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Travels on my Elephant Mass Market Paperback – July 1, 1998


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 266 pages
  • Publisher: Overlook TP; Reprint edition (July 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0879518685
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879518684
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,891,906 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

A few years ago, British writer Mark Shand cut an 800-mile swath across southern and central India atop a 30-year-old elephant named Tara. What he saw along the way makes up the heart of this entertaining memoir. His reminiscences of the good food and warmly hospitable people of the nation make you want to head out the door and find the nearest mahout, but the real star of the show is Tara, who has a sweet personality and a penchant for mischief, such as shoplifting fruit from vendors' stalls and lifting prostitutes' saris. However, Shand sadly notes, "The Indian elephant is running out of living space." His sort of adventure may thus be harder to come by in the future--so find that mahout now. If you can't, as vicarious experiences go, following Shand across the subcontinent is tough to beat.

From Publishers Weekly

This tale of a recent 800-mile journey across India on an elephant is at once entertaining and exasperating. Shand ( Skulduggery ), who has also head-hunted in Indonesia and motor-raced from London to Sydney, impulsively buys a 30-year-old elephant to ride from Konarak on the Bay of Bengal to Sonepur across the Ganges to the great elephant bazaar. In addition to Tara, the elephant, Shand gathers Indian helpers and advisers as quirky as himself, and together they travel across the country--Shand on Tara, his party in a jeep--astounding, amusing and puzzling those they encounter. Along the way, Shand learns about the care and feeding of elephants; and about rural India, which still worships the elephant God Ganesh and which leaps to life in this book. The group attends village festivals, receives the hospitality of princes and policemen, and Shand becomes so enamored of Tara that they share a slug of whisky and mingle their tears at his leave-taking. Overly coy in the telling, The characters (including the elephant) are difficult to identify with, but the local color is delightful, despite the overly coy prose. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 20, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have read all of Mark's books and this is my favourite. Full of humour, you can't help but fall in love with Tara and the magic of India. The sequel Queen Of The Elephants is also worth reading; this film of QotE is shown regulary on Discovery/Animal Planet.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 30, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book gripped me from the start. Mark Shand's matter-of-fact writing style and unshamedly romantic account of a trip across India on his elephant Tara, will make you curious about India and fall in love with this beautiful creature that became a grown man's best friend. A beautiful story for readers of all ages. I loved it and am about to read it again!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Santry_Man on January 22, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
A remarkable story about one of the few Europeans to enter the mystical, beautiful, dangerous, austere and disappearing world of the Indian Mahoot. Shand writes honestly and insightfully about his experiences on an elephant Trek through India which makes the book all the more refreshing. An easy afternoon read by the fire with your map of India on your lap.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A. Ross HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 30, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The British seem to be particularly adept at coming up with whimsical ideas, making them happen, and then writing about them (cf. comedian Tony Hawk's Round Ireland With A Fridge, and Playing the Moldovans At Tennis or journalist Andrew Marshall's The Trouser People to mention just a few recent examples). Shand continues the tradition, concocting a scheme to buy an elephant and march around India on its back. This quick-reading book is an account of his adventure in India, where he purchases an emaciated 30-year old elephant ... from a pair of saddhus (mystic holy men) in the province of Orissa (a few hundred kilometers SW of Calcutta). His goal is to walk her from the coast to the great elephant market on the banks of the Ganges at Sonepur Mela, some 1000 kilometers north, in Bihar, where he would sell her.
However, as he soon discovers, elephants have a lot of personality, and he quickly falls in love with his. The pleasure of the book is not its travelogue description of the sights and sounds along the way (although these do break things up), but the mischievous antics of the elephant and the discovery of its personality as a loving and lovable creature. Tara, the elephant, displays remarkable intelligence and wit over the course of the journey, although at times Shand does veer into anthropomorphizing her. While he doesn't go deep into the role of the elephant in Indian and Hindu culture, it's clear from his travels that they are widely revered as symbols of Ganesh, as bystanders often often small prayers and alms to Tara.
Shand's own lessons in becoming a "mahoot", one who is versed in the ways of elephants and able to ride/guide one, is an equally fascinating and touching story.
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By beachgirl09 on September 19, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I love this book!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Cindy Swabsin on July 3, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I had the pleasure of meeting Mark Shand a couple of months ago and I share his passion for elephants. So, I had to read his book.
It made me fall in love even more with elephants and Mark. Sadly he is no longer with us, but I am sure his love for preserving the Asian elephants will live on. This is a wonderful book for anyone to read.
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