Drawing Copyright© Carolyn Fleetwood Blake
“Sawsadee, Miss Nancy.”
“Miss Nancy, have you heard? Do you know about … ? The greatest thing?”
“Chang, it’s gotta be …Yes! The movie, The Impossible. I went to see it the very first day it was in town. And Chang, don’t tell anyone, but, I took my book to the movie with me! Do you think that’s silly?”
“Absolutely not, Miss Nancy. What I think is you had the courage to write about the tragedy and tell the truth, that is truth-in-fiction, about what happened in our countries and how we tried to warn the folks.”
Chuckle …chuckle … chuckle.
“Un-huh, then why do I hear you laughing?”
“Well, it is kinda funny, thinking of you sitting in a dark theatre, clutching your book and …”
“Yes, dripping tears all over it. I cried. However, let’s talk technology. The producers conjured up some powerful “computer wizardry.” In Spain, they used a giant water tank, the biggest one in Europe to simulate the tsunami. It was ten minutes of horror.”
“You know, the story was real. The doctor and her family were real victims who survived. My only regret was there were no elephants in the movie. A lot of the scenes, tho, the birds flying away, the search for the missing in the hospital; that was all in your book.”
“That’s right, Chang. That’s because my book, like the movie, had to be real, thoroughly believable in order to tell folks what it was really like. One must always be truthful about suffering.”
“I’m so glad these folks made the movie. Everyone should go see it.”
“Me too, Chang, Maybe, I’ll go a second time.”
“And take your book?”
“ Well, if I can’t take you … Of course!”
“Sawsadee, Miss Nancy”
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“Sawsadee, Miss Nancy. I’ve got a story for you.”
“Oh, Chang, I errr … ”
“That’s okay. I understand, you’ve been W R I T I N G!”
“Yes, but I wanna hear your story.”
“Here goes. A steamer on the way from Calcutta to Burma with a cargo of 40 elephants has dropped anchor. "It was a hot night and still as death, but presently the steamer began to roll. First she rolled a little and then she began to swing through a circle of about 120 degrees. Up came the engineer yelling that the engines were being shaken to pieces; up came the captain crying that his ship would turn turtle if this went on. Who was responsible? They looked into the hold and saw the strangest sight in the world.”
“Chang, were you there?”
“Miss Nancy, you’re interrupting my story.”
“You know how an elephant is never still. He always rocks as if at anchor wherever he is. These big beasts had discovered that if they all rocked together as they stood, one side of the steamer would tilt down and this appeared to amuse 'em. So twenty elephants (which is to say sixty tons)
rocked forward and twenty rocked back and the steamer rolled as if she was on the Madras surf – each swing getting larger and larger. The men in command, sent the mahouts down with all speed to make the elephants break step, lie down, do anything that would stop their dangerous game. But the elephants approved of the see-saw, and the row below was indescribable. The moment a mahout went away, the elephants began rocking again, so the stifling night was filled with the groans of mahouts begging to be allowed to come up on deck for a little."
“Oh, that’s awful. What happened next?”
“Why, everyone had a great laugh!”
“It’s just a story from The Letters of Rudyard Kipling, Volume 1: 1872-1889. He wrote wonderfully about elephants.”
“Ahem. Thank you, Chang. Guess I deserved that for being late with blog entries.”
“Sawsadee, Miss Nancy.”
Okay, I’ve waited a whole month. Now, I really have to know about the sanctuary.
Sawsadee, Miss Nancy.
Here it is. The sanctuary is called the National Elephant Center and it will be built in Fellsmere, Florida. About 75 federal, state and local officials are joined in the venture. Hmm … I should say adventure!
Oh, it will be an adventure!
There will be Fellsmere residents and elephant-care professionals to take care of my pals. A construction company in Melbourne, FL is going to turn 30 acres of orange groves into the first phase of the 225-acre elephant center on Fellsmere Grade, south of the C54 Canal.
Oh my. This is wonderful!
You bet! The first thing they will build will be a barn, a keeper station and four elephant paddocks with enough pasture for ten elephants!
Who’s in charge?
Mr. John Lehnhardt who has been working with elephants for 36 years! I think he will be a very fine man to care for us.
