This video of an elephant going for a walk reminded me of the time I rode one myself when on holiday in Thailand.

We clambered onto the wobbly wooden seat that was perched on the animals back. The driver sat in front of us just behind the elephants head. He had a worrying stick that he used to give “encouragement” and directions. There were a number of us in the group and we had a caravan of elephants, or whatever the collective noun for elephants is.

We left town, with the driver using the stick often. It looked needlessly brutal from my perspective, but the opinion of an urban westerner probably doesn’t carry much weight in this regard.

After a while we were walking beside a field. I don’t recall the crop — I want to say sugar cane — but the elephant clearly knew what it was.

He stopped. The driver hit it with the stick. He carefully turned ninety degrees, walked down the bank into the field, plucked a plant out of the ground, turned one hundred and eighty degrees, up the hill to the path, turned back in the direction we started and continued, all the while having the driver hit him with that stick with increasing vigour.

Presumably the elephant felt the stick. Presumably it knew what the man wanted, what the man was telling him. But the elephant clearly didn’t care. It wanted the food more than it cared about what the puny human wanted. “I’ll do what you ask but don’t forget who’s boss.”

I think I always loved elephants. But I loved them that little but more after this.