Chasing Elephants... really!
Daddy spent two weeks with the kids and grandparents in Chennai when Mommy could not fly out thanks to insufficient vacation days and looming deadlines!
We spent a lot of quality time that week by making many visits to dads favorite Chennai hangout, the Kapaleeshwar Temple.
It happens to be a favorite for the kids too, with the star attraction being the stone elephants. They remembered the last encounter with the elephants, Jr. from memory and the little one from revisiting the blog.
We went there before "mottai"...and the little one started her termite act. Every 5 minutes she would make a request to see a real elephant and have it bless her. So I told her that we will see a real one when we get the mottai in Gunaseelam.
She was very happy and played to her hearts content. She reminded me so much of my brother because he would do the exact same thing, sit dangerously on the top and beat the head of the elephant!
We kept looking out for elephants between the Trichy station and Gunaseelam temple with no luck. There were none on that route this time. No elephants at Gunaseelam temple either. So the little one was really disappointed.
To make her happy we took her back to Kabali temple after "mottai" to play with the stone elephants again. Given a choice she would have stayed on that elephant forever.
It was pretty late and she came out crying "I want to see a real elephant and make it do buchchu for me!"
That was when we started asking all relatives, auto drivers, strangers on where we could possibly find an elephant that would accept our money/bananas and bless us in return.
Only temple elephants do that. So the few elephants in the Guindy / Vandalur zoo's didn't count. Apparently it is not easy to access these elephants either as they are sleeping or hard to find within the park/zoo.
A wise auto driver suggested "Maangaadu Kaamakshi temple". He remembered seeing an elephant there 6 months earlier. So a trip was made to that temple. Nice temple, but no elephant.
Another wise auto driver in the "maangaadu" auto stand told us that an elephant did visit this temple every alternate week or so on auspicious days, but it possibly came from Thiruverkaadu Karumaariamman temple! So off we went searching for that temple.
The little one was praying frantically to every "pillaiyaar ummachhi" (the elephant headed god) she saw on the auto route for one thing and one thing only. An encounter with a blessing elephant.
So she was almost heart broken when we went behind the temple to find "no elephant" where there was supposed to be one. We could smell elephant, but it was nowhere to be found. Then the temple authorities took pity on the little one and dispatched the elephant manager to help us view "Ganesh" (he had already been named .. even if the he was really a she). We walked behind the temple to a padlocked shed to view this gorgeous elephant. You should have seen the smile on the little one's face!
This beautiful creature took the money from the little one and gave us both a long blessing! Brought back so many memories.
Later when we were in Manali and driving towards Bilaspur we saw two elephants that were used to carry heavy loads on the mountains. They were shorter and stockier than the elephants we see(or used to see)in south India.They looked a lot healthier and happier.
Well who wouldn't be with that fresh air and fresh water in Manali?!
Not sure if Jr. and the little one will be able to give their kids this experience.
Elephants are more and more difficult to find these days, but we were glad that we got this on camera.
One thought kept coming back to my mind. We are leaving the world in a lot worse state for our kids than our parents did for us. That is really sad.
On the bright side, the stone elephants haven't changed a bit in 35 years!