Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Pony Race

In the Indian Army, whenever the raising day or the battle honour day of a unit is celebrated, it is marked with a few functions, like Sainik Sammelan (the senior most officer of the Unit or the Regiment addresses all Ranks), Bara Khana ( lunch or dinner with the troops combined with some cultural programmes presented by them), Lunch or Dinner in the JCO's Mess and Dinner in the officers' Mess. But one of the most interesting events of the celebration is the 'Pagal Gymkhana'. This consists of various games and sports by officers JCOs and other Ranks and their families. Some of them are really crazy like sack race, three leg race or potato race etc hence the prefix 'pagal'.

It was the raising day of my unit in Ladakh which was also attended by the locals from the nearby villages in large number. We had planned a pony race by officers of the unit for the 'Pagal Gymkhana'. Since the Animal Transport was the integral part of the unit, we had our favorite ponies. We had to take two rounds of the perimeter of a ground equal to the foot ball field to complete our race. Another interesting part of any Army function is that there is always a full dress rehearsal a day or two in advance to ensure the precision of timings (there is a story about a Subedar Major who had taken his son's marriage procession to the bride's village a day in advance sending the bride's family into panic, only to be relieved when the ' Barat' turned back from the border of the village and told that they were conducting full dress rehearsal for the marriage procession).

On the day of the full dress rehearsal, as our race started, I found that after completing one round of the field I was leading the race by almost half the length of the perimeter. My nearest competitor was left far behind and every body in the spectators' gallery was cheering me up. The race finished and I was the cynosure of all the eyes during the tea break. I told the Nunnu (the young boys of Ladakh are called so) looking after my pony to take care of it properly so that it would repeat the performance on the final day of the race which was the next day.

During the final events of the 'pagal gymkhana' when the pony race was announced the participating officers came to the start point and our respective ponies were handed over to us. All the ponies were looking great but mine was the centre of attraction as it had shown great performance the previous day. The race started and as expected I took the lead and left the nearest follower far behind. But after completing one round of the field my pony suddenly changed its direction and cut across the field diagonally and made a beeline for the stable which was at a little distance from the ground. I tried all types of stunts to bring it back to the racing track but all in vain. It crossed the cheering crowd and went and stopped inside the stable. There it started defecating. I came back to the field leaving the pony in the stable. Now the crowd was jeering at me as I walked across the field with the thin flexible stick in my hand. I joined the spectators in the officers' enclosure who consoled me and told me to take that sportingly. Later the Nunnu told me that he had fed some energy food to the pony to boost its strength. Perhaps he gave it an over doze.

This post also forms part of series on my life journey. To read all the posts in this series please click here.


Capt N.S.Bisht said...

Be thankful your pony had the good sense to make a beeline for his stable before unloading his bowels. Right smart pony I must say.

Balli said...

A sign of good discipline perhaps.

Reflections said...

Talk abt timing;-D

Balvinder Singh said...

Nancy, yes perhaps the body clock of the pony went haywire.