Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Wakeup Call for Cattle

It’s time every cow, buffalo and ox in our city realized that to survive here, in Bangalore, one needs more than just four limbs and a mouth to feed. Why, everyone knows the Garden City is not a bed of roses anymore.

Just the other day, I spotted a cow in Jeevanbhimanagar, lazing by the roadside, obviously on a holiday, chewing gum and thinking her thoughts under a merry sun. Now there wasn’t much traffic on the road, but unfortunately the cow wasn’t at the centre of the road. She was on the side, not realizing the danger of not keeping to the streets while generally lolling around. Down came an autorikshaw, honking loudly, a human with his head thrust out and backward, shouting extremely ear-clogging unprintables at another auto driver passing the opposite way.

I do not know what my cow was thinking of. For, as every beast, bird and spirit knows, the safest place from a moving auto is right in front of it. Even humans know that. No auto travels in a straight line. Whatever you do, do not stand at an angle to an oncoming auto or you are inviting a collision.

My cow had an embarrassing bump on her posterior, right in front of some arrogant dogs who were simply amused at the whole event. I think she’ll know better than to sun herself right on the roadside next time!

In fact, we should realize that the best place to choose while on the streets is the dividing line. Besides, the government has built innumerable potholes for animals to rest in. A pothole is the only thing that uniformly humbles the angular onslaught of autos, the quick cutting bikes, the ego-packed luxury cars and the I-shall-paste-you-on-the-tarmac BMTC buses. It is an ingenious device, a little island of nothingness, that cannot but be avoided by speeding traffic. And most are designed to comfortably cuddle a mother and her two calves, with room to spare.

But talking of BMTC buses, no cattle-awareness campaign is complete without a description of these. The trick in dealing with a BMTC bus is different. Firstly, a BMTC driver, sitting way up there, likes to be respected. It’s so easy for him to smear you down the road. Never chew or wag your tail or lick your ankles. Just look up at him pleadingly, or he might get angry. Besides, unlike the rest of mankind, a BMTC driver always thunders down the wrong side, hardly ever keeping left, even while he stops to pick up passengers. Given this, a cow located anywhere between the centre of the road and the left of an oncoming BMTC, usually lives longer.

God made the cow, and left her on the streets. If she doesn’t evolve in her survival instincts, Bangalore would soon make less than sausages of her. Another tip is, while traveling down a busy road, move slowly, preferably along the line of traffic. Chew gum, dream, do whatever, but do not panic. At the sight of a slow cow, humans generally curse and collide with each other, swerving randomly around the cow. Just don’t lose your nerve, and for God’s sake avoid the sides of the road.

But not all danger is from traffic. How often is it, that while grazing you come across a black, thread-like entity among the grass? This thing, called a wire, is dangling from a nearby post. Every once in a while, when humans cannot find two stones for a fire, they have use for electricity. So every once in a while BESCOM, people who sometimes make electricity, could pass currents through wires. A live wire, when chewed with grass, could leave a bad taste, burn the tongue, give whole-body jerks, or cause incineration. But since BESCOM resorts to power supply but rarely, a live wire is far less likely to prove fatal than a skidding autorickshaw or an airborne BMTC.

So, as we can see, a better aware beast survives longer. Everything – from humans walking arm-in-arm on streets to bikes vrooming up footpaths, from traffic junctions where the front row of vehicles take it unusually easy while back rows honk and scream, from the odd live wire that camouflages with nature, to the looky-me girl the truck driver studies while mowing down creatures – everything, in short, can be overcome. Only, a cow needs to be more aware, have sharper instincts, be better educated, and know trouble before it happens. After all, if cattle don’t wake up to the situation, who will; humans?

Saturday, March 31, 2007