Cow, goat, camel and Kaliji!

By Toto

Cow Goat and Camel

During Eid ul Azha or the Eid that is popularly known as the Qurbani Eid; our entire social credo for a few days undergo a metamorphosis.

That includes the language because for about two weeks, our conversations, excited chats plus public declarations revolve around the size of the cow/goat, the best animal selling market in town and meat-based food dishes.

This year, my football buddy Kaliji who is currently engaged in a business of buying/selling old steel medical beds discarded from public hospitals, has invited me to taste a special kidney flavoured with burnt coal.

This kidney is cooked in an earthen pot and when it’s almost ready, a space is created within the meat to place a small plate containing the burning coals. Then the main pot is sealed with dough.

Sounds deliciously exotic, I said.

Kaliji promised to give me a 70’s steel hospital bed, if I am interested.

Er, well, maybe not this time, the coal-flavoured kidney will do for now.

The questioning pattern of people during this time has a pattern with the most common being: what are you buying, goat or a cow? This is inevitably followed by another query: how much did you pay?

Obviously, if the price is above Tk 50,000, the desire to answer the second question is overwhelming.

Some volunteer to give the price even if not asked.

If the animal is a camel then the area where the person lives is rife with discussion about the sacrificial animal. People discuss with awe filled tones-do you know so and so has got a camel?

When a local goon turned businessman bought a camel, his misdeeds of the past were quickly forgotten. After all, being a man of means allowed him to stand out by buying something which most can’t afford.

While the man in question was the topic of discussion, enjoying all the attention, problem arose on Eid day as the local butchers found it difficult to tackle the animal.

Finally, when the camel was put out of its misery, the meat turned out to be pretty unappetizing.

Anyway, here’s sharing two enduring Eid ul Azha memories with you.

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No crossing without selling the skin

Back in the 90s, one of my friends of the area, called SK, decided to become an Eid day entrepreneur, setting up makeshift stools by the road to buy skins of the sacrificed animals. He rounded up a group of zealous local youngsters and got to the task.

‘No one from the area can take the skin outside; they have to sell it to me’; the edict was clear.

SK was also the local head honcho of sorts, arbitrating disagreements between tenants and landlords, mediating at commercial disputes, taking protection money from the local road side shops etc.

Understandably, no one had the audacity to defy his request which was in fact an order made with a smile. I still remember SK telling a local uncle: chacha…chamra kintu ei arear baire jaibo na…(uncle the skin can’t leave the area). And, he followed it up with an invitation, stated politely: please come over to my house for beef bhuna at night.

By Eid day evening, the makeshift skin collection centres had small heaps of cow and goat hide.

All rickshaws carrying animal skins were stopped, the man taking the skin to be sold paid a certain amount and the skins taken, literally by force.

By evening, all the collected skins were sold and I was told that SK had made a flat Tk 20 thousand profit. The acolytes got Tk 3 thousand each.

A week later, there was a huge party; Johnnie Walker came for a visit!

SK is no longer alive but the memories remain.

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Running after a cow on the main road!

This was in 2008. A relative of mine, living abroad, asked me to do him a favour and buy the cow on his behalf from the haat (cow selling market).

‘OK’, I said a bit reluctantly and the night before Eid headed for the Gabtoli market.

We got a cow and were walking it back when all of a sudden I heard a commotion behind me. Looking back saw the guy handling the animal lying on the road holding the rope.

The cow was on the run!

I started running, others followed. It was a crowded road and late at night the buses drove fast and in between the lights of the cars, I caught a flash of the cow, running ferociously.

Dhor, dhor, goru palaise (the cow has fled!), we shouted and ran.

The patrolling police car stopped me as they were suspicious seeing so many people running.

‘Mugging?’ they asked.

Cow has skedaddled, someone from the group said.

Crisis indeed, the men in uniform responded and we got a ride in their car to carry our search. Sirens blazing…

Eventually we managed to grab the cow.

This is the last time, I am getting into such a task, I thought.

Can’t end without a few lines about Kaliji!

A couple of years ago, he came up with a bizarre plan: boss, let’s buy all the horns of goat, we can crush them later, mix with a special herbal concoction and sell as an aphrodisiac.

He even came up with a name: Super-man Xtra…

Nope, it never materialised. You know my buddy, always coming up with outlandish plans.

So, Eid Mubarak, if you want Kaliji’s special coal flavoured meat and also want to check out medical beds from another age then Chankharpul is where you will find us.