I got on a bus in a village area close to my city. It was the usual local bus awkwardness, stinky underarm sweat patches, people arguing over the phone, and the occasional spitting of paan out of the window. I chose to stand because that way I can move away from people who make me want to buy a lifetime supply of condoms and distribute them across the masses. I was staring at a random man’s deep saffron khakis (which clearly hadn’t always been saffron in colour), and I noticed something that I had seen frequently, but never expected to see on a bus: a cow tail. And guess what, even more shockingly, that tail was attached to an actual cow.
On a bus.
I swore that I would tell my grandchildren about this when they would complain about public transport standards.
After a good ten seconds of just blank shock and surprised stare, I asked the guy next to me what the hell was happening, as I pointed towards the cow. The man noted how strange the colours of the khakis were. I pointed out again, “Not that thing, the other thing.” This gentleman, in his striped green shirt and stylish beige trousers, turned to me and said, “What is your problem?”
There is a cow on a bus.
It has shit on its ass, a squadron of flies flying around that shit to tactically suck on it (god knows why flies fly so much to eventually just land on that one obvious spot), and it can clearly skewer the short lady standing a foot in front of it. I counter-questioned, “What is yours?”
THERE IS A COW ON A BUS.
I was not sure what was crazier, the fact that there is a cow on the bus, or that nobody was reacting to this. Maybe I was losing my sanity. Maybe this is just a fat lady in a white sari with a food stain on her, clearly past its prime rear. I went up to the area where the cow was standing. I stared at it a little longer. It snorted at me and shook its head when I tried to touch its brow. This was real.
I voiced my shock to a few people around me, and they voiced their demand for me to shut the fuck up. Needless to say, I got off at the next stop. I bought a half-litre bottle of mountain dew, and a 5-star, trying to assimilate and introspect what just happened. I know that the cow is held sacred in my country, but at the end of the day, it is an animal. It does not pay bus fair, it will probably drop a dung pie on the bus as a thank you and possibly whack a crying baby in the face with its tail whip, lowering defence (light Pokémon reference). I don’t see a reason to allow it on the bus.
In that moment of introspection and my last sip of mountain dew, I realised a very disturbing fact. I was being racist. Not exactly racist actually - cows are neither humans nor racially discriminated (yet, you never know what the future may hold), but in a way, discriminating. Cows have feelings too (not really sure what kind though. I’d imagine they’d be pissed about us, enslaving them for their bodily nutritional extracts) and I was regarding it as a lesser species. The feelings of disgust and confusion I was experiencing were the same feelings the British gentlemen felt when they saw Mahatma Gandhi get into the ‘Whites only’ compartment of the train in South Africa, the same feelings American Caucasians felt when they saw a black man go into a swimming pool while white folk were in it, and the same feelings that I would feel if I saw a white person come into a kabaddi (Traditional Indian sport) set up. My mind was not prepared to see such an anomaly.
The next bus arrived, and I got on (peeking in first and making sure there were no cows). But my journey back was not full of me noticing unnecessary things. I was lost in thought. We need to remove our superiority complex as individuals and at the same time, remove the constant need to stereotype.
While it is our basic nature to judge people, animals, or any scenario for that matter, we must open our minds and overcome this unnecessary evolutionary characteristic behaviour. The same way as a squirrel avoids your hand full of walnuts because of the stereotype that humans are aggressive, sick sadist animal mutilators, we have stereotypes about everything in our mind (you obviously just wanted to see that adorable squirrel nibble on your nuts). We naturally predict situations (somewhat, as far as we can) so that we can better react to them. Sometimes these predictions are wrong, and most of the time they are insulting to someone. It’s hard to think about it.
Food for thought.
Photography By: Sarthak Dubey