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Hyperbole and children + Elephant in the room

March 2, 2012

You will find a myriad of emotions running through my posts. Even in real life, we always swim through mixed emotions and feelings, don’t we?

This weekend, I am posting an interesting conversation I had with a young child – Mini. No, that is not her real name. From now on, I will use the name ‘Mini’ for any child that I write about in my blog.

Me (sipping chai): How was your day, Mini?

Mini (chewing candy): Good! I saw elephants today!

Me: You saw elephants? That sounds exciting. Where did you see them?

Mini: In a room that was a little dark.

Me (thinking):   “That’s not what I expected. The standard response should have been a zoo. I think this is the start of a great fictional story.”

Me:  Oh, elephant in a room? Great! How did it look?

Mini: Really really tall! Muuuuuuuuch bigger than any other elephant I have seen!

Me: Ah, I see. How big was it?

Mini: It was about 20 feet tall! 200 times taller than me!

[Hyperbole is a figure of speech that children never struggle with!]

Me: 20 feet tall! Ok. What colour was it?

Mini: Dark brown and it had lots of fur on its body!

Me (thinking to myself): “A brown elephant that is twenty feet tall in a room! Good imagination!”

Me: Alright. Did you get a chance to play with it?

Mini: No, I could not. It stood at one place. It did not move even once when I was roaming around.

Me (with a little worried expression): What was wrong? Why didn’t it move?

Mini (with a sad expression since the candy was over): I don’t know.

Me (puzzled) : How did you get to that room?

Mini: With my dad, he drove me there.

Me (even more puzzled): And then what happened?

Mini: My dad bought a ticket of 10 dollars and we went into the room.

Me (the word ticket rang a bell in my head): Oh! I see. Was it a museum?

Mini: Yes it was.

Me: Ah! Did you like the trip to the museum?

Mini: Yes.

Me: What did you like the most?

Mini: Elephants!

Mini and I smiled. I was sure by the end of the conversation that Mini’s story was not just fiction. The mystery of Mini’s elephants troubled me for a few hours.

Fast-forward, fast-forward! A few days after the conversation with Mini, I finally had the chance to meet Mini’s elephant at the Page Museum in Los Angeles. And I must say that the museum is amazing. It reminds you of the present of the past – fossils of animals long lost in today’s world. A saber tooth cat, an extinct species of jaguar, a ground sloth – to name a few. Also, I vividly remember the moment I entered the museum, I saw a sign on the bone of a sloth which stood still. It read – Please do touch. Parents present in the museum ignored the board but as expected children noticed it. I guess they are constantly reminded in school and at home–please don’t touch the board; please don’t touch the laptop, so this was a chance they would not let go!

Let me talk a little bit more about the museum here. The bones of the long lost animals are dug up from the “tar pits”. Then, a paleontologist puts the pieces of the puzzle together to bring the anima to life. I was fascinated by a paleontologist who was scraping through a bone. The bone was the missing piece in one of the mammoths named Zed, who was waiting to be pieced together. What fascinated me even more was Mini’s elephant- the` mammoth’ mammoth.  Initially, when I saw the mammoth, I was in awe with its huge size. All I wanted to do was click a picture of the mammoth and stand on my toes to try to touch its trunk. But after a few minutes, I became sad. I looked at Jay and could almost read his mind. He was probably thinking, “My god! Your mood swings up and down like a sine wave. And please don’t try touching the trunk. It is embarrassing.”  

I looked at the huge mammoth which was now helpless and could not move. It was a thing that lived in the past. It had become a mere memory and an item of display in a famous museum.

The word ‘memory’ reminds me of this thought. I wish and hope that the things we see around us today – tress, rivers, clean oceans, clean roads, green mountains, white snow caps, chirping colorful birds don’t become a mere memory of the past! I CERTAINLY don’t want to take my children to a museum and tell them, “Look, dear! This is what a tree looked like when I was young.”

The word ‘tree’ reminds me of my biggest nightmare right now – What if the ideas mentioned in “The Lorax” come true one day? Or are they true in some places already? Jay asked me in his usual deep thoughtful voice, “What is Lorax?” I quoted the line that he recites to me all the time when asked to answer my questions. Folding my hands and mimicking his deep voice, I replied, “The answer to all unanswered questions is – Google!”

On a serious note, I wish we can protect the beautiful treasures and our cohabitants on this earth. Protecting endangered species seems like having an ‘elephant in the room’. It can’t be ignored, can it?

On a lighter note, imagine how life would be if these gentle giants were still around. I would have taken a ride if they did not mind! 10 dollars would be value for money if it was not the entry fee to a museum, but the fee to ride a mammoth! (How childish! Well, that’s me.)

In the spirit of the blog, ‘savoring simple pleasures in life’, I request you to share an example of delightful hyperbole used by children. Have you heard one from them yet?

If you are interested in knowing more about my nightmare, here is the link –

If you are interested in seeing Mini’s elephant or want to know more about the museum, here is the link-

Have a great weekend!


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  1. Mayank permalink

    Sounds like you really enjoyed the museum. I want to go there too! Pity, since I must have lived in Pasadena for 200 years at least…

  2. Mayank, Wonderful example of Hyperbole. Have you learnt it from the master? 🙂

  3. Shweta permalink

    Very nice. I should go to this museum too :). I really enjoyed the post.

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