A/N: This is a brief, multi-chapter summary of my stay in India. It was written for my class as to get credit for all the assignments I missed on my stay. You don't need to read this, in fact, it's probably a waste of your time, but my teacher like it. Than again, my teacher teaches eighth graders. I write at a college level, according to state assessments, so.. Yeah. I'm mostly posting this here to get some feedback, and I hope that I can give you a good idea of the culture there, and PLEASE read and review. The names are changed, mostly because those that I traveled with don't particularly want their names pasted all over the internet. I do have their permission, though.

Any typos are my own fault, not the beta-reader's, as I don't have one. Please, do point them out to me. I want to make this story as good as possible before I send it on to my traveling companions- they want a copy.

Further A/N: Please excuse the horrid indentation. no matter how hard I try, the document won't upload correctly, and it's deleting the paragraphs where there is dialogue, so if this is hard to follow, that's why.


Cow Quest

Whenever I travel out of country, I always count the days in one odd way or another. Sometimes it's by town, but.. Well, that's never fun. I've done it by birds once or twice, and another time I did it by stoplights. I had been thinking about what I should use in India for a while- I needed some consistent method to keep track in. It wasn't until we were well out of the airport in Delhi and on our way to the hotel that I decided. It was on my way to the hotel that I saw the cow. It was just standing by the road, totally nonchalant. Its bovine gaze was almost a challenge. Mess with me, it said, and you'll regret it. When I saw that cow, I knew I was going to enjoy my time in India.

On that first day in Delhi I was to see four cows. One brilliant silver one on my way to the hotel, the first one- a magnificent mottled color, and two more brown ones while walking in the market with the family we would be traveling with. The market was a colorful place, everywhere there was something to see. Whether it was a monkey stealing some woman's laundry, or a person selling chai by the roadside, you could sit there and watch them for hours. Fourteen year-old Liz Lee saw the first brown cow, and having been told of my Cow Quest, (an idea which she found very absurd, and pointed that fact out to me.) alerted me to it's presence. Her twelve year old brother Thomas found the second and last cow of the day, and gave my Cow Quest its name. The next day in Delhi we went on a rickshaw ride through the back streets of the town. The day before we had been surprised by the lack of the bovine species on the main streets, and on the ride we found out why. They were -all thirty-two of them- in the alleys. Maybe a minute in we saw our first Holy Cow of the day, standing beside a mailbox, and naturally clicked a few pictures. The rest of the street was quite literally peppered with them. Between the cows, we did a small amount of local shopping, but very little, mind you. Compared to the rest of India (but not to the US) Delhi was expensive. While it was the most modern city we would see on our trip, I would later come to regret the fact that we stopped there first. To my spoiled eye, Delhi's seemed fairly third-world. Of course, when I returned, it would look like the Hong Kong of India, still, I definitely regret that it had to be Delhi that would set my expectations for the rest of the trip in India.

The next city that we visited- Agra, the city of the Taj Mahal, was disappointingly cow-less. On the way there, though, my face was kept constantly glued to the bus window. Heading into Agra I saw a total of 22 cows. The Taj was beautiful, though I must admit I was slightly disappointed. We arrived in Agra on a cloudy day, and the white marble of the Taj was set against the white of the fog. It was still breathtaking, and I can see why it is one of the seven wonders of the world, for on a sunny day it must be magnificent, and people do not exaggerate on it's beauty at night. The next day we saw at least fifty cows, and at least one hundred buffalo at the buffalo market. I can guarantee that we would have seen more if we had taken the bus to Ranthambhore, but we took the train. which just happened to be two hours late. Nevertheless, we managed to catch our safari in Ranthambhore National Park, and I saw what I had came to India to see.

As soon as we got off the train, the 'young and young at heart' meaning Liz, Thomas, my Aunt Gayle, and I, were whisked into one open-air jeep, while the others took the second. Our driver was a friendly old man missing his two front teeth and with a smile that reached up to his eyes. As soon as we reached the straightway, he turned around, winked at us, and floored it. I cannot describe the thrill of driving down a deserted road (which is a very rare thing in India) in an open-air jeep going about ninety MPH. Liz, Thomas, and I started humming the Indiana Jones theme song, and then hummed the theme from "The Great Escape". We stopped promptly when we reached the gate, as the hawkers began to swarm us. We stared straight ahead, doing our best to ignore them, and not saying a word. My Aunt would simply repeatedly say no in English, but to no avail. Finally, not being able to resist any longer, I turned to one of them and said "No ablo inglése." He simply stared, and lowered the price on the T- Shirt.

Liz, picking up on what I was doing, started saying things like, "Ich spreche Deutsches. Nein. Nein! Ich wünsche ihn nicht! Iche spreche nein Englisch! Sprechen Sie Deutsches?" (I speak German! No, No! I don't want it! I speak no English! Do You speak German?)