Us? Us? Are you coming Chang?
I really haven’t any plans, but you know, just as you wrote in your book, “life is full of wonderful surprises.”
Chang, You’re a love.
Touché, Lady Friend.
Chang, what about more news?
Next time I’ll give you more news.
Sawsadee, Miss Nancy.
Sawsadee, Chang. I can’t wait!
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I must apologize. I’ve been away from the computer for a long time.
Miss Nancy, really?
Well, not exactly …Err … I mean …
That’s okay. I know what you’ve been doing.
Chang, you do?
Yup. You’ve been writing. You’re working on a new book
Why, Chang. How did you know?
Miss Nancy. Elephants know everything, before humans that is. But, I do have news, I mean REAL NEWS!
You do? What?
What would you say if I told you that right there where you live, or near-by something very special is coming?
Ohhh … what? I cannot wait another minute.
Well, some folks looked at all those orange groves in the middle of Florida, kinda near the coast and they said what a wonderful place for an elephant sanctuary!
Ahh… a Sanctuary … for elephants? Why, I’m amazed. Why didn’t I know about this earlier?
You’ve been lost in the Archives and doing research and writing and … well you know.
Well, yes. But, Chang tell me more.
Ahh, yes. Well in the next letter.
Chang! No. Now.
Gotta go, Mis Nancy. I have a few trunk calls to make!
Sawsadee. Hang in there. Smiles!
Sawsadee, Miss Nancy.
The news is very sad. Mr. Lawrence Anthony has passed away in his sleep. He was truly one of the most outstanding conservationist of our times. How he loved the elephants.
And now, the elephants are visiting his home each night to say Good-bye. Mr. Anthony took a whole herd of elephants into his reserve in Africa when they had no place else to go. He wrote about it in The Elephant Whisper, a wonderful book.
Mr. Anthony always knew that elephants can communicate with humans in mysterious ways; we spoke with him often.
Now, he has left this earth for better mountains and lakes. May the Great man rest in peace.
Chang, who is sad.
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Sawsadee, Miss Nancy.
“I’m excited. I’ve been working on my project.”
“Your project, Chang?”
“Yes. My project, Break the Chain. It’s that time again. Swindling Brothers Circus ----”
“Chang, excuse me. That’s Ringling Brothers.”
“Oh, I know. But we elephants have a different name for them. As I was saying, Swindling-Ringling is coming back to Jacksonville and there’s a group of folks who are going to protest their cruel training methods and the torture of elephants. Check them out at JaxProtest."
“Yes. I’m planning to join them on January 21st. ”
“Miss Nancy, I’m proud of you. Well, I’ve an idea that I know will please the kids.”
“I bet! Well, go on.”
“It’s Bracelets! Break the Chain Anti-Animal Circus Cruelty Bracelets.”
“Err? What? … Bracelets …?”
“We’ll have bracelets with pictures of an elephants whose circus chain of abuse has been broken! The words: Break the chain … Break the chain… are on the bracelet. It will help remind folks to support T.E.P.A. Well, what do you think?”
“That’s nice, Chang, but, I’m afraid we couldn’t afford anything like that. and what is T.E.P.A.?”
“Oh, Miss Nancy. All we need to make the bracelets is one pack of Card Stock paper, (50 sheets) and my downloaded file. Seven bracelets to one sheet of paper … Lets see, that’s 350 bracelets!”
“Well, I’m flabbergasted! What a great idea! So, where’s the file?” …
“Right here. Ah … well if they email you,
They can get it!” Remind them to use Card Stock. Friends can do this together!”
“Okay, Chang, I’m on. You never cease to amaze me!”
“And TEPA. That’s The Traveling Exotic Animals Protection Act.
is the campaign to pass proposed legislation, HR 3359, that makes it illegal for circuses to transport animals chained in railway cars for thousands of miles during the year. Everyone needs to contact their representative in Washington and get them on board.”
“You have been busy, Chang.”
“Sawsadee, Miss Nancy.”
“ Sawsadee, Chang. See you at the protest!
Sawsadee, Miss Nancy
I have wonderful news!
