India….final chapter….for now.

“How do you think I got this?” I pointed at the big scab on my chin.

Standing in front of a classroom of eight year-olds in India, they made outlandish and simple guesses, “an accident?”

“Yes, but what KIND of an accident?”

Of course I had to give them the answer because who is going to guess that I skinned my chin climbing up the trunk of an elephant?

While the clinics were a powerful and important experience they were surely not the entire focus of my third trip to India in a year. With my friend Joan there was certainly a lot of fun as well. We did a lot of the things you DO when you visit India. We went to the Taj Mahal. We ate spicy food, pause, with our fingers. We stopped by the side of the road to see some nomadic blacksmiths at work. We did some shopping, especially textiles. I had my favorite cotton Indian blouse copied in linen. It was so nice I asked them to make two more. We went to the Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve and we even saw tigers.

“Luck and chance,” is what we heard over and over again about whether you will see them. I know several people who haven’t. But what wasn’t luck and chance was our good fortune to get a cancellation of a private jeep, called a gypsy, which allows greater flexibility in following the cats.

Joan got the heebie-jeebies when Goldie, sitting in the left front seat, would turn around to talk with us. He wasn’t driving, though, as in India the driver sits on the right and cars drive on the left. “I knew I was getting used to it here,” said Joan, “when I stopped taking pictures of the cows every where.”

And of course we got to have our elephant encounter. We got to feed them, paint them, ride on them. There is a tall platform with stairs to get on top of the elephant, but once I saw the elephant rider climb up over the trunk I decided that would be a good a idea.

“Really? You want to do that?”


And so the call went out. “Crazy American lady over on aisle 7!” My Hindi isn’t so good, but I’m pretty sure that’s what they were saying, because an audience appeared seemingly out of nowhere.

How do you climb up the trunk of an elephant? You use the ears as handles, reach your foot up as high as you can in front, stepping on the trunk, using it as a springboard as you scamper/shimmy up over the head. That audience was also helpful as a couple of the men were pushing on my feet and trying to make sure I didn’t fall down. Up on the head of the, facing backwards I was having a huge laughing fit.

“Now turn around.”

You want to know what Pilates is really good for? When you are on an elephant and facing the wrong way, you are fifteen feet up in the air, THAT is when your Pilates workouts will pay off for you. Evan and Kaitlyn at OnPointe Pilates would be proud.

I even have a video of this, which I am incapable of loading here, but if you email me, I’ll send it to you. Guaranteed laughs. Somehow my chin kissed the elephant’s head in this process and I walked around with a big scab for 10 days.

And after me Joan decided she wanted to climb up the elephant trunk too. Totally graceful. No bodily injuries. Can’t bear to think how much Pilates she must be doing.

About Karen Ray

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2 Responses to India….final chapter….for now.

  1. Kathy Martin says:

    Wonderfully told! And what an adventure!

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