The journey from Aurangabad in Maharashtra to Mumbai by coach was going to be a long one. We left Aurangabad early in the morning as we were supposed to reach Mumbai by sunset and although it was only approximately 400 km away, the journey would take at least 7 hours without stopping, since the motorway from Aurangabad to Mumbai is not exactly the kind of motorway we are used to.
One has to be careful on the roads, because not only do cattle wonder about freely, but, drivers are constantly beeping just to let you know they are around. Along the road, near a village, we suddenly saw a great number of people coming and going from a large closed off field, and to our excitement, we discovered that it was a cattle market. At first, I was a little anxious about venturing inside this large field, as everyone kept staring at us as if we were aliens. It was so busy that my first thought was that I might get lost, but once inside, everyone was so friendly that I couldn't help feeling happy and excited. Every time I asked someone if I could take a photograph they nodded sideways, a body sign I had never seen before, so I was confused about the meaning. I couldn't quite figure out whether it was a yes or a no as it was a mixed gesture between our way of saying yes or no with our heads. They tilted their head from one side to the other a couple of times, in the end, I figured out it was a yes, so I happily took as many shots as I wanted.
The morning cattle market was a great experience and really fun! It was wonderfully full of colour, even some of the cows were painted pink in honour of celebrations for the Holi festival. I had, by now, seen many cows wondering freely along the roads and in the streets of the villages, all searching for food, often putting their noses in layers of rubbish. Those cows were all quite thin, but the animals at this market were stunning. Beautiful sleek water buffalos with their shiny coats were positioned in rows, with their little calves next to the mothers, being sweetly nudged and milked. Some buffalos had lost their offspring and stuffed baby calves were placed next to them in order to keep them producing milk. It was actually quite touching to see the mothers of the stuffed calves gently nudging the still little animals, as if they were alive. There were some sheep and goats but mainly cows, buffalos and bulls. Many of them wore necklaces, colourful ribbons on their horns and quite a few where painted.
Although the main attraction were the animals, the people attending the market were absolutely beautiful as well, the colourful saris of the women busy, carrying tanks of water for the animals, were an interesting contrast to the men, mainly dressed in white. The men lining up to purchase the best cattle or to sell their own were all very different. Every religion was present and could be distinguished by their dress and colourful decorations, trading together, all in perfect harmony. Some wore turbans, others small hats, many had amazing moustaches or beards, others had many necklaces and had colours painted on their faces. Everyone was worth a portrait and when they glanced in my lens their eyes were liquid, deep and profound, and, although, not always happy, seemed to know something I didn't.
As much as I was interested in them, it turned out that I was the main attraction at the market as everyone wanted a photograph with me. This was a great experience since I wanted to photograph them, and so I posed for the requested photos and they posed for me. I was also invited to pose in a tent with many gentlemen dressed in white, which was rather amusing. Although the journey to Mumbai was long, we were lucky to enjoy unexpected stops such as this one.
The journey continues...