Monday, April 27, 2009

Cow Paths

One of Delhi's unique features is the cows in the street. I can't imagine there are many other cities of 20 million people where livestock are a common site almost anywhere in town. I've read that the city has a brigade of cow police trying to remove all of the animals by 2010, which a very optimistic goal. First, the cow police can't simply turn the cows into hamburger. Because cows are sacred, they have to be removed to farms outside the city. Second, there's a black market for the cow's milk, so the cow catchers are often attacked by small mobs.

Most foreigners get used to the cows after a week or two. But not me. While I'm no longer surprised to see a cow in the city, I have discovered that I am terrified by them. Cows are scary animals. Quiet, expressionless, enormous. Willing to eat trash. Good at staring. Some have horns, some don't (which is weird -- and I'm talking cows, not bulls). I don't think cows in a field are scary, but a cow in a dark, narrow, city alley is a terrifying creature.

Anyway, there's arachnaphobia, ophidiophobia and lots of other phobias. Does anyone know if there's a word for the fear of city cows?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Qutub Minar

I can officially check another UNESCO World Heritage site off the life list. The Qutub Minar is the world's tallest brick minaret and in a city like Delhi that has no skyscrapers, it seems even more impressively huge.

A Muslim ruler started building the base of the tower in 1193, but the structure wasn't completed until almost 200 years later. It's about 238 feet tall so they were averaging a little over a foot a year. Slow but steady.

Friday, April 17, 2009

How I ended up holding a cobra

Step 1: I spot a snake charmer and ask him to play his flute.

Step 2: The snake pokes its head out. It's a definitely a cobra.

Step 3: The charmer asks me to have a seat.

Step 4: Next thing I know, he's handing me a venomous snake.

Step 5: I can't really say no.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Delhi hits 100

102 degrees on April 14 and getting warmer... it's going to be a long summer.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Weekend Destination

Samode Bagh Garden Resort. Described on its website:

"Relive the splendour of the bygone age recreated in a tented encampment- unique experience in royal living."

It's in the state of Rajasthan, about 4 hours from Delhi and a short drive from Jaipur. We're close to the Samode Palace, and actually these gardens were built for members of the Samode royal family as a weekend retreat (I guess living in a palace isn't all it's cracked up to be).

Anyway, should be a good holiday weekend. Happy Easter everyone!

Monday, April 6, 2009


I wonder how you say CHAMPS in Hindi?!?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

My Camel

One of the biggest challenges of life in Delhi is transportation. The city is very spread out so a bicycle isn't practical, and there's so much traffic that cabs, although cheap, are frustrating (plus you have to bargain down to the cent for every single fair).

So after weighing my options and deeming a motorcycle to be too dangerous, I decided it was time to get a camel. The price of 10,000 rupees includes a harness, a seat and a week's worth of instruction from the camel's previous owner (the guy holding the rope in the picture), who says that's all the time it will take for me to have perfect command of my steed.

My camel is about 8 and a half feet tall and weighs over 1,000 pounds. She's 18 years old and was born in the northwestern part of rural India -- a country girl. I'm still trying to think of a name for her.

It's about a 20 minute ride into work... will have my first ride tomorrow morning. We'll see how it goes!