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The Cows of Bangalore: Adventures with My Milk Lady
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Archive: Other Books > The Cows of Bangalore by Shoba Narayan - 4.5 stars rounded to 4

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message 1: by Booknblues (last edited Jul 14, 2018 12:30PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Booknblues | 6886 comments What a true delight it was for me to read The Cows of Bangalore: Adventures with My Milk Lady by Shoba Narayan. It is the story of an American immigrant who returns to her home country of India in middle age with her husband and two daughters. It was an interesting and eye opening view of India, especially its relationship to cattle. Shoba is a well-to-do Indian who makes friends with a local milk lady, who she first meets when moving into her apartment:

Inviting cows to warm houses is a tradition that continues in India. Fitting one into an elevator is a creative take on it. The Hindi word for this is jugaad. Jugaad is makeshift ingenuity; improvisation; recycling, precycling, and upcycling; finding new uses for everyday objects—and for that matter, animals. Indians are masters at jugaad. It is the product of a resource-constrained culture. When you don’t have enough, you figure out how to make do. You tie empty Coke and Sprite bottles around your waist in order to float in the water; you line up tattered shoes as goalposts when you play football; and you figure out how to get an animal to the third floor.

She quickly becomes intrigued with the cows, the milk lady and the idea of buying fresh milk. At first she is apprehensive about drinking fresh milk, but upon research, she feels compelled to try it. Soon it becomes part of her everyday life:

The Indian food chain, even in busy urban cities, still links cows and humans. In my home, for instance, I boil cow’s milk every morning, then let the milk cool a little before scooping out the cream on top and setting the remainder into yogurt. I collect the cream for a week and then churn it to separate the butter from the buttermilk. I divide the butter into two parts: one for sweet cream butter to spread on my children’s toast and the other to boil into ghee or clarified butter. The whole thing is a painstaking process—a nuisance, really—but I do it. As do many of my neighbors. We set yogurt, churn butter and when needed, squeeze a bit of lemon juice into the milk to curdle it into fresh paneer. Doing all this is a daily reminder of all we get from a cow, the giver of good things.

This is really a memoir as it takes place over ten years of her life, but it does mostly inform us about cows and milk, while filling in information about her life and her relationship with her milk lady and her family.

I found it intriguing as I am daughter of a dairy farmer. Urban cows are an interesting concept, while we in America have adapted to the idea of urban chickens, I'm not sure we are ready for cows.

Narayan's writing is informative, humorous and entertaining. Even those who find no interest in this topic, may ultimately find the book endearing. I encourage anyone interested to read it. I did however round it down because I felt it may not have universal appeal, but I may end up rounding it up.


message 2: by KateNZ (new) - added it

KateNZ | 2671 comments This sounds delightful!

I’ll try to find it - would fit beautifully for Nicole’s cultural challenge


Booknblues | 6886 comments KateNZ wrote: "This sounds delightful!

I’ll try to find it - would fit beautifully for Nicole’s cultural challenge"


I read about it in the New York Times and it sounded good to me. Amazon has it for $1.20 right now on kindle, so it is quite a deal.

I loved reading it and it hit the spot for me.


message 4: by KateNZ (new) - added it

KateNZ | 2671 comments iBooks doesn’t have it at all yet, drat it. Nor does the library app. May have to go hunting offline ...


message 5: by Jgrace (new)

Jgrace | 3112 comments It looks like it may have more than one title. The Milk Lady of Bangalore: An Unexpected Adventure is the title that amazon has on sale. It is a good deal.


Booknblues | 6886 comments Jgrace wrote: "It looks like it may have more than one title. The Milk Lady of Bangalore: An Unexpected Adventure is the title that amazon has on sale. It is a good deal."

Sorry, I didn't spell it out the whole way. I should have thought of that. It is a good deal. I found out about it in this article: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2...

There are some other good books there.


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