yellow-Billed Hornbill

Maybe it was a female species of Grey Hornbill. I spotted it on a tree near the swimming pool. It had a yellow bill, but it was not prominent yellow. It flaunted a brown patch under the bill. It moved around the branches slowly and ungracefully, as if with a great difficulty. It perched on a branch for a quite some time and took flight, which looked magnificent.

yellowbilled-hornbill

This is not all. There are many birds out there, which I have not yet seen.

It was not always I could capture the picture of every bird I saw. At times some birds flew away at my glimpse and sometimes I encountered them without the camera at hand. :/ Sometimes my tip-toeing skills didn’t work on dry leaves effectively while following them. And the other times, they just flew away suddenly out of a startle when we both faced each other unexpectedly 😀

But at the end of the day, it is fun to follow their calls and striking colors in the trees. I strongly believe, we all can definitely get to see what we persistently and religiously look for. Hence my quest of bird-watching continues… 🙂

Trip to Damaraland

Some 120 million years ago, Damaras migrated to Namibia from Northern Africa and settled in Northern areas of Namibia, now known as Damaraland. They were the first inhabitants of Namibia. They knew stars, constellations, and seasons. They knew medicinal usage of plants and they used salt for curing meat. Damaras cultivated tobacco and corn. Being curious about all these, we wanted to visit Damaraland region of Namibia hence we planned a short trip with our friends Jaya and John with their cute daughters Jessica and Jannes. Nishant and they both were very enthusiastic about the trip as they were going to see what they learnt during their History and Geography lessons.

Last Thursday, late afternoon we boarded our vehicles and started our journey to Damaraland. After 260km drive northwards we reached Otjiwarongo, a small well-laid out town. We stayed at a Catholic church on the first night.  The church tower was standing tall on the backdrop of brightly shining Venus. We had our dinner, chatted endlessly till late night, and went to sleep into our cozy dens.

The next day we got up early. It was a bright sunny day. As soon as we finished our breakfast of croissants and hot chocolate, we headed towards Outjo, a yet another small place on the way to Vingerklip.

Outjo is a neat and laid-back town of a few thousand residents. Most residents are proudly into cattle farming business. When we entered the town, we came across a famous souvenir shop named Images of Africa. The shop caught our eyes for its well-organized and well-stocked appearance. The wooden and stone articles, and jewelry were displayed so nicely that we couldn’t resist shopping there. 🙂 We bought beautiful table cloth weights. Jaya and John picked a graceful pair of wooden giraffe figurines.

german-bakery

Just next to this elegant souvenir shop, there is a famous German bakery that was established in 1947, the independence year of India. It offers a large variety of freshly baked puffs, pastries, pies, cakes, rusks, and cookies. It makes a very good eating joint. We stuffed ourselves with some puffs and pies and then headed towards Vingerklip.

Vingerklip

From Outjo, we drove another 100km to reach Vingerklip. The word Vingerklip literally means the Finger Rock. From short distance, we saw a tall and thick boulder with the shape of a thick human finger. It stood on the crest of a debris hill. Yes, the debris; that was brought by the then fast-flowing river Ugab.

vingerklip-site

It was the time when the super continent Gondwana broke in to separate continents as we know them today. This division of continents gave rise to sea level, new land structures, and the unavoidable erosion of rocks. Around 20 million years back in the history, the mighty river Ugab brought along debris of eroded limestone, quartzite, marble, and soil with it, which was spread on the river banks. Later due to the climate changes Ugab lost quantity of water it carried and its speed too, which made debris layers on its banks. These layers were around 100m thick. Vingerklip, the 2 million years old boulder, is known to be formed naturally due to the mixture of sedimentary debris that contained gravel, pebbles, and the limestone that bound rest everything together.

vingerklip-from-distance

As we approached near the structure, we could see it clearly. We parked the vehicles at the base and started climbing the debris hill. The more we went near Vingerklip, the more it surprised us about its wonderful balancing position. How stunning it looked! 🙂 It was around 35m tall above the hill. Since millions of years it has been standing there, facing and defeating the strong winds of Namibia. We observed the scenic beauty of mother earth around. It was so serene and quiet up there! We required to proceed to the next place hence we climbed down the debris hill unwillingly.

We boarded our vehicles and drove 70km to Namibian Wildlife Resort (NWR), Khorixas. We got fresh and had a brief lunch that we had brought from home. Then we headed towards the famous Petrified Forest.

Petrified Forest

It takes a drive of 45km from Khorixas towards west to reach Petrified Forest. Two Damara farmers discovered this place in 1940. Later in 1950, the government of Namibia declared it as a National Heritage Site. When we arrived there, we found the place had nothing to be mentioned as a forest. There were numerous fallen trees, which are made of rock and not wood. Isn’t it surprising? How was it possible??

It was possible because the nature worked to process them from wood to rock. At Petrified Forest we learnt a term in Geology that was completely new to us: Petrification. The obvious question crossed our minds is,

What is Petrification?

It is the process in which an organic material is converted into a fossil. During petrification, the pores and spaces in the original organic material are filled with minerals. The original material is then gradually replaced by the minerals thereby retaining the structure of the original material. We observed petrified tree trunks lying all around, which were partially or completely revealed.

petrified-tree

We wondered how did petrification happen to these tall trees? Long ago, a mighty flood came in Damaraland, which brought down those trees. The trees kept lying there for years and accumulated the depositions of fine sand and mud on and around them. The layer of sand and mud was so thick that the trees remained deprived of air. There was no other organic matter either, which could help the tree decay. Thus, these trees remained covered under the sand for a few millions of years and faced Silicification, a yet another term in Geology.

What is Silicification?

It is a process in which an organic material is replaced by minerals which flow through the pores of the material and over its surface due to aquatic activities.

A wonderful structure where each and every cell of wood is gradually replaced by silica over a few million years! That too, without disturbing the original shape of the tree! The sand that surrounded these trees thickened to form sandstone.

welwitschia-mirabilisWe saw numerous plants named Welwitschia Mirabilis, which grow only in Namibia and in some part of Angola where rainfall is minimal. The plants looked like a large flower. It is a wonderful plant that survives on dew drops. Its leaves grow continuously throughout the plant’s life. It is known as the Living Fossil because it can live up to 2000 years. The local people also call it Desert Onion as they cook and eat its thick stem. Rhinos and antelopes eat the leaves of this plant to quench their thirst. There were also some medicinal, fragrant, and extremely poisonous plants around. The guide informed us that the early Bushmen applied the juice of fragrant plants on their skin as a part of beautification. They also dipped the tips of their hunting arrows in the juice of poisonous plants.

Twefelfontein

We drove about 55km from Petrified Forest to reach Twefelfontein, the famous place for Bushmen’s art; especially for the carving of Lion. It was an evening when we reached there and the Sun rays were rightly tilted to enhance the beauty of the carvings. 🙂 The literal meaning of Twefelfontein is Doubtful Springs. The place acquired this name during the time when people suspected water source after having spotted frequent visits of desert elephants in this area.

ashbushMost areas of Twfelfontein are covered with Sandstone. As we entered the terrain, the reddish-brown mountains looked like the pieces of meat sprinkled with salt. 🙂 When we went nearer, we learnt that the mountains were partially covered by the plants named Ash Bush those flaunted very light grey color. This plant is found nearby water source and attracts animals towards water.

