The story behind my profile picture
I love elephants!
My profile photo was taken in Thailand: The elephant was then 60 years old and the mahout or trainer was 70. They had spent their whole lives together, at first working the teak forests in Northern Thailand and then taking it easier near Pattaya with the tourists in a show after they retired.
I was working as a tour guide for a Finnish charter company at the time and was a regular visitor with my groups. So the locals took me in the show frequently and the elephants got used to me.
I had been massaged by the elephants, stepped over, fondled, played soccer with them until one day... This old guy came to me and asked if I wanted to try out something new. I said, why not, of course. He then made me stand in front of the beast and told me to stand absolutely still and just wait. Suddenly I felt a gentle nudge and a trunk embracing me. The hold tightened and I was up in the air, my feet dangling in the air above people's heads! Woohoo, talk of an adrenaline rush!
I have really tried to get my photo updated but all the mahouts nowadays are fairly young (in their 30's to 50's) and have spent much less time with their charges: They are afraid/unable to get their elephant to do what was done in the original pic. So in a way, it's a photo of the century.
The closest I could get to recreating the original is this: Taken last June in Thailand, near Phuket, in the depth of 20 meters or 65 feet.