Rush Hour

“A wise person knows there is something to be learned from everybody.”

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As we were driving towards Leh we hit rush hour and I made a mental note not to drive on country roads after six p.m. It’s definitely not the type of rush hour you are thinking about though, remember this is a road that only sees a handful of cars everyday. Instead of cars, this rush hour involves lots of sheep, goats, cows, and the occasional yak.

In each of these small villages someone (every family takes turns) goes around in the morning collecting the animals from every house in order to bring the herd into the fields to graze for the day. Then, in the evening, they bring the animals back, which is where this funny concept of rush hours comes in. The cows are probably the worst because no matter how many times you beep at them, they seem to know they are holy in India and won’t move a muscle. The goats and sheep though are hilarious. Being more afraid (and stupid) than the cows, they flee in every direction until there is a small open gap in the middle where you are able to drive (or cycle) right through them. Of course, there are always a few in the pack who don’t understand and continue zigzagging in front as you as you move, but somehow, they all manage to live through the ordeal.

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One of the funniest encounters between a car and an animal has been an unfortunate little baby yak who, instead of moving over like his herd, tried to outrun the jeep. For a few minutes the poor animal was desperately sprinting and crying out until he finally just turned up the cliff and climbed the rocks to the side to get out of our way. I have also seen this same thing multiple times with baby cows you apparently haven’t figured out as their elders have that they always have the right of way.

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The farming lifestyle, which involves these wonderful little animals, has been one of my favorite parts about rural India. Driving back into “civilization,” the type with roads, cars, and horns, was extremely disappointing after the peacefulness of the remote areas in Zanskar without them.

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