I admit I’m fascinated with the cows. They demonstrate how close India still is to agrarian, even in the cities. But they also add surprise and unexpectedness into daily life, and that has its own life.

Cows can be anywhere – on 20mph roads (where you go at least 40), or highways which you go much faster until you’re suddenly behind several trucks in all lanes going around 5mph, in which case you honk at them (trucks have signs saying “honk please” so they don’t run into you), creep forward until you can slink between them, and then speed off as fast as possible. They can be standing in the fast lane on the highway. Or crossing a busy intersection.

But then, so can anyone else. I cannot count the number of times we’ve driven up behind a car going 1 mph or just stopped somewhere on a road, for no discernable reason. My driver last night kindly stopped several times to let me take a photo – and nearly gave me a heart attack each time. People sit on the street next to their vehicles or just on the street. The lane indications are just a vague guideline, as are the infrequent red lights. And the honking (not just for trucks – it’s for everyone!) never ever stops.

Last night I had around 5 heart attacks when we rapidly came upon bicyclists, motorcyclists, pedestrians, carts, or trucks, then squished through them.

The quality of the roads is strange, too. Most are fine, but suddenly the road becomes so bad it’s like it was dug up. And there are speed bumps (the nasty kind that you have to slow to 5mph for) in the middle of a road with nothing else around indicating a speed bump is needed.

My dad used to wonder what an alien would think of our culture/oddities if it came down to earth. I feel like that alien here – the common place here is bizarre to me.

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