Monday, November 14, 2005

The Delhi Zoo

Driving around Delhi can often be akin to enjoying an Indian Safari. Wild animals usually found on farms or zoos wander freely in the streets of this major metropolis. When I say streets please note that I mean the streets where people drive not some special roads designed for livestock. Car filled streets with wandering cattle.

Hubby and I have a term for the most common animal seen on the road: RCS or Random Cow Sighting. When we first arrived back in June it was a random event. We were awed by the weird cows that wandered out in front of our car. We smiled indulgently when a small herd of them stood in the middle of the road and seemed to almost wait for the traffic to thin out enough to cross to the other side. But they became less random and more of an everyday occurrence.

The bulls have been known to gore people who get too close. It actually happened to the driver of a friend of ours. Not fun or pretty we’ve been assured. When the cows started to over run some of the more popular roads the government tried to intervene: they offered a cash reward of 2,000 Rupees for every cow that was delivered to the city cow depot. It was a nice week. I’m positive they let all the damn cows back out since the problem seems as bad as ever.

Lo betide the person who accidentally hits one of these menaces. Remember the cow is sacred here. No eating beef and definitely no running it over to create dinner.

Less common but no less weird, are the random camel, white horse, and elephant sightings. These are slightly more common now that it’s wedding season and its traditional for the bride and groom to arrive at the wedding atop one of these creatures. The drivers of these animals are usually quite responsible and keep them to the side of the road so they can’t be hit.

Our final animal menace is the street dog. Not cute fluffy puppies sitting in yards and growling occasionally. These are rather mangy looking dogs that look like they adopt fleas to keep them company on Friday nights. The number one rule of Delhi Dogs is to avoid them. This can be difficult since they’re everywhere from the expat hangouts like Khan Market to local dives like INA Market.

So next time you’re at your local zoo gawking at the caged animal; or you’re visiting your friend’s farm and wishing that you hadn’t volunteered to help during the harvest season remember Delhi. You can see all these sights for free just by remembering to wake up and walk outside your front door. Only in Delhi.

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