Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Great India Adventure: Animals

The soundtrack from the van while we were driving around India:

Person A: "Oh my, and ENTIRE family is on that bike..."

Three people shout: "COW!!!!!!!!!"

 Person B: "Look at that scenery."

Three different people shout: "MONKEY!!!!!!"

Person A then asks: "Do you have any aspirin."

A combination of any three people shout: "DOG!!!!!!!!!!"

Me: "How far is the next place?"

And then another combination of people shout: "GOAT!!!!!!"

And repeat... No seriously, repeat for 18 days...

We all had an understanding that cows are holy in India, but it wasn't until we got there that we truly understood how holy the cow, and goat, and monkey and dog truly are...

On the first day of our trip we encountered the first of the cows hanging out in the middle of the highway, while all of the cars gingerly snaked around the cow. In my mind, I thought it would make much more sense to try to Shepard the cow to the side of the road, so it didn't impede the progress of traffic and so that no one would accidentally injure said holiness. Then I quickly learned that was not an option, but I never got a good response as to why... I had to surmise that it is all because the cow is so holy.

After we all came to terms with cows being the center of the world, we then turned our attention to the dogs. If I had to count how many stray dogs I saw roaming the streets of India, I'm afraid it would have been a cognitive problem too great for my brain. I started crunching some number is my head, and figured this, if there are One billion people in India, and I physically saw one dog for every four people, that would mean there are two hundred and fifty million dogs in India. Now, I should say, this was just an uneducated assessment, but an assessment no less. I will say though, for us dog lovers on the trip, driving down the street was like watching a Sarah Mclachlan ASPCA commercial on repeat for 18 days...

But the most intriguing thing I learned in India, is that Monkeys are also sacred. I remember the first few monkeys we saw on the trip because Mrs. H. jumped out of the jeep, camera fully charged, ready to shoot... dismissing the calls of father: Don't get too close, they are dangerous, they ripped off the habit of a nun... Meanwhile Mrs H. continued to get closer to the monkeys while singing "Hey, buddy buddy..." trying to get the monkeys to look at the camera.

This then became the theme of our trip... Animal spotted, everyone runs toward animal (or jumps to one side of the van), father frantically looks for Mrs. H. while stating the dangers of the animals, I laugh, Mrs. H. sings "hey, buddy buddy.", and I hear the story of the nun who lost her habit again.

...And then US customs asks you this question when you return to the US: Have you been around livestock? Um, no, I think...

This is a simple snapshot of the animal situation in India. There is more to come... for instance, the monkey funeral, the monkey control efforts... Stay tuned as I continue to recount the GREAT INDIA ADVENTURE!!!