Trunk To Trunk !!

So have you been taken for a ride ? On an Elephant ? On the roads !?!

The resounding bells that used to hang by the sides used to announce the arrival of elephant and the mahout into the neigbhourhood. For a small fee, one could get a ride. And for a smaller fee, the elephant would touch your head with its trunk, as you bowed in deference and devotion. and the world around you would say that you were now blessed !

And then came National Geographic and the likes. Where the rest of the world saw elephants as exotic species. In safaris and through the lens of some of the best photographers of the world. And all you could hear was a groan escaping your lips.

It didn’t strike you as big deal ! You grew up seeing the elephant. He was your God ! You saw him every other day at a temple. Or the next street. Or at a wedding reception! Touching human heads with the huge trunk and collecting that small fee !

“We have been seen as a land of elephants” , lamented a young software friend. Fresh with an accent and a whiff of perfume and scent of drying ink on his passport. And quiet obviously there was some discussion.

“New age imagery of India may be something, but please’, i told him, ‘please find a way of including the elephants into your scheme of things. Perhaps name a piece of software in its honour. I mean, look at Java and Maya !!’ The elephant is a large majestic being and you cant wish it away ! With all your might !

White Elephant, they scream at something that cant be put to use. A heavy person is affixed a tag : Elephant. Of course ! And as much as these are cruel to people, well, i want to say, spare a thought for the elephant as well !

With the power of quick wishes that have super quick freeze into inaction, i want to start a movement to bring back the majestic elephant to the forefront ! ‘Majesticity’ doing a disappearing act before metaphors of expense and weight….well, that’s not done !
The streets of Mumbai and other big metros don’t see the elephant. As much. Perhaps that’s why, i thought !

And then, i spotted one. In the traffic bustle of Powai’s main road. Striding majestically. Amidst commuters waiting for a bus. And those big German engineered cars with three pointed stars or three alphabets for a name, and the puny efficient cars of the Japs & Koreans , the Indian wannabe cars and the rest of those that are fighting bankruptcy, all keep a respectful distance.

Almost seeming to bow in deference to this big one. Each stride, majestic. Each wave of the trunk an artistic beauty. This was not bumper to bumper traffic. This perhaps was trunk to trunk traffic. Nobody cared. Size matters. I realised. Always.

And then one day, i saw that same software friend at a temple. Bowing in deference. As an elephant ‘blessed’ him with his trunk.

Perhaps that ink on the passport was drying. I thought. The elephant didn’t seem to care. These thoughts were for small minds like mine.

8 thoughts on “Trunk To Trunk !!

  1. Just a niggling feeling that if Satyavan Jobanputra had worked on creating a competitor to the PC, maybe today we would have had E-Trunk Macintosh instead of the Apple.

    (On a side note, when my brother was working in Apple years ago, his, son , then 5, and an obsessive admirer and collector of elephants, once accompanied his father there on a weekend. I dont know what he thought Apple did, but he was known to have asked in a firm loud ringing voice , as to where the Elephant Department was).

    Forget Hardware. But I do hope Narayanmurthi and Nilekani are listening. Installing Airaawat ver 1.2 sounds simply majestic ……

  2. I remember the elephant being the proud guest of honor at Ayyappa Poojas held in our colony years back. As a kid, the whole ceremony seemed so majestic, surreal, all becos’ of the elephant procession. I hope the tradition still exists… And blessing with the trunk? I never gathered that much courage ever:)

  3. nsiyer says:

    Yes Kavi, we see them in all the southern India temples, and its majestic appearance is astounding. The elephant God is given so much importance everywhere especially more so in Maharashtra that giving its name to a software or hardware really does not matter. Before starting work on the software or the hardware itself , he is thought of and his blessings taken.

    Good thought, Kavi.

  4. My son was blessed by an elephant in Tirumala recently.. if you call getting bashed on the head with a 2 ton trunk so that he almost fell on his face getting blessed!!
    Again, I remember a young American friend asking me my mode of transport in India and very sincerely believing me when I told him that I couldn’t afford an elephant and so had to make do with a buffalo-cart.

  5. manju says:

    Kavi- Yes, the majestic elephant is a part of the childhood memeories of many Indian children!

    If children have the choice of riding an elephant, or riding a horse or a camel at any park, we see that they invariably choose to ride on the elephant!

  6. Kavi says:

    Ugich Konitari :


    Elephant department ! That cracked me up. Airaawat ver 1.2 !!!! LOL !! But that sure sounds neat !

    Naperville Mom : Well, the blessing with the trunk is the essence !! 🙂

    And that tradition not only exists, it continues to blaze the elephant trail !!

    NS Iyer : Ofcourse ! Blessings are indeed taken sir !! indeed !! When you have the entire city coming to a standstill because of a puja done for the elephant God…well, you cant ask for more !!


    Roshini : The elephants in Tirumala are indeed something ! Arent they. Your son would tell me !!

    And telling your american friend about the ride….ROTFL !!!

  7. Kavi says:

    Manju : Ofcourse ! You are so right ! And children hardly get it wrong !!! Do they !!?!?

  8. ~nm says:

    well..what do I say. For us, living in Delhi, elephants were always an amusement and which we saw rarely.

    This post reminded me of a small hoarding on the old ITO flyover, New Delhi, which would say “Yahan haathi rahte hain” and whenever we would pass that area I would try and peek to see if I can have a glimpse of these hathis. Its been almost 12 years since I saw this hoarding last 🙂

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