On the Backs of Elephants

Varghese told us he was taking us to see the elephants. And boy did we see elephants.

When you first arrive, you walk past them, sitting on their piles of fresh greenery. They let you choose from a list of activities—we decided to skip the lumber toss. Neither one of us were really into forcing animals into manual labor.

We climbed on our elephant, Lekki, and felt the massive sway of her body walking up the trail. It truly was amazing. To feel them breath beneath your body, their large sides swelling with air, in and out. And then to reach out and rest a hand upon their thick skin, tough like cracked leather.

After the ride, we did the elephant bath. Which was exactly that. Somehow, along the line, these guys had convinced me to pay them to do manual labor. “Scrub harder,” they said, laughing. But I found myself instead stopping from time to time, resting my body against hers and feeling her breathe against me.

Then they told me to climb on. Adam watched from the sidelines which, in hindsight, was the wiser choice. I scooted up her huge body and waited while she filled her trunk with frigid water. It’s something else being sprayed by an elephant. It’s like a firehose. I was soaking after the first shot, and positively drenched after the fifth. But she was sweet after, letting me sit on her knee, her massive trunk sniffing about my feet.

If you’ve never looked directly into the eyes of an elephant, I recommend you go find one and do just that. We sat in awe, connecting with her on a level so far different from one you’ve seen before. Their eyes hold little world secrets, like their ancestors have passed onto them the earliest stories of creation. Like they bear the weight of knowledge in their sturdy frames.

It was one of the highlights of this trip, being able to connect with an animal like that. An animal of not only great size, but of great emotional capacity as well.

31 thoughts on “On the Backs of Elephants

      1. Coyote from Orion

        I know what you mean by the eyes. I find that same marvel of wisdom and healing when looking into the liquid orbs of a horse. Animals are here to teach us and are so giving to us.

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      1. Your mentioning her eyes reminded me of an experience I had in the early days of whale watching, back in the mid-70s. A whale came right up to the boat and looked at all of us looking at her, up and down the rail. The connection was instantaneous and I have never forgotten it. Incidentally, elephants and whales have similar eyes (and intelligence). I wonder if they are distantly related, eons ago?

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        1. That’s a really interesting point. And I think you’re absolutely right—the eyes are very similar. But that connection really is such a special and spiritual thing. I’m glad you have experienced that. More people ought to. 💕

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    1. Took me a few days. As it always always does when you’re adjusting to a new environment. Everything is always different—there is certainly something to be said for spending time with the people. Honestly it was in the villages where I really learned a new love for your country. It is certainly a wondrous place. Very magical in its own right.

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      1. That’s right, everything has a beauty of its own. It will take time to really understand them. Glad to see you went through that. The same thing happened to me when I moved to the US in the mid-90s. The cultural shock will stabilize and we sync in slowly. Wish you all best for the future days here in India.

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        1. Completely. I can’t even begin imagine what a big shock it was for you moving here as well. I think it was such a challenge because the cultures are so radically different—which, of course, isn’t a bad thing at all. But boy does it take some fine tuning of yourself to get around that.
          I think the population of Bangalore made it overwhelming. It was really In the quieter places where I had time to take a breath and soak in the richness of the culture, without the distractions.

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  1. Fantastic post… and what an amazing experience… so incredibly jealous. The first time I left for India my 8 year old son pleaded with me to let him come so he could “ride an elephant”…. I laughed at his request but now after your post… hmmm

    Liked by 1 person

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