Posted by: cochinblogger | May 27, 2011

The Fall That Cured a Back Ache

In The Fall of a Sparrow, Salim Ali describes a curious incident in which a fall from a horse rid the rider of his back ache:

Remembering Ralph Morris brings to mind a mystifying and inexplicable episode concerning him that occurred much later. In 1953 the Government of Jammu & Kashmir requested the BHNS [Bombay Natural History Society] to depute a team of two or three experienced conservationists to study the status of wildlife in the Dachigam and other sanctuaries (then “game reserves”) in the state, and advise them on their proper management. An obvious choice was Morris, but he was then suffering from a troublesome slipped disc, which brought on crippling, excruciating pain from time to time. However, he was greatly tempted by the opportunity to see the country and its wildlife and had haltingly agreed. We started from camp in Srinagar one morning on ponies when he was already in some pain, and I was wondering how he would stand the long and bumpy ride. We were walking our two ponies abreast when his horse put one foot into a rat hole and stumbled, vaulting Ralph over its head and sending him flat on his back on the hard ground. I feared he had broken his back that would be the end of the survey. Wonder of wonders! Ralph soon got up, rather shaken but with the pain completely gone and never to return!

The cure, of course, is a great mystery. The fall must have effected a chance mechanical correction. The minor mystery is whether Ralph was riding a pony or a horse. šŸ™‚

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