Thomas began to speak to one in fluent French. Unfortunately, one of the hawkers apparently spoke French as well, coming up to him and saying, "Parle-vou francais?" so a very disappointed Thomas shouted, trying his best to keep a straight face, "Retourn á ta maison ou je vais devoir frappé tu avec une grande champignon!"

The Hawker apparently didn't speak as much French as we thought, but got the gist of it, and, looking very irked, stalked off. . "Erin, do you want a pin for your collection?" My Aunt suddenly asked in English. I turned and glared at her, and she finally got the idea, but it was too late now, "Well.?" .

"Okay," I said abruptly, then turned and began spitting out random Pig Latin phrases.

As you might imagine, the Hawkers said something that didn't sound too friendly in Hindi, and left. When we asked Thomas what he had said to the supposedly French-speaking hawker, just grinned evily. Both Liz and I, expecting the worse, threatened him in every way we knew, but it wasn't until we threatened to take away the tootsie rolls that he told us that he had said to the hawker, "Return to your home or I will have to beat you with a big mushroom!" It took us a while to calm down from that, as it struck us as absurdly funny. It was not long after we'd calmed that our driver returned to the car with a guide, and we hit the park. The driver went on to explain that the tigers usually appeared early in the morning, and later at night. Me, doing my best to be optimistic, said, "Who knows, maybe we'll see a tiger."

Liz just shrugged, "We won't see one."

"Don't be such a pessimist," I said, and Thomas nudged her in the ribs.

Liz smacked him back. Sisterly love, perhaps? "We won't see one. Anyway, if we do, and we weren't expecting it, then it'll be a lot cooler," Her tone had a certain finality to it, and no one bothered to correct her. . Ha! I was right! Not five minutes in, we saw a tiger. He looked like- and yet unlike- the tiger that everyone expects one to be. He was not rangy or lanky as some think of them. Simply because a species is endangered doesn't mean it's not healthy. He seemed to be the perfect picture of tigerdom. Well fed, and held himself with the nonchalant air of one having recently gorged himself. Not fat- no, never. Muscles visibly rippled beneath his sleek coat. He would grunt occasionally, and sent mark against a tree, presumably looking for a mate. He seemed almost uncaring of our presence. Liz had been right as well. We were definitely surprised, and it WAS way cooler than it would have been had we known ahead of time we would see one. She looked at me smugly, and her eyes had that 'I told you so' look in them that everyone hates so much. I returned the glance equally. So what if she was right about being all gloomy. I had told her we would see a tiger, hadn't I?

Well, I was only half right. Now don't get me wrong, he was calling for a mate, only, well, the tiger was really a tigress. We followed the tigress (and she followed us) for a full forty-five minutes, getting some great pictures. Of course, all good things must come to an end, and the tiger left as suddenly as she had appeared. We raced a couple of guys on motor cycles about halfway, and I can guarantee our driver would have been breaking the speed limit had there been one. We spent the entire trip on the way back to the hotel making up verses to "The Twelve Days Of Christmas", singing "The Song That Never Ends", and cow-spotting. We only saw three cows the rest of that day, but the camels were plentiful. Every camel that we passed had intricate designs cut in relief into it's fur. There would be a patch of hair longer (or shorter) then the rest, shaped like a star or swastika (In the Hindu religion, the swastika represents the balance between earth, air, human, and animal, one for each point). And the elephants. wow, the elephants. They were decorated in thousands of colors of chalk, from their forehead down to the tip of their broad trunk. The platform upon which their riders sat was so highly decorated as to seem almost garish. Only about twenty shops lined the street between Ranthambhore Park and our hotel, which was pleasant, thinking back to the congested glory that had been Delhi. They were all colorful, and simply seemed welcoming, something that we had not seen enough of in Delhi and Agra. As soon as we arrived back at the hotel, we left to explore the tents- if you could call them that. I've never seem such big tents. They were more like canvas houses. We kids claimed the huge triple tent (and my Aunt's five-pound bag of tootsie rolls) and crashed. A few rounds of ping- pong and some badminton (Liz and I against Thomas and his Dad, Patrick) and we had orderves. We waited hungrily until seven-thirty -the Indians have a thing for late dinners- and gorged ourselves. We finally left at around nine, leaving our parents behind to discuss the plans for tomorrow, and got ready for bed. After several calls from the Ross tent and a few from the Lee tent to 'shut up and get some rest' we finally obliged, and slept peacefully. until the heater broke.


Again, sorry for forcing you through this. If you bothered to read this, I greatly appreciate it, and hold you in the highest respect. However, I will respect you even more if you review.

Also, I have pictures, and if you would like to see some, send me an e-mail at eerross and put "CowQuest Pics" or " " in the subject, along with "Erin," so I don't accidentally delete it as spam. Thanks.