Thursday, September 2, 2010
And cow manure everywhere, as a consequence. As if the streets weren't filthy enough, with the open sewers (quite literally, people ahem, ablute directly into them on the street – if only the cows themselves could be that precise) – the sheer quantity of cow dung takes some getting used to.
I have so far managed to avoid any messy disasters, but I can't say the same for the Southern Belle, who has put her foot in it.... so to speak, three times now.
Hindus believe that the cow is an embodiment of Mother Earth herself. They provide food in the form of milk, they provide butter and ghee which are used both in every type of cooking as well as in sacred Hindu ceremonies, they provide fuel in the form of their dried manure (which is still used to this day) and they are herd animals – the ultimate mothers.
I'm sure when little calves are born their mothers say to them "Don't worry dear, you just do what you like, because we have the run of the place. You want to sleep on the traffic island? That's fine. You want to lie in front of a shop and block their doorway? That's fine. You want to curl up like a cat in a hotel's garden? No problem."
In the street outside right now there are at least twenty that I can see, and a group of them have formed a little coterie in the middle of the road where they are no doubt discussing the upcoming elections and reviewing the latest restaurants.
Plus, shopkeepers will feed them chapati – flat bread - which isn't good for their stomachs, so they bloat up like malnourished babies with all this bulk in their tummies; but their ribs show through their skin and their hips stick out like a teenage anorexic's. It can be very sad to see.
And that leads me to the unanswerable question. I asked my driver this: if you're driving, and something bad happens and you cannot avoid killing something no matter what choice you make, and on one side of you is a man and on the other side is a cow, which direction do you go in?