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White Elephant

Let's dive into a captivating tale from Thailand's royal culture! In the kingdom, there existed a fascinating tradition of gifting rare and exotic white elephants among royalty. Legend has it that these majestic creatures brought either good or bad fortune to their recipients. If the monarch favored you, not only would you receive the white elephant, but also a generous parcel of land to help cover the costly expenses associated with its care. However, if your aren’t in his Good books, the gift would come without any land, transforming it into a financial burden. It's a bit like a surprise package—whether it brings prosperity or drains your coffers, only time would tell!

The term "white elephant" has come to symbolize a property or project that demands substantial expenses to maintain or operate while generating little or no income in return. It can also refer to something that is neither needed nor desired by its intended audience or stakeholders.


One famous real-life example of a white elephant is the CommonWealth Games held in Delhi, India, back in 2010. The games were supposed to serve as a splendid showcase of India's rising economic and global standing. However, they became entangled in a web of controversies and challenges. The organizers faced criticism for their handling of infrastructure projects, including issues with delays and corruption allegations. Furthermore, the venues themselves were deemed subpar, lacking basic amenities for both athletes and spectators alike.


A developing nation like India would struggle to pay the enormous $10 billion tab for hosting the events. Sadly, many of the facilities were left underused and others were even abandoned following the incident. The white elephant (CWG) seems to have made its mark, serving as a somber reminder of unrealized potential.


We can't forget about the iconic Empire State Building on a larger size. Despite being regarded as iconic now, the structure's original use as an office building was unsuccessful. Later on though, it gained new meaning and significance as a revered icon of New York City and a showcase for outstanding architecture.


Have you ever received a white elephant gift? Post your amusing tales in the comments section!


Thanks to these Sources: India Today, The Guardian & Investopedia. Image uses an icon from Flaticon

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