There is a long history about Bushmen’s art. Around 8000BC, there lived a wise spiritual person among Bushmen, known as Shaman. He predicted rains, availability of food, fertility of people, possibility of success in game hunt, and nearby water sources. Shaman meditated in caves and was believed to talk to animal spirits. He also knew plants and their accurate usage. Early Bushmen often used to seek Shaman’s guidance during the times of distress or illness. Each group of Bushmen had their own Shaman.

Bushmen honored different animal for different purpose. Shaman was strongly believed to get readings about rains from giraffe’s spirit as giraffe could peek his long neck into the clouds and speak to the Rain God. The picture of giraffe depicted communication with Giraffe spirit and the spots on giraffe’s skin showed raindrops. The antelopes were revered to find out water sources. Similarly, the big cats were honored because they were believed to fight the devils.

carvings-at-twefelfontein

On the night of meditation, Shaman used to dance for hours and guide the Bushmen about what all he saw while being in the trance. This spiritual dance used to go on for hours and took a large amount of efforts that sometimes made his nose bleed. Shaman performed this dance to transfer the illness of a Bushman into him and then release it by sweating himself out.

Shamans and his fellow Bushmen carved pictures on the sandstone surfaces. They used sharpened pieces of quartzite stone for marking designs on sandstone. Sandstone provided smoother work surface for carving. In the carvings, concentric circles depict either temporary or permanent water source. Bushmen carved giraffes, elephants, deer, rhinos, hippos, oryxes, leopards, and lions who were inevitable inspiration of their routine life.

rock-dizzy

While following the White Lady trail, we saw a small animal named Rock Dizzy, who looked like a large squirrel. It wears reddish-brown coat that camouflages effortlessly with the surrounding sandstone color. We always saw it resting because of the warm day.

It was around 6:00pm of the fag winters and sun was setting down. We stopped at Damara Living museum, a template of Damara village. There were many chalets covered with thatched roofs. The chalets displayed a variety of handmade artifacts.

After seeing the jaw-dropping petrified trees and the carvings of Twefelfontein, we returned to the NWR. We were tired and our stomachs were rumbling with hunger. There was a permanent braai stand near the room. The menfolk arranged firewood, lit up fire, and cooked the marinated meat. Braaied meat, wine, and the friends together. It was not lesser than the heaven. 😉

We realized it was late night only after we could separate our own sound of chatting from the sound of somebody chuckling just near the fence where we were cooking and dinning. They were hyenas! 😮 They had arrived there by following the wafting aroma of freshly roasted meat. The children went to sleep and we continued chatting till the pieces of coal left into smoking embers. We soon wrapped up for the next day’s journey.

Next morning we had a lavish breakfast of NWR and started our journey towards Brandberg. The White Lady was waiting for us since long years. 🙂

Brandberg

We drove about 110km from Khorixas towards South-West to reach Brandburg. It is a 30km long and 22km wide mountain range in North Namibia. It is famous for its stock of numerous rock paintings. There are around 50,000 rock paintings all over the mountain. The Bushmen used to inhibit in Brandburg nearly 5000 years back. They created these paintings to depict the activities of hunters and wild animals. Dr. Reinhard Maack, a German explorer discovered these paintings in 1917.

We arrived at the Daureb Mountain reception office and availed us a guide. She was very knowledgeable and friendly. She accompanied us through the rough trail that went along the bank of Tsisab Gorge. After walking, hopping, and jumping over the boulders for about 5km, we arrived at the well-known White Lady painting. It is created in Maack shelter, which is named after the discoverer of the painting.

white-lady-namibia

The painting is done on the inclined surface of overhanging rock. It is a painting of a woman surrounded by a few men, all of them walking leftwards. The woman is painted in white and hence the painting is referred as White Lady. Remaining all figures around her are painted reddish-brown. Some experts say that it is a painting of Shaman dressed like a woman, and the others say it is a woman because in rare some cases, women also followed Shamanism.

The Bushmen powdered various stones to make their painting colors. They used Hematite to acquire red pigment, Coal or Manganese for black, Calcium Carbonate for white, and local ochre for yellow color. They used ash of burnt wood for grey pigment. They mixed urine of Rock Dizzy and eggs to prepare the semi-liquid paint. We were amazed to know how the age-old Bushmen were introduced to higher order needs such as interest in art and meditation.

We boarded our vehicles for return journey to Windhoek. It was pitch dark outside and the stars looked brighter than usual. It was breezing. The vehicles picked up speed and in a couple of hours, we saw city lights of Windhoek sparkling on the horizon. We were contentedly travelling back from an ancient world to the modern world in Namibia. 🙂

A Lesson of Love with Lovebirds

What is the best lesson love has taught you? This is a debatable question as different answers would come from different people. My son, Nishant took his first lesson of love when he was merely seven years old. Well, I know I have made an adventurous statement, but it’s true. 🙂

It was the time when Arun was posted as Commanding Officer (CO) in the field location of North-East India. I and Nishant were staying back at Pune. After Nishant finished his final exams, we both joined Arun at the field location.

The CO hut was located on a plateau. There was a large rectangular yard in front of it covered with lush green ornamental grass. On the farther two sides, tall trees with wide canopy stood to mark the end of plateau. A large number of birds visited those trees during early morning and afternoons to receive the warmth of direct sunlight. During our stay there, we also patronized a pair of Snow White pigeons. We did not cage them. They daily made rounds of flight over the CO hut and visited the yard to pick corn flakes or popcorn that Nishant used to spread on the grass.

It was just then my little son started taking keen interest in birds. He often tip-toed to go near a perching bird and get upset if it flew away on his appearance. He drew numerous paintings of birds – eagles, lovebirds, kingfishers, sparrows, hens, ducks, pigeons, and last but not the least, angry birds. 😀

Birds DrawingsWhen Nishant’s sixth birthday was around the corner, we asked him what he would like to have on his special day.  He said that he would like to keep some birds as he loved them and always wanted to be near them. I was against captivating any birds; I still am. I like to see birds while they are flying, preaching on the place of their choice, and being free.

After a number of Nishant’s repeated requests and our failures to convince him on how he can have birds around without caging them, we submitted to his insistence and bought him two pairs of lovebirds on his birthday. So happy he was to receive that gift! Barring their caged appearance, they were indeed a treat for eyes. So stunning colors! 🙂 Nishant chose equally meaningful names for them. There was a completely white albino female. He called her Snow White. The other female was white too, with a deep blue hint. He named her as Blue Bell. Out of the two male lovebirds, he named the lemon-green colored one as Green Coat and the other male as Acqua Neck because it had very pretty aquatic-blue color near its neck.

Nishant had tuned all his daily activities with his four little pets. He would take all his meals sitting next to the cage. Before going to bed he would ensure to place the cage next to the bed. He prepared little toy ladder for them using wooden beads, string, and sticks. At night the lovebirds used to sleep by closing their mustard-like eyes. Sometimes they kept their eyes half-open and looked as if they were into a trance. 🙂 Early morning we used to refill their food and water dishes, and place the cage out in the mild Sun. We fed them cuttlefish bones as calcium supplement. They had weakness for coriander twigs and alfalfa. They chirped more during mornings and evenings. Overall, they were keeping good with us.

