This is part of a series of posts on the trip I took in India from February to April 2013. They are in no particular order, just moments that stand out from the greater backdrop.
The big bull is chasing a younger male, his horns and bulk the only barriers between his female and the ardour of the youth. He attempts to mount repeatedly, and is rebuffed by the larger hump-backed bull. The female is distracted. A small knot of people are pinning her calf to the ground. She lunges at them and is oblivious to the advances of the young male, and the roaring of the older one. Lifeguards and passers-by chase her off, armed with bright blue PVC pipes.
A young woman in an orange salwar kameez pours a Dettol dilution over the massive wound on the calf’s back right leg. A large wound, caused by some unknown collision with a tuktuk, is throbbing there, deep and red and painful. The men with PVC pipes chase the mama cow and even the bulls, and suddenly they turn in our direction.
Despite never having lived on a farm, I am not afraid of cows. I grew up with them. My high school is surrounded by cattle on all sides. I once tried to rescue a calf caught in razorwire in the middle of nowhere in Patagonia (It freed itself). But the look in the bull’s eyes makes my own pair widen as they charge toward us.
We beat a quick retreat up some shambled stairs, into the foyer of a shitty Chinese restaurant. They lumber past. A dog with spina bifida runs sidways through the scene.
When the wound is all clean and wrapped in a red sparkling scarf, they let the calf up. All the humans scatter. The Mama Cow inspects the makeshift bandage, sniffs it. By way of giving assent, she offers some milk at the bottom of the stairs leading to the main street of Palolem Beach. The bull stands guard behind her, lest the young one get any ideas.