“When I saw my mother … A Miracle for the 7th anniversary
“When I saw my mother, I knew it was her. I just knew it.” These are the word of a young girl who, at eight years of age was swept away by the catastrophic Indian Ocean tsunami. The seventh year anniversary of one of the deadliest natural disasters in the world is this coming Monday, December 26, 2011. Over 230,000 lives were lost; countless bodies were never found, or the remains identified. Now, one of those victims has come home!
Thanks to the heavens above, and the persistence of a youth, the entire fourteen country region affected by the disaster can claim a miracle. These past seven years, Meri Yuranda, once snatched from her mother’s arms by an angry sea, has wandered seeking her family and her home. She was found sitting in a coffee shop, alone and silent. The fifteen year old girl could only remember her grandfather’s name, Ibrahim. Patrons of the shop took her to Ibrahim’s home where he realized the girl could be his long-lost grandaugher. He called her parents and they identified her by a small facial scar and mole.
That is a true miracle! We must tell the world! Any you found that news way before I did! Now, Chang, be honest. Was it your feet again? Tell the truth?
Actually, Miss Nancy, I read the Washington Post!
Sawsadee, Miss Nancy.
Have you heard the news? Justice, at last!
No, Chang. I’ve been busy writing … the new book. Tell me.
Remember how we talked about the abuse of elephants that takes place in circuses?
Yes, Chang, it’s awful. Elephants should not be made to perform and especially not to spend their lives chained up and transported for days on end in crowded railway cars. I remember too well the pictures of abused animals.
Well, today in your country, the Department of Agriculture has fined Ringling Brothers Circus $270,000 for violating Animal Welfare laws that protect elephants. Tigers and zebras too! Woopee! And Ringling has to pay. It’s the largest penalty that has ever been imposed..
My, that is news! And good news. Will things change now?
Oh, I hope so. Mr. Ringling says he’ll do better. Better for me won’t be till he stops using my kind for profit. We just need to keep letting the folks know how wonderfully special we are and how we want our dignity and freedom back! Errrr…I mean …
That’s okay, Chang. You’re absolutely right. You are wonderfully made.
Whoa! What’s this? You blew me a kiss?
Sawsadee, Miss Nancy.
October – 2011
Sawsadee, Miss Nancy
Chang, I hear there’s a lot of flooding in Thailand. Is it true?
Ohh…Yes, it’s true. Some say it’s the worse flooding in 50 years. A number of people have been killed and many homes have been lost, to say nothing of the businesses.
The 400 year old temple, Chai Wattanaram in Ayutthaya, a World Heritage Site, was flooded. You remember the Royal Elephant Krall is in Ayutthaya. I wonder how they are doing?
Well, elephants can swim, can’t they?
Yes, that’s right; we do swim. Elephants have been known to swim over 300 miles from island to island in search of food.
I do have some good news, however. Besides swimming, did you know elephants play polo?
No. Really, Chang?
That’s right. Recently, the annual King’s Cup tournament was held at Hua Hin, 200 km south of Bangkok.
But polo is played on horses. How can .. I mean how do the riders reach the ball?
The mallet is two-meters long and each elephant has a mahout and a player. The player has to hit the ball seated from 8 to 10 feet above the ground.
I can see where the elephants may have a great advantage.
Absolutely not. That is if you are thinking they can kick the ball or use their trunks to score a goal. They aren’t allowed to do that. Games are 14 minutes long and elephant teams only play two games a day.
Well, this is quite a story. Are you sure about your facts, Chang?
Absolutely. And, Miss Nancy, ladies are allowed to play. They can use two hands on the mallet. Do you think you ..
Ah .. Chang, I don’t think I’m cut out for Elephant Polo but I sure do like telling others about it!
And we raise money to support the elephant’s cause.
Well, that's really swell! I hope someday I'll get to ...
No, Chang, Just attend.
Sawasdee, Miss Nancy.
September - 2011
“Miss Nancy, have you heard about Thundershirts?”
”Chang, that’s undershirts not thundershirts.”
“Nope, it’s definitely Thundershirts. They’re strictly DCC; that’s Doggie Comfort Clothes. They’re for dogs that are afraid of storms and all other loud frightening noises. The shirts slip onto the dog and are fastened with Velcro and the dog is no longer afraid. A fellow in North Carolina got the idea of how to help his pooch who had a terrible time when storms arrived.”
