Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Cows crossing the street their judgment and anticipation

As we all know by now that India has an abundance of cows. A combination of its perception of holiness and the largest vegetarian population on earth has led to a uncontrolled growth in the number of cows and buffaloes in the country. As a result it is very normal to see cows and buffaloes form small islands often in the middle of the street. They're also found strolling in the middle of busy business areas almost aggressively pursusing some food at times. Cows are generally very docile animals and don't interfere with other business. Over the course of the past few years though I've managed to make an interesting observation about their behavior. While crossing a busy road they're very thoughtful. Their slowness and apparent lack of attention could be mistaken for stupidity, but, they're well aware of what's happening and have mastered the art of anticipation and setting expectations. Whenever Im driving up on a highway occassionally cows tend to cross the highway. At that time they ensure that they're crossing facing you laterally. That has been found to be the rule for the highway cows. They're smart enough to realize that they have to be watching traffic while crossing a highway becuase vehicles tend to be coming faster. They cut across the median and quickly change direction to face incoming traffic. They always understand and implement the importance of setting expectations. This involves the effort of crossing a street. They'll make it abundantly clear to you that they're going to cross the street well in advance. They'll also very smartly not vary their pace. They'll maintain a very slow steady pace across the crossing, so, you're not baffled or panic while seeing their approach. They send a very clear signal to the oncoming driver that they're going to do it and do it this way whether he likes it or not. Surprisingly large number of drivers clear the path for them and ensure a smooth and safe passage. What's more interesting is the fact that when they see a very aggressive fast driver coming on they also realize that its not time for them to make their move and they delay their crossing by walking parallel to the street on the sidewalk or shoulder. I've noticed that high speed and aggressive honking puts them off and they take the submissive role of holding back. Another aspect of their crossing is the fact that they put the younger ones in the middle of the pack. A younger one almost never crosses the street alone. It's usually followed by or led by a very experienced cow. One very very interesting species of cow that's worth mentioning is the careless one. These are the ones that don't care if you're coming or that you might have to take evasive measures to avoid collission. They just take their own sweet time to cross the street. Their modus operandi is very simple. They stare at you in the eye and just put you down straight. " We rules this place, you're just passing by" is the message given to the driver. In my life I've never seen a single cow being run over by a vehicle. That puts my theory of their crossing intelligence to light and verifies it. 

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