Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Pink City Pageant

{Why A Beauty Pageant for Elephants Makes Me Feel Hopeful About Japan}













India is an in-your-face daily spectacle of the haves and the have-nots, of the wonders and horrors of humanity. There are bombings, burnings, murders, rapes, tramplings, riots, earthquakes, landslides, floods and droughts enough to bring a less adaptive society to its knees. There are 460 million people living below the global poverty line (there are more people living in abject poverty in India than in all of sub-Saharan Africa combined). And yet. And yet. The Indians carry on. They paint elephants and bedazzle them in silver bells and silk brocades, pack Independence-era mortar tubes with confetti, strap them onto the backs of camels, and throw outrageous celebrations of spring. Rich, poor, high caste, low caste, Hindu, Muslim, grandmas in saris and granddaughters in Juicy Couture. Everyone came out to welcome in the festival of Holi at Jaipur's One and Only 100% A+ Pink City Elephant Beauty Pageant. And it was *glorious.*

As we all wring our hands in despair, helplessness, grief, and guilt (yup. don't pretend you're immune to the Guilt of The Priveledged) over the situation in Japan, it's helpful to open my eyes wide to the vibrant heroics of Indian life and marvel at the enduring triumph of the human spirit.  Have faith, muggles.

P.S. Chamba, the she-elephant with the lion-eating-the-chital-deer painted on her face (top photo), won the beauty pageant. And although PETA might find her trappings and face paint unconscionable, I for one thought she was the most glamorous ellie I've ever seen.

20 comments:

  1. Indians amaze me. And I believe that if a painted elephant make them happy for one day, it's fine with me, even if I still think elephants should be free. I hope Chamba got a special treatment for being the winner!!

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  2. beautifully put, STUNNING photos.

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  3. They are stunning photos as Olivia says above. And the ellies, gorgeous.

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  4. Great photos, Lily. And very wise words.

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  5. You speak the truth, Lily. There's evidence of the triumph of the human spirit all around us, but most of us have to open our eyes a little wider to find it. In India, it's in your face 24/7. Your photos are beautiful and I hope you're enjoying every second of this wonderful experience.

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  6. oh how gorgeous. i need to go there. fo sho.

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  7. Oh, so beautiful. Joy and tragedy can certainly exist at the same time, even in the same place. I think our brains tend to have a hard time accepting that dichotomy, so we need to practice.

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  8. elephants are seriously one of my favorite animals EVER. if i ever get to see one in real life that's not bored in a cage, i will seriously probably spontaneously combust/ugly cry/etc. you're such a lucky duck!

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  9. Your photographs are always so stunning!!!! Much love Lily!!! xo!

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  10. One time an elephant snuck up behind me and drank my pink lemonade.

    I bet my elephant would be friends with your elephant.

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  11. I love this post as much for the words as for the images

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  12. thanks for adding some perspective to the situation eloquent as always lily!

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  13. amen!
    and oh the colors! so wish i could have seen that with you...
    xxx

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  14. Thanks for all the bueno comments, friendses!
    Kissing an elephant is like kissing a rumply bristly soft potato sack, just fyi. Probs really similar in tactile nature to kissing a manatee. Or a dugong.

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  15. Dear Lily, I found you through another blog, Soulflower....
    As things go, I am so happy to have found you and your adventures.
    Last night I spent almost two hours reading your entries from a - z!!!!
    You inspired a whole avalanche of musings and thinking about art, life and the joy of it all!
    May your travels with P. in India be wonderful, inspiring and safe! Can't wait to follow your trails!
    I was thinking of you today and found this on Etsy, I am sure you will like it!
    Have a look!
    www.etsy.com/listing/67573637/cardigan-canvas-tote

    All the best!
    Victoria

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  16. The color is just spectacular in your part of the world, isn't it?

    I just read Shantaram and am feeling very much like I would like a trip to India myself. Maybe when the little man is in high school.

    Thanks for the Yolk rec! I haven't been. Must take a trip. I know I know. You are flying and bussing all over India and I cannot drive my car 15 miles for breakfast.

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  17. Beautiful people, beautiful animals, and absolutely beautiful vibrant colors... a true treat for the eyes and soul!

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  18. Lovely blog post and beautiful pictures. The Pink city is definitely worth visiting once. For accommodation, one can chose to stay at hotels in Jaipur offering all the modern facilities to their guests.

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