“Well, I’m amazed! And it really works?”
“Yes, they are selling them everywhere. I wonder if they are all soft and squishy inside?”
“Chang, how do you hear about this stuff?”
“Silly girl. I have a computer. Now, I was just thinking … “
“Oh, no. Chang, don’t get me into this.”
“You know the problem we elephants have with insects that love to come and farm our skin. They make it so itchy. That’s why we delight to roll in muddy lakes. Mud baths are so soothing. Now, if we had some ECC, like the dogs, wouldn’t that be nice. Something sewn inside with lamb’s wool is what I have in mind. No Thai silks, this is everyday wear.”
“Chang, this is ridiculous. Even if it were possible, do you know how BIG your clothes would have to be?”
“Ah, ha. Now, you’re alluding to my size.”
“You ladies have mud packs, why can’t we elephants have Mudwraps?
“Good night, Chang.”
“Sawsadee, Miss Nancy”
August 30, 2011
In July, the British people dedicated a memorial to all the victims of the 2004 tsunami. It's a granite monolith stone weighing 115 tons. It sits outside the entrance of London's Natural History Museum. Being the elephant I am, I like BIG things, but, forgive me, I can't get too excited. I mean, it is, after all, a rock. Rocks don't really do anything, or do they? In Japan, all up and down the coast, there are Tsunami stones, but more about that later
There are two things, however, I really do like. For one, the stone retains the rigid markings it had when it was quarried in France. Now, I know all about ridged markings, having several trillion on my back. Those markings remind me of the ferocious waves. Do you think they were also remembering the elephants's backs that helped save folks? Maybe not, but I like those gray markings.
The other thing is that it's BIG. The tsunami was BIG. The grief of the people is BIG. The important thing about the memorial is we keep always a memory of those who lost their lives to a sea that was bigger than all of us. The British people did a good thing.
July 16, 2011
Okay, guys. I have to make this really quick. Wanna know who's going to win the Ladies World Cup in soccer this Sunday? Your country or mine? By "mine" I mean Japan. Many Thai people hail from Japan, orginally, so that's why I say, affectionately, 'mine.'
All you have to do to pick the winner is ask an elephant. That's right. Nellie, an eighteen-month old German elelphant has been picking the winners in the competition. Nellie loves to play soccer, so she is interested in this contest. Given a soccer ball, she kicks it into the goal of the team that will LOSE! Sort of a consolation prize, I imagine.
Well, my friends, Nellie says it's going to be Japan! JAPAN - by a trunk, err .. I mean by a punt. That's right, and they are playing for the victims of the Tsunami. So place your bets in a wink, and remember ... wanna know something about soccer games? Just ask an elephant! You can see Nellie on You Tube.
June 25, 2011
"Just like us, - The bonding was "magnetic."
Ashinaga, is a Japanese agency that provides support to children who lost loved ones in disasters. Recently, Ashinaga brought a group of Japanese orphans to the Tribute World Trade Center in New York city to meet with others who also lost one or both parents. They were greeted by a young woman whose father died in the 9-11 disaster and a young man's whose mother drowned in Hurricane Katrina. The founder and president of the Center, Lee Ielpi, who lost his son in 9-11, reminded the group of the sunshine edge of disaster –charities and scholarship funds that spring up. Ielpi said, "You know what? They are just like us and we're just like them…We're just like everybody in this world."
We elephants have known that about our kin for a long, long time. That's why we must care for one another.
New York 1: 9/11 A Decade Later: Japanese Disaster Orphans
NONNI ... A Star!
Yipee! We're on You Tube! Nonni's a big star now, I'm so proud of her. Oh, yes, I know all about how brave she was during the tsunami; that's to be expected. But this! Well, you can see her beutiful face on Nancy's Book Trailer. Yup, there'll be no living with Nonni now that she's a glamorous movie star.
I must admit I didn't know what You Tube was. I thought it had something to do with trunks, our trunks. I hear there's another trailer about movies, elephants and water; we'll have to look into that soon. But for now, I just love watching Nonni; she's a babe!
