This is a real life story. Set, far away from Mumbai’s Mahalakshmi Race course and the Mahabaleshwar mountains. Down in the deep plains is Madurai !
And there, there is this horse stable. A stable that adorns the display rack of a lonely house. Maintained immaculately by the lady of the house, and looked at longingly, from a distance by the man.
These are horses. Looking artistic to them. For the strange, inanimate objects that they are, they seem to carry life. They were mere objects on many retail shelves. But that was before they were picked up with care.
Over time, each one of them came to signify one member of the family.
There was one for the man of the house . Another for the lady. One each for the sons. Each signifying and standing for the real ! Each figure matched by the living’s characteristics. And so they were reared at home. By the lady and man. Quite unknown to their sons.
And when the daughter-in-laws came into the household, horses were added to the stable. And when a young one arrived, a pony took its rightful place. And of course, there is more space.
And when the sons, the daughters-in-law and the grandson are busy running their own courses much away from Madurai, the lady of the house dusts this stable clean. With a dry cloth. And then with a wet cloth. Wet with a tinge of a lonely tear, sweat and toil of many years, to make the family run its course.
And so, this inanimate stable which takes a life of its own adorns this house. Inanimate it is, to the rest of the world. For the man and the lady, the horses themselves seem to leap to life. Every time they look at them. And even when they don’t.
And so, this is the story of the stable. A stable that adorns the display rack of a lonely house. Maintained immaculately by the lady of the house, and looked at longingly, from a distance by the man.
Speaking of horses, hill stations provide you with plenty. Albeit these are horses who humour tourists. The loud children, big men and women, all perhaps in search of some interim pleasure. “Can we go ‘horse riding’ ” is not to be read as a question, but as an indication of an activity whose time has come !
You can excuse the odd neighs and sundry gallop in the wrong direction. ( Somewhere they ought to be like us, right ?) All that is commonplace.
At Mahabaleshwar though, they have names to the horses.
And the chaps that sell rides, proclaim to the world, ‘ How about a ride on Salman ‘ ? Well. Hmm. Now, i love horses. But that marketing pitch didn’t quite resonate well with me. A rose is a rose is a rose. Yes. That’s true. And, in this case it was a horse.
But you know, when i did ride, two things made it uncomfortable. I am an occasional tourist and a rarer horse rider. Ofcourse, the butt didnt take the steady cantor pleasantly.
The other i guess was in my own mind. ” Riding ‘Salman’ ” wasn’t exactly my idea of a holiday. And then, just as i was dismounting and ruing the lack of a clear and steady mind, ‘Sir, would you want to try Bipasha’ said a big gent with another white horse.
And Bipasha snorted. I guess in wholesome disapproval.
The next day, as i took a walk, Bipasha, Salman, Shaheed and the gang, were all being given their bath. Their name tag identities lying besides them. And not on them.
And suddenly, they seemed who they truly were. Simple beautiful living creatures.
I clicked many times. ‘Pics of Salman, Shaheed, Bipasha et al having a bath by the river’ would be a blog title that could cause such a spike in Internet traffic that the world could have to come to a halt.
The horses couldn’t care less. Any more than a vigorous shake of a fresh white head ! And that was to swat a fly !
Vijay Mallya will be a happy man today. A passerby said. And i would have wondered who this blok is, who understand who or what will make Vijay Mallya happy. But not today. For we were at the Race course.
A couple of weeks back, we went to the Race Course. The Mahalakshmi Race Course in Mumbai. And no, not yet. I am not interested in that kind of jackpot. For it was curiosity and a persistent fitness conscious friend that took me there. Upon reaching there i was told that it was Derby day that day. And activities would commence in the evening !
We went early in the morning. As he sweated out, jogging and working out, i walked around. Looking at the majestic horses, their canter, gallops and neighs. And of course, the jockeys.
And of course, early morning, fitness conscious men and women. Running, jogging, walking, chatting and generally, adding a different dimension to the horse filled arena ! Here are some pictures.
I haven’t stopped wondering the strange highs that men get. Out of seeing animals race each other. For i stood there, and watched many of those horses gallop by. The sheer majesticity was fulfilling. But quite obviously, the likes of Vijay Mallya don’t share my sentiment. That is why they are where they are. And that is also why this blog goes on.
To top it up, there was Melba toast and Cardamon tea from the restaurant there ! The restaurant called ‘Gallops’ ! The members get to sit and talk about the horses in an aristocratic enclave. I am told that the fancy hats that members and their companions sport are a real attraction !
I touched my head and felt the balding plate. And went for the Melba toast & tea. Sitting in what seemed to be the backyard !
Hey who cares. The horses had the first right. All else were secondary here. I would like to imagine, ‘Vijay Mallya included’. For some reason, “all animals are equal some are more equal ” resonated differently.
The next morning, i read that Vijay Mallya went back a not so happy man. I wonder how his horse felt.
Or for that matter, those boys who ply these majestic animals for prosaic tasks. Like a ride across a litter laden beach. Or a worse litter laden hill station. The setting hasn’t mattered. A horse always catches my attention.
I guess it started with an English lesson, i think it was in Class II, called ‘Black Beauty’. A tale of a black horse with a white patch on his forehead. I know i can never come to owning one. Nor would i want to.
But that doesn’t stop me from staring and looking at how majestic they are. This team intrigued me. They stood in all colour. Steady. And still. At a family deity’s temple close to Madurai. They stood in majestic style ooze. Even though one among them was headless. A hopeless vandal or a mischievous child would have done his or her bit to shape the landscape (sic) ! T
he steady white and the riot of colour on them, seem to give them a character. A character that,i thought gave these lifeless forms a strange double life ! After all, these were celestial horses. Meant for the Gods !
This was clicked outside a mall in Bangalore. The ‘false legged horse’ (Poi Kal Kudhirai) is a dance form that amazes me no end. An inanimate horse brought to life by a human being, who animatedly rides the inanimate horse, to synchronised music and a colour riot !
How better can it get ?Well, for starters this can still continue to be a ‘performance’ and not compete with a marketing ‘offer’ or a sales promotion effort ! This demeans a dance form.
And oh, yes, demeans horses too !