Sunday, December 12, 2010

Koni Takes Me To The Cattle Market

When Koni told me that he wanted to buy a cow and wanted to know if I would be interested in visiting the cattle market, I was game. Life is never dull with Koni around because he does things like this – like buying cows. We set off today morning to Motinagar, near Erragadda and met one Balraj. He in turn got a couple of guys to join us in the car as we moved towards the Glass Factory to the Agricultural Market Yard, Bubbuguda.
Cattle market, Bubbuguda

The cattle market was full of buffaloes. No cows. Apparently the cow days are Saturdays. We saw a lot of buffaloes of all kinds, healthy, full grown, calves, malnourished. All sorts of buyers and sellers were at the market. There was an open shop for accessories like nylon rope, chains, bells, a mouth net for calves etc. In  one corner there were huge stacks of hay for the cattle. The whole place reeked of cattle, dung, urine, sweat, hay.
Another view of the Buffalo day

Though it was made quite clear that he wanted to buy cows, the sellers and their brokers pitched in heavily with their cattle. To find the price of any stock it is mandatory to give the other a one rupee coin and only then, is the price revealed. We watched curiously wondering what goes on in this market.
The Agriculture Department Office

After rejecting a few offers for some buffaloes (which ranged from Rs. 15000 and reportedly go as high as Rs. 50, 000) we were about to go away and come next Saturday when two brown cows, one mother and  a new calf, were shown to us. The initial price quoted for the pair was 18000. We were going away anyway and had got into the car when the broker and seller came in and made a strong pitch. The broker beat the price down to 9000. Koni was asked his price. He said he would pay 5500. Everyone moved away at this price. 'I bought the cow for Rs. 20,000,' said the owner. We started going towards the car when the buyer and his company came again with a new rate of Rs. 8000. Koni climbed to Rs. 7000 and the deal was stuck at 7500 for both cow and calf.
The cow and calf

The market yard is run by the agricultural department who has an official sitting at the gate. He issues slips for each purchase authorising the sale. This slip is the proof that the cattle is legitimate and not stolen. In fact when the owner gets the cattle for sale he has to bring the slip as well – like an RC book for the car. The cattle market gets 1% of the sale. Someone went round and got the accessories for our cow and calf - nylon rope, bell, net. There was something very tender in the way the calf followed its mother as it was being led away, running close to its body, worried that it might be separated. No leashes are required for the calf which will always follow its mother. Similarly, we were advised to let the cow wander for its food. It will always come back for its calf.
The accessory shop

I was told that the cows live normally to ten years. Then someone said twenty. I don’t know what. But apparently they start giving birth to calves from their third year on, and give birth to at least eight to nine calves. When it gives birth it yields milk for about four months a year. That is the commercial aspect apart form the calves. Then they grow barren and old and only feed. Sometimes they end up as feed. Beef.
Koni, broker, Balraj, seller, and with his back to us, the man who walked them home

Anyway one of the men Balraj got with him happily took the cow and calf and started walking off. He laughed when Koni suggested that he take a rickshaw. He said he would walk them to Kukatpally and in a couple of minutes he was off walking across the railway tracks across paths we never would know. He seemed very comfortable in those paths, with walking cows and calves for miles and miles. And we came away, richer by the experience. Maybe next Saturday for the calves.

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