The first time I confronted an elephant's rear end, paper was the last thing on my mind. I was too busy avoiding drowning under a mound of poo to think of anything else really!
This is how it happened a few years ago. Vijendra, our paper producer, wanted to take me to a little shrine atop a hill near Jaipur. The weather was fine, and we decided to walk. But when we reached the foot of the hill, we realized most pilgrims preferred to go up on elephant back. So there we were, two pygmies trudging up, with large pachyderm behinds and swinging tails around us. There was dry elephant dung underfoot, and suddenly, it struck us how similar it looked to the raw fibre from which we made paper.
We ended up collecting a bit of a crowd, a result of pointing excitedly towards piles of poo. Even the prospect of having to collect vast quantities of odiferous dung did not seem to faze Vijendra. So we performed several experiments too disgusting for a polite audience, and eventually came up with usable sheets of paper made of elephant dung.
The paper was christened Haathi Chaap, meaning "Prints of the Elephant".
Thus started a journey of the most unusual kind...people have looked at us and our elephant dung paper with amusement, disgust, interest and mild irritation. We hope you have as much fun experiencing our paper as much as we had in making it. For us, the journey has been so fascinating that I will never look at poo the same way again!
There are some people without whom 'Haathi Chaap' would not be where it is today, so I'd like to take this oppurtunity to thank Manjari for the best logo one could ask for, Jiten and Veena for the name 'Haathi Chaap', Shweta and Geetanjali for their valuable advice and our chief resident Haathi...Preeti, the creative babbler behind all the crazy ideas Haathi Chaap is so proud of.