walk like an elephant…

i had never ‘met’ an elephant!

growing up in india, i have seen many elephants of course. and not in zoos! a lot of big temples in the south would still have their stable of elephants. plus occasionally an elephant would walk down the road… and we kids would rush to see… peep out of windows… bend over from the balcony… run down the stairs and stare… in wonder…

they always seemed to be from an another world…
huge creatures that had no time or space
in this ever shrinking world of small packages!

i had stared at an elephant. ogled. shrieked too… when they came too close. but never touched one. could always imagine the foot landing on me, and then me lying flat on the ground in some sort of squishy gooey jelly.
and i have sat on an elephant at kaziranga, assam and gone for the elephant safari! the best way to see rhinos they said… and it was. got really close to a rhino mommy and her baby! but i hardly saw the elephant!

fast forward to many years later…  and i go to pinnawala elephant orphanage at sri lanka… and its full of elephants, they are so many, they outnumber the big eyed, SLR carrying tourists! i had expected a zoo like structure… see animals from a distance… they stare at you, you stare at them and then leave! and was dreading it!

what i didn’t expect was this…

… to touch an elephant. to feel her rubbery skin… so close that i could see each and every hair on her body… and wow, they are so so so hairy! my heart was beating at crazy tempo! but these elephants… they sway! i never knew they sway. never standing still the mom elephant was moving her body to and fro, in this gentle rocking rhythm! it was calming. and next to her was her shy baby. hiding between her legs, under her big trunk, shying away from us…

… and then we walked to the hospital of sorts… all the sick or recovering elephants were kept there. and these two little monkeys (read, baby elephants) were playing with each other… they were totally nutty…

i entered scared.
i left awed and humbled.

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