The existing cage was small, hence we prepared a large cage so that our pet lovebirds can spread their wings to take some brief flights. We tied two small clay pots at the corners of the cage and covered them with lids. When we transferred all the lovebirds in to the large cage, their body language and chirping showed that they were happier than before. 🙂

The days went on and Nishant’s vacation was soon over. We packed our bags and returned to Pune. The birds also accompanied us. We placed the cage in the backyard of the SFA. Because of their chirping, they became famous around. Nishant’s little friends visited our backyard often and it shortly turned into an everyday happening place. We were observing all little lovebirds and trying to understand them. Acqua Neck, the male, seemed very aggressive. He looked like an irritated and unhappy soul. Snow White was quiet. Almost every visitor asked Nishant if she was ill.

Lovebird

I must admit, for the small body and limited features, Green Coat showed a far better consciousness and expressions than all other birds in the cage. He was friendly and he always displayed playfulness. Whenever I or Nishant took millet in pinch and went near the cage, he used to approach us fearlessly and take his favorite food directly from our hands. He never bit. Till the time we took another pinch of millet from the food packet, he used to sit near the mesh and wait with a tilted neck. After 3 to 4 pinches of millet intake, he used to go away by sliding on the bar sideways step by step. We knew, that was his way of showing, “I am done.” Green Coat chirped and squeaked more when Nishant played nearby the cage. Blue Bell was like a matured, sensible young woman. She used to chomp coriander stems till her turn to take food from us came.

We could understand a bonding being taken place between Green Coat and Blue Bell. For few days, we saw Blue Bell going into and out of their pot frequently. Then we found her spending most of the time sitting inside the pot. Like a caring and loving partner, Green Coat fed her coriander twigs and cuttlefish pieces from outside the pot. Their family count was about to increase. Nishant noticed and narrated every small detail about the couple’s affection for each other. 🙂

One fine morning, we opened the top lid of the pot to see four small nestlings. They were without feathers and looked little ugly. Naturally, Blue Bell‘s appetite increased and she remained busy in bringing up her pot-dwelling babies. A few days later, we found four little tiny-tailed lovebirds sitting at the bottom of the cage. They were a beautiful blend of blue and green colors 🙂 I used to think if the new birds would ever learn to fly…And what if Acqua Neck does not behave well with the babies?…But he behaved like a good boy for more than a couple of the following days and we thought everything is going on fine.

To stir the situation, Acqua Neck started harassing Green Coat. He would just bite Green Coat on the neck and stomach. Poor Green Coat would try his best but eventually would fail to retaliate. One rainy night we found Acqua Neck being furious towards Green Coat a bit too much and we decided to keep the two males separate as soon as possible. We took out the old small cage from the loft. I required a helping hand to catch and transfer Acqua Neck in to that small cage. Hence we waited for that night to pass.

The next morning we got up early as usual and opened backyard door. It rained all night and it still was drizzling. We went out to see how the lovebirds are doing. And we could not take the sight! Green Coat was no more!! 😥 He was lying on back with legs in the air and his beak open. His chest was torn and bleeding. His lovely lemon-green feathers were shattered on the cage floor…He must have fought for his life…The culprit Acqua Neck  was sitting quietly in a corner as if he had nothing to do with the matter! We blamed ourselves to have believed in his deceiving quietness… 😦

Nishant was heart-broken to see his favorite pet still…He went to bedroom, slipped his head under a pillow, and started sobbing. Simply inconsolable…He denied taking breakfast or going to his friend’s place. We both were sad. I was also feeling low for being unable to separate Acqua-Neck immediately. The rain had masked the noise of their fight…The day had broken morose but the life had to move on…

There was only one option for me to see Nishant smiling that day: to take him to his most favorite person, Small Aaji. (Nishant calls his maternal granny as Small Aaji and grandpa as Small Aaba. He listens to and follows everything his Small Aaji tells him.) On reaching their place Nishant ran into her arms sobbing and told that his favorite Green Coat lost his life. She wiped his tears and gave him water to drink.

Small Aaba said, “Don’t worry, Nishu. See, your birthday is approaching soon. We will bring you a new green bird, just same as that one.” His tempting offer did not seem to work. :-/

Small Aaji said, “It was a small bird, maybe it was ill?…”

Nishant screamed out of frustration and sorrow, “No, Green Coat was healthy. He died because Acqua Neck tortured him. Acqua Neck is bad…”

Small Aaji said, “There you are, my baby! Your little friend was healthy then he could have escaped from his rival if he was not confined to the cage…” Nishant understood the gravity. He turned very sad and started crying more helplessly.

She held him close and let him cry for a while. After the burst of his cries gradually subsided, she pacified him saying, “I know, you love birds very much and you like them near you. You can always feed them grains and bits of food so that they come near you. We all can go for bird-watching at nearby places. But you see, birds are happy when they are free. You should not confine the ones you love…”

Then she reminded him of the uncaged pair of pigeons that used to visit his yard the previous year. Nishant listened to her carefully. After their long talk, he started feeling better. He understood he would have liked Green Coat being alive more than being with him and dead. He realized it will not be the same Green Coat, even if his grandfather brings a same-looking lovebird.

That evening we returned to the SFA. Just after we performed our usual evening prayers, Nishant told me that he wants to release all his pet birds. I was not surprised to hear what he said. Just a couple of days later, it was his seventh birthday. On his birthday, he opened the cage and released all his pet lovebirds free.

Birds Photos

Nishant used to follow the sound of birds when he was merely nine months old. Today, he clicks beautiful pictures of birds and does not miss any opportunity to feed them. He continued to love them with a perspective that was changed for better. He learnt the most important lesson of love:

“Do not confine your love. Be courageous to set it free…

If it is meant for you, it will be with you.”  🙂

A Marathi Poem for a Friend

ऐक सये…

 

कुठे गेलीस सये तू
काहीच न सांगता
एकदम दूरच झालीस
काही समजून न घेता…

बालपणात असता कितीतरी गमती
तुझ्याविना रहायच्या अपूर्ण
छोट्या छोट्या साऱ्या कहाण्या
तुला सांगूनच सुफळ संपूर्ण …

एकच वर्ग एकच बाक
पण आपले स्वभाव अगदी भिन्न
तू होतीस फटाकडी
अन मी एकदम शांत…

नसलीस तू शेजारी तर
अजिबात नाही करमायचे
‘मैत्रिणीला पत्र’ लिहीताना
तुझेच नाव मायन्यात असायचे…

शाळेमध्ये मधल्या सुट्टीत
झाडाखाली खेळत असू
आजूबाजूला असला कोलाहल जरी
आपल्याच जगात रमत असू…

रंगीबेरंगी फुलपाखरे पाहताना
तू फोडणीची पोळी सरकावायाचीस
माझी मेथी मटकी उसळ
हक्काने अन आवडीने घ्यायचीस…

मला चित्रकलेत बऱ्यापैकी गती
तर तुला ते बिलकुल जमायचे नाही
तरी तुझ्या वहीतील आकृत्या नीटस कश्या
बाईंना कोडे उमगायचे नाही…

माझ्या अंगी व्यवस्थितपणा
तुझी मात्र सदाचीच घाई
धांदरटपणे काम करायचीस अन्
निस्तरतानां आपली पुरेवाट होई…

कुणी दुसरी माझ्याशी भांडली
की तिला पळता भुई थोडी करायचीस
अन मीच कधी रागवाले तुझ्यावर
तर कावरी बावरी व्हायचीस…

Friend

संध्याकाळच्या उतरत्या उन्हातील
अनंत गोष्टी अन लोभस गाणी
तुझ्याशी वाटून घ्यायच्या आहेत
श्रावण वयातील अनेक आठवणी…

ऐक सये मी शोधते आहे
बालपणातील हरवलेल्या खुणा
एकदातरी भेट ना गं
जशी होतीस तशी पुन्हा…

आलीस ना, मी तुला सांगते,
हातामध्ये हात गुंफू
केसांतील रुपेरी छटा विसरून
बालपणात जरा भटकून येऊ…

(I am sharing this poem which I had extemporaneously composed for my childhood friend. I apologize to all my readers who cannot read or understand Marathi.)

