Monday, July 10, 2006

The drunk mahout !!!

I was in Sudan on staurday.
I was supposed to be in a metropolitan city in India on Thursday.
That appointment which was fixed a month before and I didn't wish to miss it.
I checked time tables and informed my travel agent and she confirmed my booking. I will land at the city airport in the wee hours on Thursday and my appointment wss at 11 AM, giving me ample time to refresh in a hotel.

Sunday morning, my travel agent was frantically on my line informing me of a Gulf Air cancellation. She apologized and told me that my direct flight was cancelled. She could book an indirect flight which would land at 1300 hrs.
I said no way, as I have every chance of missing my appointment.
She offered an alternative option if I am ready to travel one day early. I can land in another city and take an air conditioned train ride if that is acceptable.

Though I would loose a day, I was thrilled by the offer of traveling in a train for almost 9 hrs. I accepted the offer on one condition, to get me a booking in a non air-conditioned compartment which was a cheaper way to see the country and safer in the rainy season.
But what I finally had was a booking in an air-conditioned compartment, my only available option.

Came Wednesday, and the Gulf Air flight landed on time as promised by my travel agent.
I got in the train in a reserved seat in the air conditioned coach. It was clean and neat inside but the only problem I had was the widows.
I wasn’t able to breathe fresh air as all the window panes were locked to help the air-conditioning system. I could see everything through the window but I missed the fresh air.
This was my long awaited travel in a train after a very long time. I kept looking through my windows at the beautiful country side. The green paddy crops out side, and the rain drops on the windows. It was monsoon time in India.

The train stopped in a station and I looked out my window.
I noticed that some people were getting out from my couch to the platform for food in the station restaurant, which means that there will be at least half hour delay in the station. I got out to the platform to stretch my legs.
As I looked around, I found a lot or renovation going on in the station itself by the granite slabs piled at one corner and the steel rods stacked beside the fence.

Right through the top of the heap of granite, I could see and upper parts of an elephant with a mahout on top.
But there was some thing wrong in the movement of the jungle giant and the tiny fellow on top controlling it.
I was curios and moved as close as possible as I can and there I saw a small crowd of people with amusement in their face. I couldn’t move closer but I could feel the uneasiness in the movement of the elephant and looking up from that position I could see the mahout lying on top and shouting at some one occasionally.

Jac ! the curious ! couldn’t move closer! The fence and and the granite slabs prevented it.
I moved to a man who looked like a railway worker from his dress, who was looking at the commotions with interest and laughing with amusement.
I moved closer and asked him what was the problem with that elephant. With out looking up from the sight he replied that the problem was not with the elephant but with mahout.

He said looking up at me with a smile and said that the mahout is drunk.
OMG!!! That was news to me!

I have seen elephants of Africa which are bigger and fiercer in look.
But I also know that Indian elephants are graceful, though they are smaller in size. I haven’t seen any mahout being drunk on top of an elephant. I wanted to go out of the station and watch the scene. I looked around and saw people trying to board the train. I had no luck, I had little time.
I wanted to know what happened to the mahout, but the announcement came on the paging system that the train will leave in a few minutes. I ran inside the compartment for my camera and had just enough time to take it out of my bag as the train started whistling.
I wanted at least a picture of the scene from the fence, but at the door, the guard cautioned me that the train will move now as the signal is clear.
I went back inside to my window seat, moved the curtains fully and cleaned the glass panes.
The view was partial, with the granite slabs and movement of people marring the view. I just had enough time for two shots through the window, as the train started moving.

I wished I could share all I saw there. I wanted to get down and watch the aftermath.

This was a time, the time that I miss my car.
Traveling with a self driven car has its advantages.
I could stop anywhere I liked or sleep in any place I wished.
That is a fun in dry seasons… but in monsoon or what others call as rainy season, the drive can be risky with slippery roads with water filled pot holes.

You may sleep at your heart’s contend with a stranded car in the middle of a forest locked up inside, with rain and a storm beating around you.
You also may hear the thud and you may open your eyes to see a wild tusker looking at you through the wind shield, challenging you to come out with raised hands.

Ha! Ha! My imagination is wilder than me.
I have a picture of my window seat too.

Thanks for being patient with my blah! blahs!


starry nights said...

Jac that was beautiful, imagine a drunk on an elephant.and I am sure he does not even realize that the whole world is looking at his pic.I love trains. My father used to take me and my younger brother for a train ride from city staion to cantonement staion and back in Bangalore, just for the fun of it.I too love the window seat and to look at the country side and feel the cool breeze, better than an aironditioned compartment. Have a safe trip in India, maybe u can post some more pics.

sophie said...

hey..u in smiles...blushes....jumps in joy

fritz said...

drunken' elephant? i bet that's interesting to see...hehehe
...ummm...i've never seen any drunk animals in my whole life...hehehe

take care...enjoy your trip to india...stay safe ;;)

Nan said...

