So, the Goats. Our family was blessed with two brand new grandsons in the past few weeks and, by tradition, two goats (each) had to succumb to gastro-intestinal juices of friends and relatives. This is also known as Aqeeqa. Being a proponent of Eat What You See movement, the four goats had to be procured from the market, brought home, diced up nice-like, and then distributed according to a ranking scheme that only my mother knows (and which is sure to crash the BCS servers, if programmed).
As per, I tried my best to have as little to do with any of this as possible. Fail.
The Bakra Mandi (Goat Market) lies at the south-westerly end of the city. In the off-season, it is usually the place to go for goats/lambs/etc. During the season (two months prior to the big Eid), hundreds of small markets spring up in any old empty plot across the city.
The market is wide, smelly, and packed with the cast of characters from Kipling’s Kim (substitute Goats for Horses). I kid you not.
The goats are lined up on charpais – often tied across the necks so that they can’t roam around.
The market has three main characters: the herder/seller, the buyer and the deal-maker.
Upon walking into the market, you will look around, and wonder – loudly – why there is such crap in the market. You will maybe remind yourself – again, loudly – about the most awesome animals you had just purchased last week for a pittance. You will maybe add a few more lines about the general decay in the fortune of Muslims around the world and what the lack of Caliphate has done to the trade in goats. Before you have finished your heart-wrenching account, a deal maker will approach you. He will be a man in his upper 40s to mid 50s – carrying about his shoulders a throw-around shawl and lots of lived life. He will say, come, all is not lost. Let me show you why you are looking at this all the wrong way. Now, at this point, you still have a choice. You can rebuff the deal-maker and keep on looking for yourself. But there is no happy glow at the end of that road.
The deal-maker will take you to one or two “tables” – asking, in the meanwhile, how much you want to spend, judging if you know anything about goats (oh, ai khasi ey – “gay goat!”), etc. Depending on your remarks, the size of your entourage, and your general clothing/get-up, he will guide you to the appropriate herder. You will look at one or two animals and price quote will be asked for. You will be given a price roughly 3 times whatever. You will express shock, dismay and turn away. The deal-maker, will clutch you, and ask the herder to please stop whoring his mother and give you a fair price. The herder will violently shake off the deal-maker, and declare that while the sister of the deal-maker is known to have an easy way, he is far above such petty things. At this moment, you will be intricately entwined – limbs and all – with the herder, the deal-maker, and some random dude who was just passing by. The shawls will come off. The deal-maker will slap, yes slap, the herder. Wild punjabi slang and cusses will mimic the yellow stream of goat piss. Fun.
Eventually, the deal-maker will have push, shove, punch the herder into accepting an offer roughly 1/3 of the initial cost. This process will not be helped if your Chicago-living nephew is standing aloof snapping pictures with his digital camera. Such citizen-journalism rubs people the wrong way. He will be asked to explain himself. The deal-maker will, at this time, get his commission from you. After you depart, he will also get a commission from the herder. The cycle will then repeat.
The goats acquired, they will need to be transported to the house. This is where rickshaws come in.
Once home, the goats undergo a simple process and are converted into giant buckets of diced meat. I will spare you those pics.
But, for the fans of the Pa’ia dish, featured yesterday, here is the process.