The mad cow of Mostar: a real story

And as I was enjoying my ninenteenth cevapcici, I heard a strange sound. It resembled the voice of a mule, but I was not quite sure. People started smiling around me in a conspiratory manner, but I could not understand why. The sound was coming closer, but I still could not see what it was coming from. It could not be that bad, because noone was running away, I thought.

And then I saw her. The mad cow of Mostar!

People were cajoling her and at the same time trying to push her away from the bridge. Why don't you let her be, I asked, she is not harming anyone. They let me understand that the bridge is the centre of commerce of the city and they cannot afford any more damages to it. This they said by making a gesture with their hands shaking and shouting "boom boom", and I thought what a trauma this war must have left to the people...When I was done with my yummee cevapcici, I somehow managed with my very poor serbocroatisch to gather the pieces of the crazy story of the mad cow.

In the recent years, after the war that devastated almost completely the city with the Serbians shelling it from the surrounding mountains, Mostar started opening up to the outer world and was twinned with the city of Bikaner in India. As a result, a delegation of Indians came to Mostar, followed by a delegation of Bosnians visiting Bikaner. And, custom obliges, presents were exchanged between the two communities. The Bosnians presented themselves in Bikaner with a huge Gesva, meaning a huge coffee pot, weighing around 50 kilos. The Indian present to Mostar was even heavier but equally bizarre: a half-a- ton cow!

The cow was presented to Mostar in an official ceremony assisted by an Indian representation which, during the official farewell meal, insisted that now that the two cities were twinned, the cow should enjoy the same rights as in her home country and would have to remain free to wander in the streets of Mostar. The representatives of Mostar looked at each other in disbelief: in Mostar, a cow is walking cevapcici. How could anyone guarantee that she would not be killed and eaten by a hungry population? But it was too late to refuse the present, and the benefits from the twinning were going to be quite significant for a country and a city that had just come out of war. The Balkan ingenuity was therefore put to work and the following day posters were placed in all public places in the city, explaining that this was a mad cow and people had to stay away from the animal, as it was highly contagious for humans.

It is hard to tell whether people still believe that the cow is contagious or simply have gotten used to the animal, but the fact is they mostly leave her alone. She likes to stay in the shadow and she will be most grateful for a lump of sugar or anything to eat. Some people swear they have seen her dance!

Enjoy the mad cow of Mostar. A real story!