That's a funny story.

boo said...

i love elephants. thanks {{jac}}

Mindinside said...

You are sharing ur travels now:)

I see the elephant looks brighter than the fellow on top ..LOL

jac said...

Starry night

The elephant is one of the most graceful animals that are exploited because of its brains. It doesn’t know its strength and none has ever cared to let him/her know its strength.
The lion remains the king of jungle because it knows its strength, though it is weaker than an elephant.

Delighted to know that you liked the post.

jac said...


Remember, that I am a wacko(quote)

jac said...


The funny thing is that the elephant was not drunk.
It was the mahout who was drunk and that poor tusker knew it and was trying to protect him.

Thanks, shine ! for the wishes.

jac said...


They are graceful creatures easily taken for granted.

jac said...


Its graceful and boooooooooooootiful too

jac said...


Yes, the mahout is a tubelight now because he is drunk.

Blogging is sharing too. My pleasure and thanks.

Dew Drops said...

reminds me on one of George Orwell Essasy, which talks about the killing of an elephant in burma.

Jac Orwell !!!!!!!!!

Rose said...

Phew!!! Tired after ur Blah Blah Blahs.. Now its MOI turn.. ;)

The very charm of travelling in train along a country-side is lost in a air-conditioned compartment.. Man's so-called creations for comfort and luxury have stolen away the very essence of the moment..


That wud hv been one hell of a sight.. Well long time ago my father had told me of an incident in his hometown when both the Ana-Pappaan and the Aana got drunk.. :D Incredible na?



Rose said...

Phew!!! Tired after ur Blah Blah Blahs.. Now its MOI turn.. ;)

The very charm of travelling in train along a country-side is lost in a air-conditioned compartment.. Man's so-called creations for comfort and luxury have stolen away the very essence of the moment..


That wud hv been one hell of a sight.. Well long time ago my father had told me of an incident in his hometown when both the Ana-Pappaan and the Aana got drunk.. :D Incredible na?



Loveena said...

So you are or at least were in Kerela *the place where I was born* Its a lovely place and you got to see it from the train and like every other person who has written - WHY the AC comp??? Spoils everything! I hope you mange to get a second class ticket in the train for your return ride. or simply just walk out and stand in the door ... and enjoy... yes, in all probabilities you'll be mistaken for a loafer - irresponsible/ reckless vagrant - I did not say the enjoyment comes free *grin* Anyways, hope you have a safe and successful trip. Take care.

Lorna said...

your blahblahs are so entertaining. too bad about the air-conditioning though.

hellbunny said...

Well thats the first time i've heard of someone being drunk in charge of an elephant.

Sarah said...

Jac.. it is common in Chengannur.. kallum adichu, aneyum valichu pappan karangi nadakkunnathu.. I have seen it many times..I have seen the papan feeding the elephant some of his toddy as well..

Colleen said...

Jac, you are so lucky to be able to travel in the areas that you do. I cannot even imagine seeing an elephant in the wild - let alone an elephant being riden by a drunk!

Here in the United States, we only see elephants if we go to a zoo where they are in captivity. The U.S. is a beautiful place, but where you are from sounds much more interesting.

I love the pictures. Sorry you did not get to open your window to feel the soft breeze against your face as the train moved.

Wonderful story jac. You have the most interesting experiences!

Dotm said...

Jac, a very interesting post. I have seen pictures showing the elephants moving heavy objects such a large fallen trees. But that is something we don`t get to see live.
I only rode on a train once and back then it didn`t have air-conditioning. We traveled from new York City to Washington DC where we saw the beautiful Cherry trees all in bloom and went all thru our Capital Building and other important places. That was when I was a teenager in High School and we were on our Senior School trip . I have some nice memories from that trip. I remember enjoying the scenery thru the window on that long ride.
I enjoy reading about your trips.

I love Munich said...

GOSH Jac, that does so much remind me of my 25-hour train ride from Cacutta to Madras!! I haven't see a drunk mahout though ...
The cabin I had was similar ... it was 2nd class - it was all finally much more harmless than initially feared!
Why did you order NON-airconditioned?? That's masochism dear!!! I'd probably DIE ...
GREAT story ... I loved it - and beautifully told!!

aklanta said...

That was a Joke serious experience, was not it? but have you seen a drunk elephant? I happened to be at my grandmaa's village years back...I watched with terror the destruction by a furious and drunk elephant untill he as shot anesthetic bullets...

which metro did you visit in India?

Strictly for my friends said...

I love train journeys too, especially the variety that's long and the landscape changes in front of your eyes.

jac said...

Dew drops

You have given me another title? … and for sure though I haven’t heard about George, I am going to read it if I can get it on search.

