THE SACRED COW


A fine mist fell on Dum-Dum Airport outside Calcutta --
Our bus was headed for the Oberoi Grand Hotel,

It seems our Boeing 7-0-7 had been disabled --
Our destination? -- my old hometown and new life as well,

Just a tiny, round pebble had been our aircraft's kiss of death --
Sucked into a jet engine upon landing,

Pan-Am's finest had succumbed to the great Goliath's fate --
Shades of Custer -- our lonesome, airlane-cruising steed left standing,

It would take a day -- or maybe two -- for a Pan-American World Airways
Special aircraft to bring an engine from Hong Kong,

Changing engines in Calcutta would become a fait accompli
Before my visit in eastern India had gone on long,

Hot and humid was the bus ride to Calcutta that day --
We'd gone a mile or two, then an obstacle the driver found,

A sacred cow had ambled into our pathway -- gray macadam --
And that animal chewed its cud and held its ground,

Half an hour later we continued on our way --
The Oberoi's opulence was very much overrated,

In North America it would compare to a third-rate motel --
My two-day stay there left my hunger for rest unsated,

In the lobby -- on the first day -- I saw a turbaned, chic Sikh --
I called him the six-bag luggage handler -- what a sight!

He balanced two pieces of baggage on the top of his head --
One 'neath each arm and in each hand a two-suiter Samsonite.

                                                                  by D. Edgar Murray 04/09/2000.