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Published: January 18th 2019
We had heard there was supposed to be animal judging on the first day of the fair, but in true India style, we could not get a solid answer as to when or where. So we spent the day wandering around and foolishly using Western logic as to when we might be able to watch the competitions.
We have been to and participated in many a fair in the United States and show day is easily recognizable. There is a flurry in the barns. Animals are being washed, groomed and primped beyond belief. The air is filled with the sound of blowers, clippers and aerosol cans spraying. Exhibitors are rushing around like they are chronically late.
There are announcements blasted through a speaker system to alert exhibitors of the next class. There are class schedules printed and available to spectators and exhibitors. There is an undeniable energy. There is a sense of order and structure.
I assume I don't need to tell you, this was not the case in India or at least not at Chandrabhaga the day we were there.
We asked around and thought we knew where the shows might take place. We wondered around
and enjoyed ourselves anyway, never finding that sense of urgency or air of preparation. We assumed we misunderstood the schedule.
Then without any fanfare we happened to see a gathering near a circle fence made of string. As you do in India, we joined the gathering that turned into a crowd that culminated into pushing and jockeying for position.
This is when being of significant stature pays off. It probably doesn't hurt to be a female in a sea of men either. Dad and I found ourselves at the front of the crowd by the rope fence as brilliantly attractive horses began entering the ring.
The horses strode in with an air of grace and confidence. Their handlers, often one on each side, beamed with pride. They walked in the rope circle often stopping to dazzle the crowd with dancing and tricks. It was about this time that being at the front of the crowd didn't seem so fabulous as there was only a thin rope between us and rearing horses.
But once again, the perks of being the only white person paid off. Only moments after the crowd gathered one of the official looking judges
ran toward us, got our attention and made it clear, we were to be in the inner circle of the rope show ring. Don't mind if I do.
The official told the bouncer clad in the yellow shirt to let us through the crowd and the rope gate and signaled for us to join the judges on the chairs, in the shade with the cool drinks.
And this is how the goras (white people) became honorary judges!
The show lasted about an hour. Despite the hot sun, the horses continued to show off their glamour by going through their paces and vying for the judges eyes. The crowd cheered, clapped and gasped as the horses entertained. The judges conferenced with each other and finally made a decision.
The horse that had won the class the last three years of the fair, did not win this year. His handlers left the ring with clear disgust on their faces as the class winner was pinned with a ribbon on his forelock.
Second and third places were awarded with ribbons and the judges shook hands with the official judges while the gora judges obliged requests for photos and
To our surprise, that was it. Only one class of horses was judged that day and everyone was instructed to return the following day. As we left the ring and said our goodbyes and thank yous, the official who brought us into the ring informed us that during the next day's show he would like to formally introduce us to the crowd and have us say a bit about ourselves.
Unfortunately, we were not to be at the fair the next day. The show would have to go on without the goras.
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