November 2, 2012

It's Hard to Enjoy Your Dosa

I'm sure you've heard all about India's free-roaming cows (they're considered holy animals by Hindus and, thus, aren't farmed or butchered, and allowed free reign), but nothing can prepare you for having to compete for precious roadside space with a horned bull until you're actually doing it. In Kerala, most of the cows we saw, while common and in odd places, were tied up and used by families for milk. In Karnataka, things got a little more exotic, and our first few minutes in Mysore included pushing a bull out of our way so we could make it to a street median before local busses, rickshaws and honking cars ran us over. Cows are everywhere. They have no owners, but are taken care of by everyone. People give them food scraps and water, and the cows go wherever they want. They try to enter shops. They roam busy highways, they hang out at temples, and we've even seen them head butt a few innocent passers-by. Due to the head butting and being from a country where it's a known pastime to master this animal (a la rodeo), we are, naturally, a little leery of these animals and try to "steer" clear of them when possible. (See what I did there?) 

A small selection of the (mostly) friendly cows in India

In Gokarna, in north, coastal Karnataka, there were more cows than we'd seen anywhere else in India. (maybe because it's a more devout town?) On the beach, they joined us to sunbathe and sometimes even for a walk in the shallow water. 

When we first got to Gokarna, we took a walk through the small town to look for a place to have dinner. We found a small shop and sat down to have masala dosas. Tom's back was to the door and, suddenly feeling like I was being watched, I glanced over his shoulder and came eye to eye with a giant, cream-colored, pointy-horned bull. Now, I don't know if this is true or not, but I'd always been told that, the bigger the hump on the bull, the meaner they are. I'm sure this is a redneck urban legend…but old habits or whatever, right? This bull had a BIG hump. And he locked eyes with me. Nervously, I leaned to the right to avoid his gaze and calmly told Tom we were being watched. Tom turned around and the killer bull locked eyes with him and STAMPED HIS FOOT! 

The killer cow, staring us down

Let's have a closer look...
We were so sure this bull (20 feet away with no barrier between us) was about to charge us, and Tom wondered if maybe the bull was targeting us because he knew we aren't Hindu and that we eat cheeseburgers. I think he was probably right. We were still mid-meal and we ate slowly as the bull kept his eyes locked on us, knowing we wouldn't leave until the bull unblocked the door and was further away.

Eventually, the bull moved another 10 feet from the door and, seeing our opportunity, we got up quickly to leave and slipped quietly out the door, hoping Big Hump wouldn't notice us. No such luck. He followed us for another 20 feet, while I kept thinking "DoNotTurnAroundDoNotTurnAroundDoNOTPanicDoNotTurnAround," and then he finally lost interest and went the other direction.

We breathed a sigh of relief. I wish I could tell you more about the actual food, but it's hard to enjoy your dosa when you're facing death by holy cow.


  1. I do like the picture of the killer cow. It does look sinister. ;p

    Saddest part was watching the "graze" on the city garbage and whatever else they could eat. Sad to watch but again, another world with different expectations and ways of living.

    1. That cow was out to get us. The grazing on garbage is kind of tough...but the alternative elsewhere is being pumped with chemicals, overbred, and eaten! :) We've seen lots of people feeding the cows, too.

  2. Love the part about cheeseburgers!LOL SO funny, he totally knew!