How Can I Always be Happy?

We tend to lose peace of mind and happiness because all our days are not perfect. There are rough patches in life when the things seldom seem to turn out the way we want them to. At such times, a classic question always occurs in a troubled mind: How can I Always be Happy, irrespective of difficult times in life or annoying people around? Is it really possible to always be happy?

Since I was seeking for the answer of this question pursuively and genuinely, I found it hidden in a very empowering quote of Lord Budhha. The quote says,

“There is no path to happiness: Happiness is the path.”

So simple to understand, yet difficult to follow! It says happiness is not a destination. Instead, we need to see it as a journey, spending each moment of life happily. 🙂Budhha

I have indeed been appreciating the people who are living by this statement. Living this way somehow did not seem easy to me because of a very simple reason: My body and mind often go out of synchronization. Sometimes I am physically doing whatever is required to be done at that point of time but in the background, I keep thinking of past or future…The instant my attention goes away from the present moment, my mind starts wandering in bygone memories…or I get carried away with the worries that might not even come up in future…Either way, I unknowingly push myself to the world which then only exists in my thoughts. Frequent trips to this imaginary world make me exhaust and lose serenity 😥

When I was a child; I was aware of only present tense. While growing up I experienced and learnt the other two tenses, which are quite capable of taking away one’s peace of mind. Is it not all in vain, if I could not appreciate beauty, warmth, or lesson the present moment has to offer?…Am I going pay attention to a moment in hand only when it is transferred in to the past?…or Am I going to live in future over which I have a very little control…? 

I must be able to follow Lord Budhha’s statement…Happiness IS the Path. I must realize myself as a continual happy being…It is possible only if I choose to be happy over everything else. Initially it would be difficult to remain in the present moment. Hence I will start doing that only for an hour. Then for a day. I will gradually increase the time and then at some point, being happy always would be my habit… 🙂

Now, living in today and indulging in the present moment is fine; but what if my today is not so bright? Can I still be happy?

Here I need to share what my mother says. She says, “We must observe everything keenly; even the sad time, impossible people, or the challenging situations. We certainly get to see something good in them. Every single thing that we have is either a blessing or a blessing in disguise.”

There I am! 🙂 What a perspective she shared with me! I must observe keenly. I must take the notice of small details. I must understand what I can change and what I must just accept. I must see the situations and people beyond their imperfection to be able to find something good in them. Once I realize their goodness, I would be able to deal with them in a better way.

In Indian culture, we touch elders’ feet to give them respect. In return they bless saying, खुश रहो! (Hindi) or सुखी रहा! (Marathi). This literally means Be Happy. In the context of what Lord Budhha said, this blessing is not merely a wish; it strongly suggests the recepient to remain happy in every kind of situation.

We can be always happy if we develop the attitude to be always happy. It is difficult for sure; but it is not impossible. So, let us count our blessings as well as blessings in disguise and go on being happy… 😀

 

Happy Father’s Day!

Dear Father,

Today on the occasion of Father’s Day, when I started to pen down my feelings, I realized that it didn’t come to me as easily as I thought to express my love for you…May be because I grew up seeing you strict, punctual, and firm; or may be it is the matter of generation and culture I am born in. But I could always feel your loving concern in every small act you did for our close-knit family.

Baba

I grew up observing how unconditionally and dedicatedly you took care of my grandparents and how you cooperated my working mother. You are always upright and truthful; let whatever may come your way. Though I learnt to keep complete faith in the loved ones from mother, I learnt to be worthy of the boundless faith of others from you.

You are clean and the same person inside and out. Perhaps because of that, sometimes what you speak seems harsh; especially when some people around you have ears only for flattery. That makes you quite infamous among them. But what you say is rational; they also know it. So they all rely upon your opinions. 😀

I observed you handling hardships and difficult situations calmly yet optimistically. Your emotional strength and foresightedness is unparalleled. Speaking to you untangles even the most tricky situation. 😀 You were always the one I looked up to. 

You are very uncomplicated and approachable when it comes to communicating with you. You always find time to speak to me, above any most important task in your hand. You are open to listen to my ideas. It’s not that you like my every idea I share with you; but still sometimes you mend your opinions and viewpoints by going beyond rationalism; only out of love and care. It doesn’t need any material, still it makes me feel very special.

Today, I wish to convey you that you are an exceptional father and I am so privileged to have born to you! 🙂

I Love You, Father!

Technical Writing versus Creative Writing

When some of my non-IT acquaintances come to know that I work as a Technical Writer, their question goes like, “What do you write?”. Indeed a good question. I write user manuals, employee orientation manuals, step-by-step procedures of setting up or troubleshooting some system, and the things alike. Their next question follows, “Oh, then don’t you write stories?” All I can say is, may be they didn’t pay attention to the word technical.

Since our conversation involved technical writing as well as a reference to creative writing, I try to throw light on these two writing styles.

technical-versus-creative-writing-med

Technical writing and creative writing both are audience oriented writing styles, which require writing talent as well as critical thinking. Yet, how are these two styles are different from each other? Let us know about them one by one.

What is Technical Writing?

Technical writing is the manner of simplifying and presenting any complex information in such a way that it is understandable and usable by the people who need it. The people for whom this information is presented are called target audience. The objective of Technical writing is to inform the target audience about facts or to instruct them on how to set-up or fix something.

It almost always uses formal tone of language. That means a technical writer uses Dear Sir in place of Hi Dude, contact instead of get in touch with, and inform in place of tell. 🙂 It is not just about using formal and precise words. It comes with a set of rules regarding grammar, language, formatting, and presentation.

Technical writing can be either online or offline. It refers styling guide, specialized vocabulary, and narrates things quite straight forward.

Examples of Documents Prepared by Technical Writers

System Reference Manuals, User Manuals, Product Specification Documents, Troubleshooting Guides, Reports, White Papers, Online or Offline Help, and Case Studies are few important examples of the documents prepared by technical writers.

Who Uses the Documents Prepared by Technical Writers?

A large number of professionals and general users refer to the documents prepared by technical writers. For example, engineers refer design specifications for some mechanical, electrical, or electronic component. Software testing professionals use test plans for code testing. System operators refer to instruction manuals. Marketing professionals use reports for planning their marketing campaigns. Management team of a business refers reports and white papers for major decision-making. Software application users request help on the software which they can induce by pressing F1 key. Last but not least, general audience refers to the user manuals to know how to use or set-up their newly purchased device.

What Does it Take to Become a Technical Writer?

To become a technical writer one needs to have related education, skills, knowledge of document types and the rules for creating reliable documents. One needs to have flair for writing and a sound understanding of three vital things: subject, objective, and the target audience. It is also required to understand the system thoroughly to be able to provide any information or instructions to its potential users.