You being here itself is my pleasure.

jac said...

Though I have read about mahouts being drunk from newspapers; this was the first time witnessing one.

The elephant was moving too and fro... sort of sensing the drunken actions of the mahout.
It looked to me as if the elephant was trying to protect him from any untoward incidents.

I felt miserable when the train left with out giving me the chance to quench my curiosity.

Thanks for being here rose.

jac said...

I thought that you totally forgot us, though I know that you were on and off coming to post.
I am delighted to know that you are back with more vigor.

Is it a pure coincidence that the station mentioned in the post is your hometown; Palaghat (as I remember) and I was traveling in Bilaspoor express which goes that route?
Mind you, that I have traveled in a second class A/C coach but had to return on a flight due to the time factor.
Loveena, I have to remind you that I am not a total stranger to your country and at this moment while I reply, I am in Kerala.
You too take care and keep blogging.

jac said...


Delighted to know that my blah blahs were entertaining to you.

About the air conditioning…well I will do a journey in my car again and post you pictures too.


jac said...


Well, this is not the last time you are going to hear it, as I plan to check at the land of elephants to know more about this subject.

Thanks for the visit.

jac said...

Immigrant in Canada

OMG! Do you mean to say that it is an everyday happening in Chengannur?

Avide ‘kochinte’ alkarellam adichu kiringi ano nadakunnathu ?
No wonder every one in your class there called you a marangeri :)) for me, I won’t call you by that name. You know what it is. LOL

Anakku pranthu pirichal pappan nokkum, pappanu pranthu pidichalo ?

Our good old toddy is wonderful you mean? Which one... allikallu, anthikallu or madhurakallu ?
I happen to taste all those when 'Ayappachovan' was a toddytapper before he started the tea shop.

jac said...

I know that America is a beautiful country… but which country is not beautiful?
Every country has its own beauty and drawbacks too.

Though I haven’t been to your country, I have traveled through unbelievably beautiful places far and near, in danger and risks, in the wild and in the mosquito ridden swamps but always I feel at ease in my country though it has a lot of drawbacks.

You remember that once I have extended my invitation to take you around in Africa where you will have enough scenes to fill all your canvases, until you are exhausted with a glee… that invitation has no time limit.

Thanks for that flattering compliment.

jac said...

If you have traveled in a train, you sure know the effect of it.

I have traveled in trains many times in different countries and it is a wonderful experience with the wind brushing directly on my face.
While I travel in trains, I make it a point to travel with the ordinary people so that I can observe them and watch their customs and behavior. I come to understand about simplicity, camaraderie, care and concern for each other and many more things.

Elephants are part of Indian culture and closely connected with religion too.
In the old days, the Kings of the small states India used to have individual armies including an elephant brigade to fight the invaders.
You are right about elephants being used for moving huge trees in the timber trade where the forests are thick enough, preventing any kind of vehicles. They do marvelous work, commandeered by a mahout on top.

Thanks for your insight.

jac said...

I love Munich

I can imagine your journey. How long ago was that?

I too traveled in second class but there are now air-conditioned and non air conditioned coaches. I prefer to travel in a non aircon coach because it allows me to breathe fresh virgin air and it is economical too.
In an aircon coach the windows are sealed and the air is regulated which deprive me of the smell of earth and nature.

Thanks for the compliment, Karin.

jac said...

I wanted to believe that it was a joke, which was not one. LOL

I was in Mumbai, Chennai and Banglore in addition to my fav city Cochin.

That incident must have happened in Assam, I presume ?

Thanks after that long gap.

jac said...

stictly for my friends

I am delighted to know that you too like train journeys.

How truly you wrote the comment about the landscape changing in front of our eyes.
A perfect expression !!!


m.reza said...

it was a nice blah blah, always carry your camera in your pocket. cheers.

Sarah said...

Anthikallu with Kappa and meen curry..
Madhurakalllu must be drunk without grandmother seeing for she has kept it to make Appam the next morning. I always drank a few sip and topped the bottle with water and my grandmother would say something like this
"nasham.. thomachan ingine kallil vellam cherthal pavangal entho cheyyum??" I would nod my head and agree.. Shariya Ammachi,,, pavangal entho cheyyum.. then Ammachi get suspicious and would come and sniff my mouth and I would run..

jac said...

immigrant in canada

It more justifies and proves my point about your name 'marangeri saramma'

jac said...

I always carry it.


Loveena said...

Jac, praying for your safe return from India. Hope the bomb blasts did not give you a negetive view about my lovely country.

Me going to my country in the midst of all this excitement! And Hey, I am landing in Cochin :-)

Will see you again through your blog in a month - this is my last day surfing since I am packing up my laptop.


mathew said...

a drunk elephant and a drunk mahout would have been even better!! ;)