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03/06/2013

Elephant polo

 Did you know it?? 

“Polo was probably introduced to India from Persia by the early Mohammedan invaders in the 13th century. From India, the game spread to England through mostly military channels. The first recorded game in England was played in 1869.”

 

Then, since apparently the British military stationed in India was pretty bored, they developed a variant to spice up the sport: At the turn of the 20th century they launched the elephant polo in India.

 

Speaking of (Asian) elephants, its natural habitat is tropical forests rather than the desert of Rajasthan. The first traces of domestication date back to the third millennium BC on the engraved seals of the civilization of the Indus Valley. But the Asian elephants (of which 50% live in India today) have difficulties (and take it as an understatement) to reproduce in captivity so the elephants found today in Rajasthan come from the capture of wild elephants in other regions of India and Asia.

 

That said, I tried in Jaipur  (apparently the only place in the world where the novice can practice) elephant polo (a still too little known sport;)) for you and it is not easy at all! The stick is very heavy and it is difficult to calculate the distance to the ball as well as the strength required to guide the ball in a certain direction. 

Fortunately, the elephants are ready to help and when you need a hand they don’t hesitate to shoot themselves in the ball! (True)

 

india,jaipur,polo,elephant

 

 Sources : 

http://www.elefantasia.org/spip.php?breve48 

http://www.polomuseum.com/history_of_polo.htm 

http://www.aanemane.org/FR/elephant-asie/nation_elephant.php 

http://www.universcience.fr/fr/science-actualites/enquete-as/wl/1248126422766/les-elephants-d-asie-se-reproduisent-en-laboratoire/

 

01/12/2013

When Superman saves IndianSamourai

Here comes the time of the big move... 

The day before I leave, I meet my girlfriends of the Long Island Lady gang for a final episode of Sex & the City in Delhi.

But before that, I finish packing a few cartons – I've already seen the packers in action: the moment you turn your back they have packed everything, even my cat’s disembowelled old stuff mice, so better everything is a bit organized before they arrive...

I also pack my plants in my car, which is also going to travel by truck to Mumbai. 

And I start my journey to the “club” with my bamboo as a co-pilot. And today I would certainly make good use of a co-pilot since my GPS does not seem decided to cooperate... Finally it shows me a road, and we (my plants, the GPS and I) get stuck in traffic. 

And then all of a sudden my GPS demands me to take a left. A look at the area and the size of the lane I decide that my GPS has gone cuckoo and I'd rather continue straight. But no, it makes me turn back...  

So I obey (I really have no idea of where I am right now) and take the direction initially indicated. As expected I land in a popular neighbourhood, with tiny lanes where my small car hardly fits and gets stuck between vegetables carts. It smells trouble this story! 

On this the madam of the GPS wants me to take a lane that is even narrower and not lit up at all. Now the story stinks!  

 

I rebel once more and take a left...And I reach in dead-end. Good luck to do a u-turn without damages... I try for a good ten minutes. I sweat like a pig with the effort and eventually I decide to go backward, even if it is not gonna be an easy one either… And there Superman arrives. I am not kidding. A guy (which looks like Sami Naceri, the French actor) arrives on a bike, gets down, asks me to vacate my car: I don’t know how to drive my car and he is going to do it for me! 

 

It is important to place the context... With the rape and murder of that Indian girl – of which I have deliberately not spoken – everyone has become a little (a lot) paranoid in Delhi. So even if I'm not scared, being stuck at 9: 30 pm in a dark alley with four guys around, with a phone battery almost dead and completely lost, let me tell you that I am not too proud... 

 

After a few (many) bangs right and left my hero gives up on the u-turn and decides to go backward. Not a smooth one...  

And then he leaves with my car! I run a little behind; he stops and demands me to sit on the passenger seat: he will drive me. But something is worrying me: how could he not notice that the passenger seat was occupied by a bamboo??  

I'm not too confident about the whole thing but what choice do I have? I have no idea of where I am and driving in this area with hideous and tricky lanes would make me freak out...  

And anyways, it is in my nature to be very trusting... 

So I get in and sit in the back, still not reassured... 

 

He takes a turn in the lane originally indicated by my GPS – I have the mind to turn on my GPS to know if he would kidnap me! 

And then bam, a gate closed. My driver honks, waits, calls out, honks. As he is about to go for another vicious u-turn, a granpa arrives with the key. But grandpa is not really keen on opening the colony gate at this hour. Well, let’s see if he can resist the supplications of a desperate French girl… The gate opens… 

My driver now refuses to let me drive... The GPS tells me that we are really close. He drives full speed. We hit speed bumps big time. My plants are all over the place. Is he drunk?  

He insists to park my car and park it like a pig. But hell. I have the wisdom (!) too shut up!!  

 

As I thank him profusely and offer to compensate he refuses and hands me his business card! 

 

To finish the story, I run to see my friends at the "club". And this is not a superlative. I pass the hut of the guards in full sprint – so fast that they could not stop me for registration. I also run up the stairs and gulped down my friend’s LIT! Then I am ready to tell my story... I can barely speak due to the stress (of that driving in the narrow lanes and of that impromptu driver story)... 

 

After the 3rd cocktail I start wondering about the drive back. Maybe I could call that dude and ask him to drive me home?! ;) 

 

I came back safe and hallucinated by my crazy last night in Delhi! Which I finally left on a beautiful note! 

01/10/2013

In the Indian North pole...

Saturday I was cold... I wrote about these new (Indian) sensations...

Since then, the temperatures dropped even more! Zero! Without heaters!

So I ate duck’s fat (with a bit of meat) for 4 days to fight the cold - and incidentally to empty my cupboards.

I helped carry down the stairs a huge shelf to warm up in the morning – and spraining a muscle at the same time.

When I have a moment (that is when I go to the loo, and even this I hardly have time to do) I run to warm me up.

Finally I took out my high mountain sleeping bag. And since I don’t have a bed anymore, when I lied down so close to the floor in my bag, I felt like sleeping off in Spiti Valley!

That’s life…