What I find particularly lovely, and particularly Indian, about this work of art, one of hundreds on the walls on the temples at Khajuraho, is the expression of happiness and pleasure on the elephant’s face. He just happened to find these two people, a woman and a priest of Shiva, I think, taking pleasure with each other. Their happiness made him happy too.
Dante talked of the love that moved the stars and the worlds in their orbit. But I always found that thin and inadequate because he meant “divine” love, or humans wasting love on an imaginary and rather nasty entity.
In this Indian world-view, love is between living things, where it belongs, and it unites all species and all people and all the world.
(I got up at 5.30AM to get this photo, which is not my favourite time of day, and this worked. It was magical.)
It got even more magical a few seconds later, when the dawn was greeted with bells and chanting from this side of the river. It was other-worldly, an utterly different world.
I can’t pretend I didn’t notice that Indian women are beautiful. I didn’t take many pictures because of consent issues, but I asked these girls if I could, since they were sharing my Ganges boat with me.
They’re just women, I know. Not supermodels. But they affected me enough that when I took this photo I paid them a gauche compliment (“this is the most beautiful photo I’ve taken in India”) and then felt felt stupid immediately after. So they were good-looking enough enough to make me feel like an idiot of about 18, all over again.
India! Yes, I’m going back.