A BUMPY RIDE !

For some reason I never liked camels.

I have no explanation for my disdain towards this bizarre creature, and this bewilders even me. Sometimes…you just don’t like something for no apparent reasons. But something happened which changed my perception about camels all together. And then, I started liking them a lot.

Well, it so happened that I visited the beach of Puri few months back. It’s a lively and crowded beach with camels walking up and down the shore, nothing like what you find in South India. My first reaction upon reaching was like “Damn !” Not my kind of beach, but then I decided to explore a further.

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The beach is crowded, yes, and if you are like me whose idea of a beach is that of a secluded tropical sunny paradise, this could be disappointing. That day was neither sunny nor secluded. And it was far from being a paradise, for the shoreline was littered with garbage, and at one point I saw a huge river of sewage from the city draining into the sea—toxic, black, smelly.

But if you’re more into activities, this beach is not all that disappointing. It’s a cheerful experience to see people taking dip in the sea on places which are designated as “safe swimming sites”. The beach is family friendly, which is good thing, and you don’t have the privilege of boozing anywhere. Children abounds here. Often you will finds couples lazing on the sand in late afternoon—mostly college students. Overall, there’s a good social factor involved.

But the major attraction happens to be the camel ride. As I said, camels are not my thing. But my friend got all pushy. He wanted me to experience the true spirit of the place. So I agreed. Now, mounting a camel is no easy, mind you! You need a ladder, yes. After you mount, and sit on its back, you look down, and a little acrophobic feeling creeps over. This animal is huge! It’s not a comfortable feeling to sit on a camel—its back is so humpy! But the real peril comes when it starts walking, almost like a drunkard. And you bop along, feeling funny like a child, gripping the iron frame of the seat tightly lest you should get carried away with the motion.

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After a distance, I started to have a change in feeling. The setting sun, the soothing breeze, the tender noise of wintry ocean and the rhythmic gait of camel almost pushed me into a trance. I started enjoying it all the more. And we walked and walked and walked. When I got down, I looked at its demure eyes. Something was poignant about it. I don’t know how happy a camel feels to be used as an object of entertainment by the people. But I felt sorry. The burden is great upon it. The iron frame that rests on this back to support the rider must be very heavy, and to carry it perpetually would be painful. But that is how the life of a beach camel is. For some reason, I started liking camels after this experience and I wonder how beautiful nature is with all its humpy and bumpy creatures.

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