Command over working language, knowledge of any foreign language(s) other than English, graphics tools, and image processing applications, handling Content Management System (CMS), knowledge of editing a website are some vital requirements to become a proficient technical writer.

How is it Like Being a Technical Writer?

As a technical writer I develop the documents that go through the Document Development Life Cycle (DDLC), which is similar to any product development life cycle. There is a lot of unorganized information to handle in the form of numbers, technical terms, definitions, procedures, charts, and all factual data. My work involves interacting with Subject Matter Experts (SME) for important inputs regarding the subject. It also includes dealing with graphic designers for images and infographics, or creating them myself. At times I need to handle various types of media such as audio and video.

I conduct self-review on my own work, as well as ask my colleagues to conduct a peer-review from the perspective of a new reader or an examiner. Reviewing enables to figure out and remove any loopholes in the written work. Finally, I compile and present the information in such a way that the users can access it quickly.

While being in the shoes of a technical writer, I may or may not be working on a technical subject, but I work on a subject technically.

The 7 C’s of Technical Writing

Technical writers develop their documents by adhering to the following seven rules or rather, guidelines:

Clarity

Leaving no confusion for the readers. Removing ambiguities and doubts.

Correctness

Removing grammar mistakes, factual errors, or typo errors before the readers reveal them. Presenting accurate information always.

Concision

Using brief and precise words. Replacing lengthy phrases with single words without losing essence of the subject.

Consistency

Using uniform terminology and style of formatting throughout the document or across multiple inter-related documents.

Coherence

Organizing and connecting the pieces of information seamlessly. Afterall, it should make sense to the target audience.

Completeness

Providing all required information within the predetermined scope.

Credibility

Working professionally to provide high quality content.

The beauty of technical writing lies in simplifying information for the consumption of others. Technical writing develops a person to be very meticulous and makes not to settle for anything less as far as the quality and presentation are concerned. 🙂

Now let us see,

What is Creative Writing?

It is a style of writing about a subject creatively so that the reader or listener indulges in to it. The objective of creative writing is either to entertain or to educate the audience.

Creative writing uses prose with informal or casual tone. This style of writing is not governed by any set of strict rules regarding grammar or language. The writer has ample freedom of imagination and narration. Creative writing involves use of artistic phrases, poetic devices, and story writing elements, which themselves are the topics of great length.

It is accessed by general audience because people of any age can read books, go through poems, or watch plays and movies with great scripts. Creative writing uses general vocabulary and is descriptive. Unlike technical writing, it can involve use of slang if the situation or culture being portrayed, or characterization demands.

Examples of Creative Writing

Diary, Poems, Plays, Shayari, Stories, Fictions, Autobiographies, Novels, Essays, Comic Strips, and Scripts and Dialogues of movies are some examples of creative writing.

What Does it Take to Become a Creative Writer?

To become a creative writer, one needs a great deal of observation, knowledge of the subject, and writing talent to put everything together into words. One needs to generate engaging content, which compels readers to attend uninterruptedly. A good grip over language, employing one’s creative abilities, and leveraging the power of words to influence and modify emotions of readers, listeners, or viewers are some of the vital qualities a creative writer should possess.

A creative writer is capable of portraying a world through either own imagination or experience, and taking the audience on the trip to that world in their minds; sitting at a place.

Here is a brief comparison:

Writing Elements Technical Writing Creative Writing
Tone Formal Casual
Vocabulary Specific Generic
Audience Targeted General
Writer’s Viewpoint Objective Subjective
Information Organization Alphabetical, Chronological, Logical, or Thematic. Random

To conclude,

Technical writing and creative writing can be viewed as two portions of the same day a professional person spends. During the office hours, a professional person refers to what the technical writers produced for him and during his leisure time, he seeks for what the creative writers around the world prepared for him. 🙂

Sparrow: The Intrusive Friend

It was the day of our trip to Sossusvlei, one of the driest and warmest places in Namib Desert. After climbing up and down a couple of famous huge sand dunes named Big Mamma and Big Dada in Namib Desert, we were gasping for breath and feeling thirsty like anything. We had run out of all the drinking water except one bottle. It was around 2:30 pm. Warm winds were blowing hard and we could feel the scorching heat they carried on our eyes, cheeks, and neck…Our goggles and caps seemed inefficient to keep the bright sun and glare from the shiny sand dunes. We hurriedly went to a nearby cement bench under a tree till the Namibian Wildlife Resort (NWR) van picked us up. There was no slightest glimpse of the vehicle up to the horizon.

No sooner than we opened our last water bottle, a flock of sparrows appeared from above and started hopping around us. It was their natural instinct that informed them about high chances of getting food and water. Their beaks were open. The birds keep their beaks open without chirping for heat dissipation. It is their way to pant and keep cool. We thought of sharing our water with them. But we were short of any cup or deep plate-like container for serving it…We regretted throwing away our take-away plastic food containers. How would the sparrows have water?

We decided to leave some water in the bottle and cut the lower part of it to make a container. While Arun was looking for the Swiss knife, Nishant looked around hopefully for something useful to serve the purpose. Arun shortly came to know that the knife was left in another bag which we were not carrying.

The sparrows were waiting…in a line.

They were needy. They were depended on us for water. And we were feeling helpless. 😥

For a while that quiet waiting moment seemed to halt…What if we could not give them water and they decide to fly away…? No, I was not ready to prepare for this. :-/

Sparrows-med

Sometimes I practically get to see, we all are connected to each other by an invisible string. We all being a part of a Big Plan; visit each other to settle the exchanges we are required to complete. Otherwise we would not have found a plastic container at such a barren place, that to made exactly how we were thinking on making one! It must have been made by some bird-loving tourist like us who left it there for birds. We were so pleased to have saved any more time on preparing a container.

I poured some water in to it and within a moment, all the sparrows gathered hurriedly around it. While they all were having water, we took out some biscuits and dates, and shared them with the sparrows. They were hopping around to collect small pieces of dates and then again returning to the water. Within a few minutes, the small container was empty. I poured some more water into it. It was good to see them coming near us without any hesitation…they trusted in us for we will not hurt them.

Sparrows-drinking-water-med

We were so contended to be able to feed them water, as much as they required. 🙂

Sparrow is a very common bird with basic body colors and requirements. Being a social bird, it is highly comfortable in the company of humans. It holds a special place in the baby poems composed in Indian local languages.

Sparrow is also mostly the first kind of bird that introduces us to the world of birds. 🙂 I remember my mother used to feed a few bits of cooked lentil, flat bread, or rice to the sparrows in verandah while we little siblings used to take our meal. The sparrows used to gather, chirp, and take all our attention. In the bargain, we used to finish all our food without creating any fuss. A house-sparrow used to enter our house fearlessly and fly around in the rooms…It knew where to enter and which window to take exit from. Its favorite activity was to sit in front of the dressing mirror and tap its beak on it. My father had confirmed to us that it was a female sparrow since it spent a lot of time in front of the mirror. 😀 The tack tack sound of its beak and the whistling sound of its flight in the rooms used to break the quietness of those lazy Sunday afternoons…

That sparrow had made its ungraceful nest in the loft near the kitchen, about which there was a little friction among men folk and women folk in the house. You guessed right, the women folk were for keeping the nest in the house, in spite of them having to clear the droppings and hay straws fallen on the floor daily. According to grandma, the social birds choose safest place to make their nests and she had felt privileged for the sparrows had selected our house. She was glad to foresee their family count increasing and being nurtured in our house. Hence she had warned the men and boys of the house not to touch the nest. 😉 and the men folk obeyed her with the curled lips. 😀 Once in the morning we got to know that the nest had four little nestlings. They used to make a lot of noise on arrival of their parents. We daily used to see the sparrow bringing some insects from outside and feeding its nestlings. Soon after few days, we came to know that the nest was vacated and left silent. My mother then cleared it completely. We missed the sound of chirps and wings for quite a few days later.

