72/100. Yes! I am horsing around. That too, in a saree! And what fun I had!

Animals like me. And I love them right back. This connection with animals is a rather peculiar gift that I am very grateful for, and rather proud of. Dogs, cats, hens, goats, calves, birds, camels and yes, elephants too have always seen fit to gift me a lick, a nuzzle, a cluck, a nose-nudge or a trunk-hug. And this I consider one of life’s blessings.

This particular day, I had an assignment at Tolly Club, one of Kolkata’s country clubs. The sprawling verdant acres of Tolly have always been a favourite – every time I have been there, I have come back with a sense of peace. Since Tolly always makes me think of green, I had worn my only green saree to work that day. An emerald-hued plain chiffon, it has a border and pallu in creamy beige with typical Kanishka Bengali block print motifs in shades of brown. This saree is again about 12 years old and was a gift from my aunt.

This day also, I petted a few of the doggies that make Tolly their home. And imagine my delight when suddenly it was decided that the shoot part of the assignment would be in the stables. Tolly is home to 40 horses – magnificent creatures all of them. Mostly retired race horses, their elegance is unparalleled. Their curiosity as to this sudden incursion into their quarters was fun to watch – as elegant head after elegant head poked out of individual stalls, following our path. Seeing my instinctive move towards Galoudet Queen, the gentle white mare you see in the photograph, an old stablehand handed me a bucket of carrots. And I was an instant favourite, with others bickering and whinnying in the adjacent stalls.

I didn’t play favourites – I gave all of them treats. And got head nudges, affectionate nips and soft appreciative whinnies as thanks. But this photograph with Queen – again shot by one of the senior most news photographers in the city – is my favourite.

If I could capture the word ‘connectedness’ in a photograph, this would be it.

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