Friday, 12 August 2011

Buffaloes on my plate

I was in Terai – the plains in Nepal recently and saw a sea of buffaloes sleeping in the shade of mango trees after taking a satisfying bath in the pond nearby. They had their bellies protruded out and their calves wandering around them with their heartfelt boos. The herder was whistling a song from a recent Bollywood flick, perched on one of the mango branches. Few children rearing goats were playing marbles nearby and their goats were grazing in the open fields nearby.

Maweshi Haat and the buffaloes
A farmer was beating the pair of buffaloes as it could not pull the plough with much ease as earlier. He was scolding them while plouging, “I will sell both of you tomorrow in the Maweshi Haat.” Maweshi Haat is a makeshift marketplace to sell and buy the domestic animals buffaloes, oxen, and cows.

The next day, I was at the Maweshi Hat. The sight of the Maweshi Haat took away the breath out of me. Most of the owners were hitting their buffaloes and oxen to take them to the main marketplace. The environment was filled with the pain and cry of the innocent animals. All of them looked pale and pallid. The buyers looked like crooks and the sellers – adamant to sell everything they had. After haggling over costs, the buyers took the animals to makeshift sheds. All animals were shouting at their best knowing that they were being taken to a different place and were being departed from their masters of so many years. All the buffaloes were tethered at a point and all oxen and cows were tethered to another point. A day after they will be taken to two different places – cows and oxen to Bangladesh and buffaloes to Kathmandu.

Journey to Kathmandu
The herd of buffaloes is made to move into a truck. Inside the truck they are again tethered and tied – their necks are tied with a rope so that they do not move around and create a mayhem among themselves. Also their tails are tied. The more than 12 hours of journey to the capital, Kathmandu, itself is a journey to death. The buffaloes even die in the way before reaching Kathmandu due to the jolts, abrasions and wounds.

Death at last
The buffaloes are then taken to the slaughterhouses. A group of overjoyed men tie ropes to each leg and pull towards opposing directions with all their might. Then a man hits the buffalo on the head with a huge wooden mallet. As the buffalo starts stumbling, he chops its head with a huge knife. Then the skinning and cutting meat pieces start which is a much disturbing scene. Even the vultures snatch the meat pieces with much sobriety.

Delicious momos on plate
Thus killed buffaloes cater to the hungry needs of more than 3.5 million Kathmanduites. The momo shops are ubiquitous, present in each nook and cranny of the valley. The price ranges from NRs. 20 to NRs. 75 (around USD 1). The Chinese cuisine has been the largest sought after fast food in the valley and has been the cause of merciless killings of millions of buffaloes.

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