The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Horse for obstacle course to office
Mather on his horse

Thiruvananthapuram, Oct. 10: When the government acts like a mule, it’s time to show some horse sense.

A realtor in the port city of Kochi has abandoned his car in favour of a horse to commute to office, fed up with bad roads and traffic snarls.

Perched on a chestnut stallion, Noordin Mather is now living every commuter’s dream, weaving his way around the pothole-scarred arterial MG Road whose condition has been made worse by the monsoon.

“I could not think of a better option after facing frequent breakdowns and congested roads,” said Mather, who also owns a hotel.

Mather gave up his Ford Ikon when it fell into a pit, breaking the axle. “That’s like me breaking my back. I switched to a two-wheeler.”

But that was not of much help. By the time he reached office, his morning wear was plastered with mud, splashed on him by other vehicles.

Then he decided to revert to a “four-wheeler” — this time a living one minus a metal axle.

Mather does not find anything amusing in his choice. Rather, he feels it is a kick in the face of the government that refuses to repair roads despite making repeated promises — a sentiment that should echo in communist-ruled cousin Bengal.

“It’s not that I fancy taking a ride along the city thoroughfares like a medieval horseman. It’s a reflection of the sorry state of the taxpayers in the country,” he said.

Mather bought the horse in Bangalore for Rs 40,000 – down the pecking order as far as racehorse prices are concerned.

He employed a trainer to learn how to handle the “four-legged vehicle”. “No more breakdowns, no road rage. I can go at my pace, enjoying a peaceful ride,” said Mather. But the poor beast is unlikely to share the feeling, given the condition of Kerala roads.

Mather’s ride coincides with a slew of announcements by chief minister V.S. Achuthanandan to repair roads by October 15 – a deadline viewed with scepticism by commuters.

The public works department in the state is going through a particularly bad phase. It lost two ministers to scandals within a year, and the representative of a Malaysian firm assigned the repair committed suicide, apparently because of rampant corruption.

Now it’s up to Mather’s horse to drive some sense into the establishment.

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