Mightily proud to announce our book, “BALARAMA’S STORY- An Elephant’s Journey” (By D.K.Bhaskar & Alladi Jayasri) Inspired by real-life story of a famous elephant, captured in the jungles of Western Ghats, and trained in captivity to be the lead elephant in the Mysore Dasara festival that is famed all over the world. The book follows the journey of Balarama from jungle to city, and its intent is to help young readers understand the complex relationship between man and elephant. It has been a couple of years in the making. Good friend Bhaskar, a nature photographer and now a documentary film-maker with the award-winning “Elephants In The Coffee”, and passionate about the elephant, whose journeys into the Amazon and elsewhere I have chronicled, caught up with me in America . He then proceeded to nag me, bug me and coax me into writing this story for children. He gave me the plot , and story line, the bones and the meat, as it were, and I was to give wings to my imagination.
I did, reluctantly at first, and the story hobbled along, and suddenly, there he was, Baby Balarama, naughty, adorable, and full of dreams about a beautiful life in the forest, playing and growing up in Nagarahole forest. It was agonizing to have to write about his capture, the shattering of his dreams, and his journey to Mysore where he became the lead elephant, carrying the Ambari in the Vijayadashami procession.
The delightful illustrations by Yati Siddakatte( whom I haven’t met) are a treat. Though they are each worth a thousand words, they still make my words matter!
The Mysore Maharaja, Yaduveer Krishna Datta Wadiyar, in his introduction to the book, says “ the book highlights through its unique narration, the importance of the elephant to the sub-continent, and in traditions that are still prevalent. The challenge is to maintain a balance between modernity and our heritage. We need to look into how we can give back to elephants that have given us so much.”
I am surprised and delighted to see that C.Jayaram, currently Principal Chief Conservation of Forests, Government of Karnataka, has written a preamble to our book. I have enjoyed writing and reporting on Jayaram’s good work as Deputy Conservator of Forests, saving Cubbon Park, and fighting to save the lakes of Bangalore . “The book is as captivating as a story being told by a grandmother to the children. The authors have explained the life and times of Balarama in a lucid way that will have lasting impression on young minds”
For Bhaskar, this book is “a small way to preserve the cultural relevance of elephants and our understanding of these gentle giants. For me, it was a a ramble through the world of elephants, learning how they live , love and even mourn the death of a loved one. A celebration of the elephant’s place in our culture, mythology, religion, and at the same time the sombre realization that the future of the elephant, and its home, and by extension, this planet which is our home is not as grand as its past.
Grateful thanks to the CLIC Abroad Foundation for the generous support in making this book a reality.