Elephants, friends and a baby …

Asian elephants at the Kuala Gandah Elephant Conservation Centre

Asian elephants at the Kuala Gandah Elephant Conservation Centre

I was on break the last two weeks and, after clearing my backlog of chores, was able to catch up with some friends I hadn’t seen for a long while and connected with a newborn.

KUALA GANDAH

My friend, Mariam — who I only see once in a while now because she is busy working on her Ph.D — and I decided we should do something together instead of just getting together for a chat over a meal. After discussing various options, we finally settled on a day trip to the Kuala Gandah Elephant Conservation Centre in Pahang, which is only a less-than-2-hour drive on the Karak Highway from Kuala Lumpur.

It was a very pleasant drive on good roads with clear signages all the way to the elephant sanctuary. There was ample parking space and no entrance fee although we had to register ourselves at the office.  They accept donations, though. It is a small conservation centre but very pretty with tall trees providing shady leaf cover over the arena where the elephants meet with the public. A river wound its way quietly by the side.

That's me after feeding an elephant

That’s me after feeding an elephant

It was a weekday but there was a good number tourists. A troupe of 5 Asian elephants were out in the arena where they trumpeted a welcome call to the tourists, followed by a feeding session. Everyone got a chance to feed the elephants and touch and caress their trunks and take photographs. For such a huge behemoth, they really had very small eyes but which seemed to take in everything they see!

Baby Change, short fort Lanchang

Baby Change, short fort Lanchang

The river level was high on that day, so there were no water activities with the elephants. The water activities involve bathing the elephants who may splash water on the tourists. Riding on the elephants, however, is prohibited.

It was a little thrill — especially for the children — when we were able to get close to Lanchang, the baby elephant. He strayed into the centre a couple of months ago. Four-month-old Lanchang has developed such a close attachment to his handler that the 3ft high baby bounds after him like a huge bounding ball! He is a cute little fella. I got to touch him. His skin was leathery and he has hair like bristles! You won’t notice that of elephants but they have hair all over.

We had very late lunch under the trees, walked around the place, then headed back. It was a pleasant time with nature and we had some catch-up time as well.

SIXTH FORM MATES

From left: Tony, Jeff, Suhaily, Yew Loong, myself, Helen and Philip

From left: Tony, Jeff, Suhaily, Yew Loong, myself, Helen and Philip

Then, last Saturday, I met up with some of my Form Six classmates. Even after all these years, we keep in touch off and on, and it is always enjoyable to meet up. We met up for lunch at Kanna Curry House, and had authentic banana leaf rice — except for the fact that the leaf was plastic! But we enjoyed the food and because the place was crowded and noisy we later went to a quieter place to chat over coffee.

We were all relaxed and talked about this and that. It was nice to be in the company of friends where you felt like you were “one of us”. I missed it for awhile and hope that I’ll have more of these “one of us” experiences.

YOUNGEST PEREIRA

Sleeping baby Isaac

Sleeping baby Isaac

The following day, I was formally introduced to the latest addition to the Pereira clan in Malaysia — 2-month-old Isaac Paul, my niece’s youngest! It was his christening. Isaac is now the youngest of four in the third generation of my family in Malaysia. I’m first generation Malaysian. My parents were migrants from Kerala, India.

Isaac was so tired out by his auspicious day that he slept through the party after the christening! We went around him hoping he would open this eyes and wake up so that we could carry him and fool around with him a bit, but little Isaac couldn’t be woken up! He was so tired out that he didn’t even wake up for his food. He drank his milk still sleeping! That’s him in his hanging cradle.

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