Sunday, August 05, 2007

Give him a white elephant or two.

Now let me tell you a little secret of mine: I love elephants.
It is possible that this has a lot to do with me being Malayalee, because back home, an elephant is not just some big animal, it is a way of life.
The Anakkaran (elephant handler) was someone every kid looked up to in awe and admiration. And I’ve grown up with that reverence.
A mahout sleeping underneath a huge elephant to me is a relationship rooted in trust. I’ve heard of mahouts being killed in fits of fury by the elephant, but a sleeping mahout being stamped on, I have never.

Every time I have touched the coarse hairy trunk of the huge animal - awful, powerful, monstrous, dreadful, mighty, and intelligent - I have known what the great Alexander could have been up against at a dramatic battle, with as inconceivable an end.

It is a first time for me every time.

I have wondered more than once, how then was it that the phrase “White elephant” came into being. An albino (hence white) elephant is supposed to be in most of south east Asia, sacred, and a sign of prosperity. For the same reason, there were laws protecting them from labor. So if you received a gift of a white elephant from a King, it would be a blessing and a curse - A valuable possession whose upkeep exceeded it’s usefulness. The buses of the state owned KSRTC in God’s own country are locally called elephants. No prizes then for guessing the color.

16 comments:

Moi said...

i love elephants too, though I am no Malayali and have not grown amidst elephants :)
..and nothing's cuter than an elephant baby :)
the last time i saw one was 6 weeks old in the local zoo. He was adorable. You can see him with his mother here
http://mykodak.blogspot.com/search?q=tamani
Lovely pic here, Bal . We keep collecting elephants for our friends here in US whenever we come down to India....they are fascinated by Indian arts depicting elephants. And yes, I wish you'd post more often :)

karoline said...

elephants are awesome, their sheer size and intelligence leave them worthy of such devotion..luv your pic..

k
:)

Keshi said...

Sri Lanka has alot of elephants too. I love em cos they go on the Kandy perahara (a SL Buddhist festival) and they look so majestic!

Keshi.

crumbs said...

the way local KSRTC buses move on the roads in Kerala, the only fair comparision I can see between them and the elephant is when the elephants are on a rampage!!

Ash said...

Awesome shot. Love the light and DOF!

Me love elephants too :)

Flyaway Mind said...

i remember the elephant in the temple in tanjore, where i used to visit often..u give them a coin ..they take it with their long trunk from ur palm & bless you by thumping on your head. that's the closest i have ever touched an elephant :)

Viewer said...

I remember wen i was a kid there was this elephant who used to come once a week to my house, for coconut branches. btw nice shot!

Nanditha Prabhu said...

my 2 yr old is an admirer of elephants...he always imagines that he is a mahot and his dad has to play the part of an elephant!

Pecos Blue said...

great picture. i have never touched an elephant before.

ToOothlEss WOndeR! said...

moi: nothin cuter than an elephant baby, you bet.
my mum thinks so too.. but feeding a wild elephant baby may not be the smartest of things - like she learnt one day when we took the longer route around to bangalore. the mommy elephant charged, and you should have seen her run©
:))

karoline: hey, thanks for coming by.. More than their size and mighty gait, i love them for the intelligent animals they are, and the discretion they use in using brute force. we could learn a lot from elephants if we looked close.

keshi: srilankan elephants. the huge tuskers. i will be travelling to srilanka very soon just to visit the elephan orphanage. Srilankans and Malayalees have a lot in common, elephants is just one thing.

crumbs: haha.. i hear driver velayudhan of depot 2341 is in the running for alonso's position. :)

ash: it was the light that day.. and i was in the mood. thank you :)


flyaway mind: i remember there was an elephant in the mookambika temple who used to do that. or maybe it was dharmasthala. cant really remember.


viewer: coconut BRANCHES? leaves you must mean. :)
thak you, btw ;)

nanditha: myself used to do that quite a lot when i was a kid.. ride on my-daddy-strongest and be the elephant rider.
and i've been the elephant a lot baby sitting my nephews and nieces.
i think that's something common to all malayalees. Do you speak malayalam?

pecos blue: you should try it. they're such gentle animals.
and thanks!

Serendipity said...

Wo! this is an outstanding shot. where was it taken? antique store?

Viewer said...

Yeah whtever that is called... leaves branches :D hehe :)

usha said...

gud one, bala! :)
seems like u found them at d street seller's, eh? is it a terracota one, by any chance? me was wondering since it's with those pots.. but they luk a lot like stone sculptures.. u know, the intricate detailing n al..

ToOothlEss WOndeR! said...

serendipity: Thank You, It was from a street seller here in bangalore.

veiwer: :) you cant kid a malayalee with coconut trees. now you know. LOL

usha: spot on there.
i guess they're terracota. i didnt look close enough to tell.

Cuckoo said...

Ohh I am so scared of the elephants. They are so huge. Though once the elephant God gave me his blessings by putting his trunk on my head. :)

Yes, they are terracotta.

Anonymous said...

I am looking at your various posts and trying to virtually list all your inspirations, admirations and views. You just aren't the person whom you look on the outer ! Kudos !

KC