April 15, 2011
WHOA …… Daddy!
I just heard the news. In America there is a web site hosting company named GoDaddy. Their CEO, Mr. Bob Parsons, went to Africa on safari, lay in wait in the dark, ambushed and shot a big bull elephant. He made a video and put it on the internet, standing in triumph on the poor creature's dead body. Parson's claims he's helping the Zimbabwe villagers obtain food.
While there is considerable conflict between the disruption of centuries-old migratory pathways of the elephants and the extensive land crops planted by farmers (crops known to be of elephant liking), there are other ways to solve the problem. Field scientists and Wild Life conservationist have been hard at work on these issues for years.
In addition to the greusome video, incidentially showing everyone outfitted with orange GoDaddy logo baseball caps, Parson's arragance was outrageous. And to claim this as an act of charity is beyond believable. Fortunately a huge number of people cancelled their hosting services and moved their sites to other companies.
Miss Nancy was one of the first. She dumped GoDaddy in the twinkling of an elephant's tear. How about an act of reparation, WhoaDaddy? You can donate to any number of elephant conservation sites and, if you really want to be charitable, feed the Zimbabwe folk out of your profits, privately. Come to think of it, those profits may be dwindling. Most of us prefer to live in peace with nature, and not indulge in self-serving actions involving use and abuse.
April 11, 2011
It has been one month since the Japanese tsunami and many people are still hurting. It is estimated that over 25,000 people may have lost their lives. My country is trying to help Japan. Many artists, musicians and celebrities are hosting concerts on their behalf. This is good.
I have found a unique way to help, with a bookmark! Yes, a bookmark. There is a splendid American artist, Hanna Skoonberg, who makes relief prints inspired by the natural world. She has created a most lovely tsunami bookmark. If you order one, she sends one-half of your purchase to the Red Cross for Japan relief. No purse too poor, no gift too small, that we can not help one another!
See the bookmari at: Hanna's web site
March 29, 2011
I have arrived in Ayutthaya and made my way to The Royal Elephant Krall. A krall is a sturdy structure once used to contain herds of wild elephants. The king of Siam would then visit the krall and select the strongest and best of the elephants for labor or military training. The original krall has not been used for over one hundred years but remains on site.
Ayutthaya maintains 90 elephants along with their mahout families. Breeding elephants in captivity is difficult but in Ayutthaya twenty-five babies have arrived since February 2000. Elderly elephants are cared for here with sensitivity to their needs. It is the mission of Ayutthaya to educate people as to the dignity, intelligence and former glory of our breed. To achieve this, the elephants are dressed in regal robes for parades, annual reenactments of battles and festivities.
While I was here, we elephants laid wreathes of lovely flowers in the square and messages of condolence for our friends in Japan. Our best wishes are for their comfort and recovery. Tomorrow I must start for home, but I will remember always my days here at Ayutthaya.
March 19, 2011
We elephants are in mourning for our Japanese friends, both animal and human. In Ayutthaya, they are dressed in their regal clothing and sit in silent communion.
Ayutthaya is the memorial site of the old Japanese settlement in central Thailand. For 417 years, it was the capital of Siam (Thailand's old name). Ayutthaya is surrounded by the Chao Phraya River and is the home of the Royal Elephant Krall, the Asian Elephant Art and Conservation project.
I have decided to go. It is many kilometers from my home, but I must do this for the memory of all who were lost in Japan. We elephants have known many violent deaths and we do not forget those who have gone before.
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It's happened again, a massive tsunami. This time to our distant neighbors, Japan. Sadly, the only elephants we know there are in captivity. Elephants are native only in Africa and Asia. After our tsunami, we helped a great deal removing debris and traveling over humanly unreachable devastated areas to provide assistance.
Perhaps, we could swim there to help? Contrary to popular belief, elephants can swim. We have been known to swim nearly 300 miles to islands seeking food. Our hearts are broken over the suffering; we know it only too well. We will hold them in our thoughts. Perhaps, you humans can help. I wonder if the folks in our book, Jerry, Elsbeth and Gail, know?
