“An absolute joy to read. Through her close encounters with the bovine kind, Narayan shows how Indian traditions are incorporated into her contemporary way of life.”
—Library Journal, starred review
“Sincere and laugh-out-loud funny . . . Narayan’s rich and evocative writing transports readers to the busy streets of Bangalore and a fully formed picture of modern India.”
“Filled with the vivid colors, sights, and sounds of a vibrant and ancient culture, Narayan’s in-depth treatment of cow mythology is a beautiful ode to her motherland.”
“Lovely, lighthearted . . . a journey through cultural mores and female friendship, as well as a look at the spiritual and historical part that cows play in India; an easy read that you can’t help but love.”
“Anyone with the slightest interest in India or cows will find Narayan’s memoir, with its myriad insights, a delight.”
“The relationship that forms between Shoba Narayan and her milk lady is wildly funny, and completely real. It’s so rare to find friendships like this that cut across class.”
—Arun Venugopal, host of WNYC’s Micropolis
“Narayan imparts well-researched, intriguing, and sometimes humorous facts about the complex role of cows in Indian culture.”
—New York Journal of Books
“Shoba Narayan offers a surprisingly fresh understanding of everyday life in the land of the sacred cow, overflowing with the daily contradictions and ironies that India so richly offers up to the discerning eye, in a wonderfully eloquent generational saga, intertwined with milk, dung and Uber.”
—Raju Narisetti, CEO, Gizmodo, and former managing editor of The Washington Post
When the author Shoba moves back to Bangalore from Manhattan with her family, she befriends the woman she buys fresh milk from every day. Over time the two—from vastly different backgrounds—bond over not only cows but also family, food, and life.
When Shoba agrees to buy the woman a new cow (why not, she needs one and Shoba can afford it), they set out looking for just the right candidate. What was at first a simple economic transaction becomes much more complicated—though never without a hint of slapstick. When Shoba starts dreaming of cows, a little ayurvedic medicine is in order (cow urine tablets, anyone?). When Shoba offers her neighbours fresh cow’s milk, we learn about the uses of milk in our culture. When Shoba wants a cow to bless her house, the spiritual and historical role the animal plays in India is explored. And when the newly purchased cow has a male calf, Shoba must find it shelter.
In this delightful true story, readers are treated to an insider’s point of view of India and the special place cows hold here. Equally, The Cows of Bangalore offers a window into our universal connection with food and its sources, the intricacies of female friendship, and our relationship with all creatures great and small.
Shoba Narayan writes about food, travel, fashion, art, and culture for many publications, including Condé Nast Traveler, the Financial Times, the New York Times, and Saveur. Her column for Mint Lounge ran weekly and she was previously the Hinduism columnist for Beliefnet.com. Her commentaries have aired on NPR’s All Things Considered. Shoba lives in Bengaluru with her family.
This is a delightful journey through cultural conventions and female friendship, which also informs the readers about the spiritual and historical part that cows play in India; an easy read which presents a fully formed picture of modern India.
With relevance of COWS everywhere in India, this book is a riot.