The Milk Lady of Bangalore: An Unexpected Adventure
Shoba Narayan returns to India with her family to live in modern-day Bangalore, a city where international technology centers thrive. When she encounters a cow riding up on their high-rise elevator to celebrate a new home blessing, she recognizes traditional and modern will be juxtaposed in her life here. The revelation is highlighted by a growing friendship with Sarala, the milk lady of the book’s title.
In a nearby culvert, Shoba sees a cluster of cows hand-milked daily by Selva, Sarala’s son, supplying the neighborhood with fresh milk, unpasteurized and unhumogenized but nourishing and easily digested. Before long, despite her children initially looking askance, Shoba takes a steel bowl for the family’s regular two-liter purchase early each morning.
Her friendship with Sarala serves as a springboard to the story of how cows have earned a position of reverence in Indian culture, how their presence along busy streets and meandering through marketplaces is accepted without question. Sarala, an “engaging conversationalist,” her resources wholly dependent on her cows’ productivity, “has a porous sense of self. She would help me if she could and asks for help when she needs it.”
When one of the cows collapses and dies, help becomes a necessity. Sarala requests a long-term loan offering milk as repayment over a lengthy period. The pros and cons of breeds and crossbreeds are discussed before Shoba and Selva take a lengthy trip to find a new animal. Their quest is but one detail in a rich and singularly charming chronicle.