Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Himalayan Hippo

One of our favorite holiday destinations is Nepal. Its capital Kathmandu is very dirty, dusty, smelly and noisy, but when I am there, enjoying the view of the Bothnath Stupa with its prayer flags fluttering in the wind… it is the best place to be. What has all this to do with hippos? Let me explain. Thamel is the name of the most scary looking hippo of my collection. It is also the name of a very touristy-guesthouses-restaurants-shops area of Kathmandu. Some people do not like it, and head for the breathtaking landscapes and majestic mountains as soon as they can. Of course we do too, but I like this area very much. The hustle and bustle, the tourists, the rickshaws, the places where you can have Yaks embroidered on t-shirts or jackets and a million little shops where you can buy all kind of souvenirs, tea, singing bowls, carpets and Gurkha knives. One of those shops had some carved animals in its window, but no hippos. I did not expect to find any hippos in Nepal, but as all collectors know…. you can’t help looking. So I said: “I’ll just have a quick look inside”. My dear husband followed with the “here-we-go-again” expression on his face. And to my surprise we saw 2 hippos (collecting dust) on top of a cabinet! The second surprise was: they were made of leather, they looked solid but they were very light weighted. I bought one. It was rather cheap. I think the shop owner never expected to sell one of those; he looked like he was happy to get rid of it. Who knows, when the glaciers melt away, they will find the remains of an ancient breed: the Himalayan Hippo. I am sure they looked like Thamel.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Semar is the youngest son of hippo-mum Dania in Ragunan Zoo, Jakarta Indonesia (see post: Mustache Mummy), and the baby brother of Donna and Reno (see post: Donna and Reno). On March 10, 2010, Dania gave birth to a 30 kg baby boy. The number 10 in the Indonesia language is: sepuluh. March is Maret. So, his name is a combination of his date of birth: Sepuluh Maret = Semar. When I took this photo, Semar was around 4 weeks old. A few months later I could stroke his incredibly tiny and soft ears, and feed him some pealed bananas. I am sure, not many people have felt the soft toothless inside of a baby hippo’s mouth….. From a photographer’s point of view, it was… challenging! Imagine trying to photograph an object, moving constantly and having almost the same color as the water..... On top of that..... being inside, in a very dark part of a building, harsh and very bright light shining directly into the camera, and hanging half way on an iron fence. And then… when I found the right angle….. Semar decided to disappear under water, for a minute of 5 or 10, several times…. And when he surfaced (ears turning and flapping, my favorite thing… hippos do!), his preferred place to be was safely behind his mums enormous head…. Bye bye photo opportunity! After a million misses (long live digital photography).... finally..... a lucky shot!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


The largest, most popular and cutest hippo-soft-toy I own. I forgot (what's new?) when exactly I bought it, but I remember seeing it, together with smaller versions, in the window of a large department store: De Bijenkorf in The Netherlands, at least 15 years ago.... and just had to have it! I do not know, why I called him Boris, I just liked the name. He was wearing blue pants when I bought him, but I did not like those..... some hippos just look better without pants! We took Boris to birthday parties with us, decorated and with party hat! He is the only hippo which has been invited to stay for a few weeks sleep over at friend's homes and most importantly, he was the guest of honor at our wedding (bow-tie and all). Lately, he is doing a lot of photo modeling work. When I experiment with camera settings.... he is much more patient than the usual victims (children and cats ;-)), and he does not complain. I used to have a lot of soft toys. When we left to live abroad, I asked our friends to pick one, so they would not forget us. The only one I kept was Boris! It was also the moment I decided not to collect soft-toy-hippos anymore, because they take up so much space.... but the last time I checked, I counted at least 10.... hmmm.... I wonder......

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Hollywood Hippos

Of course I mean: Gloria and Moto Moto, but I thought, if I call my post like that.... not so much of a surprise anymore..:-). I think if I hadn't collected hippos, I would have started, after seeing Gloria in Madagascar. She is soooo cute! Madagascar 2 was even better (if you compare the number of hippos!). Although I think Moto Moto is hilarious, with his chest hair and uni-brow... Gloria is my absolute favorite. One part of the movie I like very much is the little speech the giraffe Melman is giving, while Moto Moto is trying to seduce Gloria:

"I'd give her flowers every day. And not just any flowers. OK?
Her favorites are orchids. White. And breakfast in bed.
Six loaves of wheat toast, butter on both sides.
No crust, the way she likes it.
I'd be her shoulder to cry on and her best friend.
I'd spend every day thinking of how to make her laugh.
She has the most amazing laugh."

I absolutely agree with him. She has the most amazing laugh..... every time I hear it.... I just have to laugh too! These toys came with the Happy Meals of McDonalds, some time ago. Dear Jules and Kris, thanx so much for thinking about me and giving up your Happy Meal toys, that is just awesome!