The number of sparrows has gone down drastically in Indian cities for last few years. We do not get to see them as many as we used to see them few years back…They say, the sparrows are not seen around because of the radiations produced by mobile communication towers…Some experts say, they left even the countryside because of the insecticides sprayed on the crops, and some others say, it is unavoidable effect of modernization that is hampering their lives in the cities. Maybe this highly adaptive bird has migrated to some remote place…Whatever the reason is, I strongly feel they must return and stay around us; for we need them.

Shortly we saw the NWR van approaching us. I emptied the bottle into that container till the last drop falls and packed our bags to board the van.

That day at Sossusvlei after so many years we had our lunch with the sparrows…They accompanied and reminded me of my childhood days for some time. I am so glad that it happened! 🙂

Happiness at the Shop

At times we find happiness at unexpected times, with unexpected people, and at unplanned places. Yesterday I found it at a shop. After going through a busy day and doing a couple of henna tattoos later, me, my husband, and my son Nishant went to Hungry Lion to get some chicken and chips. We placed our take away order at the counter and waited for it at the tables. It was late night around 8:30 p.m. (yes you read correct; late night because the winter is settling here in Windhoek and short of this time, the entire city slows down into silence as if it is a Martian place) and the all-day busy Independence Avenue had turned quiet. It was one and a half hour over our usual dinner time. Our tummies were rumbling hard and every minute of waiting seemed to us like lifetime… 😥

While we were holding back our recurring yawns, I saw a car being parked in front of the shop. Shortly, a family of an old couple and a bright-eyed toddler boy with mischievous and playful expressions got down. He seemed their grandchild. The moment he got down, he posed like a warrior and looked around as if he wanted to get noticed. 😉 I could not hold back my smile. He came to know that I had noticed him and to my surprise he happily reciprocated to me. They all walked in to the shop.

Toddler

While the seniors were busy browsing the menu card, the boy went behind the table where I was sitting. I curiously turned around and in a splash of a second he sat down to hide. I could make out, he wanted to play. I could see his hazel-brown hair but he strongly seemed to believe that he was not visible to me. 😀 Then I pretended as if I was looking for him but somehow being unable to spot him. He duck-walked to the neighboring table and spontaneously revealed himself from there. We exchanged smiles… I turned back again to let him hide. From the corner of my eyes I noticed that he again duck-walked to a different nearby table and waited for me to find him out. I pretended to spot him after multiple attempts and the game went on. Every time he emerged out with a wider smile, his few milk-teeth would shine. Our game of Hide-and-Seek continued secretly for a few rounds to turn his smile into non-stop giggles and bright eyes into the twinkling ones. His grandma noticed that the apple of her eyes was playing with me and smiled silently. My boys were busy talking on the phone and checking our order status.

I guess what the seniors had ordered was already ready, so they received their take away order earlier than us. While they took it and headed towards exit, the little fellow joined them. He waved his hand at me; this time jointly with his grandmother. Throughout our game we exchanged only unspoken language and smiles. We did not speak even a single word to each other…It was so unplanned and short, yet so amazing!

A small child, whom I did not even know before we met, played with me. He dragged me into his little happy world for some time and delivered smiles. I paid for our order but what the little boy gave was unexpected, and indeed priceless. 🙂

Separation: The Inseparable Part of Military Life

At times browsing google for the queries such as, “Top 5 ways to keep yourself busy”, “How to handle long distance relationship”, or “Top 3 ways to the peace of mind”, just does not help during separation. Though these indexed tips can give clues and prepare oneself to deal with the separation in military life; the only way to deal with it is to go through it optimistically. Separation is the testing time not only for the man in uniform serving on borders but also for his better half, children, and everyone concerned in the scene.

She drops him at the railway station for Jhelum Express or at the Airport for that Air India flight to Srinagar. At that very moment of separation, she finds her throat choked up and her eyes working extra for modifying what comes from her heart…It is equally tough for him. He tries hard to follow the command of his brain rather than heart…He finds fighting with an enemy was easier than freeing himself from his little one’s tender hug…

He boards and on the way back home, she puts on her goggles leaving everyone around in surprise if that was the right time to wear them… 😮 It is just painful for them all each time they separate…She wonders why she has not yet excelled at taking his leave in spite of numerous practices… 😥 She reaches home. How quiet her happening home has turned! She hurriedly goes to take shower and lets her long-held tears run down with water…She sits alone in the favorite corner of her home and encircles that date on the calendar. Her count-down starts. It is now time for her to pull up the sleeves.

During separation, major challenges she faces are taking it positively, keeping herself busy so that the difficult time seems to pass smoothly, and managing their long-distance romantic relationship. These challenges always appear with the degree of difficulty in that order.

Alone-in-Separation

She understands that separation is bound to come with the kind of profession her beloved has chosen and she needs to support him always. She knows, instead of being gloomy all the time, she should engage herself in something constructive that makes her happy and energetic. She thinks of the positive outcomes of separation. Out of her regular responsibilities, she can get some time to look after herself. She can equip herself with a new skill.

She is well-educated. She invests her time in a professional work. It earns her satisfaction of using the grey matter and also makes her wallet deeper. She takes a job in Army School. If teaching is not her cup of tea, she takes a job outside the Army society, in other government sector or in private sector. Perhaps, she has been doing it already.

If she is not profession-oriented, sky is the limit for her wish list. She takes up social service. She visits an orphanage and brings smile on the faces of homeless orphan children. She also visits elders’ home, widows’ home, or differently-abled children’s home.

She takes up activities such as gardening, painting, reading, baking, or trying some international food recipes. She tries her hand at various arts such as Ikebana, Origami, Crocheting, Cross-stitching, Knitting, Paper-quilling, Oil-painting, Sand-painting, or Quilting. She creates beautiful bonsai plants by herself in the terrace garden, something out of the beaten path. She learns to make her personal jewelry. She joins sorority club or her group of ladies staying in Separate Family Accommodation (SFA). She learns a foreign language with the intention of using it with the native speakers of that country she will visit. She browses through various DIY project ideas from the Internet and applies them to organize her home and life. She enrolls herself for post-graduation, or pursues dance or singing that she had left some time back. She turns a writer or a fine poetess and brings power to her words. If she is mothering an infant or a toddler, then her hands are already full. 🙂

Out of the sheer love and loyalty towards her man, she behaves more responsibly while they are away from each other. She mixes in to the society like a seed in the mud apple (Chickoo): Surrounded by what she cannot avoid; yet separate from it. She thoroughly understands the simple bottom lines of handling a long distance romantic relationship:

“Do not do anything that you would not like your partner to do to yourself.”

and

“Be truthful always.”

