Spontaneity is a word in the English language, but it truly finds its meaning here in the goat-trodden streets of Mulukanoor Village, Telangana. After an unexpected cancellation of the morning research on water buffalo milk production, my translator and I decided to go and see the local Veterinary Dispensary. Vet Dispensaries in this area usually handle 98% livestock and many farmers bring their cattle and buffalo to the center to be artificially bred. If there are a number of farmers that need to have their livestock bred on the same day in the same village, the veterinary technicians will travel out to breed the animals. Today was such a day, and after taking a quick tour of the dispensary, we hopped into an auto-rickshaw to go and see the breeding process in a neighboring village. When we arrived at the village center, our friendly guide leaned out to ask a passersby for directions (a common practice) and we wove our way through the threadlike streets to a clearing with farmers, technicians, and cattle.
After watching and asking a few questions, we again boarded our rickshaw and on a whim were taken to a dairy farm on the way back to Mulukanoor. I always enjoy seeing more cattle and farm designs, so it was easy to take this detour in stride. The dairy farm is considered large here with 16 cattle and there were even a few geese that noisily tried to chase us away from the barn. After taking a little tour, we once again began our course back to Mulukanoor village.
Riding in a rickshaw at this time of the year is a little bit like throwing yourself into a hair dryer with the hot air hitting your face, but the breeze is nice and the views are even better. I am still gaining my bearings here, but I could tell that we were almost back to my room when again our guide spoke some rapid Telugu to the driver and we veered off-course to another adventure. I asked my translator where we were going and she said, “To visit his friend. He wants you to meet them.” I again came up against the western tendency to want a schedule explained to me along with how long our next stop was going to take. I knew that there was no way to ever figure that out (and here it really does not matter), so I sat back in the rickshaw and enjoyed seeing new shops and streets instead. A few minutes later, we pulled up to a two story home with bright pink walls and entered through a intricate cast iron gate to find a girl there ready to greet us in relaxed English with an American accent. After spending the last few weeks trying to tone down my accent and speak slowly, it fun to discover that this girl and her mother were visiting family over the summer, as they currently reside in York, Pennsylvania. We had a quick conversation, but making the connection with new friends that live just one hour from Philadelphia yet are now in the same, small rural town of India for the summer was a great part of the day.
As I continue to travel to small villages each day to examine buffalo, I am constantly reminded of the beauty of allowing the spontaneous to overcome my schedule. Whether it be having tea in the home of a farmer, stopping to look at the stars while walking through rice paddy fields, or even going to see a silkworm farm, all of these moments and so many more have unexpectedly enriched this experience. I hope that as I continue to ask my survey questions and gingerly place my stethoscope over water buffalo hearts and lungs (trying to avoid impressively agile kicks) that I can convey thanks and appreciation for each new person and place that I meet with a smile and a quick ‘Namaste’.