Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Until the Cows Come Home

To wrap up the cow story, a synopsis. The cows led us into a huge open space, university land without buildings, and they worked the grass there. We stood in the shade of a banyan tree and Lee shot video. After finishing with the sparse grass in this place, the cows left the way they had come in, through a hole punched in a tall brick wall. We followed them up a street where they strolled through another hole. Here we hesitated, because the other side of the hole was clearly a piss stop for pedestrians and rickshaw drivers. Then we saw some kids come out and we went through and caught up with the cows.

This area turned out to be university residential space. It is divided into three areas: staff, professors and peons. This description from the father of an economics professor, a retired Indian airforce pilot, who lives there with his wife and adult son. He was the second curious resident of this neighborhood to speak with us and offer us chai. The first was a staff person. We turned down both because the cows were on the move. The third offer came from a sculptor who works in the archeology department. He was curious about the filming of the cows. This time we got chai and a relaxed conversation in the house he shares with his family. The house is 150 years old with patina to show for it. The sculptor's wife is also a sculptor, who teaches in the fine arts department. Here we nearly stayed for lunch, but left when we discovered the cows had moved on unexpectedly. They typically spend the afternoon nearby.

Scared we'd lost them, Lee and I ran around the neighborhood and found the cows, just as they were leaving through the hole in the wall. They walked about a block and entered a partially built neighborhood behind the university's chemical analysis building. The cows spent the rest of the afternoon here, grazing. We entertained and were entertained by a group of kids. They sang, they danced, they told jokes. Wendy brought water, Ben brought food. It never got boring.

Finally, around five, the cows headed for home. They had consumed remarkably little garbage, mostly grass. They trotted down major roads and the traffic parted. When they made it home it was too early for milking, so Lee and I relaxed in the neighborhood, then decided to go back to the apartment to gather energy for the final filming. We went back at mosquito time, around 6:30, and videotaped the evening milking. We waved goodbye to our urban farmer friends and walked home. As I said, it never got boring.

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