When I was in India, the subcontinent, the land where every glance tells a story, where every interaction is a long poem narrating the deeds and sad adventures of a half completed experimental rube, I noticed that the cattle roaming around in the streets had their horns painted. One was red and the other green. I notice things like this, like I noticed in Thailand that all the cats seemed to have their tails broken, and this sort of thing bothers me. I need to know why and what I do is I ask the restaurant workers and hotel staff, the illegal money changers and the people who approach me in their innocence or craftiness, just what the hell is going on.
Eventually, about the cow horns, I found out it was because they wander into traffic and the drivers were to obey the colour of the horns, giving the cows the right of way, stopping for red and going around on green and the whims of nature. Smart. Spiritual. Unbelievable. Totally makes sense, once you know.
One night in a desert town in Rajasthan, after I had been in India for a while and had gotten used to the cows being everywhere, I noticed that they were nowhere. As I walked around the town, I didn’t see a cow anywhere. I knew the town had cows. Every town, every place had cows, and although the ubiquity of cattle fades into the scenery after a while, say like squirrels in Ontario or poorly executed low level scams and swindles in Malaysia, once you notice that they are not there, you can’t unnoticed.
So I wandered around and around looking for the cattle and was just about to call it a day when I turned down one alleyway and there they were, all the cows had herded themselves together to spend the night in one street. Weird.