The sorry story of street cows; roaming around for food, shelter, kindness – not being hit by a stick!

THESE days the tragedy of being a cow in Goa and India bugs me! Look at these cows on the streets. I mean I appreciate all these sentiments about treating cows well because noble providers of the good life of milk, paneer, ghee, butter and all that and the new found love for cows in this country which is oh so ancient and well-versed in cow biology and worship….but how are cows better off if they have right of way down urban streets?
Are they better off plodding the roads and streets and lanes and seeking fodder at vegetable shops and market places? Leaving their lush droppings here, there and everywhere. Or closer to the truth is are cows only an excuse to give away public money to whoever pleases the powers-that-be with return gifts or just plain a cut in the baksheesh?
Every morning I get on to my two-wheeler for a ride out to Panaji market, on the way picking up milk, veggies, fruit and whatever else I need for the day’s cooking…en route about dozen odd scenes of cows in town come across my way inviting attention! Some with calves in tow are parked in the middle of the road so one may have to gingerly go around them rather than waste time shunting them to the sides….some cows may be seen at these tall green CCP bins trying to uncover them for the leftovers of food they know they will find inside, a shove usually sends the bin tumbling down and its goodies finally available to the seeking bovine animals! Some cows now know where to line up outside veggie shops in the hope that the damaged veggie “kachra” will be put out for them to feast on.
When it starts raining the cows make a beeline up the pavements outside shops to squat there until the shopkeeper comes along at 9am with a stick in hand to shoo them back on the roads. Some cows may be limping at the Panaji market, rushing towards any left veggies or fodder thrown their way. Cows, here, there and everywhere with a few pious folk trying to touch them for gau mata’s blessings.
ARE our urban areas turning into villages where cows have right of way? The other day I got off my two-wheeler near a group of cows and thinking I had brought food for them a lot of cows came trundling up to me, they’re that tame and such great expectations shine in their long eye-lashed big eyes. I cannot help but tell them, sorry, move, I want to buy some eggs from the shop behind them!
Still, one may not miss the cows getting in one’s way while on one’s way to finish the day’s errands. If you’re asking me cows make for the most tragic picture on Goa’s urban streets, abandoned and left to fend for themselves in the rain and the sun and dilapidated city corners. Of course at the marketplace one may also see cats, dogs, pigeons, crows, sparrows…bandicoots. Despite Panaji market being closed for months on end because of the covid-19 lockdowns none of our motley collection of fancy city fathers know anything about housekeeping!
Panaji market continues to be filthy inside and outside these monsoon month of July with the gutters never cleaned off their deep shit filth. Last week while visiting the morning pavement market and negotiating my way through all the piles of litter piled up at the sides, my two-wheeler’s keys slipped from my fingers while putting them in my bag, and down the keys went through these open iron drainage grill covers…into a pile of sleazy muck below.
Frantically, I tried to spy through the grilled covers to spot my keys, then used a stick to stir up the muck in the gutter. In vain! Some folk helped me, the veggie vendors clucked in sympathy, a cleaner woman handed me another stouter stick but there was no suitable equipment to raise the grilled covers, to remove the muck, to see where my bike keys were lurking in all mass of sleazy kachrapati….someone said pour a bucket of water down the drain, no, no, don’t, I said, then I’ll never find my keys and get home in time to make breakfast for whoever.
Then a guy came up and said if I find your keys will you give me some money? I said, of course! He messed up the muck in the gutter and failed and asked, “Are you sure your keys fell in here?” I am sure. Another guy turned up and said Rs200 if I find my keys? I said, only Rs100 baba but first find your keys in the gutter, I can’t hang around here for the whole day looking for them.
A stroke of luck happened and using a plastic bag wrapped around his hand this guy fished out my keys from the utterly filthy molten sodden dark mass in the gutter…he washed our the keys in some rain water puddle nearby and handed my keys to me, and a grateful me handed over Rs200. He said the previous man who’d tried had cut himself with a piece of glass trying to fish out my keys, give Rs50 for chai-pani to him too. I gave.
THE point of all this is how stupid to have such grilled gutter covers, especially when people shove litter in them constantly and nobody cleans out gutters regularly in the Corporation of the City of Panaji books! Surely there is some need for intelligence and common sense amongst the CCP guys who want to be mayors and councilors and everything else to access the public kitty –but for the life of them they haven’t a clue how to do any housekeeping for Panaji city, they can’t solve the problems of the aam aadmi on the streets of Panaji or anywhere else in Goa! All they know how to do is collect money, steal money, waste money to do PR-giri to promote themselves.
SO Ponjekars, look at the cows roaming the streets of Panaji and the state of its gutters. Who says Panaji has a Corporation of the City of Panaji? Panaji is becoming a filthy, delipidated, breaking down town where public money flows in private pockets – but the town-planning or hi fi city-planning is at an all-time low. You want to vote this lot back into power again?
On that note it is avjo, poiteverem, selamat datang, au revoir, arrivedecci and vachun yetta here for now.

— Mme Butterfly

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