9:00 AM – 11:00 AM
Scheduled as one of this trip’s special events, witnessing the washing of temple elephants did not disappoint. This is a rare opportunity for the people of India making it an especially extraordinary opportunity for westerners such as us.
Upon arriving, we saw elephants left and right, each eating and washing in their own designated area (though there were no cages or barriers). I think most of us believed the workers washed the big floppy-eared animals but instead it was the elephants doing their own cleaning. They would vacuum water from their personal water pit and fling their trunks over their bodies, spraying their backs and sides with water. These elephants don’t have hands yet still find a way to clean themselves – I have hands yet struggle to bathe adequately. I could probably learn a thing or two here…
Surrounded by one of earth’s most impressive creatures, it was no surprise that we took as many pictures as possible around them. Little known factoid: elephants have rather large hairs on their trunks. Though we were allowed to cuddle up with a few of the tusked mammals, it was not exactly the safest we have felt. No elephants attacked us – or even moved in an alarming manner – but there is an expected amount of cautiousness necessary when dealing with an animal that can stomp, impale, or strangle you. That’s what we call the trifecta. I can now see why an animal so massive and often slow-moving is able to outlive its predators – they’re simply too intimidating to attack. As we did our round and said by to Dumbo, Floppy, and Tebow (one elephant ‘Tebowed’ for us), we realized that being so close to one elephant – let alone dozens – is an experience that won’t likely be soon duplicated.
3:00 PM – 5:00 PM
The next part of our day was strange, to say the least. After our group voted to go see Step Up 4: The Revolution in an Indian movie theater – yes, we voluntarily chose that – our afternoon was one destined for another classically described “interesting experience.” Upon arriving at the theater, we noticed a serious cultural difference. Women were not allowed to wait in the same line for a movie as men. Unknowingly, our group of twenty women and three males all joined the line designated for those featuring a Y chromosome. After being told of our “wrongdoing” we decided to make our own line (well, more of a circle) for those who believe in gender equality. Unsurprisingly, no Indians joined our cluster.
Though the happenings outside were somewhat alarming, it was what happened inside the theater that was truly bizarre. Not only did we watch one of the worst displays of acting and script-writing in the history of any major movie sequel (though the dancing was superbly exhilarating) but we did so amongst the locals, a very, um, theatrical group.
Seeing as the movie was in English and we were the only ones in the theater who spoke that language, there was a definite language barrier between the movie and its audience. However, they were not blind, nor were they introverted. Because they could only watch and not listen and follow the story, they would clap, whistle, hoot, and holler anytime skin was shown and the dancing was erotic. And if you know anything about the Step Up movie series, then you know that the entire movie is filled with hot bods and dirty dancing. It hardly felt like a movie; it more closely resembled images on a big screen being shown to those portrayed as the stereotypical strip club attendees. All you really need to know is that the movie sucked, the dancing was cool and inspiring, and the atmosphere was electric.