Namibia: The Haunting Country

Travelling back to my homeland.

Though I have seen and went through numerous good-byes in my life after being a part of Indian Army; I find it totally different this time.

Every time our new posting comes, we pack the stuff and shift to a different place. Initially for few days it is hard for me to adjust to the new place. I tend to see only the rough part of the life and honestly, at times feel little agitated if the residential accommodation or weather at the new place are not fine.

After spending some time there I start getting used to it. I start liking the weather and knowing the people and the place around. I start enjoying everything about the place. The new place starts becoming old for me and then while I am deeply into the moments, again the time comes to take leave from that place and move to a yet another different place. It becomes difficult to untangle all the invested emotions then. 😔

The sad part is, there is no choice but to leave. It is inevitable.

The best part is, I get to see different places, people, cultures, and make friends. As we all know, both the sad and the good parts of our lives help us to grow :).

Unlike before, this time my heart is full of sweet pain yet contentment. I visited various places in this beautiful country. I saw scenic landscapes, deep-blue skies, starry nights, colorful birds, unparalleled fauna, and most importantly; I met warm-hearted people and made new friends. 🙂 I am taking with me a stash of memories and fond associations.

The other day I met David in the morning and Betsy in the evening on the same day. They both said that in Namibia, you cry thrice: Once when you arrive, once while living there, and the third time; when you go.

In my experience, it’s true. When I came to Namibia, I cribbed about weather, dryness, scroching Sun with very high UV, and less socialization. But when I went around various places in this beautiful country, its rustic beauty started seeping in my mind and I didn’t come to know this, till the time I left that wonderful piece of mother earth.

Namibia haunts. 🙂

Even when I have left it, it is not leaving me.

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.

San Village: 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 village.

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 picturing. 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 encroachment 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 what is the magic? She couldn’t hold her curiosity about the pen’s magic for long. He observed her funny expressions.

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

She (curiously): “That’s just not 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 the magic. 🙂 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.