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Shoba Narayan is a writer who once lived with her husband and kids in Manhattan. Then she moved back to India and ran into her milk lady’s cow in her apartment elevator. Literally.
In her memoir The Milk Lady of Bangalore, Narayan gives the outsider a deeper look into what at first appears to just be a strange (and seemingly backwards) cow-obsession in India. You’ll laugh at first – and then find yourself nodding in all seriousness when you realize that, yes, indeed, modern India thrives on these sorts of ineffable spiritual complexities.
Written in two parts, Milk Lady first reveals Narayan’s own curiosity and then the ways she grows to understand her culture through a thorough examination of the role of cows in India. Genetics, diet, and ayurveda – Indian herbal medicine – all help determine the sacred aspects of a cow’s byproducts, the dung, urine and milk that can both cure and bless.
The cow ends up serving as a lens through which readers get to explore the true inner workings of India, including its cultural diversity (not everyone is warm to cow dung) and a beautiful and unexpected bond between a returning expat and her milk lady.