There's a Cow in the Street!

by Barbara Ann Oliver

As I explained last time, the traffic here is horrendous. The larger streets have a median. The street, by the way, has no lane lines. Since no one even pretends to stay in a lane anyway, it makes perfect sense.

In the midst of this chaos, three or four cows will be lying out in the median. Pedestrians just walk around them. How they (the cows) got across those lanes of traffic, I cannot imagine. They just lie there, in bovine contentment as the rest of the world zips past. Technically, the owner of the cows can be fined, since they do present a very real traffic hazard. But like the no-honking rule, it is apparently not being obeyed.

We went to Nehru Place to get a computer cable. In the middle of this big complex of shops and offices, there was a cow eating out of a trash bin.

Francis and I took our excursion to Nehru Place by bus. No one but me is crazy enough to take the bus – but even then, only with Francis. Although, he is threatening to give me four rupees and make me get on the bus and get home by myself, I think Betty will put her foot down about that. At least, I hope she will!

Sunday, after morning worship, some of the young people took us to the Dilli Haat. It is a market with booths from which they sell items that represent each state in India (there are about 30 states now). Each state is noted for some craft or cloth material.

We ate at one of the outdoor cafes. After lunch, the waiter placed a little tray of green anise seeds with a few grains of sugar, which were about the size of a half-caret. They are used as a breath-freshener and digestive aid. Most of the Indians I was sitting with said they didn’t eat it out like this because it had dust, etc. But then, some of them reached in and got a small spoonful. I tried it, and they were right. It was a little gritty, and there were a few kernels that were something besides anise seeds. But it was really quite refreshing.

We went to the Red Fort for a little site-seeing, but, unfortunately, it was closed on Mondays. The Red Fort is in Old Delhi. It was crowded and dirty, and hawkers and beggars swarmed us. The Indians don’t give anything to the beggars because they say it perpetuates the abuse of young women and children, and many of the beggars are drug-pushers. They stand around and beg until someone comes up and gives them the signal that they want drugs. Like everywhere, it is big business and controlled by powerful people.

After yesterday’s trip to Old Delhi, I have to admit that I was feeling depressed and culture-shocked. Like most Americans, I like my personal space and feel very uncomfortable when it is violated. But today we went to Defence Colony market to the internet cafe and then I invited Betty to stop in at a little espresso bar for a cappuccino for her and an espresso for me. I perked right up after that. I told Betty that that was all it took to cheer me back up. We both agreed that I am by nature very shallow 🙂

With renewed vigor, or maybe just a caffeine buzz, I step out into the world of India once more. Just have to remember to watch out for the cowpats.

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