The cow incident

About 12km outside Mysore is Chamundi hill. Hindus have built a few temples on top of the hill, which can be reached either by bus, riksha or 1000 stairs. After Adam’s peak in Sri Lanka I had enough of walking up lots of stairs, so we opted to go for motorised transport and walk down. Both the temples and the views over the city were worth the trek, or so we understood, so we set off late afternoon.

After a good 30 minutes we finally reached our destination, having broken down twice. One thing that we immediately noticed were the tourist shops calling out to us. Not interested we hurried on to the temple, where a number of typical developing country things happened.

First someone tells you need to take your shoes off. Second, someone hands you flowers for offering in the temple. Third, another person ushers you to the “no donation” entrance. We were pretty sure what was going to happen after this, but we were keen to enjoy the views from the main temple so we went along with it.

Keen to get in we walked past someone selling sweets, who insists we needed to buy some. We brushed him off and walked on. Inside the temple it was full of people, and we struggled to donate our flowers amidst the dedicated Hindus. The whole offering process in the temple was a hurried and unpleasant experience, and we hardly had a moment to take in our surroundings. As a result we also walked past the various donation boxes. Since the higher temple terrace, that held the actual view over the city, was closed we left the temple with nothing we set out to achieve.

From there it went downhill quickly, and even now I’m wondering whether the events that happened after leaving the temple are somehow connected to what happened in the temple.

First we went to pick up our shoes. The guys holding them for us demanded 2 rupee per pair, plus an indeterminate amount of waiting money. Next came flower money. Because it was relatively early in our trip we didn’t have much small notes and coins, so we struggled to raise what they felt was a reasonable amount. Franzi and I had misunderstanding 1: I saw her give the guys 10 rupee, which I thought was fine for holding on to our shoes for 10 minutes, but I had missed he’d given it back, citing the note being damaged. I thought he wanted more money and since my smallest note started at 50 rupee I brushed him off and we walked out of there.

Thoroughly disappointed with the wasted (but cheap) afternoon we wandered around the area and came across a sign to Anani, a statue of Shiva’s bull which sat on the stairs down to town. We just thought to double-check that memory served us right, and while I bent over to get our guidebook from our daypack I get a whack on the head from Franzi.

Not sure what happened I look up, and instead of seeing Franzi where she was a second ago I stare into the face of a very large cow, and Franzi now behind me a few steps lower. I burst out laughing, assuming that the silly cow walked into Franzi and nudged her off the stairs. Franzi is busy rubbing her back however, and closer inspection shows a nice bite mark.

I can’t shake off the feeling that the cow incident is connected to not donating to the temple and shoe people. Silly I know, but cows are holy after all, so it’s not a great stretch of imagination!

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