Monday, February 2, 2009

April 2, 2008

Travelling and living in Southeast Asia for the last 3 years has made them almost common place for me. They still hold a strong fascination though. There’s something about the huge brown elephant eye staring down at you from the side of its head. I think the elephant knows more than it is letting on about but resolutely continues on in its bondage anyway.

There is a strong demand for elephants here in India. They make the festival circuit going en masse to each temple’s festival. The wealthy rent an elephant as the regal transport for their daughter’s wedding the way Westerners rent a limo or horse drawn carriage. The elephants work moving logs and clearing brush when they are not on display.

In India, a working elephant is worth a lot more than the people it may crush as a rampaging elephant. It always make the news when it happens. The mahouts first attempt to calm the beast down. If that fails, a vet with a tranquilizer dart is brought in. Never would a police officer even think about unholstering his gun (if he even has one) towards an elephant.

Older elephants sometimes do start to look pink. The pigment in their skin fades and they get pink spots. The spots resemble freckles in the beginning and slowly enlarge and merge to form large patches of fair skin. I don’t think the elephant cares. Who knows, there could be a market for elephant age spot remover.

You see lots of elephants turds along the roadside in my neighborhood. They look like bowling ball sized lumps of mangled straw. I see more turds than I see actual elephants. I wish it was the other way around. At least the elephant turds don’t smell and are easier to walk around than the cow pies.

For as interesting as they are, the elephants do tend to cause traffic jams. I don’t think saying, "Sorry I’m late. I was stuck behind an elephant." would work as an excuse in the U.S. I said it the other day and found that no one had really expected punctuality in the first place but that they totally understood and accepted delay by elephant as a reason for tardiness.

And now, some obligatory but related entertainment. You really have to wonder what drugs the Disney folks were on when they created this one. Steven

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