Opinion | Off the Cuff

Ruining my visit to the Big Top

Who really wants to watch your own species perform on stage? Its inhuman, to say the least!

  • By Mahmood Saberi Senior Reporter
  • Published: 17:22 August 20, 2013
  • Gulf News

Animal-rights activists have crushed one of my childhood enjoyments of going to a circus and seeing some amazing animal acts.

In a couple of years, there will be no circus animals and maybe there will even be no zoos.

I loved the excitement of the Big Top, the massive, colourful tent which took days to set up. As I walked through the entrance, my eyes would pop out trying not to miss anything — from the daring trapeze artists high above, to the clowns passing puffs of smoke and always there was the aroma of buttered popcorn mixed with the smell of elephant and horse dung.

Whenever a circus came to my small hometown in India, an elephant would be paraded through the streets with a clown marching in front, beating a huge drum. I am not from Kerala, the state further South, where elephants are as common as a Ferrari, but I was in awe of the trainer who could make this huge animal do tricks like sit on a chair built for a human’s posterior.

Years later, when I visited New Delhi, my wife’s hometown, I saw an elephant real close-up. I think Steven Spielberg must have got the idea of terrifying cinemagoers with close-up shots of the dinosaur’s foot, as the teenage characters are trapped in a car, maybe when travelling on the Nizamuddin Bridge over the Yamuna River.

My father-in-law reluctantly gave me the keys to his Maruti van, saying that I would not be able to survive the streets of Delhi as I was a ‘softie’ non-resident Indian living in the Gulf.

I assured him that I drove through some of the most treacherous roads in the desert in Riyadh and that I was still alive because of my defensive driving and generally sticking to the slow lane and that nothing on the Delhi roads would faze me.

For those of you who are not petrolheads, a Maruti is the Indian version of Nazi Germany’s idea of a people’s car, a car for the volks, so to speak. It is a tinny, tiny car, that can be crushed easily like cardboard in an accident and it doesn’t really matter if you wear a seat belt or not.

So, here I was stuck in a traffic jam on Nizamuddin Bridge and as I looked left, a giant foot came up and came gently down on the road. There was a giant elephant next to me and for the first time I realised that the animal had toenails.

I silently turned left and looked at my wife. She hates animals and things like lizards and did not allow our children to have pets like cats and dogs. So, out of desperation, I got them a snail, but the stupid thing froze to death in the fish bowl because of the air-conditioning. “We need to get out of here,” said my wife, peering at the elephant.

To cut the story short, nothing drastic happened. But to get back to my rant, the silly animal-rights activists want to spoil the fun of us circus-lovers and do not want the animals to perform tricks.

So, here I was, watching humans performing tricks at a circus in Dubai recently. But who really wants to watch your own species performing on the stage? Its inhuman, to say the least.

Actually all those amazing stunts performed by the Cirque Eloize artists can be easily learned. Researchers say that 10,000 hours of practice can make you master anything. I calculated and found that 10,000 hours is a little over 416 days, which is just more than a year. So it’s no big deal.

Animals are by far smarter than us and learn things faster and they are more fun to watch.

Gulf News
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