Will someone make Lakshmi vanish?

ELEPHANTINE HEADACHE: Magician Anand's `elephant vanishing trick' seems a non-starter.

ELEPHANTINE HEADACHE: Magician Anand's `elephant vanishing trick' seems a non-starter.  

LAKSHMI needs a three to four-hour walk everyday. Wherever she is. She has lots of fresh grass, paddy straw and kilos of sugarcane. The cost of her food alone comes to about Rs. 1,000 a day. And she has been in Hyderabad for about 35 days now and will be here for another month at least.

This Lakshmi is a three-tonner! Her claim to fame is that for last six years, she has been an integral part of Jadugar Anand's entourage. The elephant has been hired by the magician and has been on a long lease. Anand has drawn wahs at every place he performed his `elephant vanishing' trick.

But as far as Hyderabad is concerned, this important item in Anand's show has been a non-starter for the simple reason that the municipal authorities have not given permission for Lakshmi to walk up to Hari Hara Kala Bhavan. Their contention is the stage is not strong enough to have the pachyderm onstage. Howzzat!

"I have 30 tonnes of equipment onstage. Will three more tonnes make a difference? Even if it does, I have already spent Rs. 1 lakh in reinforcing the stage with additional props. What more could officials ask of me?" These are the words of a magician who is at his wits' end.

The magician has been giving shows twice -- at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. -- everyday from September 18 at Hari Hara Kala Bhavan. Just for the record, Anand made the Minister for Labour-cum-popular comedian, Babu Mohan, `vanish' the other day, at one of his performances.

"I am an entertainer - first and last. Experts have given the go-ahead, technically. Thousands of people have enjoyed my act in making Lakshmi disappear," Anand asks.

On Monday, it looked as if the `baldiya' has yielded to Anand's request at last. When preliminary discussions appeared favourable enough for Lakshmi to be available for the 3 o'clock show, the organisers sent a message to Lakshmi's mahout-cum-owner, Beer Singh of Indore, that she could come straight to the auditorium after her daily late noon walk. But a while later, the answer from the baldiya was still a no-no. So, the elephant turned around and started walking towards the graveyard behind Hotel Viceroy, which has been her home the past month.

Unless someone-very-high-in-the-administration intervenes and allows her to come to Hari Hara Kala Bhavan, it looks as if Lakshmi's stay in Hyderabad will well be a break from work. "Probably, officials here do not want Lakshmi to disappear," a disappointed but bemused Anand says.

Sure, no one would like to see `Lakshmi' (the Goddess of wealth) disappear!

By Suresh Krishnamoorthy

Photo: P.V. Sivakumar

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