Just for a momentary urge of getting over loneliness or boredom, she does not subscribe to anything that she would not do for her lifetime. If they are speaking over telephone, there are gross chances of miscommunication. It happens not only because of technical issues involved but also because of complete absence of the visual channel between them. Since they both are in two completely different situations while they are away; she does not hastily transfer any information to him about some critical situation that occurred at home. She knows, it can only make him feel helpless. Sometimes their communication takes place as if between Mars and Venus. She understands that every relationship has different requirements hence she needs to play according to the cards in her hand. She remains composed.

On the home front, she takes her old in-laws to Army hospital. She helps her children in their studies and extra-curricular activities. She watches TV for Arnab Goswami’s debates or listens to any news from Kashmir or North-East field with her ears all up. On hearing news such as landslide, firing, or avalanche breakdown occurred where her beloved is placed, she prays to the almighty more intensely. She lights up diya for his wellbeing and for the safety of all those men working there in uniform whom she does not know.

She misses him when she finds all her women friends and sisters showing up with their husbands at a family gathering. She misses him when she wants to whisper that good news into his ears…She misses him when she is being taken into the labor room…She misses him while cooking his favorite green vegetables…She misses him even more on Karva Chauth…She misses him on any of the family member’s birthdays and more on their wedding anniversary.

She regrets his absence when the life seems going tough. Once she gets to hear Aasha Tai singing one of her brilliant melodies on radio:

“बेचारा दिल क्या करे…सावन जले…भादो जले…”

She can correlate…how long it has been, since her sweetheart is away?…She misses being with him… 😦

The days of their separation go on…Just when she thinks it is high time and she can spare anything to be together, she gets to hear news of his coming home. 🙂 She plans for their time together and stocks up her pantry with his favorite food items. She anxiously waits for the day to see him…

Army-Couple-United

On the day of his arrival, she approaches him with a pounding heart…A happy, smiling face and big, tearful eyes at the same time…? He gets confused…but finds her expressions simply captivating… 🙂 She cried when they were departing. Now she cries while uniting.

They are together. All their efforts are fulfilled and their home is complete.

We stayed separate for around 10 years in our married life of 17 years. We had to say bye to each other more frequently than we expected and I had prepared myself for; Arun being a Signal officer. I think that makes me quite a person for sharing my experience about separation. 😀 I still remember our first separation within 6 months of our wedding, when Arun had received posting order to join Kupwara, one of the ever-active and perilous field stations till date in J&K valley. Op Vijay had commenced then in Kargil. Back home, I had lost sleep for days and I could barely make out chappattis in my plate from the pieces of paper. During those no-cellphone days in year 1999, when I did not get to hear his voice for a couple of days at a stretch, I used to pray harder. No sooner than they opened visiting permissions, I availed leave from my private job and went to see the Bde unit. I indeed felt at peace then.

Separation in a romantic relationship is tough. It deprives the couples from everything they have right to share and everything they need to share. It is tougher while romancing a military man. To military couples, it always comes hand in hand with unavoidable worries due to threat of life at every step he faces. While defending the borders of the nation, he is an all-time soldier working without the luxury of postponing an issue to tackle little later. While he is posted in the field, he works under the stress of taking immediate and intelligent actions. In such case, separation tries patience of all his concerned family members and friends.

She can survive through separation from her military man in a better way if she grooms herself to see a silver lining around the cloud. Separation makes her more knowledgeable and versatile. It makes him more home-oriented. It teaches to keep complete trust on the spouse and to become a trustworthy spouse too. Separation strengthens a couple’s emotional bond and brings out the best in them. It elevates the respect for one another’s hardships. While in separation, they both understand various shades of human nature. They realize how deeply they love and care for each other. Separation confirms to the military couples that it is just the physical distance between them and no matter how many miles away; they are together for eternity… 🙂

How is it Like Being an Indian Army Wife?

Army Couple

Every young girl dreams and waits for a prince charming to come on a black horse and take her away as his bride to get married. When she is about to get married to an Army man, it is like realizing her dream.

I think dreaming to marry a man in olive-green and being an exemplary Army wife are two different equations. To decode what it takes to become an Army wife, let me shortly tell you about Indian Army and the men in uniform.

Indian Army is one of the first five largest military forces among the total 126 military forces present in the world. The most eligible gentlemen cadets are handpicked for further training through the toughest exam conducted by Service Selection Board (SSB). An Army man undergoes rigorous physical training that tries and establishes extreme limits of his stamina, endurance, and abilities to cope up with harsh working conditions. He is groomed to handle any crucial situations may they be professional or personal. This training turns him into a completely confidant, smart, and a fit officer, who can take anything; may whatever comes his way. Being aware of his enhanced capabilities after the training, pride comes to him naturally. And ahem 🙂 … it suits him whether he wears any of his smart uniforms or a simple casual outfit. During the course of his profession, he gets posted at various peace and field places every 2 to 2.5 years. At the place of peace posting, there is no separation from the family and life is still much easy.

But his field posting is a different affair. Sometimes the names of these field places are difficult to spell and locate on the civil versions of maps. He cannot keep his family with him while he is posted to a field.

While on duty at a remote field place, his day starts at 4:45 am. He takes all meals at the officers’ mess. His office starts very early and he is all occupied with inspections, planning and executing war games, training subordinates, establishing systems, and administration. He always carries the professional responsibilities towards the organization on his mind. Some of his field areas record the daytime temperature of sub-zero and the lack of oxygen. During some crucial times, he works around 16 to 18 hours a day, without proper food or water at hand. He witnesses the game of life and death from a close proximity.

ArmyMan-in-Shoes

When he is away from home, he waits for letters and messages from his loved ones. He urges to hear baby talk that his little daughter or son utters into the phone speaker…He keeps his baby’s picture as his cellphone wallpaper. He tirelessly eats all Aloo-mixed versions of vegetables that the mess cook prepares for meals; may it be Aloo-Gobhi, Aloo-Paneer, Aloo-Capsicum, Aloo-Bhindi, Aloo-Methi, Dum-Aloo, or Aloo-Mutter! Oh yes, also the Aloo-bondas as tea time snack, or that Aloo-paratha in the breakfast…He wonders what the mess cook would serve him if there comes a dearth of potatoes in ration! 😀 He waits for days and months to go home and have the tasty food that his mother or wife serves him with love.

Behind his tough, disciplined, and hardworking adult persona hides a little child, who giggles freely and sleeps for little extra time while on vacation. He tries to catch up on all that he missed while he was away. And when the vacation comes near to its end, he gets anxious on the slightest thought of separation from his loved ones. But he never shows. As a strong officer, he needs to be in control always; for all that comes his way. He prepares himself again to take the leave of his family and departs with the stock of love to resume work.

It takes something special to be able to handle this proud and commanding alpha man, a loving husband, a father of his children, and a child himself. Being an Army wife is not just about flaunting branded outfits and accessories, or driving a sedan…In my view, an Army wife is a courageous life partner of her husband. Her sacrifice starts when she enters marriage with the awareness that she is at second place in the list of his top priorities. Because for him, the nation comes first.

