The first time I saw The Cow Man’s cow I was swimming my daily lengths. Out of the corner of my eye I saw something big and dark outside my front door – the cottage I am living in is just below the pool. I did a double take and stopped swimming to look. And there it was, a huge, brown Sri Lankan cow walking along the terrace in front of the cottage. Seconds later a man appeared, skinny and lithe and wearing a sarong. He grabbed the rope tied around the cow’s neck and led it down the driveway to the low fence at the end by the road. The skinny man climbed over the fence and then started dragging the cow behind him. I shouted as I thought the cow was going to demolish the fence when suddenly it did a perfect show-jump and leapt over in to the lane. My shouts turned to cheers and laughter. Jumping over the moon seems but a small step away.
I subsequently discovered that I seen a bit of a local legend. The skinny man’s name is Ratnaparla but because he does not go anywhere without his cow, everyone calls him “The Cow Man”. It’s a bit of a bromance. The cow is male, does not work and does not even have the pleasure of serving the local lady cows – indeed if a lady cow hoves into view I am told that Ratnaparla drags his cow off in the opposite direction pronto. Ratnaparla apparently keeps his cow purely for the joy of it. It is a pet cow.
For the past several weeks Ratnaparla and his cow have been part of my daily landscape. His alternative name is “Mr Blaster” because along with cow-keeping he is also a bit of an explosives expert. We are having some building work done here at the house and are using local stone from the grounds to do it. This has necessitated having some of the very large granite boulders that are in the grounds broken down in to smaller pieces and so Ratnaparla has been doing this for us – patiently hand boring holes in to the rocks, warming the boulders by laying burning planks against them and then packing the holes with explosive and blasting them apart. With his unflinching show-jumping cow in constant attendance of course.