More on Finding the Elephant (Thrissur)

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The elephant had an erection. I can’t make any jokes about the size of it as it was somehow part of the sadness of his situation, how the body goes on even enchained, how little dignity is allowed the enchained.

The thing that struck me most – and I have seen elephants before – but what struck me most about this one was the development of the head. The sculpted mounds of the temples; the cranny in the center of the cranium; the intense (and immense) modeling of the skull, the slightly bloodshot thick-lashed eyes that looked with intensity out of its thick skin almost as if looking out from a mask,

Touching its side felt like touching a road made live, tar-folds of a circuitous bristled pathway, back and forth and back and forth, and back again. Dry, grooved, tear-inducing.

It sounds like I am being overly sentimental. I don’t think I am. .

We left chastened. Again, I’m not sure why exactly – we had known any captive elephant we would find in India we would make us feel sad and punily powerless, and not really all that separate from the actual people that get the elephants and make money off of them. All connected.

(PS– these are pictures from Thrissur, India, a couple of days before a large elephant festival, where elephants, in costume, parade around a Hindu temple. The guy in the photo is the elephant owner or trainer. The young woman is my daughter.)

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8 Comments on “More on Finding the Elephant (Thrissur)”

  1. janehewey Says:

    The elephants look like statues… It could be the coloring or the unusual motionlessness-probably the combination. Your daughter’s reverence is palpable in the last pic. Honestly, I can not even begin to imagine how it would feel to place a hand on one of these animals. thank you, karin.

  2. hedgewitch Says:

    That is a most distinctive and unusual looking elephant…the domed forehead and pink-purple mask, especially. Yes, sad-making, but also a necessary dose of reality–this is what elephants really are, too many times, along with all of the wild that we exploit, and the anthropomorphizing and fantasies we weave don’t change any of it. But I look on it this way: 99% of us have as little control over what happens as the wild. Yes, I can recycle, and guilt myself into any number of small conscience salving acts of respect, but I’m not the one pillaging the planet for oil–I’d be happy to use solar power and alternative energy, but I can’t make it for myself except in a very limited way–and I can’t control the greed and destruction of the 1% who blow everything away before them…so, that was supposed to be cheering, but somehow–not, I think. Thanks for posting,k. We’re having another day of shooting,killing, paranoia and mania here, so forgive my down remarks.

  3. Karin Wiberg Says:

    Talk about an opening sentence! 🙂 Really interesting perspective and photos. I hope you are having a good trip!


  4. Makes me feel sad too, k.

  5. claudia Says:

    it makes me sad too…one of the reasons why i don’t like to visit zoos as well… it gives me a hard time to see animals robbed off their freedom (even when they say it’s for protection) i would want to be rather dead than tied to a string of put into a small cage…ugh…felt k.


  6. Those photos are just wonderful!


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