Sunday, November 05, 2006

Cow Talk in Old Dhaka

I went to old Dhaka to pick up hard-to-get bicycle parts, then chatted with some locals. Now that we are past Ramzan people's thoughts are on Korbani Eid (when an animal is sacrificed) coming up in two months. The Korbani markets (for buying the sacrificial animals) will begin in earnest in another month, but cow talk has already started in old Dhaka.

So what are popular animals, I asked. "Cows and Khasis, of course", was the answer, "and the rare BhuTTi cow occasionally." BhuTTI cow? (Is this guy pulling my leg?) "It is a small cow, looks very nice, only so high (his hand is at the knees). They fetch a premium price because they are so rare."

Inevitably, talk of prices. "Last year a cow sold for Tk 220,000." Wow, I said, that's pretty high. "It was a big cow," he said, "and beautiful. Very meaty. You could not feel one bone on any part of its body from the outside." How much meat would it yield? "250-300kg, easily." What was it fed? "Better food than humans! Sacks of corn and other good stuff." Who bought it? "Some local commissioner (politician). Used to be only Chittagong merchants could afford these expensive cows, but now there are rich politicians and merchants everywhere."

This Sumo cow had led quite the pampered life. "It had a room of its own. One person was there just to clean up after it all day." And the Dhakaiya finale: "The owner of this cow did not want it to be bitten by mosquitoes, so it slept under a mosquito net every night."

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