Sunday, September 28, 2008

In Which We Find Out About Cows and non-Cows

My friend Jeremy used to say that all he was ever taught about India in American public school was that it was "a triangular country with brown people and a caste system." The other one everyone seems to know is that cows are sacred, and that they roam free in the streets. I'm a graduate student. Let's problematize the discourse.

First, there are indeed cattle everywhere in the streets. All of the following pictures were taken in about 10 minutes of each other. In fact, the bovine strollers frequently block traffic

and sometimes put on a real show.

However, they are not all cows. Some, of course, are bulls, but that's not a real or critical distinction as the term is used in English. The real difference is that this is a cow,

and this is not.

They're quite nearly identical for almost all intents and purposes. Here's the differences: a buffalo stands in water when it can, but a cow doesn't; buffalo are always black, but cows come in other colors; buffalo milk is richer; and you can eat a buffalo, but not a cow.

I am not sure if this is a cow.

I think this is a cebu. Maybe not, since I can't find a wikipedia page for it, and since I am sweating bullets and need to get to the train station, I can't link to a YouTube of the VeggieTales Cebu song. For sure, Cebu is a province in The Phillipines. I think the above animal may be what we call a Brahma Bull. The big difference is the hump on top, which is a bit squishy.
in haste


margaret said...

In the 4th photo, there appears to be a small parade following the non-cow. Is that right? I'm trying to wrap my head around the whole cow-roaming thing. Do the cows and nons belong to anyone?

ehirunner said...

This particular batch of buffalo were being herded into an alley, presumably for owner-utilization purposes and not for focus group polling. In a couple alleys I've seen the cows and nons tied up to houses, goats too. I also often see them getting herded into various places.

Cliffsnotes: the cows are getting owned.

Valerie said...

Whenever I am feeling homesick for the good old life in 303, it is comforting to know that I can grab a cup of coffee and read your ramblings. Just another afternoon of kids playing and being entertained by Chris's musings...