I came across a herd of buffaloes enjoying their evening dip in the canal.
The buffaloes clearly looked like they were enjoying their swim. Some of them were chewing the cud, others were huddled together, mostly motionless.
The old man in charge of the buffaloes noticed me staring from the other side, and asked me to get into the water.
I told him that I didn't have a towel with me, and that the water was very dirty. He told me that the water was so good that I would not feel like coming outside again. I made some excuse and avoided it, despite his repeated encouragement.
Amongst all the buffaloes, I noticed one buffalo which was significantly larger than the rest. It was the lone male buffalo.
Its horns were easily more than than a metre in length. It also had a large circular nose-ring to make it easier to handle, because an uncontrollable male buffalo of that size is too scary to even imagine. While some of the other buffaloes were fidgeting and bumping into each other, the male was perfectly still. It was also chewing the cud, and enjoying the water-supported relief for its powerful legs.
After some time, another man came to canal bank and at his signal, the entire herd stood up straight and started coming out of the canal. Normally, I'd have thought that buffaloes are stupid, stubborn animals, but I was amazed at how well conditioned they were to obey his signal.
While the rest of the herd was queueing up near the canal bank, a mother and calf were refusing to leave. The old man who earlier tried to get me to jump into the canal, threw a few small rocks on their backs to get them moving, in addition to many verbal commands.
I went and stood near the place where the buffaloes were climbing onto the walking path I was on. A buffalo strayed from the herd, and was walking in my direction. The other young man called out to me so that I could send the buffalo his way. Being unschooled in matters of buffalo-herding, I was confused as to what I had to do. He asked me to threaten the buffalo by brandishing the large umbrella I had with me. I moved near and stood awkwardly close to it, hoping that it would back off. It didn't call my bluff, backed down and rejoined the herd. Turns out that even a 400 kilogram domestic water buffalo has a concept of personal space as well.
I drank a lot of buffalo milk in my childhood, so I respect their contribution to my life.
P.S. Someday, I shall swim in a canal.