Monday, November 21, 2011

Grandma Rides Bareback

Our Grandma rode Champa the elephant bareback! Early one morning our Dad took her down to where the elephants and their Mahouts live by the Yamuna River. She was a little nervous, because one of her legs is injured, but Grandma wanted to give it a try.
The mahouts helped Grandma up on Champa's back. They made her step up into a wedding carriage so she would be higher off the ground. Then one of them used his hands to give her a boost. Grandma had a big grin on her face when she landed with a "plop" way up on top of Champa! Riding bareback is nothing like riding an elephant in a passenger box. You feel the elephant's spine and ribs move as she ambles along from side to side. The elephant's skin is warm and rough.You can feel her breathing.
Of course, the Mahout had to take an important cell-phone call while he was driving Champa. Grandma thought that was pretty funny.
The best part was the ending.  Grandma held on tight when Champa knelt to let her down... Grandma said she thought she was going to slide right off the elephant's rump!

It was a special ride for our special grandmother!

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Return

A little Non-fiction from Audrey...

Just before Tiger ran away I rubbed him behind the ear, walked out the door and into my Mom's silver Volkswagen. I didn't know I wouldn't see him for a while, I didn't know that might be the last time I touched him. I couldn't even guess.

"Audrey," called my Mom as I stepped into the house. "Is that you?"
"Yeah," I replied.
"Come here and quick!" she called again. I put my backpack down and ran to my parents room. When I got to my parents room my mother said, "While your Dad was working outside, Tiger escaped out the back door."
"What!" I yelled. "He's not here?" I said to my Mom.

We had been looking in the house behind ours which was being build. We thought it would be a good place for him to hide.
"Maybe he will pop up somewhere," My mom said as she tried to comfort me. Of course to no avail.
"Maybe," I replied. Life had seemed so hard lately.

"Tiger?" I called to the empty hallway.
"Meow," he replied as he crept out of his hiding spot.
"I've, missed you," I told him. He didn't reply.
"Where were you?" I asked him, thinking this would only be a one-sided conversation, but still it meant something to me at least.
Suddenly I shook from head to toe and awoke with a start.
"Finally you woke up," said my Mom. Then she walked out of my room.
"Oh," I thought. "No Tiger, just a dream."

"What's for breakfast?" I asked as I entered the kitchen.
"Pancakes," answered my Dad.
"Yum, yum, yummy," said my seven year old brother named, Evan. I rolled my eyes.
"Can't we have Pop-tarts, or donuts ever?" I asked.
"No," answered my Dad.
"Hhmmf.," I grumbled.

As I ate softly I spoke saying: "I wish Tiger would come back." It was a simple wish, but still it was a wish.

"Goodnight," I told my parents as I walked into my room and laid down on my bed. I tried to count sheep, but my thoughts obviously had other ideas because all I could think about was Tiger. Tiger this and Tiger that. I hoped he was okay.  Hope, hope, hope. It was easy to hope, but hard to forget, hard to forget Tiger.

"Meow, meow." I woke up and thought I was mistaken. But then it was there again:
"Meow, meow."
 I ran into the hall, turned left and ran into the living room.  I ran to the door, but my Dad had reached there before me.

"Tiger!" I cried as I picked him up and hugged him, his soft fur against my body. My wish had come true. Tiger had come back and on his own. The hoping was over.

by Audrey Sayer (Grade 5)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage

by HouseBoy

Audrey and Evan spent nine days traveling in Sri Lanka with Mom, Dad and their Grandma. It is an easy flight from New Delhi - only three hours away to Colombo. And it is in the same time zone! One of the kids' favorite stops happened early in this trip. We ventured to a place called Pinnawela. It is a large elephant orphanage near the small city of Kegalle.
The orphanage has over 60 elephants within its walls. They are brought here for many different reasons. Most have lost their parents, or have been injured, either through mistreatment or mishap.
Evan got to meet a blind elephant, named Raja.  He was blind at birth, but has been taken care of at Pinnawela most of his life. Raja is a "tusker." This means he is a male with tusks.  Unlike African elephants, only 5% of male Asian elephants have tusks, so they are treated as being very special!
Audrey and her Grandma really enjoyed seeing so many elephants up close. In most of the Orphanage there are no fences between visitors and the herd. Most of the time the males are kept in one area and the females and young elephants stay together as a group.
A rather naughty, young elephant named, Jumbo, is bottle fed several times a day. Visitors are allowed to help feed him... Jumbo didn't hesitate to take Evan up when he offered him a fresh palm frond!
Two times each day the elephant herd actually leaves the compound gates and crosses the main village road to travel down to the river. We followed them down to the river's edge to watch them play and bathe amid the rocks and water below.  The elephants were visibly excited when they made the 1/2 kilometre journey to the river!
 Audrey, Evan and I all agreed that it was quite a sight for us to see eighty elephants march down a narrow village street to the river! Definitely one of the highlights on our second visit to the small but beautiful country of Sri Lanka...