Here I remember a very meaningful quote in Hindu Neeti-Shastra that narrates six basic virtues of a married woman:

“कार्येषु दासी, कारणेषु मंत्री।  (Karyeshu Daasi, Kaaraneshu Mantri)
भोजेषु माता, शयनेषु रंभा।  (Bhojaneshu Mataa, Shayaneshu Rambha)
रुपेषु लक्ष्मी, क्षमायेषु धरित्री। (Roopeshu Lakshmi, Kshamayeshu Dharitree)
सतधर्मयुक्ता, कुलधर्म पत्नी।” (Satadharmayukta, kuladharma patni)

This Sanskrit quote means, “She works like a servant for her family, she advises her husband like a wise minister, she feeds her family with a mother’s love, she pleases her man romantically like a beauty named Rambha, she is the form of Goddess Lakshmi because she helps to multiply wealth, and she is forgiving like the mother earth”. I humbly mention that an Army wife has almost everything in her.

She is a blend of strength and warmth. She understands her husband’s unparalleled hardships and runs their house single-handedly when he is away. She takes care of his parents in his absence so that he can concentrate on his work. She becomes their children’s father and does not crib about the problems she tackles in his absence.

She drives car smoothly. She is an awesome cook. She applies her unique artistic ideas to convert a white-washed house into a beautiful warm home. She has an eye for colors, fabrics, weaves, and prints. She can change the cooking gas cylinder or an electric tube by herself. She is an amateur carpenter. She handles bank transactions and investments proficiently. She knows how to handle medical emergencies. She can even bring up their autistic or differently-abled child when he is not around.

C’est tout? Non…She knows Roger means okay and recce means reconnaissance. She knows Army diction of the terms such as TD, Adjt, Div, Cmdt, QM, and more. She can cook three-course meal for 20 people on a brief notice. She is fearless with cockroaches and she can use her new pair of Marie Clair stilettos to kill the small snake that sneaked in from the ground floor bathroom pipe. 😀

Army-couple-togetherShe conducts herself gracefully and knows all dining etiquettes during parties. She is a mentor for junior ladies and a counsellor for jawans’ wives. She maintains cordial relations with fellow Army wives and senior ladies. She understands her man and complements him effortlessly. She holds her strength up even during those bad times when she feels like she is getting more than she can handle. She can multitask. She is jovial. She is cool.

Does she sound like a superwoman? Or a woman from another planet, maybe… 😀 No…She is a common lady with uncommon spirit, endurance, creativity, and emotional quotient; doing it all for the ultimate noble cause.

There are quite reasonable pay-offs for her being an Army wife. She gets to be an inseparable part of a man’s life who is always morally upright. She is his most trusted friend and an advisor. When her hero is promoted as a Commanding Officer (CO) of a unit, she becomes the first lady of the unit. She always receives genuine respect from her husband and his fellow officers. These gentlemen around her make her feel like a pampered queen. 🙂

She can stay with her husband during his foreign missions or join him on short foreign trips. She can visit unique places of his postings. She gets to see the natural and cultural beauty within and outside India. She gets to participate in adventurous activities and make a lot of friends. She gets to look at people beyond their places of origin, castes, and religions. She gets to serve others and thus she can create positive karmas for herself.

I am happily married to a very capable signal officer for the past 17 years. We both hail from civil background. My civilian acquaintances knew that I was going to marry the then Captain Saab. They knew only the rosy side of Army life and they often equated it with parties, freebies, and drinks. They used to say like, “How lucky you are! You would lead a very lavish life!” After our wedding they would say, “You have sahayaks and maids at your disposal, you get free house, canteen facilities, blah blah blah,…, you really live life king-size…”.

How much of it is really free, at what cost, and to what extent is another topic for discussion. But yes, we Army people do live our lives king-size. We party hard as if there is no tomorrow. Maybe because we frequently undergo long separations from our families…Maybe because we face numerous uncertainties and we wish to make the most of each moment in hand…Maybe because we know tomorrow would be different…

An Army wife neither receives any formal training to manage the show nor does she receive any bravery award…She stumbles, observes, learns, and moves on with smile and confidence…She becomes stronger each day, for she knows that she is the strength of her Army man. She knows, however unacknowledged her sacrifices go; she will continue to contribute in kind for her motherland.

Top 5 Habits Worth Giving up Completely

Who on the earth does not wish to be happy and peaceful always? But some distructive habits often interfere our happiness by leading us to troubles, pains, or both. I jotted down these harmful habits out of my observations. Here are the top 5 habits worth only giving up completely:

1. Comparing Oneself with Others: May it be materialistic possessions, bank balance, job satisfaction, love, relations, lifestyle, looks; or just anything else…The simplest shade of comparing with others generates the feelings of distress. Instead, comparing with yesterday’s own version is better. 🙂

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I love You, Mother!

Mother'sDaySmall

Dear Mother,

Today it is Mother’s Day.

On this occassion, I take the opportunity to tell you that:

I understand your fathomless love.
I understand your care and selfless sacrifice. I appreciate and try to follow your way. I wonder what a tremendous source of optimism and energy you are! You are not only my mother but also a friend, a philosopher, and a guide. I am so fortunate to have born to you.

I just wish to tell you that though we are miles away now; you are always on my mind.

I love you mother, and I always would. 🙂

Welcome to happinessmocktail!

Hello friends! 🙂

This is my first blog post. Just some time back I created the blog and I kept trying to find a good name for this baby. I was desperately searching for a meaningful and crisp blog name only to find out that whatever I thought was ‘The best’ had already been taken.

The anxiety of this long-time name search has now dropped down to almost zero as I can feel, I am gradually submitting myself to the Goddess of sleep.

Oh, why did I chose the name ‘happinessmocktail’? The answer for this question is going to be from the bottom of my heart, but more on this little later. Yes, for sure.

There are a lot of things I wish to find out about customizing the blog and sharing my ideas, opinions, and experiences for which I can’t wait… 🙂 Taking your leave now, see you soon!

A Guest in the Backyard

Winter is settling down in Windhoek. Days have shortened. Early mornings and evenings bring cold winds. At times it blows really hard to bring down the wires of electric fence or dry branches, and to create loud banging music by slamming open doors or window panes.

The other day, the windy morning was quite agitating. I went in the backyard as usual to access the clothesstring. While I was putting the wet clothes one on the string, I heard some rustling noise in the nearby bushes. I stopped for a while and tried to follow the sound. But as I kept quiet, the rustling also stopped.

After a long pause I continued my work and the rustling started again. Someone was surely there around. Could it be a snake? I knew the snakes also liked basking in the morning. 😮 The thought of having a snake nearby brought goosebumps on my neck. There were some clothes still in the bucket waiting to go on the string. I left them as they were and moved back as slowly as I could. There was no rustling for a few minutes. I decided to wait.

Rock-Dassie

The rustling started again and this time I could follow the direction of the sound. All I could see was a little wondering face behind some succulent plants. 🙂 I had never seen him before in the backyard though I had seen numerous birds and a couple of mongooses there. It was somewhat like a hare and a rat. Thank God, it was not what I thought to be!! It appeared slowly from behind the plants and I understood it was a little Rock Dassie 🙂 It went to a stone and sat on it to bask in the warm morning Sun. It was staring at me with all the curiosity in the world gathered in its glass-bead-like pair of eyes. It was the first creature I found super-cute while staring!! 😀 Yes, only while staring.

When he yawned, I could clearly see its sharp incisors. Then I decided to keep distance from it. I stood there for some time. It must have become tired of sitting there. It went towards the fence, and climbed the wall. The neighbouring dog started barking as he must have noticed the Dassie on the fence. He jumped into the yard of neighbouring house. He must have managed to escape the ferocious dog as the barking stopped and the rustling of the dry leaves too.

I couldn’t see him again for long since then.