ELEPHANT POLO TEAM KILLED BY LIGHTENING STRIKE?
The Screwy Tuskers were last seen mounted on three elephants, crossing the Reu River. Thunderclouds were rolling across the heavens at a frantic pace. Lightening bolts were virtually igniting the twilight sky in rapid succession. The polo team was off to cross the river, led by their fearless Captain Alf Erickson, holding his metal-pointed umbrella as he crossed the river brazenly daring the tumultuous skies to interfere with his comfort.
Rumors spread throughout the jungle of the untimely demise of Screwy Tuskers. When the lightening hit the pointed tip of the umbrella, Captain Erickson and his ellie-mates were fried to a crisp. Their charred skeletons sunk violently into the rushing river. The other riders were not so lucky. When the bolt hit the umbrella-lightening-rod, the jolt was so strong that the poor jumbos were knocked right off of their feet, throwing the people into the raging river having to fend for themselves among the gharials and muck.
Much to the relief of all, the rumors were exaggerated. The Screwy Tuskers had actually made it back to the lodge, wet and laughing like a pack of soaked hyenas, but safe nonetheless.
The day had started out with some optimism in the air. Although the polo players woke to the dribbling of rain instead of the dribbling of dew, and although the morning mist was replaced by morning sop, the polo matches were scheduled to proceed as planned, although a few hours later than usual.
Travel to the pitch was an adventure. The Reu River was too high to cross by landrover, so elephants had been commissioned to bear the polo players across the river. The Screwy Tuskers mounted Chan Chun Kali and Roop Kali, both of whom were gracious enough to kneel right next to the jeep, allowing the players to mount them without having to sink into the mud.
The boat launch across the Rapti River had been moved upriver due to the high water at the usual launch. The jeeps then took the players on a route through the little village of Meghauly, much to the delight of the village children.
The ride was peaceful and scenic. The village is amazingly immaculate - even though the houses are made of mud and the roofs are made of grass and there is no plumbing o sanitation. People were busy doing their chores. Women doing laundry and kids running around everywhere. The kids loved the polo traffic. They would ran after the jeeps saying bye bye!!" Some of them would get shy. They would see a jeep coming and yell bye bye and then as the jeep got closer they would be completely quiet and turn away and then as soon as the jeep was passed them they would start yelling bye bye again.
Some of the Screwy Tuskers rode in a jeep full of grain, bound for the polo pitch, where the grain was deposited on the muddy ground around the team tents.
The play that day was quite exciting. The Screwy Tuskers played Tiger Mountain India and gave them a run for their money. With Christy and Annie at Center, Lisa and Laurie at goalie (with the superb coaching of Raj Kalaan at the goal line) and Patty,Tilman and Roxana taking the #2 position, the Screwy Tuskers came within a mere 2 goals of beating Tiger Mountain. El Niņo was quite cooperative during the play. Little did the polo players know that he was merely resting up for an encore performance of epic proportions.
As the Screwy Tuskers headed back to the lodge, the clouds rolled in and the rain started to pour. Some members of the group stripped to their undershirts, choosing to sacrifice their skin while sparing their clothes. Others put on every layer of clothing they could find, hoping that at least one layer would survive the trip home.
Covered in plastic and praying that Alfs umbrella would not attract any attention from above, the group crossed the river on elephant back. The elephants were in water up to their bellies, but they were sure-footed and calm as they made the crossing. The Screwy Tuskers would have been more calm had they not seen dozens of bright flashes as they crossed the river. Was that lightening again? No that was just Alf taking another picture.
Once on the other side of the river, the group was transferred to an open-topped jeep. A boycott was staged by two of the Screwy Tuskers who felt they were already living on borrowed time after crossing the river with Alfs umbrella up. The umbrella went down. But Im putting it back up when we go under the trees. OK, Alf. Whatever you say. Just PUT THAT THING AWAY!!!
The jeep ride put an end to any thoughts of preserving a dry layer before reaching the lodge. The Screwy Tuskers, creating a torrent of their own, ran, slipped and slid into the lodge and started stripping off wet layers in front of the huge fireplace which had never looked or felt better. Asha and Yoli brought Tiger Tops Specials and Baileys & coffee all around, and everyone drank and dried while watching soggy polo players come in the door laughing and moaning and dripping for the next hour or so.
December 9th / December 11th
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