Hmmm... a blog about Mudumalai and no elephant stories yet....thought I'll start a chain reaction
Sometime in Feb 2009
So eight plots of enumeration later Chin Boms, Mohan and I ambled idly towards 50 point where our pick up awaited us. I was tired and was wondering if I would be able to outrun an elephant in the unlikely event of being chased by one right here, right now. Suddenly near 44th hectare, Chin Boms spotted a brown mass writhing on the forest floor. He immediately pinned it to the ground, and we all collectively discovered that it was actually a bat (of unknown taxonomy, none of us being bat taxonomists). He was in the process of showing me its torn wing when we heard the first rustle of dry leaves. No one paid any attention to it, so I thought it was still safe when a second rustle sent chilled little shocks up my spine. Coinciding exactly with the chilly-spines was Chin Boms’scream of ‘AAAAAAAAAAANAAAEEEEE’ (non tamilians read as ‘EEELLLEEEEEPHAAAAAANNNT’). If life were a movie, then this is the exact spot where everything suddenly shifts to slow motion. Faces are frozen in horror. Legs trudge unsteadily over uneven ground. The earth shakes and sky turns a deep grey of the exceptionally – morose variety. The heroine (often in high heels) trips and falls with a terrifying scream apparating somewhere between her lips and the nearest pair of ears. All eyes pop in the general direction leading out of their sockets, nerves stick out at temples and necks and blood rushes into faces, making them red and blotchy. And doom catches up at an excruciatingly slow but steady pace.
Thankfully, life is not a movie, and heroines cannot wear high heels into the forest. So I just blindly ran after Chin Boms without a second look behind my back. He of course, stopped after 20m or so, to determine the progress of the elephants. So I stopped too.
“Run madam...keep running”, he shouted. So I ran when he ran, and stopped when he stopped. He looked at me as if I was by far the most mentally challenged thing he had ever come across.
“I said keep running”, he commanded. So I ran again. All the while I had no idea where the elephants were. We finally reached safety. Chin Bomms of course then went around telling everyone that I had to be either completely blind, or completely mad or both (a near fatal state, and in which case I would have definitely died, and since I am alive and still writing this story, I am definitely not both put together). He kept asking why I was NOT running. I kept saying I was following what HE was doing, I ran when he ran, and stopped when he stopped. Simple.I insisted that I had never seen the elephants coming at us. Chin Bomms insisted that I was facing them when they were moving towards us, and staring dumbly into their faces instead of RUNNING! I insisted that there were no elephants where I was looking. Chin Bomms could not for the world fathom how I could miss a 6 ton monster charging at me. I threw up my hands in exasperation. He did the same. OK, truce.
I have this theory about elephants. Given their size, you should never be able to miss them. But there have been these insane times when we’ve nearly walked into them before realizing they’re there. So basically elephants are invisible. They choose the times and place when to become visible and to be visible to whom (this given the fact that only the trackers can spot them most of the times). They generally disappear as soon as the innocent researcher working on elephants arrives, and immediately show up in places where the poor unsuspecting researcher working on harmless things like vegetation is stranded without man power to defend himself. They have a sixth sense that helps them decide whether you belong to the former or latter category, and they behave accordingly.