Sunday, November 04, 2007

all things elephant

But the dust-laden and echoey churches were not enough. She was drawn to another place of worship, the Ganesh temple in the heart of the city, the elephant image smiling at her from the inner sanctum. That was how it seemed: another big soft gaze in her life. The other deities sat glowering, with horror teeth like Kali's, or else solemnly dancing like Shiva; with half-closed eyes like Saraswati playing the sitar, or goofy-faced with pouchy cheeks like Hanuman. But only the elephant god smiled, always the kindly eyes directed straight at her, and the full satisfied mouth chomping in the tusks like a tycoon with two cigars. The way the fat thing sat on the rounded cushion of his bottom, his center of gravity in his broad bum, was also a pleasure to see, but most of all his eyes reassured her with a What can I do for you? look and a guarantee: I can help you.

"The Elephant God", from The Elephanta Suite by Paul Theroux, p. 202

Bass players have a special connection to the elephant, by virtue of the famous solo from Carnival of the Animals. I think we're not alone in feeling an affinity for these mysterious giants, though. When I took my mom to the Bass Museum in Miami Beach, her favorite thing was a sculpture of Ganesh, the Hindu elephant god - remover of obstacles, deva of wisdom. I just finished reading The Elephanta Suite, this wonderful collection of three novellas by Paul Theroux, and the one quoted above especially struck me with its description of the elephant's beauty and power.

I visited Calgary Zoo recently with my dad and step-mom, and we got to see the zoo's new baby elephant, Malti. She was born August 9th, just two days after I moved to Calgary, so when these pictures were taken she was around two months old.

The handlers were trying to measure and photograph her - even at two months old, she's a pretty powerful creature, and it took all three of them to control and guide her. Below is one more picture of Malti, and then one of her father, Spike, and her mother, Maharani, shown with another female elephant, Kamala.

No comments: