So what is it about India that makes people come and visit it?
Is it the Taj Mahal? Indian hospitality? The Forts? The Gateway of India?
Maybe Rajasthan, Kerala, Gujarat, or one of the many other States with their rustic charm, colourful sub-cultures, and the people that live in them that bring alive this country?
These are, but a few of the reasons why you would visit India, and each of them play a tremendous part in promoting this vibrant country, but what about the one attraction, visible across the country, irrespective of where you are in it, that fascinates every traveller – local or foreign?
Let’s face it, it might not be the primary reason for you to take a flight and come here, but once you are in the country, this is a sure shot way to make the trip memorable. Yes! I am talking about the sight of cows (well mostly, although elephants, sheep, and camels have a somewhat similar effect) on the roads.
Isn’t it just great?
I am not being sarcastic, but here’s an attraction where no one has to do anything – except for maybe let them free for a while – and we have a wonderful crowd-pleaser on our hands. The fact that cattle are not always present at one place and as a result play a sort of hide-and-seek with the traveller makes this one of the most exciting activities you will experience – or not – while in India.
It has other benefits as well; you’ll find tourists in cars and auto-rickshaws looking around cautiously, always aware of their surroundings, lest they might miss out on spotting a camel walking along a busy highway. Venture out in the villages, off the roads a bit, and bullock carts and horse carriages are plenty, but the thrill of spotting a cow in the middle of the city road, nonchalantly soaking in the rays, as cars of all sizes manoeuvre around it, is what makes this such a spectacular happening.
Certain aspects to this cannot be forgotten; It is a fact that cows are sacred in India and thus they do have the right of way. Furthermore, people are becoming aware of animal rights, and while they might honk at them, usually most will patiently wait till they move aside. Then again, you don’t want an angry elephant stomping on your expensive car, do you?
There is also the fact that at one time, this very land was where these animals would graze without any interruptions, noise, or pollution. And while we have taken over and built roads and houses for our own needs, the least we can do is remain calm when once in a while they dare to venture out in all this madness.
I must caution you though that so important is this “event” for any traveller in India that were you to return back to your home country without a video or a photo of a horse, donkey, or camel on the road, no one will believe that you were ever in this country. You will share your holiday photos with your head hanging low for you would have failed in what seems like the simplest of tasks.
Because this attraction is never really planned – which makes it free, another benefit – nor are you going to find it on any itinerary, the surprise factor works wonders for its success – like this lonesome donkey that decided to roam around our locality yesterday.
Imagine, you are on your way to see the Qutub Minar in Delhi, and before you even get near it, you feel the car slow down, and then see the driver turn the steering wheel a little to the right. Your mind begins to wander, your heartbeat goes up a notch, and the curiosity finally makes you look out.
There you have it. The lovely sight of a flock of sheep walking merrily in the middle of the road, out on a leisurely walk, unaware and unconcerned about what happens around them. Heck! I want a life like that.
Funny thing, a human would be scared to his/her wits when crossing a road in India, but when it comes to animals, most do so with bravado – unfortunately, and sadly, some suffer the consequences of rash and fast driving as well.
I must add that this isn’t something unique to India. I came across goats on the road while travelling the island of Amorgos in Greece and in fact some of these goats were dare-devilishly standing halfway on a mountain in an unnervingly relaxed manner. But, as I pointed out before, place them in a city surrounding, and the surprise factor – for the tourist, the driver, and I believe the animals too – jumps up a few notches.
Now tell me, when you visited India (or anywhere else in the world), did you succeed in capturing this amazing sight, or were you one of the unlucky ones that went back and spent hours trying to prove, to your friends and family, that you were in our beautiful country?