So there I was, taking a shortcut back home through an alleyway, drenched in sweat after another hour-long ride home from work in one of the sardine cans that passes for a New Delhi city bus, when bursting out of the evening shadows came a cow, apparently angered by my unintended trespassing on her turf and intent on putting her horns to use by bobbing for lungs in my chest if my next step wasnt right back in the direction from which Id come.
Had I found myself in the same situation months later, at a more advanced stage of my cultural assimilation, the only surprise might have been her aggressive demeanor (which I later understood to be in defense of her newborn calf), as street cows are generally about as active as your living room couch. But at this juncture, less than a month after my arrival in India, I had yet to grow accustomed to the company of the citys thriving bovine population. How surprised was I? Well, if its any indication, I immediately imagined myself fumbling to re-pack various lobes of gray matter when my skull popped open in surprise.
Reasoning against spending the coming weeks learning to breathe through a tube, I bravely turned tail and fled, taking the long way home. It was somewhere between the neighborhood temple and the colony gate that I realized I wasnt in Michigan anymore.