Ah –h-h, February the month of love. Happy Valentine's Day to all my friends. We elephants love chocolate just like you. And, did you know, in Thailand, we play a very important part in wedding ceremonies? Our job is to transport the groom to the home of his bride. We wear very ornate garments and a decorated howdah in which the groom sits. What bride wouldn't be impressed when her "prince" arrives in this way!
It is also believed that to walk underneath an elephant brings good luck to the couple. Well, of course. There you are safe from the sun and all troubles. Be careful, however. You may tumble over a baby elephant occupying that spot! It's a favorite place for him too, close to Mama.
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I understand Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey will visit cities in Florida. This month, Nancy will write my column because she tells me she simply must get the word out!
"Yes, the circus is coming, but I, for one, will not be there. Recently, a federal judge ruled Ringling Bros. innocent of abusing endangered Asian elephants. The suit, with abundant documented evidence, was compromised by a plaintiff's lack of credibility. He apparently received monetary compensation from animal activists.
"Too bad for the elephants. They are shackled, mercilessly confined in railroad cars, chained for endless days, and prodded into their performances with the use of sticks with sharp steel hooks at one end, the infamous bull hooks. There is no way for an elephant to live a good life in a traveling circus. Entertainment must not be bought by brutality
"In researching my novel, I made the remarkable discovery of the sentient relationship that exists between the highly intelligent Asian elephants and us. The animal rights activists do not get their message across by showing up at schools with scary costumed actors. The key to ending elephant abuse is to learn the amazing similarities between their social structure and our own. By all means, send in the clowns but free the elephants so they may be elephants."
"Thanks, Chang. I'm happy to tell the people how wonderful it is to have an elephant-friend like you!"
For many peoples, December means one thing throughout the world: Christmas and the New Year. In Thailand, however it's a bit different. Most people in Thailand are either Buddhists or Muslim so our holidays differ from those of Westerners. When Christians vacation in Thailand during Christmas, the hotels honor their traditions. There's a Christmas party in Nancy's book, which, from now on, I'm going to call "the-Night-We-cried."
In Thailand, we actually celebrate three New Year's: the Western one, January 1, the Chinese one, February 3, and our traditional Thai New Year, Songkran on April 13, 2011. Songkran is a water festival and everyone has a wonderful time pouring water on each other. It is the start of the dry season and the traditional Buddhist New Year. People bring images of the Buddha from the temples and ritually wash them. Young people visit their elders and ask for their blessings. But most of all we have fun! If you are a tourist, you'd better beware; tourists are a favorite target. I consider myself a serious Elephant, but I do love Songkran!
Let's be honest. People are fascinated with elephants, but they don't really know us. Except for Mr. Antoine de St Exupery. Mr. Exupery, a writer, understood you have to know a thing from the inside as well as the outside. To explain this he told a story right there in the first pages of his book, The Little Prince. It was a horror story about elephants. For example, when the prince learned boa constrictors swallow their food whole and spend six months digesting it, he drew this picture:
Then he asked folks if they were scared?
"Scared?" they said, "Why that's just a hat."
but it wasn't a hat at all. You see they just looked at the outside.
The little prince had to teach them to look on the inside of things, as well.
If they had looked inside their "hat," they would have clearly seen a boa constrictor digesting an elephant.
OOOOuuu… Makes me tremble all over.
The fact of the matter is you have to look on both sides to really understand stuff. That's what Miss Nancy did with the elephants and was she surprised! There's a lot more to elephants than just size and I'm going to tell you about that, next time.
… Rumble… Rumble… Rumble. Hello, I have exciting news. Miss Nancy's book just got published here in Thailand, my country. The book is about the farangs and my family and about that night, the horrific, ghastly and terrible night the quaking came.
Oh yes, excuse me, I forgot to introduce myself. You may call me Chang. Chang means elephant in Thai, the language of Thailand. We elephants have our own tongue; I'll tell you more about that later. For now, it's all about Miss Nancy's book. I'd better tell you the title, The Night the Elephants Cried – A Story of the Tsunami. Bangkok Books published it as an E-book. What's an E-book? E stands for Elephant, but it also means an Electronic book that you get from the internet. You can read about e-books on the Events page of this web site.
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