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HindustanTimes Thu,23 Oct 2014

Horses for courses

Vikramdeep Johal   January 12, 2014
First Published: 12:37 IST(12/1/2014) | Last Updated: 12:42 IST(12/1/2014)

I've never been a horse lover. How can I ever forget those frightful rides in Nainital and Pahalgam, when this animal tried to assassinate me - and nearly succeeded? While the dog has been man's best friend since time immemorial, the horse has served as his partner-in-crime. No wonder the sale and purchase of politicians is called horse trading, even though some of them are sheer donkeys.

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My low opinion of this creature changed recently when I shifted, bag and baggage, from Chandigarh to Landran (not to be confused with London) in Mohali district. I got in touch with a few Movers and Packers, but their hefty rates made me wonder whether I was moving abroad.

Another option was the 'Chhota Haathi', but despite its high-sounding name, this vehicle didn't seem spacious enough to accommodate my things of all shapes and sizes. Eventually, I ended up hiring two horse carts as they suited my overstrained pocket. The twosome looked sturdy and majestic as they trotted into my old place. However, once the steel almirahs and wooden cabinets began to pile up, their legs started wobbling like India's economy.

It was saddening to see this animal  -  which had gallantly cushioned the bottoms of mighty kings and emperors - being reduced to a beast of burden. For a change, I felt pity for the four-footed one which had tormented me on hill stations, and regretted my decision not to go for the four-wheeler.

The cart drivers assured me that it was natural for the horses to feel the weight early on, but once they were on the road, there would be no stopping them. This was no money-back guarantee, but I had no choice but to accept it.

Much to my relief, the duo made a brisk start to their 15-km-long journey, while I accompanied them in my car. Like me, they seemed to enjoy the largely silky-smooth roads of the City Beautiful. The twist in the tale came when we well and truly entered Progressive Punjab. Potholes greeted us with open arms, while speed-breakers (natural as well as man-made) reared their ugly heads. The mute creatures began to lose their temper, as if cursing the powers-that-be who had sky-high dreams but couldn't even provide good roads.

My goods, apparently secured tight with ropes, also started getting restless. I doubted whether all of them would last the distance or some would depart for their heavenly abode on the way. The drivers did give the duo a break to munch their feed and recharge their batteries, though it proved to be a short-lived breather as the roads went from bad to worse. Getting desperate, I felt like posing nude on the highway in protest against such cruelty to animals. However, like a responsible citizen, I kept my clothes on so as not to distract the motorists and trigger a sensational pile-up.

Finally, after many a hiccup, we all reached our destination. The beasts were still alive, my things were in one piece, and I had not yet lost my senses. But like the German philosopher Nietzsche ('Neet-shay'), who died a mental wreck, I wanted to give a bear hug to the horses which had suffered at the hands of 'Man and Superman'. Luckily, it was Section 377 which stopped me from going all the way.

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