It should not be too difficult to climb an elephant, or so I thought. Jo went first holding on to the elephants ears as she stepped on its trunk. The elephant lifted its trunk raising Jo to the height of its mouth. Jo walked up its forehead, across the top of its head to the waiting hands of the elephant driver, who helped her turn round and sit, facing forward, a little way behind its ears.
My turn. All went well at first. As I stepped on its trunk the elephant lifted me up and I began to walk up its forehead. Then two things happened simultaneously, firstly my brain told my legs to keep walking but the gain in height was so sudden it really threw me and as I felt very vulnerable my brain also told me to bend down to lessen the height. I am sure you can imagine that anyone walking up an elephants head whilst trying to bend double at the waist is heading for problems. One more step onto its forehead would have fixed it, but by now I was bending so low that gravity intervened and I pitched forward with my head on the elephants neck, my body straddled across its head and each leg dangled down alongside it ears like grotesque earnings. Not a dignified look. Elephants have remarkably wide heads and it was with some difficulty that I wiggled my way forward over its head to sit facing the wrong way on its neck.
We had arrived in Jaipur the previous day. There seems an energy in the city that I have not experienced elsewhere. The architecture is splendid and some of the Mogul buildings are absolutely stunning. Nice crowd at the hotel and lots of people having fun. Ali (our Tuk Tuk driver) met his cousin while we were going round. It turns out that the cousin was hired by the production team for the UK TV program “ The Real Exotic Marigold Hotel” to drive celebrities around.We took this with a pinch of salt till he produced his phone and showed us the evidence. Later Ali managed to get the Tuk Tuk stuck in mud. In the UK we call the AA or RAC. Allie called an elephant. No pictures unfortunately as we were stuck in the vehicle with the elephant pushing behind with its head. Unfortunately this did not work and Ali and his friends put bricks under the wheels and rocked the Tuk Tuk out. All rather exciting.
Tomorrow is Holi Festival, The Festival of Colours. It could be interesting. Holi is really celebrated within the family in much the way that Christmas is a family event in the UK. Some activities take place on the street and as the day unfolds, so I have been told, get a bit iffy with some of the young men in the town getting a bit drunk and aggressive. The advice from everyone is to be back by early afternoon. We went into town to get our Holi clothes and needed to go to an ATM. One of the shop people took me on the back of his motorbike. The ATM was beside a bank (not always the case) and there was a man in a uniform sitting in the bank entrance with a double barrelled shotgun on his lap. It had very shiny chrome barrels that glinted in the sun. They don’t go in for subtlety here.
Watch this space for Holi.