Laotian Branding, or Why I Rode an Elephant in Laos

When I was a pre-adolescent, I attended a middle/grammar school called Frank Antonides School. FAS had all the things a school should have, except a good music program. A violinist, I played the flute and oboe parts in everything, usually as the only “flute” or “oboe” in a sea of boys blasting brass trumpets and emptying spit valves on the floor. One song that I was particularly fond of was a little ditty called the “Baby Elephant Walk.” It consisted of a dainty melody for flute that conjured images of tiny pink elephants parading in a neat line, trunks linked for safety’s sake. It’s either that, or the image of elephants running in herds in the Serengeti, that I have in my head when I think of elephants. Now that I have ridden an elephant, I can safely cast those images away. Continue reading