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Seven Continents

Mysuru Watering Hole

INDIA | Saturday, 23 May 2015 | Views [545] | Scholarship Entry

Chamundi temple stands atop a mountain in the city of Mysuru India. It is a vortex, drawing offering laden pilgrims up a thousand stairs to pay respects to the Hindu gods that reside there. About three quarters of the way up, my guides and I stopped at a black cow sitting just off the main path. Hundreds of brightly clothed Hindus could be seen up and down the slope.

“This is the third largest cow shrine in India.” Jaykumar informed me. “It was carved as one piece out of this granite hill. A priest bathes it in coconut oil once a month in order to retain its black finish.” A small iron fence surrounded the benign bovine, a child’s playpen hemming in a goliath. A trim priest with a bushy black mustache and rainbow garlands of flowers around his neck took offerings for the cow.

Thick heat offered no relief to the sweat building on my face and neck. My gaze moved to a man wearing worn leather sandals, gray tattered slacks, and a tight blue polo shirt. He operated a nearby metal cart with chipped orange paint that reminded me of a popcorn kiosk at a circus. Chunky gears and a serpentine fan belt took the place of a corn kettle.

Jay followed my attention. “Want to try it?”

“Why not?” I replied.

Jay instructed the man to make three drinks. “And do not water them down.” He leaned over to me. “Tastes better and no diarrhea.”
“Good tip.” I commented.

The man pushed a starter button on the cart and the gas-powered press shuddered. The Ouroboros belt came to life, beckoning its keeper to feed it foot-long offerings of sugarcane stalks. The stalks were crushed to splintered planks. Juice ran down a rusty chute and spilled into a pitted plastic tub. The man folded the stalks and fed them again. After a third feeding with the same cane, the man stopped the machine, squeezed lime and ginger juice into the bowl, and poured us each a small waxed paper Dixie cup of yellowish liquid.

It was love at first taste. I resisted the urge to drop on all fours and lap it up like a dog. The drink was cool, heavenly sweet, and had just the right touches of ginger-lime. I could feel the Hindu gods performing the dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy on my tongue. I licked my lips and addressed Jay. “Think I can buy a gallon of this stuff to bring home?”

Jay turned to the cart keeper to order more but I placed my hand on his shoulder. As much as I wanted mass quantities, the impulse was impractical. My cup was ample enough to leave a spiritual impression. One I wouldn’t forget.

Tags: 2015 Writing Scholarship

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