Elephants and the horny goat!

Shiva the "baby" elephant and his curly trunk

Shiva the “baby” elephant and his curly trunk

So here’s a thing you might not know about me: I’m crazy about ELEPHANTS!!

Just thinking about being in the same space as Real Live Elephants causes a minor brain meltdown inside my cranium on account of all the happiness.

This obsession was only encouraged by reading Modoc while flying from Melbourne to India, natch.

The tip off for the rest of the yoga group about my ele-crush might’ve been my reaction (sure, I was perhaps somewhat concussed, but that’s another story) as we travelled from Trivandrum airport to our hotel in Varkala and there they were – the odd elephant or two. SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.

As part of being an excellent hostess for our yoga retreat, Linda reached out to her network of contacts and arranged for all interested parties in Varkala to meet some ELEPHANTS!!!!

I was excited for two whole days beforehand. Just ask anyone in my group.

Actually the entire Meet-The-Elephants Day was an adventure in itself, with six of us squeezed into two auto rickshaws, speeding away from beach-side Varkala into more residential and then rural areas.

Narrow and winding dusty roads lined with high brick fences in the middle of nowhere eventually opened out into larger tracts of farmland, and even before we got to our destination there were random roadside elephants to be seen.

We were on our way to ELEPHANTS, people!

Our first stop yielded only one pachyderm – a six year old “baby” called Shiva! The rest were off doing their duty as temple elephants.

Shiva the elephant

Shiva the elephant

I was only slightly disappointed that I wasn’t surrounded by an army of eles, but before we could get close enough to say hello, we were accosted by a feisty gang of goats.

Some of them were VERY happy to see us (no, it wasn’t a gun in their pockets).

And then this guy… see how sharp his tiny little horns are?

My own personal horny goat...

My own personal horny goat…

Well, he decided a game of Head Butt The Visitors was in order, and with the speed of a whirling dervish came ’round from behind to puncture the back of my right leg!

A little hand sanitiser and saliva cleaned that up (though the wound took weeks to heal), and it was time to meet Shiva’s elephantine incarnation (after all, Shiva’s son IS Ganehsa).

Even as a smaller elephant, Elephant Shiva’s power was palpable. It was sad for us to see him almost hobbled with chains around both front and back legs, however.

But it was lovely to see the relationship between mahout and elephant. There’s clearly a lot of love and affection there.

Shiva and his mahout

Shiva and his mahout

We all took turns getting close enough to pat this beautiful beast. I’d no idea that elephant skin was so soft and warm! It looks very rough but felt like thick textured velvet under my fingers.

His mahout put him through his paces – lying down, getting his skin brushed (vigorously?!) with a straw whisk, kneeling, standing back up.

Even though I learned later that it’s part of their training, I was overwhelmed when Elephant Shiva playfully took my hand into his warm gummy mouth, and then let his dexterous trunk “finger” wander closer and closer to my face… to touch me in the middle of my forehead.

There are no photos of this moment since it happened so fast!

(Note: on my list of 100 things to do/try for this year, I wrote “Receive an elephant blessing”. So even if he was trained to do it, I’m still stoked!)

Shiva the elephant was wonderful, but our group then wanted to go to the temple for a little more ele-action!

Which is when we met this guy and his five legs.

The really, really HUGE ele!

The really, really HUGE ele! And no, that pink thing isn’t a tree branch.

I think we were all so awe-inspired we plain forgot to ask his name, although we did find out that he’s 40 years old.

And I bet alllll the mama elephants take one look and say wowwwwwweeeee.

Again, we all took turns approaching to pat him and take photos. This was an elephant in his full power – massive, ancient looking, with tusks as big/bigger than our arms.

Me and Ele!

Me and Ele (and a mysterious arm bruise)!

I think we were more amusing to the mahouts and other locals nearby than anything – who are these white people turning up in auto rickshaws just to make googly eyes at our elephants?

But finally…seeing both of these eles sated our fascination for the day.

We got our photos and we have our memories and now I know that my love of these great beasts is worthwhile. They did not disappoint.

Eles of the world, I LOVE YOU.

But all you horny goats out there? Keep your distance, dudes!

~ Amanda

P.S. Below are a few more photos from the day, including an on-the-way-home side adventure or two…

Categories: India, Varkala | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “Elephants and the horny goat!

  1. LOVING your posts, Amanda, as each one has me reliving another wonderful memory from our trip! Thank you.

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