Kristy Ojala is the director of content and programming for Tips on Life & Love. A clean freak Virgo, gem curator, acupuncture snoozer, animal lover, tortilla chip machine, Scandophile, loather of pests, reformed cynic, and fitness fiend, she's always looking for sane-ish new experiences and memorable reads.
A friend kindly drove us to the sanctuary, which is in a forested region and hard to reach. But when we arrived, we found the gates locked and a big sign announcing that the sanctuary was closed for the day. I was, as you can imagine, crushed. Our friend Mathew suggested that we take a chance and go along a little back road and see what we could find. This narrow mud road was filled with ruts. I was sure our car would get stuck and we’d have to spend the night (or worse) there and implored him to return. But Mathew just smiled and drove on. After a while, the road took us down to the river… and guess what? The elephants were being bathed there and we had them all to ourselves, since no other visitors were present. I got to experience the amazing closeness between the keepers and the elephants. The keeper would say a word, and the elephant would spray his own back with water, or turn around, or lie down in the water so the keeper could scrub him. I had the opportunity to help bathe a most beautiful baby elephant, Ganga, and walk with her all the way back to the sanctuary gates. As the photo above shows, Ganga became quite fond of me. And none of this would have happened if I hadn’t relaxed, trusted, and allowed myself to have an adventure!
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is the award-winning author of many books, including The Mistress of Spices(also a motion picture),Sister of My Heart, and One Amazing Thing. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, and The New York Times. Born in India, she currently lives in Texas and teaches in the nationally ranked Creative Writing program at the University of Houston.