Swerving around cows

What is it with India and cows? They’re everywhere, and nobody takes any notice. It’s completely normal to see a cow …

… on a railway station platform –

… wandering through the city centre –

… having a quick kip in the road –

… inspecting a rubbish pile –

… and even on the beach –

I spent six days at this beach and the cows were there all the time. It made me wonder what on earth they find to eat. Maybe they try having a bit of a chew on any beach walkers they come across? I noticed that all the locals walk along the beach armed with a big stick –

I have many other unanswered questions about cows: who do they belong to? How do they find them at the end of the day? Where and when do they milk them? I never saw any evidence of cow husbandry, just cows meandering everywhere … everywhere except in fields, that is.

And cows aren’t the only animals that you see in unexpected places. Rounding a corner in the middle of Udaipur (population 451,000) we saw …

… a herd of goats. Why? Surely the owner must have realised that he’d have a much easier life if he either a) moved to the countryside or b) swapped his goats for a fleet of segway scooters to rent out to tourists?

And then there were the camels. If, like me, you’ve always thought of camels as the ships of the desert – trudging in a train across the sun-baked dunes led by white-robed traders, then think again. Rajasthan has lots of camels pulling carts along the road –

And Pushkar is Camel Central for one week every year, when it hosts the Pushkar Camel Fair, to coincide with the Kartik Purnima full moon … and that’s exactly when we were there.

There are camels in every direction you look –

Some are quite homely, while others are decidedly fancier –

And if you bring your plain, unadorned camel along and then get a bad dose of camel envy, the place is full of camel accessory stalls, where you can accessorise to your heart’s content –

When I get a camel, she’s definitely going to have one of these rakish pompoms –

I just love that louche Folies Bergère look.

And for the truly adventurous, there’s freshly brewed camel milk tea –

Or peanuts roasted in camel dung –

But I made do with a ride in a camel cart –

And lots of fanciful camel-owning dreams –