I first saw an elephant at age seven. It was a temple elephant (from the Perur temple) that was taken house to house, and it was visiting ours. The idea was to donate some money to the temple, give the elephant a banana or sugarcane, and receive the blessings of lord Ganesha. I was a little scared but was mostly astounded by the animal's size, and I still remember looking into her eyes and wondering what she was thinking. When she dropped a load of dung right outside our gates, all the village kids immediately set upon trampling it with their bare feet because it was said to increase your intelligence! My next interaction with another temple elephant happened much later in Vellore during 2008. I handed her a banana and a five-rupee coin. She ate the banana and stretched out her trunk to hand the coin over to her mahout. When the mahout reached out to take the coin from her, she swiped it back. She did this three more times before the mahout lost his patience and shouted at her, and then she obliged.