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Monday, November 7, 2011

Four 'how cow' business tips for this Eid

Eid Mubarak! Now that the major part of day’s Qurbani related activities are done- it is time to reflect on a few ‘how cow’ business tips which could have been really interesting to realise as a run up to Eid ul Azha –as it is celebrated in Bangladesh.

#1 Let it not go to waste
In my opinion, waste management, environmental and recycling services should be next big business in Bangladesh where to both make money and preserve the nature at the same time. Having a few trips around Dhaka in a few cattle markets and noticing the immeasurable shit being literally wasted – both at the ‘haat’ premises and during the walking from the ‘haat’ to home – is really a big waste. Since all the ‘haats’ being built as a run up to Eid ul Azha are make-shifts, little planning could have made sure to have some sort of a raised platform to keep the cattle to safely dispose cattle waste, accumulate them or drain them to a storage for turning into compost or natural fertiliser, bio-fuel etc. Cows shit and pee everyday and everywhere – not only in the ‘haats’ before Eid – but this massive gathering of this livestock is very rare and annual in Bangladesh which could be better planned to make the best use of natural resources, waste and environment. Any private sector initiative should tie up with city corporations to explore this option from next year.

#2 Avoiding the bloodbath in the streets
Many of us get used to seeing flowing blood and dying animals in the name of sacrifice right in front of our crammed houses in the equally crammed narrow alleys of our towns. In a city like Dhaka where even human children have no or few places left to play around and grow naturally, having any mercy at all to cows and goats sound very unrealistic. Still for the sake of it, designated slaughter-houses would have been a better option in this relation. Yes may be it could have come up with costs, queuing up and token numbers to know when your cattle would be qurbani-ed, but it would have really taken the holy sacrifice away from our dirty streets to a clean and designated location. In this regard, even mobile slaughter vans could be another option – where your cattle would be ‘uploaded’, sacrificed in your presence by the van’s designated hujur – and you could have taken away the meat for distribution in clean, transparent, recyclable bags. If they can do these in the birthplace of Islam, wonder why we can’t follow our Wahhabi oil rich brothers.

#3 Growing the love before letting it go
One of the key ingredients that go missing from Eid ul Azha in Bangladesh is the fondness that was supposed to grow towards the cattle before it was given up in the name of the Almighty. Again due to scarcity of space in the cities in Bangladesh, we can’t even think of rearing an animal in our garages for months. So we prefer to sacrifice our money (black and white) instead of the love during this Eid and focus on the meat feast rather than on the actual teachings in this relation. Wonder if a website could be setup called ‘’ which will connect would be potential buyers in the city with their preferred cattle still in the growing phase in remote villages in Bangladesh. It is a bit like for Eid ul Azha actually. The site could share regular photos of the cattle, children could even visit the cattle from time to time and there should be an agreement that the buyer would buy this off the vendor at a prefixed price before Eid.

To add more emotion to the human-animal relationship before severing it in the name of God – you can also ‘name’ your cattle. Other than the secondary market of knives, mats, wooden boards, fodder – you can think of ready-made nameplates for your cow/goat bearing names such as ‘tyagi titumeer’, ‘allahr bolidaan’, ‘amar bondhu’, ‘goru guru’, ‘hamba mia’ etc. – all of which make your heart melt a bit more as you will be sacrificing not a generic ‘cow’ but your pet who had a name called ‘hamba mia’ whom you had known for a while. Hope you will feel the sacrifice before embarking on the meat feast – or rather stay away from it altogether and focus on distributing to poor only.

Finally to pre-empt frequent interrogations by passersby about the price of your cattle – you can produce generic responses as signboards and stick it to the cattle’s body so that you don’t exhaust yourself responding the same thing over and over again. Examples could be –
‘Dam jante chahiya lojja diben na’ (দাম জানতে চাহিয়া লজ্জা দিবেন না )
‘Ihar dam __ taka, ekhon chup thaken’ (ইহার দাম ___ টাকা, এখন চুপ থাকেন )
‘Dam diya kam ki?’ (দাম দিয়া কাম কি)
#4 Country roads, take me home, to the place, where I belong
One of the major painstaking processes after finally having bought a cow/goat is to walk it back home from the ‘haat’. If your home is pretty far away from the ‘haat’ then the whole walking journey back home with your new friend can be really tiresome. I wonder if cattle can be ferried from outside Dhaka to different ‘haats’ in the city, then what stops it from ferrying them around from ‘haat’ to ‘haat’ or from ‘haats’ to different city routes via pickups or mini-trucks called ‘cow ferries’? Like bus routes for humans, cattle routes could be established for a day or two before the Eid so that both you and your cattle could be spared of the long walk home – the roads could also be spared from the long shit marks.

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